Frantic might be the word of the season, if we let it. I can't say how many emails I've been receiving with taglines of Don't miss out! or Get your early black Friday access now! Even as I've made an effort the last few years to approach the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons with a bit more calm, better planning, and less stuff (physical items and events on our calendar), each year, I find myself needing to be cognizant of it again.
It is a joyful season, mostly. It's also an emotional one, that can bring overwhelm and myriad of other emotions from sadness and nostalgia, to hurt and hope. And I think I'm going to just see it for what it is, just that. A weighty season. And with that, I want to pray for my heart to be continually softened, and avoid the hardness that can so easily follow a full schedule and accumulation of things we don't need.
I looked back and read some posts from previous years at this time. This is an excerpt from a post I wrote in 2017, when we were weary from waiting for Nicholas to find a job up north, anxious to start our family, and homesick:
There are inherently busy things about December, yes. And I'm not entirely avoiding them or excluding myself from them. But there is a difference in my December this year. There is an acknowledgement of hurt and unrest and sadness that comes from being far from family and in a season of waiting. But peeking out, or rather blazing through is the hope I feel, the thankfulness for the reminder of the beginning of Jesus' life earthside, and ultimate gift of His life in exchange for ours.
Today might have been busy, with errands around town, one last post office drop, and fixing the windshield on the car, but there is beauty in those things. And there can be remembrance in stopping by the library and buying coffee and peppermint extract at the grocery store. We should take moments to stop and praise, but on the days when we can't pause life to stop and worship, sometimes the worship happens as we move through the entirely ordinary. And so the tearful moments in the midst of just regular life? Those are okay. I don't want to look back on my life and see that I choose to be in awe and I take the time to worship only when I had time. No, I want to look back and see that the awe and the worship for my Creator were there, right alongside the everyday, the no makeup days, the tired days, the homesick days, the weary days, the joyful days. And above all, I want to recognize that an undercurrent of joy is what sustains me, through the busy Christmas season, and all the other seasons, too.
And gosh, it is a little heart-wrenching to read the same heart lessons I need to hear now, even after moving, and having a baby. God is still working on my heart, softening it, refining it, and despite the notion that I will be a better person once I get what I want, that's not how it works. There are so many new joys in our life now, but on the other side of a long waiting season, I can see that receiving long-awaited things doesn't perfect my heart. Even on this side, I cannot expect to find fulfillment in the circumstances of my life. They bring me joy (oh, they do!) but not absolute contentment, that is a task for Jesus alone. I still pray for eyes to see this world around me with awe and wonder for the One who made it all. As we tread into this jam packed season, I think of these verses in 2 Thessalonians 1: 11-12
So we keep praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of His call. May He give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with Him. This is all possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.
I want to honor the name of Jesus because of how I live--how I approach gift-giving and celebrations and schedules--knowing I can only honor Him with my actions because of the grace He's already extended to me (and all His children who trust Him)! That, along with eyes wide open, expecting to be in awe and to have joy for this wonderful, weighty season.
Along with that, here are some little bits of life in the here and now:
- Sunday afternoons with brunch food, puzzles, the Bears game, playing with Cooper in the bouncer
- Nature stamping the sidewalk
- Making my own wreath (or rather, buying an inexpensive, plain one and embellishing it with sale items from Hobby Lobby. The whole thing only cost me $11)
- Making veggie curry for my lunches at home
- Scrambling eggs with grass-fed butter and mushrooms
- Drinking candy cane coffee at my in-laws
- Diving headfirst into Scandinavian food. In the last two weeks, I've made Swedish coffee cake, Swedish meatballs, and Swedish meat pies (all so yummy, and all from Scandinavian Gatherings, a truly magical book)
- Walks on warmer days
- A trip to the pediatrician and to Costco
- Playing the fireplace feature on Netflix
- Decorating for Christmas a little early
- Noticing pink skies and pretty clouds (my favorite)
- Dressing Cooper in his little pumpkin outfit once more (before he outgrows it!)
- Cooper snuggling with daddy, mama, and Aunt Katelyn
- A lot of Christmas knitting (and good progress too!)
- Listening to Frank Sinatra and Michael Bublé Christmas music, and Vanessa Carlton's Liberman (I always want to listen to this album in November/December)
- A little boy who wants to put everything in his mouth (books, mama's hair, his feet, just to mention a few :)
- Glimpsing the Christmas tree in the mirror at the end of the day
- Fog in the trees this morning
Here are a few other posts from years previous where I write about this time of year, and my attempts to choose a different way to see and experience it: