I hope you all had a good Christmas. I’m going to give you a brief glimpse into ours, staying at an AirBnb by Lake Michigan with my sisters and Dad and Jeanie. But first let me tell you about the list of 100 Dreams, because you should really complete one yourself this weekend.
As I told you, Marnell and I worked on an exercise on the way home from the Messiah. It was suggested in the book 168 Hours–You Have More Time Than You Think, as a way to help clarify goals. This is useful any month of the year, but at the doorstep to the New Year, the exercise seems even more important.
Take a piece of blank paper, or a blank spreadsheet, Laura Vanderkam recommends, and write down 100 things you would like to do in your lifetime. You can even include things you have already done that you really enjoyed. (Especially if you’re old like us!)
You can make ten lists of ten if you want. Ten countries you would like to visit, ten things in your house you would like to organize, ten people you would like to spend more time with, or ten foods you would like to learn to cook.
Or, you can be completely random, which is more like our lists. We have a whole bunch of things we would like to do, then a whole bunch of things we are glad we did, then more things we would like to do, then a list of things specifically from 2018 that we enjoyed. We still need to finish it with more things we would like to do in 2019.
The point is, if you have to write 100 things down, you will be forced outside of your box, forced to reach into the latent corners of your mind. You will think of things that you haven’t thought of for years.
Anything is fair game, even if you don’t think you will ever do it. You aren’t restricted to reasonable or practical in a list of 100 Dreams. You’ll think distant. Run a half marathon in another country. You’ll think close. Visit my neighbor Mary more. You’ll think small. Eat more kale. You’ll think big. Learn to read Hebrew. You’ll think global. Go camping in Australia. You’ll think kitchen. Learn to bake bread better.
You will end up with a list that someone else could pick up and find out a lot about you. You might pick it up and find a lot about yourself that you had forgotten, which is, of course, the point of the exercise.
Next week, I’m going to share a few practical things I put on my list that I am glad I did last year, just to give you some ideas. (One is about weight and good health, and yes, you are banned from reading that one if you are one of those annoying people who float through the holidays, eating carrots and saying, Oh I can’t eat that, it’s much too sweet for me.)
But for now, let me share just one thing we did at Christmas that I’m glad we did, in our rented house above the lake.
I let my nieces, Mya and Alaina, ages 4 and 3, set up Marnell’s hand-carved nativity scene from Bethlehem. I gave them the pieces one by one, and they took them across the room and put them in the olive wood stable. It was kind of dark, and I didn’t take a good look at their handiwork until sometime later.
When I finally looked at the little girls’ nativity scene, I saw it was typical in some ways. Baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph were inside the stable like usual. I believe the cow and the donkey were too. (I wish I would have taken a picture.)
But the wise men.
They were not like the wise men that well-trained adults set up in nativity scenes, with everyone facing toward the all-important audience. The little girls’ wise men were standing in a line, facing in, their backs to the audience. They were looking at Baby Jesus.
They were positioned shoulder to shoulder across the front of the stable, as if it might have been more comfortable for them to step up one at a time, but none of the three wanted to wait until second or third. The little girls set them up as if each of them wanted to be first to see this Baby for whom they had lost sleep, money, and days and days of harsh travel.
Oh! I thought. It probably was like that.
When the wise men walked in to see baby Jesus (in a house), did they care about what was behind them? Were they thinking about Herod? Did they care about giving their best appearance to anyone watching?
My hunch is they cared only about falling before the King. They were mesmerized by the One to whom the star had led them.
They faced in, toward the King.
Sometimes, it takes a child, unspoiled by the “proper way to do things”, to see the obvious. Jesus deserves our full attention and worship, no less today than 2,000 years ago.
May you “face in” as you finish up the holidays, and look forward to 2019!
P. S. Have patience as I finally get around to updating my blog appearance! I am playing with some options to make it more readable. Feel free to give feedback!