The Car Wash Bath

When my kids were little, they mostly liked to play in the bath tub. Their main purpose was not to get clean, it was to have fun. To ensure that they were truly clean, I started giving them what I called car wash baths. I would line them up in the tub and scrub them like they were going through a car wash. It served two purposes. It was quick and I was making sure they were really clean. They soon began requesting car wash baths most nights. Many times after we were done, they would say something like, “Smell me, Daddy!” I would breathe in their nice, clean, fresh smell and tell them they smelled good.

Car washes are great because no matter how muddy and filthy your car is when you drive in, it’s shiny and clean when you leave. You can even convince yourself that it even drives better. The problem is that sometimes the inside of the car is nasty. There are atm receipts, crumbled fast food napkins, and straws papers scattered about. Not to mention the smell of your wet dog, old french fries, or in our case a crockpot full of baked beans that spilled on the way to church. We couldn’t get rid of that smell until we vacuumed and washed out the back of the car. That’s sort of what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 9 when He said the Scribes and Pharisees were like whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside but cold and dead on the inside. It doesn’t matter how clean we look on the outside, we need to be clean from the inside out. Jesus made this possible for us. I can go to Him no matter how much I’ve messed up, no matter how dirty I am and ask for forgiveness. He can make me fresh, clean, and new. He washes me whiter than snow from the inside out. God, the Father, takes a deep breath in as He holds me in His arms, and says I smell good.

Psalm 51

Be gracious to me, God,
according to Your faithful love;
according to Your abundant compassion,
blot out my rebellion.
Wash away my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I am conscious of my rebellion,
and my sin is always before me.
Against You—You alone—I have sinned
and done this evil in Your sight.
So You are right when You pass sentence;

You are blameless when You judge.
Indeed, I was guilty when I was born;
I was sinful when my mother conceived me.

Surely You desire integrity in the inner self,
and You teach me wisdom deep within.
Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones You have crushed rejoice.
Turn Your face away[a] from my sins
and blot out all my guilt.God, create a clean heart for meand renew a steadfast[b] spirit within me.11 Do not banish me from Your presenceor take Your Holy Spirit from me.12 Restore the joy of Your salvation to me,and give me a willing spirit.[c]13 Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways,and sinners will return to You.14 Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God,the God of my salvation,and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness.Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare Your praise.
16 You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it;
You are not pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice pleasing to God is[d] a broken spirit.
God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.

18 In Your good pleasure, cause Zion to prosper;
build[e] the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on Your altar.

Each Friday I participate in the FiveMinuteFriday.com writing challenge hosted by Kate Motaung to write for five minutes on a prompt word. Today’s word is fresh.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Almost every family has those adorable shots of their kids all dressed up. We’ve got them too. As a matter of fact, some are even enshrined in our very own hall of fame leading back to the bedrooms. We even have group pictures of the entire clan of both sides of the family. It was quite a chore getting decent poses of that many people. Sherry had the kids dressed so cute and then we had to threaten them or bribe them to stay that way until the moment was captured for posterity. In fact they were so cute, the folks at Olin Mills and The Picture People wanted to take “extra” poses that they assured us were “totally optional” and we were under “no obligation to purchase”. Of course, we couldn’t resist not going home with those images that we would be sure to cherish for a lifetime so now we have drawers chock full of tea party and fake cowboy \motorcycle memories. Like P.T. Barnam, said “There’s one born every minute.”

What those moments captured on film fail to tell is what happened just before and just after those pictures were taken. I remember the struggle it was to keep the kids looking neat and adorable until we could capture those special Kodak moments. Who am I kidding? I wasn’t that much better. On top of that the instant the camera clicked, it was a race to see who could destroy their outfits first, either by playing “too rough” or inhaling whatever snack we used to bribe them with. Our kids are all grown now so those days are long gone. We don’t have grandkids yet but my lovely bride may have discovered a substitute in our dog, Gertie. During the Christmas holiday, Sherry decided that Gertie needed to be festooned with a plethora of Christmas themed collars (aka “outfits). She was apparently using the Twelve Days of Christmas as an inspiration because Gertie had so many collars around her neck, she looked like some kind of North Pole Lion King. Once the holidays were over, Sherry must have longed for a canine Kodak moment. She felt that Gertie might be suffering from hypothermia with the recent cold snap and decided she was the woman to meet that need. Being the amazing seamstress she is, my love designed a coat from her never ending supply of material. Sherry took great pride in her creation and decided to immortalize the moment on her camera phone .

I have to admit she did look pretty cute. Sherry was so proud that she even hashtagged it on the site where she had downloaded the pattern. The picture even received several likes. But you know what they say about pride going before the fall. This is a dog who has eaten every bed we have ever purchased along with masonite siding. We took Gertie for a walk to get her used to her new coat and she played coy. She continued to play it cool but I saw the look in her eye and knew that Gertie was just biding her time. Gertie was never meant for high fashion. I knew it. Gertie knew it but Sherry hoped that she could change her nature. The coat was hanging on the back door as Gertie pretended she needed it to go outside. It was just like all those moments just after those perfect pictures. I put it on her and let her out. Sherry went to the door and was witness the carnage. Gertie, like the Tasmanian Devil, does not keep clothing on for long. I retrieved the sad remains and we were able to capture the moment after the “perfect picture” unlike all those times at Olin Mills. As you can see, Gertie altered the design to more of an off the shoulder look.

Here is the evidence that the picture never tells the whole story of what happens after those “Kodak moments.”

Colossians 3

Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your[c] Creator. 11 In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.

If I Only Had the Time

In The Wizard of Oz, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion all needed something from the Wizard. In fact, they all sang a song and had a dance that expressed their need. It seems like this happens every year about this time as I reflect on the things I want to accomplish in the new year, I do my own version of the song. I would do (insert whatever)…cue music…”If I only had the time”. I haven’t figured out the choreography yet but maybe if I had the time…and that’s the problem. We live in a day when we have so many time saving tools but no matter how much time I save, there still doesn’t seem to be enough of it. I have work, on call every third week, church responsibilities, tutoring, trying to find time to exercise, writing, jobs at home, plus spending time with family. Come on, there are only so many hours in the day If I had more time I would knock out all those things on my honey do list, remodel both downstairs bathrooms, finish my novel, exercise more, read the Bible and pray more… the list is endless. In reality, I can’t really save time. No matter how hard I try there are always 525,600 minutes in a year. I can’t change that.

I can change how I use that time. It doesn’t mean that I always have to be busy. God designed us to need down time so it’s alright to stop and recharge. Being busy isn’t the answer. Veggie Tales were big when my kids were little and I can’t help but hear the Busy song in my brain when I think I’m too busy to do something God wants me to do.

The Wizard didn’t give the Scarecrow, the TinMan, and the Cowardly Lion anything they didn’t already have and that’s true for me too. It doesn’t do any good to make any kind of resolution to use my time better in the new year; it only lasts until I’ve wasted time. I don’t need a course on time management. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be is even more true about time. I will spend time on the things that I think are important.

I need for my prayer this year to be:

Dear God. Help me to give my time to You first. Give me Your eyes to see how I need to be spending my time. Let me use my time wisely. Let me work when I’m supposed to work and rest when I’m supposed to do that. Help me to be engaged in every moment so that I’m always alert to the needs of those around me and how You want to use me to help meet those needs. Let my time be spent pleasing You because You always want what’s best for me.

Amen

Ephesians 5:15-17

15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— 16 making the most of the time,[a] because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Just for fun, I tried to come up with what the1st verse to If I only had the time might be.

I’d be useful with my hours, not squandering all my powers, I’d be writing words that rhyme. Of my calender, I’d be the master and my schedule not a disaster. If I only had the time.

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad…

It’s a new year and I think we all feel pretty much like Alexander in that 2020 was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. I missed posting anything Christmas week with one more thing to add to the list with some sick individual exploding an RV full of explosives in Nashville on Christmas day. We along with many others in Middle Tennessee and even stretching into Kentucky and Alabama were without phone and internet for several days. We felt a little like we were blown back in time. We played games and dug out old Dvds to fill the time. It definitely made us slow down and reflect on what is really imporant. We spent a fantastic time with our daughter, her husband, and our youngest daughter even if we were not technologically enabled. The thing is that the events of Christmas day along with everything else that occurred in 2020 just confirmed the world is a messed up place.

That’s OK because it’s really nothing new. It’s been messy since Adam and Eve decided that they knew better than God. I love Christmas. I love driving around looking at lights. I love the decorations and all the neatly wrapped gifts under the tree. I love that we woke up on Christmas morning to at least a little bit of snow. I’m a sucker for Christmas. The funny thing is that all that stuff doesn’t last. I remember when our kids were growing up that after all the gifts had been opened, the house was a total mess with toys scattered everywhere and piles of torn wrapping paper, boxes, and bows stacked in every corner. As much as we try to wrap up Christmas in a pretty package, we still live in a messed up world. Because of this, God couldn’t fix it in the expected way. When one of the “royals” is expecting a baby, the world waits in anticipation for the first glimpse of the child. The paparazzi fight for the first picture of that baby. The birth is usually announced with all the pomp and circumstance the world can muster. Such was not the case with Jesus. He was born to humble parents in a barn. To quote from my favorite Skit Guys monologue, (He Came to Get Messy) it was “a barn, a stable, certainly no place fit for a King, but this was no ordinary King.” Jesus came to our messy world in this way so that we would have a way to escape the mess. Mankind tried to do it on their own but only made a bigger mess of it. Jesus took all the mess, the muck, and the mire on to Himself on the cross so that we would have a way to get out of the mess.

Unfortunately, much of the world still thinks it can fix the mess it is in. There is a belief that we humans are evolving so much that we can elevate ourselves out of the mess. It’s very apparent in this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year we’ve experienced that the world is only fooling itself. We’ve had a pandemic, shut downs, financial crises resulting from them, rioting, looting, hatred being spewed from every direction, explosions on Christmas Day, and yes, even problems in Australia. We need a Savior in the most awful way and God provided One in the most messy way possible. Jesus experienced the mess we are in, overcame it, and provided a way to overcome this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mess in which we live.

As we begin 2021, we can hope that it is a less eventful year as far as disasters go but the fact is, we still live in a messy world that can be terrible, horrible, no good, and even very bad. I’ve thought a lot about the mixed up, messed up year that 2020 was and since I was unable to post on Christmas with all the mess that went on that morning, I’ve included a link to He Came to Get Messy that does an amazing job of trying to explain God’s messy plan for us.

Phillipians 2

5Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be used for His own advantage.[a]
Instead He emptied Himself
by assuming the form of a slave,
taking on the likeness of men.
And when He had come as a man
in His external form, 
He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross.9 For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name,10 so that at the name of Jesusevery knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earthand under the earth—11 and every tongue should confessthat Jesus Christ is Lord,[b]to the glory of God the Father.

Some Assembly Required

It’s been a long time since I had to work into the wee hours on Christmas Eve assisting Santa’s elves with assembling toys in preparation for Christmas morning. It might be weird to some but I always enjoyed that part of the Christmas tradition. Defying the typical dad stereotype, instructions are usually not a bane to me. Now that’s not to say that at times I didn’t skip from step C to S and wonder why Barbie’s dream house suddenly had outdoor plumbing. For the most part I’m a rule follower so I tend to follow instructions meticulously. Any frustration that I may have felt being Santa’s little helper pales in comparison to the experience that I had this Yuletide season.

Last year I wrote pretty extensively about the trials and trivails of exterior home improvement. We had foundation repair, installed Hardie siding, and new windows. The result was dramatic and the house looks much better. The problem was that, like many projects, the budget got stretched pretty thin so we decided to keep our existing storm door. When trying to decide Christmas presents for each other, Sherry and I decided that we would give each other a new storm door as our “big” gift. I researched different doors and started shopping for the best deal. Lo and behold, I found a bargain from one of the large home building supply companies if I was willing to jump through some hoops. I performed the various retail acrobatics and received my limited time 20% off coupon. It was a Friday evening and what better than spending a date night in a home improvement store so we made the trip to procure our gift. We had decided to switch to a white door to match our trim. We located the door. We had to pull out several because everything was packed very tightly. Since we had the discount coupon, Sherry wanted to get a sheet of plywood to reupholster an ottoman she had been wanting to do. I knew that the full sheet wouldn’t fit so we had the store cut it in half. We made our purchases and pulled the Santa Fe up to load. I tetra-sed the door in the car. It extended over the front seats causing us stoop a little in order to fit. We had owned a couple of minivans so I knew that a sheet of plywood would fit but apparently didn’t take into account that the dimensions of our SUV are smaller. We have a luggage rack on top but no rails to secure the wood. I rolled down the back windows and strapped both half sheets as best as possible. All we needed was Granny’s rocking chair on top and we would have fit the stereotype. I’m sure people thought we were in deep prayer, hoping to make it home safely, since our heads were bowed beneath the storm door.

I thought everything would be smooth sailing from that point but such was not the case. I left work early Friday because it was slow. In my mind, I pictured being able to finish the majority of the installation that afternoon and only having minor tasks to complete on Saturday. After all, the advertisement on the door box stated “Quick Install. Only requires half the time of a regular storm door.” One would think that I would have learned that everything is not truth in advertising. I began removing the old door, cutting through several geological layers of caulk. I’m not sure which weighed more, the caulk or the door itself. I was finally ready to begin installation so I began tearing the perforations on the box only to discover the door had somehow magically transformed to a brown one. In pulling out multiple doors, we had obviously put the correct one back. I seriously debated changing our design preference but bit the bullet, and we swapped it for the correct one. By the time we returned, the shadows were beginning to lengthen so I pressed on. As I stated earlier, I attempt to follow directions to a tee but the illustrations were from a perspective that I was unable to orient myself into. The door was supposed to be for either a right or left hinge but I began to wonder if I had been confusing those all my life. After installing the hinge rails several times, I was unable to duplicate the illustrations. By this time, our daughter had arrived home. Her co-workers refer to her as MacGyver and she placed the hinge rail for the door frame deducing that was the proper placement despite what the illustrations showed. We got to door up on the “easy placement” screw. This should have assured that the door was hung properly but once again, you can’t believe everything you read. Darkness and frustration won and I had to admit defeat that evening.

I arose early on Saturday morning, ready to do battle with the “quick installation. I wondered how long it would take if we had purchased a “regular’ storm door. With Micah’s and Sherry’s help, I was finally able to get the hinge rail hung plumb and the door was closing properly. Once again, I thought that it would be all downhill. The door had apparently not taken it’s pound of flesh because I grabbed the handle slot and promptly sliced a fairly decent flap off my pinkie. The injury wasn’t terribly severe but the front door and porch looked like there should be a tape outline of a body somewhere to explain the loss of blood. I installed the door latch mechanism and handle per the instruction manual only for my daughter to discover that it was upside down. I thought that maybe I had the instructions for the southern hemisphere but was unable to confirm it. You would think that the “Quick Installation” door would have toyed with me enough by now but it still had a trick up it’s sleeve. Close enough for horse shoes and hand grenades must not apply to storm doors because the latch did not fully engage with the lock when the “conveniently placed pre-drilled holes” were used. Micah and I finally completed the installation and the door looks awesome. Thank goodness, Santa never had me install a storm door when our kids were little on Christmas Eve or the kids may have discovered their father whimpering under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning.

I’m posting on Tuesday because it took a couple of days to mentally and emotionally recover.

2 Corinthians 9:15

15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.

It’s All Over but the Shoutin’

Each Friday I participate in the FiveMinuteFriday.com writing challenge to write for five minutes on a prompt word. Today’s word is conclude.
The title of today’s post comes from what was one of my father’s favorite sayings. He played softball on the church team with both myself and my brothers and then became the coach when he could no longer play. When a victory was all but certain Dad would often say, ” It’s all over but the Shoutin’, boys.”. He would say the same thing with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eyes as he was watching one of his favorite sports teams and they would do something that would almost assure victory.
God created us to have fellowship with Him. Man messed up and sinned to cause separation from Him. God had a plan to allow us to come back to Him. As we celebrate Christmas next week, it’s important to remember that was the beginning of God bringing that plan to earth through His Son. When the time was right, Jesus would conclude that plan when he said, “It is finished.” and then He went on to walk out of that grave three days later.

Because of that, victory for believers is a foregone conclusion. Dad has been gone for over three years now. It was tough to watch him waste away with cancer. It would be easy to conclude that he lost his battle with cancer. I know better because I know that my Dad had put his trust in Jesus and the war had already been won. As I think about the Gift that God gave us at Christmas, I know that on that early morning in June, my Dad experienced victory in Jesus and could truly say, “It’s all over but the Shoutin!”

1 Corinthians 15:57

57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ!

There Must Be No Peeking

I’ve always loved Christmas morning. When our kids were little, I would lay in bed waiting to hear one of the kids get up . My lovely wife is not now nor has she ever been a morning person so getting up early Christmas morning has never been her thing. As the kids got older, they began to rise earlier and earlier. Several Christmas mornings, I believe that they didn’t miss catching Santa making his deliveries by much. Even after Santa started wrapping all the gifts, both our eldest and our youngest could hardly wait for everyone to celebrate together. Several mornings I would get up very early, let them look around, and we would go back to bed. We would still get up early but it would be at a more agreeable time for Sherry. I know we probably drove her a little crazy but I have to admit that my kids came by their early Christmas morning explorations quite naturally. It was more than likely a genetic thing.

I’m sure I drove my parents crazy Christmas Eve. I would lay in bed counting the minutes until I could creep down and check out the wonders of Christmas morning. I would be as silent as any kid could be when inspecting the gifts from Santa. I was usually the first up and would then awaken my brothers. With all three of us around the tree, it usually wasn’t long before we heard the inevitable cry from my parent ‘s bedroom, “It’s way to early for you boys to be up. Everything is going back if y’all don’t get back in bed right now.” We would trudge back to our bedrooms , only to return as soon as the coast was clear, being sure to be much quieter. It was the same each year except the one Christmas we spent in Tuscaloosa at Mama and Papa Stripling’s. By this time, I had gotten too big to sleep on the little bed in Papa’s room so I was sleeping on the couch in the living room. I went “to sleep” so that Santa could make his delivery. I didn’t win an Academy award that night for the best fake sleep but apparently it was sufficient to keep Santa from passing by. I patiently waited until I was assured that not a soul was stirring, not even a mouse. I rose from the couch to discover my Christmas wish had been granted. I was the proud owner of a boom box, complete with a cassette recorder/ player. I plugged in the microphone and tested the various features whispering quiet test phrases for posterity. I was able to rest peacefully, content that I had not only received the perfect gift but had also eluded detection of my pre-Christmas morning testing and inspection of said gift. The thing about tape recordings is that they can be played repeatedly unless they are erased. Ironically, the one feature that I failed to fully utilize was the one that allowed erasure of incriminating evidence. There was no denying my early morning escapade when Dad hit the play button and my test phrases rang thru Papa and Mama’s humble abode. Busted, luckily the Spirit of Christmas ruled the day and I was spared any retribution.

I wish I could say that I learned my lesson but I’m sure I’ll probably be up not long after Santa has made his yearly sojourn this year too.

Isaiah 59:12

For our transgressions have multiplied before You, and our sins testify against us. For our transgressions are with us and we know our iniquities.

To Infinity and Beyond

Each Friday I participate in the FiveMinuteFriday.com challenge to write for five minutes on a prompt word. Today’s word is most appropriately beyond. I say that because I tend to go beyond my time limit most days.

As is pretty obvious from the title of this post, I was instantly reminded of Buzz Lightyear’s catch phrase from the Toy Story movies. The movie premiered 25 years ago when my kids were very young. I watched it dozens of times with them. In the unlikely event that someone might not know the story, Buzz is a new toy in Andy’s room. He believes he is a real Space Ranger and must somehow get back to Star Command. He has an over exaggerated view of his abilities because he is after all just a toy. Spoiler alert, in the end he recognizes that the best he can do is to “fall with style”.

In ancient Israel, Roman soldiers could legally force citizens to carry their gear for a “mile”. Many Israelites would place a marker that exact distance from their homes so that they would know exactly where they could stop carrying the load. In Matthew 5:41, Jesus says if someone compels you to carry a load for one mile carry it for two. God and Jesus are all about going beyond. God went beyond what anyone would expect by sending His Son to enable us to come back to Him. Jesus went way beyond to pay our debt. Like Buzz Light-year, we want to get back home to the where we belong with the Father but we can not do it on our own. The absolute best we can do is to continue to fall with style. Even while we still were sinners, Jesus did what was necessary and way beyond so that He could write His name on our hearts. He didn’t do just enough to get us in the door but we actually get to be co-hiers with Him. That really is an infinite eternity and beyond.

Romans 8

12 So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, 17 and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that[k] we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

Where Is the Wish Book When You Need It?

Each year our kids would await with anticipation the arrival of one thing that brought so much joy and happiness. Nothing compared to the hours of enjoyment gleaned from this one delivery to our home. Kids today have no idea what they are missing. Amazon and the internet are just not the same. I’m talking about the Sears Wish Book, that wonderful catalog filled with anything and everything else a kid could ever want. Later on another publication took its place but still inspired the hopes and dreams of children everywhere in much the same way. Sadly the institution that issued it met its demise so it too is nothing more than a memory. This other wonderful bringer of wonder and awe was of course, the Toys-R-Us Big Book of Toys. Our kids would spend endless hours perusing each page fearing that they might miss that one magical gift that would make their Christmas morning complete. Both Sherry and I were forced to review each page with each individual child too many times to count.

The one person who bought into this cavalcade of gifts was my Mom. As much as I enjoy Christmas, B absolutely always went overboard. She wanted to make sure that everyone got what their heart desired so she was big time into Christmas lists. Since our kids were the youngest on my side of the family, they at first were unable to communicate their wishes in the written form. This is where first The Wish Book and later the Big Book of Toys, came into play. I know that both Ty and Micah participated in this ritual but Mallory,our Little Miss Organization, was the child I remember who most wholeheartedly embraced this tradition. She mastered the art of “rounding” the items she was requesting. Not too many pages escaped having at least one thing being rounded. As the years passed, I believe she may have even developed a color coded system of rounding according to priorties. Mom and Dad always way overspent at Christmas (Everyone had to have the same amount of gifts or at least the same monetary value to the penny.) but to be honest with you, a memory that sticks out most to me was watching B go over Mallory’s rounded items on each page for the hundredth time while sitting on their couch. Since Mal had a kindred spirit with Mom about babies, The American Girl Doll catalog was added to their “rounded repertoire”.

You may be able to have everything at your fingertips with Amazon. It may even be able to be delivered overnight or in even two hours or less but there is still something to be said for the anticipation of “rounding” and the excitement it brought on Christmas morning .

Luke 2

And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him[d] and was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough—because there was no room for them at the lodging place.


It’s Just What I Wanted

I must admit that I get a little excited about Christmas. I like putting up the tree and decorating. I like presents. Who doesn’t? As much as I like receiving them, I probably enjoy picking out just the right gift for someone. I try to observe and think what would be the perfect gift. I would rather come up with it on my own instead of picking something off of Christmas list. I get as excited as a kid waiting for them to open it and say the words “It’s Just What I wanted!”

Which brings me to a Christmas when my son was not quite three. It started one afternoon in either late October or early November. I came home from work to discover an oddly shaped present under an end table in the living room. I asked our son what it was. He giggled with a sparkle in his eyes and told me it was a Christmas present for me. December finally rolled around and we put up our tree. My son proudly placed my gift underneath. Christmas morning arrived and I could hardly wait to witness the day through our son’s eyes. After we finished dealing with stuff from Santa, we began with the gifts from each other. Ty handed me the present he had prepared months before. It was evident it had been wrapped with little hands. It wasn’t even in pretty Christmas paper. His nearly three year old eyes were shining with anticipation of my response. It tore off the paper to discover a glass jar with dried up worms sticking to the side. My beautiful little boy’s only disappointment was that “Dey’re not moving.”

God looked at the world as He considered just the right gift. He sent it at just the right time. It wasn’t wrapped up in a pretty package. It was definitely not on anyone’s list. In fact, almost no one said, “It’s just what I wanted.” To most, it appeared to be like a jar of dried up worms. You see, to a lot of people, my Christmas gift from so long ago wasn’t very special. I, however, knew how much my boy loved bugs, worms, and other crawly things. He gave me his best because he loved me and he thought I needed it. I regret not keeping that gift despite the smell of fermented worms as a reminder of my son’s love, particularly during the teen years when I had my doubts. God gave us His best, His most prized possession as a present. It wasn’t what the world wanted but it was definitely what we needed.

Isaiah 53:3

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like someone people turned away from;[a]
He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.

Each Friday I participate in the FiveMinuteFriday.com, writing challenge hosted by Kate Motaung, to write for five minutes on a prompt word. Today’s word is appropriately present. I have exceeded my time limit as usual but I’m sappy about Christmas memories so it was a foregone conclusion. Check out the site for other christian writers or even join to share your gift.