December 3, 2013
My kitchen resembles the inside of an obnoxious Mexican restaurant.
Josh had to work a few nights ago, so I suggested we girls do some kind of Christmas craft to pass the time. As always, any mention of crafting was met with exuberant excitement and sheer joy.
All this for chains made out of construction paper.
I had imagined quaint and homey Little House on the Prairie-like red and green chains dangling from doorways and proving that decorations don’t have to be expensive to be beautiful.
Instead, since I made a major tactical error and foolishly asked the opinions of a five and three-year-old on what color paper we should use, we now appear to be hosting a fiesta.
I’m trying not to be self-conscious; these are memories made, after all! But, honestly, I’ve considered taking them down. They just don’t go with my other décor.
Our Christmas tree stays half-undecorated as well, thanks to C.
After futilely trying for several days to keep his chubby little paws away from it, I finally just gave in. There is now half a strand of cranberries trailing off the tree and several bald spots on the low branches. Ironically, he now no longer seems interested.
But, alas, if having kids means my decorations won’t be perfect, then at least I can do my darndest to teach my little captive audience what Christmas is really about.
We’ve been doing a nightly devotion with the girls right before bedtime. We read a short scripture passage, ask a few questions, sing a couple worship songs and pray together.
I had imagined us sitting in a quiet circle while we serenely shared a verse or two over the soft strums of Josh’s guitar. It would be sweet and lovely and Christmas-y.
During the reading of the story of Jesus’ birth last night, I broke up a fight over a small rock that had suddenly become very valuable and completely distracting.
While the shepherds watched over their fields by night, Edy decided it was a good time to play dead- all fours up in the air.
And the most common song request is during worship song time is Carol of the Bells, which our rendition of goes something like: Hark, hear the bells, blah da da da. Da da da da. Da da da da. Da da da da da da da da. Da da da da da da da da. Etc.
(Does anyone actually know the words to Carol of the Bells? Does it even have words? I’m just not sure it counts as a worship song.)
All that being said, so far, not much of what I had planned for this Christmas season is going according to plan.
But I’ve been thinking about Mary this week.
I realized that I take for granted that Jesus was born in a manger. It’s just part of the story. It makes for sweet Nativity scenes and cute reenactments. But I think it’s safe to say that Mary had no idea it was going to happen that way.
The timing of the census must have seemed awful. But she likely planned ahead as best she could and assumed that if the baby did come while they were in Bethlehem, she would have a decent room in town and Joseph could inquire of a local midwife.
She didn’t expect to only have a feed trough to lay her newborn in. I wonder if she was embarrassed about it. Did she wonder what people would think?
Did she discreetly ask Joseph to shoo the shepherds away after they had worshipped the baby? She had just given birth after all. It’s a hard time to take visitors, especially ones you don’t know.
Did she wonder what to do next? She hadn’t planned all this. Now what?
We know that “Many are the plans in a persons heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21).
Mary’s plans, my plans, yours- they’re all the same. Just plans. And because they are ours and are rooted in our human-ness, they will be imperfect.
But as my devotion yesterday morning so aptly said, “Imperfection (during the Christmas season) helps us to remember to focus on the perfection of the One having the birthday.”
Christmas is not meant to be used as an excuse to fuss over how my house is decorated, or host parties, or even lead my children in the perfect worship song. Christmas is meant to celebrate Perfection in the midst of major imperfection.
Paper chains and all.
What about you? Are your Christmas season plans going as planned? Have your imperfections reminded you of His perfection?
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