"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."
I started my Christmas break a couple of days ago - with a cup of Mocha and soufflé breakfast by the fireplace at Panera Bread. (I'm now on a first-name basis with one of the baristas). I had a day to myself with the kids in school. The shopping was done. The decorating was done. The wrapping was even done. A blank slate of a day stretched out before me, and it was the first bit of quiet I've felt in a very long time.
Quiet in this season of life does not happen often. Even my sacred nightly hour after the kids go to bed has been filled with a busy mind lately. I know it's the season we're in - the chapter of life - and I know it's not going to be quiet again for a long, long time. (And really, I've begun to dread the quiet years down the road. I can't imagine what I'm going to do with myself!) A friend and I were recently talking about it. We both got promoted in the last year and a half. We both have kids playing basketball with a younger sibling in tow all the time. We both were feeling stressed. And we both questioned why we wanted these promotions and this craziness in the first place. "Remember when we weren't managers of companies and when our kids were toddlers without social calendars and when we had a lot less money to spend? Remember how simple life was?"
I turned 32 last weekend - amidst the hustle and bustle of basketball season, Christmas season, snow season -- and a season of motherhood that continues to stretch me and bless me in so many ways. I turned 32 at the end of a year that was hard on so many - our country, our world, ourselves. This world is not our home, and I'm reminded of that more and more frequently the older that I get, but I also am reminded frequently, as my devotion lessons this month have been assuring me, surely God is in this place.
He was there the night that He sent his son, He was there the afternoon that He delivered me, He was there on the days that I labored my own children, and He is here with us still. Amidst the chaos and the uncertainty of a fresh year ahead. He is with us in the basketball gym, and in the car on silent morning drives to another tournament and in the gift opening on loud Christmas mornings and in the kitchen remodeling mess and in the work days and in the days of joy and in the days of sorrow and in the days of waiting and in all the days in between. Even those that seem mundane. He is in this place.
I look forward to a new year. I look forward to seeing where He takes me and where He takes us and what prayers He answers and what prayers He tells me to wait on. I look forward to Him being in this new place with me, and I look forward to how He will challenge me and bless me. I look forward with uncertainty and anxiousness but with joy and gratitude, as well. I look forward in faith.
That so-called silent night over 2,000 years ago was probably not so silent, not so calm. Much like our life and world today. The song is beautiful and the message reassuring, but I must remind myself that the reality is that Jesus was born in less than ideal conditions to a mother who faced uncertainty just like me. And this is exactly why God sent Him. To walk with us, to humanize Himself for us. Because that's just how much He loves us. But much like Mary, I have pondered my treasures of the past year, and I ponder over what's to come - to all that I cannot see and all that I will continue to hold dear. The treasures of my heart - my faith, my family, my friendships, my community, my church, my home. For in this time, this is what God has given me. For in this season, these are my callings.
I can't believe we've reached Christmas again. I can't believe it's almost the turn of a new year.
From our little circus to you and yours, have a very Merry holiday. Keep Jesus close.
“I had no interest in going back. When face-to-face with the very thing for which we have longed and prayed, what else can we do but press on deeper and farther? This is the only way to find him. This is the only way to find the one who created us as dreamers to begin with.”
~Christie Purifoy, Roots & Sky
~Christie Purifoy, Roots & Sky
(This year's Christmas card photos courtesy of myself and my tripod, a friend's Christmas tree farm, and a comfortable October Sunday).