One of my favorite Christmas traditions is getting a tree to decorate. I take such joy in placing each ornament on its branch and adorning the tree to full beauty. It truly is an art project and I find the finishing touches bring it to its full glory.

The Christmas tree has taken on great meaning to me over the years and I’m excited to share some of that significance with you here. It’s an amazing story about my daughter that inspires me, especially this Christmas.

The last couple years I have changed the theme of my tree décor to mostly nautical decor (not surprising)! I have beautiful anchor ornaments and other coastal décor with which to trim the tree. I have placed the perfect starfish at the very top. Every day, I look forward to turning the lights on the tree to add sparkle in my home and to symbolize the coming of Christmas Day. I end each day standing before my tree soaking in the beauty and cherishing that moment and the memories of Christmases past as I look forward to the future.

Christmas trees have a long history and there’s a great deal of significance attached to them. There are several theories and legends as to how the evergreen fir tree became a symbol of Christianity and an important tradition for Christmas. As I did a little research, I found an interesting fact which was new to me.

I learned that the evergreen tree became a symbol of Jesus: being triangular in shape, it represents the Trinity of God our Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and from there came the idea that the tree should be a symbol of Christ and new life.

Christmas trees remind me that winter is not going to last forever and they cheer me up. The fact that we use evergreen trees means that no matter what the season of life or circumstances, the tree remains ever green (hence the name)! That is a fact about Jesus as our Anchor: He is never changing and all about forever life for today and for eternity.

The Christmas tree has an even more significant meaning for me ever since my daughter Karina passed away ten years ago after a five-year battle with leukemia. Since that time, I ponder on and treasure her last words to me as I gaze upon my Christmas tree. I don’t share this story very often but I feel compelled to today as I am passionate about encouraging you with her words that so profoundly spoke to me.

Very early one morning in the last week of Karina’s life, she woke me suddenly with urgency in her voice. I had spent every night on a cot beside her hospital bed. I was filled with anxiety and I had lain awake amid all the distractions of the nurses coming in and out throughout the night. We were like soldiers together in the trenches, Karina and I, fighting the battle.

When she woke me on that early morning, she said, “Mom, I see something. I think it is a metaphor.” My grogginess wore off quickly and I sat up ready to listen. The word “metaphor” caught my attention. My daughter didn’t usually talk about metaphors—it was not a common word used in our household.

I listened intently as Karina went on to say, “I see a tree. It’s standing tall and strong.” As she said these words, I envisioned an evergreen tree standing tall like so many we see in Washington, many like my own Christmas tree. She continued, saying, “All around it there’s a storm and the other trees are blowing around uprooted but the one tree remained standing tall and strong.” She then fell back to sleep.

Karina at Christmas 2009

These words I took to heart. I immediately thought maybe this meant Karina would live. I reasoned the tree that was standing firm must signify her in her fight against cancer. Surely she was going to come out of this storm standing strong. The winds of cancer would try to uproot her but she would survive and not be felled. Or so I thought.

I realized the metaphor was not about Karina living, but rather about staying anchored in faith amid the storms. The tree in her vision really stands for rooted faith. Cancer was her storm, but it did not uproot her faith. Instead, that faith carried her through the storm and into the arms of Jesus.

This is the greatest gift we celebrate at Christmas the gift of Jesus and the abundant life He brings for us to live today and for eternity with him in heaven. And this is the message the Anchor is all about and why I started it years ago. Living anchored in Jesus, one will stand strong amid the storms that come our way. It is only by standing firm on the hope of Jesus that I can endure and press on. I felt Karina somehow knew this and was giving me the encouragement for life I would need to hold onto.

The metaphor of the tree she shared with me has brought great meaning especially this Christmas time as I find myself gazing at my sparkling tree encircled with the gifts around it. My hope and prayer for you is that you would be encouraged as you receive and ponder the greatest gift of Jesus this season that you may stand tall and strong rooted and grounded in Jesus and anchored to His ever true promises.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith… and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

May you be filled with great JOY and PEACE this Christmas! Merry Christmas! With hope and light,

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