Happy New Year, friends!
As I reflect on the holiday season I find myself in awe that all of my prayers were answered. I prayed for lots of things this season, and now that the holiday chaos has passed, I realize that I wasn’t actually praying… I was more asking for things. I asked for good parking spots at the mall, light traffic while driving to the mall, and good finances to get me through the holiday season.
I prayed that I would find the perfect gifts for the people I love, and that they would love them! I prayed I would have enough time to do the cooking, baking and cleaning and still have the energy to give the best of me to my family and friends. I had a full checklist of everything I had to do to provide a successful holiday for everyone I love!
My highest priority was the purchasing of gifts, mostly so I could get it out of the way in an attempt to limit the stress and anxiety that had seemed to accompany my holiday experience this year. I asked my girls what they wanted for Christmas. They couldn’t come up with any ideas. I even suggested a few things that each of them may like, but again they didn’t seem too enthused, and to be honest, I wasn’t too enthused either! In fact none of us seemed to be very happy about the holidays.
One night about a week and a half before Christmas I was thinking about all of this; thinking about how we couldn’t find anything that we wanted for Christmas; no gift, no outing, no fancy dinner, no pretty jewelry, no any-thing! There seemed to be no enthusiasm for the holiday celebrations to come.
The truth is…something was missing. Something was off! Where was the joy of Christmas? Where was the excitement? Why did it feel like this? We were missing Christmas! Our Christmas was hollow!
Even before the full awareness of this reached my mind, tears were already spilling out of me and my heart felt the most profound emptiness. I didn’t know what to do! I didn’t know how to make Christmas perfect! I felt like a bad mom! I think the last thought I had that night before falling asleep was a simple question to God…“What do I do?” I asked as I drifted off to sleep.
Marissa went to get the mail, just like every other day. As I was sifting through the pile I could hear her humming the song that had been stuck in her head for 3 days, “For you I will.” by Teddy Geiger. She had mentioned that her spirit kept putting it in her brain and it was the only thing she could think about. We laughed about it and tried to figure out why her spirit would keep playing this song in her head, but it wasn’t until early Christmas morning that we found out its significance.
I continued to sort through the mail when this postcard just dropped out of the pile in my hands and landed on the counter in front of me. It said, “Love Came Down CHRISTMAS 2015”. It was an invitation from Willow Creek Community Church welcoming us to join their Christmas Eve celebration. What? My heart started pounding so hard! Of course! Oh my God! … Give them Jesus for Christmas! … Oh my God!
And then it was like everything in me and around me stopped… became suspended and frozen in time… quiet… silence. And then I knew! HE is the gift! Jesus is the gift! And with that, my heart was filled with the breath of life and the joy of Christmas. We would accept the invitation and join the Christmas celebration at Willow Creek Community Church.
The days leading up to the Christmas Eve celebration at Willow Creek seemed even more busy as my work scheduled was overloaded and I still hadn’t done the shopping, baking or cleaning! Britt seemed a bit down and distracted all week with pressures at work and just life in general, and to be honest I don’t think I did a very good job helping her feel better at all, so I qualified that as yet another MOM-FAIL. Once again I asked God, “What do I do?”
I was in sessions most of the day, every day, but each time I would pop my head out of the office or take a diet coke break I would notice something new. One day I noticed Marissa and Brittany cleaned the living room and whole main floor of the house. The next day I noticed that the bathrooms were clean and the family room had been cleaned also. I noticed that the clutter that usually overwhelms my kitchen table had been moved and the decorations for the holiday were shining brightly all over the house!
When I walked out of the office from the last session before the holiday I smelled the aroma of Christmas cookies baking in the oven! Brittany spent the whole day baking my mom’s holiday cookies and ooohhh they smelled so good! I was so humbly grateful for their efforts. All of my stress and anxiety had been wiped away by all they had done. We say God is LOVE and so I received the gift of God through my daughters.
Christmas Eve morning was spent rushing around in excitement wrapping last minute gifts and arranging Christmas cookies onto their respective gift platters. It felt exhilarating to rush around the house and coordinate “getting ready” time with 3 women in the house but we did it and were actually ready early for church! Anyone that knows me knows I am always late so the fact that we were ready early was a little nudge from God inviting us to join Him to celebrate the birth of His son Jesus Christ!
We sat in the first available seats we could find on the second level of the auditorium and as the lights dimmed, the music began. It was BEAUTIFUL and ALIVE and WELCOMING! Marissa, Brittany and I sat in awe of this incredible celebration and yet, each of us for our own personal reasons. Each one of us heard a different message, felt a different expression of love and realized our own unique connection to Christ.
Brittany said that the whole service was written JUST for her… she was sure of it! She said it reminded her… it enlightened her… and it encouraged her… Marissa said that the music spoke to her and that the service reaffirmed what she already felt everyday about Jesus. Me, well I experienced this celebration in a way that called to mind all the times in my life when I have struggled and how God saved me every single time! It reminded me of the times I made all the wrong decisions and all He did to make those wrong decisions right! We left the service filled with FAITH, HOPE and the LOVE of God in our hearts and the joy of celebrating the birth of His son, Jesus.
Just a bit after midnight on Christmas morning I overheard Marissa once again humming that song that her spirit kept popping into her head, so I asked her what the deal was with that. At our house when Spirit pops something into your head it’s definitely worth investigating the possible reasons why, so Marissa and I began the investigation process but nothing seemed to make sense. It was like trying to decipher one of those weird dreams and you can’t figure out what it means! We couldn’t figure it out so I just decided I would ask the Angels who’s the song was about that Marissa’s spirit kept popping it in her head. The response that came to me… “The song is about Jesus!” I just stopped in my tracks and told Marissa and immediately tears started rolling down her cheeks and she said, “MOM, it so true… He does EVERYTHING I ask. He always helps me, always… It’s so true!”
And at that moment I realized… God and all expression of HIM is THE ULTIMATE GIFT.
As you move forward in the New Year, I encourage you every day, to Look for HIM, Ask of HIM, Go to Him. And if for some reason you just can’t… don’t worry, HE will find YOU!