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Red Bucket

I always walked right past them, usually with eyes averted or a sheepish smile and a murmured “Merry Christmas.”

 

Until last year.

 

Firefly was only two and I held her little hand tightly as I absentmindedly rushed her past the red bucket and the bell-jingler. We stepped through the doors and I breathed a quick sigh of relief as the warmth of the drug store hummed over us. But she was old enough to start asking questions and her two-year-old queries halted me.

 

“Mama, what is the red bucket? Why do people put money in it?”

 

Before, my excuse for my hard-to-come-by generosity had been that I never carry cash and I pass by so many of those Red Kettles throughout the Christmas season – how could I possibly give to all of them? Oh, and my wallet’s change pocket? Well, my meager amount of pennies just seemed too  . . . meager.

 

But now she was asking if she could drop money in the bucket.

 

We walked out of the store, she with pennies in hand, and with a plink, plink, plink, her little heart gave too. And she changed me.

 

She asked about that bucket all year. Her little two -, then three-year-old brain, remembered right where it was. We drove past the drug store, the summer sun warming our skin through the car windows.

 

“Mama, why is the red bucket only there at Christmas?” She had asked inquisitively.

 

Her questions churned within me. And again, from the mouth of a child, my heart learns to lean a little closer toward the One who whispers. He’s the One whose Red Covering washes us clean and whose joy can fill us to overflowing….

 

Christmas season arrives again and she squeals excitement at the first glimpse of a red bucket. We walk out of the automatic doors of Wal-Mart, and she stands, hands cupped, as I dig through my wallet, trying to find as many silver coins as I can. The bell-jingler sits and waits patiently. She wears an oversized black and white parka and a dark toboggan, trying to keep warm. Her eyes smile as her cocoa-colored hands tilt the red bucket toward Firefly. I watch as my child steps on her tippytoes, dropping her coins, one by one, into the cross-shaped slot.

 

My heart slows.

 

The bell-jingler’s eyes meet mine and I wish her a Merry Christmas as she simultaneously bids us a blessed one.

 

We take a short step out from under the store’s towering shadow. Our eyes have to squint in the December sunlight.

 

 

Repost from Christmas 2010

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Outstretched for our Glory Baby

How do you share on a blog that you just lost a baby? How do you write anything else without sharing that you just lost a baby? There’s not much I feel like I can write yet, but the day after I wrote my last post, we discovered that we were blessed with our third baby. A few weeks later, we were told, we would not be raising that baby, that it was already gone. It has been a long and difficult month and a half, but we’re still here, recovering from emotional and physical heartache, but thankful for this week and the Christmas upcoming.

 

We are celebrating God with us. And our baby with Him. There lies the tie that binds.

 

And sometimes, music says it better….

 

(I have no ties to this fundraising effort – just thought hearing the song would be better than simply posting lyrics. The statistics are stunning, however)

Glory Baby

by WaterMark

Glory baby you slipped away as fast as we could say baby…baby..
You were growing, what happened dear?
You disappeared on us baby…baby..
Heaven will hold you before we do
Heaven will keep you safe until we’re home with you…
Until we’re home with you…

Miss you everyday
Miss you in every way
But we know there’s a
day when we will hold you
We will hold you
You’ll kiss our tears away
When we’re home to stay
Can’t wait for the day when we will see you
We will see you
But baby let sweet Jesus hold you
‘till mom and dad can hold you…
You’ll just have heaven before we do
You’ll just have heaven before we do

Sweet little babies, it’s hard to
understand it ‘cause we’re hurting
We are hurting
But there is healing
And we know we’re stronger people through the growing
And in knowing-
That all things work together for our good
And God works His purposes just like He said He would…
Just like He said He would…

BRIDGE:
I can’t imagine heaven’s lullabies
and what they must sound like
But I will rest in knowing, heaven is your home
And it’s all you’ll ever know…all you’ll ever know…


Heart Full

What a fun, beautiful week! The fun and Christmasing still goes on here as the hubby is off of work all week (I feel so spoiled!), so the posts may be few and far between (just in case you’re on the edge of your seat waiting for them, heh heh).

 

This is the first Christmas that I was not completely depressed by the time I slipped under the covers. I’ve mentioned before that I *love* the Christmas season and that I’m usually “down” after it’s all over. This year, all that has changed and I think it has a lot to do with the mindset that has finally been clicking with me and seems to be in the blogosphere as well.

 

Christmas is just the beginning.

 

This year, in the midst of all the partying and baking and shopping, I just could not get the Cross off of my mind, as evidenced in the last post. And the Lord just kept giving me glimpses of His whole Redemptive story at a time when I oftentimes get stuck in the first chapter.

 

I found this picture from Easter of this year:

 

Notice what the little one is wearing on Easter morning? Her Christmas pajamas. Not planned. I just noticed it a few days ago when I was looking through the year’s pictures.

 

And then my sister made hard-boiled eggs for Christmas Eve brunch:

 

And simple things like that.

 

So now, I feel like the season has just begun! He has come! He is with us! I am anticipating His work in me . . . in you.

 

So, I am just sitting here, bursting at the seams in gratefulness:

 

#82 little sister hugs

#83 thoughtful birthday wishes before I’d even pulled back the covers

#84 a new piano book – music to feed the soul

#85 hydrangeas in December

#86 a friend who knows me so well

#87 a delicious Italian dinner, celebrating with My Man

#88 unexpected drop-ins from friends!

#89 a belated card

#90 a new, healthy baby girl on the street

#91 the Christmas errands, FINISHED!

#92 the hubby, home for the holidays

#93 the weaving of the Resurrection in the Birth

#94 a heart and life transformed through the years – pure joy before my eyes!

#95 a basket of bread to give away in the moonlight

#96 that sextupling instead of tripling the batch by mistake was actually His provision

#97 grown men reading the Jesus Storybook Bible around the table

#98 a confidence, not my own

#99 matching Christmas Eve pajamas

#100 family togetherness

#101 six to seven inches of snow on Christmas morning!

#102 the best Christmas gift ever:

#103 finding each other in the chaos

#104 a snow plow to rescue us!

#105 being with my brothers and sisters despite the snow

#106 cell-phone lights, waving in the night

#107 making it home safely

#108 a quiet, lazy Sunday morning

#109 arms full of little girls

#110 answered prayer

#111 blossoming sister-love

#112 building my first snowman on Christmas Day

#113 memories captured

#114 He came, He will not leave, and He is coming again

Arrival

I was definitely not planning on writing again today, but

I’ve been wondering . . .

Why a stall?

A manger?

Hay?

Sheep and Shepherds?

Rejoicing angels over a field of sheep?

I know the common belief is that shepherds were regarded as thieves, or worse than thieves, and that God often uses the humble things of this world to show Himself and reveal His glory. I think I get that.

But I can’t help but wonder if there’s more hidden in His choice place for His own birth. He was swaddled tightly and laid in a feeding trough for animals. Among sheep? Cows?  Were they Jewish animals being raised for sacrifice?

Perhaps that first night, in amongst the sheep, shepherds and stars, He was already proclaiming his Redemptive plan to those who were often feeding, breathing and growing merely to die as atoning sacrifices. To those who were the very picture of inefficient redemption, He first proclaimed His earth-arrival.

Perhaps He was saying,

“No more.”

Perhaps, the One who died as the Lamb of God, the One who came to abolish all scapegoats and sin and sacrifices, who transferred all sin to Himself . . . perhaps He was also born the Lamb of God. His once-and-for-all, unblemished sacrifice, foreshadowed.

Emmanuel had come. The Creation-Redemption had just begun. And our breath still catches.

From the Realms of Glory

Making last-minute menu, grocery, and to-do lists and checking them twice. It is almost here!

 

And thanking Him, that He came to do away with any checklists that could ever earn His love or favor.

 

For His Law is Love.

 

Dear friends, may your Christmas be filled with the Spirit of our Rescuer, who leaving Glory, came down to the musty smell of hay and bleating sheep, to reclaim us for His own.

 

Our Emmanuel.

 

He came.

 

And He never leaves.

 

“And I will never again turn my back on them, for I will pour out my Spirit upon them,” says the Sovereign LORD. Ezekiel 39:29

 

Let us rejoice – louder than the angels!!!!


In Grateful Chorus Raise We

He brings up the subject, the one that has me on pins and needles with hope and expectation, and all I hear is his saying, “No.” Tears burst and heart aches, desires feel impeded.

 

More waiting. More stamina for the waiting necessitated. I am weary with the waiting.

 

Then the window of his soul opens and thoughts and conviction tumble out and things I used to pray for . . . things I had given up on . . . make themselves known.

 

And I didn’t know it until he voiced it, but I had lost hope for this. But when least expected, a coursing hope sweeps away the pining tears and my weariness turns to joy.

 

They thought Jesus was coming to rescue them from the tyranny of the Romans. He rescued them from something much greater, much more sinister.

 

I thought He was readying to rescue me from my waiting. He stirs and chains much more strangling are beginning to loose. He rescues us from our inky-black apathy. The Star is brightly shining and He leads us to Himself, the Great Rescuer.

 

 

Man Loving

They gave us a 13% chance. My Man and I were only about 20 years old at the time, and we sat side by side in a large convention center, listening as a husband/wife counseling duo spoke to us, a room full of “Adult Children of Divorced Parents”. Our parents’ marriages had recently disintegrated and according to the speakers, if both spouses in a marriage come from divorced families, you have a thirteen percent chance of your marriage lasting. A tough statistic for the both of us to swallow, considering we’d already been dating three years and had been planning on marrying. I’ve often wondered if our particular statistics are even slimmer, considering our families’ situations, but that is a story for another time, as it is a story that belongs to more than only me….

 

Thankfully, we have a God who created all science and therefore has more than enough power to defy it.

 

A year later, we sent out wedding invitations. Because as our invitations quoted:

 

Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away.

Song of Solomon 8:7

 

Ours could not be quenched by outside forces.

 

But there have been plenty of times when I have quenched it. I, who need his love more than anything.

 

I quench it.

 

Most days, I allow the rivers of busyness, self-doubt, fear of vulnerability and just my plain old pride, wash over our marriage and we both struggle for air. Where I feel most safe, is often the very place where I suffocate the fresh breath of true, unrepressed love. And I am married to a gentleman in the true sense of the word. He does not push himself on me. He waits.

 

But when I’m taken by the hand and led outside myself, out of my hiding, and into the light of loving, letting go of my comfort and pretense and fear, I am only given more freedom, love, and confidence in return.

 

And as I’ve thought about Christmas and all I want to do for everyone to make the day “magical” . . . what I want to gift and cook and how I want to buy goats or something for a family in Africa (and those things are beautiful and

important) . . .

 

the tugging at my heart is for my husband.

 

Because the one closest to me is the one who often gets the leftover, worn-out scraps of me.

 

And is it not the same with Jesus? We hide from him, we try to keep Him appeased, we try to love Him in the way that is easy for us, but how can we best love Him who is the Truest Gentleman, our Heavenly Bridegroom? He does not push Himself on us. He is waiting too.

 

It may sound trite and it may sound like common sense, but how often I lose sight of it: I would venture to say that if you are married, and if marriage is truly a picture of Christ and His Bride (Eph. 5), then there is no greater picture of how we love the God-Man, than how we love the men by our sides. And isn’t it just like our you-must-lose-it-to-find-it-Jesus, who takes the sometimes seeming shackles of giving ourselves away, replacing them with life-abundant ties that bind?

 

 

Let me lose my life this Christmas.