Archive for December, 2009
An unusual thing happened today.Â It snowed.Â Which means that quite possibly for the very first time in my life I will experience a true “white Christmas.”
The snow began sometime between noon and 1, while my children were eating lunch.Â I was standing in the kitchen making sandwiches, and Trey asked if it was snowing yet.Â I looked out the window and could tell that although the precipitation was frozen, it was not yet snow.Â And then, all of a sudden, there it was.Â Big, fat, fluffy white snowflakes being driven across the yard by gusty north winds.
“God must be either crying or sweating,” Trey commented, using his childlike explanation for rain.
“But it’s Christmas Eve!Â Why would God be crying?Â This is the time we celebrate His Son’s birth, and I would think that would make Him happy,” I responded.
“Maybe it’s tears of joy,” Trey answered.
And that made me stop.Â Right in the middle of making a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, knife in hand.Â Looking outside and seeing the snow, I told him, “You know what?Â I like to think of this snow as confetti from heaven.Â God’s own ticker-tape parade to celebrate and announce the birth of His Son so everyone can celebrate with Him.”
My children smiled and were satisfied with that.
And I realized the power of that moment.Â I remember clearly the night my own son – my firstborn son – arrived.Â Though it wasn’t in a stable but rather in a crowded operating room with doctors and nurses and a NICU team on hand ready to assist if needed, I can remember the exceeding joy at seeing his precious face and mop of black hair for the first time…of hearing his hearty cry…of wrapping my arms around him and cradling his little perfectly formed body close to mine, watching him breathe and feeling his tiny heart beat.Â Quickly we shared the news with friends and family, and over the next few days we had a parade of visitors in and out of our little hospital room, coming to see this new life and dreaming with us of how this little one would change the world.
Two thousand years ago, God gave us the miracle of His son through human birth.Â This proud Heavenly Father was present in that very stable, His glory evident through the light of a mysterious star appearing overhead.Â He announced His son’s birth not with email or cell phones, but with the hosts of heaven – legions of angels singing together in a mighty, deafening chorus: “Glory to God in the highest!”Â And those few who visited this Child were forever impacted by the One who came to change the world.
So how fitting it is to have a “white Christmas.”Â The redeeming work of God’s Son, come to save us.Â To cleanse us.Â To make our sins “as white as snow.”Â To completely cover all our failings, our struggles, our faults, and make us pure and holy in God’s sight.Â A once-for-all act of sacrifice, that allows us hope of life eternal.
This year, I know I’m not dreaming of a “white Christmas.”Â It’s a reality, in more ways than one.Â And I know that because of the gift of salvation, my days will be merry and bright…and all my Christmases will be white.
I am Second.
Those of you in the Dallas area have probably seen the billboards, heard the radio ads, watched the tv spots, or perhaps even ventured to the website.Â For those of you outside the Metroplex, I am Second simply reflects a lifestyle characterized by God is first.
Today, our church began a new sermon series for the Christmas season based on the I am Second campaign.Â Except instead of using local celebrities -Â athletes, artists, executives, and personalities – we’re using biblical characters central to the Christmas story and examining how they typified a life where God was first.Â Our first example was Mary, the mother of Christ.
A simple, ordinary Jewish girl.Â A girl with hopes and aspirations of living a normal life.Â A girl who dreamed of marrying and having children, of parties and celebrations with friends and extended family, of experiencing all of life that the culture of that time afforded.Â A girl with nothing to offer God, certainly, in terms of status or notoriety.Â A simple girl from a simple town.Â And yet…
“And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’”Â (Luke 1:28 NKJV)
Highly favored.Â Blessed.Â Spoken to her by the messenger of God Himself.
She could have cowered in fear.Â She could have offered excuses.Â She could have – dare I say it? – agreed.Â She did not.
Instead, she offered herself wholeheartedly, unreservedly, willingly:
“Let it be to me according to your word.”
And through her, we were given a Savior, a Redeemer, a hope and a future.
I find myself deeply challenged by Mary’s example.Â By her willingness to follow, to trust in God’s plan for her, to not allow her fears about her own future to be a hindrance to obedience.Â I am humbled by her humility, that although she carried the very person of God Himself within her womb she did not consider herself to be god-like.Â I am inspired by her faith, that although she faced rejection from her family, her friends and even her future husband, she responded with an unwavering and unquestioning belief in God’s absolute faithfulness.Â I am convicted by her sincerity, that in the face of a difficult and daunting task, she offered praise and adoration and worship of God’s greatness.Â I am encouraged by her simplicity, that though she too was fallen and sinful, God was able to use her to accomplish His perfect plan of redemption.
And I am reminded, once again, of the power of being second.Â Like Mary, may my hands and heart always be open and willing to follow His leading.Â May my prayer be like that of Mary’s:Â Let it be to me according to Your word.
May I be second so that He can be first.
Tonight was the fulfillment of a dream come true for Crisana, apparently.Â It was the annual downtown McKinney Christmas Parade – the “Parade of Lights” – and her Daisy Girl Scout Troop had chosen to participate.Â Our theme was “The Nutcracker”, so some girls dressed as mice and some as nutcrackers.Â And Crisana?Â Of course, she was a ballerina.
It was a COLD evening, even by New England standards.Â The daytime high had been somewhere in the upper 30′s and the lows that evening were projected to be in the 20′s.Â But despite the chill – and having to stand in it for an hour before the parade even got going – Crisana never complained.Â She loved the thought of being the center of attention and being part of such an exciting event.
The floats went first and there were several other Girl Scout troops walking in the parade, so we waited until nearly the end before we had our moment of glory.Â But Crisana rose to the occasion – literally – walking en pointe the whole way, working the crowd at every opportunity, and living her dream.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get many pictures, but thankfully our troop leader did, and she made this video “scrapbook” of the occasion.Â Enjoy!