Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Christmas Journey

The Christmas JourneyJust twenty-three days left until Christmas, and I'm feeling like I've fallen farther behind than ever. Not only are my Christmas cards not in the mail, but I haven't even made them yet (I'd be perfectly happy buying them as I normally do, but Mom insists we finally use all of the stamping supplies we spent $100 on a couple of years ago, and I'm not allowed to send out a single card that I didn't make), I didn't even start thinking about decorating until today, and last night I went through my shopping list with Jesse and realized I'm only about half way through. I'm feeling beaten down by my own expectations. If I don't have it all done in time for Christmas, I'm not the mother, wife, daughter, woman I expect myself to be. I know that I'm not the only one feeling the stress this time of year. Advent isn't a time for preparing my heart for Jesus' birth, it's a time for beating myself up and feeling like I've failed my family for yet another year.

Isn't it funny how Satan has managed to pervert even the most beautiful and miraculous birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ? Jesus came to earth to live with us, as one of us, experiencing all of our pain and suffering, and then he died in our place to free us from the results of our sins, and we use this glorious gift as an opportunity to feel insecure, put unreasonable expectations on ourselves and others, to forget that Jesus was born in a barn to a poor couple, worked with his hands, and lived during his ministry on the support of others. He wasn't taken in by wealth or ostentatious show.

I'm not saying that all celebration during Christmas is wrong or against God. I just think that it's getting a little out of control; we've lost the reason for the celebration in all of the celebrating. I know I'm not the first one to ever say or write these words. They've probably been repeated every year since before the Puritans deemed it too worldly back in the 17th century. I don't think anyone really listens to them until it becomes personal. I've read the words myself countless times, but because this year I'm the one feeling overwhelmed and defeated, I'm the one writing them. I'm not sure how I'll get through the season and how I'll manage everything I wanted to do in the next twenty-three days. I'm sure I'll have to scale things back, at least a bit. The important thing is that this year I've recognized how I can be deceived. I read the Bible daily, pray regularly, and know that I have a growing relationship with the Lord that strengthens me each day, but even that didn't stop me from believing the lie that I needed to fulfill every holiday tradition in a spectacular way.

I'll just have to take it one day at a time and do what I can in each day, what my illness allows me to do. At the end of the twenty-three days, I'll have done what I can do, and if my family is happy and I've honored Christ's birth, that's all that matters.

The Christmas Journey by Donna VanLiere is a thin book, perfect for getting you ready for the holidays. Accompanied by stunning watercolors by Michael Storrings, she retells the classic story of the journey to Bethlehem and nativity through the eyes of Mary and Joseph, making them real people with fears, hopes, and dreams. Reading the story of two young people put into an impossible situation and how they trusted God to carry them through it is inspiring. VanLiere, who is best known for her Christmas Hope series that began with The Christmas Shoes, keeps to the point, reminding readers that Jesus, who created the world, became a baby who hungered and cried and smiled. Even in the midst of the busy holiday season, there is time to read this book and remember what Christmas is all about.

Thank you to AuthorsontheWeb for providing me with a copy of this book for review!