Why I Really Need Jesus This Christmas

christmas

The whole house smelled like the sharp scent of Windex and furniture polish, mixed with something delicious baking in the oven, and the vacuum was always running. Mom gave us all a job to do, to get ready for their arrival. My grandparents.

As soon as I finished my chores, I would stand at the door and wait. I stood so close, my breath would appear on the cold glass. And I would draw smooth lines with my finger. And my heart would rise and fall with the passing of each car. Until finally, it came.

Their big cream colored Cadillac stopped in front of our house. And my heart leaped.

When you’re eight years old–you don’t wait for people to ring the doorbell. (Especially when you’ve been watching out the window for a half an hour.) And you don’t give them “courtesy time” get out the car. No. You run. You race down to greet them in your socks.

You nearly climb into their car before they can even climb out. And you cover them in hugs and kisses, and cling to them like a starfish, so they can barely walk.

Have you ever had that feeling of longing? Of waiting so long…it physically hurts?

(Click here to read about infertility and longing for a baby at Christmas.)

I’ve been thinking about expectation lately.

Maybe it’s because I’m expecting a baby a boy in less than four weeks. And I’m longing to meet him and touch his skin, and look into his face.

Or, maybe it’s because we just finished a very a ugly political season. And I’m watching rioting in the streets on my TV. And the world seems dark. And in need of a Savior.

Either way…I’m feeling this longing. This expectation. This need for Jesus. To be here.

So I’ve decided to celebrate Advent this year.

(Please on’t think I’m super spiritual…because I didn’t even know what “Advent” meant until a couple of weeks ago. I thought an Advent calendar was a paper calendar with chocolates inside.) (And it is, in many grocery stores.)

But I didn’t know Advent is so much more.

The word “Advent” actually means “coming.”

And I just found out that people celebrate the “season of Advent.”

The season of “coming.”

The season of “waiting for His coming.”

You  know how the sky grows darkest before dawn? How it seems so black, and then slowly it turns blue, like that deep, glowing blue, that gradually turns pale blue…and then the dawn breaks through? The light pierces the dark?

That’s Advent. Like watching the dark sky, and waiting for those first gentle rays of light.

Because the world is dark. And we are all waiting, quietly, desperately for Him. For Jesus. To come.

In years past, I guess I have “tried” to celebrate Advent. I tried to print something off Pinterest and force my 18 month old daughter to do the readings with me each night, while she screamed and ripped up the papers. I tried to force my husband to do this “tradition” with us, that I read was supposed to be so meaningful.

But since everyone hated it. (Including me.) It only lasted about a day.

(Maybe someday, we will figure out some wonderful Advent tradition that works for our family… )

But for now, I’m realizing: I need it.

Instead of trying to drag the family to do something I want to be “meaningful,” maybe I’m the one who needs to find something meaningful in this season.

I’m thirsty for it. For Him to show me who He is.

I feel Him prompting me to “behold” Him. I don’t really know how, but I feel like you can’t “behold” someone, or something in a two-minute rush (like I usually do). It takes some time.

So, I’m trying to learn how to behold Him, And His coming. And I’m celebrating the season of Advent this year. The season of darkness before the light, the season of waiting, and expectation, and longing so bad, it hurts.

And I’m celebrating by myself. Because I realize: I need Him. And until I am able to “behold” Him—I can’t help anyone else to do the same.

So I bought a book on Amazon, called “The Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp. And It’s a book all about Advent. A book about “His coming.”

I know Christmas will come either way. All the Black Friday Ads are coming in the mail, and the hustle and bustle will start us all racing to December 25. We will do gift exchanges, and parties, and try to make our homes warm and beautiful, and full of light.

But what if the preparations don’t need to be done so much outwardly?

What if the real preparations happen inwardly?

Maybe I need the light inside me this year?

Because there is something about preparing a place. Inside. Like the Christmas carol says, “Let every heart prepare Him room.”

When we would prepare our house for our grandparents to come, it wasn’t just about work. It was about anticipation. We could all feel it in the air. It was in the expectation of standing at the window, and watching for them.

I feel that Jesus is calling me to prepare a place for Him. Maybe I’m not the only one who is desperate for His light to pierce through?

Maybe He is calling you to prepare a place for Him this Christmas, too.

Maybe you will stand at the cold glass door, and wait for Him. And watch for Him, to come.

And when He comes…

When He comes…you won’t wait for Him to ring the door bell. Or to get out of the car.

You will run out in your socks to greet Him. You will run wildly, like the father ran to meet His prodigal son while he was still coming up the road. You will cling to him like a starfish, so he can barely walk.

When you see His light appear, you will fall down and weep before Him. You will behold Him.

And He will hold you, and He will not let you go.

And this “beholding” is what Christmas is all about.

Emmanuel. God is with us.

His Word says,

“Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1-2

If you feel the night is black right now, hold on. Christmas is coming.

For you.

Jesus is coming.

For you.

The night is long. But…

Your Light is coming.

Yes, He will be here soon.


For more encouragment about infertility, motherhood, or marriage follow Barren to Beautiful by entering your email address in the box on the right of this website. Or, “like” the Barren to Beautiful Facebook page, by clicking here. For more Christmas posts read “When All I Wanted For Christmas Was You,” or “Christmas Is For Desperate People.” 

My 7 Most Influential Reads of 2014

What we read or meditate on deeply affects how we think and ultimately, who we become. As the year ends, I’ve been thinking about what reads have most shaped me over the last year. The following is a list and brief explanation of some of the most perspective-changing books or blog posts I have read this past year. (I would love to hear what books or blog posts have most influenced you this past year! Please share in the comment section!)

1. The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller

A great read if you need help loving sinners (and realizing you are one.)

IMG_0706This book was single-handedly THE most influential read of the year for me. Because: it demolished my pride. And showed me my desperate need for Jesus. It’s a short simple book based on the parable of the Prodigal Son. What I most enjoyed is that the book is written for the (moral/rule-keeping/law-oriented) “older brother,” more than the (rebellious/prodigal/stray sheep) “younger brother.” I had no idea how closely I would identify with the “older brother.” But the more I read of his pride and arrogance and anger, I couldn’t help but whisper, “That’s me, that’s me.” I also felt more love, and mercy, and grace for the “younger brother” figures in my life, and saw them in a totally new light. I saw us as being not so different from each other, really quite the same, because we both are desperate for Jesus. A favorite quote: “The gospel is distinct: In its view, everyone is wrong, everyone is loved, and everyone is called to recognize this and change.”

 

2. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

A great read if you want to see God everywhere, and see His hand in all things. 

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/636/62057002/files/2014/12/img_0707.jpgThis was some of the best writing (in a Christian book) I have read in…well, ever. Voskamp writes beautiful, poetic prose–but there is a heartbeat behind it too. This book is about being radically grateful for your everyday, messy, chaotic, seemingly train-wreck life. Voskamp was dared to come up with 1,000 things she was thankful for, and in the process, she takes her readers on her journey of her transformation. To be honest, I was annoyed with it at first. It seemed too sticky-sweet to me. But the further I read, I found out, this is the secret to joy–and there is no other way to get it. Readers are challenged to start their own joy-journey of making a list to one thousand. (I’m only on #86) but I can testify to the power and release of joy in naming the gifts God has given me. If you want to slow time down, be happier, and cherish the life and people God has given you, I suggest reading this book, and actually taking the challenge. It could literally change your life. It’s beginning to change mine.

3. Mom vs. Mom: The War I Didn’t See Coming by Jeanne Harrison, Loving My Lot

A great read if you are a new or experienced mom who needs to stop comparing with other moms and permission to be yourself. 
jealousy2This was the blog post that first welcomed me into motherhood (and blogging) as I know it. It is an honest, and hilarious account of one woman’s attempt to try to keep up with all the other mom’s. I first read it when my daughter was just months old, and it just made something break in me. I could suddenly breathe. (I was set free by a blog post. Hallelujah!) But it’s true, a giant weight was lifted off of me, and I could suddenly be myself, and start to enjoy motherhood as the woman God created me to be, and not as the one I thought I needed to be, because “she” was.

4. The Hunger Games (Trilogy) by Suzanne Collins

A great read if you want to shirk your household duties, get lost in a futuristic world and become perplexed over the realities of where our culture is heading if we don’t pay attention. 
hunger gamesI think it must have been in response to reading #3 that I even picked this up at my library, and gave myself permission to enjoy something that was…for once, fiction. I was so gripped by this story that I burnt every meal for a week (my husband can testify) and became so consumed with thinking about it, I was even dreaming about it. (I admit, it was slightly dangerous for me, and turned me into a horrible home-maker.) And yet, it also opened up my eyes to life outside my home and my imagination of what our culture could be like someday. It is an intense story, if you don’t know it, and I believe is meant to show us a picture of what our world could become. It certainly shaped my outlook on the culture and vanity and excess we have in our country.

5. “Ten Big, Daily Reminders” by Matt Reagan @ Desiring God

A great read (daily) if you need to need help remembering what is true and not being swept away by your emotions or circumstances.

full_ten-big-daily-reminders

Sometimes I lose my bearings. I am a small-picture person, and I quickly lose sight of God and the big picture. Going through this list tremendously helps me get my focus back on God and reality. It’s just ten simple truths that give me solid framework for how to think, and help direct my thoughts away from fear, anxiety, or distraction. I can’t tell you how this has set me free from self-pity, expectations, and joylessness. Reading this list, (especially #5), made me realize I don’t deserve any of the blessings I have, not one. Thank you God!

6. Six Lessons In Good Listening by David Mathis @ Desiring God

A great read if you need to become a better listener, spouse, or friend. 
full_six-lessons-in-good-listeningThis is about how to listen well to people. Because when you listen well, you know how to love better, and speak better, too. I printed it out and highlighted all through this one. And then I realized I was actually a horrible listener. It made me start to think about what my marriage, and relationships would look like, if I really listened more carefully. I plan to take this one into the new year, as one of my goals is to be a better friend. And to listen well.

7. My First World Problems by Sasha @ MomLife Now

A great read if you haven’t thought about life outside America for awhile. 
img_20931I didn’t realize how powerful this was the first time I read it. But days, weeks, and even months later, I still find myself thinking of the message: Am I complaining about a “first world” problem, when there are millions suffering in much worse conditions? I am sure there is much written on this subject, but this was the first that made me start to really think. Now, when I begin to open my mouth about a problem with my cell phone, or that the grocery store was out of the toothpaste I like, this little voice comes back: “Is this a first world problem?”


Okay, now what what reads have most influenced, or changed your perspective this year? Anything you plan on reading this coming year? I would love to hear! (And I’m sure other readers would be glad for the referrals as well.)

Happy New Year and Happy Reading! May this year’s reading, whether fact or fiction, book or blog, or anything else you put before your eyes, shape you more and more into the image of Jesus. And may your eyes open further to His light, and your heart move closer to His warmth.

Love,

Rebekah

“May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be pleasing in Your sight. O Lord, my Rock and Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14