Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Christmas tree is up . . .

Thursday is December 1. Christmas lights and trees went up early this year for some. I really contemplated whether or not to put up a tree at all this year. There were several reasons not to, I live alone and am rarely home long enough to do more than a quick wardrobe change just to fly out the door again, my ceilings upstairs are slanted so finding a place to set up the tree would require some clever maneuvering, I associate a decorated house for the holidays filled with people--lots of people, mine rarely has anyone in it, I walked away from my move with very little decorations to adequately decorate a full tree, it's A LOT of work, and honestly, to get to the core of it, Christmas just isn't what it use to be.

Thanksgiving encompasses all of that childhood excitement and magic for me now as an adult. The joy of reuniting with distant family, the thrill of meeting new folks who end up around our table because there is no place for them to go, the laughter, the memories shared, the memories created, the time to stop and reflect on all the blessings we've been given, a time to enjoy the family crazies and take pride in the fact that they are mine. Thanksgiving sparks this excitement in me, nothing is lacking, perhaps time is short, but not much else.

Christmas feels completely different. Part of my Christmas season is taking time to mourn all that's been lost. Some days I don't want to look at a Christmas tree, I don't want to hear the jolly voices singing Christmas carols, I don't want to be in the hustle and bustle of the shopping crowd. Some days I just want to shed some tears and to be alone. And I think that's OK. Because I am learning, for me, it is in the mourning, in the remembering of what was that I gain a more genuine understanding of Christmas. It is this time of year, where I realize how broken life can be, and how badly I needed this baby, this Savior to come and save my life. It's in the loss; that I understand the great hope found in the birth of Jesus Christ.

So even, though I protested, there is a Christmas tree up in my home. The decorating process might take some time, I am not buying ornaments but making them this year, nevertheless, the tree is up. I know as I enter this season with a heavy heart, as I process what was, and reminisce on the memories, He will be showing me that He's been working, He's been healing and mending, and He's been making the brokenness into a beautiful master piece that declares His love and glory. The past will never be my present again, and even though that still stirs some sadness in my heart, there is a peace and a joy that overcomes it because He works all things for good to those who love and trust Him.

For tonight, I look forward to unplugging, going home, sitting in the dark with my 1/2 lit Christmas tree, remembering my childhood Christmas', the Christmas' of the past few years, shedding some tears, and praising Him for all the good He has brought out of what was, and all the good that will come from where He is leading.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

As we head into the holiday season, it's easy (for me anyway) to get lost in the hustle and bustle. Planning all the travels and the logistics of when and where can easily become the focus. With that in mind, I have intentionally carved out some time to remember this past year . . . to remember God's faithfulness, the blessings, the laughter, the tears, the heartache, the growth--and to be thankful for it all.

I am thankful for the opportunities that have stretched my faith, that have brought me to my knees and that have broken me. I am thankful for the people in my life, the ones who listen, offer wisdom, the ones to laugh with, and cry with. The ones to hug tightly and kiss good night. I am thankful for the chance to love those who have forgotten what love feels like, for the chance to fill an empty belly, and for the chance to point people to the hope found in Jesus Christ. I am thankful for life, an abundant life. I am thankful for lonely nights that have deepened my relationship with the one who never leaves my side. I am thankful for a great job, insurance test, a home on the lake, a dependable car, a church that doesn't pretend to be perfect, and a family whose humor and sarcasm cannot be matched (it is how we roll!) I am thankful for friends who can cook a mean spaghetti dinner and invite me over to break bread. I am thankful for impromptu cards of appreciation, cups of coffee, photo booth fun in the middle of a busy store and you tube videos posted on FB.

The list is endless.

Sunday's message inspired the picture below. I am grateful for a year that started in the midst of uncertainty, filled with anxiety and covered in fear that has become a beautiful place of overwhelming peace, unspeakable joy and an unshakeable faith.
My year in a very small nutshell: