The Best Christmas Ever

It’s Christmas Eve and I want to share one of my most cherished Christmas photos with you. It’s a portrait I took of my son, Dallas, when he was two. I am infamous for dressing little ones up to create a meaningful memory. For a long time this was just my precious “Little Drummer Boy.”

Not anymore. Dallas is all grown up. I think of him as my son, a wondrous young man, and a superhero all in one. He loves Jesus and teaches me what that means.

Because of Dallas, now when I look at this portrait I ask myself, “What can I lay before the King?” My finest gifts aren’t all that fine. Especially this year. 2016 been brutal and seems to be ending as wickedly as it began. I’ve never worked so hard to have so little to show for it, so little to lay on the altar…or to put beneath the tree.

Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I’m going to do what I’ve seen Dallas do…and his brothers and sisters do. I’m going to share what I’ve been given. I’m going to be grateful that I’m still alive to celebrate the birth of Christ. I’m going to stop thinking how hard life is, and focus on how glorious it is.

Christ came that we might have life and have it more abundantly.

That does not mean a heap of presents beneath the tree.

It means a heart full of love. It means gratitude for the wonderful people who step in to fill in where I fall short. It means marveling in the light of the season. It means helping those less fortunate than I am. And believe me, I know how very blessed I am.

So today and tomorrow, I pray that it’s all about Christ and nothing else.

“I played by best for Him,” says the song.

That’s what I’m going to do—my best. If all I can do is beat a drum, then I’m going to beat it the best I can. That’s all that’s required of us. God knows our hearts. He knows our circumstances. When we have “no gift to bring that’s fit to give a King,” He knows better. He knows it’s not the price tag on the outside of the package that matters—it’s the cost our hearts pay.

That means we not only show Him how much we love Him, but we allow His love to fill our hearts and our lives.

So today and tomorrow, friends, may you accept and feel the love of the God of Love. May all the beautiful things about Christmas bring you closer to Christ.

The other night the manager of a bookstore told me that she was only allowed to wish me “Merry Christmas” if I wished her a “Merry Christmas” first. Otherwise, all she could say was, “Happy holidays.” Or risk losing her job.

I get it. Let the tinsel, the trimming and trappings belong to the holidays. Let the “Ho, ho, ho,” and “ca-Ching” echo through the holidays.

But let Christmas belong to Christ, and only to Him. After all, it’s His birth that we celebrate.

So I wished the bookstore manager, “Merry Christmas!”

And with all my heart, I wish you “Merry Christmas!”

May it be your best ever.

Pa rum pum pum pum

This Might Just Make You Happier Than You’ve Been In A Long Time

This is my precious G-baby, Adelaide. We like to swing together, so this week while I’m pumping my way to the sky she says to me, “Did you feel that? Something just sprayed me.”

We’re in a forest in Florida so it could be anything, but I go with, “It’s probably just tree sap.”

“Or bird sweat. It could be bird sweat!” Her shout startles a flock of fowl skyward.

“Or bird sweat,” I concede.

We swing side by side for a few more pumps when a warm, wet glob plops down on my forehead. While I’m wiping it away lil’ Miss A turns to me and makes a face. “I know what it is, G-Mom.”

I don’t even dare to ask.

“It’s squirrel pee. It’s raining squirrel pee!”

Mercy me! Squirrel pee.

I start to giggle. Then I laugh. And then I’m happier than I’ve been in a very long time.

Know why? Because I’m feeding my brain all the good stuff. Look up a hormone called prolactin. It’s usually associated with female milk production, but since my lactating days have long since dried up, this is the cranial magic that breaks down barriers between individuals and allows us to bond. Mother/baby, G-Mom/G-baby, Stranger/Friend, etc.

We humans are not meant to live life solo. We’re meant to bond by dancing and singing and thriving in tribes. Survival depends on it.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, my heart is with my “tribe.” It’s also with those who are without a tribe. I’ve been there. I was raised in foster care. Some homes made me feel welcome and safe. Others made sure I felt isolated and inferior.

No child should ever feel those feelings or be that vulnerable to predators.

So here’s what I hope we’ll do this week. I hope we’ll seek for ways to include others. It’s not hard to find lonely people. They’re on the streets, in nursing homes, and in our own homes. Next I hope we’ll find a way to better bond with each other. To pardon old trespasses once and for all. I hope that we’ll invest in experiences rather than things. Make memories. Shop. Cook. Create. Laugh. Reminisce. TOGETHER!

Nourish our bodies with healthy food and our brains with healthy neurotransmitters that come from bonding, laughing, being grateful—from tossing stress out with that nasty, soggy little giblets package you find when you violate a turkey’s cavity by sticking your hand where it doesn’t belong.

Here’s the deal. You are meant to be happy. You deserve to be happy. Happiness thrives when it is shared. So I pray that you’ll find yourself showered this holiday week with unexpected delights. Maybe not squirrel pee, but then again…it worked wonders for me.