I collapsed onto the couch and stared at my bare Christmas tree. I know there are purist out there, but I seriously love whoever invented the prelit Christmas tree. I told myself I would decorate it tomorrow, but in my heart, I knew that was a lie. Truthfully, my mind kept going to January when I would have to carefully take every one of those glass ornaments back off the tree. I just couldn’t do it. I decided not to decorate the tree this year. In fact, we decided not to decorate any of our trees. I let the kids have their trees in their rooms, but sans ornaments. We had to cancel family photos twice because of illness, and I let go of that perfect Christmas card I had pictured in my head. In fact, I let go of Christmas Cards all together.
These last couple weeks have been tough in our house. Kris had a flare which meant his symptoms came back plus he got a cold from the kids. The doctor adjusted his medications and he spent several days in bed (two of those included thanksgiving and my birthday). The kids have been sick and finally it hit me last week.
Confession: I don’t typically get jealous over other people’s Facebook and Instagram photos, but it was hard for me on Thanksgiving to see so many smiling families all put together. I had a hard time seeing the professional family photos with the sweet smiles and coordinated outfits. I wanted that so much this year. But I have been clinging to this verse from Isaiah: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19).
On Monday, November 28, our Women’s Ministry hosted an evening called Adore. It was a time to come before God at the beginning of the Christmas season, to give Him our first fruits of Christmas, to set our hearts and minds right, to slow down before the hustle and bustle of the season. It was powerful. I shared pieces of our story and what God is teaching me (coming soon!!) and then we got on our knees together and prayed for one another in small groups. As we shared about our needs this Christmas season, my mentor, Amy, looked at me and said “I’m just so excited for your family this Christmas. You’ve been forced to slow down and become laser focused, and I can’t wait to see come January what God did in your hearts and in your family this season.”
We won’t be able to go to Christmas plays or Disney or parties like we have in the past. And just for good measure, to make sure we REALLY aren’t tempted to add anything to our schedule this Christmas, Kris broke a toe last week. Yep. For real. But Amy is right: what we are able to focus on simple truth of Christmas: The Jesus, our Savior, humbled himself, becoming like us, to save us from our sins. He didn’t sit in heaven and say, “Get yourself together and perfect, then we will talk about this saving business.” God made a way:
Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John 3:16-17 “For God so loved that world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Hebrews 4:14-16 “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympatize with out weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
After adjusting his medication, Kris seems to be doing better! He was able to return to work the week after Thanksgiving, and today he worked his first full day in the office. This is huge! I am so incredibly humbled by how many prayer warriors we have. We feel it; we feel the prayers of those who are standing in the gap for us. In many ways, we are still in that “low battery” mode around here. We thank God for the good days and persevere through the hard days. One day at a time, we keep going. We pray that his body responds to the medication and begins to heal itself, that the iron infusion he had two weeks ago boosts his iron levels and for us to stay focused on the how (and not the why us).
As hard as it is some days, I am loving the simplicity of this Christmas (well, most of the time). We are watching a LOT of Christmas movies and spending time as a family at home. I bought the She Reads Truth Kids’ Advent Cards, and we’ve had great conversations each night centered around the real reason for the season. The beauty of Christmas is in the simple truth that Jesus came here. He came to give us hope, grace and mercy. He didn’t come to condemn us. He came to save to us just as we are. Simple Christmas.