I am the kind of person who would rather sit in agony with a bladder that is about to burst than get up and walk across a room full of people to go to the restroom.
I guess some would call me shy, but it’s really only with strangers and large crowds.
Or strangers and small crowds.
Or just strangers.
I am okay with that; not all of us were created to be on center stage.I prefer one to one settings. I’ve kind of backed off from the blog writing because it has often felt like walking through a crowd of strangers. Even though it’s only a virtual, online crowd of strangers, it still feels odd to have people I don’t know peering into my never-quite-clean windows. Here’s what WordPress told me: About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed more than 1,500,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 27 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe! In 2012, there were 44 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 56 posts. There were 131 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 63 MB. That’s about 3 pictures per week. That’s a lot of strangers, from 192 countries, according to WordPress. (and did I REALLY post that many pictures?!) Pastors, and musicians and nurses and doctors and stay at home moms and struggling dads and hurting teens and so many others have written.
Don’t get me wrong; I love my family and my life and am not ashamed of sharing who we are…it just feels awkward sometimes to have so many different people looking at me, looking at us and this seems to have impeded me from responding to many of you who have written to me. I feel I have nothing to give in response, that you have mistaken me for someone else, someone bigger and better. But the Lord spoke to me through a Charlie Brown Christmas tree and College Boy, and essentially said “Get over yourself, and get back to writing.” So here I am, telling you about our first Charlie Brown Christmas tree.
There are times when I get up early because I HAVE to and there are the rare seasons when I get up early because I WANT to. For example, hearing the HH rustling around outside our tent in the early hours of a brisk summer morning, stoking the fire and preparing coffee in the French Press pot, compels me to rapidly dress and head outside despite the fact that the sun hasn’t woken up enough to chase away the nip in the air. I WANT to be up, marveling at the silence and God’s creation and time with that Handsome Husband of mine.
Or days when I knew the HH was returning from a long deployment and I was too excited to sleep, or when children were returning after months away.
I WANTED to be up, making sure everything was “just right” for the homecoming.
Or Christmas time. Not just Christmas Day but all of the mornings after the tree is up and decorated. Though some of the “magic” of Christmastime tends to disappear as we age (yes, even for those of us who know we are celebrating the greatest Gift of all), I still get the thrill of a child when sitting in a dark room with just the Christmas tree lights casting colorful shadows and The Little Drummer Boy playing on the stereo. I WANT to be up, drinking my hazelnut coffee and singing at the top of my lungs.
The Christmas tree has always been one of my favorite parts of the season, and traditionally the HH has brought home the biggest, plumpest, most perfectly shaped tree – usually a Noble Fir – that he can find. Then he and the children decorate the tree and I take care of the rest of the house, while oranges and cloves simmer in a pot just waiting to join hands with the smell of fresh tree before pirouetting through the house and sprinkling Christmas scent everywhere. It’s a festive time.
But this year.
Oh, this year.
This year the HH went to the nursery where The Boy With a Cat Named Webster works and decided to do the environmentally responsible thing. He purchased a tree that had been cut down to clear some crowded forest areas. I almost cried when I saw it.
It was a pygmy tree.
A Charlie Brown, pygmy tree, with gaps and bare spots, and it was just plain ugly, so SHORT it needed its own pygmy stool. When one of my daughters saw it, she too was greatly disappointed. She mumbled something about it being a very fitting tree for the way her 2012 had gone. Another child suggested getting the cat or dog to knock it over so we’d be forced to get another one. College boy said maybe we could get TWO trees.
But the HH likes to please and so we tried very hard to temper our words and emotions and think positively of our pitiful tree so he wouldn’t feel badly about disappointing us.
The decorations were hung, though with less help than usual and less gusto than in years prior. I mentally counted how many days it would need to be up before we could haul it out of the house. Then a few nights later, College boy glanced up. “Hey, the gaps in the tree allow the lights to be seen better,” he noted. I looked in the corner, at the tree I had been avoiding, and was astonished. He was right.
The best part of the tree has always been those special lights I have written about in the past; the ones we purchased in England two decades ago, the ones with the beautiful patterns of individual colors slowly fading in and out before transforming into rapid dance of all the colors combined, the lights I wait with bated breath each year to see if they will still work.
And sure enough, the lights were shining brighter than ever. The gaps in the tree allowed the lights in both the front AND back of the tree to be revealed; with our fuller, fatter trees all we could see were the lights on the front.
When I woke up early the next morning, I stumbled in the dark to get my coffee before plugging in the tree lights and my heart nearly burst when I saw the truth: this tiny, pitiful tree with its gaps and flaws, revealed the majesty of the lights better than any tree we’d had before. I sensed the Holy Spirit whispering a truth to me. People aren’t coming to my blog to see a great or majestic Marie. I’m just a pygmy, with lots of character gaps and flaws. People are coming to see the Light of the World on display. And as proof – when I headed to my e-mail that morning, the e-mails I had also been avoiding, the first thing I saw was a message from Brad, father of 5 boys. Brad shared how he had stumbled onto my blog and at the end of his e-mail said this: “After reading what you had posted after the movie theater shooting, I was really encouraged to be more “Eternally minded” We only have one life to make Christ’s name known to our generation, and I wanna say at the end of my days that I did everything I could to win the lost ”
No, he wasn’t looking for me when he stumbled on my blog, he was looking for a word from the Lord. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16
May I always, always be a reflection of Him, may I always be seeking more of Him and less of me, because that’s where the true beauty lies. The tree really grew on us, and when I showed it to friends, the gaps and flaws and fact that it was standing on a box didn’t seem so evident. It looked kinda beautiful. Lesson learned. I think we’re gonna go with Charlie Brown trees from now on.
Grateful for this wonderful life,
Marie with a 🙂