Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.
– Isaiah 40:11
As I write this, I am sitting in an unpacked home. We just moved from Los Angeles to our new house in St. Paul and oh, by the way, it’s also the beginning of December. Thankfully, the church we’ve moved here to serve set up air mattresses and brought snacks for us. But our lives – the things we’ve curated that feel like home, and especially those things that speak “Christmas” to me, are packed away. I feel like I’m woefully unprepared for the holiday season, no matter how loudly I play Pentatonix’s “Christmas Deluxe” album. Nothing about this Christmas feels deluxe – glittery, magical or “most wonderful.” I’m lucky if I can find our coffee maker amidst all these boxes.
I think my frustration with the season comes because I so want to get it “right.” I want to play the right Christmas album the morning of December 1 (not a day earlier people, let’s give Thanksgiving some time to breathe, shall we?). I want my home to be filled with the sweet smells of cookies, rolls and breads that herald a season of togetherness. I want my kids to get the right gifts (or at least ask for gifts with the right motivation). And I want more than anything to send out the “right” Christmas card with my family looking all happy and cozy.
I think we all approach this season with a bit of crazy – we want so many things for so many people that we feel like we’ve lost ourselves in the fray. If I’m honest, this is the case nearly every Christmas – I enter the season with a list of all the “right” things and I find myself looking over the gift wrapping debris of Christmas morning and wondering, “Is this all there is?”
Living in an unpacked home has given me this clarity. Because of the move, I don’t have to live by others’ standards right now so I’m forced to create my own. And this is what I will do: I will be present. I will be joyful. I will prepare myself to connect with God wholeheartedly throughout the holiday season.
It’s all so overwhelming, which is why this season, in order to truly prepare my heart, I need Isaiah 40:11.
The Scripture in Isaiah is one that speaks to me often as a mother, but especially so this holiday season. I love the idea that Jesus will tend to me and gather me close to his chest when I’m feeling overwhelmed, like now. What matters to Jesus right now is not all the trappings of the holiday but the position of our hearts – are we leaning into him? Are we open to his loving guidance? Are we finding our nourishment in his hands? Advent reminds us of our need for Jesus and at Christmas we celebrate his goodness.
If you want to join me this season in preparing your heart to wholeheartedly connect with Jesus, here are three things you can do:
1. Light a scented candle every morning and pray a simple prayer acknowledging Jesus’ presence and your need for him to hold you close during the day.
2. Read a short devotion from one of your favorite devo books once a day.
3. Pay attention to moments of wonder this season and write them in your journal as a thank you prayer to Jesus.
The “right” preparations for Christmas aren’t about the music, the gifts or the cards. The right preparations are in our hearts. This season, make room for Jesus in your preparations and let him gather you close amid all the Christmas craziness.
Osheta Moore is a podcaster and advocate. She believes everything is better after a nap, brunch with girlfriends is a necessity, and nothing beats a good Netflix binge. You can find her online at Shalom in the City.