Friday, December 24, 2010

O Holy Night

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior's birth.

I love the artistic license we take in imagining Christ's birth - the sweet Christmas nativity displayed to us since childhood, complete with sleeping baby and lowing cattle. Most likely, it was a much dirtier and intense experience than our imagination cares to reflect on. Still, there is no doubt this was a truly holy night, marking the arrival of not just any child, but the only child ever sent as a suitable Savior to the world.

Was it a bright, starry night? We don't really know. It could have been cloudy and misting, for all the detail Luke's gospel gives us. But it certainly became a brightly shining night to a certain group of shepherds working the late shift in the hills of Bethlehem, when God's angels greeted them with news of the manger-dwelling Christ child. Within hours of His birth, those shepherds were proclaiming His arrival to the world... the first missionaries.

Long lay the world, in sin and error pining, til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

Sin isn't new. It's not something we've managed to create or enforce through our current culture, despite what your political views might be. Satan has never needed to be creative. The sin we find ourselves languishing to today is the same sin introduced way back in the Garden of Eden - the belief that we somehow know better than God. Most sin stems from humanity wrestling for a place over divinity.

But then this child appears, miraculously born to a virgin teenaged girl and placed in a manger of all things, and suddenly humanity is invited in - not to share divinity with God, but sonship with the Heavenly Father. The "soul felt it's worth" because God isn't just about salvation. He is about relationship - and He desires, if you can believe it, a relationship with imperfect, languishing, prideful us. He chose to adopt us as His sons and daughters because in His eyes, we are worthy.

A thrill of hope. The weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

When we truly understand and embrace what God has done - when we truly accept the undeserved love and salvation He extends to us - can we be anything but thrilled? He is the hope that our weary souls long for, whether you're experiencing that hope for the first time, or you're being refreshed by it once again. We rejoice because it's Christmas morning, because our adopted Father invites us through His Son to cast the burdens we've been carrying - marriage, children, illness, disappointment, fear, and so much more - into His divine hands.

Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices. O night divine. O night, when Christ was born.

Respond to His great love with worship, not because He demands it, and not because it's "part of the deal," but because your heart is overflowing with gratitude for what He's done. Fall on your knees or stand up and shout; sing a song of praise or whisper a prayer of thanksgiving. But whatever you do, join those Bethlehem angels in giving praise to a God who, on this most divine and most holy of nights, began the process for your salvation and mine by sending His Son to be that baby in the manger we celebrate this Christmas.

May you have a blessed and Merry Christmas,

Monday, December 20, 2010

She Just About Cracked This Nut

In honor of my mom's birthday this weekend, my mom, my sisters, my three daughters and I went to see a local performance of The Nutcracker. I wasn't sure how the girls would do with such a long show, but they were all really excited about the performance. Evie was particularly thrilled. She just loves her ballet classes, and she couldn't wait to see all of the dancers perform.

Unfortunately, I didn't adequately prepare her in terms of ballet etiquette. Therefore, below is a synopsis of the running conversation we had DURING the Nutcracker performance. I just had to record it for posterity.


She starts out on my lap, sitting up as tall as she can and trying not to miss a thing...

What are they doing?

Are they dancing?

Is there going to be any talking? Why is nobody talking?

Over time, she slumps down and starts sighing loudly...

This is kind of boring. Miss Ellen said there would be butterflies. I don't see any butterflies.

Is this the show with Clara? I saw her on the Wonderpets. Remember when the Wonderpets saved the Nutcracker?

Where's Clara?

Sitting up again...

Is she Clara?

What did that man just give to Clara?

Mommy, what's a nutcracker?

Who is that? Why did he break Clara's nutcracker?

He's a mean boy!

There's a lot of dancing, isn't there Mommy?

Half-lounging, with her leg draped over the next seat...

I want to see the mice.

Where are the mice?

Are the mice coming? They were on the Wonderpets.

And up...

Are those the mice?

Is that boy a ballerina?

That's so funny, Mommy. Boys can't be ballerinas!

What happened?

Did he die? Did that mouse die?

Is he going to heaven now?

Waving frantically through several performances in the Land of Sweets...

Mommy! Mommy! It's Miss Sarah! See her dancing?

Where did Miss Sarah go?

Oh, I see her!

Where did she go?

Oh, there she is!

Is that Miss Sarah?

Right there? Is that her?

There she is, Mommy!

She's now at full attention on my lap, and I can feel her flexing her fanny to the beat of the music. No joke. Left cheek. Right cheek. Left cheek. Right... Left... Right. Left. Right. Leftrightleftrightleftright...

Oh Mommy! It's the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy! I love the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy!

Is she the Sugar Plum Fairy?!? She's so pretty!

I want to be a ballerina when I grow up.

I know how to do a pirouette.

Tussling over the flower we had for Miss Sarah...

It's my turn to hold the flower, Ella!

I'm not putting it in your face, Mommy.

Can we give Miss Sarah the flower now?

What about now?

Now do we give her the flower?

I want to give her the flower.

Ooops! I dropped the flower, Mommy.

She decides to stand now, but she can't see the dancers. She sits in the seat next to me, and still can't see. Now she's off to sit with Mimi, who in exchange sends Emily down my way.

The twin thing is so weird. She's a flexer, too.

Yes, really.

Left. Right. Left. Right...