All is Calm, All is Bright

The lights are twinkling on our tree. Thumbprint cookies have been pulled from the oven, a staple in our home during Christmas. My husband has vivid memories of his mom making these peanut butter treats so every year, to honor her memory, we make and eat them by the dozen. The yard is shining and proudly displaying a few penguin inflatables. Our nights have been filled with reading excerpts of Max Lucado's One Incredible Moment, an advent tradition that keeps my family focused on Christ. 

There is nothing special or exceptional about this Christmas. Except I'm present. 

A year ago my world was full of turmoil. Christmas was spent simply trying to get through. Vividly, I remember laying on the living room floor trying to calm my heart. My daddy laid down beside me, held my hand, and said, "we are gonna get through this together" There were many things that had sent my life into a storm- job searches, anxiety, fatigue, overwork, sick relatives, and more. Outside of that moment on the rug in my parent's home, I don't remember much of last year's celebration.

But this year, by the grace of God, I'm present. Amidst regular cookies, regular lights, regular traditions, I'm here. All here, fully grounded in the moment. No worries about the future, no mourning of the past. I smell the pine tree, I sing along to Celine Dion's Christmas album (a sister favorite), I bake cookies, and I practice Advent. Actually, I think what I practice is more abiding. Advent is the coming of a notable person or event. It's a birth, dawning, and appearance. I celebrate the birth of Jesus wholeheartedly and love that aspect of Christmas. But the Greek meaning of abide is to stay home. During this Christmas season, I have practiced staying home in Christ. Curling up on the couch in the safety of my Savior's arms. So while I'm out Christmas shopping, getting hot chocolate, and looking at lights, my heart is being a homebody where it belongs. My soul is inside, sitting by the fire with a good book, grounded in the peace that comes from being home.

As Christmas fastly approaches, I'm celebrating being present, staying home, and the joy of the season. And while it often feels like I'm taking two steps forward one step back, the point is I'm still moving forward, learning to be in the moment and to snuggle into the security of Jesus. For tonight, all is calm and all is bright. 

May we all be fully present as we celebrate the arrival of Jesus, the abiding he offers, and the homes we have in our family and Savior.

Merry Christmas.

Meredith Harper