November 28, 2006

Welcome Christmas... and Sweet Release!

I pray you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving week - filled with good friends, good food, good times!

Normally, by this time of year, my house is decked out, my gifts are mostly wrapped, and my cards are all hand-made and addressed. I would have worked on my Family Christmas Letter over the holiday weekend, and I would be feeling - well - festive. This year, however, I am just not quite there! I love this time of year! I thrive on it! It brings me joy and peace ...all the memories made, and to be made, all the scents and sounds of the season. Normally, I relish in it all! I set a goal each year that I am completely done with all the preparations for Christmas by December 10th. All the gifts are purchased, wrapped, (shipped)... all the stocking stuffers, the letter is done and printed, the cards are made, addressed, and mailed out - all by the 10th of December. Most years, unlike this one, I am nearly done before Thanksgiving, so this is not much of a stressful 'deadline' if you will. However, this year - I barely have things crossed of teh gift list, and the cards are still not glued together... the letter is just now beginning to take up some of my thoughts... the decorations are ALL still in storage. And yet, I still intend to complete my self-appointed deadline.

Why, you may ask?! Simply because - this is WHY I began this time frame anyway... so that I CAN sit back and relax and enjoy the season! So I CAN entertain (or not), bake (or not), go caroling and party-hoping (...or not), etc.! When I am able to be done by a certain date - that frees me up for the final two weeks approaching Christmas to sit back, play with the kids, read a bit, spend some time with the Lord, light the Hanukkah candles, sing Christmas songs, reflect and remember... give thanks once again. I need that time in the midst of the chaos... I do not want to get side-tracked, or unfocused on why we celebrate in the first place!

Even the traditional rituals of gift giving, and Christmas carols, and decorating - if done in a hurry and with a stressed perspective and weary heart - can become just that... Tradition... tradition of man rather than honoring God... Whom we are desiring to honor now - in this season - probably more than any other somehow?! What if God calls us to break the mold?! What if He releases us from some of the 'works' and the expectations that we so often lay upon ourselves in this time of year - and simply calls us to His side... will we have the faith and boldness required to break free from the 'box' of Christmas and worship Him in spirit and in truth!? I wonder...

Don't get me wrong?! I still have plans to do the cards, and the gifts, and the decorating. I love to do that stuff! The Martha in me LOVES all of that... but the Mary in me desires some time set aside as well! I have gone without a tree for many years... because He asked me not to. I missed out on the memories of decorating it with my daughter while she was young... one of the few 'traditions' at Christmas time that I could pass down to her. A few years ago, however, the Lord told me I could have a tree - if I wanted one. I really didn't that year. But the year after - I decided I DID want that... I wanted to make those memories with my daughter and hear which ornaments are her favorites and why... I wanted the cocoa and the Christmas music and untangling the lights. I still do. But - if He asked me not to... I would keep it all stored away and boxed up. Because, those years that we did not have a tree - Christmas still happened. We still made memories and focused on Him and taught our daughter the meaning of Christmas. She didn't need all the lights and glitter to see the spirit of Christmas at work with our home. And in not going all out - she saw that it begins all 'in'. So - that is where we start... on Thanksgiving! We start by - in November - preparing our heart room.

This week I will find myself - unless the Lord releases me - finishing up with the Christmas cards, pulling out the decorations, and working on our Family Letter. I will do it bit by bit... a little at a time... sometimes with my little one helping... and other times in the quiet of the afternoon - on my own - just me and the Lord. I am looking forward to doing it progressively - rather than obsessively. I like to get things done... to finish a project asap. But this year - the Lord is calling me to relish in each single thing He is allowing me to do. I will go slow - and spread what I normally would do in one frantic day - over a period of days in a row. The Martha in me will be trying to hurry it up and get the finished look... but it is Jesus that I am trying to impress. I am not focused on what others will think or how I compare... I just want to honor Him and create and prepare an atmosphere that celebrates His coming. For He is always welcome!

I pray you will enjoy the season and find yourself miraculously with time to spare!
May He be welcomed into your home and your heart. May He speak to you about what He is calling you to do... and what He may be releasing you from - in this Season!


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