I saw this on Valerie’s blog and wanted to dedicate it to my sister, Sandy, who knows firsthand how rough retail can be during the holidays. Hang in there Sandy!! ( Valerie, thanks for the song!)
It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas
Everywhere you go —
People snarling at the clerks
And acting like total jerks
‘Til you’d really like to tell ’em where to go!
It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas
As they shrilly fill the store.
You will never a sweet sound hear,
‘Til your own dear home appears
And you slam the door!
Early on in our marriage, before we had kids, I used to spend tons of time decorating and beautifying our house in preparation for the Christmas season. I made wreaths, strung popcorn and cranberries, and one year fashioned an entire tree’s worth of pine cone ornaments for our humble Home Depot pine, as we had very few store-bought ornaments of our own. Jay used to tease me about bringing dead things into the house to make it look more alive!
Now that we have three children, my time allotment for such activities has grown smaller but the time we do spend preparing for this season seems sweeter and even more meaningful. We now have the privilege of seeing Christmas through the eyes of an almost 4 and 2 year old. Abigail knows that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday and I can remember last year when she was very concerned to hear that when He came to earth He was not given a “comfy bed” to sleep in. Jonathan is just now learning about the Baby Jesus and spends lots of time begging to hold the little Jesus toy in our fabric “creche”.
This year the acquisition of a tree was especially important to both Abigail and Jonathan. Jay and I, after 7 years of bringing home a freshly cut tree, made the very difficult decision to go “artificial”. I say difficult because the romantic in me loves the smell and feel of the real tree, yet the practical side says the pine needles are a pain to keep up with.
Last night in our small group, we looked at the parable of the weeds in Matthew 13. I was struck by its relevance to my brother’s line of thought developed in his sermon on I Timothy 3:16, Why Was Jesus Justified. In the application at the end, Mark points out:
Secondly, this might help us understand that, even though we have, in substance, our entire salvation in Jesus Christ, we really are still waiting for it to be revealed. Right now, we look and feel like the wicked around us. We too get cancer and deal with old age, and have our children get sick, and struggle with finances, just like all the unbelievers around us. We too are under the general curse that was imposed on the sinful human race.
The parable makes some radical claims in which Jesus describes what the kingdom of God will be like. Let’s not forget that there were some strong notions regarding the Kingdom that held sway in Israel at that point in history. The Romans would be beaten back. The nations would look to Israel. Israel would be liberated to follow the Torah, separating herself from the pagans according to the various laws. Yet here Jesus says that in the kingdom the wheat and weeds will grow side by side, and that they will be so hard to tell apart that if the servants were to attempt to weed the field (the kingdom), they would uproot wheat along with weeds. This is rather explosive stuff to be saying among a people whose national hope is that they will one day be shown, via their faithfulness to Torah, to be the true people of God when their oppressors are ground under their feet!
Here we are in the kingdom, and as Mark highlights in his sermon, the children of the kingdom look a lot like the children of the enemy. This notion slips away from many as they want to preserve the notion of the kingdom for a time in which evil is put in its place, and that will certainly be the case one day. But Jesus calls this field in which both wheat and weeds grow the kingdom. Though we wait for the day of harvest, we do so in the kingdom. By faith we wait, growing alongside weeds, with a hope of the future harvest, in the present reality of the kingdom.
Friday afternoon as Jay and I were preparing for our first date night out together since September Jonathan started throwing up in his crib and all over his bedroom rug. We cleaned him up and brought him downstairs with us. He continued to get sick that evening and all night (meaning Jay and I slept in about 15-20 minute increments for a total of not very much), seemed to get better during the day (Saturday), but after a few Tablespoons of Pedialite got sick again. Several more hours of nothing, then more throwing up. Every time we offered him anything but water his tummy would reject it. All the while he was whimpering “more water please”, “thirsty, please!”. He’s very good about using his polite words sometimes even when he is not happy with life. Sweet boy. After a chat with the on call pediatrician Saturday night, when JonJon had been throwing up for more than 24 hours, we received kind of an ultimatum: either Jonathan’s body would handle a 1 tablespoon of Pedialite every 10 minutes regiment over the next two hours, accepting the fluids, or we’d have to head to the Children’s ER for IV fluids to prevent dehydration. It was about that point that we realized we wouldn’t be participating in the Christmas program Sunday night at church (I was to sing in the choir, Jay was a reader).
Thankfully, we didn’t have to make the trip to the ER, as Jonathan finally held down the Pedialite. We were tired but exceedingly thankful. We settled him in bed around 9:30 p.m. and spent a couple hours just catching up on stuff, then Jay went up to check on both the older kids before we headed for bed. As he tucked Abigail in, she sat up and vomited in her bed. Jay, thinking quickly, used her two favorite blankets to catch most of the yuck (sparing most of her bed), then carried her into the bathroom and called for me. Unfortunately in the confusion he thought I’d gotten to her while he went back to the bed to perform triage. I did reach Abigail but as I tried to help turn her toward the toilet in case she were sick again she pushed away from my hands, yelled “NO!” and threw up on me, the bathroom floor, walls, shower curtain, you name it – she hit it. What a mess.