Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Is Miraculous & Messy

Christmas was beautiful. Filled with love and laughter with loved ones in celebration of the birth of Christ.

Happy birthday Jesus!
We enjoyed your celebrations.

I love these people! 💗

A day (and month) of action and reflection.

My favorite Christmas memories were filled with running down stairs and joining my siblings in unwrapping our gifts and jumping up and down as we received things that were on our wish list.
I'm sure many of you felt the same way or even enjoyed watching your children open their favorite gifts today.

That scene of the past is among my favs. Now watching children in our family do the same is heart warming.

Seeing our cute cousins in their pjs playing, laughing and opening gifts this year was so precious.
I enjoyed hearing about their new school favorite dances and toys.

I vividly recall the happiness of being a girl over 30 years ago.
Receiving Barbie dolls, Cabbage patch kids, the anticipated Baby Alive, albums, video games, the iconic Easy Bake Oven and a Donald Duck record player with blinking lights and a microphone made childhood a dream come true.

Our grandmothers punctuated the holidays with their culinary delights representing their east coast and southern roots.

What was your favorite childhood toy? Memory? Food? Tree? Tradition? 

Our tree was not expensive but on a new pastor's budget, it was perfect to us- white, glistening, tall and filled with sparkling gold ornaments, garland and beautiful lights.
Dad would always read the biblical Christmas story to us in our pajamas before we opened gifts. We danced, sang and went to church together.

Mom and Dad would cuddle. My sister and brothers would make us laugh with their nonstop jokes or our collective shenanigans.

My father and I would often sing, "Oh holy night" together as we gathered or crossed paths in the house.

Those moments still melt my heart.
It was Magical.

Growing up in the 70s and 80s was a time of wonder. Becoming a young woman in the 90s and enjoying adulthood with the family and many friends at Christmas was equally beautiful.
It was a wonderful time in life!

We hadn't lived long enough to know what life would be like when Christmas would look differently.
We had only know Christmas to be a portrait that seemed flawless, wondrous and miraculous.

In many ways it was fantasy because it seemed void of pain, loss or sadness. It was a giant gift that had not yet experienced grief.

Fast forward to the late 90s.
Our older brother passed away. A big blow!
Christmas felt differently without his laughter.

In the early 2000s we experienced the loss of our uncle, Rev. Raymond Bailey, our uncle, Ephraim Jordan and both grandmothers, Lucy Smith and Victoria Curtis. How could this be happening all at once?

Without Granny and Momma Lucy and our beloved uncles we couldn't see how we would ever experience holidays that were magical.

In that same season we lost our father, Dr. E. K. Bailey.
Christmas wasn't Christmas anymore.
Celebration turned into sadness.
Music, ornaments and songs didn't seem to make us "happy."
It was suddenly holiday gone bad.

Have you ever felt alive without living?
(Kind of like you are going under water fast or suffocating due to life's sorrow?)
Have you found yourself smiling in the storm? Or wanting to fast forward through the holidays?

Life for years had began to feel messy.
Tears seemed to mess up what use to be happy moments.
Heart ache is and was real.

It felt like the early 2000s were so painful that we seemed to just be coasting in life.
We continued, by God's grace to minister to others, but life was messy for us.

We often felt like life's equilibrium was off.
It was hard to gain our footing or to enjoy the 'wonder' of the season.

If you have felt like that, then you are not alone.
Imagine how Mary and Joseph felt.
They were engaged to be married and anxiously anticipating their wedding day. Then they were surprised to learn that they would become the parents of the Son of God and virgin Mary would soon become incubated with Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:21

An engagement that probably felt magical suddenly seemed messy.

Life doesn't always feel wonderful. Sometimes it feels woeful.

Imagine mothers enjoying their babies and then getting the worse news that Herod ordered all male children 2 years old and under to be killed.
Matthew 2:16
Life can become messy without warning.

Mary and Joseph are preparing to welcome the birth of the Savior- wonderful grace-but there is no where for her to give birth accept an Inn that was probably smelly and filled with animal excrement- messy grace.
Sometimes grace stinks!

Mary  experiences the greatest joy and she gives birth to a healthy baby and our Lord- miraculous grace-yet many mothers are crying their eyes out because their babies were recently terminated. Messy grace!

How can grace be messy?

"We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival."

-Winston Churchill

Suffering is apart of the human experience.  It's messy and can not be avoided.

"...In our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God." -Aeschylus

A precious friend of mine became pregnant- wonderful grace. She later learned that her baby could not survive life outside of the womb and the baby would pass away shortly after being delivered.
Messy grace!

Another dear friend became pregnant several times and miscarried several times.
Messy grace!

Some friends have become engaged. Some have had broken engagements.
Some have married and some have divorced.
Some have started ministries that are thriving and some have started ministries that had to close.
A family member planned a great party that we attended recently and one day later was in a car accident.
Sometime we become acquainted with miraculous grace and messy grace all at the same time.

We all live between the two seasons of glowing and groaning.

I have been given some unforgettable opportunities over the last 10  to 20 years that I will never forget-awesome grace! I accepted many of those opportunities or grace gifts, but had to decline some opportunities because of some of life's personal, private challenges, illness or unavoidable setbacks. Messy grace!

What about you?
When has life been miraculous and when has it been messy?
We all know those moments.

On Christmas morning we enjoyed a great cookie decorating activity.

My cookie was not a pretty cookie. In fact, it's downright ugly and looks more like a scary man vs. a gingerbread man. Lol!
It is messy, but the time spent with family was priceless.
Perhaps this gingerbread man reminds me of my life and of yours because it has a testimony.  It is Perfectly Imperfect.

Somethings can not be explained. Messy miracles are in that category.
It is in those mysterious moments that God is near offering us Himself.
God grants us strength, endurance, and
power in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9.

When people see me they may see a bright smile, a confident woman and may experience a joyful embrace but have no idea that I have often felt like the gingerbread man that I decorated- messy, disfigured, crooked and all over the place.
What they really see is a woman that God has made over and continues to make over.
When you see me you see grace! Amazing grace!

Today you may have been overjoyed by Christmas decorations and lights and the laughter of children or excited being surrounded by family members and good food.  I have been. Christmas is much brighter for our family now, but it has been a process. We rejoice that joy has come!

You may have experienced extreme loneliness and incredible grief.
You are not less faith filled because you may be hurting today.

No matter where you are in life know that God's grace abounds.
It's miraculous and messy.

So was the cross.
It was miraculous that Jesus would die for our sins and His death would ensure our salvation, justification, adoption and reconciliation, but it was messy. Crucifixion was the messiest death ever.
Nails. Thorns. Whips. Wood. Brutal soldiers. Spears. Blood. Death in slow motion.
That's pretty messy!

But if God could use the the messiness of the cross to redeem us, He can surely use the messiness in our lives to redeem our circumstances for His glory.

God has a way of using wonderful and terrible times, moments, and seasons to remind us of His perpetual presence.

It is in those holy moments that we often cannot comprehend that He is moving on our behalf. In Christ is our sufficiency.

Let's not reduce Jesus to a fuzzy feeling or to Santa Claus that gives us everything we want because we believe we have been "good."

Let's not assume that He has abandoned us just because we experience tragedy, sickness, sadness or loss.

Let's not forget that He is the perfect definition of love and wisdom and He cares when we laugh, cry, rejoice, suffer, lament, are frustrated, having a temper tantrum, or experience triumph.

On His birthday, let's join the wise men and bow at the wisdom of God.
His wisdom trumps our shallow wisdom.
He is all wise and will perfect our concerns.
Why trust Him? Because He knew and foreknew everything that we would experience.
We bow our hearts today in worship and obedience and one day we will see Him and bow again in praise forever more.
"We shall behold Him face to face our Savior and Lord..."

Dear Lord,
Thank you for life and love. We celebrate your birth and our rebirth in you.
Your life made our life to come possible. We give you praise.
Teach us to trust you in all seasons. We love you and thank you for being the best gift. The only gift that will never tarnish, decrease in value or fade away.  Until we meet you in the air, make us faithful over seasons that are miraculous and messy because you are right there working it out for our good.

Happy birthday, dear Jesus.
Thank you for today's joy, for our current day makeover and for tomorrow's hope.

#yourlifematters #hopeagain #newyou
#family #Christmas #hope #grief #joy #messy #wonderful #victory #Christ #Godcares #Grow #Groan #Glow #faith #cry #rejoice #suffer #celebrate #peace #love
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