Packing up Christmas

The ornaments and Christmas crafts and decorations piled up as I worked to pack it all up.

The ornaments and Christmas crafts and decorations piled up as I worked to put it all away.

On New Year’s Day, I was ready to take down the Christmas tree and pack up the decorations.

For the last several years, I’ve struggled with the after-Christmas letdown. I didn’t want to take down all the special ornaments and lovingly pieced together Christmas crafts the kids made at home and school! The Nativity scene looked so beautiful on my piano, and I loved my mornings curled up on the couch in the dark before the kids woke up, gazing at the lights on the tree. Christmas is my favorite time of year, and it always seems so stark and empty when it all is packed up in a box and stacked up in the garage.

This time around, as I surveyed the house full of Christmas on the first day of 2015, I knew it was time. Without remorse or even a tug at my heart, it all came down to be carefully packed away for next year.

My husband commented out loud that he wondered where his wife had gone! The one that usually waxes sentimental was now on a mission to clean up and move on.

This was a wonderful December, full of family time and precious memories. We participated in an exciting Journey to the Manger every day as we anticipated Jesus’s birthday on Christmas. We attended school programs, dance recitals, church musicals, and even managed to deal with a few bouts of sickness in the midst of it all. We had an amazing day with my extended family at Silver Dollar City, and enjoyed an after-Christmas trip to spend time with my husband’s family. Christmas Day itself was full of joy and wonderful time together!

So why didn’t I feel the same way this year that I usually do when all the festivities and Christmas celebrations come to an end?

Mangers aren’t meant to linger around.

Mary didn’t give birth to her firstborn son in a stable and lay Jesus in a manger because she wanted to…she had to because there was no other place or people who would make room for them. The young couple didn’t stay there long either. They dedicated Jesus in the Temple, and ended up living in a home in Bethlehem. It is there that the Wise Men found Mary and the child and worshiped Him with expensive gifts. After their visit, an angel visited Joseph with instructions to leave Bethlehem immediately for Egypt, sparing Jesus from King Herod’s rage.

Jesus didn’t come to stay cradled in the manger. He came to shake the earth and our hearts when he paid the penalty for our sins on the cross and burst forth from the grave!

Mary and Joseph left the manger, not knowing what awaited them as they held the Son of God in their arms. They would go to Egypt and back, and watch their Son grow in favor with God and men. Mary would see Jesus’s miracles, and the crowds clamoring for a touch and a word from the Savior. They had to move on from the manger to experience the adventure of life with Jesus!

I don’t know what God has in store for me or my family this year. I haven’t written out carefully constructed resolutions or goals, and frankly am not sure what we will eat for dinner tonight. But I know that my best days are ahead of me, as I follow my Jesus!

That’s why I was ready to pack up the decorations, and carry Christmas with me in my heart. My feet are ready to move and my hands are ready to get to work. It’s time to continue this life’s adventure with Jesus!

New house, new start

This week my family is moving into our new house! After nearly 10 years of marriage and seven moves, we are ready to be finished with packing boxes and tape guns.

Knowing that this move is our last for a very long time, it is very exciting for me to finally unpack boxes I haven’t for years and find a place in our home for everything. I have a new living room to rearrange furniture and a chance to give away what we don’t need.

A new home is like a fresh start. In about an hour, my husband will be arriving with all our kitchen appliances, cookware and dishes. All of my kitchen cabinets are empty and ready to be filled. I have a blank slate to work with as I decide the best place to store each item.

The kitchen is ready to be unpacked! Now where to put everything...

It took us an entire day to paint our great room. This was taken right after we were finished (and I was resting on the couch!).

Sometimes we wait too long for our “new beginning”. It’s easier to do things the way we’ve always done them. There is a comfort to having everything a certain way, even if it doesn’t make sense. It’s our routine, and we can easily navigate in the dark without stubbing our toes.

Instead of waiting for that “shake-up” moment, or move, to force the evaluation, maybe we should make our own opportunities to take all the dishes out of the cupboards and consider if there is a more efficient arrangement or another drawer for the silverware.

Maybe it’s time to lay our lives before our Savior, give Him the full authority to inventory our spiritual houses and let Him rearrange our priorities to line up with His vision.

We don’t have to wait until the clutter is out of control or other circumstances compel us. Jesus is waiting, ready to help make sense of our lives, strip the sin from our walls and put on fresh paint.

When is the last time you have allowed Jesus in to rearrange the living room of your heart?