Joy to the World!

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Alright friends.  The time has come quickly upon us once more.  Christmas will be here in less than a month and I’m kinda flipping out.  2016 went by way too fast, the fastest of all years yet!  But I’m just not ready for the rush and the chaos and all the “special” kind of crazy that comes out during the holidays.  Where’s the escape button for life?

If you were able to carefully remove all the extra fluff surrounding Christmas, I think this time of the year wouldn’t be so bad… for all of us.  Give me Jesus, Christmas music and lights, faces of people I love and some of those delicious holiday goodies and I’m set.  I don’t need the hot mess our society has made of this precious holiday.  I just don’t.  But, alas, every December I find myself caught up in the game, stressed out and tired.

And I’m so over it.

At the end of every year I look at my littles and I sigh.  As I carefully pick out their matching Christmas outfits for pictures I look at the sizes and I can’t believe how much they have grown in just one year.  Is he really this big already?  When Mommy runs around in a coffee-induced adrenaline rush, trying to get everything done, my boys smile and play and love.  They know how to enjoy each moment and soak up the goodness of the day.  I’m trying to bake like 3,000 Christmas cookies and my baby comes running up to me and asks for bubbles.  “Not now hun, Mommy is busy.”  Mommy is always busy and going and trying, but for what purpose?  Who am I trying to impress?  Whose expectations am I trying to meet?  My kids don’t care how insane my schedule is or how perfect my gingerbread man looks.  They want their Momma to be present, not perfect.

I could be in a shopping frenzy at the store, attempting to grab the best deal and brag about it later to my friends, when I hear my boy join in with the song playing over the intercom.  Away in the Manger.  Oh that’s a good one, hey wait… Have I even talked about Jesus this season yet?!  Ah!  Dang you Kohl’s and your early bird specials!

The holidays have an uncanny way of bringing up personal baggage as well.  Whether it’s from family issues, severed relationships, or even loss of loved ones that make holidays bittersweet… those emotions can surface and it can be rough.  When I start to cry because I just can’t hold in the feelings of inadequacy, worry or pain, my boys come up to me and hug me.  They may not understand why I’m crying, but they know how to comfort like few I know.

I’m a firm believer that kids are geniuses.  They may not know much about adult-ing, but they sure as heck know a lot more about human-ing than most of us do.  They know what really matters.  They know what is worthy of their time and care and effort.  They don’t care about the fluff like we do.  They just want the real deal.  They want us.

And so this holiday season I’m really going to do it.  I say it each year, but I’m serious this time.  I’m going to step back from the Holiday rat race and slow the heck down.  I’m going to choose to pour my energy into the things that make my heart smile:  My Jesus, my family, my friends, giving and loving.  Our western culture does not get to dictate to me what I should be doing with my time, especially during these sweet seasons of celebration.  I get to decide and I choose the joys of Christmas.

Years from now my kids won’t remember all the peripheral details that blur the real meaning behind Christmas.  They will remember, however, family time spent around the tree, special outings with loved ones and the heart behind the ultimate Gift given to us from above.

So as we step into the first of December tomorrow, I wish you, dear reader, a Very Merry Christmas Season!  May it be full of light, love and laughter.  And if you ever wonder if you are getting too wrapped up in the mess, just look at your babies.

The student can be the teacher in more ways than one. 🙂

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Hey Chicago, what do you say?

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Unless you live under an enormous, media-repellant rock, I’m pretty sure you’ve found out by now that THE CUBS WON THE FREAKING WORLD SERIES!

I mean, I’m in shock.  All of us are.  How did this happen?  How did the team that was the absolute underdog, the butt of all baseball jokes, the never-gonna-happen athletes accomplish the unthinkable?  Because late Wednesday night just before the clock struck midnight, the fairytale didn’t end.  As viewers watched with bated breath, the final out came to pass and millions of dreams came true.  Tears flowed, crowds leapt for joy, festivities ensued and history was finally made.

It was a miracle.  A well-deserved, unbelievable miracle.

I have to say… There’s something really extraordinary about this win.  As I’ve been watching people’s reactions, touching ads, and congratulatory tributes for our World Champions, I can’t help but choke up.  Yes, I’m an emotional basket case most days with three kiddos under 5, but seriously… everyone is crying!  The pride and joy has moved beyond Chicago and has reached into this nation’s very heart.  The fans needed this.  WE needed this.  We’ve seen some difficult days lately, but our beloved Cubs gave us a glimpse into something beautiful that trumps the Trumps, the Clintons, the politics, the wars, the discrimination, the pain…  They gave us permission to dream… permission to be confident and believe the unbelievable.

Because let’s be real here, friends.  It’s hard to be hopeful now a days.  When our circumstances dictate a different, less desirable story than we’d like, it’s hard to imagine what could be.  We wish we could be these kind of visionaries, but sometimes it’s just too hard.  And so we settle.  We settle for the ordinary…  The less than ideal because who really gets to see their dreams unfold and blossom?

Well, two nights ago Cubbie fans around the world got their wish and witnessed the real power of hope.  Faithful and true, they stood by this team’s side, waiting for their year.  And the victory was all the sweeter for it!  They believed and they did.  What a way to live!

So if dreams do come true, like for real come true, why do we hold back from dreaming… from pursuing life with passion and purpose?  Is it Fear?  Shame?  Lies we believe about ourselves?  Whatever answer pops into our head needs to be taken to the feet of Jesus because He never wants us to settle.  He didn’t sacrifice everything in order for us to have a “pretty decent” life.  He wants us to experience abundance and goodness and meaning that makes us come alive.  He wants us to follow the dreams He has given us because true fulfillment comes when we bravely walk forward, even when others say it’s just not gonna happen.  There’s no “okay” in His book, only His BEST.  But we have to believe His story is full of hope, with a chapter dedicated to our own personal journey.  Everyone counts.  No exceptions.

It took 108 years for Chicago to see their Cubs win another world series.  It wasn’t easy.  It wasn’t quick.  But it was worth it.  We need to look long and hard at the heart and soul of this awesome team.  Because even if the entire nation believes the worst about you, it doesn’t dictate reality.  It doesn’t determine your future.  And it sure as heck won’t stop God from making your dreams become a reality.

Today the sweetest of ‘W’s’ flies at Wrigley.  It’s a symbol of victory.  An invitation to celebrate and expect great things.  Because nothing is impossible if we let our hearts believe.

Any team can work hard and win a bunch of games, but it takes a special one to inspire a nation to dream again.

Well done boys.  Today’s for you…

And for us.