It was a picture perfect Christmas.
For the first time, my kids wanted to help decorate the entire tree and it was lovely!
The Advent Book for the last time and celebrated Emmanuel- God with us! We rejoiced in the most important gift that has ever been given- the gift of Jesus, coming into this world, because the God of the universe desires relationship with His creation. Jesus- born as a baby, destined to die to bring us salvation, God's perfect plan that reveals His great love for us- oh, the joy of this knowledge!
It was picture perfect- except when it wasn't.
The day that we went to get our tree, it was pouring. And although we enjoyed the time indoors, I didn't get a single picture of our kids with the tree. And I was reminded of how many expectations I have and how selfish I can be when things don't go the way that I want them to.
At the same time that we were rejoicing over the news of our baby girl, I was saddened by the losses of my friends- friends that are unable to have children, friends losing babies, death of close family members. My joy was met with heart wrenching tears for all of the loss.
And then... we learned that a school in Connecticut, not far from the one where my kids had attended kindergarten and my daughter had finished 2nd grade, had been senselessly attacked. Innocent children had lost their lives. And I could feel my heart being torn in pieces. How could this be?!! Each night, we were reading about "God with us"- the whole meaning of Christmas- yet here we were confronted with darkness and evil and pain and my heart couldn't help crying out why God?! Why do these things keep happening?
On Christmas morning, I opened this very special gift- a necklace from Lisa Leonard Designs. "It is Well with my Soul" has become one of my favorite hymns. To have this reminder around my neck is what I need in the midst of the picture perfect and in the devastating moments.
Because life is both.
It will be full of joyful moments and memories made. I will continue to be overwhelmed by the many blessings in my life. I am reminded of this daily.
But this joy will be accompanied by the sorrows of life. My best attempts at control and in having situations meet my expectations will be met with horror and death, with sickness and loss, with pain in the unexpected.
The truth is that picture perfect will not be a reality until our Messiah comes again and takes us to be with Him. And so I will wait- actively and with expectation- learning each day to truly mean it when I say it is well with my soul.