History Lives in Christmas Tree’s Branches

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As I sit and ponder this year’s Christmas, I find myself filled with many of the same thoughts I have every Christmas, so I’m re-posting this from December, 2012. Happy memories.

The gifts are wrapped. Dinner prep is done.  The cat has a bow on his nose. Again.

All that remains is to sit and relax in front of the Christmas tree.

History lies within its branches. I’m not talking about the origins of the tree, how the tradition evolved over time. What I’m considering is my life history, dangled year by year on gold cords in the form of ornaments.

Near the top is a glass bust of Santa I remember hanging on my tree when I was a child. I don’t know if my mother brought it from her childhood tree or if it was new to my family, but decades of wear have taken their toll, the red and green colors faded, the glass almost transparent. My adult children hold the ornament with reverence, awed that something so old and fragile could have survived. I wonder what they think of me!

Nearby are the ornaments of my post-college working girl days, lunch hours spent shopping for mementos like Woodstock and Snoopy, ceramic keepsakes of the era.

Then further down are the benchmark ornaments.  The kangaroo with a baby in her pouch was given to me the year I was pregnant with my firstborn. Close by is the wooden rocking horse with the bright orange mane and tail presented to that first child the following Christmas. A teddy bear with a baby bottle came two years later for my daughter.

Sprinkled around the tree are the many creations handmade by my homeschooled children over the years. Beads of every color, lace and chenille are combined into candy canes, wreaths, and starbursts.

Finally are the achievement ornaments. A gold treble clef reminds me of my son’s stint in band playing the flute. A moose and a polar bear bring tears as I remember the Christmas day my college graduate took off to Dutch Harbor, Alaska for his first professional job working as a biologist observer on the Bering Sea. I spent the entire three months he was gone on my knees.

Yes, my Christmas tree is a living history for me. A reminder of decades of  life my family has experienced. As I add ornaments for this season of life, I thank God for His faithfulness, for His  mercies which are never failing, and for His promises to give me a future and a hope.    (Jeremiah 29:11)

May you find God’s truths real in your life as well.

Merry Christmas




Making Sense of that Which Makes NO Sense

“Fear not, for I bring you news that shall be to all people. A savior is born which is Christ the Lord.”

Yesterday the story of Christmas was enacted by our junior church ministry. Sixty-five children clamored onto the platform, more than forty of them dressed in matching t-shirts. Tiered smallest to tallest on risers, the chorus stood left of the main podium area. The rest, cast members costumed according to their character, occupied center stage.

From my seat in the darkened balcony, I could see the first four rows of pews lit up with camera phones aimed at the stage by what the pastor called the “mamarazzi”, mothers anxious to capture photos of their precious child in action.

 As I watched the youngest children, kindergartners through second grade, on the bottom row of the risers, tears filled my eyes. I wondered, in light of the recent violence in the news, if there were Christmas pageants elsewhere that morning missing a shepherd or an angel. As I counted the fifteen children across the bottom rise, I thought of the void in this program if they were suddenly not here.

One little girl, dressed in angel attire, and who sang with the voice of one, joined her fellow angels in their annunciation to the shepherds. When the expected response of shock and awe resounded from the chorus, the little angel asked, “What part of fear not, do you not understand?”

That’s when God spoke to me. Though the world has been shattered by news of the Connecticut tragedy, God has not changed. When the lives of those precious little kids were yanked from them by a senseless killer, God stood ready to receive them. The horror did not take Him by surprise. He knows what sinful men can do.

 I could picture Jesus weeping, his arms wrapped around each child who entered heaven’s door that day. And though we are left behind, our lives broken, and our Christmas celebration tarnished, those children will spend the holiday in the presence of the One who authored it. What a Christmas that will be.

And so I echo what the little angel asked. What part of “Fear Not” do we not understand?

John 14:27  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.


Give A Novel Gift At Christmas–A Set of Deb Raney Books

One of the many perks I’ve delighted in while pursuing my writing career is that of traveling to writers conferences and encountering new people.

 Editors and Agents are formidable professionals, but once you meet them in person, you discover a group of warm, funny and charming personalities.

 Authors who were only a name at the bottom of a book cover  before are suddenly people you would love to call friends, their individualities as different as the genres they write.

One such author is Deborah Raney. I’ve had the privilege of taking a couple of workshops  as well as a week-long coaching class from her. A fellow conference attendee beside me described Deb as a girl scout. And indeed, with her vivacious smile and encouraging attitude, Deb fits the description of a cheerful leader who has your best interests at heart.

What you wouldn’t know to look at her is that she is a mother of four grown children who have gifted her with grandchildren.  Her love of family and the warmth of home carries over to the books she writes.  Deb writes engaging stories that capture your heart, yet all the while tackle the issues.  I just finished reading two of her collections—The Hanover Falls Series and the Clayburn, Kansas Novels—and I can highly recommend both.

In the Hanover Falls books, a terrible tragedy strikes a small town and leaves five of its citizens forever changed.  Each book is satisfying on its own, but Deb throws in a mysterious twist that carries you to the end of the series.

In the Clayburn, Kansas novels, Deb contrasts small town living with the experiences the characters have lived in larger cities elsewhere—a  refreshing look at the healing that comes from community.

If you’ve a reader on your Christmas list, give them a set of Raney’s books.  If you visit Deb at her website www.deborahraney.com  she’ll redirect you to CBD.com. I ordered mine through them and enjoyed the refreshing discounts they offer.  A set of three will barely be the price of a dinner for two at a nice restaurant, so give the series and delight the person you are gifting.