Find the Manger and Ignore the Mess

Missing My older daughter hurt her shoulder at soccer practice on Tuesday night. We're no stranger to injury in this house. With two kids playing sports, injuries happen. We own a brace for almost all appendages. But we've never injured a shoulder before. I knew we were in trouble when I took her to the doctor yesterday, and she just stared at my daughter with a puzzled look on her face and recommended we go see an orthopedist.

We spent five hours yesterday going to the doctor and to get X-rays. We go to a different doctor today. My daughter missed her social studies test, we got stuck in traffic twice, and we couldn't find the X-ray place because they moved. At the end of the day, I didn't know much more about my daughter's injury than I did when we started. It was a long, frustrating day. By the end of the day, my patience, my joy, and my Christmas spirit had gone poof!

I have eight kids coming to my house for a cookie party tomorrow. I'll be honest. My house is a mess. I have laundry to fold, floors to vacuum, bathrooms to clean and cookies to make. I also have a mountain of work waiting to be done. We're going to see The Nutcracker tonight because one of my older daughter's friends is in the production -- and we're supposed to have freezing rain. We're having Christmas with my parents and brother on Sunday, and I still have presents to buy. I haven't wrapped a single present for anyone.

I feel like anything Satan can do to remove my focus from Jesus in this season, he's doing. It's hard to focus on Christmas when I'm trying to do 14 things I didn't plan to do along with five things I did plan to do. It's hard to see the manger for the to-do list. It's hard to find the joy in the midst of the frustration.

All week I've been writing about finding Jesus in the middle of the Christmas trappings, and I sit here on this Thursday morning trying to follow my own advice. So, in the middle of the chaos that this week has become, I've decided to be still. I've decided to set aside 15 minutes today to simply be focused on the manger. I'm going to read the scriptures about Jesus' birth. I'm going to let go of my to-do list to find my joy. I've decided that the important things will get done, and the unimportant ones didn't need to be done anyway.

Because this season isn't about the trappings, the gifts or the cookies. This season is about joy. It's about Jesus. And if I let the roadblocks of the week steal that away, then I've lost out. And my family has lost out. We've let the everydayness of life steal a precious moment in time from us. We've let Satan's roadblocks become a barrier between us and the baby in the manger. And I don't want that.

So, if the eight kids who come to my house to decorate cookies tomorrow have one less cookie apiece to decorate, it's OK. If my daughter's injury requires more doctor visits, it's OK. If presents don't get bought or wrapped until the night before, it's OK. I'm still going to try to find joy in the moment. I'm still going to look for Jesus in the manger. I'm still going to find time to spend just being still and focusing on the joy of the season.

Because if I don't, then Satan wins. If I sit on Christmas morning and shake my head, thinking "I missed it," then I've lost something precious. And I don't want that.

So, if you're struggling to find your joy today. If you're missing the manger in the midst of your mess, just be still. Set aside 15 minutes to simply sit and be. Read the scriptures about Jesus' birth. Be awestruck by their power and the joy that comes with knowing that Jesus came to earth so that God could have a relationship with you. Don't lose your joy because of the circumstances. Be joyful despite them. Find the manger and ignore the mess.