Tag Archives: celebrate

Merry Christmas 2014

Well, here we are again. We are at the point of culmination: the culmination of all the decorating, all  the shopping, all the hustle & bustle, Christmas cards mailed, and yes – all of the waiting. What, waiting? Yes, waiting. You have been waiting, haven’t you?

Our home in Keller, Texas is beautifully decorated, thanks to the vision and creativity of my lovely wife. We have a beautiful Christmas tree beneath which lies a plethora of colorfully wrapped packages waiting to be opened. The sugar count in our kitchen is at an all time high with cookies and other holiday treats. Our staircase is decorated with faux pine garland interwoven with lovely white lights and our fireplace is decked out as well, complete with stockings hung by the chimney with care. The shopping is done – almost. I traditionally shop on Christmas Eve; not as an act of procrastination but because I enjoy it. Indeed, the Strege’s invest heavily in the traditions of the season and we enjoy it.

Some refer to the Christmas festival traditions as “trappings”. I understand why that is. If we’re not careful, Christmas becomes all about the trees, the lights, the goodies, and the presents. And while those things are fun and can bring some degree of happiness into our season, they are not what Christmas is all about for those of us who have put our faith and trust in Jesus.

As a Christian, there is not a doubt in my mind that the true “reason for the season” was born of a virgin and laid in a manger in a town called Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago. He died on a cross to save all who believe in Him from our sins, and was resurrected 3 days later. In Him and Him alone, death was swallowed up in victory! Without Him, my hope for eternity, and yours as well, is quite bleak. But through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have the hope of eternal life in His amazing presence. Indeed, we are at the culmination of Advent – that period of anticipation as we wait to joyfully celebrate the birth of our Savior.

This morning, as I prepare to embark on my traditional Christmas Eve shopping excursion, the birth of our Savior is at the forefront of my mind. I hope it is at the forefront of yours, too. I wish you and all for whom you care a very Merry Christmas indeed!

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which well be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, which is Christ the Lord!” ~ Luke 2:10-11

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which well be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, which is Christ the Lord!” ~ Luke 2:10-11

Happy 18th to our Lovely Daughter

Someone once said “time flies when you’re having fun.” That is a true statement, indeed. As I reflect on the past 18 years I am reminded of how blessed I am.

Goofing off, Thanksgiving 2012

Goofing off, Thanksgiving 2012

God has blessed my wife and me with two beautiful kids. Our oldest was born 18 years ago today. We left for Memorial City Hospital in Houston at about 10:00 on a bright September Sunday morning. I was delighted that my wife’s delivery room was equipped with a television set and a comfortable recliner, and we settled in to watch football as we awaited the arrival of our firstborn child. (Minnesota beat Pittsburgh 44-24 and my beloved and dearly departed Houston Oilers defeated Cincinnati 38-28). Although our doctor knew the child’s gender, we had elected to find out at birth.

As the Minnesota Vikings began to take control of the game in the third quarter, I noticed that my wife wasn’t cheering as enthusiastically as before. Her nurse noticed it, too. Time for me to exit the room as the merciful epidural was applied. As her labor intensified, we turned off the television and prepared to welcome our firstborn into the world. A few short hours later (well, they were short to me; my wife might disagree with that assessment) Olivia arrived and with a piercing cry took her first breath. Dr. Hansen cut the umbilical cord and laid her on my wife’s chest. We looked at her and cried tears of joy.

Olivia & Shadow

Olivia & Shadow

Although that was 18 years ago, in many ways it seems like it was last Sunday. Yes, time flies. It flies as they take their first steps and graduate from diaper to “big potty”. It flies as they board the big yellow bus for the first time and head off to school. On their own. Without mom & dad following behind in the car. It flies as we celebrate the first report card, enjoy the first slumber party, and stand strong for them through the disappointments we all face in life (we don’t let them see us cry; we do that later, in private). Next thing we know, they’re in middle school and the hormones are raging as they begin to transition from child to young adult. We survive that phase together. That freshman year in high school is exciting as the senior year seems so far off into the future. Then, all of a sudden, they’re enjoying the freedom delivered through the driver’s license, we’re touring colleges and universities, ordering the class ring, and looking forward to senior day at the football game. As we reread the university acceptance letter and watch the kids enjoy the 18th birthday surprise party we realize that our beautiful little baby has grown into a lovely young woman.

Accepted to the University of Arkansas!

Accepted to the University of Arkansas!

As I type this, I have a small lump in my throat, a tear in my eye, and a big smile on my face. Yes, the past 18 years have flown by. I tell young parents all the time to cherish every moment of every day with their children, for soon it will be time for them to leave the nest. As we celebrate my daughter’s 18th birthday we cherish the memories, celebrate the milestone, and look forward to the future. I pray that God will continue to grow and mature her faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, and that He will guard and protect her as she ventures into adulthood. On her own. Without mom & dad following in the car (not close enough to be seen, anyway).

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. ~ Psalm 127:3

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