This year I bought our family’s first Advent book (the ever so talented Ann Voskamp’s beautiful book). It’s a book that has a passage of Scripture and a story for every day Dec. 1-25. Of course I was late to the game and didn’t actually get the book til Dec. 4th. Since you all know how organized I am, this may come as a shock. Except that any of you who actually know me know that I’m not organized at all and you’re proud of me for even thinking to get the book. Thanks friends.
In my head, we would all gather around in a circle and read this beautiful book and my children would be wide-eyed and intent on listening to every word. We would afterwards discuss the story and they would amaze Kyle and me with how well they listened and understood. Then we would pray an eloquent prayer using all the big, churchy words and the Holy Spirit Himself would come kiss our little foreheads for being such a good little Christian family. Then I would detail this experience in a lengthy Facebook post so all could see what a wonderful family we are. Actually, that last part isn’t true. I’m too lazy for a long FB post.
It’s getting into mid-December and this Norman Rockwell vision I had in my head has yet to spring to life. Oh, we’ve been reading the book at night (minus the first few days) but it is rarely (or ever) magical. The magic disappears usually within the first 2 minutes. Someone has to, HAS TO, use the bathroom. Someone forgot his blanket. Another one is having a giggle fit and can’t stop laughing. And then, as always, someone poots. It’s hard to recover after somebody breaks wind ya’ll. All focus is lost and the mood is effectively killed.
On other nights, they’ve been quiet and somewhat attentive. When we get to the end and I ask some “application questions”, I get blank stares or an answer that may or may not have anything to do with what we just read. Sidenote: God bless the teachers. I don’t know how you combat blank stares every day. You are my heroes.
How on Earth am I supposed to teach them the true meaning of Christmas with all these distractions and blank stares? Where’s the magic? Where’s the ambience? Where are Heaven’s angels who are supposed to sing over us during our precious family time?
Then I remember.
I remember it’s not my job to try to create the perfect environment for my kids to learn about Jesus. I don’t need the perfect setting, or the perfect book, or the perfect prayer. I just need to show up. All God asks is that we be available and show up. He works out the rest. I have no idea if my kids are getting anything out of what I’m reading.
But what if they are?
What if God is planting little seeds inside of them? What if they’re beginning to understand, for the first time, how much Jesus loves them?
It’s because of those “what-ifs” that we have to keep showing up, even if it doesn’t go like we plan. Even if all we get are blank stares. Even if we’re interrupted for the 18th time with a random fact about the kids’ day.
I’m learning that showing up rarely looks perfect. It’s usually a mess. Thankfully, I’m well equipped for “messy”; it’s “perfect” that I can’t do. I hope all of your Christmas plans are full of reminders that perfect isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be and the little things are what the kids remember anyway.
Anybody else’s family time shaping up like mine? Interruptions, giggles, bathroom breaks? Anyone?
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