Thrill of Hope
Our Christmas Tree this year is a funny sight. The top half is decorated, but the bottom half is pretty chaotic. This is what is to be expected with three kids under the age of 5. My husband warned me, but I was desperate for us to have a typical tree this year. The gold and red and beads that were gently laid on the branches around Thanksgiving are pulled tight or entirely off. There are ornaments on the tree that have some meaning but are not breakable. This was also part of my husband's wisdom since I was determined to have a more normal Christmas this year. We also have handmade ornaments made by the kids. Ignore the bite marks on the star cinnamon ornament in the middle if you come over. I also started the advent season off by hanging these beautiful advent cards on the tree by Ruth Chou Simons to fill the tree up. As you can see that didn't happen either. It's been one of those years. A perfectly imperfect tree! It's filled with intentionality and a hint of reality that this year has been messy.
Waiting on the Lord can be challenging. It can be messy. The wonderful part about God's character is that we are never doing it alone. He has a perfect plan in place. Where I have my Hallmark-Christmas-Season marked out with expectation, He meets me in the disappointment and grief. It's okay to feel the tension of both of those.
Expectations can leave us feeling weary and discontent, but expectancy is anticipation mingled with joy." - Ruth Chou Simons
As we enter a new year, let us not forget that in the mess, God sees a picture that we don't. What are you expecting in this new year? If it's focusing on fear, anxiety, loss, you will find a company of people in the world today. Can I share something with you, though? That will get you nowhere to focus on that. Intentional planning can be helpful, but worrying about things you cannot control will not. We know this, but it can be hard to focus elsewhere when the problems seem so big.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4: 4-7
What can you be thankful for this year? I am grateful I have littles to decorate my tree for another year. I am grateful for the handmade ornaments adorning it. I am thankful for the family pictures hanging on my wall. I am thankful for a husband who helps me see how I tend to view things from rose-colored glasses.
Instead of focusing on what we are worried about or anxious about, let us fix our eyes on someone even better! Jesus. So if your Christmas isn't going exactly as planned, or you are dreading the new year, living in fear, grieving this season know that God is with you. Emmanuel...God With Us. Give it over to Him in prayer and journaling, and let's be expectant that God is for us and with us in this upcoming year.
O Holy Night
Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love, and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name, all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine