You know those weirdos who get all geeked out about decorating for Christmas even before Thanksgiving? Being somewhat of an eccentric, you might be surprised that I am NOT one of them. I cringe at the thought of decorating a Christmas tree. Who even started the tree killing tradition anyway? And why? Last year after I put the lights and garland on the tree I asked my husband how he thought it looked. His parent’s tree always looks like it popped out of a Better Homes and Garden magazine, so I knew he’d have an opinion. Basically he said it looked like it was suffocating from my strangulation of decor. He said it much more graciously as always, but it really did. That’s okay, because I knew in four weeks I’d rip it limb-to-fake-limb and hold it hostage in the basement until next year. The bottom half of the tree never even got decorated. My little elves cannot resist the forbidden fruit, I mean ornaments. Those little sinners! I mean glass ornaments, really? Let’s be practical. I honestly considered hiring my friend Becky, to decorate my tree. She puts so much love and thought into hers. Her tree even has a different theme every year! Mine was a mess.
I’m not a total Scrooge. Tree aside, I really do love Christmas. It boggles my mind that an all-powerful God would allow Himself to come to Earth as a helpless, mess-making, drooling, nursing, boogery baby, knowing that He would eventually die an excruciating death for ME. It’s beyond humbling. The closest my brain can come to understanding it, is to picture myself turning into an ant, carryng away picnic crumbs on my back all of my life, and then letting some punk kid burn me to death with a magnifying glass, so that in return I can save all of my ant friends from burning to death too. Is that the strangest analogy of the Nativity story you ever did hear? Sorry.
Easter is my Christmas. At Easter, Spring is within grasp and everything is starting to come to life. As Christians, we are celebrating our Savior’s miraculous ressurection from the grave . It seems fitting that people stop wearing their black mourning clothes that they’ve been wearing all winter and start dressing in more cheerful colors. Personally, I think we should compensate for the gloom and doom of winter by wearing neon colors. I would so never fit into a big city. They would laugh my clown colors right out of town. An Easter bonus is that, unlike glass Christmas ornaments, Easter eggs are made out of plastic. I can’t even explain the giggles and kicks I get out of seeing these colorful plastic eggs. I don’t even know why eggs are part of the Easter tradition either. I really should do some research on the origins of holiday traditions. Doing something just because everyone else is doing it seems like a bad motto. Irregardless, I love the eggs! I delight in seeing my children’s enthusiasm as they hunt for their color-coded Easter eggs. Last year Nana (my husband’s mom) assigned a color to each grandchild. This way the toddlers’ eggs could be hidden in plain sight and each child had the same amount of eggs at the end. Sheer genius!
Yesterday I felt like God took me on my very own Easter egg hunt. My mom had invited me to a women’s conference and afterwards she asked if I wanted to stop at Goodwill. We both share a love of shopping at second-hand stores (garage sales too). My husband said to me once, “I’m surprised you even shop at Goodwill. I thought they were too expensive for you.” Good grief, I’m not THAT cheap! … Well okay, I think they could drop some of their prices. Maybe I am that cheap. I hesitated when my mom asked if I wanted to stop because I didn’t have a lot of time before I needed to meet with my husband . . .”Go. I have something there for you.” Huh!? “Was that you God?” Well, now I had to check it out. When I opened the door and walked inside I all of a sudden felt like I was a little kid on an Easter egg hunt. “Okay God, where is it?” I started at my usual rack of clothing and started browsing. “Is it here God?” “No.” I snaked around the isles. When I spotted the coat rack in the middle of the store I felt a little nudge. “You’re getting warmer.” I worked my away around the rack. “Warmer, warmer, HOT!” There it was. My Easter egg!
I’m sorry but I have to back track. A week ago I had told my girlfriend, Becky (the one with the themed Christmas trees), I was looking for a new winter coat. My coat had gotten embarrassingly large on me and it was just so …black. I told her I was looking for a pea-coat that reached mid-calf in length and it had to be purple. The stores are empty of coats because it is the end of the season, so I have been looking online all week hoping to find one on clearance. I even said a quick prayer, “God, please help me find a purple pea-coat for cheap.” . . . You’ve already figured out what my “Easter egg” is haven’t you? You’re so smart! You’re right, it wasn’t actually an egg. It was a purple pea coat. Just for me. I tried it on; doubting Audrey, of course it fit! I felt so loved by God. He gave me the desire of my heart. He even knew I’d get an extra thrill out of getting it for only $8.00. After all, I did specify “cheap.”
My Easter egg reminded me of the verse, “If you, then though you are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11). My kids are 3-years-old, 2-years-old, and 11-months-old. The older two are just starting to be able to ask for what they want. My daughter’s birthday is in two months so I asked her what she wants. She requested, in this order: a Tangled [Rapunzel] party, a purple night-gown, comfortable pants, a comfortable shirt, long hair, a matching necklace and bracelet, and a sparklie-colorful-polka-dotted-cat. She did not specify if she wanted a real cat or a toy cat. I didn’t dare ask. I love that she can tell me what she wants. As her mom I want her to feel loved by fulfilling her little heart’s desires (within reason ya’ll. Don’t get crazy!). Sorry Sweetie, but the long hair and colorful cat ain’t happen’n.
As God’s child, He wants to give us good gifts too, and He has WAY more resources than any parent. Granted, I’m only human and I don’t always understand that the sparklie-colorful-polka-dotted-cat that I want will scratch and bite me. Thankfully He doesn’t always give us what we want. It’s because He has something even better for us if we can just trust Him and wait. To God a purple, pea-coat was just a simple- “Hey, I was thinking of you and picked up some Raisenettes while I was out,” type of gift. The awkward part is He wants us to ask Him for what we desire. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6). God is not our fairy godmother or a magic genie, but He is our Daddy and He wants to bless us.In the days of yore, a.k.a high school, I casually told my mom that I thought I might have an eating disorder. She totally freaked and sent me to a shrink. I didn’t connect with the shrink at all. I hardly said a word, so I quit. The second time I went for counseling is was for depression. This was a Christian counselor and I thought she was terrific. I remember one time she asked me to close my eyes and picture how I saw Jesus as He relates to me. I thought, “Great, I’m not going to see anything and I’ll look stupid.” I closed my eyes anyways and waited. I envisioned Jesus standing in front of me, but His back was turned to me. He was too busy for me. He had bigger fish to fry. He is a fisher-of-men after all. I have a friend who had a similar experience, except she felt like she saw God kicking her. As Christians we can have the head knowledge that, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so,” but in our hearts we don’t believe it. That’s where faith comes in. My church’s definition of faith is, “Believing in God and obeying Him even when we don’t feel like it, because He promises a good result.”
One more thought- I’ve been stern with my children in saying, “Please” and “Thank you,” so I want to do the same. When my Heavenly Father gives or does something for me I don’t want to blow it off as luck or a coincidence. I want to remember to give Him the praise. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1). My favorite gift to ask God for is wisdom. I often pray, “God give me wisdom far beyond my years.” The Bible says that, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5). Just know that if I ever do say anything wise it’s because of God. The foolish stuff is all me. Now go my little Easter bunnies and be on the look out for your eggs. Don’t get discouraged when you see an Easter egg and it’s not your color-code. God
knows what He’s doing. “For I know the plans I have for you, ‘declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” (Jeremiah 29:11).