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"How was this Christmas?"…wrapped in Grace upon Grace


Its the end of Holiday season…blurring busy holiday season…and now my friends and I are calling and recapping how our season was….The question comes, "So how was this Christmas?"
Its rather of a daunting question to ask…my heart feels full and my mind doesn't know where to begin…
So like a feeble attempt at a List of Gifts from this Season I will list them….

December 1st found us at church with our middle girl singing, "The God of Angel Armies is always by my side" perched on a stool beside her daddy strumming the guitar…She ends the song firmly holding the microphone asking the question, "Whom Shall I fear?  I know Who goes before me, who stands behind." That beautiful moment was slightly colored by the fact that we were announcing to our church family that we would be leaving at the close of December.  Tears and hugs and well wishes flowed this month.


December 2nd we received a box all the way from Afghanistan…our first package to open…from Chica's fiancé.  He sent us a package filled to the brim with items.  We were all decked out in cashmere shawls…Love from thousands of miles away…and unexpected too…
That would be a theme for this Christmas….


 December 8th we were blessed to give….our women's Bible study group culminated in the "Celebration of Giving" as we lightened up our closets, waists (or tried too), attics, and basements…we thought…"Why not just give it all away at a Christmas party for the community?"  And we took the idea to our church and we basically had a Rescue Mission in the gym of our church.  It was unbelievable the amount of items that were collected…nice things.  Twenty minutes before doors were open there was a line.  122 cupcakes given out and different conversations started.  I found one young mother of three in the parking lot struggling to get 3 toddlers in the car.  "Thank you for coming, " I said.  "Oh thank you all.  This will be the children's Christmas presents." She smiled back at me.  
I smiled…it was all worth it.  You see most of the people who came were life weathered truly thankful. One woman tears forming over a used brown winter coat and a printer to print her resumes on…

Celebration of Giving

I was humbled at the commitment of several women in our church to sort through the clothes, buy the food out of their pockets and make it, and spend countless hours working through that exhausting week (I think it took me two weeks to recover…28 i'm feeling you)

Let me interject here that this was a very important event to me.  Christmas this year  was going to be "lean" in earthly terms for us.  It is usually difficult, but this year instead of fighting it and trying to make it work….I had decided to relax and let ourselves be the gift and to fully try to see Jesus as our Christmas….The Christmas give-away was important to me….because while i couldn't give to people I know and love in the way I would've liked to or had in the past…we were being the gift to someone who really needed it…that we did not know

One huge Christmas gift that set the upward trajectory for the whole season was as alway, a book.  The Greatest Gift. Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. -by Ann Voskamp.  As usual, my best reads are always passed to me lovingly by my dear friend and reading buddy Jenna. This compelling book filled with Advent readings literally transformed the way I was thinking of Christmas….
I strongly encourage the reading of this book at Christmas…
"I don't want a Christmas you can buy.  I don't want a Christmas you can make.  What I want is a Christmas you can hold.  A Christmas that holds me.  Redeems me, revives me. I want a Christmas that whispers, Jesus."  That truly is the theme of this book and the words soaked down into me…I hope that  they grew there, and always will.

I remember early on after the give-a-way when I thought to myself that it would be a small Christmas in  American first world standards, it would be a different one, "Is Jesus enough for Christmas?" I smiled and knew we would find out…

Its funny how when you surrender to something and stop fighting it…how God suddenly starts filling your life sometimes with the things that you let go of…

I surrendered the idea of my usual Christmas…mailing packages, ordering those glossy photo Christmas cards, making Christmas candy, lots of Christmas baking/cooking, picking out packages for all of our loved ones, filling my husbands stocking…buying smiles….which was hard because I love all of this and I don't decry any of it…its wonderful…but when I knew I couldn't…that I hadn't the means to offer it this year…
That week…
A lady at church handed me a cardboard box full of 34 Golden Books (old and well taken care of)…I almost cried..I always buy my kids book…I remember sitting on the floor thumbing through them all and telling the girls, "This is Christmas!"



Sweet Jenna sends us a package…every year its always been a package of one or two Christmas books  (She's done this from infancy with my girls)  This year it was filled with five Christmas books…We treasured and read all spread out on the floor…

Jenna's Christmas books

My sweet friend Kristen showed up at my house lugging a massive black trash bag full of clothes.  She told me that she felt like giving them to me.  I smiled and thanked her.  Thats how i usually get clothes, I get the love of other people.  I had already went through and just cleaned all of the closets out.. and when I opened the bag I pulled out pair after pair of Express jeans and clothes I could've never bought and were in excellent condition…coats and shirts and pants….and the grin on my face couldn't be wiped off.  I smiled as she said, "I want you to have them." And I knew for some reason I was being blessed with a material gift by one of my dearest friends I could give nothing too in return.


As good as new clothes from Kristen

Our car has been acting up and needed some repairs, our sweet friends did it all themselves and we could barely thank them this holiday season.  They just took care of us and literally gave us a gift we couldn't repay…

Our ninety two year old neighbor took his slow methodical steps walked across the lawn with envelopes for our girls for Christmas.  This was money for me to spend on them this Christmas…and the thing I decided upon giving, that I wanted to…was exactly that cost with 2 dollars to spare.

Our Christmas tree was even a freebie… our girls have been playing with a little cedar shrub growing up inches from our neighbors' driveway…this summer they were promised that they could decorate it…but in December they told us to cut it down…our girls suited up to 'brave the elements' that icy day and walked one yard over to "chop down" the little tree…



We were blessed over an over by other people we couldn't give too…parents, family, extended family, friends, bros and sisters in Christ…and it just made me know what grace means even more…Grace from God, that we can't repay and have nothing to offer in return except ourselves and a heart that stands in wonder and loves back…thats it.  

And the season got better and better with
a first lost tooth and all the excitement that brought…
a baby firsts steps and now is walking everywhere ….
a little girl that had faith in Christ and now tells me she has 'Peace"…who prayed with her daddy and who I found next to the bed one December morning, pajamas still on singing a song she "made up" ….and the only words are  "Theres room in my heart for you Jesus"….
And she's continued to sing it…over and over…perhaps she'll add another refrain? :)

The season ended with saying good bye to friends at our church as we are now moving on to a new chapter, a fresh year, and new people to love and serve.  The final Sunday in December we went for the last time and were hugged, loved, fed, and given to even more.

You know sometimes it is hard to always be the recipient and not the giver.  You want to give something, but there isn't any to give….except…You.
"This is the chronology of grace.  The chronology of Christmas before we are called to give we are called to receive. This can be the hardest.  We struggle to receive. Sometimes we are better givers than getters.  Grace? For me?" This quote from The Greatest Gift… really rings true…sometimes being empty handed worldly speaking makes me realize how empty handed I am Heavenly speaking…and that is good for my soul to really know...

The three things I will take with me this year from Christmas are….
You must give what you are supposed to, even if it is you…your love, your service, your hugs, your time, your prayers, your lovingly prepared food, a bag of groceries, or your money…what God has laid on your heart to give…No gift is negated because of its size…its the cheerful giver who gives what she can…little as it may be and sees God multiply it…

God at Christmas symbolizes the greatest gift is the gift of relationship…God didn't buy us Christmas, send us a cure for our world's problems as He sat above the circle of the world below…
He came to experience it all…to be suckled, to be fed, to be bathed, to be hurt, to learn, to work, to be fully Human and to experience life as we do, so that we might experience Heaven as He does.  He didn't send money, neatly wrapped packages with favorite items…He sent the gift of living, breathing man in flesh filled with the Divinity of God.  We could touch Him.  He was with us. God always places preeminence on relationship.  Ours with Him.

Lastly, I took this away from Christmas…Our God loves Us.  He really does. So simple, but easy for us to miss. I say that and feel my heart smile, i lean my head against frosted panes and feel Winter sun warm my face and my heart is warmed too…those icebergs of doubts…they melt.  God has unequivocally, abundantly forever proven His love for Us…again and again.  Thats why we Love Him.  Because He is Love.

walking

The day after New Years..people going back to work, time marching on into fresh, unwritten year….Little Girl comes to me as I fold laundry…"Mommy, is Jesus coming back today?"
"I don't know", I smile, "Are you ready?"….
"Yes. I'm ready." She nods her head, certainty in blue eyes.
You know what Madelyn….He came all Christmas long…

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Romans 8:32 

"Im ready" 




Comments

  1. Wow. What an incredible Christmas season! These are the things that are important to look back on throughout the year! Praying for you and your family during this transition time :)

    ReplyDelete

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