I have to be my son's biggest cheerleader, his biggest supporter and the one who looks out for his interests at all costs.

So if the paparazzi had been following me a couple of weeks ago they would've snapped a pic of me on a freezing cold, rainy day, running from the grocery store with an arm load of fried pies.

Because I.....

a.  love my kids so much that when one calls me while in the return line at Target and asks if I can go here to there and beyond to find him a fried apple pie like they sell at the local burger joint, I'm a pushover for a sweet voice in the midst of other things that aren't much fun

b.  obviously have a careless disregard for the health of my kids and will on occasion feed them things that might someday kill them.

c.  thought carrying an armload of pies would be better than paying the new city fee to get a bag.

d.  all of the above

But the truth of the whole thing is that the kid that called and asked me for the pie just holds my heart.  Except for when he doesn't... like this morning when he gave me a big ol' whatever mumbled under his breath to something I said.  And at that moment I questioned if he's too old to take back to the baby store for an exchange.  

(I used to joke in my darkest hours of mothering toddlers and little ones that I was going to drop off  the kids at the fire station - sadly, like an unwanted newborn... but the funny truth is that I can and have dropped off a bad kid or two at the fire station with daddy and had him handle it so I could drive away quickly before my brain exploded.)  

But kid 3 holds on to me like nobody's business and this week my heart has felt the burden of the weight that he carries every day.  Every day as a public school student with a learning difference that just doesn't fit into the box that public school tries to squeeze every kid into.  And don't get me wrong.... I have loved our elementary school and my other 2 had nothing but good and successful experiences in education in their early years.  So don't take this as a parade of public school bad things.  There is so much good to be had that I just can't stand it.  BUT.... you must be a good match.  And you just won't know till you try it.  Like a blind date.  

And I won't go into detail about this week because y'all have heard it all already.  And nothing giant in particular, just small thing after small thing that ends up adding up to a week of big things to an 11 year old and his parents.  And when all roads lead back to the school day, that's when I as the parent must speak up on behalf of my kid.  

And I'm not saying to make excuses for things and get him out of holes he himself has dug.  But when it comes to pointing out special accommodations and the unique learning needs of your child, there is no one going to stand up for him like you can.  And it's hard - and even a bit weird - to be the one who speaks up against authority in the name of your kid.  But we have to.  I have to.  

I have to be the voice that reminds those in positions of influence over my child that sometimes he just isn't going to be the same as the other kids in the class.  And that sometimes he might take more of your time than what you planned.  And sometimes, you may just need to take a big breath before you speak and scar the heart of a child that has looked at you with big eyes and giant hope and given his trust to you because you are, after all, his teacher.  

So this week I had to remind some people that there are some things that just can't be said.  And some things just can't be done.  And that some kids just don't fit into their box.  Not today, maybe not ever.  But I had to be the voice that stepped out of my comfort zone and stood up for my kid that can't, at this time in his life, do it himself.  

So parents... we have to.  We have been charged with the task of protecting not only our kids' bodies but also their hearts, minds and spirit.  The spirit of a little one who can't understand the negatives around him till he has been fed way too much of it at too young an age.   And you alone know that kid better than anyone, second only to the God of his making.  You alone can be the voice to combat the negative and in so doing, teach him to one day do the same for himself and for his own kids.  

I have to be my son's biggest cheerleader, his biggest supporter and  the one who looks out for his interests at all costs.  Until he can grow in maturity and strength to do it himself.  And I have to keep telling myself that even when I feel like I've bucked all normal parental behaviors by speaking up to a teacher or other person in a position of authority, I have to remember that for now, I am his voice.  

post script.... to kid 3, my sweet Sam, giver of endless hugs, kisses and I love you's.   I hope one day this letter can be a reminder to you that you are so much more than tests and grades and notes from teachers.  Yes, you learn a little differently than others.  And that can be a beautiful thing.  An opportunity, even,  to see things in this world that the rest of us are too busy to notice.    You are a forever smile that I want with me everywhere I go.  You are bright blue eyes that see the good in others.  And you are a heart that continues to believe that good things happen. 

Kevin Costner and his lady friend taught my boys a thing or two that I wasn't ready for them to know. And that is all I really remember about family movie night.

The good news this week is that the ugliest garage door in the land is finally dead.  A slow and painful death that dragged on years too long.  The bad news is we still have to look at it out there not working for about one more month while I wait for my new one.   More bad news is that new garage doors are crazy expensive.  But it was time to move on with life and finally be able to park in the garage again.  And I think it'll be like a big party when Home Depot delivers my new million dollar door and I'll invite all of y'all over to celebrate.

Also in the good news column this week is that kid 2 says he will not put myself and husband in a home when we get old unless that's where we want to go.  So I'm already hitching my golden years wagon to him and planning to get the west wing of whatever house he has as a responsible, mature adult.  I love that boy.

Also trending around here is the goings on from family movie night last night.... where there was yelling, screaming and mirrors falling off walls.  There was a beautifully displayed plate of snacks and surprise sex scenes that dad forgot to tell me about in said movie.  And there was also a kid that ended up sleeping on the couch all night.  Kind of a restraining order for him and brother.   Take all those ingredients, mix them up and that's a pretty accurate account of our evening from about 7-10 pm last night.

 Of course I had planned for a nice evening of together time after a long day of games and other business.  And I put out cookies and popcorn and other things to make life sweet, and husband picked a movie he assumed appropriate for all ages.  But also forgetting to tell us that we would be blinded by a sex scene between Kevin Costner and some lady that I don't know, but now I've see her totally naked, and for a very long time.  

And as I sat there trying to act like adulthood wasn't moving in on my kids way too fast, husband was jumping around like a crazy person scrambling for the remote that couldn't be found anywhere this side of the Mississippi. And I'm pretty sure he babbled a bit as well..... trying to avert our attention away from the on screen affair and direct it, instead, toward him.  Like a bird flapping it's wings to scare away predators.  

So yes, in the end Kevin Costner and his lady friend taught my boys a thing or two that I wasn't ready for them to know.  And that is all I really remember about family movie night.

Then as I lay there in bed trying to get rid of back tension and forget what I had just witnessed, a falling object dropped entirely too close to my head in testament to how random and freakish life is.  Much like a guillotine might feel plowing toward one's neck, but without warning.  

And here it is...the beautiful antique mirror I found at the garage sale last summer and painted a lovely shade of blue and hung it over my  bed.   

But handyman husband has been using some unorthodox wall hanging practices of late.  And when I looked up to see what was left on the wall.... picture it.... all that stood between me and a very heavy falling mirror was a smallish looking hook with a bottle cap on the end of it for reinforcement.  Which proves right there that bottle caps are not meant for construction or home decorating projects.  

And I pictured this crazy video that our church youth group showed us as young teenagers about the dangers of not choosing the Christian path in life. A video that depicted the day after the rapture where all Christians had gone onward to enjoy the sweet fruits of Heaven while those of us that had yet to decide our path were lined up to be beheaded by a guillotine.  Which made me right then and there decide that I loved Jesus, and my head, and decided that the Christian life is the one for me.  (Perfect example of old school Baptist teachings with a strong emphasis on do or die).

Anyway... Husband did not nearly get his head chopped off because he was in the boys room refereeing a fight over who is weak and who is not and who can and cannot play basketball.  And really it was just a question of which kid gets meaner than the rest when tired.

End of story....

All 3 boys got a movie night lesson in the birds and bees that was a surprise to us all. 

Kid 3 ended up sleeping on the couch.  Kid 2 was all upset over that this morning because the sleeping arrangement interrupted his private XBOX playing time, and kid 1 just kept living as if nothing happened. 

I was thankful to have husband home for the festivities.  And as true love is selfless,... was also thankful he did not almost get his head chopped off by the mirror.

The mirror slid right down the wall behind the headboard of the bed and surprisingly only cracked the frame, not the glass.  Which is good  in that it would've been more bad luck than anyone deserves after almost losing her head. 

post script.....  I would've chosen Jesus the easy way, just by living life and seeing the difference he makes in it all.  No guillotine movie necessary. 

Oh yes,... I do have a request for y'all this week, please.  This fella, kid 1, Ethan, has a big week ahead.  Having high hopes to earn a spot in a musical arts program for high school, he has his audition coming up next weekend.  And I ask that you join me in praying for this sweet boy.  Not praying for him to get in -  because I don't think God works like that.  But to pray for his peace in waiting for the audition, for focus in practice and for confidence in his talent to get him through this journey wherever it may lead.  And more than anything, prayers of thanks for the opportunity that lies ahead for him and wishes that high school, whichever one he ends up attending, is the door to a wonderful new God sized adventure for him.  

Turn around baby Sam and let Mommy write her last thoughts and wishes on your diaper in case we don't make it out of here alive

I spent the weekend smelling like wood smoke, Arkansas and fried food.  And my hands and face are swollen like I lived the high life for days when really I just couldn't sleep for 2 nights in a row and ate bacon for breakfast.

Because husband planned a last minute trip for the family and what should've been a 4 hour trip Friday evening turned into 6.  Or more in mom years if you count the times brothers fought and told each other to jump out of the moving car.  

So we left the house at 3pm Friday and finally arrived looking like a bunch of drunken sailors stumbling around for a bed somewhere near 10ish.  

I didn't take pictures while lost for about an hour in the seedy streets of scary town Shreveport, Louisiana.  Because the flash may have attracted attention.  And in case you regularly make trips there to the casinos... just know that there ARE streets on the backsides of those places that the city doesn't want you to know about.  That's what exiting too soon off the freeway will get you.  So hold your horses in Shreveport and take the last possible exit, y'all.  

(I remember when the kids were little bitty and we were driving from Dallas to Florida by way of Graceland to pay our respects to Elvis.  And we took the wrong exit in our Honda minivan in the mean streets of Memphis and quickly started drafting our wills on whatever paper we could find.  Turn around baby Sam and let Mommy write her last thoughts and wishes on your diaper in case we don't make it out of here alive.  And we never did actually get to go inside Graceland because it costs a whole lot to see the inside of Elvis's house, but it seemed lovely, but smallish,  from the outside when we finally arrived.)

So some time around dark-thirty o'clock Friday, we finally got out of the bail bond and late night fried chicken establishments of Shreveport and headed toward the cabin.  And it turns out that dark freeways in rural Arkansas are just a whole lot darker than dark freeways in Big D.  And we were running low on gas so husband filled us up at the Quick Draw gas station/casino/convenient Subway sandwich shop in case you get hungry playing the slots.  And then we drove around lost some more and I told him that this is a lot like that episode of Twilight Zone where the family drives forever on a dark deserted highway to nowhere.  But husband claims there never was such a Twilight Zone episode ...... until now, y'all.    

So we pulled over to the side of the road and pulled out the old fashioned paper map for some real directions.  And I was scared and texted a friend so that someone would know our general whereabouts in case Bigfoot came running out and carried our car back with him into those woods right beside me.

And about 10 hours later this is us...

Finally at the state park... after getting into the lock box that holds the cabin keys for after hours guests.  But the daytime park ranger made a big ol' cabin mistake and gave our keys to another family already tucked in and cozy in cabin 3.  And we know this because we drove to cabin 3 that was supposed to be ours, and saw them in the window looking warm.  So we promptly left them alone and backed our car into a tree.  Hard enough to bust open the gallon of milk we had just bought at the Eldorado, Arkansas super Walmart.

But we finally ended up in cabin 5 which was awesome for the boys because it was just a hop, skip and a jump away from the camp store that they love because of the huge variety of junk food available for purchase.

And all was okay with the world the next morning because of the Cartoon Network, rented bikes and lots of sunshine.  

And we try to get away like this because we've noticed that when we leave the world behind even for a short time, we become a family again.  When we take away the schedules and the friends and the video games and all that binds our minds and hearts most days, we have time to be together and get to know each other a little better again. 

But I still stood outside that cabin Saturday night trying to feel some sort of encouragement.  Some sort of overwhelming emotion about it all, but I didn't.  And I was really okay about that.  Because what I've learned probably the most over the last years of raising big kids... is that emotions aren't always a reliable gauge of love.  Lucky for them and for me, really.

And I could see more stars in the sky that night than I even remembered were there.  And I had to wonder how the God of such brilliance, who could choose to focus his eyes on the dazzle and beauty of his creation,  can look beyond the glow of all of Heaven... and see me in the dark night with not much special glowing in my heart.

And I didn't get a loud answer.  But I got the sounds of opening candy wrappers and 3 boys and a dad talking by the campfire that told me that these 4 people are my answer.  That even in the darkness God sees me -  even with a soul that seems to have lost some of its sparkle.

post script... When I was about the middle of high school maybe, probably with a broken heart or difficulty at home, I remember a friend telling me that my eyes had lost their sparkle.  How funny that I still remember those words... and that exact moment.  But we can't sparkle all the time, y'all.  I don't expect to.  It just wouldn't be normal, and it might even require medication.  But there's plenty still out there that does.  Filling in the blanks for us when we're on a lights out vacation.

post script #2.... straight from the new magazine State Park Vogue...  this is what all the ladies were wearing at the park we were at this past weekend.  

And I mean all the ladies, because I was the only one I saw the whole time.  Other than the female park ranger that sold my kids all that candy.  

And if you would like to receive every post from Angels, Pirates and Thieves, you can.  For the low low price of .... nothing.  Look over on the right side of the page and find the little pink heart icon. That is Bloglovin who kindly distributes my stuff.   Or use the fill in the blank subscribe by email button.  And with either choice, all posts can be delivered to your email.   I would love to have you as a forever friend. 

I do not write a porn blog, y'all

Coffee, tea or me?  And I had to laugh when my husband suggested that be my answer to him for most everything...

But it did appeal to my inner domestic diva in all it's hostess glory and I could hardly contain myself.  Because...SO EXCITED.... it is January which means home sales galore all over the city, the nation, maybe even the world.  And I imagine all over the globe that people are getting all new sheets and towels and comforter sets in a myriad of colors.  

The other day... well really, I think January 2nd because I couldn't wait a second longer in the new year... I was at Marshalls, my home away from home.  For the sole purpose of  stocking up on new towels for the boys' bathroom because #1, they are spoiled, and #2 so are their towels.  And at checkout the young lady in her late teens, early 20's asked if I was redoing my linen closet.  And I almost squealed in delight at the great prices of my new towels, and at the fact that the next generation of young ladies recognizes both the need and the beauty of a properly stocked set of linens in the home.  Love. 

And I also re-stuffed the pillow shams on the bed.  And now they're fat and happy for the new year and husband can complain more than he already does about all the extra pillows and their lack of purpose in life.    

But I am admittedly a girl who can't say no to beautiful things and loves spreading the beauty around to the entire world.  And the best way to do that?  At home.  Loving on my people and filling them up with comforts that they can count on in a world that can go either way depending on the day.  

Kid 3 has some new buddies this year, an interesting bunch, kind of a wandering, move around a lot, but sweet at the same time kind of bunch.  And they walk home with him several days a week after school.  And one new kiddo yesterday looked around our house and had WOW written all over his face.  Because... well, I don't know.  Maybe he doesn't come home to a mom waiting for him after school each day in a home that's warm and smells of cookies.  Sometimes my kids don't either.  

But to me a cozy home is one where everyone has a place.  Not a place that's  so picture perfect that the dog can't sleep in a chair every now and then.  Which she does and thinks we don't know about.  And not a place to keep people out... but a place so welcoming that it asks people in.  

End of story on that subject.  In fact, men.... you just keep reading.  Because this isn't a story all about linens.  It's also about love and lovelies.  In fact look at this lovely....

That's me.  Really.  Well really it's my profile picture for another blog that I write occasionally/rarely/when I feel like it... mostly about God's blessings as it applies to our family and husband's job... (and when it's all up and running smoothly and my heart is ready to put it all out there, I'll tell you more.)  

But y'all....  Y'all.... someone apparently thinks I dabble in porn because some of the visitors I get on there shock me till my eyes grow giant.  So I had to make a little I could be your mother comment to make sure that my visitors know they're in the right place.  And by the right place I mean -  is your heart and soul praying for your porn problem?  Because if it isn't, I will gladly do it for you.  So there.  I probably lost some potential readers with that declaration but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.  (and fyi... no I cannot see who or where or when anyone visits my blog... I can only see traffic sources - like if Facebook refers a reader, or Bloglovin sent you to me, or any other place that distributes my stuff.  So read away, friends. Read in anonymous peace.) 
Anyway, I think my fire wife is lovely and wonderfully representative of courage and beauty all wrapped up in a statement of pride in our family's called profession.  And truth be told, I have been down a fire pole, just not dressed like that.  

Oh, and we watched a documentary about some nomadic people who live in ice and can pack everything they own onto the back of a yak.  I think this is what I might look like milking a yak.  

But after the nomadic people moved on, I went to the kitchen for a bowl of cereal and looked around at my new hallway light fixture that I think is adorable, and my new family name banner on the fireplace mantle,  and fell in love with my home again.  And I dropped to my knees and gave thanks that I didn't have to milk a yak to have a bowl of cereal. 

And I think I'm just really in love with the idea of home.  With all its comforts and sense of belonging.  With its place for everyone feeling and sense of expectation and hope for all who enter.  And more often than not, a hope that my kids will stop throwing everything they own all over the floors - and just buy a yak to pack it on.  

Y'all, in other news.... I got recognized in the bathroom of the YMCA yesterday for a blog post I did for our church.  (Which has a really large readership and makes me nervous that if and when I say something totally ridiculous that it will travel far and wide through the land and I will forever be known for ignorance.)  But this time, a sweet lady recognized me from my blog picture and I felt very much like a bathroom celebrity at that moment.  Much like Jennifer Aniston must feel everywhere she goes.  I totally understand now.  And I will be signing autographs tomorrow in the ladies room at the YMCA if you happen to be around. 

But even bigger recognition this week was this.... that I got a note from a dear person.  A dear person to me, as well as a dear reader of this so called life blog we gather together to read... who after a rough patch recently, found some sort of crazy comfort in something I wrote.  

And as much as I fret and worry over what I want to say or what I can't think to say.... it turns out, sometimes stuff just works.  And maybe, more likely, after all is said and done and the hands of God bless what I write, something works out.  And that's all I need.  

And of course I was thankful for the kind words that made me feel like what I do here matters.  But I was even happier to know that this place is an online comfort for someone who needs to know that she isn't alone.  That a good laugh and the reassurance of another voice can make you feel at home.  Wherever you are.  

post script....  I prayed about this blog for a long time before I actually started.  And I still do.  And sad, but true, I've prayed many doubtful prayers of wanting more.  Of wanting bigger and better and faster and all the other stuff that seems like the right thing to want.  Until I remember its not.  And when I get a loving comment from someone who sees the real worth of the words here, it makes my hopes glow in their own selfishness.  I'll keep working on that.  

And if you would like to receive every post from Angels, Pirates and Thieves, you can.  For the low low price of .... nothing.  Look over on the right side of the page and find the little pink heart icon. That is Bloglovin who kindly distributes my stuff.   Or use the fill in the blank subscribe by email button.  And with either choice, all posts can be delivered to your email.   I would love to have you as a forever friend. 

Go to sleep in peace... God is awake.

If this were a fashion blog I would report to you that super low cut cleavage is in for 2015.  Only for women.  Men do not attempt.  But according to Glamour Magazine, you should never forget the double sided tape or you could be crossing over into peepshow territory.  I actually had no idea people taped anything like that.  Also in for 2015 are bigger eyebrows.  So ladies you can stop plucking and enjoy the brows that God gave you without worry.  

And that is all I know on that topic. 

I begin this writing on a Sunday morning as we try to convince, cajole, pressure, and push our kids to get ready for church.  As I sit here not ready for church setting the perfect example for young minds.  And husband just stepped out into the freezing morning with a wind chill temperature in the teens and declared a dad time out.  Stepping off the parenting boat and waiting in the freezing cold car is preferable to arguing with kid 3 over a sweater that he thinks feels too tight.  But I ended up convincing him it looks amazing with his new million dollar shoes that Santa brought him for Christmas. All a trick of the mind. 

A few nights ago I had a dream that kid 1 folded a basket of laundry without being asked, and presented it to me as a gift of his love.  And in the dream, I saw a turning point in his life where from that point on he would be a respectable, responsible young man that other parents would point at and become insanely jealous of me as a mother.  

That was my hopeful dream.  

And last night I had a dream where I was in a very familiar place from my childhood.  But I was grown, and if I may say so, looking mighty good in a white dress made from an old bedspread I have thrown over the old rocker in our bedroom.  Note the use of the word old, twice in one sentence.  So I admired my beauty in my fancy bedspread dress until I saw in the mirror that I was wearing neon bright underwear covered in flowers that glowed through the backside of my dress like a flashing vacancy sign on a cheap motel.  But no one told me. 

That was my fearful dream.  

And if I had any sort of training in psychology, I would probably say that the dream wasn't really about underwear in any color or pattern. But I have no training in anything other than the degree I never use from college and how to do some other things that have nothing at all to do with dream interpretation.   

Oh, and we took the boys to see the Blue Man Group performance this weekend.  And husband packed my earplugs just in case - the ones that are normally used to block out his snoring.  Because he is both thoughtful and kind, and knows I don't enjoy loud things.  And if you go, know that the blue men use strobe lights in case you are prone to migraines and/or seizures.  But I decided that I totally should've thought of the blue man concept myself years ago because apparently when you are painted blue, you can do whatever the heck you want and call it a show. To think I could've painted my kids blue and sold tickets makes me feel like I wasted an opportunity.  

Let's see.... what else.... I did not stay up till midnight on new Years Eve - this year or most of my life for that fact, but I did eat my black eyed peas. 

And kid 2 has a broken wire in his braces.  Again.  The same wire that was broken the last day of school before winter break and he had to go to school late because he had to get it fixed.  So his little mouth is cut and bleeding again and he can't eat all the junk he would much love.  And when the receptionist told us they couldn't get to him to fix it anytime soon, I kinda became like a mama bear when her baby bear has orthodontic pain and suggested they figure something out.  Please.  Y'all, of course I said please.  And they will be meeting us up there in a bit to repair and replace whatever I am currently paying a bazillion dollars for in his mouth. 

So this is our New year in bullet point fashion.  None of it with a life altering lesson.  I think I'm ready to just accept this as truth - that there's not always a lesson.  There's not always a reason or an answer.  There's not always a specific cause, or a beginning or even an end.  And sometimes dreams are just dreams.  And day to day events are just things that keep us busy till the next event comes along.  

And some events are loud and colorful and include blue men and strobe lights.  Others may cut you and make you bleed.  While others are hardly worth remembering.  But all in all, keep adding them up over the year and you have a life fully lived.  

Christmas has come and gone but I keep singing this song in my mind....   

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.  

Now that is great news.  

post script.... and if I did have some sort of training in dream interpretation I would say that the underwear one was the result of leftover pasta eaten too close to bed time.  And the folded laundry one?  I'd be equally happy if anyone presented me with a basket of laundry washed and folded.  Laundry = love.  


Singing the praises of God through our lives each day. Wouldn't that be a great way to start the new year?

I figured I better touch base after last week's post appeared to be borderline desperate/depressing.  I've worried y'all may have thought I had a nervous Christmas breakdown.  But I'm fine, other than a big case of sitting on the couch movie overload.  Says the fitness professional.  

The boys have been decent human beings.  That is all.  And that, my friends, is good.  Really, I've enjoyed the last week with them and find them for the most part amusing - but only up until my breaking point which is exactly where I was Christmas Eve when I posted my blogosphere cry for help.    

Christmas came and went last week... and I've mostly taken down the decorations.   But we still have lights on our house because it took forever to get them up in the first place.  So we may leave them up till summer and use them as patio picnic lighting or something.  And the tree is naked and feeling ashamed but none of us has the energy to actually take it all the way down. All because of fudge poisoning.  And other assorted candies, cookies and and queso cheese dip and a night of fajita feasting for husband's birthday.  So I totally need the holidays to end.   

But technically, for Christians who observe the true meaning of the holiday, know it or not y'all... we're still right in the middle of Christmas - the 12 days of Christmas  - like the song.  Or Christmastide as it may also be called.  

So we travel through the weeks of Advent, the weeks of waiting as we reflect on hope, love, joy and peace through the days of waiting for the birth of Christ.  Then we move to the Christmas season which begins counting somewhere on or around the evening of Christmas and counts forward 12 days.  And somewhere in a time of transition Santa Claus comes to visit though I'm not sure where he falls on the Christian church calendar.  But he left us tons of candy in our stockings and for me, something a little sparkly that I've been hoping for quite some time.  Thank you Fireman Santa Dave.

So I thought we could look a little closer at the Christmas timeline and such.... since last week I was a tearful mess and my post was pathetic. Or maybe all the way pathetic.  Votes now being taken on that.  


The Christmas nativity.  Nativity meaning the occasion of one's birth.  It refers especially to the place, the conditions or circumstances of being born.  And no, I did not have that definition memorized and ready for small talk at parties. 

Here's a picture of the nativity scene at our church.  Super beautiful, fancy, and probably expensive and I worry about all those kids each week carrying pieces to add to it.    

Here's a picture of our nativity at home.  Hand painted by us.... with a super pale Mary and Joseph and a savage tan baby Jesus.    And our nativity has an angel.  Just one, though the Bible says there was a multitude appearing and praising God at the good news of Christ's  birth.  And our nativity is historically inaccurate.... do you see why?  Because our wise men already arrived in Dallas and truth be told, have already left town and been packed away for another year in the hall closet.  

But notice up there in the church nativity that the wise man have not yet arrived.  Because they didn't have a car or a plane or whatever.  It took plenty of time for them to walk to find the new baby - who was probably already a toddler by the time they actually got to him. 

Moving on...

The word Angel means messenger.  And the good news for you and me is that the angels see their main job as messengers of God's peace. Not just to stay in heaven and sing around the throne.  

As the story goes, enter Mary and Joseph, tired from travel, who get turned away from the only place they may be able to find a place to rest.  So they go elsewhere and good things happen in the most unlikely of places.  In the company of animals.  And angels.   

And then the shepherds play their part.... "And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'"

And I imagine the sky opening with an amazing light and the most beautiful song I've ever heard.  Glory to God in the Highest.  

But why show up and tell the good news to the shepherds?  Why not right in the middle of a big city or to more prestigious people?  Shepherds were in the lower levels of society.   Living alone out in the fields with sheep.  (One time in our  adult Sunday School class I listened to a man describe the shepherds  - their class level in society - as the blue collar workers of their day, like firemen, he said.  Hello - thought this wife of a lowly fireman...we really enjoy hanging with our shepherd friends on the weekends.  But nonetheless, point made.)  

Maybe the shepherds were the ones with the most receptive hearts, the ones who most needed to hear the good news.  Maybe they were better able to appreciate the goodness of the news, and also the most humble to receive.  And all of this shows that they were very important in God's eyes, which is another story all together. 

So the shepherds go and see the good news for themselves. And along the way, spread the news to all they encounter that amazing things are happening.  

And once Mary saw all the truths she had been told coming true, she pondered them in her heart, the Bible says.  And she must have had such a mix of emotions of what had begun.  But that night was hers.  To love on that precious new baby.  

"And the shepherds went home after what they had seen, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." 

And I think what I learn most from this, is that each character in the nativity played their part in the story of Christmas in their own way and in their own time. As can we.  Singing the praises of God through our lives each day.  

Wouldn't that be a great way to start the new year?

Merry Christmastide, y'all.   

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