Embracing the Imperfect & Balancing Mary and Martha

“Martha, Martha,” the LORD answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed-or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42.

When it comes to hospitality and housekeeping, I wish I was wired just a little more like Martha – especially heading into the Christmas season! I have this vision of how I’d like things to be heading into Advent, and instead of setting the perfect table for my family this weekend, I can’t even put out my wreath yet! First, I need to dig out my table – which is currently buried under piles of craft stuff, homework, unopened mail and other artifacts proving that a busy family without a Martha mindset live here!

With or without a clean table and a wreath ready, Advent is starting tomorrow and I don’t want to miss it. I love Advent. I have lots of memories of sticking evergreen branches and candles into circular Styrofoam bases as a child, and the first candle lighting signaling the start of the Christmas season in my world.

The great news is, that despite my Martha-deficit, Jesus reminds me that the one thing that matters isn’t how pretty I make my table, but having a heart that is focused on hearing from Christ. For these four weeks, I’m seeking to spend time daily sitting at Jesus’ feet and learning from his word – choosing what is better. Just like Mary, I’m seeking to focus on that one thing that is actually needed.

It’s a balance though – I don’t want to awaken my easily frustrated and disappointed inner perfectionist that will stress about irrelevant details and notice what we lack from how the commercials, malls, and social media posts tell me that Christmas should look. I know that I don’t need a pintrest perfect holiday, and that if I try for pintrest perfect, I’ll stress myself and my family out to the point that we won’t enjoy any of it!

I’m prepared and ready to celebrate an imperfect Advent – honestly, it’s in those imperfectly real moments that memories are made, and I will embrace that! But, my inner Martha does need to wake up just a little and clear the table! I need just enough of a Martha-mindset to be ready and able to extend hospitality and comfort to my family so that we have space to sit around the wreath, light our candles, and prepare our hearts together. So, I’m off to work to get a few things prepared and ready.

What are you seeking this Advent season? Are you ready for an imperfect Advent season too? What do you need to get there? I’d love to hear your comments, ideas and goals in the comment section below.

 

Needing the sun

I love my community and usually wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world – except that between November and February, it is so grey, damp and dreary here.

We react physically in our family and we tend to end up under a dark cloud emotionally too. If hibernation was an option, we’d climb into a blanket cave and come out when the sun is back in the sky. That’s not an option sadly, and so we muddle through.

This year we bought a special “happy light” – one that mimics the sun and is supposed to help our bodies get through when we are stuck in the darkness. The light is designed to be like a burst of sun – and to restore us physically, combat seasonal depression and give us physical energy. It’s a lot to expect from a little light!

There was a lovely, unmistakable juxtaposition tonight between our lit Advent wreath and our “happy light” shining on the table.

Jesus comes to be light in the midst of the worst of the world’s darkness. To restore us, give us life and meet our needs. My word, do I ever need a burst of the son this year.

Ready or not…

I always have big plans for the start of the Christmas season – despite all logic and evidence to the contrary, I somehow expect at this busy time of the year, to be more organized, more energized and totally on top of the kinds of details that typically escape me. Suddenly, because Christmas is coming we should have a cleaner house, a more organized schedule, and clothes that match – and be in a festive happy mood to boot!

As you can imagine, it never works out quite the way I plan. Despite all my best intentions, our house is still crazy, our schedules still keep us running at full speed and we couldn’t coordinate unified family Christmas outfits if we wanted to (which most of us don’t!). And, amidst all the hallmark movie expectations of holiday happiness, I grow frustrated, weary and disheartened at the very time I most want to be joyful, inspired and excited.

Advent started today… and this is often where my own unmet/unrealistic expectations and the frustrations of the season have their annual awkward first date. Ironically, its the very themes of advent – hope, peace, love and joy – that I tend to lose. So, I’m done trying to make our advent, and our Christmas season anything different than it is. Us. Just as we are. Not waiting for things to be perfect, or exactly right, or Hallmark worthy. Just the real us, celebrating in the midst our real life reality, with our real budgets, schedules, and limitations.

For the record, my house isn’t Christmas ready – and neither is my heart. That’s why I need a real advent season to prepare my heart for what’s to come.

Ready or not, advent is here – and we DO have much to celebrate. So, tonight, the advent wreath is out, and the two of us that were home lit the candle of hope. Our imperfectly beautiful advent has begun.