About Me

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Blue Ridge Area of Virginia
Alicha McHugh is author of "Daughter of the Promise" first in her: Numbered Among the Stars series (available on Amazon.com). She is a homemaker to her husband of 15 years, homeschooler to their children. Writing, enjoying tea and creaming Raw Honey are three of her current pursuits. Grabbing time to read is always high on her list of priorities! If you'd like to contact her, she'd love to hear from you! Just email: alichamchugh@gmail.com

Saturday, December 24, 2011

"While You Were Sleeping" revisited...

I love the song by Casting Crowns, "While You Were Sleeping".

Now, for someone like me, geared towards melancholy, this song addresses an inescapable side to the Savior's coming. It looks back in time to Jesus' birth and forward to his return with the whole reason for his arrival and rejection fixed firmly through-out. It's beautiful, both the words and the music.

However, while reading to Arowyn the way God announced the birth of His Son, I discovered sometimes how we view the arrival of the baby Jesus can be juxtaposed to God's view of his first coming. Our perspective is oft' times wrapped in a garb of regret. Not so with scripture where there is JOY and REJOICING...HOPE and PEACE...GOODWILL towards us.

In the song mentioned (and many modern songs, like "Mary Did You Know?") it seems to me a bitter sweetness has entered our view of our Lord's birth that is not inherent to the telling of his actual coming. Yes, it's in the storyline, like no room for him in the inn and only the shepherds come to see Him the night he was born. And even though the whole sacrificial "Lamb of God" symbolism is overwhelming, magnificent and utterly compelling, it's not the movement we find in focus; it's not the point.

Some may say we feel that way because WE KNOW the outcome of his birth is the reason for his arrival, his death. Well, yeah...God did too, infinitely and vastly more than we ever will or can. And yet there is no sigh, no tears, no sorrow, no "oh poor Jesus born in a manger", in the "cold" which was probably June. Instead the story is charged with anticipation and expectant hope.

I mean...don't we get excited and yearn for a baby to come for 9+ months??...the World had been anticipating the Rescuer of our Souls' birth for millenniums! And here he was! Finally! And what baby's birth should be accompanied by a sigh for the future, least of all our Savior's?
"Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."– Luke 2:10-12
Does this mean I'll never listen to these kinds of songs again? NO! I still LOVE this song...But it does mean, for me, when my eyes fill with tears and I know  his love for me, even in my sin, is the reason he came, I will be better able to return the focus of my heart to where it ought to be during this time as in the taking of the Lord's Supper (rabbit trail) On HIM...not me.God's perfect redemptive and wondrous plan, that which he had wanted, planned, foretold and promised took form in a sweet, precious baby
"The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us . We beheld his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." ~Jn 1:14
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Jesse Tree & Uriah the Hittite

Oh Dear Friends!

I have so enjoyed doing "The Jesse Tree" this year. I won't spend too much time telling you what it is, but briefly it's a display created during the Christmas season, following each day of the advent (which I'm still not quite sure what that is ~ I grew up Baptist :). Anyway, every day you are supposed to add an ornament depicting a significant member or event in Jesus' lineage, beginning with creation and ending, of course, with the birth of Christ...usually.

WELL, there are as many variations out there on "Jesse Trees" as various kinds of apples. So, I picked one I was familiar with, having thought long and hard about actually doing one for the past 3 years! That said, Arowyn and I have molded, and painted and created works of art, only a mother could truly appreciate ;)! I have told story after story of the meaning behind each ornament.

However, there is one ornament I'm adding to the Jesse Tree list. Let me explain first...

I used to think Uriah got a bad shake. Think about it. He was one of only 37 "Might Men of Valor" in David's vast army. And what did he get in return? Face value: his wife was stolen by his commander in chief, he carried his own death warrant to his immediate superior officer, his band of brothers left him in the heat of battle (forget the motto, "Never leave a man behind."). They left him on purpose, to cover up the fact that David committed adultery with Uriah's wife and (oops), there's a baby on the way.

Yes, the baby is taken as punishment for their sin and I don't discount that sorrow in the least, but then Bathsheba and David can get married and have another baby and THAT baby becomes God's chosen line for his earthly heritage...Okay, and Uriah is dead, in the ground, forgotten. What in the world? (Stronger language is REALLY merited in the previous sentence, but I haven't the courage to put it!)

At least that's what I thought...until last year as I read the story of the genealogy of Christ, on Joseph's side, in Matthew.  (Get into a habit of reading ALL of God's word...even the "boring" parts. God will honor you for it and will open your mind to see HIM.)
Matthew 1:2 (middle) "David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah,"
My mind exploded with the implications. The established cultural practice, dating back to the time of Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar, was: when a man died without offspring, the first surviving male of the wife's next union becomes the preserver of the heritage and lineage of the deceased husband.

The point is...Uriah was not forgotten by God. The Holy Spirit mentions his presence in Matthew, reminding future generations of the part he played in the genealogy of Christ. No one can take that away from him. Not even the inescapable power and decree of a mighty king of Israel.

I used to think if I met up with Uriah in heaven, I'd kinda slide by him, head averted maybe whistle a favorite hymn...What do you say to someone who you think got the short end of the stick? The words, "Wow, I am really sorry." just seem grossly out of place. And if I take it to the furthest point, what I actually thought was Uriah was given the short end of the stick...by God.

Listen up heart!!! He's in the paternal lineage of THE CHRIST! The One that should come! And he submitted to the events that unfolded...Oh how I NEED a reminder of that! My heart full of pride rising up at every perceived or actual wrong! They are not for ME to avenge, to set to right, give a good piece of my mind to! God knows, GOD sees...HE is the great Leveler that sweeps his hand over situations, bringing about true peace and harmony, giving eternal compensation for actual wrongs.

Trust...Yield...Wait...He WILL set things to "right"!

Now, armed with a better understanding of who my God is, and how he works (thanks to Him be given) I realize, Uriah is not a "Grumpy Gus" sitting in a corner of heaven while David and Bathsheba dance with their lost son and Solomon in a circle of love...He's dancing with them, saying, "It's all good!" Because God made it ALL GOOD!

Another thing...God did not compensate Uriah by taking a baby. That was between Him and the baby's parents...He compensated Uriah by a very personal application of an old custom, with paternal claims on a future proclamation, "Unto you a child is born, Unto you a Son is given."

What a joy to believe! What a joy to write of this my GREAT GOD, LORD and SAVIOR!

So, in light of all this, I've added another ornament to our Jesse Tree, full of ornaments that represent as much the path of faith as those in the lineage of Christ. Therefore, there is a small sword on our tree, in memory of the 37th "Mighty Man of Valor" mentioned by King David himself in his last words on "Uriah, the Hittite".

Friday, December 16, 2011

Red at Christmas...

I used to hate the color "red" normally associated with Christmas. I don't mean dislike or prefer another color...I mean out and out HATE the red most readily found in this festive season. It broadcast to me the sad existence of the tacky and kitchy side of "Merry Christmas". I mean really, you need look no further than our modern day "Santa" to wonder why.

That bright, in-your-face hue reminds me of thick, puffy vinyl ribbon, fuzzy on one side, slick on the other, invoking a sense of phony festivity...almost like those 70's costumes. I'm sorry, but a plastic mask of Tinker Bell doesn't make you look any more like the green winged fairy than a fancy bow on a new vacuum cleaner makes it look like a maid. (analogy in progress :)

But this year, I cast aside my aversion with barely a raised brow. Decorating began with some shiny red and gold ornaments my husband found last year in a Pier 1 dumpster (our favorite place to pick up items for only the gas it costs us in between striking out and striking it big searching in the back alleyways of our local strip malls! I used to be ashamed...until I realized God was decorating my house...and he did pretty good with creation (hyperbole in case you didn't catch it :), so I'm okay with Rick diving in, feet sticking out, waving a hand for me to get out of the car and help!)

Now red, by the very nature of it's crisp, bold essence, should only be used as an accent. (can I reference creation again?) Despite my aversion, I've seen it beautifully crowded in by white and natural decorations of all kinds, from baking ornaments to candy wrapping to animal treats (pet shop of course). So, I choose this year to use its presence to allow me to simplify my trimming the tree approach . Thanks to said approach, I let go of the elaborate ribbons and frustrating fake snow I spent hours in previous years trying to achieve a look that was "just so".

The result? I've learned to embrace the red in my decorating. It no longer represents something garish and tacky, but inviting and warm. It represents something more too. Change. Hope. Love. Submission. The power found in submitting to a designed and greater, more perfect will than my own...

You see, many times we find broken pieces in our beloved dumpster of choice. Shattered, would-have-been treasures that have fallen (sometimes literally) victim to either a careless turn in a tight space, or an unrestrained child whose mother really should have known better before entering the store.~I speak from experience~ But this set of red and gold ornaments was in perfect condition, other than its clear plastic container which could no longer hold them perfectly together.

My first instinct? Toss 'em . Get rid of them when Rick's not looking. Really, do you think he'd remember? Probably not.

Second instinct? Sell 'em. Rick wouldn't mind that...

But almost a year as passed since "the find". A year where so much has happened, and so much hasn't happened.

My biological father is no longer a shadowed figure, fighting with my mommy through the screened porch, his ginormous Afro haloed in the sunshine behind him. He has a face, tanned and wrinkled, and lips I'd guessed at because mine are so very different from my mother's.

I've been stretched these past 12 months in ways I've not appreciated initially. Physically, this once friend proclaimed "midget barbie doll" of a frame sees evidence of "the fall" every time I get out of bed. Mentally, I've learned along side Arowyn Latin, skip counting, American history and so much more that I never had any interest in before. Spiritually, I look at Philippians with a whole new perspective and weep every time I read it. Career wise, that three book contract I just knew would come ~ and in all fairness a certain big publisher made it seem likely~  make all my hopes and expectations come true ~ well, even though there's still some wood in the fire ~ I'm not pinning the validation for my existence on it anymore.

And then there's my family...they have suffered loss, trial after trial this past year. Begging the question..."WHAT are you doing, LORD?" The returning answer, "Wait for it."...

Yes, there has been change...in me and the world around me. Red seems to suit the change. God knew that last year. I'm glad I let Him be God in this, and just went with it. Because by centering on this one tiny, altered view of a primary color, my imagination warms to wonder at possibilities beyond my timid acceptance of a hue previously thought detestable...I LIKE that!

Have a Merry Christmas!