I've been going through the motions of preparing for Christmas. I put away the Thanksgiving decorations. I looked at the boxes my husband brought out of storage and sat in the middle of our living room floor and I wondered why am I doing this? Our family will all be going to our youngest son's home for our Christmas celebration. We are empty nesters. There are no children to be delighted by the finished tree when the lights are turned on, no one to tell the Christmas story to as we set up the Nativity scene. I had talked myself into putting up the bare minimum and calling it a Christmas.
Then, a text message from my daughter--"Amanda is having her baby, welcome to the world Penny!". That message brought the picture in my head to a day so many years ago when my daughter stayed home from third grade sick. There was a knock on our door. I opened it and there stood a little Amanda with a piece of construction paper in her hand. She told me she was one of my daughter's friends from school and asked if she could see her. I showed her to my daughter's room and she gave her the paper which had two figures on it, one Amanda and one Ashley. At the top read "get well soon, I miss you". Thus started a friendship that has lasted over two decades; endured sleep overs, growing pains, teenage angst, separations from our moves, boys, men, family problems, colleges and careers. Amanda has been in our daughter's life and in ours it seems forever. Today she becomes a Mommy--a Mommy to Penny--Penny from heaven! I am feeling so much excitement and joy over this news.
The feelings her news brought into my life made me start wondering during my quiet time. Shouldn't that same excitement, that same joy be in me as Christmas approaches? Shouldn't I really be feeling even more of these emotions? We celebrate Christmas to celebrate the birth of another baby. THE baby, Jesus my Savior, is the reason for the celebration. Yet until this morning, I had become guilty of making the season about my losses--children who had grown and moved away, family so far away, an empty feeling house, spending so much money on presents, the extra work, blah, blah, bah, bah humbug! Then, as the song says, "a baby changes everything". My thoughts of Amanda and Penny turned to thoughts of Mary and Jesus. Just as we had been looking forward to her birth for nine months, the world had waited for a Savior for generations. Just as this new Mommy had been preparing a place in her heart for her precious one, I needed to prepare a place in my heart all over again for a celebration of thanksgiving to God for His precious Son.
Yes, the decorations I will complete in our home are reminders of happy times when the house was full of noise and children, but it's not the reason for the decorations. The presents I'll wrap and place under the tree are for the one's I love but they are not the reason we buy them. The food we'll prepare and the "feast" we'll all share will be a meal of love but we do not prepare it every year at this time just to have a reason to eat together. Jesus, as the saying goes, is the reason for not just the season but for all that we do to make it a festive time. The birth of Amanda's daughter has revived my excitement about Christmas because it has reminded me of the joy and freedom that our Savior's birth brought into this world. The news of this new precious baby brought my attention away from me and caused me to focus once again on Him. Have you needed to re-focus on Jesus as you've scurried to get things accomplished this Christmas? If so, please join me in praying for little Penny and as you picture her bundled up in a safe, clean hospital in Texas, please shift your focus to the birth of Jesus--no hospital room, a dirty, smelly stable--a King come to earth as man. Just as we pray that Penny will grow through the years and serve a purpose in her life, Jesus grew up to serve the purpose that His Father in heaven sent Him here to accomplish. We pray Penny will live a full and happy life and have a million blessings; Jesus lived a life of servitude as an example to us of obedience to God, He died a death that He did not deserve so that we might have a forever life in Heaven that we cannot earn. His life brings us forgiveness of our sins if we only ask Him, only receive Him as our Savior. If you've never done that, never prayed for Jesus to forgive you your sins, for Jesus to become your Savior, please use this time as you look at the beautiful decorations, as you admire each twinkling light, as you shop for each of your loved ones; to reflect on why you do these things. If you pray for that forgiveness today you, like all of us who know Jesus as our Savior, will understand that a baby truly does change everything.
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6