And Suddenly Came Christmas…

On the heels of a busy, unrelenting and upside down year…I found myself smack dab in the middle of Christmas. How I got there…I couldn’t quite tell you.

If it hadn’t been for a vacation day taken in early December…my halls most certainly would not have been decked for Christmas. As it is…some of those decorations remain on a table…or draped over a chair. Honest and truly I had every intention to put them up. But before I knew it…it was Christmas. It came whether I was ready or not.

Christmas cards were done in batches…and presents wrapped in the order I would see people in the countdown to Christmas.

True confession…today is the day after Christmas…and I still have gifts I’ve not yet opened. The days leading up to Christmas…were filled to the brim…not a lot of down time this year. Today…was back to work.

Even though I have presents yet to open…I must say some of the most meaningful gifts I received this year…were not wrapped in packages tied together with a pretty bow.

Instead…they were words…in a note or a Christmas card or e-mail. Word of thanks filled with gracious loving words from someone I admire. Or a Christmas card received from someone who has passed out of my life as our lives have taken divergent paths. A card sent not out of obligation or duty…but one with a message that comes from the heart.

Those words…mean more to me than all the gold in the world. You see…I can take those with me. They’ll remain in good times and bad…and encourage my heart when the road ahead is rough.

Those are the ones I have a hard time reading because my eyes are filled with tears. If I have to answer the phone when reading one of those notes…my voice may sound a little funny because of the lump in my throat.

Or it was a phone call I received as I sat on the floor in the children’s book department debating on whether to get the DVD or book. A call…just to see how things were going.

Those are the gifts I’ll treasure…those are the gifts I’ll take with me.

This has been a defining year…a clarifying year. A year in which the wheat and chaff have been thrown into the wind. I’ve found that the wheat has landed and remains. The chaff…blew away.

To those of you who have remained that constant in my life…I am eternally grateful. To those new people whom God has brought into my life…I thank God for you.

The greatest gift was one that my Father in heaven planned for me before the foundations of the world. The gift that came over 2,000 years ago. That babe, who lay in a manger, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. One who lived a perfect, sinless life. One whose righteous sacrifice on the cross was accepted by the Father as propitiation for my sin.

That same Jesus is the One who walked with me throughout this year and helped me bear burdens…too heavy for this weak, frail, sinful human.

I wonder…did the cross cast a shadow over the baby Jesus as He lay in the manger on that night over 2,000 years ago?

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