It has been a roller coaster of a week… a week of tasting the ache of our advent longing and reveling in the joy of friendship and good cheer. We learned on Monday of the sudden passing of Brian’s grandpa, and we tasted the brokenness of this fallen world. Then we left the very next day to spend three days at Bri’s company retreat with friends new and old, laughter and encouragement, and thankfulness to how God has provided for us in so many ways. Arriving home, we quickly turned around to watch our children in their annual school Christmas program and tears fell from my eyes as I listened to my Bear’s class recite several passages of Scripture (“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”), to Asher share along with his classmates the Gospel in six words, and to my Bella’s class dramatically recite poetry. We heard handbells and sang carols and listened as our children shared over and over the true meaning of Christmas.
Today is it snowing… our third snow this month so far, and while it hasn’t accumulated much, I watched my children grasp each moment and make the best of what they could. Ash-man has a fever and is on his third book of the day, Bella has been dressed up as Robin Hood playing with her school-made arrow and quiver, and Bear has been working on Christmas lists and helping his dad. Brian has been working around the house, and I have paid bills and cleaned and planned (menus and calendars and grocery lists) for the days to come: Brian leaving to go to his grandfather’s funeral, a trip together to celebrate a friends’ birthday, family arriving in town for holiday cheer.
My heart has been full these days.
Some days it is full of sadness over loss. Some days it is full of an almost paralyzing fear as we await another scan and wonder if there is cancer yet again. Some days it is full of quietness as I watch my children revel in the wonder of this season. Some days it is full of joy as we celebrate all He has done for us.
I love it, and I revel in it. I love searching Pinterest for new ideas for decorating or baking. I love heading out and about crunching in the snow. I love searching for Christmas trees and remembering where we received ornaments. I love the parties and the music and the excitement in the air. I love working my job and coming up with ideas for new music to try next Christmas. I love greeting my children when they come home from school and kissing their chilled cheeks. I love thinking up creative gifts for friends and searching for that perfect Christmas card picture to share.
I love how filling it all is…
How we fill sleeves of heavy coats and pockets with mittens and scarves, and we play in the snow and bundle up to trek to friends’ houses.
How we fill windows with crafts we make, and hold closely the look in their eyes as they see their treasured pieces of beauty.
How we fill our bellies with delicious foods, and we feed our souls with loved ones around our table.
How we fill our hearts will friendships near and far.
How we fill our home with delicious smells–spiced cider, hot chocolate, and citrusy scents.
How we fill our lives with memories as we fill our tree with ornaments.
How we fill stockings and lavish gifts on our children (for after all, hasn’t He lavished the greatest gift on us?).
How we fill the needy with money in Salvation Army buckets and food banks and toys for tots.
How we fill mugs with hot chocolate and marshmallows and candy cane treats.
How we fill our arms with hugs as we greet one another with the joy of what Christmas is all about.
How we fill with tears and sadness as we remember those gone before and those who struggle now.
How we fill mailboxes with letters and pictures and reminders of who and what is really important in our lives.
How we fill boxes with cookies and take them to our neighbors.
How we fill afternoons with snuggles and movies.
How we fill glasses with wine and toast one another and the year to come.
How we fill our evenings with Advent readings and worship.
How we fill our 25 days of Christmas calendar with fun things to do together.
How we fill minds with imagination and truth and watch them grow.
How we fill the rafters with music, and we dance together as we always do.
How we fill this season with an eye to the true filling…
And even with the advent longings, even with the ache of loss, even with the fear of future diagnoses, even with days that don’t go as hoped or planned, we will walk away full, because in the midst of it all, we are filling our lives with the gift of living… we are filling our lives with Christ’s blessings… and we are filling our lives with Him.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)