Our family held our 28th wind-up toy race on Christmas morning, an annual tradition since our first married Christmas in 1984. Santa brings each person a windup toy and places it carefully at the top of their stocking. Before the presents are unwrapped, we line up at the kitchen door, wind up our racers, and place them on the starting line. This year, with both daughters, a son-in-law and a boyfriend at home, the starting line was a little crowded with six entrants in the race.
The wind-up toy that gets to the kitchen island first (or just goes the farthest before puttering out) wins. You never know what Santa has brought you. Some of the toys go in circles, others do back flips. Some crawl forward slowly - but in a straight line. This year, Alison gets bragging rights for a year with her winning panda on a tricycle - who didn't make it all the way to the finish but went farther than anyone else.
And Christmas morning begins with cheering and laughter. I can't think of a better way to start the day.
The Sign of the Cross
On one of my meditative walks Dec. 23, I tried to clear my mind of all the high-voltage pressures of the season and reflect on my chosen word of peace. I also was here to pray for discernment and a sense of the presence of God in making an important decision in my life for the New Year.
I felt numb. Where was the Prince of Peace in this time of frenzied activity? Where was his message to me in what path to take? As I rounded the bend, I stopped dead in my tracks. The rising sun made the sign of the cross on the pathway. A step to one side or the other and the cross disappeared. A sense of blessing descended. The weight of the season lifted. I felt a settling of my heart – and the message that we find what we seek but it may take stepping off the familiar path.
Recently, a lifelong dream came true for me. I opened the cover of a book - a real, honest-to-God book - and saw my name on the table of contents page. What a gift! Now I feel like an author! Along with twenty-one other women, I can call The Modern Magnificat mine. The title is perfectly chosen, I believe. When Mary speaks the poem of praise known as the Magnificat early in the book of Luke, she is still in awe of the way God is at work in her life and the role she gets to play in the redemption of the world. In The Modern Magnificat, I get the chance to tell my own story of responding to the call of God, as do the authors of the other chapters, all of us Baptist women called to ministry. This time of year especially, this book comes as a beautiful reminder that God is always calling, always redeeming, always inviting us to join in that work. I invite you to read the stories in The Modern Magnificat: Women Responding to the Call of God, and I pray that they will inspire you to be always responding to God as well.