Friday, December 31, 2010

Catching Up

I'm not sure why I have been so uninspired to write over the past two months, but blog posts have been few and far between. Here is a Cliff Notes version of all the awesome stuff I wanted to blog about over the past two months, but never got around to.

1. Birthday Surprise - My husband, who is THE BOMB, completely surprised me with a girls-only trip to Colorado for my birthday. He went around canceling all the weekend plans I'd made for my birthday and on Wednesday night (36 hours before departure) he had me open my birthday present, a winter coat we picked out together and bought in October. I couldn't figure out where the urgency came in until I saw the envelope at the bottom of the box that held a flight itinerary to Denver. What a sneaky guy!

I had a fabulous weekend with Cousin Sonja (who is like a sister to me) playing in beautiful Colorado. When we weren't living the life of luxury, we were exercising. She is hyper-athletic (think part human/part superhero) and we made the most of working out together. We did yoga, went for a trail run in the mountains, and my favorite, snowshoed in a blizzard. Sony described this outing to her husband Venu and I as, "a little trail run up to a glacier. We might pack snow shoes just in case we need them to cross the glacier." Ahem... We took a windy mountain road up the mountain to about 10,000 feet and parked by the snow-covered porta-potty. The thermometer in the car read 21 degrees F, but the gale-force winds that almost blew us over when we got out dropped the temps to around zero degrees with windchill. We couldn't see the trail head because of the knee-deep powder that had been accumulating since it started snowing the night before, but we strapped on our snow shoes (a first for me) and started trekking up the mountain in the general direction of the glacier. Sony blazed a trail for us while Venu and I huffed, puffed and gasped for air about a quarter mile behind her. We eventually hit the glacier, gaining 2,000 vertical feet in just under a mile and half and then half-slipped, half-fell back down the mountain to the car. The challenge was exhilarating and one I'm most likely won't be able to re-create in the Willamette Valley.

2. Thanksgiving with my Dad and Marcy - My Dad and his wife Marcy were at the beach the week before Thanksgiving on a working vacation and they invited us to join them for a Thanksgiving celebration. We crashed their pad on Wednesday night and spent the next 24 hours playing and hanging out together. It was unseasonably cold, especially for the ocean, and the kids bundled up in their winter coats and hats and played Kings and Queens (a game they made up that resembled Mother May I?) on the deck after breakfast. They talked Grandpa Don into coming out to play with them and somehow Kings and Queens ended up in a big wrestling match. We watched the Macy's Thanksgiving parade and the Dog Show and then took two long hikes on the beach. Alli chased Grandma Marcy down the beach, Katie enjoyed Girl Time on a rock with Grandma Marcy, Grant hunted sea gulls with bait, a home-made bow and arrow, and a Indiana Jones style "rope" that he fashioned from a sea onion, Paige drug a sea onion all over the beach making designs in the sands, Dad chased the kids, and Curt and I played referee for our kids who temporarily forgot how to get along. In between our beach expeditions we enjoyed a delicious Thanksgiving meal and played a few board games. Our time went by WAY too quickly and we enjoyed every second we had celebrating our many blessings.

3. Hunt for the Perfect Tree - The day after Thanksgiving, we headed to Jorgensen's Tree Farm to find the perfect Christmas tree. It's a yearly tradition and one modeled very closely to Clark W. Griswold's family in the movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Curt spotted "the tree" within seconds of arriving but you can't just chop down the first tree you see. We traipsed around the entire tree farm in the increasing drizzle/rain making sure that the light from heaven was indeed shining on this tree. It was ten feet of perfectly shaped beauty and took a good ten minutes to cut it down. It was so bushy that the crew of employees couldn't shove it through the baler and instead strapped it to the top of our van in all it's unbaled glory. At least we didn't have the stump and the roots hanging off the back of the van... Curt, per tradition, took hours decorating it symmetrically with matching ornaments and ribbon while the kids and I pounded out the 6 foot artificial tree in no time flat. All I did was unwrap ornaments and they hung them all. Of course the ornaments ended up in one big lump in the middle-front of the tree, but I exhaled deeply and chose not to re-organize the ornaments after the kids went to bed.

4. 100 Year Celebration - The day after we located the perfect Christmas tree, my Mom and her husband Terry came over to play. We potlucked a Thanksgiving dinner and then had birthday cake for dessert. I was 36 this year and Terry celebrated his 64th birthday two days later, so my very funny mom put a "100" on the cake. Silly Mom.

5. Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Little Paige has been drug around to events featuring her older siblings since she was in-utero. She is always such a good sport and a big fan of all her brother and sisters do, but she's never been in a program that featured her. Until this year. She started pre-school in the fall and loves everything about it. The friends. The responsibility. The homework cause if you do it you get candy and she likes to tell people she has homework. The independence. She goes to a Christian pre-school so they actually get to talk about Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas. These adorable three and four-year-olds worked for months practicing and perfecting their Christmas pageant, which they performed for family and friends in mid-December. The three-year-old classes dressed in Christmas best, but the four-year-old classes got to dress in costumes. There was an entire nativity scene of 4-year-olds. A star. Wise men. Shepherds. Sheep. Angels. The Donkey. Mary, Joseph and a baby doll that served as Jesus. The rest of the 4-year-olds dressed up as "a choir" and wore adorable pint-sized purple choir robes. Paige was one of four angels and the angels got to make a special announcement. They loudly, clearly and carefully proclaimed with hand motions, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news. A Savior has been born today. He is Christ the Lord." They sang "O Come Let Us Adore Him Christ the Lord" but the choir, which was set back from the nativity, sang to a faster tempo than the nativity group and in spite of the teacher's very exaggerated "O" with her hand, finished a good five seconds before the nativity. The last song they sang was "Happy birthday Jesus. I'm so glad it's Christmas. All the presents are nice, but the real gift is you. Happy birthday Jesus. Jesus I love you." Paige was so calculated and exact while she sang, opening her mouth so wide it looked like she was yawning or trying to sing with a mouth full of gravel. I almost melted at the sweetness of it all.

6. Dance Mania - The same night Paige had her Christmas pageant, Katie and Alli had a dance showcase. They take a little class called Jazz Jam one afternoon a week after school and every quarter all the classes in the Community School put on a showcase. Fortunately, their showcase started 30 minutes before Paige's debut so Curt and Grant were able to cheer on Katie and Alli while I got Paige set up at pre-school. They danced their hearts out and dashed into the pew in the back row right as the baby angels made their grand entrance. Two days later, Katie, Alli, Paige and 127 other giddy little girls participated in a dance camp. They went to the high school and spent five hours with the high school dance team. They ate a snack and dinner (something notable because it was SOOOO cool), learned a dance routine to "All I Want For Christmas is You" and then performed it at half-time of the varsity basketball game. Can you say adorable?!?!

7. Parties, Parties and more Parties - We had Christmas party after Christmas party to go to. We attended Curt's white-elephant party for OHSU. He opened a 3-foot stuffed frog that was hideously ugly I thought a few of the pregnant ladies might wet their pants laughing. It was so awful that someone stole it from him to give at a different white elephant party they were attending later in the week. The next night we attended the Hope Orthopedics costume party where Curt was a co-host and got to play a version of Minute To Win It. He had to tie a box of jingle bells around his waist and dance or jump to get them out of the box. We hosted a party for our house church and I attended a MOPS steering team party and a baby shower for twins. Fun, fun, fun, but don't compare the pictures from these events too closely. I'm pretty sure I wore a version of the same outfit to each gathering.

8. Christmas Eve with the Hadlocks - For the third year in a row, we hosted Christmas Eve for Grandpa Terry's family. It has been such a treat getting to know this new family that we inherited when my Mom and Terry got married. We followed tradition with a dinner of cheese soup and Christmas goodies. We gathered in the family room where my Mom read aloud the last chapter of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. We laughed in all the usual spots and got weepy in all the usual spots. It's just such a great story - naughty welfare kids bringing the ham from their Ladies Aid basket to the newborn Jewish king because they think it's a better gift than smelly oil and gold. Priceless. We passed out candles, turned out the lights, and Terry gave the question that we all individually answered: what was a highlight of your year? He went first, then lit the candle of the person next to us. As the circle of light grew, so did our silent reflection and appreciation for all God has done for us this year. We finished by singing Silent Night and sending everyone off with hugs and love. I think this tradition will never grow old.

9. Christmas with No Agenda - Our Christmas this year was the Christmas that I envisioned as a new mom holding an infant. The one where adorable kids in matching jammies take turns opening presents, delight and gratitude enveloping their faces with each gift. The one where no one argues or whines or complains and everyone lives in a happy, serene bubble for the day. That lasted for the first ten minutes until Curt said, "I want to start our day by reading the Christmas story from Luke 2 BEFORE we open presents." Everyone thought this was a very Christian and lovely sentiment except Alli who exclaimed in disgust, "I don't want to read that story. It's boring and I've heard it a hundred times. I just want to open presents" and then proceeded to pout the entire time Curt was reading. Curt was on call and we were all convinced he'd end up spending Christmas day operating while the kids and I sat alone looking at unopened presents and crying in our egg nog cause our family day was disrupted. I mentally planned for Curt be gone all day and I had a happy heart about it, so it made every second we had together an unexpected blessing. Each time his phone would buzz or ring we'd collectively hold our breath while he checked to see who was texting or calling him. He never got called in and we got to spend the entire day as a family, agenda free. We stayed in our jammies forever, took our time opening presents, ate finger food, played the Wii and Guitar Praise, took a nap, and best of all, I didn't have to make a huge Christmas dinner. It was exactly what we all needed after a month of craziness.

10. Thirteen Years - Curt and I celebrated our 13th anniversary on December 27th. Holy cow - where does the time go and how old does that make us? We got gift cards for dinner and a movie as a Christmas gift so on our actual anniversary we headed out to dinner and a movie. I think it's been YEARS since we've done that. Two days later, Grandma Ru and Grandpa Terry took the kids overnight so we could have a getaway. We are both major planners, especially when it comes to meals, so we went completely out of the box for our date. We drove ourselves to Fred Meyer, got a coffee, wandered around the produce, deli, bakery and meat department, and chose our dinner based on what spoke to us. We ended up with marinated steak and herb-crusted chicken breast, Greek salad, potato jo-jo's, lettuce salad, bread, a bottle of wine, and cheesecake. We came home, prepared our meal, and dined by candlelight in a QUIET house. It was such a lovely date. I still can't believe I get to do life with my best friend.

11. Cover to Cover - Today was a big day for Curt, Grant and I. We finished our last day of assigned Bible reading and then high-fived and fist-bumped in the kitchen because we all read the Bible cover-to-cover this year. It was a big undertaking requiring reading five chapters a day and I still can't believe my nine-year-old faithfully did this or that we let him read all the stuff about sex, adultery, war and God kicking butt and taking names. The obvious reward is character-development, but Grant also gets to pick any restaurant he wants to go out for a celebratory dinner.

12. New Year - In a few minutes, we'll be hosting a New Year's Eve party for our house church. Since I didn't know we were actually going through with this plan until Monday, I'm not sure if anyone will show up, but I'm hoping we get at least one guest. (oh there's the door bell!) I can't believe 2010 is coming to close. It seems like it was just starting. It's been a great year with significant high (completing my first triathlon and running a Boston-qualifying marathon) and significant lows (won't bore you with the details), but through it all, our God has been Faithful. I'm excited to see what 2011 has in store. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Now That's What I Call Christmas Break

Back in the day when I had four babies that had to be sleeping by 7 p.m. to avoid major meltdown and were awake at 6 a.m. every single day, I didn’t know there was something called “school vacation” or just how beautiful it really is. Now that all the kids stay up until at least 8 p.m. and have a concept of sleeping in, the benchmark of a great morning is staying in our jammies past 8:04 a.m., the time we leave each morning to go wait for the school bus.

Last week was jam-packed with wrapping up all things Christmas related before the “holiday” (because you can’t call it Christmas in public school) break. It also was an exercise in learning to roll with the punches. Tuesday night was a 6:30 p.m. Community School Showcase that featured Kaitlin and Alli’s Jazz Jam dance class. But it also featured Paige in her first-ever school performance, a Christmas pageant (she goes to a Christian pre-school) made up completely of three and four year olds. Paige made her angelic debut at 7 p.m. so it was with quite a bit of planning and shuffling that we managed to get at least one parent to both performances. Every 4-year-old was in costume. There were angels, a star, wise men, sheep, a donkey, Mary and Joseph. The kids that weren’t in the nativity got to dress up as “a choir” and wore cute purple robes. They practiced for weeks to get their songs just right and Paige was very intent on getting the lyrics correct. She over-emphasized each syllable to the point that she appeared to be singing with a mouth full of gravel. The choir kids sang “O come let us adore Him” to a faster tempo than the kids in the nativity scene resulting in a cacophony of noise somewhat resembling a round. It was pricelessly sweet.

We tucked four tired but happy kids into bed only to be woken up around midnight by Kaitlin barfing her brains out. Poor kid vomited nine times in six hours then spiked a fever. She was horizontal all day and my very busy Wednesday schedule was automatically cleared. Katie’s fever prevented her from going to school on Thursday, the day her class had a mini-party planned, and my heart broke for her as she cried over all the festivities she was missing due to illness. She did manage to finish her home-made gift and card at school on Friday. Her sweet note read, “Dear Parents, I love you and you are a joy to my heart. Thank you for all the presents. Merry Christmas to you. You are so cool and I love how you take good care of me. Love, Katie.”

We thought we were in the clear health-wise, so we hosted our house church Christmas party on Thursday night. Kids and adults had a blast and we tucked four tired but happy kids into bed much later than usual only to be woken up in the middle of the night by Grant barfing his brains out. Poor kid vomited every twenty minutes from 2 to 4:30 a.m. then spiked a fever. Like Katie, he was horizontal all day and my very busy Friday schedule was automatically cleared. I wanted to cry with Grant over all the fun activities we both missed due to illness: Alli’s first-grade class party and an all-school sing-along assembly featuring the entire student body performing the dance to Thriller for the staff. Grant promised to give us a private performance when he felt better. I think it might be time to dig out the video camera and hold him to his promise!

We proactively cancelled our plans for a mountain snow day on Saturday which ended up being a good idea since Alli got hit by the virus on Saturday morning. Even the dog was under-the-weather and spent Saturday curled up in a ball ignoring food. We skipped church on Sunday to avoid spreading germs and spent the entire weekend coloring, watching movies and football, napping, making photo books on the computer, sanitizing everything in sight, and cuddling. Not exactly what we had planned, but surprisingly fulfilling.

Everyone appears to be healthy now, but just in case I’m holding out for another day to start my holiday baking. The kids planned a “party” for this morning and I overheard Grant laying out the rules for his sisters last night before bed. “When you get up in the morning, if you see the light on in the play room, go to the play room. If the light in the play room is off, check for a light in my room. If my light is off, go back to bed and keep checking for me to wake up. Once I’m up, we’ll start the party. We’ll eat breakfast, stay in our jammies and then watch a movie.” So that’s what all four of them are doing, wrapped in blankets and sacked out in their jammies well past the time when they would have been on the school bus. Paige, who has no concept of time and is eating breakfast at 9:45 a.m., just hollered up the stairs, “Do I have school today?” Now that’s what I call Christmas break!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

December 2010

Merry Christmas. I let the kids help me write the letter this year. Any “quotes” you see are their interjections.

Grant is 9 ½ years old and he’d “have to say I really like 4th grade so far.” A self-professed “football and guitar guy,” he made his foray into tackle football this fall and really loved it. Grant “really likes skateboarding, building Legos and forts with the pillows on my couch, and learning to type home row on the computer. I also really love to write.” Grant stepped up to the challenge of reading the Bible cover to cover in one year and his character is being developed as a result of his diligent determination to finish this task.

Kaitlin has this to say about her year: “Katie is a very bright young student, is 8 years old, and she loves third grade because there are challenges and easy parts. She loves the Lord with all her heart, loves attending house church, and she has a lot of friends. Katie wants to be a dog breeder when she grows up and she likes to draw, write and dance. A big accomplishment for Katie is the fact that she has read seven chapter books cover to cover since school started. In the coming year, Katie would like to learn to ice skate and ride a horse.”

Alli is 6 ½ years old and continues to take the world by storm. Her penchant for rearranging words kept us laughing. This year’s favorites include “re-overact” (over-react), “work outfit” (Curt’s new suit), “glove catch” (softball) and “Club Crappers” (Club Crackers). She wants you to know: “When I grow up I want to be a hair stylist, be a mom and have three kids. I’m a Christian and I love God with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my soul and with all my strength. I’m in fust grade, have a great teacher and great friends. Funny words make me laugh.”

Paige’s hair and personality grew in rapid leaps and bounds as she embraced independence and being a big girl. Now 4 ½ years old, she thinks she’s too “gwown up” to hold hands and wears her hot pink cowgirl boots everywhere she goes, especially when we hike. After watching the Olympics, she stated, “When I grow up, I still want to be a cowgirl, but then I want to grow up again and be a skater and do lots of tricks and skate on the ice cause then you get a teddy bear.” A little piece of my heart died when she started pre-school this fall and officially closed the book of babyhood for the Stilp family.

Curt’s job, according to Paige’s pre-school survey, is “mows the lawn, fixes clocks, do meetings, go golfing with people and does swimming.” She neglected to mention that most of his time is devoted to his work at OHSU and Hope Orthopedics and that he only golfed once this entire year. We are still hosting and leading a house church (Solid Rock’s version of small groups) twice a month and Curt does such a great job shepherding this church family. Curt spent the first ten months of this year consistently training for his yearly dose of two Olympic-distance triathlons, but is taking November and December off so he can “work his core.” On August 1st, he helped me drown my fear of being underwater by talking me through a panic attack in the water of my first triathlon. We crossed the finish line alive and holding hands, and rate it in the top ten dates that we’ve had.

My job, according to Paige’s survey, is “fold clothes, do laundry, vacuum and mops.” I thought I’d be twiddling my thumbs with the extra nine hours a week I have now that Paige is in school, but I’ve managed to fill it hanging out with some great college girls from our house church and some awesome young moms from MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers). I spent a good portion of the year rehabbing my knee, but all the hours in the gym were worth the restored health God chose to give me. All glory to God, I ran a personal-best half marathon in June and a Boston-qualifying marathon in October. Who would have thought?

So many of you have fought health, relational and financial battles this year. Grant recently wrote this poem: “I’m a war poet writing poems of peace as they slither away to tell the enemy.” Our prayer for you this holiday season is that God’s peace, the kind that surpasses all understanding, would slither its way to the foxholes in your life and tell the enemy you’re battling that the war is over.

Many Blessings to you from our crazy family to yours,

Curt, Jodi, Grant, Kaitlin, Alli and Paige Stilp

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

All That I AM, I Will Be to You

I have been trying to make some photo calendars and a photo book for Christmas gifts for the last three weeks. Always on my To Do list and in the back of my mind, I haven't found a spare second to even think about starting these projects. I keep getting coupons in my email box from Snapfish. Good coupons with ridiculous deadlines like "Buy One Calendar, Get Two Free" and in small print at the bottom of the email "expires tomorrow so good luck trying to make three calendars in 24 hours" (or something like that). The coupons entice me to work on these projects but never give me enough time to actually start and finish in the allotted time.

Yesterday I finally started those blasted calendars. I got about 3/4 of the way through the first one, but had to stop to make dinner then rush Katie and Alli to their dance performance and Paige to her Christmas pageant. I had a hugely busy day planned for today, but sweet Katie cleared it for me when she barfed nine times in six hours during the night.

While she lay motionless on the couch watching a movie, I picked up my project where I left off last night and managed to finish all three calendars. I gleefully started the checkout process and somewhere around step 16, it asked for a coupon code. I clicked back to my email and my heart stopped. The "buy one get two" coupon expired last night at midnight. Seriously?!? My out-of-pocket expense on over-priced calendars jumped by 67% right around the time I had to wake Kaitlin from a dead sleep to get Paige from pre-school.

Flabbergasted and completely irritated, I half-carried, half-prodded my poor little sickie down two flights of stairs to the van. As she sat in her seat, wrapped in a blanket looking half-dead, I prayed and told God how frustrated I was. My heart hurt for my very sick little girl who felt miserable and was in tears over all the fun she's missing at school today and tomorrow. I was worried about the rest of my family getting sick since we're hosting a big party tomorrow night and have a snow day in the mountains planned for Saturday. I was sick to my stomach over either having to pay triple for my Christmas gifts or being forced to start completely from scratch on a cheaper website.

When we got home, I prayed and decided to try the coupon code anyway. I typed the code in the box, whispered another "please Jesus, it's just a little thing but it would be such a blessing to me" and hit "next." I have never been so happy to see red strikethrough in a price box before! I finished the order before the computer could change its mind about accepting my expired code and then sat at my desk overwhelmed by God's love for me. It's the little ways He loves me and encourages me that breathe life into my soul and leave a track record of His faithfulness in my life.

In Exodus 3 when God appears to Moses in the burning bush, they have a dialog that strikes me as odd. Moses is talking to a bush that's on fire but not being consumed. God's voice is coming from the bush and instructing Moses to make some life-altering decision. Moses starts arguing with God and says, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to then, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name? Then what shall I tell them?' God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." Wow. That's helpful. What exactly does that mean?

Our pastor defined it last week in a way that shed new light on this beautiful name. He said the literal translation of "I AM" means, "All that I am, I will be to you." God is love, but He doesn't call Himself "Love" because He's more than just love. He is Faithful. He is Healer. He is All-Powerful. He is Just. He is Mercy. And all that He is, He will be to me. Amazing. So today when I in essence asked God His name, He whispered, "All that I am, I will be to you - Encourager and Provider." Thank you I AM WHO I AM.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Away in a Manger

Today at lunch Paige and I were playing a game. She’d sing a lyric from Away in a Manger then stop and expect me to fill in the blank. We got to the end and she sang, “the little Lord Jesus asleep on the ________,” then looked at me to finish the song.

I played dumb and guessed, “Pillow?” She giggled and said, “No, try again.” To which I guessed, “Bed?” met by more giggles then “Blanket?” Finally Paige interjected, “Hay Mom. It’s hay.”

I acted shocked and said, “What? Jesus wasn’t born in a hospital with a doctor and a nice clean bed?” She looked at me like I must be from another planet to be a “gwown up” and not know the story of Baby Jesus. Incredulously she said, “No Mom. Don’t you know the story? I’ll tell you.”

She launched into this story. “So Mary and Joseph had no kids. The angel came and told Mary that she was going to have Little Lord Jesus and she was really happy. They had a donkey. So they got their donkey out and went to Bethlehem to pay their cash. Mary rode on the donkey with Lord Jesus in her belly. When they got to Bethlehem it was time to have Lord Jesus but all the hotels were full. They couldn’t find a hotel room so the person in charge of the rooms said they could stay in the barn.”

At this point I interrupted and said, “A stinky barn? With cow poop and smelly animals? Where was the doctor?”

She got all worked up and said, “No Mom. There was no doctor. And they were nice animals. There was a cow and a sheep and a place for Mary and Joseph’s donkey and these animals were nice. They made room for Mary and Joseph so they could have Lord Jesus.”

When I questioned her about the stinky poop she finally conceded that there probably was poop and it might have been smelly but the nice animals gave Lord Jesus the best spot in the barn.

She finished her story by saying, “Mary had Lord Jesus in the barn and used the thing, I can’t remember what it’s called, that the cows and horses eat and drink out of, as a bed for Lord Jesus. They put hay in the bed-thing and that’s where He fell asleep like the song says.” She acted like she was done, then added for good measure, “And they all lived happily ever after.”

If only it was that simple. They really never lived “happily ever after.” Jesus was born in a cold, stinky, unsterile poop-filled barn with no medical help or basic amenities. Mary and Joseph spent the first few years of Jesus’ life on the run. Sneaking away at night in the pitch black, running for their lives. Hiding Jesus from a Madman who, bent on killing Jesus and protecting his throne, slaughtered hundreds of two-year-old boys in an effort to kill the King of the Jews in the purge. Can you imagine the guilt, relief and grief Mary and Joseph must have felt knowing Jesus miraculously survived that holocaust?

They were forced to take refuge in a foreign country where they didn’t know the language, the culture or have any friends. They were finally able to sneak back into their own country, but settled in an unfamiliar area forcing them again to start from scratch with friends and employment. The “holy family” lived in poverty, the bottom rung of society, barely scratching out enough money to feed their family. Then Jesus started his very public and very controversial career as a religious teacher. Always pushing the envelope and challenging people’s thinking, he was both revered and hated. His gentle power and humble spirit ended up with Him being illegally arrested, given a rigged trial and brutally murdered. Not exactly what I’d call a happy ending.

Yet I’m sure Mary would say her life was full of joy, contentment and peace that passes all understanding. She bathed the Son of God. Changed his diapers. Sewed his clothes. Cooked his meals. Laughed at his jokes. Kissed his tears. Worshipped at His feet as He suffered and died for her sins. Can you imagine the privilege and the pain of being the mom of Lord Jesus? I can’t wait to ask her all about it when I get to heaven.

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed. The little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head. The stars in the sky looked down where He lay. The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

Thank you Little Lord Jesus. Thank you.