I looked up at night sky and saw the stars dancing among the trees. I blinked once, thinking my eyes were playing tricks on me, but the view was the same.
“Look!” I said to my husband. “The stars, they’re moving.”
“Yep. Those are winter fireflies,” he said. Even in the darkness, I could see his smirk. Immediately, I realized what these dancing stars were. The laser Christmas light display from the front yard was projecting over the house, into the trees and sky. Its beam added an other worldly magic to our surroundings, and I sat there taking it in for several minutes. It wasn’t a moment I created or even anticipated. It happened on its own, without my help or planning.
At this time of year, I often feel like I have to create my own magic. The expectations of kids, family and others can send me into high stress mode, and before I know it I’ve forgotten the greatest gift of this season. I struggle between the desire for my kids to remember the meaning of Christmas and the desire to make their Christmas wishes come true. And if family and guests are coming over for dinner? My attempts to make the perfect meal often clash with the reality that a family member is gluten free, dairy free, or vegan.
Last week I sat in church listening to Christmas carols and wondered if there was a way to love others well but not drown in the weight of expectations. If we could somehow balance the desire to give and serve without sacrificing the wonder of the season.
One of the things I love about the Christmas story is how God used the most ordinary surroundings and circumstances to display the miraculous.
He took a barn and a feeding trough, and made it a dwelling place for the King of Kings. He took the one of the lowest social classes, the shepherds, and made them first to not only hear the good news, but to share it.
God did the preparation and the planning. Everything occurred exactly as it was foretold. All the people surrounding Christmas story had to do was show up and respond to his voice. And that was enough.
“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.””
Friend, I don’t know what kind of expectations or stress you’re encountering this season. Whether it’s a child with an unrealistic Christmas list or a family member who triggers you like no other, I don’t want to downplay the reality you might be facing.
But I also want to remind you of this: One of the greatest ways we can we can magnify God’s presence is to be present for those we love.
To slow down enough to enjoy the moments we often rush past. To listen to their crazy stories and anecdotes, and let them know we care about the details.
We may not prepare the perfect meal or check off all the to-do items on our list, but we can savor the time we have. And when we do this, God shows up in ways we could never foresee or anticipate. Like the shepherds, we can witness things we didn’t orchestrate or plan. They simply happen.
But this time, instead of rushing ahead to the next item on our list, we notice. We pay attention. And this beautiful shift makes all the difference.
If you need to shift your focus from a struggle or worry and see what God is already doing in your life, I encourage you to pick of a copy of my book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. I talk more about the ways a simple shift can change everything. Many people have sent me messages saying it is a timely book for this season. This encourages my heart so much. I pray that God continues to use it to touch lives.
Here’s what one reader said:
“This is an amazing book. There are so many things published that claim to give you the tools or the recipe to connect with God, or to enrich your faith life- I’ve read many of them! Shift really does, in my opinion, offer something real and concrete. Real life stories couples with ideas that are useful and attainable in our attempt to see the presence of God. I will be buying a hard copy copy of this because I need to attack it with my highlighter!” -Eva
You can pick up a copy of Shift by clicking the image below.