All Wrapped Up

by Steve Laube

When I was a boy my family had the tradition of opening our gifts on Christmas Eve. But another tradition was that there would be one more gift waiting for us the next morning, Christmas Day, from “Santa.”

I have a vivid memory, as a little boy, of being disappointed one Christmas Eve that the thing I wanted most was not among my unwrapped presents. However I knew, I was just certain, that it would be waiting for me the next morning.

So on Christmas day I woke well before anyone else and crept into the living room to see if my hope was true. There, leaning against the fireplace hearth was the package…with my name on it. It was the right size and festively wrapped. I ran my hands around the edges and across the face of the package hoping to catch a glimpse through the paper of its contents. There was no doubt. This was what I had been anticipating. But I couldn’t open it yet because we had to wait for everyone to wake up. So I waited. . . for hours. I sat for a while but eventually played with my other new toys while making a few loud noises hoping to raise those other sleepyheads. But I never left the room and my eyes rarely strayed from that wrapped package.

The anticipation was palatable. So much so that even as I write this I can feel again the ache in my chest. The longing, the desire to rip open that paper with unfettered joy. I knew what the package contained but I had to wait to take possession of it and make it mine.

“And you will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in the manger.” A gift. Wrapped tightly. Waiting to be revealed. We can look and know exactly what the gift will be. Our Savior. Our Hope. Our joy.

May you recapture the joy of anticipation this Christmas. For God’s gift to us is far greater than anything we can ever hope or imagine. So much more. And it is a gift the world is literally dying to receive.

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Ready, Set…WAIT!

Ah, New Year’s. When hearts soar with best intentions and resolutions tumble around us like snow-melt waterfalls. Our hearts and minds surge with all we want to be, all we hope to accomplish, all we regret and want to change…

Okay, now, show of hands: How many of you make New Year’s Resolutions?

Again, show of hands: How many of you KEEP them??

If you were here, watching me, you’d notice my hand is down. I’ve made hundreds of resolutions over the years, and I’ve broken almost every one. It took me a lot of years to understand that this fact doesn’t make me bad or weak-willed or a failure. It took me several more years to realize that the new year isn’t, for me, about resolutions. It isn’t about saying what I will and won’t do.

It’s about listening.

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What A Year It’s Been…

2011 was a year for the books. In my household alone, we saw three job losses (two for my poor hubby, one for me), all to lay-off, a new career launched, job searches (which are still going on), loss of a beloved pet, the addition of a newly beloved pet, health crises faced and survived…and the list goes on. Add to that the upheaval in the industry where I’ve worked for over 30 years, well, everywhere we turned this last year, it seemed something else was going wrong.

I don’t know what your 2011 has been, what challenges or joys you’ve experienced, but I know that many today, yours truly included, wonder where the next year will take us. Will there be total economic collapse in the US? Will we find ourselves in some kind of sci-fi life where we’re fighting for survival?

In the darkest moments, when fear gnawed at the edges of our lives, it was easy to feel as though God had, somehow, glanced away. That He’d blinked of an eternal eye, and in that moment the enemy surged.

Thank heaven feelings aren’t reality.

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How Things Used to Be

My family and I have discovered a new TV channel we absolutely love: ME TV. No, it’s not about being egotistical. ME stands for Memorable Entertainment, and its lineup boasts all the old shows that we used to watch when I was a kid. No fooling! It’s like my youth has been reborn! Everything from Rockford Files to Wagon Train, Perry Mason, to Dick VanDyke, Hawaii 5-0 (the REAL 5-0) to Family Affair, Columbo to The Guns of Will Sonnett…so many shows that, even at the earliest age, caught my imagination and introduced me to the power of story. Each show, in it’s own way, drew me in, making me a part of the drama, adventure, or romance. I knew, even back then, that I wanted to be a part of all that. Of weaving stories. Of letting them bring truths to life in a way that engaged the heart, imagination, and mind.

But as I’ve watched these old shows, I’ve discovered something. Something that absolutely astounded me. God is there. Up front and center.

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