As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. -- Isaiah 55:10-11

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Christmas Story: Still Being Written

The following is a family letter I sent out earlier this week. At the encouragement of some friends, I am sharing it with you.

May it offer hope and encouragement for the hard places of your story, and may you always remember the story that started in a manger didn't end on a cross but is still being written in you.

Blessings for your still-being-written story.....

The Christmas Story: Still Being Written

It is our family tradition to put the Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving. As you can imagine, this year was a bit odd with the separation, but we found a way to make it work.

Since Rob and I met in 1988, we have bought Christmas ornaments and personalized them. Last year we put up a larger tree and covered it with personal ornaments. This year there was much debate about what to do about ornaments for the tree. Ultimately, I opted to get personal ones for the children and myself. Anna picked out a very blingy square that is the perfect princess stuff. Robert picked out a heart because sometimes he really needs to know he is loved, and Anna picked out mine. She picked out one with a palm tree, because I’ve grown very tired of hearing people tell me to put on the big girl panties. She said when the big girl panties rip, it’s time to put on the swimsuit and head to the beach.

I love that girl.

So, we took our pictures, fixed our ornaments, and were ready to do the tree.

That morning I was drinking coffee and thinking in the quiet of the house. The children were with Rob, and he was going to drop them over later. He asked that his ornaments or the ornaments we share not be put on the tree. I had a problem with that because those ornaments are our story. We put them on the tree, talk about that year, and relive the story of precious moments and precious people. I love the story, and yes, it is Rob’s and my story, and yes, this is part of our story that is painful beyond words, but, it is also the children’s story. And they need to know their story is amazing. Christmas is a story of life, and while our story has brought us here, it is the story that has also given us two incredibly amazing children. Yes, this is a painful place in their story, but they need to know that even stories with painful places, like teenage girls pregnant out of marriage who give birth to a baby in a barn, have amazing impact. They need to know the story is so small in comparison to the power of the lives that come out of it. They need to know their story is amazing, their lives are amazing…THEY are amazing, and it’s not the hard places in the story that determine the impact. It’s how it ends, and they have the power to make it a good ending…no matter where it is now.

So, I texted Rob and told him the story is still solid, the lives are still amazing, and he needed an ornament.

Later that afternoon, he and the children arrived ready to put up a tree…ornament in hand…story still being written…

The first job is to actually put up the tree. That is Rob’s job.

Looking sort of ugly right now, but with some help….

That blue spot by Rob’s elbow is Anna, and the blur on the left is Robert.

My job is to sit in the recliner, be the cheerleader, and take pictures.

Told you it would look nice.

The first ornament on the tree is usually the one Rob and I picked out from our first Christmas together. This year, though, Anna had a special ornament. She picked up this lovely cardinal in honor of Mom, and she put it on the tree first.

When all the personal ornaments are done, we put the new ones on one at a time.

Robert is a bit short to lean over the tree from a chair or ladder, so Rob gave him some help.

Anna is a perfect height this year.

By the time Jerri got around to putting up hers, the tree was nearly full.

Next Rob puts his on the tree.

Finally, Rob reaches really high, cuts a hole out of the ceiling, and puts the star on top of the tree.

Then we do a light check….and find out they don’t all work because the Enterprise isn’t plugged in correctly.

But once it is fixed….

It’s beautiful.

And the story…with all the light and shadows, laughter and pain…is too…

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