Tuesday, December 23, 2014

In Search of the Ideal Christmas

We baked cut-out cookies yesterday. "We" really did. Usually, I don't care to have extra people in my kitchen. I'm not very good at delegating and since I'm such a procrastinator, things are just better done quickly by myself rather than overseeing that others do what they need to.

This year, as in the past, my daughters cut out the cookies. (Despite the fact that they didn't cut out the cookies in as little space as possible to eliminate the need to continually re-roll the dough.) I placed them on the baking sheets and put them in the oven. My girls did great. I, on the other hand, dropped one shape on the floor as it went into the oven and another on the way out (twice).


My oldest laughed.

And it made me smile.

Something is changing in my heart this season and I just want it to fully develop and remain there consistently in the future.

"Can we watch The Grinch?" my oldest inquired. It was past the movie watching hour. We still had cookies to frost. This does not make for an ideal family moment in front of the fire... but I agreed.

As is tradition with my controlling tendencies, I gave each daughter enough frosting to cover one of each shaped cut-out for herself. 4 cookies each for them to decorate as well as the joy of licking off any leftover frosting on their plate. As for the other 56 cookies, I frost them precisely on my own to be certain there is enough for each. Not to mention that they will appeal more to the eye. In the midst of my decorating, I heard my 9-year-old's request.

"Can I help you decorate the rest of the cookies?"

Calmly, I acknowledged that she had been heard. "I usually like to do this myself to make sure we have enough frosting for every cookie." (This, in itself, shows improvement because my first response would have been to try and ignore her and hope she'd stop asking... well, that or yell that I'm just too busy.)

"I can help," she assured me.

I quietly got her a plate and a knife to spread the icing. Her smile filled her beautiful face.

The Grinch began to play in the background as my two daughters who sandwich the one decorating with me sat down to watch it with my husband.

My little blond wanted me to hand her each cookie to frost. I was busy frosting cookies of my own. Quietly, after setting my own creation back on the cooling rack, I'd take the completed cookie from her hand, replace it with a new one and tackle another on my own.

I could feel the anxiety fighting to grab hold of my heart. Thankfully, the joy on her face and the peaceful scene in the television room in front of me won out. She was actually making the cookies appealing to the eye as well.

Something is changing in my heart this season and I want it to culminate and never go away.

This morning I read part of the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke and pondered about the anticipation in my children's hearts. Why do kids look forward to Christmas with such excitement when adults... well... don't?

All my girls do from the moment Christmas is over is count down until the next year. Tears well up inside me as the certainty of memories of that feeling within myself have faded. Now, worries and anxiety threaten to fill up my soul and steal every ounce of joy.

God has been doing a work in my heart this season. Every morning, I give him my anxiety. Throughout the day, I cast my cares on Him again. At night, my worries are laid at His feet. I can't stop the thoughts from threatening me. They come. And they come again.

Like a hot potato toss I can't give my worries to Jesus fast enough in an effort to keep them from settling in my soul. The only thing I can do is offer them up to the only one who has any control. This moment is all I have. Should the next moment require some alterations, I pray He will give me what I need to do that.

I want the ideal Christmas. And yet, it's taken giving up the ideals to attain what I've so desperately wanted. Those heartwarming moments are found more often when I relinquish control than when I so frantically work to create them.

I am still unable to pinpoint exactly what is changing inside of me. It points to my children and their anticipation and the lack of thought to anything other than the excitement of Christmas Day...

Maybe what I'm looking for is all in the anticipation of Jesus. Maybe there is something to be said about Jesus' words in Matthew 18. "He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: 'Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me."

I need to quit making my list and checking it twice. My heart just needs to make room for Jesus... in the same unhindered way my children do. Then I might just find all that I've been frenziedly searching for.

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