I’m taking a break from writing this Advent season. While I’m away, enjoy a couple of posts from years past.

Originally posted December 2017.

Confession: I’m one of *those* people who starts longing to put the Christmas tree up as Halloween rolls around.

I’m not sure when that pining began, since growing up, my dad fought for Thanksgiving to be given the respect, time and food it justly deserved. There would be no shopping, no decorating, no talk of Christmas, until at least Black Friday.

Looking back, I think that after traveling and speaking for the bulk of each fall for the past ten years, early decorating has given me something to look forward to once my feet finally hit the ground and I’m home for an extended period of time.

Of course, having young children has also influenced my yearning for an early Christmas season. There is a joy in waiting for Advent to start, but let’s be honest. Our kids are only going to be kids for a very short period of time, and these days of childhood merriment at Christmas will pass quickly.

And so I wait, rather impatiently each year, for the calendar to turn from October to November to begin decorating for Christmas and putting the Christmas music on blast.

Say what you want about those who rush Advent, or even the commercialization of Christmas that seems to push it’s presence on us earlier and earlier, but this year, it felt like many people yearned alongside me for it to arrive early and ushered it in despite what date the calendar read.

Terror attacks here and abroad, mass shootings in Las Vegas, Texas and far too many places in between, the devastation of multiple hurricanes—

our world understandably seems to be waiting with bated breath for a season of peace, of joy, of love.

Everything always seems to be better at Christmas, no matter what the past year has brought you—people are (overall) kinder and more thoughtful, more joyful. The food and fellowship is plentiful. Although lives are often incredibly (and even overly) busy with holiday parties, preparations, and travels, time seems to slow down a bit, as we surround ourselves with those we love.

Although the holidays bring with them their own share of issues—financial stress, unresolved family issues, grief over the losses of the past year, overall—�

the Christmas season remains a place of light in our lives in an increasingly dark world.

My heart grieves over the state of our world. I mourn with those who have experienced tragedy and loss this year.

And as I’ve waited with bated breath for this season in which we experience such profound joy, I can’t help but think about how not only people awaited the birth of He whom they were told would save us, but how even after His birth, we are again waiting. This time for Him to come again.

The excitement that first Christmas, the excitement of every Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, is our response to the most incredible gift. The fulfillment of God’s promises.

Yet, as we look around our broken world, we see suffering and heartache. Brokenness upon brokenness.

Each year, we long for Christmas and often begin the countdown months before it’s arrival.

We long for something that doesn’t seem to exist outside of the realm of these few weeks of the Christmas season.

As I put up the Christmas tree, bake cookies with our daughters, gleefully search out presents for those I love, I know that these things that bring me joy are not the “reason for the season,” as we often say. They aren’t what we’re all longing for. They’re simply the outward manifestation of what churns in our hearts and spirit—our longing for Jesus, and to see His spirit abound in our world.

And although this year has been a particularly tumultuous time for so many, I know that we have seen the presence of God time and time again. Heroes who chased a gunman. Good samaritans who rescued people from rooftops. Strangers who shielded others from bullets.

As we await Jesus’ second coming, the Holy Spirit is alive and well in this world. And as I contemplate my life and the events of this past year, that gift is the one that I am most thankful for this Christmas.

Even though we have to wait patiently for the Christmas season each year, as we long for what it represents, I’m so grateful that we don’t have to wait to see God’s presence on our world.

We don’t have to wait for a season of peace, of joy, of love. It’s happening everyday—the good people, the acts of kindness, are evidence of it as it exist in our broken world, and shine more and more brightly each day in our world of such darkness.

A blessed and Merry Christmas to you all!