I am going to celebrate the birth of my Savior…. It has been one of those days. The children are in the house for the first day out of school. I had awesome plans to cook with them, deliver presents to the Rescue Mission with them, encourage them to play and enjoy their day off.
Last night, however, while our youth group was caroling, the bus broke down at the assisted living where they were singing. We shuttled the youth group back to our house, improvised a plan to carol in our neighborhood, and had a great time singing and wishing our neighbors Merry Christmas. But today, it left a little bit of a problem to deal with- a broken down bus, older people in our church who were not visited because we couldn’t make it there, and a husband who had a lot on his plate all of a sudden.
We took the kids to see one of the older ladies that we missed seeing last night. I was playing the new CD I got from the Christmas concert we went to Monday night. I am dying for us all to be singing this gorgeous music and celebrate our Savior, but the car ride was filled with children who would not stop arguing and tattling- and included me giving lots of talks about where we were going and the importance of loving others and how if we can’t even do that with one another, how are we going to be able to love our friend we were going to see.
All the while I am wanting them to be quiet so I can just listen to my dang Christmas music….
We do visit her and it was good. We head home and the problems continue- selfish attitudes, ugly hearts, tattling,etc. I go through it all again and they say they are sorry- they won’t do it again- they love us- all sweet things, but no sooner do we get home and I start making lunch, they start demanding, interrupting,” I want noodles, I want mac-n-cheese- I want pizza- I want those chips we just bought- I want Sprite-I want my sippy cup.” All at the same time. I had had it! Words may be nice to hear, but our actions reflect what we truly believe. Their actions were saying they were most important, they were expecting service and expecting whatever they wanted right now!
After a major talking to, they sit down quietly to eat while I finish up their drinks. Emma asks if anyone wants to pray. Cord starts, Lucy goes next. By the time Olivia goes, there are many tears of regret. Emma finishes with much sadness. All 4 are crying now (although I really think the top 2 are doing it because of true repentance and the other two think we are all crying for some reason and they need to join in!) I move around the table hugging each one and thanking them for their softer hearts, yet still wanting them to know that repentance means not just being sad and sorry. It means CHANGING the behavior. It means turning from the sin and turning toward the right thing.
When everyone settles a little, I tell them I feel like I have been in The Sound of Music. There is a scene where Maria is having her first dinner with the children and the Captain in the nice dining room and the children have placed a pine cone in her chair. She is startled but decides to handle their misbehavior by “complimenting” them about how nice they have been to her since she arrived, knowing that she is new and would want them to be kind. In their regret and embarrassment, the little one begins to weep, then another and another, until all of them are wailing because of how unkind they have been. The Captain asks her what is wrong with all of them and she says,”O they’re alright. They’re just happy.” And then their is massive wailing…
That was our dinner table today. And I am still frustrated that I am having to deal with messy little hearts, instead of having a memory filled happy day. I want a clean Christmas, a pleasant Christmas, an easy Christmas. And then I remember a stable and an inn that was too full, a manger and a smelly barn, a pregnant woman having to give birth far away and in great discomfort, a baby boy who would ultimately have to leave so he wouldn’t be murdered and who would later willingly die for our sins and I KNOW that there are no easy Christmases, no pleasant Norman Rockwell moments, no robot-like children who will be programmed to be sweet and generous and kind. It will always be messy this side of heaven. It will always be more complicated than I thought. But it will always point me to my Savior. It will always point me to my real home. It will always keep me longing for heaven and for the curse to be broken and all things restored.
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.