Thursday, December 3, 2015

soaring through Christmas

The holiday season is chaotic. Cookie swaps, MOPS Christmas, Christmas tea, school programs (times 4), decorating the home, decorating the church.  Your calendar probably looks very similar. 
With all the busyness, we can miss the real joy.  Joy that comes in the fellowship, the food, the entertainment.  The first day of my Advent study suggested that I rest, really!?  That imperfection is not even noticeable!?  That's crazy talk!  Or is it?
The month of December also bring with it some bittersweet memories for me.  My brother would be turning 39 on December 2nd, but he took his life 16 years ago.  The thought of him, my mother-in-law, and grandparents missing out on the fun of our young children enjoying life makes our hearts ache a little.  Christmas has been in a transition mode for several years now.  The matriarch of the family is gone.  My parents moved during the last two winters.  Many of the "kids" in the family are now getting married and changing their traditions.  It leaves me wondering what traditions do I really need to cling to and why. 
Make Room for Advent study from Naptime Diaries and handmade art journal
The last two years I have taken the time to still myself and read through the Gospels during Advent.  This year I purchased an Advent study from Naptime Diaries and am following along with the Illustrated Faith community for #illustratedadvent.  Taking time to reflect on His Word and create something for myself helps me to put everything into perspective.
I am blessed.  Blessed with the hope that one day I may be able to introduce my brother and mother-in-law to the children they didn't know in this life.  Blessed to have a Savior that is also my King.  Blessed to have the hope of a better tomorrow because He carries me through.
Before the craziness of the season took over I got the opportunity to create a page in my Bible based on that hope.  The song "Soar" by Meredith Andrews is amazing!  I got to see her perform a few years ago with James McDonald and the  "Walk In The Word" tour.   As she was about to perform "Can Anybody Hear Me," she talked about the silence she felt during a time in her life where she was distant from God.  What she said really related to the famine I was going through then, as well.  Feeling like God wasn't listening and was nowhere to be found.  But He was.  He was right there waiting for me to press into Him a little closer and to give Him the troubles I was going through.  I was an instant fan. 
So when her newest single, "Soar," came across the radio I was listening intently.  "I know in everything You're with me.  I know You're working as I wait.  Lift me up on wings like eagles to soar."  She gets me.  We must be soul sisters.  I had to get it out in paint!
Journaling Bible of Rachel Higgins; Isaiah 40:31, Soar
The passage in Isaiah 40:31 says it the same, "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will run and not grow faint."  If we choose to put our hope in Christ then we can rise above all the small stuff that can weigh us down. 
This time of year is notorious for unnecessary stress.  We try to do it all and to a memory making Norman Rockwell standard.  I am deciding to choose hope and soar above all the chaos.  I will still make cookies and attend endless concerts, but I will choose to be fully present rather than just barely there. Soaring through the fun and festivities!
Devotional card from Ann Voskamp's "The Greatest Gift" is a reminder to enjoy imperfection.
Side note: After pondering all of this God sent the message home loud and clear through this devotional today.  Amongst the froot loops and backpacks He speaks.