Christmas Crunch

Our sheep ornament

Our sheep ornament

Christmas Countdown Day 17 focused on sheep. The shepherds were out in the fields nearby Bethlehem doing their job the night Jesus was born. They were watching over, protecting and caring for their sheep.

For the next several days, our family is wading through what I like to call the “Christmas Crunch.” Our schedule is action-packed and often double-booked from when the alarm goes off until we fall into bed at night. With school events, Christmas parties, ministry opportunities, family visiting, and more, getting everyone where they need to be with what they need becomes difficult. Day 17 was chock full of racing from one point to the next, and the kids were troopers! So, when we began our Christmas Countdown before bed, we were all exhausted.

The shepherds out “watching over their flocks by night” brought peace to my frazzled heart as we sat down to read God’s Word before the day was through. The shepherds were out, doing what needed to be done and upholding the responsibility that had been entrusted to them. They were probably worn out, like we were. It was late at night, and they were still keeping watch after a long day. That’s when Heaven opened up. The angel appeared right where they were, and spoke peace and goodwill. God’s message to them that Hope had finally arrived in the darkness gave them new energy and focus, and they ran to Bethlehem to see their newborn Savior.

God meets us where we are, in the middle of the Christmas Crunch. Schedules may be back-logged and to-do lists piled up with the laundry, but God still breaks through to bring peace and joy. He tugs our hearts back to the manger, and our Savior, asleep in the hay. Jesus is there, waiting for us to drop our frustrations and disappointments and burdens at the door of the stable and simply come and worship. Our Good Shepherd will give us the strength we need to care for the sheep and responsibilities He has given us.

Away in a manger

We made a manger tonight, and wrapped our baby tight, with stuffed animals looking on.

We made a manger tonight, and wrapped our baby tight, with stuffed animals looking on.

Christmas Countdown Day 15 focused on the manger. The Son of God’s first baby bed was a feeding trough. In order to help us imagine sweet Baby Jesus’ head laying down in the manger, we recreated the scene. We built a manger out of a woven basket, and added yellow tissue paper like straw. Animals, such as our stuffed Tigger, moose and several sheep, gathered around the manger. Lauren pretended to be Mary and Jackson was Joseph, and we wrapped a baby doll in a towel, just like Jesus was wrapped in strips of cloth. Both Lauren and Jackson took turns holding and rocking the baby Jesus. Then, we placed the baby gently in our manger. We wondered if any animals tickled Jesus’ toes trying to get a snack of hay. Would the straw have been itchy? As we prayed, we thanked God for watching over Jesus as he lay in his first crib the night he was born, and for coming in such a humble way to show He was for all people.

Manger ornament

Manger ornament