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Eclipse. (c) 2017 Trina Lambert

Advent is all about waiting—but this year, despite the arrival of Thanksgiving and the busy shopping season it ushers in, we are still lingering in a form of calendar limbo. Check it out: Calendar A for the previous liturgical year ended on November 26 with Christ the King Sunday, but Calendar B for the coming liturgical year starts with Advent on December 3. So where are we now on November 29? Waiting for the waiting?

And, yet, it is so ironic that while we wait and prepare for the season of giving, our screens are filled with stories of people who go through life taking, in one form or another—just as in the days when the Chosen People were awaiting the arrival of the Messiah. They thought they were getting a Messiah to come to fight overarching power with power—but what they got was a baby, which is pretty much the opposite of power. Then after they waited for him to grow to become a man, he spent his time with them telling them to take on power—by loving and giving? Can you imagine?

Sometimes it feels as if we have no idea how to help those who are hurting or how to go about confronting the powerful forces that would keep taking from the world. But we need to remember that we do have an idea—it’s simply to love and give. That’s it—each of us has to figure out for ourselves how we’re going to go about doing that loving and giving—and bringing about light in a world full of darkness. That’s the kind of power we can claim without harming others—and we don’t even have to wait—not for Advent, not for Christmas, not for any day on any calendar.

Imagine the brilliance of our combined light.

Oh, Lord, help us to turn on that light—now.

(c) Christiana Lambert 2010

(c) Christiana Lambert 2010

Most all was calm, most all was bright. That’s how this Christmas felt after so many years of distress and darkness. I’m not a person who expects a perfect Christmas, but it’s been a long time since our Christmases felt normal-enough in any way.

First there was the Christmas Eve when my mom fell and we couldn’t deny anymore that who she was was slipping away. There would be three more Christmases with her—each one with less and less of her present. But the first Christmas without her here at all, I could hardly imagine “doing” Christmas, knowing she would not be part of the celebrations at all, except in our memories. And so we created new traditions, even down to changing almost everything about the way we decorated.

But my mother was not the only one who had changed in a big way during all these years. The Christmas after Mom’s fall, my daughter—and our whole family, of course—was also freefalling into a developing mental illness—something with which we had no experience. After initial improvements and a couple seemingly reasonable years, her descent accelerated, all while we were trying to figure out what she needed from the distance as she attended college. Last Christmas, though seemingly bleak enough, brought the present of a different diagnosis—which has led to more appropriate treatments—and a renewed sense of hope—for her and for those of us who love her.

Though I still miss my mother at Christmas—and always will—I am learning to accept her absence and to find comfort and joy in the new traditions, just as I did in the Christmases after I lost my father. For most of us beyond a certain age, figuring out to how celebrate again after losing our grandparents and parents and other older loved ones is a life passage through which we must live. I am finally coming to terms with what Christmas means now for me without both of my parents.

However, a renewed feeling of calm and hope for my own children—something I took for granted years ago—is the most precious gift I have ever received. I treasure these things and ponder them in my heart.

Of course, this Christmas season, though more normal than it has been in years thanks to our daughter’s improved outlook, has not been perfect. Now my husband’s parents are in decline, even if not so precipitously (mentally) as my mom had been. And our son is suffering lingering effects from a concussion he received mid-month—time will yet tell how well he heals.

So crazy how hard it sometimes is to feel the true joy of the greatest miracle of all time when you have been seeking other more personal miracles in the lives of those whom you love. And yet, in my own dark nights of my soul, I continued to understand the longing for light to come into this world—and have clung to that light even when joy itself has seemed elusive except in the smaller moments. I remain grateful for the miracles—small and large—that have happened in our lives.

I open my arms and heart to receive this gift of a Christmas that has had more laughter than tears—something I haven’t been able to say for many long years. One of the greatest miracles is that I can still believe in a merry-enough Christmas after all.

God bless us one and all—especially if this is one of those Christmases when you are still trying to convince yourself to continue believing that one day, you too, will again celebrate a merry-enough Christmas.

Christmas Lessons, 1969

Christmas Lessons, 1969

Today when you’re running any last minute errands, peace out! Seriously, after driving and walking yesterday I was really wondering if any of those in cars were focused at all on peace and goodwill. Think of the irony of rushing to complete tasks for Christmas while nearly running other cars off the road or running over pedestrians in the parking lots—does this make sense?

Yesterday while I was out to go to an appointment, I couldn’t believe the hyper-awareness I needed to maintain to keep myself safe while on the road. I was singing along to “O Holy Night” when I first almost got sideswiped—after I had checked for an empty lane and used my turn signal—the huge SUV that almost got me kept bouncing among lanes without ever using a signal, but the driver of that vehicle was far from the only one.

This sort of thing kept repeating—I had to keep turning up my music and reminding myself to calm down. And when I could see the drivers’ faces, those faces seemed blank and set in stone. The people did not seem angry or aggressive—it was as if they were not there—perhaps they were running through to-do lists in their heads.

After I almost got hit as I walked into the pedestrian crosswalk outside of Office Max—a crosswalk protected by stop signs on both sides—when a car blew through as if neither the stop signs nor I existed—I decided I was done. My errands could wait if this was how my fellow humans were sharing the holiday cheer. All I had to do was get to my own street—where I was greeted by another large SUV going the wrong way down our one-way street. After that car had passed and as soon as I could turn safely, I was followed by another vehicle that had turned so quickly behind me that it had been visible neither in my rear view mirror nor through my front windshield.

When I parked my car in front of my house, I resolved to stay home the rest of the day—no matter what else I might have wanted to accomplish out and about.

All I can think is that too many people have bought into the myths that our celebrations of Christmas have to be perfect and that everything has to be done by December 24 or all is lost.

Well, long ago my father shattered the myth of perfect Christmas for me and I’m finally starting to think it was one of the better things that happened to me. Believe me, I did not always see my personal story this way. What happened was this: I presented my parents with this huge list which I compiled from poring over the Sears Wishbook. Remember those? Well, Christmas Eve came and the present Santa brought was from that list but was not what I most wanted. I threw a fit and my father threw one back. He said, “Fine—there isn’t any Santa, you know. We do the shopping and that’s what we could find that was on your list.”

I used to think he could have been more sensitive, but now I know just how much of a brat I was being. He was running his pharmacy six days a week and then had to rely on my mother—the K-12 music teacher who had the elementary music program, as well as junior high and high school choir and band concerts, to run—to get to the closest town with a store that sold toys so she could buy our presents. No store was open on his day off, which was Sunday. They were busy decorating and providing us with all the trappings of Christmas while doing their jobs that paid for such things—they were exhausted. Too bad you didn’t get the perfect Christmas you wanted, kid. Neither did they, neither did they.

Unfortunately, the Christmas Machine is so much bigger today than it was when I was growing up. We not only have stores that are open on Sundays and late into the evening, we now have stores that stay open 24 hours a day the week before Christmas. We have online shopping and next day shipping. But that doesn’t mean the stores—brick or virtual—have that “perfect” gift you want to buy. That doesn’t mean we have any more hours in the day to live our normal lives while preparing for the holidays—even if we can go shopping at 2:00 a.m. if we choose. And that doesn’t mean no one should ever be disappointed.

What I learned that Christmas—OK, what I later realized I learned that Christmas—is that the real present is what others have done for you with their intent. It’s their love and time that matters more than receiving the perfect material gift.

And, of course, if you believe Christmas is really about a little baby bringing light into this world, how can any of this rushing around without love really be what matters most?

Even if you don’t believe Christmas is about that baby, do you really want to mar your celebrations by damaging your vehicle or by getting charged with careless driving—or by harming someone else’s body and/or property?

In our house, tonight is about going to church and being together. But we also give ourselves the gift of celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas—which means Christmas begins tomorrow for us. We don’t have to be done by the 25th because we’re going to keep celebrating.

While you (and I) are busy completing any necessary tasks today, keep singing “Joy to the World”—at the top of your lungs, if you must, to remind yourself what all this busyness is all about. Give yourself—and others—the gift of having a merry little imperfect Christmas.

Peace—let it begin with me and you today.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Mention you go to yoga and many people will say, “I can’t do yoga. I don’t bend well.” Me neither—that’s exactly why I started doing yoga. I’m coming up on ten years of practicing yoga and I’m still not that “bendy” person people believe every yogi is. But that’s OK because becoming “bendy” is really not what doing yoga is about.

Well, then what is it about?

My yoga guru/instructor, Dr. Dennie Dorall, is always reminding us that the purpose of doing yoga is to experience joy.

In yoga class we work on joy, pose by pose, breath by breath. So often that whole notion seems counter-intuitive, especially when not all yoga poses feel joyful and certainly some breaths seem to keep us focused on pain for far too long. In many ways the joy received from yoga is something you can only develop with conditioning: the conditioning of your body, mind, and spirit over time to better receive that joy.

But joy is not a cheap emotion—so often it must be earned by going through sorrow or pain. That’s the sort of resilience that practicing yoga helps build. Breathing into and holding onto a difficult pose when your mind is saying you can’t teaches you that you are possibly capable of so much more than you imagined. At the same time, your emphasis on your body in that challenging moment teaches your mind to tune out the extraneous noise or that which has nothing to do with the present and join to struggle and rest with that body.

By learning to fully be in moments you would not choose for yourself, you gain strength to get through so much of what life throws at you. You celebrate when you discover you can do what you formerly could not—and you keep believing that someday you will be able to do that which today you cannot do. Nonetheless, whether or not you ultimately can or cannot do something, you learn to be fully present in the attempt.

As much as yoga has taught me to how to be more present in the present, it has also taught me not to hold on to the past so much that I miss the new “present” offered to me. For me, being more open to receiving joy has taught me to put aside a focus on regrets on certain losses outside my control.

In this past Wednesday’s yoga class, Dr. Dennie asked us for a word for that day and then challenged us—each in his or her way—to share that word with others. My assignment? To tell you all about joy.

That day I could have felt frustrated or even a little angry about the time lost to my recent illness, but instead I woke up happy that I got to do all the ordinary activities I had to miss last week—and that I wasn’t too tired to enjoy them either.

On an unseasonably warm December day, complete with blue skies and snow-capped mountain views, I could hardly wait to get out for a post-yoga run. I knew it really didn’t matter that I was going to have to take it easy after my hiatus—but I got to go—I just had to tell my number-cruncher side to take a hike and let me enjoy a leisurely jog on a gorgeous day—which it (the number-cruncher side) did and I did, too.

That’s the kind of joy I used to miss out on before I began practicing yoga.

You may associate joy with something seasonal, but I like to think joy is something I can carry out into the world with me throughout the year. However, this time of the year the concept of joy seems to have been misapplied to concepts such as getting or noisiness or busyness—or at the very minimum to some sort of grand emotion we are “supposed” to feel.

True joy is more the sort of thing that allows a young unwed mother to give birth in a barn amongst animals and yet to call herself blessed and to treasure and ponder in her heart all the commotion surrounding this humble birth.

As for me, bending my mind and spirit in yoga has helped me to be more willing to receive that in which I already believed, allowing me to be more open to giving—as well as to receiving.

Practice feeling authentic joy in each moment during this season of waiting for hope to come into this world. Your practice of joy has the power to light up a world desperate to receive both hope and joy.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Here we are again in the Advent season (the December days leading up to Christmas), waiting for the Light to come into this world. I’m busy trying to take my time about jumping into the Christmas season. If you look around my house, you will know I have succeeded here!

Due to a lifelong focus on celebrating Advent, I rarely decorate for Christmas this early. What a difference there is in a year, though. I would say there is more hope in our home this December, even though it would be hard to see it if you were expecting this home to be decorated for Christmas by now.

The most obvious change in the house since last year is that my parents’ remaining items (the ones about which I have not yet made decisions regarding their fates) are not making a limbo of the living spaces, but are relegated to storage areas. Any disorganization in the living room comes from our everyday present life: laundry to fold or books being read or toys pulled out by dogs. The new window blinds regularly allow the sun to shine in, leading the way to the dawning of a new era here. You see, it’s not so dark in here anymore these days as we wait for the Light.

Sunday in church we once more heard the words about making the crooked straight and I thought, “That’s about me!” I mean, my body is now more straight than crooked. Last year I needed to approach Sunday morning church choir activities as if they were athletic events. I had to do warm-up exercises first thing at home if I wanted to survive all the standing, sitting, and walking required for singing in choir. And no matter what, I came home exhausted and in pain.

No, now I can sit and stand as expected, not needing to fidget in search of a better position or not having to do subtle exercises to make it through services.

I can also see more clearly how the seemingly-crooked paths my children have taken are straighter than they appear on the surface.

Even my mother who comes in my nighttime dreams is more often the mother I knew than the one lost in the darkness of her last years.

Maybe making straight my crooked body has let in enough sunshine to make straight the crooked ways of my heart and mind, too. At the same time, I understand better that sometimes you just have to believe you’ll make it through the darkness—and do what you can to wait patiently for the Light.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

‘Twas the day before Christmas Eve and all through our house, not many Christmas decorations were showing, except for a few stockings and some easily-accessible items that could be set up high. My year had been long, filled with too much gloom and doom, weighed down by parental possessions “stored” in my home, and hampered by physical injury and pain, at the same time sharp puppy teeth remained ready and able to destroy anything left below three and a half feet.

In short, I didn’t know if Christmas could happen in a living room where all those extra possessions had arrived at a time when everything in our home had to be out of reach and when my back’s condition lowered my already low ability to deal with the physical manifestation of my parents’ lifetimes.

The dust and I collected in that room where my spirit often felt trapped by my body’s limitations and those boxes. Add in the rollicking of two exuberant young dogs who brought in dirt from the great outdoors, and we had our own little Dust Bowl, right in our own home.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

As determined as I had been to find the floors and table so we could decorate for Christmas—as well as move past this year—by December 23rd I had lost my commitment to finish with anything more than the most basic goal of a clean-enough house. After all, our Christmas tree stood lighted in the room even if I couldn’t imagine any ornaments would be truly safe in our house this year—perhaps that was decoration enough.

That’s when a not-so-little elf stepped in, inspired by the movie Elf.

While Sherman and I were out shopping, Christiana—the once-preschool-artist who used to make artwork from items snatched from the recycling bin—pulled out paper, scissors, and an X-Acto knife in order to create a festive yet puppy-friendly set of colorful decorations: chains, snowflakes, and cut-out ornaments such as candles, stars, and gingerbread men.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

The hot pink, lime green, neon orange, lemon yellow, and blue-purple chains made a tropical paradise out of my frozen Christmas spirit: I hadn’t missed it, after all. Why it was only Christmas Eve Eve—plenty of time to save the holiday.

She cut, stapled, and hung. Sherman and I wrapped after our elf suggested we could still have presents out if we put them on top of the piano where our puppy, AKA Goat Boy, could not reach. Christiana made a skirt tree from paper to cover the tree stand, but we made do when we decorated the piano top.

Truth is traditional Christmas colors didn’t match the paper chains anyway. Other than grabbing a few more lights and some tinsel from our usual decorating boxes, we left everything else in the garage. No, the material on top of the piano came from leftover quilting projects—after a few snips with my mother’s pinking shears, we had a virtual rainbow of colors resting beneath the presents.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

The tropical transformation continued once again during the daytime hours of Christmas Eve.

Our traditional “winter wonderland” the kids make on top of the piano that suggests skiing and sledding and a White Christmas? Well, instead we put down purple material and Jackson and Christiana created the scene with various colorful toys. Blue bears, dragons, Pokey, dinosaurs, and Kermit—oh my?

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

With all the life changes we had experienced, we needed to find a different way to celebrate—this year was not at all like all the Christmases we knew.

But with the lights twinkling amidst all the color, and other elves doing more basic cleaning and preparations, I soldiered on and got that table cleared—a few days after the longest night of the year, but just in time for the brightest night of the year. Upon that table we set out multi-colored Fiestaware instead of matching china and crystal, said our prayers, and then toasted—to what had been and to what was still to come.

Without the helpful push for Christmas spirit in our home, I might not have opened up to the Christmas story and the Spirit celebrated later that night in our church. Sometimes, when our faith is on the shelf, God has to send human hands to remind us of light on this earth before we can see the True Light.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

This morning “Santa” handed out gifts to the residents where Mom lives. Many experienced great joy in opening those presents, but others, like my mother, didn’t remember what it means to open a present. Nonetheless, I tried to put together a package that expressed the person she used to be.

First of all, my mother worked in a drug store and that meant she learned to wrap presents well, as did my father, the pharmacist. In fact, they both did such a great job that I hardly learned how to wrap a present. It took me years to do half as good a job as they did. Still, this year I got out the fancy foil carousel horse paper Mom had bought from my kids—she loved carousel horses so much she collected small versions of them (we couldn’t afford to get her a real carousel horse!) And then I pulled out the curling ribbons and created a much reduced version of the frothy ribbon ornamentations she and Dad could do.

OK—I’m also pretty excited about the red sock monkey flannel nightgown she pulled out of that box. If I could have found an orange gown, it would have been even more her kind of gift. But, it is soft and warm—and full of life.

Truly, though, the biggest gifts I give her now are holding her hands and helping her to eat and drink. Her life has slowed to the most basic of basic activities.

So like the Little Drummer Boy, I had no idea what I could really give her that mattered.

Until I remembered that sound is supposed to be one of the last senses people experience. Beyond smells, what greater memories do we have of our Christmases Past than the songs from those times?

Of course, Mom’s parents taught her the German carols we know in English in the original language—German words I only faked. However, I have access to the Internet—and access to a college friend who, by the Internet, gave me a pronunciation lesson to see me through a little higher level of faking.

When our pastoral intern Jess Daum and I set up a time for her to give communion to my mother for Christmas, I realized she might be able to get in on my Little Drummer Boy plan. What good Lutheran minister (or minister-in-training) in the U.S. hasn’t heard a few good German phrases or had to pronounce some complicated German last names?

And so I passed Jess the cheat sheet sent to me by Lisa Richards. A few moments later we sang both “Tannenbaum” and “Stille Nacht” for Mom, without any rehearsal. From the moistness in Mom’s eyes, I know we got it as right as it needed to be.

To help my mom through her dark nights, I pray she sees the light coming into the world this stille nacht. And if not, that she hears the promise in the songs she heard upon her mother’s lap. Schlaf in himmlisher Ruh.

(c) 2010 Trina Lambert

Right about now nineteen years ago, I was finishing up my first year of coursework toward an MBA—courses I took in the evening after going to my full-time job. December and its celebrations could wait.

That semester I was involved in one of those group projects from Hell where everyone does the work but doesn’t always agree. Early in December our group came together to put some final touches on the project. One member apologized that she was a little slow because she had been sick while another apologized since she was in charge of the company holiday party and had been up all hours celebrating. That’s when I told them I could top their excuses—not only was I pregnant with twins but also since I had just hit my second trimester, I had been pregnant most of the semester and had been happy to stay awake during class, let alone finish the work. Just completing that term was one of the best gifts ever, if only so I could sleep more.

Our Decembers have been crazy busy ever since, despite our best efforts to keep Christmas celebrations themselves in line. It took me three more Decembers (and another half year) to finish that degree while living with young twins. The first post-graduation Christmas, free from the additional stress and work of school deadlines, was a delight!

A few years later Sherman began his Master’s degree studies—by that time all the activities related to having grade-school-aged children made it even harder for him to fit in his schoolwork, especially during December. When he graduated in December of 2002 (yes—we added a graduation into the December mix—but saved the party until January!) we vowed that from then on, only family members born in 1992 could attend college—and now they are—which means they are experiencing their own December madness right now.

But the years in between Sherman’s graduation and now have been full-speed-ahead years also. Middle school and high school added more challenging final projects and tests and, of course, concerts and parties, too.

(c) 2010 Trina Lambert

When Mom broke her heel three years ago on Christmas Eve, little did we know how much more involved we would become in helping her with her daily life. That Christmas it seems we barely had our tree up two weeks—we needed to take it down to make space for papers and other items we had grabbed to figure out how to transition to having her live in our home, for awhile, and, later, make a permanent move to Denver.

Meanwhile, our kids continued with the fast pace of high school December requirements. Although we finally purchased one of those pre-lighted trees and could set out the tree otherwise unadorned, we were happy to get out the remainder of the decorations by December 21. And what wasn’t necessary didn’t happen.

Which makes yesterday’s activity—a mundane one for many of you—seem all the more miraculous. After replacing our porch six years ago and losing the built-in attachments for Christmas lights, we finally made it possible to hang lights again. Sherman installed new hooks—I held the ladder—while the dogs, Fordham and Abel, surveyed the neighborhood. Then I continued to hold the ladder (or my husband, when necessary, to keep him from falling into the rosebush and its sadistic thorns) while he hung up our brand new chili pepper lights to go along with the 3 Margaritas paint colors. Then he added blue light ropes we already owned that really match our house now.

OK, we still needed new extension cords, but by 9:30, after some additional ladder ballet (and a few inappropriate language choices), our 3 Margaritas home was ready and lighted for Christmas!

Not only that, but there are already presents under the tree—on December 13, no less. Who knows, maybe we’ll write and send out the sequel to our last Christmas letter—the one we sent in January 2006 . . .

(c) 2010 Trina Lambert

At the same time, we’ve given the kids the gift of being able to do their own projects and tests! Jackson finishes today and Christiana finishes tomorrow. With good weather and traveling mercies, we expect to see them very soon—tired from their own crazy busy Decembers—and in just a little bit of awe to see what their parents can accomplish with a little bit of time.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

‘Tis the season to re-read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Yes, lest we forget the lessons Ebenezer Scrooge had to learn the hard way and much too late.

Sherman and I have been reading the book out-loud this week right before bedtime. Goodness, Dickens knows how to throw in a few too many words and commas as he tells a story! Thankfully, so far neither one of us has had nightmares about ghosts visiting us on cold, snowy nights to “spirit us away” (clad only in our nightclothes) to witness the true heart of Christmas—or lack thereof. Still, we no doubt have our own bits of “undigested beef” to chew on as we reflect upon the story and how we ourselves might appear to the spirits in the tale.

When asked to contribute to buying “the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth”, how similar are our replies to Scrooge’s reply? “I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I support the establishments I have mentioned (prisons and workhouses)—they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”

In today’s world, there aren’t too many of Scrooge’s means—or of ours—who don’t make merry. Even Scrooge, while not exactly making merry, did have a bigger fire than the one he allowed his clerk, plus he had the means to take his meals in a tavern.

Scrooge seemed to have a great capacity for ignoring the miseries of his fellow men (and women) until Marley and the other ghosts pointed out real examples of people in need. So easy to dismiss a group in theory, but so much harder to look into someone’s eyes and see the personal suffering.

Are there people whose choices cause their personal suffering? Of course, there are. Does that mean all people suffering have only themselves to blame?

Oh, these are hard times even if so many things have improved since Scrooge’s day. We have many more safety nets available to people in our society. Still, it’s easy to think that if we can take care of our own problems, so can others—as if every single thing we’ve achieved is only the result of our own hard work and determination.

No doubt Scrooge could very truthfully point to how he kept his “tight-fisted hand at the grindstone . . . .” Yet even with his miserable upbringing, he had been provided an education and the kind of connections that allowed him to learn a trade and get ahead—there are plenty of grindstones that simply don’t achieve such high returns from the investment of hard work.

But getting that return for his work wasn’t enough for Scrooge to feel gratitude. His reaction is the typical older son’s reaction in the parable of the Prodigal Son: afraid someone else is going to get something without earning it.

Some days I am also that older son—but how often do I forget when the fatted calf has been prepared for me?

Because I do forget, I keep reading, year after year. God bless us—every one—whether we’ve earned it or not.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

January 6 is one of my favorite holidays/holy days: Epiphany! While we don’t celebrate in our home with a King Cake, we always leave up our Christmas decorations until at least this date on the calendar. I not only like what this day stands for in the Christian faith, but I also appreciate the general concept of epiphanies even though my family doesn’t really do anything out of the ordinary on this holiday.

Epiphanies are all about unexpected revelations. Does it make sense that the long foretold savior who would deliver his people comes in the form of a baby born to a family of little means? Not really. No more than it makes sense that prominent men from faraway countries would travel long distances just to see the future king of a small nation that lacked the type of power the world—then or now—recognizes.

Surprise! It’s not what was expected—it’s more. The baby was sent for more than just that nation. He came for all of us.

Yesterday I hosted Moms in Touch since our usual leader, Bev, is busy revealing God’s word and work in Africa right now. It only seemed appropriate that the lesson theme be about revelation. The more I read in preparation, the more I realized that Epiphany demonstrates very well the concept that we are not in control. Things aren’t done the way we think they should be done. And that’s OK.

Sometimes epiphanies are huge, just as when the Magi came to visit Jesus.

Other times our insights are much smaller. For example, I wanted to subscribe to an RSS feed on a blog. For a moment I sat there and thought, didn’t I subscribe to this before? The answer turned out to be yes! I discovered I’ve been receiving the RSS notifications for this blog all along, but didn’t see where they were going in my Outlook folders. Whoops.

But we also experience some epiphanies that sound small, yet are really life-changing. Last night Jackson had an assignment to find a couple articles. Nothing seemed quite right and finally he said, “It doesn’t have to be perfect. I just have to print out the articles.” Those words are a miracle coming from a kid who has often missed completing assignments because he couldn’t find exactly the right answer. Just another manifestation that the 4.0 grade point he received this past semester, after so many disappointing semesters, is not a fluke, but a change in how he approaches his school work.

In our family, we belong to what we call The Christmas! Every Day Party. What that means is because we believe in Christ, then there are really 365 (or 366) days of Christmas every year. Yesterday, Epiphany, was also the 13th day of Christmas in our home. I’ll take the epiphanies I received, both little and big, as continuing gifts in the celebration.

Not only should we expect the unexpected, but we should expect to be delighted from time to time when things turn out better than planned.

Who knows what will happen this day, the 14th day of Christmas. Maybe something beyond our wildest dreams . . .

P.S. Happy 2010—may your blessings be many, both expected and unexpected!

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