Only one of our little families could make it home this Christmas.
We were thrilled to have the one...
So thankful that Stephanie, Megan, Ellie, and Hayden could be with us!
There have been a few years, where there have been none.
That's just a fact of life, and a testimony to the season we are currently living.
And, this mama, determined years ago, as the little birdies flew the nest, that above all, she'd create a no-guilt-holiday-policy.
I'll tell ya...that takes work!
All empty-nesters testify to this truth, that, although we've taught our kids to adult well (maybe too well?), we MISS them (especially over the holidays).
But, make the most of the season? We have learned to do that just fine!
Even the Elf-on-the-Shelf made an appearance for the small-one.
We dive into the CELEBRATION, as one might dive into a cold pond...
Once the initial splash is over, you adapt much quicker.
So, we decorate.
(I know, this looks terrible, but it really isn't Christmas without a pan of jalapeño poppers.)
We read, meditate, ponder the Scriptures surrounding THE EXTRAORDINARY BIRTH OF OUR SAVIOR.
Papa leading us in the worship and wonder of the meaning of Christmas...
And, then, just like every year (SNAP!), it's over.
So, as our one little family climbed into their car to head home, Papa prayed over them, asking the Lord for a safe journey.
As we said our Good-byes, I felt like I had just climbed out of the pond and now had to re-adjust to the temperatures on land, again...
The only thing left to do was take down the decorations, eat up the leftovers, put away the sewing machine and the Cricut, delete the Hallmark Christmas movies...and, return to....WHAT?
WHAT DO WE RETURN TO AFTER THE HOLIDAYS???
That was my question yesterday.
After the car drove off, and before the washing of sheets, and cleaning of bathrooms began, I sat down for some quiet time of reflection.
Almost immediately, I received a combination of answers to my question...
First, from theologian, Paul David Tripp.
Then, from my sweet niece, who challenges me weekly.
PDT challenged me to continue celebrating Christmas EVERYDAY, reminding myself often to reflect on the SACRIFICE of Christ, what His sacrifice says to me of my spiritual condition (oh, how easy it is to let spiritual satisfaction, spiritual amnesia, AND spiritual pride to creep into the soul), and, finally the authority and power of the ONE who came to right our wrongs by His death and glorious resurrection. It's often easy to let those things slide, until Easter, and then try to pick it back up again. This kind of meditation shouldn't be seasonal...it should be a regular routine!
Everyday Christmas-pondering of the soul's condition keeps the Christmas-wonder alive-and-well!
A bit later, I read my niece, Nicole's, post on Facebook. Let me summarize what she said. Nicole mentioned that now that Christmas was over, she was ready to move forward, clear the decor, get back to "normal." However, the Lord stopped her at the story of the shepherds, once again. After coming to see Jesus, they went back to "normal." They returned to the stinky sheep, the quiet hillside, their "not so pretty lives." BUT, Luke 2:20 tells us, "...they returned glorifying and praising God for all the things they had seen and heard."
Then, Nicole took that thought further.. She declared that she would linger a little longer in the wonder of the Christmas story, before returning to normal. Then, in lingering, hanging onto all that the Lord God had begun through the birth of His Son, she would be much more prepared to return to the normal of everyday, also glorifying and praising God...
There was one. more challenge from the Lord for me yesterday, as well. I picked up where I'd left off in the Psalms. I read a very familiar passage that seemed to settle into my heart like a fresh rain from heaven, Psalm 46:10. "Be still and know that I am the Lord." Be restful. Stop striving. Don't try so hard to keep at it, even the spiritual-doing (maybe, especially the spiritual-doing). Simply sit...
There are seven days to the New Year.
Seven days to simply sit with the Lord.
Seven days to reflect, remember, rest...and usher in 2019 with a renewed vision of bringing Christmas into every day.
So, here's my AFTER CHRISTMAS PLAN. I will:
1. Remember the Lord's sacrifice (both that of the Father and of the Son)...
2. Recall my past and present spiritual condition, and why I am bankrupt without Christmas.
3. Reflect on the GLORY and the AUTHORITY and the character of Jesus...His grace, love, and righteousness poured out for me.
4. Linger in the GREAT TRUTHS of CHRISTMAS, glorifying and praising the ONE who sacrificed for my spiritual condition, the only one who was born to die that I might live.
5. Sit in the midst of it all for the next seven days...ringing in the new year with REFRESHED PURPOSE of sharing the GOOD NEWS of CHRISTMAS - EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!