Saturday, November 20, 2010

Are you looking in the right window?

It's time for sleigh bells, winter wonderland and garland. It's time to get out the turkey and dressing. Doesn't this time of year just make you all warm and toasty inside? We make those Christmas cards and send those invites to Thanksgiving dinner. We clean our homes and put up our decorations. We wait for the snow to fall and watch our children with tender awe. But what does it really all mean to you?

We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of it all don't we? The stores are packed as people are gathering all they need and a little extra they don't. We count down time and become restless. We become stressed over each day as it draws near. Where will we go? Who will come? What will I serve? Oh, what will I get? How much does that cost? Do I really care? We rack up charge cards to make sure everyone has a gift. Not just one, but we cover the skirt under the tree with gifts. Our stockings are running over, but with all the gift giving are we missing something? I must be honest and say, I don't see many people smiling while they are out and about. I think that is my very point. Why do we allow such joyous days to bring such tremendous stress? Shouldn't we be smiling? Where is the peace we sing about? Where is the joy?

We reach deep into our pockets. We watch commercials that make us feel blue and guilty. Do we wonder why the suicide rate goes up during the holidays? All we must do is look at the commercials. I don't even think it's about giving anymore, but impressing. It's about outdoing another. It's just about giving that perfect gift. But don't we already have the perfect gift? Isn't Jesus enough? When did we move from celebrating His birth to buying out the store for our kids?

As I was driving through our small town a few days ago I passed a church where people were gathered in a long line that wrapped around the whole church. The parking lot was filled with cars. I had never seen this before so it grabbed my attention. The faces of the people seemed as though they were lost in it all. They were shivering from the chill in the air. As I drove past I finally seen the sign. Food Pantry on Thursdays. These people were hungry. These families were standing in a line when I am sure they wished they could be elsewhere. This sight broke my heart. I hurt for them. I understand their pain of wondering what are we going to put on the table for dinner.

As I went into my local drug store to get my prescription a woman was there with excitement. She shouts out, "I received my medicaid! Now I can get my medication!!" I could have cried at that moment. How long had she gone without it? I was standing there able to get my medications only because of my loving mother. I too understood her pain. I wondered, "Is that what the Lord is teaching me? To be humble before all men?"

A few days ago my mom and I spent the day together. First, we went to the eye doctor. Praise Jesus, my mom's eye pressure was normal. No appointment for four months. We left there so very thankful. We went to lunch and shared conversation about my first Christmas. My mom shared with me that during our first Christmas my dad went out and bought the biggest tree he could find. Mom decorated it and was so excited to have her little girl for Christmas, which my birthday is right after Christmas too. But the celebration was not to be. I was in the hospital in ICU. I was very sick. My parents were broken hearted. They no longer cared about a tree or presents. They were afraid of losing their daughter. That was the first time my mom had shared that story with me. She blessed me beyond words. I felt her love within each word. To think my dad went out and bought a tree that filled the whole living room just for his little girl made my day, my week, my whole holiday season. See, he is no longer here to celebrate these holidays. I miss his smile and cheerful laugh.

We take so much for granite. We make it all about gifts and wrapping them just right. Maybe my lessons come from trials. For the past few years we have not had money for gifts. But that has not stopped us from celebrating. You learn what is important and what is simply not of value. It's not about us or what is under our tree, but what is above it.  If we think about it, it all has to do with Christ and Him alone. Without Him there would be no Christmas. Without Him there would be nothing to be thankful for. Don't allow the commercials and ads get you down. Don't think you have to keep up with your neighbor who can purchase the mall itself. Celebrate from your heart. Share a story with someone. We cannot fully open our home to another unless we first open our heart.

What if someone was to look into your window? What would they see? Would they see thankfulness? Would your home be filled with love? Many times we spend too much time looking into others windows wishing we had what others do. In doing so, we miss out on the very blessings we have right in front of us. Enjoy each day for what it is. A life, given to you as a gift from the Lord. May we be thankful in Him. May we celebrate His birth through our life and how we live each and every day.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 "Rejoice always, pray witout ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
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