Monday, November 29, 2010

Coming Into the Mess

We started our Jesse Tree today, generous gift to all from the beautiful Ann Voskamp at Holy Experience. I invite you to spend some time there. She writes of the holy, messy everyday and Jesus drips from her every word. With each post, she has a way of reorienting my gaze back to Him and every day, I need that.

This year she has written a Jesse Tree advent devotional e-book and it's free. Go here if you'd like to download.

For months I've longed for this Christmas season to be one of intentional anticipation, one in which we slow down and incorporate gentle practices of expectancy. I've envisioned serene mornings of hot chocolate and Bible readings and Jesse Tree ornament hanging. How we'll awake Christmas morning and celebrate His coming more than we celebrate with consumerism.

And today, on this first "serene" morning of expectancy, hot chocolate spilled across my tableau of perfection as children bickered and littlest one got sent to time-out. We finished our first devotional to find that he had destroyed the Lego creation his older brother had painstakingly assembled and by 9:45, I felt undone. I fussed and fretted and reprimanded and said to myself, This is not at all what I envisioned. Why do even the most sacred and well-intentioned practices crumble before my very eyes?

And just as quickly, I sensed a Spirit-tug and I knew this:

He came into the mess and He comes into the mess.

Born in a stable amid the stench and groan of animals, out of the womb of some non-descript girl who moaned and cried just like I did, born to a people who would rather worship the things of this world than worship the One who came to save them from it.

There was nothing serene about any of it...except Him.

Daily, we will continue our Jesse Tree journey until Christmas Day and the setting will likely be life is every. single. day. As I type this, there are crumbs scattered across the table, dirty dishes littering the counter, and nary a Christmas decoration in sight, save for the paper advent chains my children made in church last night. And maybe this is just the perfectly imperfect way to begin this day and this season. Life stripped of glittery, lit-up, and bedazzled perfection and replaced with life undone and messed up, cluttered and loud and torn apart just like the Legos.

He came to piece it all back together and to bring peace to all of us who feel just a bit undone. Besides, glittery perfection isn't as obviously needy of a Savior.

During this first week of advent, if you're feeling just a bit unraveled and overwhelmed, I invite you to segue from Thanksgiving to Christmas by being thankful for the mess that points us to Christ.

Emmanuel, God with us...

With us in the mess...

With us in the celebration...

With us in the fear and anxiety...

With us in the giving and in the receiving...

With us every moment of every day, no matter what the day holds...

To bring us peace.

Grace and peace to you all, dear ones.


Today, I continue to count {albeit inconsistently} the gifts with Ann and the other folks that are part of the Gratitude Community at Holy Experience. I have learned from her that the counting makes all the difference.

28. Hot chocolate, spilled or unspilled

29. Paper chains, reminiscent of my own childhood

30. The very loud, clamoring, imaginative children playing make-believe as I type. {Did I mention they are loud?}

31. Seasonally-appropriate cold for our southern climate after a looooooong summer

32. The reorienting and encouraging words of bloggy girls and friends-in-real-life girls who love Jesus

33. The Word, opened on the table and surrounded by crumbs and empty mugs...and gentle inspiration from this scene that it needs to be opened more {all the time?} in this messy place

34. Cupcake. He will be three tomorrow and he is joy incarnate for all of us. His name means mercy and He represents that, child conceived out of patched-up love.

35. A new-to-us dryer that will hopefully not eat our clothes

36. Fire in the fireplace each morning

37. Thanksgiving and feasting with family

38. A break from the routine

39. Coffee

40. My husband, who lovingly and graciously comes to my rescue, time and again, when the stress has me undone and incapacitated

41. My Sunday Inklings friends

42. Christmas lights and candles

43. All of you who read this and come here...I'm thankful for you


  1. O, child of mine (actually not mine, just entrusted to my care by Him for a time), this post sent my mind and heart in at least a half-dozen directions as I read. Some forward . . . some backward. Some. Just. Here.

    All I can say to you is "thank you." And to Him . . . "help me."


  2. What a beautiful post! I enjoyed reading your gifts. :-)

  3. What a profound post. Thank you ... this is something my daughter (home-schooling mom of 4) needs to hear. I'm going to send her the link to this post. Blessings!

  4. I agree with Nanato4 -- as a homeschooling mom I needed to hear this. I have not been to your blog until today, and I'm looking forward to following your adventure. I, too, am a wife of 15 years and a mom for 9, and we learn around the kitchen table. We have much in common. Thank you for a beautiful post!

  5. So beautiful, Scooper. And so very, very much needed. Thank you for sharing these thoughts from your dear heart. I appreciate you so much!

  6. Amen sister.
    I had such a tough time sleeping last night thinking about all the "junk" in my life. The screwed up finances, the decorations the kids want to buy, the traveling money for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I begged God to come into my mess....deep inside my the mess that is me. I begged for forgiveness and for grace and for a way through all this. And I realized I am a wounded soldier missing my friends, missing what was familiar and all that was known. I think about sending the kids to school. About I lie wounded by the roadside.

  7. Scooper,
    Typing through tears... your words continue to strike a chord with me. I do believe our Father sends me your words at the time I need them the most. I didn't even log on to the Internet yesterday, but today!!! Whew!
    May He bless you abundantly for taking the time to write them down for all of us.

    Happy Birthday to Cupcake -- he is a dear one.

    in Him,

  8. Messy here. Thank you for reminding me of this.

  9. Thanks for your kind words about my letters to Atticus. Your post today reminded me of a poem by Madeleine L'Engle. A friend of mine posted it today. Here's a part I especially like: "He did not wait / till hearts were pure. In joy he came / to a tarnished world of sin and doubt. / To a world like ours, of anguished shame / he came, and his Light would not go out."

  10. I so enjoyed this post. It's always nice to have a reminder... I'd love for you to visit me at!

  11. This first week of December always seems to stressful with decorating and preparing - your words rang so true! But what a great reminder to be thankful in the midst of the messy. Thank you!

  12. I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to.

    God Bless You :-)



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