Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

Today is Christmas Eve, one of my favorite days of the year.

Maybe it’s the anticipation. I’ve always been one that finds the build up to the thing is almost as exciting as the actual event. Maybe it’s also been that I’ve always been kind of a low-key kind of a person, and Christmas Eve is the quieter part of Christmas time.

Silent night by candlelight.

Christmas Eve has always felt more holy, somehow, than the day when all the wrapping paper comes flying off.

More unassuming.

More hopeful.

We’re still battling illness, though I think we’re nearing the end of it. The night before last, Greystoke slept more peacefully on top of me than usual. I remember thinking that he felt awfully warm, but it was an awfully warm night, we’ve had a lot of those lately.

But by the time we woke up, I became suspicious. An under arm temperature reading confirmed it: 100.9.

The most stressful time to be a working mom, especially a working mom without any sick leave, is cold and flu season. It’s even harder now that I have 3 kids for the thing to cycle through. It worked out nicely that The Dude had his fevers at the end of last week, but of course that set up Greystoke to get sick on a work day.

We’re very fortunate to have grandparents who step up to the plate, shuffle the kids around, and take care of them so that I could go to work. If we didn’t have them, I highly doubt I’d be able to work at all. We’d be eating some serious government cheese.

Or JT would be working 100 days a week.

He actually just finished up 11 days in a row as it is.

Merry Christmas.

But anyway, we all survived it somehow, though Greystoke woke me up in a panic last night with the sound of the croup, and that is a scary sound coming out of your baby.

. And now we’re here. And, I can’t believe it, but I finally feel ready.

I remember distinctly that last year it hit me as we walked down Verbenia street. You wouldn’t think the commercialism of gaudily lit up houses would bring Christ closer to the center of my heart, but you know what? It did.

Probably it was the manger scenes. Three of them in fact. God can even speak through a blow up baby Jesus. That is how awesome our God is.

God is in beauty. I’ve always found him in the outdoors. I’ve always found him in the wild, and last year I found him in a jungle of Christmas lights.

This year it was different.

I’ve been stressed. Like, really really stressed. By the mountain of laundry that overflows out of the unused baby crib every 3 days, and the food and dirt all over the floor, and all of the pieces of our home that are falling apart, and the whiney 3 year old who always wants to be held,

and the little 7 month old who crumbles when I walk out of his sight to use the bathroom, or try to set him in his bed 5 minutes at night so that I can lay in a less awkward position, and the 6 year old who has recently decided to shake his fist at everyone when there is a minor glitch in any of his intricately thought out plans.

Quiet times are anything but quiet lately, and I have been so overwhelmed that I haven’t been blocking out the time and making it happen.

So a few days ago, that’s what I did. Because I was too tired to know where I start, I turned on the Roku and found a Calvary Chapel church service, and sat down to write. I always pray better when I write my prayers. My brain is weird that way, probably and hopefully reversible cognitive changes from 6 years of sleep deprivation combined with my genetic tendency to be an absent minded professor anyway.

I love that no matter how far away you start to feel from God, no matter how distracted you become- all you have to sit down, open your heart, and clear your mind to Him, and He is there in an instant.

It’s funny how we wander, and why. Just the pride of our self sufficient hearts.

For me, for whatever reason, it is usually some form of: “you’re not going to provide what I need, so I am just going to have to drink another cup of coffee and try to do it myself.” It’s always insidious, and very rarely intentional. And there is always some deep down feeling of hurt and misjudgment at the root of it. A “maybe you don’t really love me.”

Sometimes it’s a “why should you really love me?’

It’s a misunderstanding of the very character of God.

But each day is a new beginning. And Christmas returned to my heart that morning, on the carpet, as The Dude sat near me with his still-sleepy sick eyes and asked me over and over again, quite fretfully, if “the kings killed baby Jesus”. I am not sure where he heard that, but he has been very concerned about it.

And Aquaman turned his Legos into 5 different vehicles, while occasionally pausing to look at the screen and say “I KNOW that already.”

 and Greystoke ate his Noah’s Ark toy and smiled like Christmas morning, because Mommy was actually sitting on the floor beside him instead of running all over the house like a chicken with her head cut off.

And Jesus came in close and whispered: “you are not alone.” And “it’s ok to rest.” And “I love you. I am very pleased with you.”

 There’s a verse that, in the past few days since my heart has slowed to the song of my Savior again, keeps popping up in my studies, and in sermons:

“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit.”

Zechariah 4:6

I never really thought of it as a Christmas verse, but this year it has become my Christmas verse. What greater summary of a Savior who emerges as a newborn. To a teenage girl, separated from her family, giving birth for the first time- inside of a barn.

I know a lot of people who hate the Little Drummer Boy song, and I guess the pa rum pa pum pum parts do get a little on my nerves too. But  if you take out all those drum cadence fillers, the drummer boy sings my heart this Christmas.

“Little baby, I am a poor boy too.

I have no gift to bring that’s fit to give a King.

Shall I play for You on my drum?

Mary nodded, the ox and lamb kept time.

Then He smiled at me.”

It would be kind of weird to play a drum song for a newborn, and I don’t really recommend it.

I also doubt the ox and lamb would start acting like metronomes, or that brand new baby Jesus did much else but sleep and eat, and probably, contrary to the Away in a Manger song, cry- because I don’t think it’s sinful for a newborn baby to cry.

But I love remembering that Jesus came as a poor boy.

Because God didn’t need to give him a lot of material wealth to accomplish His purposes, and that means that my boys have everything they need too.

And I often can’t help but think that the meagre offering of my life, of my worship, is unfit to bring to Him. Why would it possibly matter?

 But when I offer it anyway…

He smiles at me.

And if that’s not a Merry Christmas, I don’t know what is.

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