Chris and I started a tradition our very first Christmas together where we would exchange ornaments. Not just any ol’ ornament, but an ornament that held a special memory or inside joke pertaining to something that had happened to us that year.

Some of our ornaments hold funny stories, like the time the nickname ‘Cat’ stuck and now we have creepy looking catheads hanging from our branches. The irony? We don’t we even like cats.

Some ornaments are serious, like, ‘First Christmas Together,’ or, ‘Our First Home,’ or, ‘Baby’s First Christmas,’ or, ‘World’s Best Dad.’

And some ornaments are downright cheesy, like the Minnie ears from Disneyland, or the long-legged guitar-playing old guy (long story…I’ll spare you).

The point is… they all mean something.

10 years and 20+ ornaments later, and our tree is starting to resemble a, ‘How NOT To Decorate Your Tree’ article from InStyle magazine. But I wouldn’t change a thing.

Every time I re-open those boxes marked ‘Fragile’ and start decorating the tree for yet another holiday season, I’m reminded of how great and how special each year of our lives together has been. It’s amazing how lil’ ol’ ornaments can inspire such big emotion.

A few days ago I read this passage of scripture:

…do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.

~Proverbs 3:21&22

It got me thinking…

My life is like a tree.
The trials I endure and the blessings I receive are my ornaments.
With every year that goes by, my collection of meaningful ornaments gets bigger and bigger.
Some of my ornaments are funny, like how many shiny silver balls of patience I’m displaying (now that’s an ornament I’ll be collecting probably for the rest of my life).
Some ornaments are serious, like the countless lessons in humility, kindness, forgiveness and gentleness.
And some ornaments are downright cheesy, like the sense of humour that God chose to decorate me with. Ha!

The point is… they all mean something.

In the same way that every tree is different, we are all different. In the same way that there are thousands of beautifully coloured, shaped and designed ornaments, there are thousands of beautifully coloured, shaped and designed lessons that God desires to teach us so our roots deepen in faith. And if I were to actually take down all my current tree decorations, and replace them with cue cards displaying some very meaningful lessons that God has taught me over the years, I think I would begin to see just how beautiful I really am. I might actually start to see myself the way God sees me.

Ornament: the act of adorning or being adorned; to make beautiful.

So, Merry Christmas friends! May this holiday season find you adding a few more beautiful ornaments to your own branches as you decorate your tree.

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With a million things to do and not enough hours in the day to get it done, it's easy to zone out and slip into autopilot in order to survive. But perhaps life is not about adding more things to your already lengthy list, but rather, about pausing in the midst of it all to consider if what you're doing is really important.