Not seriously whackadoo, but just ... differently than expected. At the beginning, I made this lovely December Family Fun calendar modeled on this advent calendar (we do our own kind of Advent separately). Trying to keep our focus off of THINGS and more on PEOPLE (and shared experiences), I put a sticky note on each card, which the kids have loved opening each day. Some days it's no-stretch fun: a family Mario Kart tournament, or decorating homemade wrapping paper, or a drive around town to look at some of the funkier light displays. Some days it's more of a you-will-discover-the-joy-as-you-do-it fun: making lunches to distribute to some homeless folks under the bridge, or singing with a group of friends at a nursing home. Some days, it's a combination: taking their grandmother out for frozen yogurt, or baking for neighbors.
Along the way, there've been some hiccups, starting with running out of number stickers before finishing the calendar.
One child woke up sick the morning we were scheduled to visit the nursing home.
I didn't get around to finding a puzzle to work on together the day that was scheduled.
The homemade gingerbread pieces I spent considerable time rolling out and baking completely failed at our gingerbread house decorating party with friends. Within ten minutes, all eight kids were using graham crackers instead.
Et cetera, et cetera.
But when I'm tempted to chafe at the chinks in my plans, He reminds me: If your focus really is on Christ in this season and in every season, then why does it matter? Do you want perfection, or do you want peace?
After all, the King of Kings wasn't born into a Martha Stewart nursery. His crib sheets didn't match His bumper pads. Oh, wait: He didn't have crib sheets. I doubt Joseph and Mary even had the carseat installed on the donkey's back, rear-facing. I wonder if Mary sputtered to Joseph, "But ... but ... here? In a barn? Honey, we're not even at home! This place smells like manure! This wasn't my plan!"
And that baby, who was born "Jesus, our Emmanuel" can still be "Emmanuel, God With Us" today. Even -- especially? -- in those moments when family members don't seem to be contributing as I wish they would, or the printer runs out of toner before all our annual letters get spewed out, or I've forgotten someone who deserves a call or a card or a gift, or I suspect that my kids might be taking my efforts for granted.
This truth eases into focus, as I survey the crumbled gingerbread pieces and the children's laughing faces: It's through the cracks in our imperfect lives that light can shine through.