It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas–
Everywhere you go.
I love traditions.
I love the spiritual significance as well as the cultural significance of “the holidays”.
There are still warm and fuzzy feelings I get when I look back on all the things that remind me of Decembers past.
The smell of Evergreen and cinnamon. The twinkling of lights on holly bushes. The cold air and anticipation of maybe a few flakes of snow falling from the sky. The music. The stockings hung just perfectly over the fireplace. The giving and receiving of gifts handpicked especially for each person at the table. The peppermint ice cream, the egg nog, and hot cocoa. All of these things stir up smiles within my heart.
I had never idolized what holidays with our little family would look like until last year. After all, the girls’ first Christmas, they were a mere 8 months old; still at the point where they were not expected to participate. The next year, however, as almost two year olds, their peers were beginning to engage in the “magic of Christmas”, if you will. Suddenly, the doors of my heart were opened and it felt like someone was pouring salt into an already opened wound. I would see toddlers their age jumping up and down to the music, trying a gingerbread man for the first time, or looking at presents with excitement; and it felt like I was back at square one for a grieving process that seems to never end. There are many sufferings in this life that improve with time, yet the hurts of a parent with children with special needs tends to be a chronic pain that ebbs and flows from tolerable to gut-wrenching. After all, typically developing kids are all around, and when you have a hurt, your flesh and the Enemy of your soul put a magnifying glass on the pain.
Hugh and I are determined that we are going to do everything we possibly can to help the girls experience this life to the fullest. As the four of us decorated the tree the other night, Hugh pulled Ally’s highchair up to the branches, helped her hold an ornament by putting his hand over hers, and carefully assisted her in hanging the ornament. He did this with Bailey Grace as well. Hugh did this over and over again a handful of times, the process not being short. I can’t think of moments that I love him more than when he works diligently at letting our girls experience life. We drank hot chocolate, and the girls were able to smell it. It would have to be thickened to even let them taste, but I put a little on my fingers and had them lick It, which seemed to grace each of them with glee. Times like these are stark reminders that our family traditions are going to look much different than most; and I would be lying if they didn’t tend to bring a lump to my throat every time.
The name Jesus means Savior. Time and time again, both in the Old and New Testament, these words are written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed…” (Luke 4:18)
This is the reason for the season.
We say we know this. Yet, do our lives and our hearts reflect it?
I believe that Jesus loves the fact that we celebrate His birth in BIG ways. I think it pleases Him to see us gathered together and feasting in honor of our Messiah.
But, I have to ask us: do we really understand what we are celebrating?
Do trees in our homes and pies on our plates really celebrate Jesus in a way that shows a watching world why our Savior was born in the first place?
Sharing the Gospel with those who do not know, serving the widow and orphan and homeless- might this be our parameters for “beginning to look a lot like Christmas?”
The unique dynamics of our family have caused the truths of His Word to penetrate my heart like never before, and while my flesh still longs for those typical, culturally-sought-out moments- my soul is satisfied in meditating on the deeper things in light of the story He is writing in our lives; and for that I am thankful.
Today, I want to challenge you to find awe and wonder within the true Christmas story. This Christmas season, might we honor our Lord by being His hands, feet, and heart in a broken world instead of fixating on the passing merriments that seduce our flesh into settling and camping out in the familiar. God wants us to enjoy one another and to enjoy the gifts He has given; yet He desires much, much more for us than that. He has given us the opportunity to participate in the true Christmas story –the one that involves reconciling broken, messy people to a Perfect, Spotless Savior. And- as I look at the current season we are in and I am tempted to think it “just doesn’t feel like Christmas” in light of passing circumstances, might I turn my mind and heart to think quite the opposite- this beginning to look a lot like Christmas makes the most sense in the midst of the times that we see brokenness and ashes most; for it is those places that Jesus was birthed to transform.
All may not be calm.
All may not appear bright.
Yet- all is under the control of His sovereign and loving hand.
It is, in fact, well with my soul.
May it be well with yours, also; today and always.