Friday, November 16, 2012

Look, children, LOOK!

above: handprint lambs by Gabe and Quinn ("Adventures in My Father's World "curriculum, Week 19)

My imperfect journey toward a pure Christmas?
Each year, maybe a step closer.
When my first baby turned one, there were gifts under the tree labeled:
"From: Santa!"
Truly, there are pictures in scrapbooks to document this.
That was the last year that Santa stepped foot in this home.
I kicked out Santa Claus.
Me: quiet, reserved.
Maybe somewhat shy.
But a realist,
with adventure in her heart.
It takes a little courage to kick out Santa Claus.
He is everywhere, after all.
I guess, I just wanted Christmas for my kids to
To always be majestic and mysterious and peace-filled,
focusing on a Super-Hero
who would never leave them.
Whom they would never outgrow.
My son once asked me, "Mom, why exactly do we not do the Santa-thing?"
I simply told him my heart.
"Son, Santa is a fun tradition for many children.
But I traded in Santa for truth.
I purposed in my heart that I would never lie to you.
Even in good fun.
So that you really understand that I am telling
the truth,
when I teach you about Jesus.
Some parents walk this line between Jesus and Santa really well,
as the idea of Santa comes from a historical figure who helped many poor,
named Saint Nicholas.
But I knew I couldn't walk that line well.
So I chose a different path for us."
Fast forward over a year.
We are pulling into the garage, and my son is asking me a simple question.
One with an obvious answer, like "Mom--are we home?"
And I said "No.  Not...yet....."
Being silly, jesting with him.
He was hurt.
He told me so.
"Mom, I am sad."
I laughed it off thinking he was frustrated with my humor,
and that child floored me with:
"You told me that you'd NEVER lie to me.  And you just did.  You just LIED."
Like two tons of bricks fell from the sky and landed on my heart.
He remembered our conversation about Santa,
and it colored his world view.
Through our road-not-taken, the road of Santa,
he remembered my vow to him.
And this imperfect momma apologized for jesting.
Apologized for lying.
And oh-the-line-we-must-walk-as-parents.
I stumble along it right along with the rest.
Intending one thing ~ changing our entire family tradition,
and still falling short.
We kicked out Santa,
but somehow we still do the overload Christmas gift thing.
And every year I encourage the children to write "wish lists."
Only we don't send them to the North Pole.
I never wanted to rid the world of the jolly-fat-fellow-in-red,
just wanted to make it a clear path for my kids toward Jesus.
And yet...somehow....
I am waking up, looking around, and realizing:
Santa was only part of my problem.
I haven't quite mastered this Christmas thing yet.
As the snow gently falls here outside these old windows,
sky darkening with the sleep of impending winter,
I am carving new path,
fighting off new enemies of the soul.

I know what I want my children to see each Christmas.
Right here, yes ~ THIS is my heart:
A trifle over 2,000 years ago,
the God who spoke the world into being, All Powerful,
poured joy and hope upon the earth.
The earth, with it's mess and evil ~ evil that we opted to taste.
Evil that still rolls right off this tongue of mine.
He sent us part of Himself, His glorious son.
All along, His divine plan to bring us back to Himself.
Our dirty, ugly, sinful hearts.
That Christmas Day ~
He sent us our redemption.
At great cost.
A baby born in a lowly manger,
Sent to wash us pure white.
That baby's walk-upon-this-earth,
And his brutal death at the hands of us,
Allows me, sinful me,
To come right to the very throne of God,
bathed pure white,
and be called a child of the Most High God.
Look, children, LOOK!
See the gift He has given!


Rocking the baby to sleep,
this song came into my head.
I think, just maybe, I am meant to share it here.
Funny how music can sing the song of souls.


Monday, November 12, 2012

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
and sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth....
                        (-excerpt by Robert Frost)
This is where I am.
Standing, peering, pondering that forest.
I have these little, teeny feet following me.

And, truth be told...
I would probably stand at that diverged road forever.
If it weren't for time speeding forth,
beckoning me make my way, or it be made for me.
I am thinking...Christmas this year?
Will be the start of a new trail.  A little unconventional.
A bare-naked Christmas.
And I'm not talking exposed skin and blushing.
Just a stripping of all the distractions.
Honestly, if I were to bare my heart ~
facing forth a trail less-trodden is a bit SCARY.
And is going to take some real courage from this momma's heart.

Every year, as Thanksgiving heralds its approach,
I have the children dig deep and offer-up tales of what they are thankful for.
There is pure joy in the act of giving thanks,
breathing life and fanning the sometimes graying ashes of contentment.
Such peace.

Feel it?
Feel that peace and contentment just vaporize...
As the rush toward -stuff- begins?
We were all just THERE:  basking and washing ourselves in joy.
It is the greatest mass-hysteria-soul-amnesia-pandemic.
Within one week, I go from teaching-the-counting-of-blessings,
to teaching-the-counting-of-wanting-more-always-more.
I go from having my little ones write lists of thanks,
to handing them paper and inspiring them to write a list of all their lack.
And the focus shifts.
Innocently enough,
But shift -- it does.

And like tectonic-shifting changes the very placement-of-continents,
The shift of heart-plates, away from gratitude, forever changes the soul.

I am finally understanding what the retail world has known all along.
There is no real profit to be made at Thanksgiving.
Because when people are giving thanks,
They are not out looking to buy joy.
They already have it.

I could probably write a ten page, okay twenty...
journey of my muddled ponderings, staring down this fork in the road.
Hearing those little feet, eyes just watching what way we'll take.
I love that these little ones are safe with me!
And at the same time --whoa, the responsiblity--
Inviting you to watch this journey unfold?
Starting here..
at the decision place.  Long.
Where I am still a bit muddled and uncertain and
building, building --always building, courage.

As this momma is standing there,
Ready to forge ahead into a new path toward
heralding in the birth of sweet Jesus ~
our home is full of the buzz of gratitude.

And it is well within my soul.

May I be the flawed vessel, infused with glue-of-supernatural strength,
that holds those heart-plates in place?
Holds them in place,
On where real joy is found.


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost.