The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given:
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
—Isaiah 9:6

It’s here, it’s here, it’s here, the Christmas season is finally here…my favorite time of year, can you tell?

As a child, the Christmas season in our home began after Thanksgiving, but after getting married (and buying an artificial tree,) I began ooching the season closer each year. First it was a few days before Thanksgiving, then the week before, I finally settled in to putting the tree up on Veterans Day—yes, I know it’s early, but hey, the kids were out of school so we could do it together, at least that’s the excuse, reason I’ve decided to use. For seven years November 11th was our Christmas trimming day, but in 2016 we did more than ooch it up, we threw common sense out and had the tree up before Halloween!

I know what you’re thinking, this woman is crazy, and while that’s probably true, we did have a good reason. Our youngest kiddo, Kayleigh, received a terminal cancer diagnosis in May and by October we knew this would be our last holiday season with her. So, when Kayleigh requested we put the Christmas tree up around 6:00 p.m. on October 26th her daddy sprang into action. By 9:30 that night he had our enormous 10’ tree up in the middle of our living room, Kayleigh was cackling with laughter and we were allowed to treasure the season one more time together. Kayleigh coined it our Happy Hallowthanksmas Tree—a perfectly fun, festive, and quirky name that matched our girl. Three weeks later she left us taking her spunky self to twirl the streets of gold.

My goodness, it’s amazing how quickly our lives can change, isn’t it? One moment we are headed along OUR chosen path, then, out of nowhere, an obstacle pops up and poof—our trajectory changes abruptly and nothing we can do will return us to the old path. Perhaps you know what I mean, the list of obstacles that come our way is endless. Sometimes it’s not just one thing, but the accumulation of many small things that become too heavy and we break.

At the risk of sounding crazy again, brokenness is all the more reason to treasure the Christmas season. That precious baby delivered two thousand years ago by a young, virgin mother is the source of our hope. Jesus is not only “The Reason for the Season,” but He is also our strength, hope, and joy for every day. It is our belief in Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection that is our salvation, our direct line to God the Father, our help on this earth, and our promise for perfect eternity in Heaven. Christmas is our hope—talk about the best gift ever!

The hard part is waiting—weathering the storms—surviving brokenness…but maybe, just maybe, that is where we need to change our perspective.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”   —James 1:2–3 (NLT)

None of us look forward to troubles. We don’t actively search out opportunities to break us, but when those opportunities arise we get to choose how to respond. Perhaps we start looking for the good in the midst of the storm and giving thanks for opportunities to grow and increase our faith.

Our family made the choice to trust God’s goodness and faithfulness. Not because we were super Christians, but because we knew God was our only hope. The most amazing part of our journey was watching God transform Kayleigh’s shattering diagnosis into something beautiful. God show up in the most unexpected ways providing us with strength, hope, joy, and peace that has to be experienced to be understood. He did not exempt us from grief—rather, His beautiful grace and mercy comforted us, granting us peace.

I can see now some of what God was doing in my life, how the journey changed me for the better, laser focusing me on what was important, my relationship with Him. And while it breaks my heart, I know that no other circumstance would have brought about the same change in me. Sometime the process is hard, painful, and usually lasts longer than we want, yet every piece of the process is necessary. We are God’s precious children and He loves us dearly, we may not understand the reason for our circumstances, but He does and His word tells us His plan is perfect (Psalm 18:30).

So, as we celebrate the season and our Savior’s birth, I pray you will treasure every moment, trust the Father completely, look for joy in every circumstance, and embrace the new beginnings that grow from brokenness. This truly is “the most wonderful time of the year!”