All month long, I’ve been pondering what this Christmas would be like. We’d begin our own family traditions this year with Eliana, opening presents together Christmas morning while eating a delicious Christmas breakfast. Family would come over for a scrumptious lunch and to relax together. All gifts would be purchased and wrapped by the week before “The Big Day” to allow plenty of time for cooking, cleaning, sending cards and making gifts for neighbors and friends. Everything thought through and prepared, it would be the first of many Leino family Christmases.
This week has not gone as planned.
Sunday began with NO Christmas gifts purchased yet. (well, I take that back. Jordan had bought a gift for me, but as far as my gift-getting responsibilities – nada) Church was AMAZING! Our pastor, Jimmy Carroll, preached a strong sermon focused solely on celebrating and exalting Jesus. Seriously, its worth your time to watch it.
Sunday also brought the beginning of a nasty stomach bug that slowly overtook our entire family. Poor Eliana got the bug first, followed by myself and finally taking out Jordan. It even took out my mom and brother who live nearby. From Sunday through Wednesday night, the Leino family was down for the count. Jordan was a CHAMP and did a bulk of the shopping before the bug sent him to bed (and as you know from earlier, this hardly EVER happens). By Thursday morning, we were all well enough to venture out to finish the shopping, raid the grocery store and recover the apartment from its former invalid-ridden state. Well, we hoped to do so anyway. As of 8 o’clock tonight, the presents have all been bought and wrapped. That’s it. No grocery shopping done. No prep-cooking completed. The apartment is….better but not great. Christmas cards will have to wait for 2011. And I haven’t even begun to prep for our trip to the mountains on Monday. Last week’s Corolla debacle has reduced us back to one vehicle so I’m home with my precious little girl while Jordan practices w/the Journey worship team for tomorrow’s Christmas Eve services. In short, this week has felt more like chaos than Christmas. Tonight has found me frazzled, overwhelmed by lack of checks on my to-do list.
Getting tired of my pity-party yet? God certainly was. As the evening has wound down, I’ve sensed Him wanting to bring comfort and ease into the midst of my self-imposed madness. My heart began to still as I felt His reminder, “This season is not about your to-do list, your boeuf bourguignon, your perfectly clean apartment, your ducks standing all in a row. Rest in knowing it’s not about all you have to do. It’s about all I’ve already done! Perhaps I allowed sickness to hit your family for a few days to make you slow down and simplify. Whatever doesn’t get “done” won’t matter in the end. What matters is Jesus came for YOU. He died for YOU. He rose from the grave, victorious over sin and death for YOU. Relish in that. Rest in that. Remove your chaos from what Christmas is really all about: love, sacrifice, humility, My pursuit of humanity’s heart, and above all – Jesus.”
So here I sit, peace now replacing my previous frenetic state. Lord, thank You for your continued patience with me and Your gentle calls back to Your heart. Yes, I’ll do what I can to finish preparations for this weekend, but the task won’t drive me as it was before. Its humbling to be this age and still finding myself in need of such a reminder. But oh, how grateful I am He never tires in giving it.
May you be surrounded by the peace that I so desperately needed…and God so graciously gave. May you rest in the true heart of Christmas rather than be caught up in the tempting chaos we so easily create around it. Above all, may your heart and mind be filled in knowing Jesus came out of His limitless love for YOU. Not you as in humanity in general, though that is true. He laid aside His divine deity to come in human form for you specifically. For YOU, you.
Merry Almost Christmas, everyone! Time to get back to cleaning…