Jesus Was Missing

Baby Jesus turned up missing one morning.

My granddaughter arrived at the usual time. After breakfast, she headed to the living room to get out the Little People nativity set. We had been talking about the nativity that particular week.  In this particular nativity set, there was a baby Jesus, a Mary and a Joseph, sone wise guys, sone shepherds, an angel, a cow and a few sheep. Oh, and there was a dog and every once in a while, a hot pink plastic van was used for Mary and Joseph to get around in.

The day before Mary and Joseph went for a drive with Jesus in his car seat, buckled safely in the back of the van. However, the very next day, baby Jesus came up missing.
We checked under the furniture they had driven by while out gallivanting around. Not there. We checked every room but Baby Jesus was nowhere to be found. After about thirty minutes of on and off seeking for the lost baby, we became distracted and busy with other things.
It made me think how Jesus comes up missing in my own life. Do I make a point of earnestly giving Him first placce as I did when I first knew Him? Do I strive to make Him the center of my life or do I get distracted and go on about my day, hoping He’ll turn up somewhere in it? Do I search diligently? He is never far, but it can seem or feel that way when I’ve pushed Him aside and allowed other people or other things to become my distracted focus.

I finally got on my knees and did another sweep of looking under the furniture. After all, how can you have a nativity without baby Jesus?

And then it happened.

“Hey Boo,” I called, “I found him! I found baby Jesus!”

My two-year old granddaughter came running with a smile plastered on her face.

“Baby Jesus!” she shouted and scooped him up, put him back in the van with his mom and dad and off they went to buy a Christmas tree for the stable.

Oh, to be like a child! To run to the Father when we get off course. To run to the Father when we are filled with joy. To be able and confident to just run to the Father!

Do you feel like Jesus is hiding from you? Do you want the intimacy back that you once shared with Him, making Him the most important thing of all? He says if we will seek after Him with all of our heart, we will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV).

I think that’s a pretty great gift.

The Words from Our Mouths

Fort Sherman Chapel, Coeur d'Alene, ID
Fort Sherman Chapel, Coeur d’Alene, ID

In the book of James it says,

With our tongues we praise our Lord and our Father,

And then we turn around and we curse man – our co-workers, the members of our family, our friends – those who have been made in the very likeness of God himself. James says that out of the same mouth comes both praise and cursing.

(James 3:9,10)

He goes on to say that if we consider ourselves religious (we pray, we worship, if we give our time and our money) and yet don’t keep a tight rein on our tongues, we are deceiving only ourselves. We’re talking the talk but our walk is worthless.

St. Francis of Assisi once said,

“Preach the gospel.

Use words if you need to.”

(James 1:26)

Lord, may we do as David did in the Psalms –

May our lips overflow with praise, as we allow You to teach us Your truths…

May we tell of Your wonders and be glad and rejoice in You – May we sing praises to Your name and allow You to show us Your ways and teach us Your paths,

For it is in You alone that we have hope…

May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.

(Ps. 19:14) (Ps. 119:172) (Ps. 25:4)

Glorious Hellos

imageHere and gone for a month or so and now back here again. Spending precious time with all the grandkids and loving every minute while despising the goodbyes. Again. Looking forward to the day when goodbyes will no longer be necessary because there will no longer be the need to verbalize or express those sometimes bittersweet, sorrowful farewells. Why? We’ll be home.

The thing about goodbyes though? You have to have extended a hello. Although goodbyes can be excruciating, as you’re left wondering when the next hello may be, you must extend a hello to have a goodbye and  the hellos can be glorious.

For example, after the house became quiet from all the grandkids heading back home – deafeningly quiet – I began to feel the loss again. The separation. The emptiness of once having them here constantly to them now being a very long day’s drive away. I am not complaining (at least I hope I’m not). But oh. How this Grammy’s heart aches often over having to have said goodbye yet again. But, wasn’t it me who spoke up and said not too many minutes ago, that we can’t say goodbye unless we have first said hello?

I sometimes can get so consumed with what I had to let go of that I often cannot see what I had then or have now. The kids are gone but they were here. Their laughter filled the rooms, dearly loved books were given more love at ‘sleeping’ times and beyond. Dripping I ce cream made trails down sun-browned skin as they tried to lick it faster than it melted. Cold water became our best friend as we swam at the pool and ran through Summer sprinklers.

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Winnie the Pooh once said to Piglet (or perhaps it was Piglet to Pooh), “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”  Beyond lucky. Blessed.

How blessed I am to have someone – many someone’s – that makes saying goodbye so hard.

Yes. That‘s it.  Focusing on what I have or have had – the hellos and what they held – and not on what I don’t have now and having had to say goodbye.

God knows our pain as moms  and Dads, Grandpas and Grammies. And sometimes, He lets those we love most, in on it, too.

My daughter unexpectedly showed up last Friday evening. I don’t think I have ever been so surprised and shocked and excited all at once! When I asked her later what prompted her to come (as she lives in Southern California, I am in Southern Oregon and, I had seen her just two weeks prior), she said that we never really got to visit the two weeks prior and she wanted to spend some time with just me!

I cannot begin to tell you how that made me feel but I am sure some of you can surely relate. After she was there a day, in the back of my head I hear a whisper…

You’re going to have to say goodbye.

Dread creeps in. Desperation. All emotions of one who has it all backwards. It’s not the goodbyes I should focus on, but the glorious hellos.

I will be thankful for the bittersweet goodbyes for they are evidence of God’s insurmountable goodness: giving us loved ones who make it hard to say goodbye to. image