Every year I watched as people publicly opened up about their spiritual struggles. It was a moving service that brought us all together and let us know that no matter what happens in life, God will be there.
When we moved to Ohio I purchased an artificial tree for our living room. We have carried on the tradition for 18 years now. It's my favorite tradition and my favorite decoration.
There are many icicles. The icicles stand for the "Sword of truth or the two-edged sword."
The angel in this picture was made by my sister-in-law and always reminds me how family can be angels in our times of need.
To the far left you can see part of the first ornament my children put on the tree in Georgia. I can still hear them say in unison, "Jesus asempted into the clouds." What they meant to say was ascended. We strung cotton balls on wire and shaped it into a cloud.
I love this ornament. It's not a reindeer, it's a deer. My Dad found it and quoted the scripture, "As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, Oh Lord." Psalms 42:1
On the right just below the deer you can see one of the icicles. And to the right of that a beautiful glass fish that stands for being "fishers of men." To the left is a huge rose that represents He is the "Rose of Sharon."
This ornament confused us. Scott Walt held up a pair of baby jogging shoes. We all wondered how he could possibly relate something so modern to scripture. Then he quoted, Hebrews 12:1 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." With a twinkle in his eye Scott remarked, "If you've got to run you better have good shoes."
When Jamie was a junior in High school he was in a car accident. He took a matchbox car and beat it with a hammer. Then he painted it white. He talked about God's mercy and protection. I'm wondering if he will do the same with a motorcycle this year.
Below the car is one of the few items that isn't all white. It's a child sliding down a snowy hill on a sled. It represented the fact that sometimes, God just wants us to have some fun. There's also an ornament with a cow in a tub of bubbles. Since Ron grew up on the farm he laughed and said that he never washed a cow but the ornament made him laugh. He was glad that after God washed all our sins away - there was a reason to laugh and enjoy life again.
Ron's Dad is a Godly man. He loved working on his 360 acre farm in Iowa. Christmas morning Of 1993, Wayne Jansen passed away. That was an extremely difficult year. I have placed memorabilia of him all through our Christmas decorations.
Here is a tractor and an ear of corn. There are many scriptures relating our faith to the farmer, the seed and the sower. Wayne will receive a huge harvest of souls for the way he lived his life.
There have been many times the prayers of my parents have made my life better. Here is a handmade ornament of the two of them holding hands in prayer. My life is better because my parents were praying people. My family is stronger because Ron's parents and my parents are praying people.
There are three airplanes on the tree. Several times we talked about missionary work and how we need to go into all the world.
We also placed them on the tree because Dad was a missionary pilot to Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. God preformed miracles on those trips. I love the story about him flying a dying woman out of a remote village. His plane was overweight and had to take off on a short ridge that dropped off the mountain. God not only helped him make the flight, he saved the woman's life.
This year when I put the compass ornament on the tree, I cried. I am asking God for direction in several areas of my life.
When Ken graduated from Evangel he made the compass to represent how he felt about the changes in his life. He wondered where God was leading him. This year I placed the baton (far left) close by. Not only is he working for a loving congregation, God is stretching and leading him into exciting territory.
The glass ornament above the compass is a well. Ron placed it on the tree to represent the woman at the well and the living water we all need. I hope each of you will receive the living water you need for the coming year.
The pictures and stories could go on for a long time, but let's just say that each ornament represents an event or insightful time in our lives. It stands as a tribute to the love of God and his tender mercy to all of us.
I'm looking forward to seeing the ornaments this year. We have such fun singing, talking and praying about each one. This tree is also the tree we gather around to read the Christmas story on Christmas morning.
During the season I try to find time to sit in the living room and ponder this tree. So many struggles and blessings are represented on this tree. It's a moving account of our lives. It never fails to bring me back to the reason for the season and to give me hope for the coming new year. I hope you will choose to have a tree of your own next year. One that will bless you and give you spiritual renewal.
Merry Christmas,God loves you,