When Christmas Isn’t Merry

When Christmas Isn’t Merry

Right now someone is buying a sparkly ring and practicing dropping to one knee. Someone is getting in the car to head to the hospital to welcome a tiny newborn to the world. Someone is arriving home from college glad to be in the safe embrace of home with a home-cooked meal at last. Someone just got news that her loved one is in remission. Someone just got a job.

And at the same time someone is facing her first Christmas as a single mom. And someone is devastated because there isn’t a new stocking on the mantel this year just like last year and the year before that. Someone heads home from college to fighting and a tense home. Someone just heard there’s nothing more the doctors can do. Someone is facing her first Christmas without a parent. Someone just found out she’s been downsized and doesn’t know how she will pay the mortgage next month. Someone is stuck at home with sick littles or desperate for a good night’s sleep. Someone is worried and afraid. Someone feels lonely and forgotten.

We feel like if Christmas isn’t merry and bright, all smiles and good cheer, then we’ve somehow messed up and missed out. But we haven’t. My favorite Christmas song is O Holy Night.

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn’
Fall on your knees, O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine, O night when Christ was born
O night divine, O night, O night divine

There we are in all our brokenness pining for the Only One who can make us whole. But when He appears the soul feels its worth. At last. The thrill of Hope. Our weary heart rejoices.

The world tells us that our Christmas has to be merry and bright. But God whispers the truth. Fall on your knees, sweet child. I’ve got you. I know you’re broken and weary. I know your burdens. And I am shattering your darkness with the Light that brings Hope. I know you’re in the pitch-black of night right now, but I’m going to show you Divine.

God didn’t wait until morning. He didn’t wait until our circumstances were better or we had our act together because He knew that would never happen this side of Heaven. Instead, He comes to us in our weakest moment and brings the Light.

You don’t have to pretend your Christmas is merry if it isn’t. All you have to do is fall on your knees and hear the angels’ voices, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Fear not, weary one, your Savior has come.

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When Christmas Comes

When Christmas Comes

I am a little tired. I’m sure you can relate. This time of year just seems to do it to us. I can’t complain because my Peach is sleeping like a champ. But there’s usually an early morning feed and then she goes back down to snooze until mid morning. My older two, on the other hand, are part rooster and don’t like to miss a sunrise. Whatever your reasons, I’m guessing a nap sounds pretty great to most of the mommas out there right now.

I’m thinking Mary could have gone for a nap too. There she was feeling like a cross between an elephant and a jumbo marshmallow when she finds out she has to take a long trip…via donkey. I can tell you what my reaction would have been to that news, and let’s just say Joseph might have wanted to be well out of arm’s reach for that.

The truth is Christmas didn’t come to a mom who was watching Netflix and eating snickerdoodles. Christmas came to a weary momma who felt insignificant, ill-equipped, and unpopular. And Christmas is still coming to weary mommas. Mommas who feel like they’ve lost their voice in a child’s life. Mommas who don’t have all the answers. Mommas who don’t have the popular gift to give their kids or maybe any gifts at all. Mommas who feel like failures and mommas who are utterly exhausted.

Christmas comes in the middle of all our frenetic activity. The hope of Emmanuel pierced the night sky in all the craziness of a census, in all the hustle of sold out inns, and all the bustle of crowded streets.

But Mary, weary as she may have been, knew where to turn her heart. It wasn’t to a to-do list or a pity party. She looked around her at the manger and the hay and the smelly animals, at the shepherds and Joseph and the beaming star. Then she gazed down at her son–the Son–and she treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Christmas comes to us in our weariness, our craziness, our hustle and bustle and invites us to sit and stare at the wonder of Christ.

Weary, Warriors & Tribe

Weary, Warriors & Tribe

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetSunlight threaded its way through the wood blinds drawing lines across the kitchen table. The mug, recently filled with hot water from the whistling kettle, held an Earl Gray tea bag with its tag wound around its handle. On it were the words, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Perfect words for a morning where I felt so weary, not the kind of weary that needs a long nap, although I wouldn’t have turned that down, but the kind of weary that burrows deep into your marrow. Weary from the fight. Weary from begging God for justice for the fatherless and homes for orphan children. Weary from fighting with the enemy while he hurls darts at my girl stealing her dreams and replacing them with nightmares. Weary from fighting myself and the voices that love to scream in my ear, “You failed again. You might as well give up.” Weary.

Tuesday afternoon, I got an email from our adoption coordinator telling us the news we’ve been begging to hear. Ethiopia is not shutting down international adoption. I saw the email and the levee split wide open. Surely this fight is far from finished, but this round was over. The adrenaline that had kept me going suddenly crashed, and I was emotionally exhausted. My friend who has walked this international adoption journey reminded me the fight doesn’t end when my child comes home. Her words are truth. Parenting is a fight, and and it’s a hard fight. My best friend Liz and I were talking and crying together this morning, angry at the enemy for his attacks on our children and how they hurt even worse than his attacks on us, infinitely worse. Every parent knows this fight. From the moment you first see your child, you’re fighting. Fighting fear, fighting sleeplessness, fighting sin and all its ugliness, fighting messages from a broken culture, fighting a very real enemy who has absolutely no mercy. I have dear friends who are fighting fights I can’t even fathom, fighting for medical answers and diagnoses, fighting for health and a “normal” life.

But this is the reminder I’m clinging to… we don’t fight alone. Exodus 14:14 invigorates my weary soul, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Silent, that’s another topic for another day, a word I’m learning to love, as painful as that learning may be. But the Lord will fight for me. I don’t fight alone. And when the weariness creeps into my bones, I can rest in Him and in His Word. I can also lean on the people He’s given me, my home team, my tribe. The old African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” is feeling more and more true these days. Glennon Doyle Melton said, “People who need help sometimes look a lot like people who don’t need help.” We moms are especially good at this. But this mom is weakly uttering a confession: I need help.

A while ago, I wrote a note in my journal, “Find a tribe for each of my girls.” During one of my runs back in the fall, I listened to a podcast where a mom and ministry leader shared how she sought out a tribe for each of her kids, a small band of adults who would pray for, write to and speak into each of her children. Last week, I saw that note in my journal, and I knew it was time to get started.

I don’t know exactly what it will look like, but I am fervently praying for a tribe of adults who will join Matt and me in our prayers for our girls. I will ask them to commit to pray for each of my girls every week. I will ask them to write a letter each year for their birthdays in which they speak into them life and truth, shining a light on the particular gifts God has given them. And when we celebrate their entering the teenage years, I will ask this tribe to speak into them words they will hopefully carry with them for the rest of their lives, words that will give them courage and set a fire ablaze in their souls.

As parents, we are in a fight, a brutal fight. Not with our kids, but for our kids. The enemy is throwing his punches. This week he’s bloodied my brow and bruised my cheek, but I won’t quit fighting. There will be knock-outs and there will be victories. There will be blows that feel close to lethal, and there will be moments I shout in victory. And just outside the ring, the faces of my tribe urge me onward. The ones who take a towel to my busted lip and pick me back up. The ones who tell me, “Keep fighting. Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”

The fight is vicious, but the Sword is strong. The warrior may be weary, but she’s linked arm in arm. Onward, dear friend, onward we go…