I love Christmas! Really, I do. And what’s not to love about a holiday that’s about Christ, peace and love? Oh yes, all the “other” stuff we make Christmas about. I’m not one to decorate my house before Thanksgiving. We host and celebrate Thanksgiving to it’s fullest at this house, then move on to Christmas celebrations. Except this year. This year I wasn’t in a big hurry to dig out the Christmas decorations and when Mike started bringing down the tree and other decorations, I told him we didn’t need to get it all out. WHAT?!?!? It sounded like my voice saying that but surely it wasn’t me. I decorated the tree by myself on that Sunday night while Mike and the kids were playing cards. I only used part of the ornaments and didn’t even feel bad about putting the rest back in the box to go back to the attic. Fast forward a couple of weeks and all we had done was put out our Santa collection that Mike’s Grandma Schumacher painted us over the course of our marriage, put out of nativity scenes and the tree. The house didn’t look or feel festive and while I was having a great time teaching my preschool Sunday school class about the birth of Jesus, my heart was distracted by the stuff of Christmas.
Last Friday night our church was hosting a women’s progressive Christmas party. The plan was to go to 2 women’s homes for appetizers and to see their beautifully decorated homes then head back to the church for the main course and dessert along with a guest speaker. Honestly I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. I didn’t decide until the last minute that I would. I didn’t want to see the beautifully decorated homes when my own was so lackluster. I didn’t want to eat Christmas treats when I hadn’t found the time to bake any myself. I didn’t want to hear a speaker tell me how much Christmas spirit she had. In short, I wanted to be the Grinch of Mexico. But God had other plans for me.
How many times in my life are defined by that simple starter “But God”? I was lost but God saved me. I was distressed but God comforted me. I felt worthless and unlovable but God loved me and made me worthy. But God. I should know He always has big things in store for me when he inserts a but into the sentences of my life.
I quickly got my act together and went to meet the other ladies at the church still hanging on to my ba-hum-bug spirit. I visited with the other ladies on my bus and got to know one a bit better. Maybe this wouldn’t be so terrible after all. Our first stop was an older couple’s home. There were decorations EVERYWHERE and they were beautiful. Instead of feeling inspired, I was feeling like I just wasn’t measuring up. The second home was that of a young family. Again, it was beautifully decorated and so neat and tidy. My spirit dipped down further. “Great,” I thought, “just what I wanted – to feel more guilt over what I’ve not accomplished.” But God had a surprise in store for me at the church.
We had a lovely meal at the church. Our guest speaker was making the rounds visiting with several ladies. She stopped at our table and started having a conversation with a couple of the ladies. Somehow, the fact that her neighbors are cows and calves came up and she asked if any of us had cattle. Everyone at the table pointed at me. You see, we are part of a “town church”, so someone raising cattle is not necessarily typical. The guest speaker, Brenda Black, and I struck up a conversation about moving with stock trailers and other “normal” activities of cattle farmers. Then it was time for Brenda to begin speaking. She sang for us and brought a message that I swear she wrote just for me. Not sure why all the other ladies came but she and I were connecting. She spoke of being too busy, focusing on the stuff of Christmas instead of the Person of Christmas. She spoke about the activities she wanted to do with her boys then realizing her boys were grown men and those memories may not come to be. She spoke of needing to take time to be still and just be with God. She spoke of the NEED to share Christ this Christmas. She spoke of the true Christmas spirit. And there it was. God used Brenda to shake me gently out of my funk. He pointed out through her that maybe, just maybe, I was holding on to some traditions a bit too tightly and needed to focus on traditions that are more open and accepting of more people than just my little family. And so, the Christmas spirit began growing. And just like the Grinch’s heart, my own heart grew three sizes that night and the next day. I came home feeling energized and excited. I still didn’t have the gifts purchased or made. I still didn’t have any more decorations up. There still were no goodies made. But, my heart had changed and my focus was back on Christ where it should have been the whole time.
Saturday, the guys were going to look at and ultimately buy a new to our family tractor for Chris. That left me home alone with all this Christmas spirit. I watched a marathon of Christmas movies only interrupted by a quick trip to town for an idea I had and a hay feeding session. When the guys returned home I had decorated, created and refocused myself. The last of the Christmas movie marathon was on. It was about a small town in Alaska fighting a legal battle to keep the town nativity scene set up on government property. The whole story was basically that we focus on traditions and not on Christ. Ok God, I got the message. After the movie Mike and I went shopping that evening for some people in our church who are having a tough time making ends meet this year. We also picked up pizza for supper since I hadn’t really planned on anything.
We came home and enjoyed one of the new traditions I had set up while the guys were gone.