Settle in, hunker down, and let it be enough.
It’s been a few days, hasn’t it??
On my old blog I would make excuses for lengthy absences, but I’ve vowed not to do that in this space, because this is life. Life gets busy and you have to pick and choose where you spend your time. I’ve made choices in the past couple of weeks, and I’m grateful for those choices because it’s allowed me to do what I said I wanted to do in the last post – let everything be enough.
And now, it’s Christmas Eve morning.
As I sit here on the couch writing, I’m sipping coffee. The Christmas tree lights are on, as are the other lights in the house. I got these amazing battery operated candles from IKEA. They’re now on the coffee table, because we all love them and they’re fun, and there’s still room for feet :) It was pretty comical when I plugged the batteries in and then couldn’t find the power switch, or figure out why they kept flicking on and off. I finally looked at the instruction manual, which is really a single folded page of pictures, and realized that they turned off and on when you flipped them over. And then I had to show everyone because, hello, can we say intelligent design?!? So, here I sit at just past 7 am by the “candle light” wanting to share some last Christmas thoughts.
These are not my candles. Though, they do look very IKEA-ish…
The past two weeks have been busy. We’ve celebrated the holidays with our missionary family during a Christmas potluck and party. Chris’ parents arrived and we’ve been having a lot of fun with them. Lazy, relaxed fun. We had our last day of work for 2014 and our staff Christmas party. It was a lot of work for me, but totally worth it. That same day was also Olivia’s school Christmas program. She was Mary and got to ride to Bethlehem on a “donkey”, which was really one of the older boys and completely hilarious. There were Christmas carols in English, Creole and French and it made my heart so happy.
Knowing we were heading into a busy week my plans following were not plans at all. In fact they were simply to do not much of anything. To enjoy my family. Nap. Knit. Drink coffee. Those types of things. And I’ve been successful.
Yes, there has been some workish activity here, but it’s more in the “need to do” realm. And, I have this funny quirk where I like the house to be clean and tidy before Christmas. I think it helps me feel peaceful and ready. It’s an anticipation thing. A preparing my heart thing. It’s little things, like getting the laundry all done so that I know I have a couple days without having to think about it. It’s giving the bathroom a quick clean, sweeping and mopping and putting things in their places. And then I can rest and relax well. Yesterday Chris took the kids out to Kan Marie with their bikes so they could ride while he watered, and it gave me enough time to do all the little things I wanted, and then to sit back and enjoy the rest of the day with everyone.
I’ve loved having the head space to enjoy the moments as they come, especially with the kids. They’re at this amazing age where everything is so exciting and I want to bottle it and am keenly aware that this moment in their lives will never come again. The wonder that they have will not be the same next year. I see them growing up and and I just want to freeze these moments. Alex finally gets this whole festive thing, but not completely, so it’s made for some fun comments from him. Like yesterday when he was asking how many more days until Christmas and said, “Two more days until Christmas! Woohoo! And then we’ll open presents and there will be snow!” Or when the kids were looking at the presents under the tree and trying to guess what was in Olivia’s big present from us. When I asked what they thought it was, Olivia said, very enthusiastically, “I know! It’s a puppy!!!” I then had to let them know that it probably wouldn’t be very nice for the puppy to be in a box with no air or food for days… So hilarious and precious and amazing. And, yes, we’ll be doing lessons in geography and weather in the new year.
And today? Today is the day of waiting. The heart kind of waiting. Preparing room for the coming of the King. I feel peaceful and relaxed and a deep sense of anticipation. This Christmas season has been a good time of letting go of things for me. Making decisions to not stress out about things that no one else will know are missing, except me. To let things be enough, because when I look back on the Christmas story my understanding has changed.
In the past I’ve spent so much energy focused on “the best Christmas ever”. And there’s a lot of pressure in that. Except I think back and I wonder how often I’ve gotten it wrong. God didn’t send Jesus in the most perfect way, into the best situation that he could. He sent him into this world in the arms of a young couple who got thrown into this socially unacceptable situation. Mary had to travel, on a donkey, for days only to get to her destination and find out she couldn’t even put her feet up. I think of all the questions she and Joseph must have had. How confusing things must have been. How often they questioned their own sanity, and wondered if they’d heard right when the angel told them how things would play out. And yet they were obedient.
And, when the Son of God decided to make his appearance he did so with human bodily fluids and came into a dirty barn. He was wrapped in rags. The Bible doesn’t say whether anyone came to help Mary deliver. I suspect that maybe there were people around because Joseph was probably freaking out, and culturally women would just step in to help. But, Mary and Joseph would have understood the fullness of holding that little baby, in a way that no one else around them would have.
We got a new book this Christmas simply called The Nativity by Julie Vivas:
The thing that struck me about this book as I read through it with the kids for the first time, aside from the fact that the writing was actually just quoted scripture, was the pictures. There was no typical manger scene with pulled together parents gazing in admiration at this bundle of joy laying on clean hay. Instead there was a picture of an exhausted mother holding her soft stomach while leaning against her husband who has this new baby cuddled to his chest with a look of wonder on his face. A look that I saw in my own husbands eyes when he held our newborn son for the first time. A look that couldn’t possibly have words put to it because it’s as much wonder as disbelief that this thing just happened.
I love thumbing through it because every time I do I keep thinking, “This is more like the story I’ve read. This, I can relate to this.
The manger was messy. It wasn’t pretty and pristine and well polished and wrapped in all the pretty things. It was rough around the edges and raw and full of emotion. It was the very collision of humanity and heaven.
Think about that for a second.
The very collision of humanity and heaven.
When Christmas comes we spend so much time doing all the things and trying to make everything perfect, but God sent his Son into this world in a way that pushed against all that. Yesterday I read a blog post by Glennon Doyle Melton on Momastery that you should really read. Especially right now when there’s more pressure to play your “A” game over the next two days.
It reminded me that it’s okay to be just enough. To do just enough.
Because when we can slow down and be and do just enough we leave room for God to remind us why we need him. We can feel all the things that spring up at this time of year, and leave those in the hands of the One who sent his Son for the very reason of giving us access to Him so he can carry those hurts and burdens and heavy things. We don’t have to be the ones making Christmas special. It already is special, and no amount of Christmas baking and gift wrap and money will change that.
Yes, I’m sitting her looking at our Christmas tree and the gifts wrapped underneath it, but rather than wondering if I’ve done enough this year I’m enjoying the anticipation of the day. Of knowing that this year while we’ll have a turkey in the oven I’m not going to be running around stressed out and making sure everyone has a fabulous Christmas, dangit! Rather than feeling like every minute has to be crammed with something festive, I’m letting go of things and realizing there is so much fun and freedom in that. I don’t have to make sure all the things happen. It’s been so freeing to just be and to enjoy. To not be worried about whether we do that one last Christmas craft or I squeeze in that one last bit of a gift. It’s been nice to sit around and be lazy and snuggle my kids and read and watch movies and knit and play games. And I plan on doing more of that. I do have a date with some turkey brine, but then I have a date with my husband and in-laws and kids to enjoy each other without the pressure of making everything perfect.
This Christmas my wish and hope for you is that you’ll have the freedom to sit in the messiness of life and to be okay with that. God didn’t come to earth to fix the perfect, he came to heal the broken. And my friend, we are ALL broken. No matter how shiny and perfect and pretty the exterior, we’re all cracked and damaged goods inside. Let yourself rest in that, and know that it’s enough. And friend, don’t worry so much about the “to do” list. In fact, change the “to do” list so that it reads things like, listen to the things my kids are saying, look people in the eye, ask for help with the gravy, laugh, put my feet up and read a book for a bit, snuggle someone, stop thinking about Pinterest, and let it all be enough.
Merry Christmas from our broken, cracked pots to yours :)