It's one of my favorite lines from a Christmas hymn, Joy to the World: Let every heart prepare him room.
But my heart is crowded with the regular preparations for Christmas–writing a letter and sending out cards, decorating the tree and making cookies, buying presents, wrapping presents, buying more presents… There are parties and holiday concerts and gingerbread houses and Advent calendars and candy canes and peppermint drops and "Can I hab anodah piece a candy?" from Marilee, at 6:30 a.m.
And my heart is crowded with discontent. We have had two snow days and two delayed openings and a weekend snowstorm over the course of the past ten days. We have also had two kids who stayed home from school sick, on different days.
So this morning, with William making a design out of wooden blocks on the floor and Marilee eating gingerbread beside me (yes, at 6:20, before the candy question), I pulled out my journal and Bible and Advent devotional book. It is perhaps the fourth time I have done so this season. And I wrote, "All of the preparations for Christmas are making it very difficult for me to prepare room for Jesus."
And I prayed that God would help me. Help my grumpy spirit. Help me trust that even though the presents aren't all wrapped and even though I haven't written the blog posts I had planned and even though I don't have all the addresses for the Christmas cards and even though I have eaten and drunk more than I intended this past two weeks and even though I have only vaguely paid attention to Advent–help me to trust that you are present. That you are God-with-us. Emmanuel.
It was a very short time. The kids were ready for pancakes and the house needed cleaning for a party here tonight and I needed a shower. A simple prayer.
And then, an hour later, I checked my email.
As I was worshipping and praying at home this morning the Lord put you on my heart. Abundant peace, grace and blessing are bestowed on you and your household. I give God thanksgiving for bringing you and your family here . . . May you walk in peace and His joy today. God's love surrounds you and follows you wherever you go and His light shines like a beacon from you and from your household.
And then, this, from a friend who is having a cookie party today but who heard me speak at a church a few weeks back:
As I am attempting to prepare for the festivities today –- in the midst of snow storms and kids at home –- and the house is a mess –- and the decorations are half done –- your wise and wonderful words keep ringing in my head. "Wouldn't you love to have a friend who opens her doors amidst the chaos and says "Come on in and let's play." Can't wait to see you.
She also ended her email with a P.S.: "The cookies are pre-baked and the champagne is cold. So there's that. :)"
Perhaps I have a little room in my heart for Jesus after all. In the midst of cookies (and champagne!) and snow days and grumpiness, there is grace. And hope. And peace. And joy.
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