Monday, December 22, 2014

Keep calm!! It's only Christmas!

Whoa. Christmas is only a couple days away. How did this happen?? Raise your hand if you're mentally still in the month of November (both of my hands are raised)!

There's much to balance during this time of year, right? Family, baking, shopping, baking, wrapping, decorating, baking, baking, baking.... And we all do it with a smile on our face, joy in our hearts and a gleam in our eyes! Yeah right. More like a frustrated frown, a Grinch-like heart and tears in our eyes. Well, maybe that's just me. 

The Christmas season is the perfect opportunity for me to glorify God and His son. I have reason to talk about God, talk about the birth of His son, and the miracle that our Savior is to all of us. I'm allowed to put up nativity scenes without question or persecution, I'm allowed to sing songs praising His birth, I'm allowed to shout it from the rooftops because that is acceptable at this time of year. Want  to know what I'm doing instead? Stressing out about the gifts I have to buy, how many strands of lights are on the tree, where am I going to put up my new Christmas village, how am I supposed to wrap all these gifts by myself, don't eat all the cookies because then it means I just have to make more, etc, etc... Nowhere in there am I doing what I have the opportunity to be doing: talking about God. In fact, my moodiness and Grinch-like heart has done everything but glorify Him. What happened to my joy? Why am I wasting this perfect opportunity?

Because I'm human. I'm a mom. I'm a wife. I'm an employee. I'm a friend. I'm a daughter. I'm a sister. I'm teaching in the kids' ministry at church. I'm just downright busy. How about you? 

As a Christian woman, we have the beautiful opportunity to talk about God during this time of year because it's acceptable by others. The audience of those who won't listen grows smaller, while the audience of those who will listen grows larger. We hear songs on the radio that praise the birth of our savior and it's not considered offensive or inappropriate. We can send Christmas cards to friends and family boasting our love of God and gratitude for His son. It's everywhere, ladies! This is our golden opportunity!

Well, allow me to share about my missed opportunities:
Each year, our family group at church gets together for a fun Christmas party and white elephant gift exchange and it is so much fun! Well, this year, I was asked if we wouldn't mind hosting the party in our home. I was nervous to ask my husband because, ya know, these are "church people" I want to have in our home. For several hours. And there is no escape. So I mustered up the courage and I asked him, "babe, a couple of the girls asked if we could have our family group Christmas party at our house..."

He waited only a couple seconds to answer, but it felt like a couple of minutes. He said, "am I off?" He's a firefighter and his schedule is forever rotating, so I told him that yes, he was scheduled to be off that day. And then, without hesitation, he gave me permission to host the party at our home! I was so excited! He began feverishly putting up more Christmas lights outside, he bought a huge 10ft Christmas tree to place in the middle of our living room, he cleared out furniture to make room for seating, he let me have a cleaning crew come in to help me clean and prepare for the party - this guy was rolling out the red carpet for my church family. The evening of the party arrived quickly and we had a total blast - nearly 70 people in our home, tons of chatter and laughter, it was amazing. Once everything was over, my husband was telling me about a couple of the guys he was able to hang with and whose company he enjoyed during the party. I was taking mental notes and sent those women text messages the next day, practically begging them to schedule a dinner or a double date with us soon. Strike while the iron is hot, right?

The next week was the children's program at church, in which both of our children had singing solos. My husband had to work the day before, meaning he doesn't come home until the next morning. He told me that he would try to come to the church performance, but may have to come straight to church from work, so I ironed some clothes for him, packed his nice dress shoes, even made sure to bring along dress socks - can't forget those! And then he surprised me by showing up, not in the clothes I brought for him, but in clothes he went home to change into before coming to church! He raced home to change, for us. I didn't know he was there until I saw both of my kids light up with the biggest smiles and, from on stage, they waved and yelled, "Daddy!" Hearts and butterflies filled the air!

Man, I had two amazing experiences to really let God shine...and instead I let my enemy get a foothold on me. Oh, don't get me wrong. I was elated about hosting our party, and even more so about having him at church, and I made sure to encourage him in both instances. But you know what outweighed my encouragement those two times? My daily living. 

I let all the other stresses outweigh this joyous holiday season...and that is what my husband sees. What does your husband see? Has he been more open to listening to you talk about church or God during this time of year? How are you using this opportunity? 

My husband said to me one afternoon while I was snapping at everyone, "I thought you called yourself a Christian?" Ouch. Dagger to the heart. Deep cut. Definitely bleeding to death. Call 911, I'm in spiritually dying. My husband, the "non-believer," called me a faux Christian...why? Because even he recognized my ungodly behavior. Those two experiences with my church and church family were completely erased. Gone. As though it never happened. All because of my daily living. See, what I tend to do is rely on church and my church family to help impact my husband's heart - and they do! They greatly impact my husband's heart. But not as much as my daily living impacts my husband. To him, I was almost phony during the party and at church, because when I was in the privacy of my own home, without observers, I was moody, I was snippy, I was anything but joyful, gracious or happy. 

Spiritually single women, and women married to Godly men alike, what do our husband's see? Are we different at church than we are at home? Is our behavior consistent no matter where we are? Do we let the "stress" of the holiday season bury the Christian women we claim to be? 

Whether he ever says it or not, he is watching you. He is observing you. Not in a creeper kind of way, but in a "is she for real or is she fake" kind of way. Our husbands are not church goers (yet) because they are skeptical and we, their wives, are the windows into the church and into God's love. So, what exactly are they seeing?

Like I mentioned before, we have only a couple of days left until Christmas. The chance to really let the love of God shine all around us. Does that mean go overboard and shout "hallelujah" at the end of every sentence? No...even I would think you're kind of weird if you did that. "Baby, that tree is so beautiful. Hallelujah!!" And I certainly don't mean to shove Jesus down his throat with every word that leaves your mouth. "Aww, this table setting is perfect for a king. A king like Jesus." 

So what do I mean? I mean living out your convictions and keeping your attitude consistent with your beliefs. That saying "practice what you preach" has great truth behind it... The holiday season allows us the chance to openly celebrate and talk about our amazing Savior; it can also allow us the chance to squash our Godly wife behavior (omgsh that totally rhymed). This is a very busy time of year, of course. But don't lose sight of the fact that we ARE celebrating an incredible King and our husbands want to celebrate with us. 

Be the light. Be the joy. Be the example of gratitude for the birth of our King. All the gifts, all the lights, all the food will be gone...but the light you leave behind has the chance to glow long afterwards. 

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

Merry CHRISTmas!!!!

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