I love the music. the tree. the food.
But, my favorite thing is to sit in the dark with only the lights shimmering and read.
I love Christmas so much-that I have about 75,000 things pinned to my pinterest account. I’m absolutely positive they’ll continue to sit in my “Winter Wonderland” folder, but they’re pretty and I like thinking that maybe when I have a lot of time (puh-lease) I may actually get to do one, just one.
We’re a week into the holiday season, and we JUST bought our tree. It’s sitting in our living room completely bare, but we’ve got a tree. I’m WAY ahead of my usual holiday schedule, I’ve actually purchased a total of 1 gift so far. Small victories, people, small victories.
For me AND I’m sure it is for you as well-Christmas can be exhausting. I’m kind of dreading it with eager anticipation, if that’s even possible.
Despite my families lack of holiday effort, this week we did have our first advent activity. Cole and I were realistic (this is more him than me–I had about 2500 pinned advent activities), WE (I mean he) said, “let’s plan for once a week and make it as fun and short for our kids this year.
We had our minds set on reading Luke 2:12 “Don’t be Afraid! I’m here to tell you with great joy: a savior has been born in Bethlehem. You find him in a manger wrapped in snuggly warm clothes” (The Chambers Chaos version) Then, we were to sing “Away in a Manger” together as a family. And, pull out the Little People Nativity Set great grandpa had sent us.
Sounds easy and fun, right? Let me just share how this whole endeavor ended up.
With little antsy pants kiddos, we immediately scrapped the “scripture reading”, for a more hands on approach. Little baby white (my daughter has named everything her favorite color-and baby white is also wearing a white jumpsuit) was wrapped up quickly in a kitchen towel. My husband, in his speaking to toddler voice, says,”See, it little Baby Jesus wrapped up in snuggly clothes”.
They got it! They all began passing around Baby White and saying, “oooooooo, Baby Jesus wearing snuggly clothes”.
It was precious.
Then, Cole and I, although we do have some musical capabilities, led a very off-key “Away in a Manager”. It was quickly led astray by a 6 yr old who didn’t full know the song or the tune. We tried, oh how we tried to stay on beat. But realistically, musically, it was a mess. A
After our first, “Away in a Manger, no crib for a bed”, Cadence began to cry (we were that bad), Addie began to giggle hysterically (we were truly that bad) and Judah intermittently cried and said with a little lisp, “Shhhhhhhhh”.
Can’t. make. this. up.
Despite tears, being “sh”ushed, we made it through all 3 verses and choruses.
Out came that Nativity scene and out came the bloodshed. It was all “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!” up in the Chambers home. (My husband will be so pleased that I inserted a Braveheart quote).
I mean, in all my history of little nativity scenes, the angel is the most coveted piece. WRONG.
In our house, it’s the donkey and Mary.
Sounds exhausting right? The truth is–it was the least exhausting thing we’ve done. Hear me out here: It was real, it was raw, and it didn’t rely on our skills musically, parentally, or any sort of gifting we’ve been given.
As we sat in full recovery mode Cole and I came to one conclusion: “That was a mess. But, it was so refreshing. What is we stopped doing x, y, and z and just did this? What if the whole month of December looked like this?”
I think sometimes we create “pinterest” worthy ideas of what Christmas should look like-and it’s really exhausting attempting it. From their spot, the ornaments and decor is removed, and we internally sigh, so grateful that it’s over.
But, when we take away the glitter, the busy, and we allow the real raw exposure of mess is when we find rest and worship, true worship.
Our women’s group, At The Well, get’s its name because the well has historically been a gathering place for women. Also, because there was a single woman who came exhausted and empty on her own life. For the record–her life didn’t look like pinterest, so I know we would’ve been really great friends, in fact, she might’ve been my best friend.
But, she came to gather her water at a time of day where women didn’t gather, a time that implied she wasn’t welcome there. Jesus said two things to her. First, he said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst-not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” A few moments later he said, “It’s who you are and the way you live that counts before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is looking out for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself-Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”
Jesus already knew what I learned this week. HE wants what you have-an empty vessel ready to be filled and to be refreshed by worshipping Him. He wants your Christmas to be merry and bright-but not because you added more “stuff” or you used enough gold glitter on your wooden block reindeer outline-but because you came before him offering absolutely nothing-but your worship, true worship.
I know my Christmas story is cute and funny-but what I want you to know I that my really empty truly exhausting moments were. not. pleasant. OR cute. In fact, they were long and hard. My marriage almost imploded, my dreams for my family lost in one hospital visit, Spiritual giants in my life letting me down leading me to question my faith. Those places weren’t beautiful-they were empty and painful.
But you know what else they were?
They were the moments in my life where Jesus was the most present. Where HE and not I came in and became my source. Looking back, that’s where my faith took root and grew exponentially. They were moments where I had nothing to offer-I was empty, I NEEDED Jesus.
Last week during church service for Advent, we talked about God being a God for rock-bottom people. I’m so thankful for that–because I’m a rock-bottom person.
I’ll say it again: I’m a rock-bottom person. And, yet, the beautiful thing about Christmas is that Jesus came in the humblest way to free ME-to allow me to worship.
I am now FREE, to spend my days and my life empty so He can fill me.
It’s okay to be a rock-bottom person, it really is. I challenge you this holiday season to be rock-bottom, to lay everything down, to come broken and be at the well with Jesus. Let Him fill you up.
Don’t let your skills, pinterest, or a hallmark card define what Christmas should be.
Isaiah 40:28-30 says,
God doesn’t come and go.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their primes stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
What if we stopped doing x, y, and z and just did this? What if our December looked. just.like.this?