Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Heart


I had the rare treat of being able to hear my husband preach at church yesterday. Usually I am teaching the little, short, people, but due to yucky roads we were a pretty small group yesterday and I had the day off! :) Well, I didn't have to teach. Do moms ever get the day off?

The Preacher Man asked us a question yesterday at the end of his sermon during Discussion Time. 

What is on your heart this Christmas season?

Simple enough question, right? 

The answers ran the gambit from Family to Peace in the Home.
Someone mentioned focusing on time with Jesus.
Making it about remembering the important things, like Jesus being the perfect gift.
Others just didn't really have any special thoughts because Fuzzy, Sparkly, Christmas isn't part of their life this season. They try to celebrate God's gift year round.
Those were GOOD answers!

I was surprised. I expected there to be more comments about the stress of holidays. 
Or the frustration of family dynamics sometimes when opposing views get together. 
I thought maybe other folks were thinking about budgeting for those extra cookies and ham. 
Perhaps someone else was crazy enough to be potty training through the holidays? 

Ultimately, I think I just didn't understand the question the same way. 
What is on my Heart this Christmas Season? My heart is full to brim with love for my husband and my children. I have been so blessed to see all my siblings numerous times over the past couple of weeks. I have had some good talks with my mom. We have spent time slowing down and letting go of things that are unnecessary and I am learning to redirect my thoughts back to Jesus, The Gift from God. 
But the truth is my Heart is also full of conflict during this time of year.

The Truth:
Truth is... Christmas can be painful because I am still (inward eye roll) dealing with my parents divorce and holidays force me (and the Sibs! And the Spouses!) to deal with it.
Truth is... I have tried to keep up with the Jones' in the past and have on occasion overdone Christmas gifting to make my children feel loved. 
Truth is... I have tried to create a perfect Christmas with the right decorations, food, lights and the appropriate amount of visiting and spreading (grudgingly sometimes) good cheer.
Truth is... I have eaten my way through Thanksgiving and Christmas to celebrate, to cover pain, to placate my feelings.
Truth is... I love the Idea of Christmas but it can seem fake, false, and super, sweetly, saccharin.

The Truth is That 
Without Jesus... Christmas Is meaningless and will be painful.
Without Jesus... No number of presents will make my children feel loved.
Without Jesus... Candy canes on my front lawn and a perfect Stollen Bread will not make the 25th perfect.
Without Jesus... I will always struggle with eating my feelings.
Without Jesus... Christmas Is false. A false sense of what joy is.

The Way to Joy:
My friend, the English Lass, said she was trying to focus on true time spent with God. Putting God first in her life. She said she felt almost selfish wanting that time. I think she said out loud what most moms feel. I want so much to be in heady prayer time with God. I want to Worship Him on Monday morning for more than one song. I want to really get into His Word and cross reference verses and pull out my Bible dictionary and get lost in the Study. I want God to speak to me through His Word and bring enlightenment and conviction and help me to be the best Me I can be so that through me His Glory will shine.

But I am tired.

I am overworked and spread thin. 
There is always laundry to be done and meals to be made. Snotty noses to be wiped and owies to bandage. Bread to bake and cleaning supplies to make. Mending to be done and library books due back. There are homeschool groups to take part in and choir concerts to attend. There are 5 Arrows in my Quiver that need my attention and sometimes to discuss Huckleberry Finn and Latin roots. My husband needs me not just when he is home but when he is gone. He needs his wife's support and ear when he is frustrated at work or just in need of some conversation.  Add to that the man made (woman made?) ideas about holidays and the unreachable Miracle on 34th Street feeling we all want to have and it is no wonder Christmas can turn into a downer.
Sometimes it feels downright hopeless. Where do I put God with all this STUFF I Have to do? How do I find JOY in this mess?


Put Jesus first. He gets the top cut. Make time for Him and the rest will work itself out. It is okay to give yourself permission to only wash 4 loads of laundry today because the LORD enjoyed you being with Him instead. 
Put Others second. As moms we often feel that we already do this. I put the Hubs first, I put the kids first, I do everything for everyone! (eww, can you hear the whine?) Here is the challenge though: Do I do this with a right heart? I will raise my hand first! I do sometimes get caught up in the Why Me Whines. It is an unhealthy place to be and will only cause you to be more unhappy.

Put Yourself last. This can seem contradictory but it isn't. Your time with God benefits you because you are building that relationship with Him. He however is the leader, and you are Communing with Him, Listening to Him, Thanking Him and you are blessed because of that. Putting yourself last means becoming a servant to your family. Not a SLAVE. A servant with a loving heart. 

I believe we have been taught the lie that whispers to us that we deserve more or better than we have been given.  That we need recognition for everything we do. That we become unnoticed in our efforts to love and support our husbands. That we are somehow lacking if we do not have the newest or best Thing. Or the most obedient children. Or the most giving husband. 
On and On it can go. 
Put Yourself last. You were not promised an easy life. You were not promised riches here on the earth. You were not promised a perfect relationship with your spouse. You were not promised ivy league style children with gifted abilities and good manners.

If the LORD could become a servant out of love and as a teaching moment for His friends than that should be enough of an example for me.
 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. ~John 13: 3-17
J.O.Y. = Christmas Heart
A heart focused on Jesus. Christmas Heart.
A heart turning to my husband, my children, and other people that I can love with my Christ centered heart. Christmas Heart.
A heart filled with servant hood. Christmas Heart. 

So that is what is on my heart this Christmas.

How about you?


Always Blessed,
Gretchen :)

Possibly Linking With:
Cornerstone Confessions
Wisdom Wednesdays and Link Up
No Ordinary Blog Hop

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