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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It's Personal...And Yet It Isn't

Merry Christmas.... I love this time of year.  

Talking with my kids, knowing that Christmas is more than a tree, presents, and a crazy Elf that pops up out of no where doing random things every night and then POOF the Elf (who has a personal name) is gone after Christmas... My daughter is a good girl, her Elf moves... it comes down to an ELF to motivate us to be good? Anyway....

I was chatting with some friends both at church and online today and I asked them, "If you could get rid of any holiday tradition, what would it be and why?"  


I wasn't surprised... I felt comforted actually in the fact that the thing I would change is the same thing they would.... and here is the thing, we all come from different walks of life, celebrate Christmas differently, practice our religion differently... we don't wear the same style of clothes, we don't drive the same cars, yet the one thing we collectively agree on is what we would get rid of as a holiday tradition. 

Guess what it is? You got it... and no, it is not the creepy little elf. HA!

I know you are thinking exactly what we discussed.... gifts. 

Yep.  There I go saying that the one thing we should get rid of at Christmas is the gift stuff.  

Gift giving any more is not even a thoughtful thing at the holiday time. It is an obligation. Something we MUST do to keep up with the proverbial Jones.  We make our kids do lists and search Amazon or Toys R Us... make them take pictures of the exact Lego Minecraft toy so we don't mess up... we buy online and don't even go look in a store for something, we have taken all thought out giving gifts. 

And what does that say about us? 

Are we so disconnected in our technology filled world that we don't know WHAT to get someone so we have to ask them? (or in my case, send them a text while they are in the same room)

Are we too worried because if we pick something out we will let them down? Are we afraid our gift won't be enough? Isn't the whole idea of a gift supposed to be a surprise, something that is OF THOUGHT and shouldn't a gift be something we truly think about and make it special for the other person? Have we become so ME ME ME, I WANT I WANT I WANT that we don't even care about WHO the other person is, just give me the list, I will get you what is on the list.  Task completed. We are not drones, or machines... we are human, we deserve some thought don't ya think?

And maybe that is why I HATE IT when someone asks me what I would like for Christmas or my birthday... I have everything I need and I want. I have my God, my kids, my family, my boyfriend, my friends, my cats and my dogs, and a roof over my head. I want for nothing. Even through some of the darkest times of my life I rejoice in the fact that we are happy, we are good... and we lack nothing of importance.

Christmas... December 25th.... this is the day that CHRIST was born.  Originally this day was not created to celebrate each other, it was to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. God's son, CHRIST. 

It is the day we are to reflect on the gift we were given by our God. 

Think on that for a second.... Jesus is our Emmanuel, which in Hebrew means, God is with us.... He created this baby to grow into a man to walk with us... God himself is WITH us through HIS son.  God with open arms said, here people of this world... take my son, my only child. He is here in the flesh and I KNEW from the moment he was a little bean in Mary's belly that His son would die for you while on this earth so you could forever live in eternity. That is the gift God gave you.  That is the gift we celebrate on Christmas. 

When God gave us HIS son, did He go, hum... I wonder if Jesus will be good enough (I type this and I laugh, that just sounds ridiculous).  Do you think that they will return him and not even open up this precious gift I have given? I really should have sent the people a rocket ship instead. NO. 

When God sent His only son as a gift on Christmas, He was thoughtful. He sent us the most precious, amazing thing He could think of because God thought we were important enough... He thought of everyone when Christ was born. And God didn't need a list (let me give Esther a pair of socks, and Mary deserves a baby--- NO).... He knew us before we were born, because like Jesus, we are His children. 

This is so personal to me and I feel so raw and vulnerable as I post this because I know a lot of people who say HAPPY HOLIDAYS and that is fine... but on December 25th it is MERRY CHRISTMAS. It is the day that we celebrate the day Christ was born. I will keep saying Merry Christmas because it is very personal. Christ is my savior, my refuge, and my relationship with Him is very personal, but I love sharing His love with others, so on the other hand it is not personal. 

(OK, so inappropriate movie line, it's like from Dirty Dancing... NOBODY PUTS BABY IN THE CORNER.... don't put Christ in the corner because it makes you uncomfortable, and don't chastise me because I say Merry Christmas, Christ came before Santa. *PREACH IT* SPEAKING TRUTH *BOOM, there it is*)

God is my daddy (for those of you who know Ms Vickie, I just typed that as if I channeled her because she talks about God as her daddy and that is what He is...), and the gift He gave puts all other gifts to shame, no other earthly gift will ever compare. 

Imagine holding your baby you just gave birth to, the one you felt grow in your belly for so long... remember? Yes, moms you do... like it was yesterday...

This is a young me... almost 4 months pregnant with Kennith, I think I always rubbed that belly
Yep. This is me preggo with Madelynn (3 weeks to go). She loved to kick my sciatic nerve and take my left leg out, and how funny that her personality is spit fire just like that of the baby in my belly.

I remember my mom telling me when I was pregnant with Kennith, "You think you know what love is... you don't. You will know that unconditional, I would do anything, so protective kind of love when you hear your baby cry the first time."

And she was right. I loved him from the day I prayed for him. I felt him grow in my belly. I remember the first kick. I was on the New Jersey Transit train going home after working a long day in Manhattan, and I felt the kick, I though that there was something touching my belly, then I realized it was coming from the inside and that this little human was saying, "HEY MOMMY... look at me." I got home and he started kicking again and I screamed at my husband to come feel the kicks... but he couldn't. Those precious little kicks are only for mommy, I cherished them, for it was just for me. Then as Kennith grew, he would kick so hard it would shake my whole belly. Everyone could see him kick and I would smile and as a pregnant mama, I glowed from the joy of having this child grow inside me. I remember teaching a class... my son got the hiccups and I was 8 months pregnant... I kept teaching... all of a sudden this student raised his hand and goes, "Um, your belly keeps moving?" In kind of an I AM FREAKED OUT YOUR BELLY MOVES-- question/ statement.  I said, oh... I didn't even realize it. He has the hiccups, he gets them all the time. I was getting so comfortable and used to him growing inside me I didn't even notice, he was a part of me from the inside out, and I was full of joy. 

We read to him when he was in my belly using the belly button microphone (LOL), nurturing that relationship before he was out of my womb... and every day I thanked God for this precious baby because for 7 years I was told I had "unknown infertility"... 

So, initially when my mom told me I didn't know the truest type of love yet, I remember laughing at her and I don't know what I actually said, but if you know me it was something like, "Are you smoking crack, whatever...."

Then my son was born. And I am crying as I write this because I heard him cry and this THING swooped down inside me and took over my heart and my mind and I then KNEW what my mom was talking about and I cried and cried..... I have loved my son and my daughter with a ferocious kind of love that a mom can have, from the moment they were a little peanut in my belly.  I hold them and love them and I protect them. I would die for them, without even thinking twice, they are MY children, they are of me.... 

I challenge myself and you... spend some time right now. Close your eyes. Wait, not yet... look at my babies first and then close them. *SNORT*
My Kennith as a sweet baby... I see this and I smile with misty eyes thinking that time goes way to fast.
The day Madelynn was born. I see this and I remember crying saying she is perfect. My first moments really seeing her for the first time (Mandatory C-section, so as soon as she cried, they showed her too me, whisked her off and put me back together. LOL)

Imagine that baby in your arms... look into those eyes, count the toes, the fingers. Look at this little human you created with so much love. 

NOW.... just stop.... and imagine....What if you were Mary? 

What if you were Mary holding Jesus, knowing... His purpose. Your love doesn't change, you don't know how long you get him, and look at those tiny arms, someday they will be stretched out on a cross with nails, but God blessed you with him... imagine you were told by an angel that you, imperfect you, who loves your God with ALL you have that YOU are highly favored and God picked you (see Luke 1:28). God gave us Jesus as our baby boy, not just Mary's.  We hold him in our arms and in our heart, he grows inside us and we can FEEL him move in our spirit, our soul. This was freely given to us because OUR God loves us fervently. 

I am talking to YOU. 

YES.  YOU.  This is YOUR story... it is YOUR beginning.... He loved you so much.... He says not only do I love you with this ferocious kind of love my child, but I love you so much I gave you my son. I know he will die, I know his walk, but I give Him freely to you so you can have an eternal life with me. Imagine holding YOUR Jesus as a baby, knowing everything his life would mean for yours. 

Christmas is the day that we hold the baby that was born on earth so we could live eternally. 

It is personal. I am bawling. I think of my love for my children and then I take a step back because MY GOD loves me more than I can even imagine, I cannot even wrap my head around it...  He loves ME, flawed-snarky-sentimental-inappropriate-imperfect me more than what I can even comprehend.  Why do I say that? I am a parent, I have children... and I love my babies so much I would die for them... BUT, let's be honest...I could never imagine giving them up to save the world. I just couldn't. But GOD did... without hesitation, for you.  

Christ was born. He lives.

He lives in me. He lives in you... It's personal. Christmas is YOUR legacy. 

HUMBLED I AM. 

That is one gift I could never top. That is a gift of thought and is full of impact and when you think about it you know the gift was given freely and intentional to change you forever.  

So here is what I don't understand...

Why do we return it without opening it? Are we afraid? (I say WE because I have been there... UM HELLO CHOIR, I'M PREACHIN. LOL) 

Why do some people deny the birth, the cross, and the resurrection of the one person who walked this earth PERFECT but died to save us as imperfectly perfect as can be. Are we too afraid to open it? Maybe we could just pretend to like it and re-gift it? (Picture it... Oh, thanks... this baby is cute *fake smile* person leaves and we put the baby in the closet to give at a White Elephant exchange next year.... WHHHAAATTT???) 

Or maybe we should just sit the quiet, close our eyes, and just imagine... this perfect baby, given to us so we could have eternity. Let that simmer....

So, maybe when we are sitting by the tree, laughing, opening gifts... we can just take a few minutes to reflect on the actual day and the meaning... it is not Merry Santamas or Happy Holidays. 

It is Merry CHRISTmas... don't ever forget the reason for the season and how much you are loved beyond measure. God will never reject you or walk away... He gave the best of Him on this earth for you--- His one and only son... it's personal.

I think tomorrow I am going to sit down and make something for my loved ones for Christmas. I will get them stuff off their list, but I want them to know that they are so important to me, I thought about them and I made something for them and took time from my day for them. A craft or a drawing or a letter is nothing like what God did, but it is with thought and love. It is getting back to creating authentic connections with others, something that so many of us lack. That is the gift of Christmas. Love one another as you are loved. 

 John 3:16-17 NLT

"For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him."


The old me would NEVER have written this because I used to be too concerned with offending someone. The new me says, if you are offended by my blog He must be stirring you up... Open the door just a smidgen for him to show you 1/4th of his love... and when you experience it, you will long for a deeper connection with Him, and you will rip the whole door off. 

Merry Christmas. May your family be blessed beyond measure. 


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