His Garden of Grace
I am so thrilled to introduce our First Guest Post written by my new friend, Jessica Fisher. We don't really know each other, but we have kindred hearts because we both love to do art journaling in our Bibles. I hope someday to get to know her better and share more of her writing with you. She is real, and I can so relate to this post. I too want a "Hallmark-worthy Christmas". I too want the tinsel and glitter, without the mess to accompany it. And I too see my picture perfect moments dissolving into thin air while the Christmas wishes go up in a ball of flames. (Figuratively, of course.) I know you can relate, too.
Jessica lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with her husband and her adorable tinsel-crazed toddler. As a stay-at-home mom, she finds time to write between dishes, laundry and endless rounds of Hungry, Hungry Hippos (her son‘s favorite game). You can read more from her at www.jlaurel
Merry Christmas Expectations
I get in my own way at Christmas time. I do. I have huge expectations. Perfect gifts. Martha Stewart-inspired decor. I imagine a joyous scene--a cozy family, clad in freshly pressed Christmas pajamas, patiently decorating the tree then reminiscing over steaming cups of hot cocoa. It’s one big Hallmark commercial…in my mind.
The reality is, well, different. My husband climbs into the attic and drags plastic bin after plastic bin of holiday decorations out of their frosty hiding place and down a rickety ladder. Then he has the not-so-coveted job of assembling our clumsy synthetic tree with its uncooperative “pre-lit” Christmas tree lights. Despite the advertised “ease and convenience” of said lights, every year another string of bulbs retire and another section of tree stubbornly remains unlit. It’s enough to put my husband in “a mood.”
The unraveling of my perfect Christmas expectations continues with my irreverent toddler who throws tinsel everywhere. He rummages enthusiastically through the ornament box without a care for my delicate process of slowly unwrapping each ornament and lovingly placing it on the tree. He shakes up my perfect Christmas moment like a snow globe.
Pine needles and bunches of newspaper litter the carpet. The tinsel is wound around furniture like a glittery boa constrictor. At least one precious ornament has been mercilessly smashed. And my husband is still fuming over the same section of willful lights.
I am fuming too. I am fuming because things didn’t go my way. I didn’t get my happy holiday postcard moment! *stomps feet and acts like overgrown baby*
But this year, I decided to take a big Christmas chill pill. I want to accept this season…and this season of life…for what it is. Not a postcard. Not a Hallmark movie or a Christmas commercial with beautiful people in perky pajamas. But imperfect. Frazzled. And REAL.
If I think about it, the “first Christmas” didn’t play out the way most would expect the birth of a great King to happen. We might have anticipated, at the very least, a clean and inviting hotel room for the new baby and Savior of the world. Instead, Jesus spent his first night in a dirty, smelly manger. We may have imagined honored guests and dignitaries showering him with gifts. But Jesus and his parents entertained animals, shepherds and a few weary wise men.
As Jesus grew, He continued His unexpected ministry to the poor, the sinful, the weary, the homeless, the diseased, the forgotten--all imperfect cast-offs, none of which would ever grace the cover of a holiday greeting card.
I want to scrap my perfect Christmas expectations this year for what is real and imperfect and broken--not just the messy moments with strewn tinsel, but the truly disappointing and even heartbreaking moments. I want to stop reaching for the perfect Christmas, and I want to start being more like Christ.
Thank God, the Savior’s life and even His death didn’t follow a likely script. Thank God, He has always exceeded my broken human expectations and that He continues to blast them open with His great power and grace. I want that kind of Christmas.