One of my friends had a very thought-provoking facebook post the other day. Gina said, “My kids always arrange the nativity with all the people and animals crowded together, backs to us, huddled in close to baby Jesus. I, of course, always feel the need to spread everyone out nice and even...facing us on display. What a lesson I have learned from my littles tonight! I've got it all wrong. May I please be more like my children...crowded and huddled close to baby Jesus!”
After reading her inspirational post, I was so curious as to how my own four-year-old would “arrange” our nativity. So, without any cues, I asked her to set it out under our Christmas tree. Whaddya know?! She set it out the exact same way as Gina’s children! Joseph and Mary were standing close to baby Jesus – Mary at His head and Joseph at His feet. The angels stood at the left and right of the stable, looking toward our Lord. The kings, shepherds, and animals were all within inches of our Savior, just soaking in His every move. How about THAT?!
Children are incredible, aren’t they? They hear more than they let on and they are wise beyond their years. Most importantly, they know what love is and exactly where to find it. Facing the manger. That’s where.
I found a few great quotes about children that I want to share:
- Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them. - Lady Bird Johnson
- While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about. - Angela Schwindt
- Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you. - H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
- If you want your children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others. - Dr. Haim Ginott
- Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called, ”All the things that could go wrong.” - Marianne Williamson
- Heaven must be really small, because I can see it in my Mom’s eyes. – Author Unknown
- What a child doesn’t receive, she can seldom later give. – P.D. James
- If we wish to be in our children’s memories tomorrow, we have to spend some time in their life today. To connect with them, we need to disconnect from distractions. – Author Unknown
Not long after I read Gina’s post, I ran across another friend’s words of wisdom. Rebecca has six beautiful children and this is what she said:
“I always get asked, ’How do you do it?’ WELL, here goes…I'm always tired, but I keep going EVERY day. My house is never clean or uncluttered. I don't want to spend the money on a maid when I am ‘physically’ capable of doing it myself. My mind is always running in about a hundred different directions, even when I lay down at night. I over think everything and am rarely on time anywhere. I feel like my bedroom looks like a Laundromat exploded. I rarely spend money on myself because I feel like my kids need it more.”
“But, at the end of the day, with my sleeping baby in my arms, there is no greater feeling. YES, we are outnumbered, but in WHAT? We are outnumbered by the little people who love us back each day and THAT is how I do it. I am really grateful for all these things because a dirty, cluttered house means I have a house. And, clothes everywhere means we have stuff to wear.”
I loved reading this honest reflection from a mom with a large family. One of Bill Keane’s quotes comes to mind regarding my friend, Rebecca: "How do you divide your love among your children?" And the mother replied, "I don't divide my love - I multiply it."
Ah…children. A child can teach so much, especially the Christ Child lying in the hay. If we could just remember that our peace will come while facing the manger, with all of life’s distractions at our back.
Speaking of peace…I was looking for some among my own three children last weekend. To avoid an overdose of cabin fever, I took them bowling. We played two rounds – one with bumpers and one without. What an interesting difference in those two games.
The first game (without bumpers) was extremely frustrating for them. As hard as they tried to focus and aim that ball right down the middle, their ball was inevitably sucked into the gutter more times than not. Frame after frame this happened and they were flustered. They wanted me to bowl the first game, so we couldn’t use the bumpers. For the second game, they were like, Momma who? The bumpers went up and joy followed. They were successful. They were smiling. They were enjoying what the game had to offer.
Hmmm…crazy enough, the bumpers reminded me of what Jesus can offer. When we look love in the eyes as we are facing the manger, we can’t help but smile. We will be better able to enjoy what this life has to offer if we have Him to keep us out of life’s gutters. Like the bumpers, Jesus is there to keep us in line and headed in the right direction. Who knew a simple game of bowling could offer so much insight?!
It’s obvious to me that many good people out there know about facing the manger. My friend, Jennifer, was fairly certain that she had lost her credit card while filling up with gas in
She was extremely upset and couldn’t sleep. Being the Christmas season and all, she had a
lot of pending charges for gifts she had ordered. The potential was there for a ridiculous
amount of holiday hassle to get it all squared away. She was so mad at herself because she had
never lost a credit card before. Houston
Once I heard about her predicament, I immediately prayed that whoever found that card would find it in their heart to turn it in. With so many people desperately needing money during the holidays, I can imagine how tempting it could be for someone to just keep it. I also asked Saint Anthony (patron saint of finding lost articles) for help. “Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony, please come around. Something is lost and must be found.” I felt confident and hopeful that her card would be found.
After a long night of waiting and wondering, Jennifer was proud to report the next morning, “Thank you, Lord! Some angel turned in my credit card at the store.” That’s right. Angels ARE among us and they can even be found in a stranger’s kind gesture. We can also catch a glimpse of baby Jesus’ love through our children. It seems that we can conquer most anything that is thrown our way, as long as we’re facing the manger.
And, while facing the manger, “Audience of One,” by Big Daddy Weave keeps playing in my mind. The lyrics that really stand out for me are: “So what could I bring to honor your Majesty? What song could I sing that would move the heart of royalty? When all that I have is this life that You’ve given me. So, Lord, let me live for You, my song with humility.” Crank up the volume…I think you’ll love it as much as I do.
In closing, I want to thank you, dear sweet children, for the reminder that love is found in a lowly manger. A child shall indeed lead us…
Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!