Sunday, December 23, 2007

JOY to the World!!

This Christmas, I'm powerfully aware of gifts. Gifts I don't deserve. Gifts I've been given...and for which I'll ever be grateful.

1. Memories. What an amazing concept, don't you think? God could have crafted us such that each day, once completed, was gone. Erased. Never to be seen or felt again. Instead, He gave us these amazing minds and spirits that hold fast to what's gone before us. So there, deep in our minds, are images, sounds, fragrances, feelings...and they bless us over and over. Thanks to memories, my mom is still here, with me, every day. Most especially at Christmas. She was the queen of celebrations, and Christmas was her masterpiece. Every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas was filled with little moments of joy and praise, laughter and celebration. She knew how to build anticipation. Big time. And as I think back on my childhood, and even the last few years Mom was with us, I can't help but smile. I can see her eyes glow as we put up and decorated the tree. I can hear her laughter as we came into the house, instructing everyone, "Don't look! I've got gifts here!" I can feel the touch of her soft hand on my cheek, and hear her sweet voice, so full of love, as she tells me how glad she is that I'm her daughter. Oh yes. Memories are a blessing.

2. Family. I know, I know, they can be a pain. But they're part of us. For many, they've made us who we are today. Not just our birth families, but our church families and extended families. Even our close friends who have become like family. Each person God has brought into my life becomes a thread in the fabric of who I am. Even the threads I never would have chosen, those I was sure would ruin the beautiful picture I wanted my life to be. All the threads impact the tapestry of my life, adding shades and tints and depth. And, ultimately, by God's hand, beauty.

3. Emotional connections. This emotional bond God built into us, this ability to's mind-boggling. That we can become a part of each other, that our hearts can warm and glow at the sight of someone's face or the sound of someone's voice...simply remarkable. I have a couple of friends in Illinois with whom I share that connection. All it takes is the sound of their voices over the phone, the sight of their faces in pictures, even just seeing their names in my e-mail in-box...and my heart smiles. Because no matter the distance in miles or time, that connection is there. Solid. Tested. True. And I'm the better for it.

4. Grace. Of all the gifts God has given us, this one is the most astounding. Humanity has done so much wrong. We've ruined relationships; shattered dreams; broken every command God ever gave us, often with an unholy glee; taken this world God gave us to cherish and all but killed it; forsaken His ways over and over... Almighty God has every right to blot us out of existence. So what does He do?

He opens His arms and heart to us and offers us Grace. Unmerited. Unconditional. Unending.

Love like that...we can't even begin to get our minds around it. But I'm so grateful He offers it. And all He asks in return is that I say Yes. To Him. To His love.

To freedom.

This Christmas, I'm praying you will know that Grace in new and astounding ways. And that your heart and mind will be aware as never before that the gifts He's given us are all around us. Ever new. Ever present.

Ever and always wrapped in love.

Peace to you...



Nicole said...

Merry Christmas, Karen Ball!

To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout [Oregon and the entire USA], who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by His Blood: Grace and Peace be yours in abundance. (I Peter 1:1-2)

Tracy said...

This is truly awesome! I read it to my family Christmas evening. Even my always-skeptical/critical 19-yr-old son said, "Wow, that was really good." (and no, I didn't claim it as my own - I gave you full credit! :-) )

Blessings to you today!

Rachel Hauck said...

Great post, Karen. Peace to you. :)