Monday, December 3, 2012

December {Week 1}: Into the Mess...{And How "Mess" Seems To Be A Recurrent Theme Here}

Recently I recalled a series of Advent posts I wrote two years ago. I thought it might be fun to look back and see what I was writing about two years ago at this time.

My life was very different then. I home-schooled three young children, worked part-time, and never felt even remotely on top of things. My pensive, introverted self coped with the chatter and daily demands by writing about mess and perfectionism and Jesus in between math lessons and read-alouds. 

I didn't know it then but life would get a whole lot messier and imperfect just a few months later. And as a result, Jesus would become a whole lot bigger. I would come to understand my desperate need to be saved from my own brokenness and from the brokenness of the world that would bring wave after wave of crazy into my life. 

Though things were different two Advent seasons ago, there is an obvious common theme. I am still writing about mess and imperfection, coming to terms with how the real trumps the ideal and how that's actually for the best, even though I kick and push against it every time. 

Surrender, acceptance, and gratitude in the midst of mess or suffering have the strangest way a way of ushering in freedom, peace, and joy. My stubborn, idolatrous heart still pines away for the ideal even though experience has shown me that the times of sweetest communion with Jesus are when I'm knee-deep in the real. 

And so the message of these two-year-old posts still echo my heart today: Jesus came into the mess


{An edited and re-gifted re-post from December, 2010.}

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. {Sigh. Still writing about this too.}

And today, on this first "serene" morning of expectancy, hot chocolate spilled across my tableau of perfection as children bickered and the 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 every woman in labor, 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 {hopefully} continue our Jesse Tree journey until Christmas Day and the setting will likely be messy, as 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. 

Perhaps this is just the perfectly imperfect way to begin the 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 tad 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 suffering.

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.


  1. My soul needed this today...thank you. <3

  2. So true and wonderful . . . still! LYF

  3. I needed this as well, in a bad way- thank you for sharing. It is a great comfort to my weary soul to remember that he came into mess and longs to redeem my mess and loves me despite the mess. He truly is Emmanuel.

  4. Scooper,
    With your permission I am sharing this posting and the lovely poem with a friend who is grieving. She is spending her first holiday season without her daddy. Like me, she is a Daddy's Girl and I think sharing your words with her would be helpful during this time. I know they've comforted me.
    love 'n' hugs,


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