This tree will not be for everyone, but for some of you, I hope it will be a treasure hunt. That's what it was for my family 25 years ago. A dear friend shared this idea with me. She and I worked on it together for several years. Throughout the years, I cannot tell you how many people have ask to borrow it, for a copy of the letter or to bring people to see it. Many of you may have done or heard of something similar. I am just going to share our story and how we did it.
It is just called THE JESUS TREE ! My kids were 3 and 10 when we started this tradition. It has been on small trees, large trees, and everything in between. Saying that so you understand it is a not something you go out, buy and have finished in one day. This is a project. I remember those first few years we were always on the look for aother ornament. Being in coaching, we had moved many times and had friends in many towns, many churches, etc. I began by typing a letter (and if you need a copy, I would be happy to mail you one) telling our friends that we wanted to decorate one tree in our house with objects that represented something that Jesus is. I shared with them that I wanted them to be creative and that we not only wanted the ornament to represent something Jesus is, but something that we would treasure from them. We also wanted the scripture that went with it. I can still remember the day I put those 100 letters in the mail to family and friends. Ornaments began to fill my mailbox everyday. Treasured ornaments. I could cry right now just thinking about them. The funny thing is I still remember who sent each one of them (and I don't remember what I did an hour ago)!!!That was one of most exciting Christmas's ever.
I wanted my kids to know who Jesus was and will be and is forever. Remember I was already really into holiday decorating ...tour of homes, trees in every room, very obsessed with ornaments and lights. I needed this tree to ground me to the real reason we celebrate. Over the past 25 years I cannot tell you how many times I have looked at those ornaments and thought....yes, YOU are my Anchor, YOU are my Rock, YOU are my Helper, YOU are my Lord, YOU are the Door, YOU are the Great Physician....
You have to start this tree early and just begin to look at normal things around the house, in stores, and be creative....then tie these ornaments on a tree of white lights and you have a masterpiece.
I am going to give you some examples of the things we received the first year...I also shared in the letter to feel free to use the Old Testament. Hope I do not cry looking at these....but from the friend that really led me to the Lord, came a paper chain made out of construction paper, like a child would make, with a slip of paper that said, "He is the only link to the Father", then came
a small umbrella that said, "He is our covering", a rock, a thimble that said "He is our protector, a nail (Zach 10:4), a small doctor figure that would go on top of a cake that said He is the Great Physician, a Lion because HE is The Lion of Judah, an ark because in Genesis He was Noah's Ark, a pearl with a note that said HE is The Pearl of Great Price!
Are you understanding why I waited on the mailman everyday. One person sent a roll of lifesavers and said HE IS the ultimate lifesaver. We received a tower saying He is our High Tower. Someone sent a vine, another sent small pieces of fruit and wrote the Fruit of the Spirit on each one. Another sent a tiny Bible, as HE IS THE WORD , a dove to represent our Peace, another sent a light bulb for HE is the light. One dear friend sent a small toy size US Mail truck with no note. I had to call her...He is our Deliverer! A toy soldier came as Ex 15:3 says HE is a Man of War! We received a hammer to represent the fact that HE was a carpenter. Then came a tiny wrapped package that said He is the Gift of God! Then came a small padlock saying He sets the captives free. Someone sent a key saying He is the key to heaven. I can give you many more, but I want you to have the opportunity to be creative.
Those are just a few things that I can think of tonight..I think we have well over 100 ornaments. Over the years, we have found better things for older ornaments and changed a few out. It has been a priceless hunt. Now I get to start with the grandkids.
This is a great project for a Sunday School Class, but WOW does it make a statement in a home....I can remember many nights when I would turn out all the lights except for the tree and reflect on all the things that Jesus is and tell him I wanted him to be all of those things in my life. I sure do not want you to think I am saying I am this super spiritual, got it all together person...I just need a reminder many nights, especially after working on trees all day, that HE is my strength, he is my Healer, and HE IS The Way! (and for The Way, a friend sent a compass)
Each year we make copies of the names of Jesus and the scripture that goes with each one, roll them in scroll form and tie with a pretty ribbon. We then place them in a basket by the tree for all that pass through our home during the season...I wish I had saved all the letters from people over the years telling me what the tree meant to them.
For you that have small children, I can tell you this is one of the most fun and most effective ways to teach scripture to your kids.
I am going out on a limb here, but I have a strong feeling, my kids remember what every ornament stood for. They heard me name the ornaments hundreds of times, as other people looked at the tree. I am giving you too many tips...but as I was looking at the sheet that we print...I remembered a person sent a little lantern, as HE IS a Lamp Onto Our Feet. We received a Bright Morning Star, a small trophy that says HE IS Victory! Someone sent an Alpha and Omega that they got a fraternity store. Believe it or not, I have barely scratched the surface of the ornaments we have. I opened the box of ornaments tonight and decided to show you a few pictures. Most of these ornaments are not ones I told you about, so you will have to think about them and what they stand
The list is endless!
If you decide to do this tree there are so many ways to collect the ornaments...you could send out a letter to friends or you could go on a treasure hunt looking for things. I love the way I did it because of the sweetness of remembering who sent each ornament. To be honest, I never dreamed so many people would participate. From this tree, I know of at least 20 other families that began their own tree. If you need a list of all our ornaments I will be happy to send you one.
OK...Parker is not here yet, so I am going to wait and draw for the winner of the free consultation and maybe a few other little prizes tomorrow night. I am honored and so happy that so many of you have liked the new blog and have sent such sweet comments and emails. This will be one of the few posts that I will post on both blogs. So tell your friends..they have another day to get in on the drawing and who knows how many things we will give away tomorrow night.