This year, I want to look for and celebrate and tell the story of His light. With every list, every purchase, every activity, every tradition, every party, every gathering, I want to find and reveal the Christmas story. Hope. Joy. Peace. Love. Light. Ancient and true. Told and retold. Better than any other.

Related: A Christmas Story (Part 1)

What beautiful words. Adorable, really. But how does one go about doing this? Hope, joy, peace, love, and light are all very lovely ideas, but is that all they are? Who wrote this stuff, anyway?

I did. I wrote this stuff. It was early. I had coffee in my hand. I was feeling reflective and warm and spiritual and inspired. So I wrote it all down, and now I realize that I need to put not only heart and soul behind it, but head and hands and feet too. Forgive me as I think out loud…

What does hope look like? How can I give that away?

What does joy sound like? How can I express that?

What does love feel like? How can I share that?

What does peace act like? How can I act like that?

I want to find these things. I want to live and breathe them. And I also want to share them. I want Jesus to lavish me with hope, joy, peace, and love, and then I want to lavish others. because that’s the Christmas story. God lavishing us with every good thing, fulfilling every hope and promise in Jesus. So, I’ve got to put some meat on the bones of these ideas.

First thought- I bake dozens of cinnamon loaves of friendship bread to give away. This particular bread has a starter. Which means it has a calendar. A schedule. It needs babysitting. And sometimes that’s annoying. But what if I tell a better story with my bread baking? Might I find peace in the moment it takes to add milk, sugar, and flour every six days? On day 10, when I sift, stir, and bake, might I find joy in imagining a friend enjoying a slice with morning coffee? And might my little discovery of peace and joy in the task be enough to share some peace and joy later in the day as the sales associate does her little task? Hmmm…

Next thought- God’s love is lavish. But it isn’t randomly lavish. It is specific. It meets our deepest needs- forgiveness, salvation, identity, belonging. My love for family and friends is lavish. Are the things I give them specific and intentional, or just random? Do I buy for the sake of buying? Do I give for the sake of giving? When I choose a gift, wrap that gift, and give that gift, is it an outward expression of my love for them? I want to simplify giving and I want each gift to share love. My kids want things. And my kids need things. My gifts for them can show my love in understanding their wants and caring for their needs.

One more thought- for some people in my life and the world near me, no amount of twinkly lights pushes back the darkness. They are grieving. They are lost. They struggle to see a way forward, beyond the hurt. If I spend this entire season looking down at my to-do list, I will never see the despair in their eyes. And they will never see the light in mine. Hope needs to be on my list. Giving away hope. A glimpse of greater. A glimpse of future. A glimpse of healing. A flicker of light. In the coat I donate. In the invitation to gather. In all the dollars set aside and ready to put in every red Salvation Army bucket we see. In the pot of soup taken to a grieving family…

I have to pause and swallow hard. I want to find these things. I want to live and breathe them. And I also want to share them. I want Jesus to lavish me with hope, joy, peace, and love, and then I want to lavish others… I just wrote all of that, and I’m afraid I won’t be able to do it. I’m afraid I’ll get busy and selfish and sucked back in to the old stories of shame and greed and more, more, more. But even as I write this, I feel the Spirit in me stirring up new thoughts and ideas. And I am encouraged! I don’t need to be more or do more than He leads me to be and do. And He gives me all the hope, peace, joy, and love to be the little light I long to be this Christmas. First step- I’ll make a little list with a few ideas. Second step- I’ll set an alarm on my phone to remind me every morning to look for and share these things every day. Third step- thank you, Jesus…

The people walking in darkness

have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of deep darkness

a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2 NIV)