Sunday, December 18, 2011

Magical Candy Canes

Owen and my Christmas tree are old friends. Children usually love my Christmas tree because of the charming ornaments, but for Owen, the real draw has always been eating the candy canes.

"You have more candy canes on your tree than anybody else. And they taste better all these years of my whole life," Owen declared at his last piano lesson. "I have eaten lots of your candy canes. They're the best."

"Maybe it's because you eat more of them at my house than anywhere else," I laughed.

"They're magical. They make me not be able to stop eating them," he joked, with his six year old humor.
"Is that because you get them from Santa instead of Walmart?"

"Oh, they're magical all right. Once upon a time, years before even your Grandma was a little girl, some shepherds were out in a field one night.  They were taking care of their sheep," I began, walking over to a corner and lifting my dad's old shepherds crook.  I carried it over to Owen and let him hold it, then continued my story. "Angels came and filled the sky and the shepherds were very afraid, but the angels said:

"Fear not!" Owen interrupted, as familiar with the Christmas story as he is with my Christmas tree.

"Yes!" I agreed. "They said, 'Fear not! For I am bringing you good news of great joy which is for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord. And they told the shepherds they would find the baby wrapped in a blanket and sleeping in a manger. And then what did the angels say, Owen," I prompted. "Glory..."

"Glory to God in the highest!"

"Yes. Glory to God in the highest! And since I was a little girl I have wondered how many shepherds there were. Every year I buy lots and lots of candy canes and pretend that they are shepherd crooks for the shepherds to herd all the sheep with them to see Baby Jesus."

"And so lots and lots of kids can eat them and maybe someday they can see Baby Jesus, too!" reasoned Owen.

"Yes. Because Jesus loves little children," I agreed.

"And you love little children, too. And I love candy canes!" finished Owen.

A Jewel for Katherynn

"Even the rocks shall cry forth praise."
Katherynn carried each rock carefully from the window ledge to the kitchen counter. Slowly she arranged them in an order with intense concentration and speculation.

"Okay. I'm ready to wash them," she stated, hands on hips, completely satisfied with her arrangement.

Handing her a cleaning rag, I asked, "What's your plan?"

She grinned. "I'm cleaning my favorite favorites first.  Then I will clean my favorite favorite favorites next."

"So what will you clean last?"

"My favorite favorite specialist favorite favorites," she logically replied, already hard at work.

One by one the ever so clean rocks were lovingly returned to the window ledge, until she came to me and held out the last one, announcing, "This is the famous Winner Favorite."

A pudgy, smudgy hand with tiny pink sparkly fingernails grasped a gnarly brown sparkly rock. "It's so beautiful," she said tenderly, gently caressing it. "God put jewels in this one where I could find them."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Rescue

Brian watched the snow and glitter inside the pretty glass ball as it sparkled and danced, falling softly on the tiny baby in the manger. When the bubbles covered the top of the water he picked up the globe and shook it, mesmerized anew by the snowfall in a miniature world.

With a shatter of glass, the globe crashed to the wooden floor. Brian watched with surprise as the water washed across pieces of glass and the tiny baby in the manger lay broken at his feet. "MOOOMMMY!" he yelled.

Sarah was standing at the kitchen doorway wiping her hands with a towel, just in time to see her precious Christmas globe shatter. "Don't move, Brian. Stand still," she commanded in her 'Mother Means It' voice.  She was too scared for the little boy's safety to think about a broken world.  Her son's bare little feet were covered and surrounded by the glass.

When the child was safely rescued, Sarah snuggled him and his blanket into bed for a nap and returned to the shattered ornament. Her eyes filled with tears as she surveyed the damage.  By the time she had cleaned up the mess she was sobbing with heartbreak over the loss. She picked up the minature manger scene and set it on the counter, put away cleaning supplies and decided to take a nap herself.

"Mommy," Brian said softly, waking her gently. "I'm sorry I broke it, but it's fixed now."

Sarah smiled as she took the glass of water he handed her. Inside was the little baby Jesus in a manger from Brian's play set. He had colored snow falling on a torn piece of blue construction paper and filled the glass with water. "I made you a new world," Brian said lovingly. "Don't cry any more."

The memories in Sarah's heart flew back into the past, not to her childhood memory of receiving the snow globe, but to the original manger in Bethlehem where a precious little boy, like hers in so many ways, lay innocent in a manger. A lost world lay shattered and broken at His feet, too. Then flashed the thought of a Heavenly Father, making a rescue to protect His children, cleaning up the mess of a lost world, bringing hope to a new world.

"It's a better world," she said, setting the glass on the table, and pulling Brian into her arms. "It's a very much better world, Brian."

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Grandma Person

Love them to Jesus.

Look at your mom's face when she picks up that old ornament you made in kindergarten. Watch her eyes, her smile, as her mind relives memories of your life that you have long since forgotten. You remember the faded construction paper ornament because it's on the tree every year. She remembers the day you proudly presented it to her.

Encouraging young mothers during the season to be jolly is one of my favorite things. Somehow they seem to discover the energy to trim the tree, make ornaments with toddlers, plan parties, bake cookies with six year olds and enjoy Christmas movies anew. God is able to bless mothers with supernatural energy, joy and creativity.

Don't forget to encourage them as well as pray for them. Cut out some sugar cookies for them to decorate, pick up a Christmas CD to surprise them, read Christmas stories to their children, play a board game, put together a puzzle.  Share your own holiday memories. 

It may be old fashioned in an age of video games and rental movies, but the best babysitter for a child, is still a"Grandma Person", as my little Lydia once called me. And no child can have too many of those.

Tired Young Mothers

Bless all young mothers
at end of day,
kneeling wearily with each
small one
to hear them pray.
Too tired to rise when done...
and yet, they do,
longing just to sleep
one whole night through.
Too tired to sleep...
Too tired to pray...
bless all young mothers
at close of day.

~Ruth Bell Graham

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Old Blue Quilt

"It feels like love."
My great-granny worked thousands of stitches into beautiful heirloom quilts.  Six generations later, children are still delighted. After decades in my Grandma's cedar chest, the blue quilt became the tablecloth that graced my mother's home with beauty and history.

A busy young family of six made the blue quilt worn, but it was quite serviceable for Sunday afternoon naps or covering sleeping grandchildren. One of my favorite memories of my mother, is seeing her snuggled in the old blue quilt, reading her Bible and sipping a cup of coffee.

Though I have several antique quilts from Granny, the old blue is my favorite. Seldom used, wrapped in paper in Grandma's cedar chest, it was a unique treasure that as a little girl I could only admire on rare occasions. I appreciate it even more now that it covers my life with such a history of sheltering love.

For a decade it has blessed the many spiritual children and grandchildren in my life. Newborn Seraiah was dazzled by the colors and patterns. Weary Ethan pulled it up over his head to hide his whole body, cowboy boots and all, from his school bus woes. Carson used it as a bumpy road for vehicles. Yesterday little Katherynn asked to read books under my "Worldwide Web Story Quilt". 

A couple of years back, Alesha, one of my spiritual daughters, was out of town. Her husband Steve dropped by our house with their children before going to a party. Joya, about five, snuggled into my lap while he explained that she wasn't feeling very well. Given the choice, Joya decided to stay with me instead of going to the party. "Are you sure?" asked her daddy, knowing it was more homesickness for mommy than a stomach virus.

Joya nodded and reached for the old blue quilt. "Wrap me up. All the way. It feels like love."

All year long, the old blue quilt snuggles me into the early morning presence of God while I read my Bible, pray and sip my coffee. Sometimes, it seems as though I can feel the very arms of God holding me close in that old quilt, covering me with His love.

"But let all those who go to You for safety be glad.  Let them always sing with joy.  Spread Your cover over them and keep them safe.  Then those who love You will be glad because of You."       ~Psalm 5:11, NIRV