Tuesday, December 10, 2013


We are approaching Christmas a little differently this year. Some of it is forced - I'm 6 months pregnant and still running 3 kids around every day. We all have limited energy and resources, but mine feel especially scarce right now. Some of it has been a choice - I've spent too many Decembers running around malls and stores, too many weekends packing in parties and get togethers, too many mornings sleeping as late as possible because I'm strung. out. From whatever I was up late doing after the kids went to bed - decorating, baking, wrapping...

This year I decided to let go of some of it. Less presents. Less "fluff" - decorations and seasonal baked goods and something always simmering on the stove making the house smell good. Less running around in busy stores (and more online ordering, thank goodness for that!). Less scheduling ourselves up to our eyeballs in activities. Just less all around.

And not less for the sake of less - that's not the point.

Less so that we could make more room for Christ. Less so that I could keep getting up before the kids (as I am reasonably able) to quietly read and pray and think about Who we are celebrating. Less of us, more of Him. I hope and pray that I am learning to live this way all year long, but this month it seemed especially important to push back at the way our culture says we should 'do December' and do it the way Jesus might hope we would.

I finished Liz Curtis Higgs' new book "The Women Of Christmas" and am in the middle of Ann Voskamp's "The Greatest Gift" - both amazing reads. They are changing my heart as I approach December 25th, which was what I had hoped would happen.

Old Christmas hymns and songs that used to be somewhat annoying to me in their repetitiveness are suddenly new again. Mary isn't just Jesus' mother... she's the young woman who said "yes" to God's miraculous plan to come to us in the flesh, tiny and weak and dependent. She let Him break her open and break her apart (socially, emotionally) as she carried the Son of God, gave birth to Him, raised Him, and then watched Him die. I can't comprehend what kind of woman Mary must have been, but I know I want to spend a very long time getting to know her on the other side of heaven. Can you imagine the parts of her story that we don't even know about!?

All of this backing away from busy-ness and over the top celebrating for the sake of a party, and moving towards what is lowly and humble and even needy... it's exposing my own poverty. I need Him. OH, I need Him.

I find myself up late the other night, and tired the next morning, skipping my quiet time in favor of another hour or so of sleep... and I start my day off-kilter. The kids wake me up, it's all about me from that minute forward, and I snap at them. Lose my patience. Bark orders at them and coldly usher them into the car, threatening consequences for their yelling and hitting. And I buckle little bodies into car seats and sit down in the driver's seat, exhausted at 8:20am... and I've been in this driver's seat before, having had similar mornings as this one in the past, but this time it's different - and I start to sob.

My sin has never been uglier than it is to me now. My children never more innocent, precious and pure gifts of love. My husband never more loving and serving even when I'm hard to love and serve. God's grace has never meant to me what it does today. All because of this Advent season, and the way I sought for it to break me apart and help me see everything new again. It breaks me apart at unexpected times, for a whole host of reasons. On the good days He shows Himself to me before I have any makeup on (ha), because this love that shows up... it overwhelms me. It reduces me to tears and thanksgiving and worship. I want so much more of Him than I have. I NEED so much more of Him.

My Holy God, coming to earth as a babe... coming to me, repeatedly, everyday in other ways. It's so hard to understand and comprehend, and sometimes I can hardly believe that it's true only because it's so far fetched that HE would come to ME... at all.

I was making dinner tonight and this song came on my Christmas Playlist. And there I was, suddenly crying again as I really listened to the words. And thought about my life in that time period I would call 'the night before Christmas'... when it was all dark, and I was more lost than I realized. But He broke through, and He would break through when He was born, and I pray He is breaking through all over the place in each of your lives, too.

Redemption so sweet and so strong...

"The Night Before Christmas"
Brandon Heath

Empty manger, perfect stranger
about to be born
Into darkness, sadness, desperate madness
creation so torn

We were so lost on earth, no peace, no worth
no way to escape
In fear, no faith, no hope no grace
and no light…

But that was the night before Christmas

Warm hay, cold sweat, a mother, not yet.
Praying godspeed the dawn
She looks to her man, holding her hand.
They wonder how long.

And the shepherds, wise men come to find them
and bow to a king.

One star above shining on love, so bright it lit up
the night before Christmas.

And the world didn't know, mercy meek and so mild.
And the world didn't know that truth was as pure as a child.

                                The night before Christmas.
                                The night before Christmas.

And the world didn't know, redemption was sweet and so strong.
And the world didn't know salvation was writing a song.

The night before Christmas.
The night before Christmas.
The night before Christmas.

Empty manger, perfect stranger about to be born.

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