Saturday, December 27, 2014

Happy (post) Christmas!

In honor of it being the day after Christmas (almost) I am going to share a few highlights of my own holiday and some reflections on what Christmas means to me.

First let me start out by saying, I literally sob every single time I hear the song O Holy Night. Every time. Without fail. Add a dramatic musical twist to it and I am basically a puddle on the floor. I always loved the song, even as a kid, but the older I have gotten and the more I have heard and sung the lyrics and come to understand them, the more the song penetrates my heart every single time I encounter it. This idea that in one night, in one little lowly, dirty, humble stable, the world changed. Forever. History literally rides on that seemingly small, unimportant moment!

"Long lay the world in sin and error pining
'Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A THRILL OF HOPE the weary world rejoices

And isn't that just exactly how it was! The world was cold and dark and lacking hope. People were just wandering around so burnt out from trying to do good and be good and figure out what they were even gaining if they somehow managed to be either of those things. Tired of laws and rules and heavy hearts. And then. In the time it took a sweet, brave, obedient girl to give birth, all of that changed! All of a sudden there was this wave, this thrill of hope! That perhaps now that Jesus had come things could be different! Something started stirring and people started to realize that God was making good on His promise and making a way for them to not have to do it all on their own. He was sending someone to carry the burden of their heavy hearts and all of their striving. He was here to be good for them and to show them the way. They knew that after that night, in the morning, nothing would ever be the same again. Life as they knew it was literally new!

The most beautiful part of those lyrics is that they are as true and penetrating today as they were 2000 odd years ago in that little town in the middle east! In a moment everything can change! In just a moment of beholding Jesus and realizing who He is and what He came for, our lives, our history can change! We can stop walking around with heavy hearts and trying to do good and be good on our own and let Jesus take over! Quite literally we can experience a thrill of hope when Jesus comes onto the scene in our lives! 

Secondly. Mary. I just love the story of Mary. And even more so I love the story of Mary in relation to the story of Jesus. I once wrote for this magazine and they sent me boxes and boxes of books. I will be honest and confess that I absolutely never got to reading all of them, BUT one that I did read has changed me forever. It was a book about Mary. Mary this girl that we reference often but really don't know all that much about. God asked quite a lot of Mary. Of course it was an honor that He would favor her enough to choose her to carry His only son...but I think that we often forget that it was also a very heavy burden for Mary as well. In a culture where being pregnant outside of marriage was forbidden and basically exiled you from your community, Mary bravely agreed to take all of the ridicule that would come if it meant being obedient to God. She was willing to forfeit her own reputation for the sake of Christ. LITERALLY. And let's not forget, God is clear in scripture that if He can trust us with little, then He will eventually trust us with much greater things. If He was willing to allow this humble Nazarite girl to carry the savior of the world (a huge responsibility) then Mary must have proven her faithfulness and obedience to Him time and time again. 

This young lady inspires me in a way that I cannot even put into words. Her faith, her strength, her courage, her selflessness, her perspective, her humility, her gentleness, her quiet spirit, her obedience. 

Am I willing to risk my reputation for the sake of Jesus Christ? Perhaps in a more metaphorical way, but even still. Would I set aside what people have to think and say about me and choose to be obedient in whatever God says or asks of me? I am so sure I have such a long way to go. But what an example of a woman after God's own heart that I aspire to be like! I have adopted a few lines of scripture from Mary's encounter with the angel of the Lord in Luke chapter 1 as my own personal life prayers...
"I am a servant of the Lord, let it be to me as You have said." 

"Blessed is she who believed there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."

A thought that has been challenging me this Christmas season, is that Jesus was the ultimate example of vulnerability. He could have come any way He liked. God could have sent Him into the world as a King, a prince, a powerful leader or ruler or government official who had influence and credibility and wealth and all of the things that make someone "important." But instead He sent Him as a baby born into very controversial, very humble circumstances. Of course He did this to show us that He can use anything for His good and HIs glory. He chose the most humble, lowly, average of ways to come down to us. He decided to be like us, to walk where we walked and to speak our language in hopes that we would finally see His heart, see how much He loved us, see how far He was willing to go for us, and that in seeing we would choose to love Him in return. He set the ultimate example of vulnerability for us. He came as a baby completely exposed and helpless into very humble circumstances. And not only that, God showed us the ultimate example of love by giving what was most dear to Him for our sake even when we more than didn't deserve it! He did this so that we would forever be able to connect with Him and relate to Him. He wanted to close the gap that we had created through our sin and He could not have found a more perfect way to do so! 

"Did you wrap yourself inside the unexpected
So we might know that love would go that far?"

"How many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?"

Memories are funny aren't they? Because we don't realize what things will be just another forgotten moment and which will be the things we reminisce about forever until they have long passed us by. If you were to ask me a few years ago (four to be exact) what my favorite Christmas memory was, I probably would have said the year I got my first CD player and Point of Grace CD, or the many years my family took a tour bus down to Oglebay, WV to see a plantation decked out with Christmas lights. I may have mentioned Christmas traveling among family's houses or maybe the way my mom and dad and I are always opening presents still on New Year's Day and beyond. I probably wouldn't have had much to say about Christmas of 2010. It seemed to be just another Christmas home from college. My last Christmas before I graduated. 

But then we lost my dad. And all of a sudden, Christmas of 2010 was forever in my memory. 

Memories really are so funny.

 Now I remember vividly how hard my mom worked to rearrange my room and have it decorated for Christmas by the time I got home from school. I remember walking in ahead of her and my dad rushing in and dragging me back out into the kitchen and making me walk back in with her and whispering to act surprised. I remember how excited my parents were to show me the new deck they had added on to the house and my dad being so excited to take pictures of the fresh snow on Christmas morning with his new smart phone (our first smart phones) and learning how to upload them to Facebook. I remember trying to teach my daddy how to text. I remember the giant argument we had as we tried to figure out how in the world I was going to pull off this whole Seattle move. I remember deciding to stay home and watch movies with my parents on New Year's Eve instead of going out with friends. I remember my dad at the end of a table full of girls eating tuna burgers as we wildly discussed last minute wedding details. I remember the long conversation we had in our kitchen about life in general while we both should have been doing so many other things. I remember the selfie I snapped on my Sony cyber shot camera of my dad and I after my uncle's birthday dinner at Olive Garden. I remember because it's the last picture I ever took with him. I remember that he bought me a new coffee tumbler and replaced the interchangeable artwork in it because he had broken my old one with a hammer. 

Yes the seemingly everyday regular old Christmas memories of 2010 have become some of the most precious because they were the last memories made with my daddy. Some of my favorite Christmas memories now aren't even Christmas related in the least, they just happen to be made during my last Christmas season with my daddy. I'm telling you, memories are just funny things. 

Christmas 2010

{Here are a few photo highlights from my Christmas season this year!}

Always we have festive bedding in the Wightman household. Mommy found adorable new snowman sheets this year :)

Spent a Sunday afternoon/evening decorating with mommy/sipping coffee/gorging on sappy Hallmark Christmas movies. It's nice to be home for moments like these :)

Loved hanging out with Pastor Courtney and RUSH kiddos for their Christmas party :)

Sending Christmas love and wishes to people all over the world. I love having friends all over the globe because it reminds me how sovereign God is and that He can and will bring exactly who we need most into our lives despite oceans and miles :) 

The lovely family I nannied for in Seattle sent me a present. To torture me! A beautifully bowed Kate Spade box and a tag warning me not to peek! EEEEEEEEK!!!!!

Here's what was inside....

A fun cut out bangle with one of my favorite sayings, "Find the silver lining" AND an adorable coffee tumbler! They really are too good to me :)

Christmas with a puppy is just so much fun! I love getting to share Christmas with this little guy. Some of Lincoln's favorite parts were packages made just for him to destroy, the cookies inside once he broke in, sneaking presents, helping everyone else open their presents, helping everyone else clean their plates, and lots and lots of attention!

Falling asleep to the soft, warm glow of Christmas lights on my pink tree. I also love that my tree took on an African theme sort of by accident. ALSO Merry Cookie candle from Bath and Body Works #mmmmmmmm

Made the rounds on Christmas Eve to a few services with mommy and Gma. Loved spending the evening with them and taking time to remember why we celebrate in the first place :)

Celebrating Jesus and everything that Christmas really means with my RUSH family

Reflecting on how my life has changed because of this moment 2000 some odd years ago. Realizing over and over again that history and everything else hinges on Jesus Christ. Also, I love nativity scenes :)

Christmas morning pancakes and coffee. Lincoln had some too! (pancakes that is ;)

Cool blue December skies

Catching up with lifelong friends when we all come home for Christmas. Also..Lincoln met Scoobert for the very first time! They are destined to be besties :)

Happy post Christmas to all of you, dear friends! I am praying a lovely end to your 2014 and so many God blessing to come in the new year!

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