Christmas, Family, Friendship

Seeing and Hearing

Over thirty years ago, my husband and I memorized Isaiah 11:1-9. (See here). I love many things about this Advent passage, which prophesied the first coming of Christ.

Shoots coming up from seemingly dead stumps intrigue me. (Verse 1) I want someone who has the Spirit of wisdom and understanding and counsel and might and knowledge. (Verse 2) Killing the wicked with the breath of his lips is helpful. (Verse 4). However, over the years, I thought most about verse three.

And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear,

Isaiah 11:3

I wish I had known that my eyes and ears didn’t always reveal truth. Trusted people deceived. Situations were complex. Pain was buried deep.

Along the way, I witnessed “perfect” marriages crumble, “heroes” struggle with addictions, and “happy” children rebel. Acquaintances who seemed oblivious proved to be extremely perceptive.

Deciding by what my eyes saw and my ears heard did not lead to accurate judgements.

The Good News was, and still is, the arrival of a Savor who accomplishes what we cannot.

Deciding accurately?

Christmas, Family, Friendship

Pondering

The shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.

Luke 2:15-18 (ESV)

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

Luke 2:19 (ESV)

Mary pondered the birth of Jesus and the shepherds’ visit. No photographing, no blogging, no texting, no over-analyzing, no wishing for a repeat.

My husband frequently quotes Luke 2:19 when I tend to overdo all of the above, especially wishing for a repeat of a special moment. Pondering sums up so much. Slowing down and savoring. Taking in deeply instead of documenting. Letting my heart do the reviewing.

What I wish I had known and am still learning along the way is to ponder. I would have experienced more joy and understood more heartache.

Pondering this season?

Basics, Christmas, Parenting

Processing Moments

My husband and I attended a writers panel at the 2019 Boston Marathon Expo. Our goal was to hear our favorite runner, Meb Keflezighi, speak. However, another Olympian spoke the words I remembered most.

Marathoner Deena Kastor was asked, “What did you learn from writing your memoir, Let Your Mind Run?”

We move on and don’t process. Take in moments and don’t move on. Take it in so you can be wiser from your moments.

Deena Kastor 2004 Olympics Bronze Medalist

I immediately thought about my tendency to move on and how much—both good and bad—I had glossed over. Or ignored.

Along the way, I told myself I didn’t have time to slow down and process what was happening to me and around me. However, as soon as Denna said Take it in so you can be wiser from your moments, I knew she was speaking truth, and I wished I had been following her advice for years.

Any advice on processing this year’s Christmas moments?

Christmas, Family, Friendship

Too Good To Be True

Tis the season for Christmas stories to portray happy families and for Christmas movies to mend broken hearts in ninety minutes—if you take out the commercials for gifts that will satisfy our deepest longings. I knew the stories and movies and advertisements were fantasy but what about friends’ Christmas cards and letters of bliss?

Along the way, I learned that any person or family too good to be true was too good to be true.

Certain friends, acquaintances and leaders seemed faultless. It was heart-breaking to learn of their hidden pain and struggles, and yes, great flaws. I had no idea. It gave me perspective when I was tempted to wonder why others had it so easy. They didn’t.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

Romans 3:28 (ESV)

Our brokenness is why we celebrate the birth of a Savior.  Jesus’s perfect life and subsequent death in our place is the only news this season that is both too good and too true.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11 (ESV)

Christmas, Parenting

St. Nicholas Day

While a friend told me about her daughter’s stolen bike, her five-year-old interrupted. “We don’t need to pray about my bike, Mommy. I’ll ask Santa Claus for one.”

While I was telling my second-grade Sunday School class about the birth of Jesus, little Charlie raised his hand. “Can we talk about what Santa Claus brought us instead?”

Those memories plus my own childhood anxiety of being “good enough” for Santa, kept me from playing the Santa Claus game with my children. I wanted truth. We read The Night Before Christmas, but we treated it as the fiction it was. Edna Barth’s Holly, Reindeer and Colored Lights helped explain cultural Christmas compared to the celebration of Christ’s birth.

However, I didn’t want Santa to seem like forbidden fruit. A friend in college had lamented the lack of Santa in her life. St. Nicholas Day helped bridge that gap.

One year, I surprised the children with filled stockings on December 6th, which was St. Nicholas Day.  We discussed the legends of St. Nicholas. That tradition continued a few years. Later, filled stockings made their way to my sons’ colleges as their exam-time care packages.

How have you handled cultural myths?