If anyone should have beauty in their home,
it is people who call themselves Christian.
Edith Schaeffer (paraphrased)
I've been enjoying the quiet of the Season here at my home... reading with the Christmas tree lit in the corner, listening to the local Bach Singers on CD presenting music originally from Kings College in England, and watching Christmas movies... amidst the usual daily routine of laundry, cooking, cleaning, and dishes.
This past week I've been thinking a lot about an unusual way of looking at Christmas festivities... as a form of spiritual warfare. Oh, I know because I have read books about spiritual warfare and even taken a couple of classes. They always talk about intercessory prayer and putting on the "whole armor of God" as found in the Book of Ephesians... not polishing silver.
But I learned long ago in the midst of deep and heartbreaking trials that I needed to do the opposite of what the enemy of my soul expected of me. Instead of sitting in the middle of my bed, pulling the sheet over my head, and eating a pint of Hagan-Daz chocolate chip (ummm... which I have done before), I was to fight back against my circumstances the best way I knew how.
Sometimes I write and there are days I've baked something lovely... but at Christmas I decorate. I learned when I am feeling the most down and out then I need to decorate even more than other years. As with this year being the first time (as planned at least) my husband and I will be alone at Christmas so I pulled out every box of Christmas items I own and created magic... Narnia magic.
It is quite beautiful (you will see more pictures when I buy new batteries for my camera) and it truly does raise my spirits and brings me closer to He who is Christmas. The source of all evil in this world cannot possibly comprehend why one would make her house look even more festive in a year which has been (to say the least) challenging. But He knows and I'm certain sees it as a sacrifice of praise.
That has been a lesson learned in the midst of adversity when all I had to give Him was my attitude and how I was reacting to a trial. As the Word says, "The joy of the Lord is my strength" and I truly found strength when I surrounded myself and my family with the glitz and glitter and lights and beauty of the Season.
Now, I understand that we are all different and I have friends who prefer very simple decorations mainly made of objects from nature and that makes them happy. As for me and my house at Christmas... bring on the Narnia magic. I want my home to be filled with candle light and sparkle and Christmas music and the aroma of ginger and cinnamon and peppermint and a ham roasting in the oven (not all at once or every day, of course).
That is the sacrifice I lay at His altar... the decision to do the opposite of what I may feel like at that time. Instead of looking back and remembering mother crying in her eggnog, my children have (I hope) very fond memories of the entire Advent season that was filled with not only glitz and glitter but also Faith and Hope and Grace.
When Stephanie was young and we lived in Holland (Michigan), we adored going downtown and experiencing the Christmas lights and the way the stores decorated their windows. One of the most beautiful memories I have is when my husband and I were Christmas shopping in Holland when large, fluffy snowflakes began to fall and the sound of Christmas carols was coming from a street corner.
It was night time and one could see the snowflakes in the glow of the lamplight as shoppers walked on cobblestone streets. I remember stopping to soak it all in and thinking this must be just a tiny feeling of what Heaven would be like.
Christmas is the time of year when Heaven touches the Earth and the music heard even on secular radio stations praises the Savior. Even if we must celebrate by faith with a Charlie Brown style tiny tree (a branch stuck in a pot of sand?) and reading Christmas stories in a book borrowed from the library... He takes our smallest of efforts as praise and thanks.