Friday, December 5, 2014

Deck the Halls...

Our house is modest, but filled with intense love.  Our home decorations are simple, but they are "us."  We are a simple family.  No frills and lace, no need for top of the line furnishings.  Our home is lived in, loved in and open to all.

The only exception to our minimal décor is during the holidays.  I LOVE to decorate for the holidays.  We begin in October with pumpkins and leaves and fall colors, then switch to our Christmas decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Well, usually.

This year, on November 1... yes, you read that correctly.  The day after Halloween!  I was asked if we could go ahead and put up the Christmas tree.  

Ummmm... NO!

This became and daily, and even comical, conversation. 

On November 15, a day that will do down in Howe History, I conceded to my family's wishes and we put up our tree.

Now, I had been planning and plotting and purchasing burlap and had planned on making new ornaments to hang on the tree this year.  Things that would make the tree flow with the rest of the house.  Solid white lights are always a must.  My red wood bead garland, and our burlap and rusted metal angel tree topper.  I admit, I was getting excited.

We started the day long process, Christmas music playing, laughs, you know, our attempt at the Hallmark moment. 

Then things went south.  At least for me.

White lights are missing.  My solution... go to the store.

Family solution... multi-colored lights!!!  I just could not bring myself to go there.  Just not my thing. 

But sweet little faces and gentle, yet firm, persuading conversations made me consent.  Not willingly.  Not with a smile on my face.  But with gritted teeth and a silent prayer that God would change my heart!  Really, it's just colored lights.  What on earth is the big deal???

The mood changed in the house.  We could all sense it.  Even though I tried hard to convince everyone that I was totally on board they could see right through me.  (Never played Poker, now you know why!)

Lights on, all working... time for ornaments.

I told the girls to start picking out what they wanted on the tree - we have way too many ornaments.  They skipped over nearly every ornament I had envisioned on the tree.  They went for the cartoon characters, big colorful snowmen, the over sized candy canes...

I sat back and just let them do their thing.  No comments.  No guidance on where to put ornaments.  I had resigned to the fact that the one thing I cherished most about our Christmas decorations was no longer even remotely under my control.  The thing that was "MINE" was not longer mine. 

Then my girls started pulling out the old ornaments.  Booties and mittens that belonged to their daddy when he was a tiny.  Then, they hit the goldmine!  They found all of their handmade ornaments from daycare, church, school and craft times at home.  Traced hands cut out and made into angel wings.  Glittered ornaments with their photos glued on the front.  Mini nativity scenes made from popsicle sticks. Stars.  Candy canes. 

Then they found it, the key ornament, the "mother load" as they refer to great things.  Our Jesus spike.  It has a special place in the center of our tree, as a reminder that Christ is the center of Christmas.

With each ornament they put on the tree my heart softened and I was drawn to the beauty of this stolen tree.  Tears flowed, but I was careful to keep them hidden. 

When it came time for garland, the discussion turned to me.  What did I want on the tree?  Hmmm... paper circle garland, made by my sweet babies.  That would be the perfect finishing touch.

As we finished the girls stood back and looked with pride and joy at the tree THEY had decorated.   No interference from mom.  No suggestions on clumps of ornaments or gaping holes.  It was theirs.

Maddie asked me what I thought of the tree....

"It is the most beautiful Christmas tree we have ever!"

I have reflected on this day many times with friends.  I have laughed and cried about it.  God changed me that day.  Not that I was super crazy about things being perfect.  Anyone who knows me knows that is not the case.  I have issues, but I am by no means well put together.  But God reminded me that day that even in the small stuff I need to step back and let Him do His thing.  He is making things beautiful in HIS time.  Not mine.  And surely not the way I would do it. 

His ways are higher than mine, and His thoughts higher than my thoughts.

Would I have chosen to send Christ as a helpless babe to bring salvation to the world that had rejected me over and over?  Would I have sacrificed my only son for a world that did not love me, or my son, in return?  Would I have given so much? 

No.  I can't say that I would.

But that is the beauty of our God!  He doesn't do things the way we would.  He sees the big picture.  And His love for us is far greater than anything we can begin to imagine. 

So this year, take a step back.  Look past what the world tell us is beautiful and focus on what God sees as beautiful.  Look in the eyes of a stranger and say "hello."  Seriously make eye contact.  Encourage the retails workers as they are enduring the long hours and not so friendly customers.  Distract a fussy toddler so mom or dad can check out at the register. 

Take a moment to look at the beauty of the ones God for whom God sent salvation.  Then love them.  Simply for who they are. 

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