When it rains

We jumped into the car after church determined to make the trek to Silver Dollar City to see the Christmas lights. It was the last day of the season for the holiday festivities. The skies were overcast and gloomy, but our trusty weather app said the rains wouldn’t start until later in the night.

We sailed through the three-hour drive, with virtually no traffic, and were thrilled that the park wasn’t full. That meant quick lines and more fun!

Then, I felt it. A drop. Next, a drizzle, just a sputtering from the sky. We had just gotten a funnel cake sampler, so we found the last table under a canopy and began to eat. The rains came, and began to soak our winter coats. Matt had thought to bring our big rainbow umbrella, and so we huddled close together and began to walk slowly underneath to the next show so we could get in from the rain.

Under the rainbow umbrella canopy trying to stay dry

Apparently many, many others had the same idea. The theater was packed full of wet people looking for respite.

The lights went down. An angel appeared. He recounted meeting Mary and how she and her betrothed traveled to Bethlehem. There, she gave birth to a son, God’s Son. And the world was changed. The skies opened up in praise, shepherds went to find the baby, wisemen followed a star to worship the tiny king. The Gospel was shared.

It wasn’t rain that wet my cheeks inside the theater. It was the realization that God made it rain that day so this crowd could know the truth about Jesus.

The downpour lessened once the show was finished, and we enjoyed our time at the park and all its lights.

We love the Christmas lights at Silver Dollar City!

Rain will often change our plans, our moods, and our perspectives. Sometimes our lives are pummeled by storms and soaked in sorrowful tears. Rain can bring beautiful growth and refreshment, as well as hesitation and even peril.

When the hard rains come, and they will come, I want to remember these three things I realized dodging the drops at SDC.

  1. Rain can bring us closer to those we love. Instead of scattering, when we were facing rain and potentially changed plans, my family huddled together underneath the dry cover of our umbrella. We used the rain as an opportunity to be together and move together.
  2. When it rains, look for the Gospel on display. God does not waste our pain or our tears. Often our struggles are a conduit for God’s message of hope and redemption. God may make it rain specifically to redirect or prepare the heart fields to receive His One and Only Son.
  3. The rain will end. There is always a start and an end to the rain, and to the storms in life. Believe that, and hold onto that. The rain may last so much longer than forecasted or come unexpectedly, but it will not last. The clouds will roll back to reveal the sun that was always there.

Christmas Countdown Day 19 & 20: Tiiimberrrrrr

Did you hear that?

Listen closely…

…tiiimmmbeerrrrrrrrrr!

It’s the sound of our Christmas Countdown plans crashing to the ground, along with our Christmas tree.

Yesterday, I ended up at the doctor with strep throat, and the kids watched movies the rest of the day while I rested and waited for my medicine to kick in. Today we were planning to go to Silver Dollar City in Branson with my sister and her family, but instead it was Matt’s turn to go to the doctor for strep throat.

Then, this morning, Jackson was running around the living room and toppled backward into the Christmas tree. While I screamed in shock, Matt miraculously caught the tree before it hit the floor.

Though we tried to fix the tree so it would stand upright, it was no use. It was all I could do not to cry. Matt held up the tree while I quickly took off the ornaments, garland and lights. The pieces of tree now are laying in a pile in a corner.

Matt holds up the broken tree, while I take off the ornaments and place them on a nearby table.

Matt holds up the broken tree, while I take off the ornaments and place them on a nearby table.

My first inclination was to immediately send Matt to the store to buy a new Christmas tree. But then I remembered Matt was sick. And, Christmas trees are expensive.

So, we let things lie, literally, for a little while. After lunch, Matt gently reminded me that we could get a really good deal after Christmas for an even better tree. Maybe we could just use the Christmas Countdown paper tree.

The paper tree? Really?? I looked over at the lopsided green paper tree stuck to the wall with sticky tack. It would fit on the wall where the broken tree used to stand. With a sigh, I knew it was the right decision.

And, I also knew what our family activity would be tonight! We gathered together under the paper tree, determined to bring some three-dimensionality and bling to the room. We strung lights, hung ornaments, and made a rockin’ tree topper with the garland the kids had popped in half while playing tug-of-war when I wasn’t looking today.

Lauren and Jackson sit under the paper tree.

Lauren and Jackson sit under the paper tree.

After we were finished, we turned off the lights to admire our handiwork. I think they like the paper tree better!

I told them that just as our tree was broken today, our hearts can sometimes be broken through painful situations or our own bad choices. But, when we call out to God, He will come and remake our heart, just as we created a new tree. Jesus came at Christmas to make our hearts whole. Jesus is what makes Christmas, Christmas.

I’m sure someday when we’re old, we’ll gather around at Christmas and say, “Remember the time Jackson broke the tree and we decorated that paper one?” and we’ll all laugh.

Christmas isn’t about the tree, after all.

Day 19 Scripture is Isaiah 7:10-14.

Then the Lord spoke again to Ahaz: “Ask for a sign from the Lord your God—from the depths of Sheol to the heights of heaven.”

But Ahaz replied, “I will not ask. I will not test the Lord.”

Isaiah said, “Listen, house of David! Is it not enough for you to try the patience of men? Will you also try the patience of my God? Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.

Day 20 Scripture is Luke 1:26-35.

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be.Then the angel told her:

Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Now listen:
You will conceive and give birth to a son,
and you will call His name Jesus.
He will be great
and will be called the Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give Him
the throne of His father David.
He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
and His kingdom will have no end.

Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?”

The angel replied to her:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore, the holy One to be born
will be called the Son of God.”