My parents built a wonderful log cabin style house on 25 acres of land and made it our home over 40 years ago. We moved in when I was five years old. I moved out at 18 and went to college, married and raised my own family. Now, I am living in my childhood home once again. 

As I decorate for Christmas, the memories come in like a flood. I pull hand-made dough ornaments from boxes and am a child again, standing beside my mom as she helps me form an awkward looking reindeer with the dough. We also made Christmas pigs from corncobs and painted little farm people.  These odd treasures now hang beside a colorful mouse with a red and green striped scarf, one of my mom’s favorites.

My childhood and my own children’s childhood intersect as decorations from both generations fill the house. I am reminded of traditions from decades ago. Christmas Eve was often spent with nearly 20 first cousins, stuffing ourselves with holiday goodies and eagerly awaiting the reveal of the annual name draw and gift exchange. Arriving home after these family gatherings, my brother and I set out milk and cookies because we believed Santa needed a snack when he came to visit us. 

My now adult children still delight in our simple, yearly traditions of selecting a live tree and decorating it together, sitting sleepily beside one another at the midnight Christmas Eve service we’ve attended since they were babies, and waiting until Christmas morning to open all of our gifts, because Santa still comes the night before. 

Amid all of the holiday traditions and childhood wonder, what I remember most and even now anticipate, is celebrating Jesus Christ. The undeniable gift of God made man still takes my breath away. 

As Christmas and the New Year quickly approach I pray you and your family are finding time to simply rest, in Him. Abide, in Him. Find joy and peace, in Him.

I confess, it’s been difficult to rest this year. When physical fatigue forces my body to stop, my mind refuses to find respite. How does one truly rest when chaos and uncertainty loom?    

During this season, little ones are often encouraged to “simply believe”. Many decorations display the tinselly word BELIEVE in capital letters. Creating Christmas traditions with Santa and his reindeer is whimsical and fun. I grew up experiencing this special holiday magic and so did my own children. 

When I see the word BELIEVE at Christmastime this year though, my heart rushes to the One in the manger instead of the one in the sleigh. And I do not just want to believe in Him…I want to BELIEVE Him. 

He is the Only Way we can truly have peace in our lives, our homes and our hearts. I used to pray for peace. Run after it. Long for it. I have learned, now, to run after the Giver of peace. The Prince of Peace, Himself. Yahweh Shalom. 

I still stumble, even tremble, sometimes. But He always reminds me to look up. He reminds me to seek Him first. He reminds me to believe Him. Jesus’ words in John 14:1 have long been on my heart and in my mind, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God believe also in me.”

My little girl heart prompted me to leave snacks for Santa, believing he would show up with toys and gifts. My more mature heart prompts me to leave anxiety and worry at the foot of the cross, believing He will show up with peace and joy.

So, this Christmas, more than ever, I choose to simply BELIEVE.