These days entering into the first week of Advent, I've been thinking about how life can be filled with busyness leading to the 25th. The to do lists are endless. I ask myself, "How can I fill my home with peace looking toward the hay strewn manager? How do I fill my own heart with this peace, to know this peace?"
Returning from Thanksgiving, Ben & I began discussing what traditions/festivities/practices we wanted to incorporate into our family breath. One of our values is not to add more busyness for the sake of keeping a tradition, simply because we've done it before, or feel like we "need" to do. How does this month differ from the other 11 months out of the year? How do we add value & meaning for our girls, without making us go crazy from doing something every.single.day?
For me, it's about those tired sojourners making their way to a shanty stable, where the lowly Shepherds were the first to receive the announcement from God on High. It's about finding ways to lead my girls there, others there & myself there. It's living in anticipation of what is to come. Oh, I've never quite known this reality of what's to come. How my soul longs for what is to come. How we live in the here but not yet.
It's that our hearts were never designed to long for this broken place. Hearts constantly trying to find our way back to the garden, where ultimate peace lay.
Years of waiting. Finally, the shepherds, the wise men, Mary & Joseph, Simeon & Anna the prophetess see the fulfillment of the promise, spoken moons before, as the gate to the garden was sealed shut...for then.
They lived in the here but not yet.
Our hearts, our bodies, our being lives in this tension, as we wait for the coming King to redeem it all. The tension being that we still live here. How then, do we find the Sovereign amidst the broken fragments? How do we find the peace amidst the chaos? Do we see the mercy laying like dew on the morning grass of our children saying "thank you" and searching for their sister's blankie to comfort?
Are you adding tradition upon tradition because that's what you "feel" you need to do, while adding more "busyness" to life? Are you feeling like you lack traditions & practices in your home, thus feel a failure? Do what you love & that will spread to your children. As my friend Logan realized, if we are not loving the ones whom we've been given to care for, all to create "hospitality" for others, is it really hospitality?
Tips for Creating & Cutting Traditions
1. Write down all that you have done in the past.
2. What are essential items in your mind, the ones you value the most.
3. Make an A, B, C list, with 'A' being important & urgent, 'B' being important but not urgent, & 'C' being not urgent & not important.
4. Those in the 'C' list might be writing a Christmas letter. It's nice to do, but not urgent or important. Again, this depends on your family.
5. Know your stress level, your spouses' stress level, and your children's.
6. Grace. Just because you've done something (like baking cookies) every year, doesn't mean you need to do it this year. Life has a way of not going as planned, and we don't need to make this season about squeezing into pants two sizes too small. It stops us from breathing.
7. There are a slew of Advent, Christmas, holiday traditions to do, one doesn't need to look very far. Our jobs are to follow the bright shining star. Release yourself from anything that doesn't fall in line with that journey.
Two Years Ago: Intensely Chocolate Cake