One of us

If you know me, you won’t be surprised by the fact that I sing to my children at bedtime.  In the past six months, I’ve been using old hymns as well as our traditional family lullabies… In the Garden, Tell Me The Story of Jesus, and so on…

In the last month, I’ve used all traditional Christmas songs – Away in the Manger, Silent Night, The First Noel, O Come All Ye Faithful – and thanks to our music minister, Tracy Thomas, I’ve kept Tell Me The Story of Jesus in the mix… afterall, the first verse says, “Tell how the angels in chorus, Sang as they welcomed His birth, ‘Glory to God in the highest! Peace and good tidings to earth.'”

The last couple of nights, I’ve added a favorite from an old Christmas musical called “Forever Christmas” (copyright 1984) by Don Wyrtzen and Phil and Lynne Brower.  My mother directed this musical at Parham Hills when I was young and I have remembered this song since then.  If they did it the year it came out – 1984 – then I was only 6 years old and it burned itself into my young brain.  I also remembered the story the narrator (who I am sure was David Felts, though it could’ve been Lewis Southworth) read.  Here is the story:
One blustery Christmas Eve, a young father sat all alone in front of a roaring fire.  As was his usual custom, his wife and children had gone without him to the candlelight service at church.  It wasn’t that he was especially antagonistic about the whole thing, he just didn’t see any sense in it… and so there he sat!
All at one there was a commotion outside the big picture window.  A small flock of sparrows seeking shelter, and attracted by the light of the fire, were repeatedly flying against the glass.  Helplessly he watched as the exhausted little creatures began falling one by one into the new snow.  Suddenly he had an idea, and grabbing his coat he headed for the nearby barn.  Quickly, he flung open the doors, turned on the lights and started coaxing the birds to warmth and safety.  But, to his dismay, his efforts only frightened them further till finally, in defeat, he turned back to the house.  “If only I could make them understand!” he thought.  “If only I could become one of them I would gladly lead them to safety.”
Just then, in the distance, he heard the church bells as they began to ring in Christmas.  Each chime seemed to be echoing his words, “One of them… one of them… one of them.”  All of a sudden he understood.  There was reason in Christmas!  Christ has come to earth to become one of us to that He might lead us to eternity.  Dropping to his knees, there in the snow, he opened his heart to this One who loved him so.  And, for the first time in his whole life, it was Christmas!

And then the song begins…

Silent Night, Holy Night
All the World is calm, all the stars so bring –
Did it happen on a night like this?
Do you think the angels reminisce
seeing Mary as she gently kissed the newborn King?
One of us, the Holy Child was born,
He became one of us on Christmas morning;
The wonder of it all that in a manger stall
That night in Bethlehem God became a man!
One of us, the Holy Child was born,
He became one of us on Christmas morning;
He became one of us, one of us, On Christmas morning, morning.
One of us, the Holy Child was born,
He became one of us on Christmas morning;
The wonder of it all that in a manger stall
That night in Bethlehem God became a man!
One of us, the Holy Child was born,
He became one of us on Christmas morning;
He became one of us, one of us, On Christmas morning.
He became one of us!

Now… without the accompanying music, it loses a bit of the effect (but just a bit).  The timing and inflection is what made the song stick.  It is a simple song without much change in the lyrics and yet it is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard in my life.

But the story and the words are so applicable… even now, in 2013, nearly 30 years later.

It is because God’s Story is timeless.  The fact that Jesus become a man to save us never grows old.

I struggle with sharing this with unbelievers at times.  I want the music in a portable player so that I can just read the story and sing the song to everyone I know who doesn’t believe and follow God.  But, even with the story before the song, I’m not sure I can convince people of how much God loves them and wants them to be with Him eternally if they aren’t willing to open their hearts to the message.

But, oh, how I love The Message… and oh how I love the way this story and song presented it.  I need to remember not to reserve this story and song for Christmastime – even though that is when it resonates in my head the loudest.  (It was in a Christmas musical when I was 6.)

And I want to go back to Tracy using Tell Me The Story of Jesus in one of our Christmas worship services this December.

Here are the first & last verses of that hymn:
(And yes, I am sitting at the computer with an actual hymnal in my lap… I am a church music nerd and proud of it)

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth,
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.”
Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.

Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain;
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see;
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
“Love paid the ransom for me.”
Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.

The story I want to tell this Christmas – and every day of my life – is that Jesus came to earth, becoming ONE OF US to lead us to the safety that is Heaven.  I want my children, my extended family, my friends, and the strangers that I come in contact with to know this story.  I’m not good at witnessing, but God has laid it on my heart to be better.  Witnessing with my actions alone is no longer good enough – I must witness with words… because I am more than “a good person”.  I am a God person.

And what if it isn’t true?  Ah… that is an argument for the ages.
What if the Bible IS just a story?
What if Jesus WAS just a great teacher?
Well, my daddy once said that even if it turned out that all he believed, all that he lived for, turned out to be false- then he could still look back on his life with not one regret for living it as the truth.  Believing in God, in the Bible, in Jesus – and following in Jesus’ footprints will only lead us in a way of light…
But I believe it 100%.

Thank you, God, for becoming one of us…

Debbie Downer

I know… I’ve already slacked in my blogging.  Here’s the thing.  Sometimes I have something really good to write about – so I do.   Then there are weeks like these last few where I’m feeling like a “Debbie Downer” (so not a good name – I have a cousin named Debbie and she’s definitely NOT a downer).  I think of something wonderful to write about when I’m not sitting at the computer with both kids napping – what is happening right. this. moment.  Then, by the time I am sitting at the computer, it is gone – the spirit, the interest, the funny joke – whatever “it” is, it is gone.  And I feel down and only want to post about something negative.

Like today… I was not a very friendly person to my husband last night.  The kids and I had had an okay day – nothing catastrophic by way of fighting or disobedience… and dinner was going “fine” – Ella actually ate all I gave her of what I had made before requesting something else to eat.  But I was tired and got grumpy over stuff that didn’t really matter.  And then, attempting to be a good husband, he took us all to the mall so he could make a necessary return (time running out) and then watch the kids while I shopped for a bra.  Ella spent 15 minutes in her room getting re-dressed to go out that turned out to be 15 minutes doing who-knows-what because she was still in a short sleeved shirt and skirt when Jeff went to get her.  This actually sent my frustration level sky high as I deal with this every. morning. of. my. life.

Men – you may want to close the window now… but I don’t care if you continue reading.
Women – you know where I’m headed, don’t you?

Bra shopping is the WORST!  Especially if you aren’t willing to spend the dough to go to Kiss & Make Up and have Ruth size you with one glance as you walk in the door.  If you go to a department store at 7:30 when no one is working, you end up trying on a gazillion bras to find ONE that fits.  You then buy the exact same bra in more than one color in an attempt to not be boring in undergarment choices.

So that didn’t help my mood… but I did get two new bras from which my underwire is NOT sticking out.  So, all-in-all, he was a GREAT husband – keeping the kids busy and in a totally different department of the store while I got myself straight.  Then… He. Paid. For. Them.  Yep.  He rocks.  But I was still very, very mean before we left for the mall.

Then today – Ella can be one of the slowest children to get anything done.  Remember a couple paragraphs ago where she spent 15 minutes NOT changing her clothes… Yes – this happens every morning.  Side note: My mother was like this.  My grandmother would routinely walk past her room and say, “now the other sock Sandy” so at least my kid comes by it honestly.

I got her to preschool AT 9:00 and then proceeded to go to Willow Lawn for Mommy & Me.  Joe fell asleep in the car, as I knew he would, so we sat in the car for 30 minutes while I played Scrabble on my Kindle and he snoozed.  Our friends showed up and we went it.  We had a good time and I got a good work-out since Joe wouldn’t stay in one location long and we were seated near the stage (after perusing all the booths).  He just kept walking out of the stage area and heading to the back of the room where Nutzy was.  The thing is – he’s smaller and can get through the crowd so much better – making me step over kids and parents (sitting down) to try to get to him.

But we made it through the morning and were in a pretty good mood going to get Ella and meeting other friends for lunch.  Then we got to McDonalds.  I saw one school bus in the parking lot, but missed the other two in an adjacent parking lot.  There was not a single table open and the people in line were going to have to sit somewhere.  I called my friend and we re-routed to Chick-Fil-A.  But that meant taking my kids OUT of an eating establishment AT NOON and getting back in the car.

Anyway – see what I mean?  I could tell you about lunch and how Joe nearly threw my entire salad off the table… how he chucks his pacifier or “the ball” whenever he gets mad (sending me crawling on the floor to find it)… or how Ella didn’t want to leave the play area (FOR ICE CREAM) because it meant that it was also time to go home – so she took another 5 minutes (felt like 20) getting her shoes and socks on.

By the time we did get home, I was in a rotten mood and the kids got fussed at for stuff they shouldn’t have.  Joe needed a nap when I put him down, but I just needed a quiet house for an hour so I put Ella down for a nap too.  And she is actually sleeping.

Anyway- maybe you’ll just find humor in all this.  Maybe you’ll find that you’re not the only mom to yell at your kids because they’ve left their shoes in your walking path and you’re carrying an armful of laundry so you trip over the shoe.  Maybe you’ll just realize that you’re not alone.

That’s what I get out of these posts (when I read them on other people’s blogs)… that I’m not alone in what I feel and what I experience.  And that makes my downer post worth it.

Gotta run.  Joe just woke up in a fit.  I’ll blog again sooner.  Hopefully.