Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas 2012

Note: I wrote this the Monday after Thanksgiving and then forgot to post it. Oops.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving, me, Roman and Duke drove out to the Christmas tree farm. Usually we don’t get a tree until after December 1st, but this year we decided to go on and get ours a little bit early. (Here’s hoping we remember to water it and it makes it to Christmas day….note: since I wrote this, we have forgotten to water the tree several times. Needless to say, it is looking quite droopy.....) Last year we went just two weeks after we adopted our precious Dukey-face from the pound. It was his first major outing…other than to the vet. This year, he was much bigger….but still the cutest dog I’ve ever seen.

I had absolutely no intentions of fully decorating my house after church that night, but once we started decorating the tree, things just got a little out of hand. Suddenly it was two in the morning, my house had been Christma-fied, we had put up two baskets of clean clothes, vacuumed the house, and done a load of dishes in the dishwasher. 

Was I exhausted? Absolutely. Was I late to work the next day? You betcha. But was I super excited to go home that afternoon to a fully clean and decorated house? Dang right I was!

Anyways, I really am trying to make a much larger effort to be thankful this holiday season. Because most years I am one of those who go around grumbling “do I REALLY have to listen to Jingle Bells one million and five times again this year??!!??” And normally once you get to Thanksgiving, life turns into a whirlwind of decorating, gift-buying, giving, receiving, eating, more eating, singing Jingle Bells and just general craziness. Suddenly, you blink and you find yourself watching the ball drop in New York City on television and telling everyone Happy New Year.  And then you continue to write 2012 on all of your checks for the next month because there is just no way it’s 2013 already.

This year, I’m trying to make a conscious effort to take things a little more slow and actually enjoy Christmas this year. I know right? Novel idea.

Yes, I went shopping on Black Friday. But I didn’t charge a whole bunch of stuff to my credit card or stand in a line for ten hours just to buy a TV. I had an enjoyable time with my mom holding up funny dresses in Belk’s and teasing some of America’s latest fashion trends. And she bought me new clothes, which was an added plus. (YAY!!) And we also didn’t go shopping until after 7:30 in the morning, so most of the crazies had cleared out. Shablam.

My point is, it makes no sense for us to be running around yelling and screaming JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON, if we are spending all of our time worrying about whose house we’re going to go to for Christmas dinner this year and piling up huge amounts of debt just to try and give the “perfect” gifts.  Yes we will still “do” Christmas this year with all of the eating and gift-giving and all that, but my main focus is going to be gratefulness instead of stress.

This year, I’m opting out of all the craziness. In one night I cleaned my whole house and I put out all of my Christmas decorations. But you know what? I enjoyed every minute of it. I set up my multiple nativity scenes around the house and paused to contemplate the birth of Jesus each time I pulled one of them out of its box. And I walked around the house thanking God that He had so much mercy to send His Son to our broken little world to hang on a cross for us. I thanked God that He gave me such a beautiful house to put a Christmas tree in and to live my life in.

I don’t know about you guys, but I have a whole lot to be thankful for.

I married the best man I could ever dream of. He loves me and takes care of me. He is faithful to me. He is a man of God that truly desires to see our family run after His heart.

My Dad turned 65 years old two days after thanksgiving. I’m thankful for the time I’ve had with him and I’m thankful that he is still a healthy man that dearly loves his children and his wife.

My nephew and his wife have orders to return to Georgia this December. I get to see my nephew after three years, and I finally get to meet his wife for the first time. After two tours overseas, this is truly exciting for me and my family to see his face again…..alive and well and home in time for Christmas.

I have a wonderful job that more than provides for Roman and me. I love working here. I love the people I work with here. I love knowing that what I do makes a difference. And Roman has a wonderful job as well that he truly enjoys and gives us the flexibility to do the things we enjoy. Most families in America cannot say that they enjoy their jobs…..or that both adults are even gainfully employed. So we are beyond blessed with our jobs.

My little brother hit a deer on Thanksgiving morning. But he is totally okay. Hallelujah.

My house is amazing. My dishwasher is still the coolest thing since sliced bread. The fact that the heater works and I can take a hot shower for over an hour if I want to is the second coolest thing since sliced bread.

Roman and I get to do ministry in the best church in the universe with the best people in the universe. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. I seriously love our church and our Pastor and the leadership team there. I can’t imagine where we would be in life if it weren’t for our church, but I can assure you we wouldn’t be who we are today.

We have great friends. Great family. A great dog. And two stupid cats that try to escape every time we open the dang-blasted door, but we still love them too. 

There are probably a zillion and five other things that I could list off, but you people probably don’t want to read them all, so I won’t. But more than anything, I’m thankful for my God. Because if it weren’t for Him, I wouldn’t have any of this. He blesses me and Roman more than we can handle sometimes, and in the year of 2012 we have definitely been hit with some for-real blessings. From job promotions, to a new house, to going on an amazing cruise, to physical healings, to graduating college….God has really pulled off some big stuff for us this year. We don’t deserve for Him to heap so much goodness on our heads, but for some reason He just really enjoys making us say “WOW”.

And so over the next few weeks, I’m making a big, huge effort to say thanks. Because that’s the best I have to offer Him in return for all He has done for us this year…my feeble offering of “Thank You.” I’m sure that everyone reading this has some big things to be thankful for as well. Maybe 2012 hasn’t been such a great year for you….but you know what? You’ve at least got the Internet to be reading this post, which means you have electricity, which means you have a roof over your head, so there are three things right there that you can be thankful for. Unless you’re a homeless person using the free Internet in the library just so you can read my blog. Which is quite doubtful. And slightly disturbing. #creeper

Seriously folks, as America hustles and bustles and swipes their credit cards and argues over whether we should say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”, let us make it our first priority to pause and give thanks. Because Jesus truly is the reason for the season. He did so much for us 2,000 years ago, and He still works on our behalf today. I hope we can all put on an attitude of thankfulness this holiday season…because God so deserves for His people to give Him thanks.

“Wish that I was there, on that silent night, when Your tiny heart started beating for mine. I wish I could’ve seen, the star in David's town, when You turned a stable into Holy ground. I sing along, the angel’s song:

Noel, Noel, Jesus is alive. Emanuel, hope is here tonight. So go, and tell, the world that death has died. 'Cause Jesus is alive. Yea, Jesus is alive.

The God who made us all, with these two little hands, is bringing us His kingdom, quiet as a lamb. Oh such Amazing Grace! A divine conspiracy, this Savior in a manger changes everything, that's why we sing:

Noel, Noel, Jesus is alive. Emanuel, hope is here tonight. So go, and tell, the world that death has died. 'Cause Jesus is alive. Yea, Jesus is alive.

Sin you have no sting. Hell you have no power. Curse you are no more. This is your final hour. Because the Son of God has not left us alone; He'll live and die and rise again, and then He'll bring us home. The old will pass away, and we will become new. This baby Boy is making all sad things untrue.”      
~Jesus is Alive by Josh Wilson

“And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”         ~Matthew 1:21

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