Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas complications... and Hope!

The holidays* can be a time of mixed emotions for many.  This year is no exception for us. I’m a very sentimental person at heart and love holiday traditions. I enjoy the decorations, the special services at church, family get-togethers, the cookies… J. I love memories and symbolism attached to our various ornaments, and though sometimes stressful on the wallet, I enjoy finding gifts for my loved ones. I don’t always enjoy however the business, our cultures over-commercialization and materialism, missing loved ones who’ve passed away, kids whining that they didn’t get as many presents as someone else, and the sometimes awkward family moments. This is not foreign to most of you, the tug on your emotions, and the battle for your time and attention between so many activities and opportunities that are all good – but we just can’t do it all. Many experience loneliness, others regret… The holidays and our emotions can be much like the weather in Ohio – ever changing and never sure what to expect!

This year we’ve added a small stocking with a B on it for our Brody. We also want to get an ornament for him each year. This is his first Christmas… and only. We will enjoy feeling him move – Jeremiah can feel his kicks all the time now. J I think of how he is safe and warm, free from the stresses of this time of year, unconcerned with these mixed emotions.  He is often quite active between 4 and 6 am. Sometimes I’ll get up and “rock” him. I hug my belly and sway and find myself thankful to be awake with him… and I love my sleep and am quite protective of it even! He’s still responding to music – especially when I sing and play at church. This Sunday I sang with my praise team girls a song from Mary’s perspective, “Hallelujah, Light has Come”, and it was almost hard to concentrate as he kicked along with the music. I’m still teaching Zumba thanks to my awesome teaching partner! Brody man often becomes quite active on my drive home from the studio.  I’m thankful to be feeling quite healthy at 33 weeks. I have plenty of aches and pains, especially in my back, ribs, and I get ligament pulls around my belly during Zumba, but my Dr. said everything looks great and the fact that I can still Zumba is wonderful (seriously a life-saver for me!). J  There is just so much to thank God for!  You, my family and friends, have been amazing.  I completely understand that it’s hard to know what to say… or whether to say anything… but Jeremiah and I both have been so blessed by your love, prayers, cards, gifts, and words of encouragement.

This Christmas as I hear messages about Mary, and songs that make you think about her part in the story, I feel a strange and different sort of connection. I’ve heard several times “giving birth to a baby destined to die”… and other similar phrases… and I know we’re talking about the Hope of a baby born to give us life through His death… but I feel a twinge of pain at the commonalities. We too are waiting to give birth to a baby destined to die. I know ultimately we all are… and of course I’m not trying to equate Brody to Jesus… but yet, there are some similarities that bring me joy and hope. Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection were all for the glory of God. He chose out of His love to provide us a way to salvation. Only He could do it, and He should receive all the glory for His perfect will and plan. We know Brody is no exception to God’s perfect plan, and that ultimately his life will bring glory to God. My brother has been sending us devotionals He is writing. He pointed out in one that we as parents often place our hope in our children. We are all sinners however and eventually disappoint. He wrote of Adam and Eve, “Adam and Eve quickly picked up on the promise implied in Genesis 3:15. There would be a “seed” or offspring from the woman who would crush the head of the serpent. Eve rightly gives credit to where credit is due. “God helped me give birth to a man.”(Gen.4:1). There was rightly lots of hope placed on their firstborn son. But, their hopes in their son are quickly dashed as he murders his younger brother. He is not the son who restored their life-bringing relationship with God.”  He later explains, “We too are given glimmers of hope, and we are right to have hope in the birth of our children… to a degree. The birth that we ought to truly put our hope in is a birth that has already happened. For in that birth Hope came to the world. A younger brother has already been born, the Son who is murdered by his brothers. But His blood speaks a better message than Abel’s does (Hebrews 12:24). Our Hope has already been born.”

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this year, let us remember the cost, remember that we are sinners who would otherwise be hopeless, remember that this is the most important birth we could ever celebrate. Our hope is born in a helpless baby; a promise is given that this life is not all there is. Our pains, our loss, our mixed emotions during the holidays, are nothing compared to the peace and hope given by God through the gift of His Son. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” II Corinthians 4:16-18

*No, I’m not being politically correct, I say ‘holidays’ meaning Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years… I’m definitely a “Merry Christmas” person. J

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