Thursday, December 24, 2015

Our Special Family Tradition

It’s hard to believe it’s already Christmas Eve.  Where did the time go?  It feels like my boys just started school yesterday.  I so wish we could freeze time until I can catch up with it all.  I don’t know about you, but for some reason this Christmas season has felt a little different for me. 

Maybe the busyness of our lives is the real culprit here.  We’ve done a lot of running our boys here and there lately.  We are running them for school with sports, along with various activities at church, not to mention time with friends.  Some days it has taken BOTH of us running to get each kid where they needed to be when.  I don’t know how single parents swing it!  They must be superheroes!

This year because of all of the craziness, I decided to cut a few things from our Christmas ‘to do’ list.  We have skipped some normal traditions in an effort to slow down our pace and savor the season.  BUT there is one tradition we will never skip! 

Every year on Christmas Eve ever since the boys were little we have read them a special Christmas story.  It’s found in a special book I got years ago called… “Mary’s Treasure Box”

A few years back I attempted to buy another copy (to save back so both boys would have a special book to read to their families) and I was surprised at what I found.  Every where I looked online the prices were over $100 for just ONE book!  What on earth!  I couldn’t believe it!  I guess at that point they were out of print or something. 

At the time I got mine, I was working at a Christian Bookstore where with my employee discount it probably cost me a whole $2 new.  Today I looked up the price and in some places it is a lot cheaper.  In case you want to snag this hidden treasure for your family, I have attached a link for you to check out Here.

What makes this book so special, you might ask?  Well, simply put it shares the story of Jesus’ birth and life from a mom’s perspective.  It’s Mary’s version of the story as she shares it with her granddaughter.  In an effort to bring it all to life for her grandchild, she creatively displays a variety of items stored in her treasure box.  In there she finds… straw, a cloth, a flute, gold, frankincense, and even myrrh.  Each item saved back represents a special part of the story. 

Over the years, we have created a treasure box of our own as well, that we open each Christmas!  In it we have placed many of the items shared from the story.  As we read it each year, we pull out the items one by one and pass them around for everyone to inspect.  Seeing each of them personally has helped make it real for our boys.  Tonight or tomorrow… we will read the story again. 

This book is actually based on a true story if you haven’t figured it out yet.  It’s a story of unconditional love, amazing grace, and enormous sacrifice.   It’s a story that is very personal to me.  Recognizing the reality of God’s overwhelming love for ME has transformed my life. 

Seeing the story in light of Mary’s perspective has challenged me even more since having children.  I can’t even imagine how she might have felt.  Her first child was a miracle… an unexpected blessing.  I imagine she held on to Him tightly not wanting Him to ever grow up… savoring each and every moment recording them forever in her mind.  He was different and deep down she knew it.   

Luke 2:19 says…
“…but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.” (NLT)

Whether she liked it or not, she would have to let Him go at an early age.  He wasn’t truly hers to keep.  He was on loan.  Hmm… this really hits home with me. 

My boys are on loan from God too.  They are His!  He has a plan and a purpose for their lives… and it’s going to be amazing!  My job isn’t to shelter them and hold them tight so they never grow up.  It’s to help them connect with God personally so they can discover what He has in mind for their lives.

I’m sure Mary could see the evidence of God’s hand on her son’s life.  He was mature beyond his years at a very young age.  People followed Him.  God blessed Him in everything He did.  She knew.  She had to hold on to Him loosely.  Some day He needed to be free to live out God’s calling on His life.  I imagine just thinking about it brought knots to her stomach.

I struggle with this reality as well.  My boys are growing up way too fast.  Both are in High School now and time is flying by.  I know it will only be a short time and they will be out in the world doing what God has called them to do.  Knots fill my stomach as I think about it.  Are they ready?  Have we prepared them for what is ahead?  Do they know Him well enough to follow His leading?  Parenting involves a lot of faith… trusting God with our treasures.

There was a time when I grieved the fact that my kids were growing up.  I constantly looked at pictures of younger years missing the days.  But, now it’s different.   I know the day is coming.  Growing up is inevitable… boo! 

For that reason, I want to savor the present moments I have with them.  I don’t want to miss out on the amazing young men they are becoming.  I want to enjoy every minute I have left with them now.

Mary’s life was changed the moment she encountered this precious baby boy and for the better! 

It’s Christmas time and while many are scurrying around lost in the hustle and bustle of the material side of it all.  I challenge you to remember the real reason for the season.  Read the story (Here) and allow the birth, life, and death of a special baby born many years ago impact your holiday season today. 

I pray this Christmas will be different for you.  May God’s presence surround you, His love overwhelm you, and His peace that passes all understanding consume you.  He loves you dearly friend and He gave His very best gift to you the day Jesus was born… a second chance at experiencing true “life”.

Luke 2:11 says…

“The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!   And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” (NLT)

Isaiah 9:6 says…
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.  The government will rest on his shoulders.  And he will be called:  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (NLT)
God turned my world upside down for good the day I met Him and I have never been the same.  I challenge you to give Him a chance if you haven’t already.  You won't regret it!  I promise.  I am available if you would like to talk more about this or have questions.  Merry Christmas friends!

Living to leave a legacy,