Christmas Musings

Here I sit, basking in the glow of the Christmas tree lights on a quiet early morning. The kiddos are still abed, the Hero has left for work, and a bird is singing outside the window. It is 4 days until Christmas and as I enjoy my coffee and breathe a sigh of relief at having finished the Christmas shopping, I begin to muse…

I have a confession to make. Although we have bought & decorated a tree, made & bought & wrapped gifts, sung carols, read the Christmas story and watched the Nutcracker ballet, I do not feel “Christmas-y.” Yes, here I sit on December 20th with everything except Christmas Spirit. I’ve tried manufacturing the peace & joy of the season by going through all the normal motions of preparation and tradition but I still don’t feel it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Scrooge “bah humbugging” everything. I’m simply empty, hollow…perhaps even feeling dead inside. As though my heart needs a jolt from a Holy AED.

I don’t know that the feeling is altogether new or just related to Christmas, perhaps its been coming on for a while. Perhaps a dozen little factors have at last compiled and I’m feeling the effects. It hasn’t been a bad year…in fact, for the most part, its been great! Except for one thing. I’m soul-hungry. Somewhere in all that has gone on this year I stopped purposefully feeding my heart, nurturing the connection to the Life-giver and slowly my heart has slipped into unconsciousness, unresponsiveness.

In this (very) rare moment of quiet and solitude, I just want to sit and soak it in– the peace of this moment. I want it to permeate my soul, wash away all the shadows, turmoil, worries inside. But as a bubble bursts all too easily, I know– and perhaps even fear– that this feeling of peace will shatter as soon as small voices break the silence. The day will have to begin– meals & cleaning, conflict resolution & correction, Christmas preparations and everything else. (side note: my children are not the issue, they are merely the noise factor in this equation)

How does one hold to the peace of quiet, still solitude when surrounded by noise and activity…when unable to be physically still because the to-do list demands otherwise? How does one wake up a comatose heart and fill it with the wonder, joy, and peace of the celebration of Christmas– God’s gift of love beyond all we can imagine?

For me, today begins with a desperate 911 call to the Creator, Sustainor, Life-giver. The One who is Joy and Hope and Peace. The One who heals and revives hearts. The Babe in the manger, the Savior on the cross and the Father willing to sacrifice, to suffer so much out of love because He wants a relationship with us– with me.

In desperation to hear His voice, to feel revived, I begin to read…from scripture, from a devotional book. Suddenly, I am struck.

Revelation 3:1 I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive but you are dead.

“We live under Christ’s watchful eye. He isn’t looking to be sure we are busy, but to see that we are obedient to His Guiding Spirit. He watches not just to see what we are doing but looking at our hearts, also at why we are doing it” Henry & Richard Blackaby (emphasis mine)

1 Samuel 16:7 …for the Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks on the outward appearance but the Lord looks on the heart.

It is always about the heart, isn’t it? What you do and how you do it are less important than the why…the heart attitude and motivation behind it.

And the musings take a bit of a turn…

What does this have to do with Christmas?

Christmas in our house is a busy season. I love to fill the calendar with special events and activities for my kiddos. We bake treats and decorate gingerbread, play with fake snow, make gifts and set up our Christmas village.  While I will admit that some of our past projects have been a little too ambitious, not a single one has been bad or sinful. But what about the heart? Why do all the activities, the crafts…because that is how Christmas is “done”? To impress others with my planning, organization, craftiness, and talented children? To win the Pinterest-mother-of-the-year award? Hmm…

What if…what if we just got back to the heart?

I’m coming back to the heart of worship,

And its all about You, all about You, Jesus,

I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it,

When its all about You, its all about You, Jesus.

What if our focus changed.  Forget the trappings of Christmas and just worship. Worship with all of our hearts a Savior willing to sacrifice everything out of love for us. Could we maybe get less caught up in perfect decorations, stunning party food, and blow-their-socks-off presents and instead got caught up in the overwhelming realization of the depth of God’s love for us?

I can’t speak for anyone else but I know that this is a season that gets busy, overscheduled, stressful and tiring no matter how much I hope and plan to make it otherwise.  And it is so very easy to miss Christ in Christmas. No matter how many times we parrot “Jesus is the reason for the season!” The words become part of the routine, the habit, what we do not the why behind it.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I feel like we all are in preparation for the biggest party of the year. Months of preparation and planning. Countless hours on Pinterest choosing just the right DIY tablescape.  Multiple shopping trips looking for just. the. right. gift. Not to mention the menu planning.

At last, it is time for the party…the guests arrive and are suitably awed by our decorations. The food is delicious…everyone raves. Each gift is spot-on perfection. In fact, the party is so stunning, so grand that no one notices what is missing.

The guest of honor has been left outside.

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hear my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me.

What good news! He doesn’t go home brokenhearted about being left out of His own party. He stands, waits, ready to come in. He even knocks, calling to us, wanting us to experience the fullness of the celebration– the joy only He brings.

Whatever you do the Christmas…tree or no tree…Griswold-style decorations or none at all…40 types of Christmas treats, or 1, or none…gifts, no gifts…keeping tradition, skipping them or making new ones…whatever floats your boat, whatever works for you. But do this one thing: OPEN THE DOOR.

Let Christ in to your Christmas. Let all your doing be motivated by a heart full of praise. Let this be a season of worship. After all, what are we celebrating but our great God and His great Gift of Love to us? The Babe in the manger who became the Savior on the cross and the Father willing to sacrifice, to suffer so much out of love because He wants a relationship with us. Because He wants to come in and dine (fellowship) with us. Sin closed the door, Jesus unlocked it but the last part is up to us.

Just open the door.


Works for me: The Spouse 4 Gift Formula

cmas tree

Christmas is coming! Are you ready?

I don’t know about you but we try to keep the presents from holding center stage in our celebration.  They are, however, a part of it.

There are all sorts of suggestions on how to give gifts to your children– 3 gifts to represent the Magi’s gifts, 4 gifts (want, need, wear, read), no gifts and donating or giving to others instead– but what I want to know is: what does one give a spouse?!?!?!

I think there are a few people who do well at this, you know, the ones with giving gifts as a love language.

Then there is the rest of us. The ones who said “lets not do gifts” but then, suspicious that the other spouse did rushes to CVS on Christmas Eve to find something…anything.  Or the ones who bust the budget on a completely misguided attempt at what they wanted or needed.

Why is it that the ones we love most and know best are the hardest ones to choose a gift for? Argh!

This year, I am saying “no more!” to my gift giving frustration and I am offering my formula to you in hopes that your gift-giving and Christmas celebration will be more relaxed and enjoyable as a result.

**A few notes: Consider this formula fodder for brainstorming,a place to start.  Each gift can be adjusted to fit your budget (from on-the-cheap to extravagant) and personality (if he doesn’t like to read, ignore the book suggestions…unless he might like an audio version).  Also, as a wife, I wrote this thinking about my husband but I believe the formula would work just as well for husbands to choose gifts for their wives.**

The Spouse 4 Gift Formula –

1) A gift for him as a man. This could be something he needs or wants (like clothes, shoes, a book) or something for his favorite hobby (fishing rod, golf balls & tees, a specialty tool) or something you know he likes (gift card to his favorite restaurant or store) or an item for his collection. This is where you really consider his tastes and interests, things he has mentioned wanting, and how he likes to spend his time.  You could stretch this category to include something he may need for work.

2) A gift for him as a Christian.  It is important to encourage our spouses in their personal walk with Christ, so give a gift that does that. Print out & laminate verse cards for the passage he wants to memorize, a devotional or Bible study book, a new Bible…maybe even arrangements to attend a Men’s Conference.

3) A gift for him as a husband. Plan a special date night or a whole year of dates, find a book you can read & discuss together (so many options here! Could be about marriage or any topic you are both interested in or the latest fiction bestseller or a classic), create some “love coupons” or buy something for you to wear for him…not gonna go any further on this one, I think you get the idea.

4) A gift for him as a father. Plan a family fun day, a gift card or supplies for an activity he can do with the kiddos (model to build, puzzle, bowling, movie…) framed pictures for his desk at work, put together a Hero kit. This is a great time to have the kiddos make or choose a gift!

That’s it.  Now I haven’t told you exactly what to give but hopefully I’ve given you a starting place to think about your man and ways that you can bless him in each area of his life.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas! Don’t forget to came back after Dec 25th and let me know what you gave. 🙂