Well….how are we doing with being simplified and not giving in to the stress of the season?
Actually, I have been extremely busy, but I have not felt stressed as much as usual. Right at this moment the house looks like it has awakened to the season. My mom used to always say that the house came alive for Christmas, and I think she is right. These walls contain so much….laughter and joy alongside the fears and struggles. Still, there is something about twinkling lights and trees brought inside that changes everything.
Last night we had our Christmas program for the church. It is not a play, but a program of various musical acts, poetry reading and a short message from our pastor. We have loads of talent in the congregation and the program is always fun, but this year I have watched the kids song probably 20 times and grin every time. The kids have a blast. Our theme was Joy to the World, and that was surely evident.
Still, as we came home we noted the house next door. The people have spent the last several days moving everything out. No Christmas decorations up and no radios blaring Christmas music. They were evicted three weeks ago and had to be out today. There was a sobriety about their activities and I watched as Sammy played with two of the kids for the last time. The youngest had been his best buddy for the last three years. I have no idea what will happen with them. We’ve offered what help we could think of…a job possibility…but that was not engaged. So, they’ll move on to the next stage and I’m sure will come to mind over the years as we wonder what happened to them.
I can’t help but thinking that the kids will always remember this Christmas as the one they had to leave their home. They have family, and I know they have a place to go. Praying that they are able to recover.
We also had lunch on Saturday with a woman we “adopted” through a friends’ ministry. She is married, but her husband is not very involved. She is 23 and has 6 kids under the age of 6. It would be easy for me to pass her off and judge her. It’s a lot harder to do that after sitting and having a meal with her at McDonalds. She has a name and face to me now and I know her story better, and I know she is trying. We brought our kids and I was so proud of my little men. Zachary was quick to open doors and to jump up and pick up dropped toys for her children. When there was an issue on the playset he took care of it without being prompted, so Steve and I could stay and talk with the woman. Nate put her at ease immediately with his quick conversation and easy laugh. Sammy observed more than anything, but played with the kids.
So, Christmas here is a mix. An awareness of struggle around us and yet joy in our midst and laughter and delight. Praying that God meets us each in our specific situation. Praying that He envelopes us in joy that is deeper than immediate gratification of purchases, that He meets us in the moments of silence and reminds us of the amazing fact of the Incarnation. Praying for those who are struggling that He brings those who are able to help and prompts us to act. Praying for great moments of grace and for miracles to abound. Praying for our faith to be enlivened as we sit in the glow of houses decorated and spirits filled with good cheer.
Praying that we don’t miss the moments in the midst of the busyness. That we are able to listen well even in all the chatter…..and to be amazed a little more than usual.