For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Why I Don't Think I Will Ever Look at Christmas Trees the Same Again

 As I write this, I am looking at what may very well be the most beautiful Christmas tree I have ever seen.

It's awkward with clumpy limbs, the limbs that are there, and bare spots where the limbs aren't there. It's possibly 20 years old, maybe more. Most people would say it has seen better days. I would say it has seen no day more glorious than today.

The last time we made any real effort to put up a Christmas tree was six years ago. The lack of a tree isn't a rage against commercialism or due to a move away from the mainstream Christian holidays in order to embrace Judaic truth over Roman institutionalization of Christianity. The lack of a tree is more because it is sometimes hard to rejoice with the babe in the manger when your heart feels the weight of the tomb.

Some folks found the lack of a tree disturbing because after all, this is Christmas. To not have a tree on Christmas? When I said we weren't interested, the general response was "But you have to have a tree at Christmas." Actually, you don't. Because here is the real Truth.

Christmas is about the Christ, not a tree, so for these years we've clung to Christ and ditched the tree, and it has been far more healing to forego a tree than it is to perform the "all is fine" fantasy dance.

About a month ago, I was rummaging through the shed of the house I re-obtained, and there it was. The Christmas tree we left there when we moved, the tree I had left for the couple who didn't have a tree of their own. We weren't interested in the tree, and I figured if we ever decided to do a tree again, I'd buy a new one, a smaller one. But there sat this tree with its stand, and I knew. In that very instant, I knew. This year, there would be a tree.

Three weeks or so, it happened. My inbox became home to a Christmas list from WonderGirl. A few days later, WonderBoy's followed. Doesn't sound like a big deal. It's Christmas after all. Except this is the first year the kids were engaging the holiday instead of letting it slip silently by. They were ready to rejoin the hope of Christmas, the hope that things can still be what they want and not what they have endured.

While some are celebrating Christmas, we are walking right into a beautiful Christ mass with all the anticipation and hope that it holds.

Last week WonderGirl asked me if I would mind if she bought a small tree at one of the local stores, and I smiled. She didn't want anything big, just something small so she could string popcorn, put on some candy canes, and cover it with lights. I told her no. I already had the tree. Her face lit up.

So instead of going to the curb the tree went into my truck to come home with me, and today we went to the store and bought ornaments, tinsel, and lights. Then we came home and celebrated.
 WonderBoy likes birds, so he picked a "doofy owl", as he calls him.
 WonderGirl picked her favorite Captain America.

At the top of the tree, we have the story it is all about.

 If you look really closely at the picture above, you can see our ornaments, the things that represent us, but mostly what you see is the important thing. The lights that shine in the darkness. Why is that the most important thing?

Because the Light is everything.

What ornament did I get? I got a lantern. Simple. Plain, but do you see the light in it? That is actually the lights on the tree shining through the lantern. Really, what you see is Jesus shining through this whole tree because without the healing and restoring of hope He has done in us, there would be no tree. This tree isn't just a place for us to put a bunch of lights. This tree is because we have the Light.

So why the lantern? Because in our lives and in our story, I really hope people see the Light and His story. And it just so happens that this year, the story includes the most beautiful Christmas tree I think I have ever seen.

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