Can you believe Christmas is just days away?
In some ways NO and in others, has this year been filled with twice as many months? Seriously.
We received the funniest Christmas card this week, I mean I was in stitches and the clever sender took a picture of her family sitting around the kitchen table together…well not sitting and enjoying a meal as we used to come to expect but rather her husband was on his computer, working, her two boys head down over their schoolwork and she was as you might also guess head down, working.
Oh and the best part, the caption: “Home for the
Holidays hellavualotofdays.” Whelp, that pretty much sums 2020 up, right?
I noticed this year it seems as if families started decorating their homes for Christmas earlier than usual. In some cases, I saw outside lights and Christmas trees on November 1st, goodbye Halloween and Hello, Santa.
Maybe some years I could have taken offense but for this year ‘anything goes’ because well #2020. But after giving it further thought I came to believe that this year we have all been faced with more uncertainty than any year prior. We have learned to be malleable and pliable; not always comfortable and definitely not easy. Some had to make decisions for their families they never considered before – hey where is the manual on how to live through a global pandemic?
Parents were pushed to limits as they homeschooled their children, while adapting to working from home, as they faced day in and day out conversations and decisions about what was safe for their kids and for their family.
Families have experience loss, pain and grief. Not that each year doesn’t hold its own obstacles and unknowns but this year, 2020, became a new ballgame.
It has been hard, and I think that puts it lightly, in most cases.
Last night, I had a virtual Christmas party with my college girls. As we all shared a little of what this year has held, it was painfully clear that we have all faced something. Maybe different but something. A loss of a parent, a heart transplant, depression and fear, watching a parent fight and thankfully beat COVID after being admitted to the ICU, doing your best to make the best but hardest decisions as a parent for your children, being pushed outside your comfort zone, trying your hardest to do everything right and protect your family and parents and still somehow you failed, and everyone is sick.
But as I listened to all of them share this year in review, although it’s been hard and painful, it hasn’t been all bad.
The revolving theme from each of them in their own way was: GROWTH.
Maybe they realize it and maybe they don’t yet, but I did. This year forced an uncomfortable stillness. In turn, the stillness pushed us to our limits, but it was their transformation started.
One of my friends is living 1 Timothy 4:15 and I am so proud of her. To walk through personal growth takes courage and strength and then to share it with vulnerability, makes you more than brave. “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.”
I want them and you to know that this year the Lord will use, and he has already started using even if our physical eyes can’t see it yet. The Lord has started a good work and he will finish it. “being confident in this, that he who began a good work I you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” Philippians 1:6
What a relief that the growth and the work Jesus, himself will do, our only job is to show up for the process.
And growth is always good (except maybe the growth of the COVID 15 that makes my pants too tight)! See Colossians 2:7
I have held this belief since the pandemic started that the enemy, Satan, who roams around looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8) must be angry and reacting to something the Lord is doing. Satan is reactionary which means his only power is to try and stop something in motion, to thwart it, slow it down; he can’t see into the future (if he could well then he would have known Jesus was the son of God…Matthew 4).
I have held this belief of hope that the Lord is doing something so great and one day it will manifest on earth and we will stand witness.
This week the earth experienced something we haven’t seen this close since March 1226 – on the longest and darkest day of 2020 – The Christmas Star appeared! This is not a coincidence.
The Christmas star occurs when Jupiter and Saturn align to create a radiant point of light. 800 years…that’s how long it’s been. Let’s not miss this – the Lord is showing off. He is providing us a symbol of Hope to close out this year.
When I heard about this star, I couldn’t help but think about the Wise Men who traveled miles upon miles in what I imagine was not the best conditions. No, they did not have a Tesla and weren’t riding around with the latest and greatest technology jamming to an Christmas play list on Spotify, following their GPS (and good thing otherwise King Herod might have caught on they weren’t coming back – Matthew 2).
These Wise Men went on foot (can you imagine?), carrying the most precious gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh not using a compass but rather a STAR. A star symbolizing the Hope of the World has been born. I cannot fathom how that must have felt, constantly wondering if you were going in the right direction, did you miss a turn? What if you don’t make it in time? What if you miss it altogether? What if…. it’s not the Savior at all?
These WISE MEN had to walk by Faith. They put all of their trust in something they could not see. (2 Corinthians 5:7). They had to keep going, one foot in front of the other, leaning into the HOPE of something bigger, something greater, a Savior.
I believe what I witnessed this year with people decorating for Christmas early is something deeper. As someone who doesn’t share my same beliefs, Christmas still holds mystery and something magical within it. Joy to watch your children Hope and Believe for something. It represents as season of giving and generosity.
And as a believer we welcomed the season of celebrating our Savior, our symbol of Hope. We rejoice in the birth of baby, born in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. We admire and celebrate the faithfulness of both Mary and Joseph to take on the role of earthly parents to a baby who will grow into a man who puts away his deity to become a SERVANT. (See Luke 2 for another account of his birth)
While we do not know much about Jesus’ childhood, we have to assume that Mary and Joseph walked years and years believing in faith what the angel spoke years before living out Hebrews 11:1, that their son was the Savior of the World (See John 12:44-50) before seeing it manifest on earth.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
And so, we must do the same – carrying on, one foot in front of the other, with our eyes fixed on Jesus believing in the miraculous, life altering changes that are coming before we see them. Because they are coming!
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2
Our family while faced with hardship this year has been immensely blessed. We have learned what it means to stand on the scripture we read and to make that scripture come alive to carry you through the day, the month and the year. Our son, Townes, has brought so much joy, love and laughter to our home this year (and yes we have been home A LOT, haven’t you?)
He loves his puppies. Lately he grabs Luna’s giraffe and gets this mischievous look on his face because he knows its hers and she is so gracious and patient. He think it’s hilarious that he’s taken her toy (now I imagine if and when she takes his, that won’t be as funny). And since he has discovered the fun in feeding them, she sits in waiting.
We have been singing all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth, and you know what?? He got them!
We took him to Cheekwood in Nashville to see the Christmas lights and he was mesmerized and he watched his first train. Oh, to see life happen through the eyes of a child (we can all learn something from this).
He has started to squiggle wiggle his way backwards and forwards with an occasional almost crawl, but I think he would much rather walk. He pulls up on everything and has been practicing many squats as he bends down to get his toys.
He will turn a BRAVE ONE in less than 2 months and we have already scheduled his catherization procedure to biopsy his heart after a year to ensure no signs of rejection exist, I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!
His little laugh makes my heart leap, and his laid-back personality reminds me to slow down and enjoy the moment more. We are grateful to have experienced all these ordinary moments when this time last year more was uncertain than certain.
While I celebrate my first Christmas with my son, will you also join me in praying for his donor’s family who will go through this season without their child. I can’t make it easier for them and I can’t take away their pain, but I can pray because I know a person who can offer all the things we can’t in this world.
Scott and I want to sincerely thank you for joining our journey. For loving us and supporting us. The hardships of this year were made easier because of you. We have all gone through a lot of firsts in 2020, so here’s to ushering the HOPE of something bigger and greater for all of you in 2021.
Merry Christmas from my family to yours.