Reflecting on the Nativity….

The early morning frost gave way to a mild and sunny afternoon. The warm weather takes me back to the first Christmas my husband and I spent together as a married couple, living in Los Angeles. We received a nativity set from my sister Lana, a fitting gift for our new life together. So I was drawn to this photo of that same nativity set, more than twenty years later, taken by my husband Mark. I can’t tell you how many moves we made since then. The nativity set has traveled with us, and hasn’t always fared well with the moves. If you look closely, you’ll see the shepherd has lost one foot, and must lean against the stable to stand upright. The thatched roof is worse for wear, certainly not offering much shelter from the elements. Sometimes I’ll notice a shiny new nativity set when we are shopping, but this one suits us just fine. Take time today to remember that very first Christmas, when the King of Kings deigned to become one of us, born in a lowly stable. Consider his first followers were shepherds, the lowest of the low, despised by the priestly elite. And remember, that same King of Kings still seeks after us all, not matter how battered, or how lost.

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

See Him in a manger laid,
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise.

Verses 3 & 4 of Angels We Have Heard on High, Photo by Mark Lindsey


Reflecting on Mary….

The weather turned cold this morning, just in time for Christmas. We’re finishing our final preparations and double checking everything is ready for tomorrow. So I was drawn to this photo of a shadow cast by a manger scene taken by my friend Mary. It’s so easy to lose sight of the real meaning of Christmas. Sometimes we get so turned around, we are facing the shadows instead of the light. We get caught up in all the busy-ness of the season, making sure we have a gift for everyone who has given us one. We rush out to get something if we receive an unexpected present, rather than gratefully accepting what we have been given. Perhaps this Christmas is less than we hoped for, due to financial concerns or ill health. Yet whatever we are facing pales in comparison to the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. I spent the end of my pregnancy on bed rest, while Mary spent hers riding a donkey. When the time came, we took a short drive to the sparkling clean, well equipped hospital. Mary wasn’t sure where she would have her baby. After so many had turned them away, I am sure even a stable seemed a welcome prospect. It seems they found shelter just in time. Take time today to consider the real meaning of Christmas, when the Holy of Holies deigned to humble himself and took on human form. Consider following the path of Mary, responding to Christ’s call by saying, “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word be fulfilled”. And remember, even 2000 years later, it’s never too late to turn toward the manger. Photo by Mary Staley

Reflecting on Toy Trains….

It’s a quiet Saturday morning, with a hint of snow in the air. The slate grey sky is banded by icy clouds, reflecting the winter sun. So I was drawn to this amazing picture of a toy train by my friend Jeanne. I love the vibrant colors and the size of the train next to the trees. When I was a small child, we had a beautiful toy train set. In those days, we asked for trains the way children these days ask for an iPod or laptop. We weren’t done decorating for Christmas until the train set was up and running. The adults may have focused on the tree, but all we saw was the train. Jeanne has drawn a child’s perspective – every else pales by comparison, no matter how colorful, no matter how bright. Perhaps the magic of the train set was offering a new perspective. We lived near train tracks and often would wave to the locomotive engineer, or train driver, as the train slowly crept through our neighborhood. Even at a snail’s pace, the train seemed huge, too big to take in all at one time. The toy train gave us a chance to see the big picture, from above, all at once. Take time today to step back and look at an overwhelming concern from all sides. Pray to see through God’s eyes and hear through God’s ears, to forge a solution that is good for all concerned, for the long haul, rather than settling for a quick fix at the expense of others. And remember, it may take more than one trip around to find the right answer. Art entitled ‘Toy Train’ by Jeanne Mischo

Reflecting on Gifts….

The dog was in and out in a flash this morning. The frost is thick and the air is cold. So I was drawn to this photo of our courthouse taken by my friend Jen. I love how the courthouse is lit up, with a Christmas tree at the top of the steps. Weekends in December, our downtown is transformed into a walking mall. The old library building becomes Gum Drop Square, where children can visit Santa. My friend Jen is one of the volunteers that participate in this community event. The children happily snuggle together after waiting outside in the cold, to listen to Jen, as Princess Genevieve, tell stories we all know and love, like ‘The Night Before Christmas’. This scene is a far cry from my Walmart trip yesterday. As Christmas draws near, the frantic search for the perfect gift becomes heated. More stock littered the floors than could be found on the shelves. Yet perhaps the best gift we can offer is something simple, like quiet time together, or creating a precious memory for years to come. I love cooking with my daughter for the holidays. When she was very young, she was in charge of smashing and stirring. Now, as a young adult, she chooses new recipes and adds her spin to our family tradition. Take time today to consider a way to share your gifts with others. Make up a batch of cookies, using an old family recipe. Take time to read a favorite book to a small child or to someone who is feeling poorly. Sit down together to watch ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’. And remember, when you give of yourself, it’s hard to say who receives the greater gift. Photo by Jen Faulconer, Princess Genevieve by The Kingdom of Azuria

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