Having time with all three of our kids together at home with me are special times which I treasure. Having time with all three of our kids together at home with me as we celebrate Jesus with our family traditions is extra special…even when it happens in the midst of the messiness of real life.
This past Sunday was the twelfth day of Christmas…the Epiphany…and it was one of those extra special weekends.
Now I want you to know that we are a real family. Everything didn’t go perfectly. Michael came down with a tummy bug on Friday evening and Annie and I camped out with him in the living room all night as he was up four or five times…I lost count…throwing up throughout the night. The cold, damp weather had my back pain in full force. And there was no pedialyte in the house.
Saturday morning came earlier than we would have liked but I felt so blessed. Annie made everyone breakfast and kept an eye on Michael while I hopped in the shower to get myself going. When I was finished in there, she volunteered to run to town to pick up a prescription for me at the pharmacy and grab some sick kid necessities at Wal-mart. Wow. I felt so blessed. While we usually work hard to make sure that Annie isn’t here when one of us is sick so that she doesn’t end up taking our illness home to her and her mom, it was such a blessing to have her here to run to town so that I didn’t have to get out in the cold with my pain acting up and Michael still throwing up…the latter is not my favorite thing in our car if you know what I mean.
So as Josh played a game quietly in his room and Michael and I each snuggled down on our assigned couch and loveseat to rest while we waited for Annie to return…I got a phone call.
It was Annie.
Annie was focusing on calling me to confirm some information while she was getting out of her car and she accidentally locked her keys in her car. She quickly discovered that her extra key had fallen out of her wallet at home…one and a half hours away from where she was at that crucial moment. I was very impressed with how she handled herself in the situation though. Between phone calls with her mom and me we were able to come up with a plan that got her the help she needed and she handled herself with such grace through the whole experience…and didn’t miss a beat with the errands she had gone to town to do.
In fact, when she walked in the door a couple of hours later she had a smile on her face and immediately said…”Hi guys! Well I have had a blessed morning, how about you?”
I chuckled and asked her to share with us how it was blessed. She told us that she learned an important lesson that morning about how she should always make sure that she had a spare car key in her purse before leaving her house. She also told us that she was blessed to still be able to pick up the prescription before the pharmacy closed and had no problem still getting to Wal-mart to pick up the sick kid supplies we needed…and in the process she brought me a Diet Pepsi and a Snickers with almonds…just like their Daddy used to do when he would take care of this kind of errand for me.
What a blessing she has always been and continues to be. So many blessings.
We stayed at home for a quiet day on Saturday and spent our time talking, watching movies, taking turns cleaning up after Michael, and working together to make dinner. And Annie and Josh even knocked out most of the kitchen cleanup while she insisted that I take some time to sit and rest in the recliner and take care of the phone work I needed to do. So many blessings.
Later that evening, we started a new family tradition at dinner. We each shared one or more ways we felt blessed that day and one or more ways we were able to be a blessing to someone what day. If someone struggled to come up with one the rest of the family quickly helped them identify the blessings. As soon as we finished eating, we got out our Blessing Journals and Annie got out her blessing jar and slips of paper to record her blessings. We continued talking about our blessings while recording them for that day and catching up on days we had missed earlier in the week. It was so much nicer than the kids seeing how fast they could be excused from the table and is something that we are going to continue. So many blessings.
Annie and I were up very late writing an article to update all of you on her mission project collecting hygiene items for Generation Next and between being up late writing and being up late the night before with my youngest sick throughout the night, she and I were both exhausted.
However, even with being so tired, we were both very happy when Michael made it through the night without getting sick and fever free for 24 hours so we were able to go to church together and continue our family tradition of celebrating the Epiphany.
The celebration of the Epiphany is the day we celebrate the Magi finally arriving at the place where Jesus was in Bethlehem. Their visit is SO significant to us as Christians and to the world and Will and I loved celebrating it with our family. This was our first Epiphany with him in heaven so his presence and leadership at our celebration was greatly missed…but it continues to be important to us to carry on our family traditions as he would want us to do.
Is it easy for me or our children to continue our family traditions without Daddy here with us? No it isn’t. I am so blessed that throughout the weekend everyone had the chance to share their memories of Daddy and our past Epiphany celebrations while we worked, played, prayed, grieved and rested together in the midst of the messiness of our lives.
After church and a quick trip to town, Annie wrapped the Epiphany gifts for me while I started our special Epiphany lunch. When she finished, she joined me in the kitchen and together we made Will’s special salsa…with everyone taste testing along the way to make sure we got the flavor just right…just like we used to when Will was here with us.
During lunch, I led a discussion about what the Epiphany is, why we celebrate it. You see, the three Magi were from different cultures and beliefs who came together after study of the Jewish prophesies, astronomy, and other studies all realizing that a new king was to be born and that he was to be the king of Israel. It took them more than two years to find Jesus and they never gave up.
I usually make a special dessert for our Epiphany lunch, but with everything that had happened I just didn’t have the strength…so instead we bought a box of bakery donuts while we were in town after church and the kids were all thrilled. LOL Donuts are a very rare treat at our house. So even though it wasn’t exactly what I had planned and wanted to do…we didn’t give up on having a special dessert, we just found another way.
After lunch, we all got comfortable in the living room while I read the Scripture that tells of the Magi and the adventures on their journey to Bethlehem and their joy at finally reaching the King of the Jews in Matthew chapter two. While I read to them, Michael added the Magi and their camel to their Nativity display and Josh added the Magi to our family Nativity.
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2
After reading it to them I shared with them the special significance to the world contained in that Scripture, I took Will’s role in sharing…that the Magi not giving up their pursuit of Jesus until they found Him, no matter what they had to go through to get there, was evidence that He came for ALL people not just for the Jews.
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. Matthew 2:9-10 NIV
And not only that, it tells us that, just like them, we need to pursue our journey to and with our Savior with that same passion and determination, no matter what obstacles we face in our lives. In addition, this passage is one more amazing place in Scripture that we are reminded that, as Christians, we are called to share the incredible Good News of Jesus’ gift of eternal salvation with ALL of the world not just sit and hold onto it for ourselves!
We discussed the significance and importance of each of the gifts that the Magi brought to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph that holy night so long ago.
We talked about how the gold probably made it possible for Joseph to take Jesus and Mary and flee to Egypt to escape Herod’s soldiers when they went to Bethlehem and the surrounding areas to kill all of the babies two years and younger.
We talked about how the frankincense was incense and one of its purposes was to burn in prayer and worship and as the smoke from it rose to the sky so too their prayers would rise to the heavens…telling of Jesus being the Son of the most high God.
We talked about how the myrrh was herbs used in preparation of a person’s body after they died which foretold of Jesus future death for our sins. And I shared with them how it also told of the healing power of Jesus as it was also often used to make ointments to help heal the sick.
After talking about the gifts that they brought to Jesus that night, I passed out small gifts to each person in our family as a token of my love and a way of celebrating the Joy that we have in our relationship with Jesus and the gift of Salvation He gives each of us. We talked about how because of that amazing gift one day we will all be in heaven together with Jesus and how Daddy will be there with us when God calls us each home to heaven.
After each person opened their gifts and shared their excitement over each person’s gift I closed our little celebration prayer and then we ended by singing “We Three Kings”.
Life is often messy. Ours doesn’t look the way we would prefer for it to be this year with Daddy’s place empty in our family. This weekend we faced obstacles, illness, exhaustion, and grief over Daddy not being with us this year for the Epiphany. We wouldn’t have had to look far to find reasons not to celebrate and continue our family tradition of celebrating the Epiphany.
But even in our time of loss of Daddy we feel even more passionate about celebrating this special day because if it wasn’t for Jesus coming for ALL the world…not just the Jewish people…we wouldn’t have the certainty that Daddy is in heaven celebrating with our Savior right now. Because of all we have been through in the past six months, we have a much better understanding of the urgency of sharing the Good News of His coming for ALL people with everyone we meet in our own towns, communities and across the world. And we pray that God continues to comfort us, guide us, lead us and use us to spread the amazing news of His Son Jesus Christ because when we are at our weakest it is then…NOW…He is strongest working in and through our lives.
I pray that, by the grace of God, we never forget the importance of celebrating Him together in the midst of the messiness of real life.