My tree is up, lights are gracing the front porch and staircase, and it all looks oh, so pretty.
I love Christmas time. It is my favorite time of year, and I have always loved getting caught up in the spirit of giving, the look of joy and wonder on my childrens' faces when they see the tree, and the fun of hunting each morning for our Elf on the Shelf. It is sweet memories just waiting to be made. It is warm flannel pj's and hot chocolate, A Charlie Brown Christmas, our Fontanini Nativity, and the scent of cinnamon in the air.
But tonight, I saw things a bit differently. Tonight I sat at the feet of a precious brother and sister in Christ who pour themselves out daily in service to the Lord. They rescue and care for over 900 orphans and poverty-stricken children in Uganda. They worship God with hearts that are desperate for Him, and they pray with bold, beautiful voices rich with the African accent.
They pray unashamed.
And when they pray, you feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is moving, life changing, and humbling. It will nearly knock you to your knees.
They told of children who have seen and experienced things that no child should ever know. Stories that broke my heart and turned my stomach. Stories of desperation and stories of those who overcame.
And then I came home to our beautiful house, our tree, the "secret closet" full of gifts waiting to be wrapped and thought about the children who sleep in a bush and go for days without a bite to eat. Children who are exploited and used, and who have never felt the love of a parent. Children who grieve. Children who receive counseling by Momma Pheobe straight from the Word of God...
"You are special."
"God loves you."
"There is a reason you are alive."
"God has a plan for you."
And I look at all the "things" that I love to surround myself with at Christmas time and realize that there is nothing brighter, nothing more beautiful, nothing that sparkles more than the realization that God does, indeed love us. He loved us so much, in fact, that He sent His son in the form of a helpless newborn baby in order to die as a man...a perfect, flawless, sinless, beautiful man...for the ugliness, the sin, that had me in bondage.
He set me free from the enemy of my soul.
We must own that amazing and hard truth. Jesus must be more than a cute baby in our Nativity Scene. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the lover of my soul.
What is more beautiful than that? What is more fulfilling than watching the Lord take a damaged, used, and scarred human being and transform them into the image of Christ?
I want my kids to seek that experience, to allow God to use them to the fullest. I pray for guidance as I juggle the daily duties of 4 children, our home, the preparations for the children He will bring, and the need to set the example for the precious hearts in my care as I strive to obey the call God has placed on our family. I hope with all of my heart that we will all catch afire with the passion to serve and bless in the name of Jesus.
Christmas. May we rise up together, as one body...the Bride of Christ, to shine His light in the darkest corners of our world.