Monday, December 28, 2009

From the Hearts of the Young

OK ... so let me start with a disclaimer that I do not understand the latest craze - Zhu Zhu Pet's - but I cannot help but smile as I listen to the 5 little girls that are playing with them upstairs as I type. You see I "lucked into" 4 Zhu Zhu pets. I bought them thinking that they would be cool gifts for those "a friend at school" birthday parties. I had no clue that they were "the new craze." They were $10 and reasonably cute. I bought four and put them away for a time when I could pull one out for a party and avoid going to a store looking for "just the right gift" with an 8 year old that can make looking for a gift an adventure that I have not the patience for. So, a month before Christmas, into the closet they went. My little secret.

My children had not yet caught the Zhu-Zhu fever. They didn't even talk about them. Then my dear friend Julie brought over a Christmas present for each of my kiddos from her kiddos. My youngest, who is eight, was gifted a Zhu-Zhu pet ... and the fever was born. Even my 12 year old thought that they were adorable and quickly hinted that she too would like a noisy, furry, little mechanical hamster to call her own. I just knew that there would be one under the tree for her Christmas morning. I still had 3 for quick presents ... count 1 Christmas wish come true.

A few weeks later my brother called to let us know that he was coming into town for Christmas. His kids had stumbled onto their presents, and he wanted to know if we still had some once offered items that they could use to give the kids some surprises from Santa on Christmas morning. We did, and included in the package a Zhu-Zhu pet. I still had 2 left for quick gifts ... count another Christmas wish come true.

Only now, there was a new twist to this story. Both of my kids now knew that mommy had a secret stash of Zhu-Zhu pets, but they did not ask if they could have them ... nor why I had them. They just knew.

Christmas morning came and went. Both Zhu-Zhu pet recipients were very happy with their new charges. But, I was about to be blessed more than they were. You see one of my daughter's friends, who is also 12, feel in love with the little creatures and my daughter pulled me aside and asked if we could give one of my two to her. She "just knew that it would make her happy." The next day, another proud Zhu-Zhu pet mommy was born ... and I still had 1 left for a quick gift.

That is until tonight. You see, tonight my daughters had 3 of their friends come over to spend the night. All but one of them brought with them their newly acquired Zhu-Zhu Pets. My youngest daughter came down a few hours ago and asked me if there was a way that we could give the last Zhu-Zhu pet in the closet to her dear friend so that they would all have one to play with and no one would feel left out. A few minutes later I called her friend down and extended to her my last "quick present" Zhu-Zhu Pet. The rest of the girls who were hanging over the stair well cheered as she broke into a huge smile, thanked me with a huge hug, and raced back upstairs to join the Zhu-Zhu fun.

So here I sit. I have no Zhu-Zhu pets left, but I have something better. You see, my kids who both decided that Zhu-Zhu pets were rightfully the top selling toy of Christmas 2009 knew I had more. At any time, they could have asked for themselves, but they never did. Instead, they saw opportunities to share them with others ... and did so joyfully. You see I watched both their faces as the gifts were given ... and they were smiling even bigger smiles than their friends. Somewhere along the line, my amazing daughters learned that giving and sharing is a gift that often blesses the giver more than the recipient.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Star Light Star Bright

I have been reflecting a little on this season and what it means to me. This is the time of our Savior's birth ... or at least when we celebrate it. It is a time that we should all feel just a little humbled at the magnitude of the gift that was born unto Mary on a cold night so long ago. A gift that would take years to fulfill its purpose. A gift wrapped in swaddling clothes. Have you ever looked up what swaddling clothes are? According to one site they were "narrow strips of fine linen cloth, about two inches wide which were wrapped around the baby's body." The site goes on to explain that a baby would have been "wrapped from head to foot with only a part of his face left uncovered so he could breathe." The swaddling clothes would hold the baby straight and tight, and was actually to "indicate that he (the baby) would grow up to be free from crookedness and waywardness; that as a king he would walk straight and tall before his people." While the child was wearing the swaddling clothes, which was not a long period of time, the parents would be in prayer to God and making their commitment to Him about the upbringing of their baby. Free from crookedness and waywardness, a king who walked straight and tall before His people ... the correlation is not lost on me.

What must it have been like to look upon his little face ... to smell heaven on His newborn skin ... to know that the Redeemer had just been born? We are told of the shepherds and Wiseman who knew, but how many people that were there missed it completely? Thinking about this made me wonder what would happen if His birth had happened today ... in this modern age? Would we have missed it? Would we have seen and believed?

Little one asleep in the hay

what would we say

if you were born today?

Would we follow the star

from both near and far

risking all to be where you are?

Would we offer every thing

In the gifts that we bring

and at your feet our treasures fling?

Would we see beyond the mystery

And grasp the meaning of your identity

recognize the Savior of humanity?

Would we understand the signs

the prophesies of our time

pointing us to the great divine?

Or would we hold tight

to our own lives that night

grasping at treasures

and self fulfilling pleasures

thus missing it all

and finding only a babe in a stall?

Little one asleep in the hay

what would we say

if you were born today?

May the amazing blessing and miracle of our Savior's birth captivate your soul as you celebrate Christmas ... and may you look upon the day with humble adoration for the One who came to save all of His children ... near and far ...


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Table Talk

OK, so I know I don't usually post little stories about my day to day life, but I could not resist sharing a conversation that happened tonight at the Christmas potluck for the worship team at my church. Let me set the scene. Imagine with me a room with plenty of food and friends. We walk in an happen to sit down at the same table as our pastor and his daughter. We eat a lovely meal and chit chat pleasantly through out it. The pastor's daughter and my daughter are playing around with the candy canes that were on their plates. They are imagining that they are hooks and are gleefully announcing that they are fish that have been caught. Our pastor comments on how children can have fun with just about anything, and we all laugh. I add that having fun is one of the reasons that I love working with 3rd graders and began sharing a couple of things I had learned from them. Take for example giraffe's tongues. Do you know what color they are? They are black. Do you know why they are black? I do thanks to a 3rd grader in my class. They are black so that they do not get sunburned. That's right giraffe's have sunburn protected tongues. Good thing since they are out of their mouths pulling leaves off trees most of the day. I comment on how surely this shows how careful God was in his creation and how much attention to detail he paid. Then my oldest daughter chimes in with some more interesting animal facts. Such as: "Did you know that pigs can look up at the sky?" and "Horses can't vomit." To which my pastor says, "They can't what?" Without missing a beat she responds, "They can't vomit, you know puke, they can't puke." My pastor then asks her where she learned all of these interesting facts. She responds cheerfully, "My dad." My pastor inquires further, "And where did he learn these facts or did he make them up?" (Ready yourself for this part.) She then says, "No he looked them up on the internet, he was trying to find facts to use in kid's church!" I think our pastor found this rather amusing because he told her that was just the kind of thing he looked for when he was planning for church as well. The only think that kept it from being any funnier was that my husband was off visiting other tables and did not hear the conversation! I just love when kids share. :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Come On Bluebird - Sit on My Shoulder!

OK ... so here is my verse for December first:

All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.
Proverbs 15:15 NIV

This verse means a great deal to me, although I have just read it for the first time today. You see, I have a reputation. I have the reputation for being happy and always finding the bright side of things. I have even been called Pollyanna. I've seen the movie. I liked Pollyanna. I like what she represented. Turns out, in today's world it is not actually a compliment at times to be called Pollyanna. Turns out that people don't always want to hear the bright side of things ... it makes it hard to wallow in the quagmire. Nevertheless, I have hung in there ... remained positive ... embraced smiling ... chose cheerfulness. I am at peace when I choose to be this way. It is one of the lessons that has carried forward from my battle with cancer. God showed me that there was always a bright side ... even in the face of death. And now in life ... it is something that defines who I am.

Now, before you start writing me and reminding me of times that I was less than cheerful ... days when I was glum ... days when I was negative ... I will admit that there have been moments, hours, and even days when this has been true of me. During these times life has felt wretched. I have felt wretched. In fact, wretchedness seems to quickly consume my heart like a flame set loose on an Arizona sun-baked field of tumbleweeds. Just as Scripture dictates.

Perhaps, that is why I am far more comfortable being like "Pollyanna." For the flip side of that Scripture is: "the cheerful heart has a continual feast." It does not say anything about our circumstances. You see our circumstances can be miserable, but our hearts be cheerful. This is done only through abiding in the Holy Spirit and letting Him fill you with the kind of joy that is not bound to the circumstances of this world. We can have a continual feast of joy. We just have to choose to take God's road. We have to choose between grumbling and grousing and thankfulness and gratitude ... misery and joy. If we choose the latter, we are better equipped to serve and bring glory to God and we can experience His joy.

So, how are your circumstances? Good? Bad? Wretched? This world seems to be falling apart at the seams. But, there are choices to be made. How is your heart? Are you hungry? Offer up praise to God for all the He has done and is doing in your life! Choose thankfulness and gratitude! Join the continual feast ... There is plenty to go around!

May your heart see beyond your circumstances ...