Sunday, December 04, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Tea

Christmas 2009
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.


Mrs.Rabe said...


I love this Brenda! Thank you for shining His light....


Linda V said...

Wonderful idea! Also, if you and hubby are alone this Christmas, consider inviting someone that you might know who might be feeling lonely this Christmas. This past Thanksgiving, we knew we were going to have some negative drama with one family member who is suffering with addiction issues and is very ill. When my daughter wanted to invite a guest (who has no family nearby) to join us, I was very hesitant to say the least. However God used this guest to minister to our ill family member. What a blessing the day turned out to be. Praying for multiple blessings to you and your family as you follow your heart in Christ!

Anonymous said...

We have a family member who sometimes suffers from depression. The bright decorations sometimes help lift his spirits.

Vee said...

You're onto something there, Brenda. When we need Christmas, we are most likely to find it. Have I said how much I like your header? I have? Well, I'm saying it again.

Thoughts for the day said...

Our pastor was saying today that Christmas is the only holiday where even non believers will look at the nativity as part of the story not fully realizing what they are looking at. Many who 'don't believe' still put a nativity in their homes. Something interesting to think about and notice.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

This is so wise, Brenda....I'm not decorating too much this year because I'll be in the hospital over Christmas, but I have a few things out....My son Andy, I hope, will spend extra time at his sister's house (a few miles away) and she decorates very beautifully.....Perhaps Alice can bring my small German decoration which is a wooden representation of the Holy Family to the rehab hospital where I'll be trying to learn to walk again!

Angela said...

I truly love your thinking! Thank you for encouraging joy, generosity, loving with open hands. I look forward to seeing your pictures!

Anonymous said...

amen! i love your post as usual its so inspirings... and i like your christmas feels so peacefull on your blog..God bless you friend..loves soraya

Sue said...

Beautiful post Brenda.
I agree with you all the way. And I love the way you put it about the sacrifice you will lay at the altar ~ the DECISION to do something you don't feel like doing.
I believe it is pleasing to the Lord too.
Merry Christmas

Anonymous said...

This post is so meaningful. I don't think I have ever thought of things this way and I am glad you have written this. Thank you Brenda. Sarah

Diane Allen said...

This was very inspiring Brenda, I have never thought of this as a form of worship - but "doing the opposite of how we feel" is akin to a sacrifice of praise isn't it? Your approach is different from mine this year, but I'm taking your inspiration to heart in other ways.

freetobeme - Anita said...

I love Christmas. Thanks for sharing with us. By the way, I love your new picture on your blog.

Anonymous said...

I have only recently come across your blog, but have been so inspired by it. I usually love to decorate and find it a form of therapy against the stresses in my world. However, this year I found it annoying to think about the time consuming process for such a short time. It all seemed pointless. That which I have always loved, brought me to despair.

Over the past week, I gradually began to feel that I owe my husband, my college age son and my teenage daughter the Christmas they are accustomed to: Mom's festive home decor. As I began to bring treasures out of storage, my spirits lifted. I needed to see the nativity sets again; I needed the sparkle and color in a cold colorless season. I stepped into Pier 1 on the weekend and it felt like Christmas had been 'thrown up' all around the store! It thrilled me to take it in, even if I can't afford to shop much there. I felt a renewed sense of purpose in creating something joyful to look at in our home. Then I read your blog and you used the word "sacrifice"'s okay to feel this way, but I can still go forward. I won't let satan rob me of my joy at this season.

My family needs to relax and be transported to a colorful and sparkly place. My son has so much pressure at school, but needs to come home and see something other than four white walls; this is my daughter's last Christmas living at home: she should have a great memory to take with her; my husband needs to absorb light and beauty after a hard day at work. What started out as a sacrifice of sorts is now a blessing to our family. Thank you for putting into words exactly what I needed to hear.

Anonymous said...

I love your Narnia ...I mean house! :) Sarah