I just put Christmas away.
I just vacuumed up the very last pine needle. Not a speck of glitter is left on the floor. And I felt like the Grinch leaving not a morsel of Christmas cheer left to be seen in the house. This is the Christmas hangover.
The tree is on the curb. The ornaments nestled snug in their Rubbermaid boxes. The fireplace bare once again. The advent calendar is rolled up and stored away until next year. The Christmas gifts we received are already forgotten, some lost, and some already damaged. A few gifts will be cherished, but more so… the memories made over the last month will be remembered.
It was a crazy month. Workloads were doubled to get ready for the time off. Parties were had, and thrown. So many cookies were made and my belly now resembles one of the many round peanut butter balls I’ve eaten.
We made gifts. We wrapped gifts. We gave gifts. My boys thoroughly enjoyed dressing up like Santa and ding dong ditching houses as we left gifts on the porch because we didn’t have time to sit down and enjoy giving the gifts to everyone we wanted to.
I am tired. I am worn out. And tomorrow is Monday again. Not just a regular Monday, but a January Monday. A “Mostly-Cloudy-20-Degrees-But-Feels-Like-11-Degrees” Monday. An “Alarm-Set-For-6:15-AM” Monday. A “Work-School-Homework-Eat-Taekwondo-Brush-Your-Teeth –WITH-Toothpaste- Go-To-Bed-And-Then-Do-It-All-Over-Again” Monday… Sigh….
I have come to relish the end of each day when I get to cross it off of the calendar. Not because I’m one day closer to the weekend, just because I survived and that day… is now… over.
To be honest, each day in the Christmas season wasn’t very different. I found myself asking Randall if we were going to make it every night.
“Randall? Are we gonna make it?”
“I don’t know, Emily. Ask me when we’re on our way to Oklahoma.”
I asked again in Oklahoma.
“Randall? Are we gonna make it?”
“I don’t know, Emily. Ask me on Sunday when I’m done with my last talk.”
Today is Sunday, but I didn’t ask him again today. I was too busy picking pine needles out of my red, shag rug.
We’re gonna make it. I know we are. We will survive each day. On most days I will get my work done. I will put dinner on the table. I will tuck my boys in at night and whisper, “I love you” in their ears. I will eventually lay my head down on my pillow and toss and turn in a restless sleep and wake up in the morning and do it all again…
But I want more than that.
Randall asked us in his sermon last week if we could describe 2014 in one word or phrase. He said his word was “Change.” I said that I would describe it as an “Invitation for Change.” From January until December, God was speaking clearly to me. In the beginning of the year as I prepared to teach a class I’ve taught for the past six years, I heard God telling me that it was time to change the class. As I struggled with what that would look like, I heard God telling me that it was time to work together with my husband in ministry. As we wrestled with what that meant, I heard God telling me that in order to change, I’d have to figure out how to make that change, while everything else stayed the same.
What I wanted was to move to a completely different state and start anew.
What I wanted was to quit my job and focus on my passion.
What God told me was no.
What God did was invite me into a bigger story.
What I heard was “Get your s*** together.”
I just merely survived 2014. I had a lot of fun. Don’t get me wrong. I have some absolutely amazing memories. Things I will never forget.
Including this invitation… it lingers. Though not much has changed, still it entices.
God is constantly inviting us into the story. All of us. He created a magnificent world and is inviting us to create alongside him. What we did to that magnificent world was to destroy it, but God is inviting us to pick up the broken pieces and help to put things back together.
My philosophy in life has always been, “If given the chance, I will always say yes.”
I think this philosophy started when the Ninja roller coaster came to our Six Flags. I was a kid and I loved roller coasters, but when we drove into the parking lot and my dad pointed out the red track that looped upside down, I decided I would not ride this coaster. I was scared. But scared wasn’t allowed and my dad said I had to try it. “If it weren’t safe, they wouldn’t put it in an amusement park for thousands of kids to ride every day.” I trusted my dad. I trusted 6 Flags. I rode the ride and loved it (until my head started hurting from banging back and forth between the orange restraints). But maybe it was that day that I decided that when given the opportunity, I would always take it, no matter the risk.
I think about my philosophy when I hear stories like the one my pastor tells about the time he and his family went swimming with sharks. It’s not something I would ever want to do. It’s not something I would make a special trip for, but if I was invited to go swim with sharks, I’d accept.
I recently read about Bob Goff’s family being invited to Bulgaria, and to meet 28 other heads of the country. I’m with him: If given the invitation, I’d have to go.
Or at least, I’d want to go. I usually think about my philosophy when I hear about exuberant invitations. Oh, I’d go to the moon if given the chance! But I forget that I’m offered invitations every day. To do more. To love more. To create. To move.
I just can’t hear those invitations when I’m perusing Facebook. I miss those invitations when I’m listening to my Serial podcast. Sometimes I hear them when I’m quietly reading. I almost always hear them when I’m sitting and soaking up his word at church. But in the hustle of getting coats on kids and out the door I forget the invitation.
I fear the more I ignore the invitation, the less I will hear it at all.
So I guess tonight, as I pick the pine needles out of my hair and pockets, I’m going to remind myself of all the invitations he’s offered this past year. And I’m going to remember my philosophy… I’m gonna have to take him up on those.
Here’s to loving more.
Here’s to creating more.
Here’s to change in the midst of the same.
Here’s to not just making it… but making it count.
Here’s to 2015.