Thursday, December 06, 2007

Christmas Confession

Two years ago at Christmas, Curt and I were furiously trying to finish remodeling our home so that we could move in before the return of our Lord. It was absolutely the most stressful time of our marriage to date. There was not much holiday cheer in the little townhouse that we were so eager to vacate. We chose not to bother with decorating since we had enough to deal with between the house and a baby on the way.

Last year was going to be the most wonderful Christmas of all time. It was going to be one that we talked about for years to come. We had an adorable ten-month-old to add to all the joy of the season. It was his first Christmas, so we would need to document every little thing that happened and make everything as special as possible. We had a very cute house to decorate to our hearts' content. And boy, did we. Looking back, I can see that I was putting, hmmmm, just a leetle bit of pressure on, well, everyone and everything for it to be nothing less than magical. It makes me tired just thinking about it. And, honestly, I made no room in my heart for the baby Jesus. No room at all. In fact, on Christmas Day I started a huge argument with my sister. Yep, it was me. I picked it. And it was a big one.

This year is going to be different. The name of the game is peace. Financial peace. Sisterly peace. Peace in our schedule. Peace inside my house. (With about half the decorations we have instead of it looking like I robbed Hobby Lobby.) Peace outside my house. (With about half the Christmas lights we had last year, when Curt channeled Clark Griswold). Peace in my expectations. Peace in my heart with God.

Peace is something I will fight for this year. I want to enjoy this Christmas without all the self-inflicted pressure, unreasonable expectations, and needless distractions. I need there to be room for the baby Jesus, who, incidentally, is our peace.

I think if Mary had given birth to Jesus in 2007, she might have gone on eBay and ordered some custom-painted letters that spelled out his name on the wall. She might have emailed a picture of his crib bedding to the artist so that she could make it all match. To spell P-R-I-N-C-E O-F P-E-A-C-E would have cost Mary an arm and a leg. She might have even hoped Joseph wouldn't notice the $150 to PayPal on their bank statement. But those 13 letters are worth all the money in the world. They're the most lavish, expensive, mind-blowing, life-changing present we could ever give or get.

Colossians 3:12-17
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

Peace to you, Curt and Jackson this Christmas...Thank you Amanda for posting these thoughts now..(i must be the first to read them) I'll take your wishes to bed with me now and say a special prayer for you...YOU ARE SPECIAL!!!

Anonymous said...

and P.S. YOU should not be up working at the computer so late....GO TO BED!!!!

Bev Brandon said...

I have this little bitty plaque that says Psalm 119:165 - Great Peace have they who love your Word and nothing shall offend them. Wonder why I am offended by people? Wonder why I slip into being an impression manager? God loves your authentic humble heart Amanda, not just honest, but authentic by looking into the fray of your own heart. And it's His unbelievable Kindness leading us all to repentance Christmas Day, every day when we haven't made room for HIM, isn't it? Love your blog. Love your big heart!

Angie said...

Well said, Amanda! I love your light-hearted, yet thought-provoking posts. Imagining Mary ordering "PRINCE OF PEACE" letters for the nursery - er, manger - had me rolling. Wouldn't that be a funny addition to the church Christmas pageant?!

Yes, the other day as I was decorating (and trying to keep little hands from undecorating), I was yelling something unpleasant at my kids and not being loving and patient, when I glanced over at sweet baby Jesus looking up at me innocently from his hay bed in the nativity, and I felt so guilty. Perfectly spaced ribbon on the tree, evenly distributed ornaments, and a smooth Christmas blanket draped over the couch a perfect Christmas does not make!!! This season, it's time to loosen up and give up my perfectionist tendencies to the only One who is perfect. Thanks for leading the way!

The Van Fam said...

What a BEAUTIFUL post. You are so right and it's so true. I come from a family that's all about Christmas and that preassure multiplied after having JD. This year I'm equally as excited and in awe of the season already, but trying a little less. I'd like to blame it on a spiritual enlightening but I am pretty sure it's sleep deprivation.

He is the reason and may we all remember that and slow down enough for it to bless everything we do this Christmas. There's no greater gift nor any better reason to celebrate!

Kelly said...

Thank you so much for this reminder. I just finished my devotions, and in my journal my plee to the Lord was for Him to fill our home, and my children, with His peace in this season- to keep our focus on Him.

Enjoy!

Fran said...

Your sweet momma taught us once that Peace Rules and yes He does.
I just sometimes don't let Him.

I'm with you though...I need some peace ruling in my life...all of it....and that will come only from Him.

Blessings Amanda!

Ang baylis said...

I want peace this year as well. It's hard not to notice the Babylon mentality in the city we live in. I'm with you... I want this year to be different and I, too am going to fight for it! Thank you for the sweet reminder!

Much love, siesta!
Angie xoxo

Michelle said...

You will enjoy the season so much more! It's a choice we make, peace, sometimes easier than others- way to go- have a peaceful Christmas!

Anonymous said...

AWESOME...thanks...I love this one!

Love, Sarah TN

Catherine in Orlando said...

A lovely, timely reminder - thank you! As mom of four adults and grandma of five, I could feel the stress building over the last few weeks to find the perfect gift, to wrap it perfectly, to decorate so as to have a little Christmas in every room (what was that about Hobby Lobby?), to ... well, you get it.

Peace. Thank you, Jesus, for your peace in this season. I'll join you in that fight for some peace.

Kelli said...

Thanks, Amanda. I needed to be reminded of that today. I made this same vow about a month ago, but I can feel the stress starting to creep back in. Oh, how I love this Prince of Peace!

Anonymous said...

I really needed to read this today! Thank you.

Rebecca

Mommy Dot Com said...

Several years back Christmas was forever changed for me when I happened upon a book of Christmas poety that my husband's grandmother had written. The night of the Savior's birth came alive. There are so many in her book that I love but I will try to post one every once in a while for you and your readers. I hope they will touch your heart with the same heavenly grace that forever touched mine. This poem is why we always keep a manger for the children to play with under the Christmas tree.
"Remembering"
When I was a child - I remember it well
'Twas Christmas Eve and the soft snow fell
It covered the ground with a blanket of white
As I watched through the window in the gathering night.

And my young heart sang, and I danced with glee
As I thought of the wonderful Christmas tree
And all the toys to be placed there just for me.

So excited that I could hardly wait
To taste the candy and cookies and cake
And other goodies my mother would bake.
O' the spicy odor of the dark fruit cake!

The "little Babe" was put under the tree
In his manger bed for all to see,
A little lamb so wooly and sweet
Was laid in the cradle at Jesus' feet,
Mary so gentle and Joseph so tall
Stood by the crib in the stable stall,
After the Chritmas story was read
I knelt before them as I started to bed
And there in the firelight my prayers were said.

I would like to go back to that time once more,
And hang a wreath on the wooden door,
And kiss my mother and hug my dad,
And kneel again at the Christ child's bed.
Today as I stand by my Chrismas tree
These beautiful memories come back to me.

Bu Katherine Bush
Christmas 1986

JillCoen said...

Yes! Baby Jesus has been lost in the hustle and bustle. I'm glad you wrote about this...I think more believers are beginning to feel this way. I'm happy to report that Baby Jesus and the manger scene are under our tree this year...that's all we need. :)
Merry Christmas!
love, jill :)
www.thecoens.blogspot.com

Beau, Melissa, & Brynne said...

amen sister. Half the decorations, half the presents this year. Focusing on Him and family..we're on the same boat! Love ya!

Rose said...

WOW Amanda, you don't know how much I needed this special word this morning, I think the "mas" (more in spanish)in Christmas is trying to get the best of me! I think I'll like you, focus just on the Christ of Christmas instead. Well put my dear cyber friend well done!!

Them Chandlers said...

Peace...yes. Thanks for sharing this!

Shull Family said...

Amanda,
I am a 26-year-old Irving native who found your blog through a friend. After years of your mom's Bible studies, your blog as been an additional blessing in my life. As a married gal dealing with infertility, you constantly lift my spirits, and for that I thank you. Merry Christmas to you and your family! God Bless! SLS

zoom said...

Excellent post. Peace is a choice when you get right down to it. A lot of the stress we have is self-induced.

I will probably reread this many times in the next couple of weeks....

A Place For Ministry Wives said...

Good stuff, Amanda. Love it all!

MITZI said...

Amanda, are you trying to send Curt a coded message of what you spent on paypal???? ;)
Ahhhh worldly Xmas. Been there, done that. Peace is what one gets when one decides to no longer spend, spend, spend. I have found that less is less stressful. Sometimes I wonder if I've become a scrouge with Xmas. But no. My focus has to turned to real Christmas. The birth of my precious baby Jesus. My children know we will not go into debt for them. Maybe a little for the grandkids.:) In fact on my side of the family we don't exchange gifts anymore. (just for the kids) We can enjoy being together without feeling did I spend enough on them? Does my gift match the extravagance of theirs. I can hear in your determination Amanda that you will have a joyful, peaceful Christmas this year. What better gift than to spend time with the Moore clan. I can hear the laughter that will take place, feel the love in the house, the aroma of your mom's goodies, the love of your sister after that big fight which you will not discuss.
Have fun! Jesus IS the only reason for this season.
We will all be waiting for the family pictures and maybe more recipis. Love you.

stacey said...

good thoughts!

Dionna said...

Beautiful post, Amanda. I think Christmas should be full of meaning and love. If that means we deck every hall with decor and that's how we love it - great! If that means going low key and listneing to Bach Christmas Carols, then that's how Christmas should be spent for us. As long as we focus on what it's about and show the love He showed us to others around us.
I'm proud of you for fighting against the "tide" this year.

~kay hueston said...

Happy Birthday baby Jesus---Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father, Mary's precious son, and our Saviour.

Thanks Amanda!

Stephanie (Ocean Mommy) said...

I posted something along these lines this morning. Such a good reminder here!

Have a wonderful, peace filled season!!

blessings,
steph.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I've been mulling similar thoughts for the past few Christmas seasons.

Great post, Amanda. May God bless you with a Christmas that's peaceful, joyful and wondrous.

(Oh, and the paragraph about Mary ordering Prince of Peace from eBay? That had me rolling.)

lisa said...

Great post. That seems to be my heart right now as well. I felt so overwhelmed last year. I told my husband we weren't doing that this year. Yes, we have been busy, but not so much that I feel I'm too stressed or my head is spinning! I have made a conscious effort this year to enjoy Christmas and what it truly means....not just rushing through so as to check something off of my to-do list.

debra said...

Peace is so good.

CrownLaidDown said...

Psalm 122:7 May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.

May the Price of Peace fill your hearts and home, dear one.

olivia and henry said...

i love this, amanda! i am right there with you. one of my favorite verses now as a wife and mom, is col.3:15. the Lord's Peace, ruling in your heart and your home...all year long.
"And let the PEACE of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful."

jennyhope said...

right on as usual!! :)

jen said...

Why is it so stinkin easy to get carried away with all the decorating and places to go and things to see and cookies to bake... Last year was it for us as well. We finally said forget it! We didn't even have time for Jesus 2 Christmas' ago. So last year we simplified our Christmas and just celebrated Jesus. It was amazing. We still made Christmas cookies, and we did presents, but the focus of our attention was in celebrating the life of Christ and it did bring volumes of peace over our family. So for this Christmas, Sweet Girl, I am going to be praying mountains of peace over you. I hope you all have a very Blessed Christmas this year!

Sunni at The Flying Mum said...

Oh my, I love this post!

Do you think Mary would splurge on a Fleurville diaper bag, as well? Maybe get Joseph a "Diaper DJ Bag?"

The Lazos aren't doing outside lights in an effort to try to simplify things this year (& Xavier was scared he'd do a Heath H. repeat.)

Yes, friend. Peace is a good goal this year!

jennyhope said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Emmy : ) said...

That was great! Made me laugh...made me think...and so touched my heart! I LOVE reading your posts! They are such a blessing to me! They are so real, honest, meaningful, funny...I pray we all have peace this Christmas!

Be Still and know I am God! Psalm 46:10

Emmy : )

Living Beyond said...

AMEN - just a wonderful post - thank you!

{Karla} said...

every year finds me trying to simplfy and I prayed about it.

He answered that prayer 2 years ago when we had the financial rug pulled right out from under us. (right before Thanksgiving).

It was a humble, quiet Christmas that year. And the Lord totally showed Himself to us.

Blessings,
K

MamaCass said...

Well said Amanda. We could all use the reminder to focus on our Prince of Peace especially this season. I loved your analogy about Mary and the letters over Jesus's crib. He is the Prince of Peace. And I was going to tell you that your hair looked fabulous last Sunday morning.=)

CrownLaidDown said...

I meant Prince, who paid the price :)

Cindy said...

Good, good stuff, Amanda! I want peace to reign HERE where I am!

So what do grown-up sisters fight about? I never had a sister, but I have four girls now, though, and they fight about anything and everything... chores, who got the most pie, who made the bigger mess. Yet they have a sweet relationship, too!

boomama said...

LOVE THIS.

Just linked to it, in fact.

How'd you get so smart, sister? :-)

Shelly said...

lol! robbing hobby lobby! :)

A big amen girlfriend

Cathy Davis said...

Beautiful! I'm trying to do the same thing.

Anonymous said...

okay, did Mitzi really say "your mom's goodies"? I think both you and your dad have her beat in the kitchen....at least that's the word on the streets!!!!

connorcolesmom said...

Amanda,
Why is it that the one time of year that we should be focusing on the Prince of Peace is often the most stressful. I am like you the first Christmas with my new baby I wanted everything to be perfect but I ended up missing the point - our Jesus!!
After that first Christmas things changed. We toned down the gift giving and receiving. We made sure that we surrounded ourselves with the true meaning of Christmas instead of all the material stuff and that has really helped!
Thank you for the reminder.
Have a great weekend!
Blessings,
Kim

twogirlsmom said...

I try to remind myself of this every year. But I really like how you have purposely chosen peace over all situations. Each day I will determine peace and remember this reason for this glorious season! Thanks.

Darla said...

What a beautiful post! Peace..that kind only comes from Jesus..Christmas is hard on us with all the commercialism..its a fight just not to give in to it! that makes me tired! Love ya Princess, you rock!

http://4evrhis.wordpress.com

Heather said...

Thanks so much for the reminder, Amanda, the HE is our source of PEACE! I, too, am working at toning things down a bit this year. I'm not pressuring myself as much, and therefore, I'm not stressing out the rest of my family. I hope you and your sweet family have a blessed Christmas!

Jungle Mom said...

This is my first Christmas in the US in over 20 years. I am amazed by all the stress involved! Why can't we just enjoy each other and celebrate the reason of it all? Scratching my head and wondering....

Patty said...

Great post!!! I needed to read this. Thank you!!

May your home be filled with peace that passes all understanding!!

Merry Christmas,

Patty

jazzy j in tyler said...

Right on, sister! This will be our first Christmas living on a boys ranch and will be very special to us. The sweet boys we work with have taught us so much. So many of them have been neglected and abused in horrific ways.

It's kinda ironic, but in trying to teach the boys the "true" meaning of Christmas i have actually been reminded of so much myself. i'll never forget their faces when i told them that the King of Kings came for everybody, from the highest to the lowest in society's eyes. They were amazed when i described what a "manger" was, and that the angels announced the news to "lowly" shepherds first! i've heard the story of Christmas so many times, it took on a new meaning to see it through their eyes. Merry Christmas from Azleway Boys Ranch!

Room for Grace said...

Great, thought provoking post.
I've kind of landed in the same spot as you, but not as on purpose. In the past 8 months, both of my 67 year old parents have been diagnosed with cancer. It has sifted through all of my normal Christmas craziness that I simply don't have time for, or room in my heart and mind for. We are left with a simply decorated Christmas tree, singing Christmas songs each night, 1 day of shopping, 1 day of wrapping, and a few church activities. I can just feel the peace in our home like never before. What a gift!

Breathing His Joy said...

Thanks for posting this Amanda... it was such a humble reminder for all of us. Who hasn't done that before... I picked a huge fight with my husband last year, so petty. I too hope for a peaceful season this Christmas! May we all celebrate and over do the most important thing... praising the Prince of Peace! :)

The Preacher's Wife said...

That sound you hear from the east is me hollering, "Amen, Sistah!"

One trip to WalMart today is all it took to send me into a tizzy.

Come again quickly, Lord Jesus.

Bev Brandon said...

You asked a couple of posts ago for prayer requests and I didn't want to impose---am I serious over here? But I'm desperate for my missionary daughter to come home for Christmas in 10 days and she just landed in a Thailand hospital yesterday in a motorbike accident. Please pray she doesn't get a staph infection which is commonplace from the hospital care. Ooohh!

ncmama said...

Amanda,

I've read this several times over the last few days, and still found myself disappointed when my 3 & 5 year old little boys were not perfect angels when we went shopping yesterday in a very crowded Target. It's so easy for me to have unrealistic expectations this time of year. I remember all the joy and wonder of Christmas as a child, but I conveniently forget about the overstimulation, crankiness, and selfishness that goes with it when we lose our focus. The same is true for my children and I want them to always know the real reason for this season. May Peace rule for you this season!

MamaJ said...

Just visiting your site. Good post!. I love your colors and such! Very cool.

RealEstateGirl said...

Wow, Amanda! What a great post! This is definitely something I needed to hear.

Mommy Dot Com said...

Here is another Christmas poem my husband's grandmother wrote. May the radiance of Christmas be upon each of our hearts.

"A Child's Questions"

Have you been to Bethlehem
Did you see the babe?
Warmly wrapped in swaddling clothes
And in a manger laid?

Mama said His mother sang
A soft, sweet lullably
And angels joined in chorus
From far up in the sky.

Did you hear the angels singing
Heavens bells ring in the morn?
Sister said God planned it thus
Because His son was born.

The cattle and the sheep were there
For He was in a shed,
The inn in Bethlehem was full
So a manger was His bed.

But brother said He liked it there
Cradled in the hay,
And shephers came to worship Him
On that first Christmas day.

Have you been to Bethlehem
Have you seen the star?
Papa said it guided wise men
From their home afar

They brought their gifts most precious
And at His feet they laid,
And bowed in awe and reverence
To this most Holy Babe.

I would like to go to Bethlehem
And Baby Jesus see
For preachers said that when a man
He died for you and me.

I would like to kiss His dimpled hands
Where later nails were driven,
And then I want to go someday
To live with Him in heaven.

By Katherine Bush (age 97 yrs)

Teri said...

Great post, thank you!

Jabber Jaws said...

How was your Sunday adventure!?! I have 4 kids and always look forward to your stories. And today, I had one of my own. We decided to join in the holiday concert festivities at Prestonwood Baptist (my kids call it God's mall) and as I was getting ready, I got bad news and was quite upset. So upset that I forgot to fix my hair and I ushered children in the car and went to PWB with a TOWEL on my head. None of my kids said anything because they knew about my unhappiness and thought it might cause them to be unhappy (plus, I always tell them that it is about preparing the heart for Jesus not the body for the people - guess I should amend the lesson some). So, it wasn't until I walked into the enormous place and noticed people staring at me that I realized about the towel and clip. Complete embarassment. Of course, I think it is hilarious now and helped me get everything in perspective. God sure knows how to humble us. I thought you might appreciate my adventure.

Sue @ Praise and Coffee said...

Awesome Amanda, great words!

twinkle said...

I'm wondering just how you can have a peaceful MOMENT...much less a peaceful CHRISTMAS season...when you have a little one to run after!
I always feel that peace when I do luminaries on Christmas Eve.

Amy T said...

Very well put. Definitely a better way to handle this time of year than how we normally do. Also, please pray for my cousin Jeff. He's in the hospital in Ft. Worth after a car accident on the 29th. His body (several broken bones) is healing, but he has not woken up yet because his blood pressure keeps going too high so they are still keeping him sedated. But there was some progress today. He's 41 (no wife or kids) and his parents, siblings, etc. need our prayers too. We are seeing God's hand all over this and the fact he is here is a miracle itself. Please pray for Jeff and the rest of my family. Thanks.

Big Mama said...

I don't know how I missed this post, but I suspect it had to do with being interrupted by a 4 year old in need of Chex Mix.

That being said, I love what you've said here. Beautiful thoughts and great reminder that He is our peace, and ultimately that is all we need.

Mommy Dot Com said...

I am on a poem kick. Here is another Christmas poem from my husband's grandmother.

"O Holy Night"

Why was a baby born that night
Long ago in Bethlehem?
Why did the wise men seek His face,
And the shepherds worship Him?

Why did the angels sing in Heaven
And a big star shine so bright?
The "Lord of Heaven" to earth came down
He was born that Holy Night!

Why did Mary hold Him close,
Then in a manger lay?
No room was found to shelter Him,
So His bed was made of hay.

O joyful night - a king is born,
There in a stable stall,
Cradled in love in a manger bed,
Born to be Lord of all.

O, silent night, O, peaceful night,
This babe a gift of love
To all mankind, in every age,
Sent to earth from God above.

O, brightest star, O, angel song,
Come back again to earth.
Remind us all of that "long ago night"
The time of our Savior's birth.

May we worship again the babe,
Son of God in the manger lay,
And brought to us God's wonderful peace
And love that Christmas day.

by Katherine Bush

Kaila's Mommy said...

Powerful thoughts here Amanda. I wish you a Merry Christmas, and may be P-E-A-C-E be with you.