Broken at Christmas

Why oh why must Christmas bring out the broken places in our lives?

Are you lonely? Christmas will remind you of that. Over and over again. Ugh.

Is their strife in your family? Rockwell certainly didn’t paint a portrait of that for a Christmas card.

Are you in debt? Um… yeah, Christmas will illuminate that one like a beacon in the night.

Do you have a habitual sin that plagues you when stress comes? Smoking, eating, drinking, not eating, exercising too much, shopping, etc. AA and Alanon rooms are packed during the holidays and I’m sure other programs are as well. Something about the expectation of the season seems to bring out the worst in each of us.

Is your family broken? Christmas has a way of declaring to the world that your family is not together. That you are somehow marked as different since you don’t have the “complete” family that others have at Christmas Eve services, Christmas Day, etc.

You never really know what others are dealing with or going through. The outside often masks the true story.

But… Christmas can also bring healing to the brokenness and joy in the midst of it all.

This Christmas was strategically different. After hearing about the Christmas Adorenaments® on KSBJ, I purchased them online. Each one of us took turns (including our dog, lol) hanging an ornament on the tree which featured 7 names of Christ from the book of Luke. We read from the book that came with it describing that particular name. It was a great way to keep our minds focused on the real meaning of Christmas during the month of December.

We also participated in our church‘s Advent Conspiracy again this year. After discussing it, the decision was made to “save” one girl in India which would be $381 through a ministry called As Our Own. The kids didn’t think we could do it but I encouraged them to ask God for the money. So they did. Sure enough… we had ABUNDANTLY more than what we had asked God to provide. Not only could we save one girl, but we could bless two other families as well. Talk about a life lesson in faith! And what a joy to be able to bless others just as we have been blessed. :)

And… we also celebrated Christmas morning all together. Meaning, their dad joined us as we opened gifts, ate breakfast at Denny’s, and went to a movie. There was something so right about it… but also so sad. I’m thankful that we can do that for our kids. They were obviously happy with our morning together and I have to say I was as well. To those in Denny’s and at the movies, we were just another family out enjoying Christmas. It was nice to feel “normal”.

So, although Christmas CAN be a time that highlights our brokenness, it can also be a time of miracles, joy, and celebration – but it’s a choice. It all starts with simply asking. Humbly asking God to change our hearts. To heal our broken places.

A Simple Gift

There’s something beautiful about giving.

Growing up I knew what it meant to both give and receive. My dad was the volunteer music director at our church. I loved seeing him up there directing… until he would call me out for chewing gum in service. That was a big no-no then. Fortunately it’s not now :) (unless I’m with my dad)

Anyway, I remember that the church gave our family a “pounding”. If you’re not familiar, it’s when people give you food to stock a pantry. And the thing is… we really needed it. I don’t remember how old I was but I remember how I felt as I watched person after person give my family food. I also remember the choir giving my parents a beautiful ceramic manger scene at Christmas one year. My mom still has it and it’s just as beautiful as it was the Christmas we brought it home. A beautiful reminder of the love our church family had for our family. A sacrifice others made to give us something so beautiful.

Vivid memories of my dad giving are carved in my memory as well. We were not wealthy and I knew it. But that never stopped my dad from giving to others. All the time. He’s still that way. His mom, my Nanny, was that way. I loved them both for that. Respected them. My prayer when I was younger was that God would give me that same heart. A heart that would give even in my need. Because it’s beautiful to see it and there’s nothing on the planet as great as that feeling when you give out of your need. Nothing.

Today I watched as my oldest gave some home-made cookies she’d made (snickerdoodles… what else?) to the crossing guard at her school. I could tell he was surprised. It moved me to tears. It also moved me to pray. I prayed that God would let him know that his job makes a difference and that he’s noticed. I prayed he would know Jesus this Christmas if he doesn’t already. I prayed my daughter and my other two children would always have giving hearts. Hearts that would give out of the joy of knowing all that they have came from Jesus… so they might as well share.

Yes, there’s something about giving and even writing about it gets me all choked up.

Blessings and Merry Christmas! May you know the JOY of giving this Christmas… even if you don’t have much to give. (Because actually, you really DO have something to give – yourself.)

When the World is Silent

When unbelievably tragic, horrific events happen I go inside. Not physically, but mentally. My mind starts churning at a rate that is not even slowed by sleep. Evil events such as those that transpired last Friday in Connecticut. Evil so intense that the world is silent, even if for a second, because of the pain. The shock.

As a mom, of course your heart is broken for another mom. For her sorrow and her pain. For all the things she’ll be grieving … because you’re a mom and you know. You may not know the extent of the pain, but you know it would break you. Crush you, even, if not for hope. If not for Jesus.

I’m reminded of another Mom. One that was without a Mom by her side in the dark on the ground having a baby. A baby that evil was trying to prevent from even being born because evil wanted to win. A mom that knew the joy of seeing her baby for the first time but knowing he would die.

I recently heard, “Labor of Love” by Andrew Peterson. The lyrics are as follows:

It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David’s town
And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother’s hand to hold
It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
Noble Joseph at her side
Callused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
In the streets of David’s town
In the middle of the night
So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move
It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love
And then evil attempted, once again, to kill the only One that could destroy it. Jesus hanging on a cross must have seemed like such a victory for evil… except God had a different plan. He took what was meant for evil and destruction and turned it around to actually save the world. To defeat evil so the end of the story everything would be made right.
So even though it may appear to our human eyes that evil won in Connecticut it didn’t. It can’t. That victory has already been established. Victory over death.