This week marks the beginning of a lot of fun December festivities for us…Christmas parties, Women’s Ministry Brunch, parades, the SEC Championship, 5th wedding anniversary, and the list goes on. I just love Christmas. I really do. I love the lights, the excitement, the parties, the food, the shopping. I love the quality time with family and friends. I love playing my “Bing Crosby Christmas” spotify station on repeat. I love the way my house smells of fresh pine this time of year (don’t be fooled, it’s thanks to my “Fir and Firewood” candle). I love real trees, but I also love convenience AND to enjoy my decor for longer than just a couple of weeks. SO, I opt for “fake and prelit” these days.
(When we first got married I didn’t have a lot of Christmas ornaments, so I opted to use our Christmas cards to fill in the spaces. Now it’s become a tradition and I just love looking at friends and loved ones cards from years past. It makes my heart smile.)
But, I will be honest… If I’m not careful, the hustle and bustle of the season can sometimes get the best of me. I can find myself frazzled, tired, and anxious. Empty tank. Are you already feeling like that this season? Or do you dread the holidays in general? Maybe because it reminds you of what used to be and what is no longer? Maybe it stirs up old wounds or comparison or financial frustration? Or maybe you simply love everything about the traditions of Christmas, but you are so focused on getting things done and serving everyone else that you, like me, are felt feeling “empty tanked” before we even get to December 25th?
Well, I am here to tell you…you are not alone my friend. But just as transparency and “shedding light on our stuff” is a good start, we need to then sprinkle it with a little truth. Why? Because it’s not worth sharing our messes if all we do is just continue to sit in them. I believe that we are transparent because we actually crave transformation. So today, here’s what I have to say about all of the above…IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY.
Did you hear me? Christmas was never ever meant to frazzle, frustrate, empty, or hurt us. It was and is meant to FILL us. To awaken our hearts to the greatest TRUTH of all time. To open our eyes to the BEAUTY all around us, to cause a “weary world to REJOICE”, to give us a THRILL OF HOPE, to bring JOY that no person or thing can ever take away once we’ve received it. Isn’t it funny how contrasting these words are (full, hope, rejoice, beauty, joy) vs (frazzled, empty, frustrated, hurt)?
I want us (you and me) to experience the fullness that comes from knowing and loving Christ this season. I want to go about this season operating from that place of fullness, not from an empty tank. So where do we start? How on earth does one do that? First, I think it starts by getting STILL. In the middle of the craziness, let’s be still. Let’s get into the quiet place, even if just for a little while. I’m no fool…I know that this season truly breeds its own set of demands and busyness… BUT to run from a place of fullness, we must first be filled. RIght?
Recently, I was talking with one of my best friends in the world. Her name is Jill. She’s unlike anyone you’ll ever meet. She’s a fiery red-head who is passionate, gifted, joyful, wise and literally has the most intimate relationship with God I have ever seen lived out up close. She just exudes Christ’s love. She is so full of Jesus that He just pours out of her. Like she cant even help it. She’s not even trying. BUT this girl has changed my life. The way she lives her life and follows hard after Christ has spurred me to do the same. I tell you this about my friend because I want you to know that this just didn’t happen overnight. I mean, of course, she received Christ as her Savior one day many years ago, but day in and day out Jill is meeting with Him, reading the Word, praying, loving the people He’s given her to love, walking in obedience. She does not work in formal ministry, yet she ministers on the daily. Anyway, as we were talking and she was telling me what God is doing in her life right now and what He is revealing to her, something that she said resonated with me.
She said something like this… “Brookes, it’s in the quiet place that my heart is awakened and He speaks”. She used the term “quiet place” a LOT in that conversation, and I realized that my friend, whose life is absolutely not perfect, who faces struggles and trials just like we all do, who has been deeply hurt in her lifetime, who is human just like you and me, BUT who is the bundle of joy, the ray of sunshine, the truth speaking, grace pouring, wise beyond her years little redhead who truly loves Jesus and is living from a place of FULLNESS person that she is because of nothing related to her own strength. She is FULL of Christ, and it starts in her quiet place. Stillness. It’s where she seeks, listens, hears, loves, worships, and is filled.
(This is Jill at my wedding (and my friends Kat and Laura Merriem). I have a million pictures of her, but this just depicts how fun she and my frandss are!)
I don’t know what that looks like for you…and I imagine we are each different, so please don’t take this as me saying you should do what I do. But in all transparency, I, too, am finding fullness, joy, peace, God’s presence more and more everyday in my quiet place. For me, that looks like the stillness of the mornings with Jesus…and my coffee (of course), Bible, Advent devotional, worship music, and journal. It’s like my safe haven. Not gonna lie, it’s hard to get up early sometimes when I’m tired and would rather sleep in, but I know that I will never, ever regret that time. In the stillness of the mornings is where I feel my heart is awakening to the beauty of this season. I am starting by being still and simply asking, “Awaken my heart, Lord. Fill me with the fullness that comes from You alone. Prepare my heart for your coming. Open my eyes to see the world around me that is hungry for you.”
My prayer for you today is that you’ll rediscover the fullness of this season in a way that is everlasting, visceral, powerful. That you’ll find Jesus in the quiet place and that He will FILL your heart with the fullness of Christ, indestructible joy, and peace beyond understanding. He is the reason for the season, y’all. While all of the fun festivities of Christmas are so good, let’s not let them be our focus.
Will you start with me by being still?
“My Cozy Spot”
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as the only Son from the Father, full of Grace and Truth….For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:14-16
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21