December is here. Most of it hasn’t looked quite this white and peaceful, but I loved this moment. I returned from my morning walk and couldn’t help but walk through a yard of new snow. I stopped and listening to that unique quiet that only a snow-covered meadow brings and heard the Holy Spirit speak to me, on the first day of that crazy week between Thanksgiving and Christmas concert when my to-dos are a mile long, “Be still and know that I am God.”
Peace on earth. If that is the message of the angel, perhaps it should be a theme of our rejoicing?
And so we decked our home (rather quickly, without too much creativity, which was just what we needed this year!), made gifts and cards, and prepared for the season’s kick off, the CFA concert.
We got our tree and decorated it, and after kids were in bed Ryan said, “That was kind of easy,” and we realized together that (for better or for worse) the days of us being outnumbered by very small excited children are over, and we’ve moved into a season of more order. Slightly more order. Still enough craziness to know there are five kids decorating a tree.
I took this picture last Sunday, as boys watched football and the girls colored and I tidied the kitchen before starting a new mess for dinner prep. It doesn’t have anything to do with Christmas or December, per se, but it was a moment that I felt so thankful. Blessed to have a home, a husband who loves our home and who loves us, children who are happy to be together, regular old life that is lived together.
But most of this week has looked like Mom with a tummy bug, then Mom with a head cold. The school basics got covered, and plenty of super easy meals and fending for themselves. Normal life, made a bit more special because there is the sense of Christmas all around us. Challenging for me, because I had such high expectations for what we would get done on this last week of regular school, how many gifts I would wrap and get organized, and all of the other things this Type A always has running through her head. Ironically (or not, because the Holy Spirit knows what we need), William’s prayer during devotions on Monday morning was about how even when the day isn’t what we plan or expect, we can just live for the Lord and “move the ball down the field.” (I love that he speaks football to God.) As my stomach churned and warned me that I was being taken down by a weird bug, I knew that prayer was for me.
Because Joy to the World was another message of the angels, and it should be another theme of this season. Joy isn’t something we find in ourselves, when we are satisfied by our own goodness and kindness (which is what so many spend this season trying to do.) Joy is a gift from God, through the salvation offered by His Son, that goes deeper than our circumstances or our own goodness. Joy is knowing that God so loved me that He gave His only Son, and in humbly receiving the news of my own brokenness and HIS sufficiency, I also receive unending Joy and Peace.
Peace isn’t thinking happy thoughts toward strangers. Joy isn’t pushing aside negative thoughts about your husband and kids and hoping positive thinking (and enough holiday cocktails) will somehow get you through these weeks of “happy.”
Peace and Joy can be real and lasting and transforming. Peace and Joy are in knowing Jesus, the God-Man who came to dwell with us and know us and redeem us, whose birth we celebrate with awe and thanksgiving.
May He come and bring His peace and joy to you this season.