The Christmas decorations are packed away, the kiddos are back to school and it's a new year. But the vision of our tree continues to linger in my mind.
The first time we considered a fake tree was in the flat lands of North Dakota. It is one of those places people say, “you can watch you dog run away for days.” Not a tree in sight. Due to the lack of Blue Spruce, purchasing one at the local hardware store could be pricey.
Growing up in the mountains it was tradition to hike up into the hills, purchase a tree permit (for the low price of $5!) and cut down your own tree. My family has many stories created from this tradition. I had always imagined doing the same with my own children. But there we were standing in Walmart staring at boxes of trees. Unfortunately for my husband, I burst into tears, grabbed my babies and went to wait in the car while he picked one.
We have not owned a real tree since that day. When I got over the initial heart break of missed expectations, I found that I liked arranging the branches just right. I didn’t miss watering the thing or the needles that needed constant vacuuming. It was simple.
This year after erecting our plastic needle-ly friend, we left it for a few days due to busy schedules. The lack of dressings didn’t stop me from basking in its glow each morning with my coffee in hand. I almost wanted to leave her unadorned in her twinkling lights. It had the same feeling when we took down the decorations and left it standing without it's finery. It was simple.
Simplicity is our focus during the holidays. We want to concentrate on the right things; family, generosity, the birth of our Savior. But it would seem that as we break out the confetti & party hats and make resolutions for a better year, we charge ahead. We fill our calendars, worry about maxed out budgets, wrestle with complicated relationships and hope that our expectations will be met.
Personally, it can be a season of want. I find myself wallowing in what I lack and worried that it, whatever it is, won’t be enough. I stress out about decisions that need to be made. I'm afraid of not meeting the expectations of others. I pack all these things into my heart & carry it like the burden that it is. I am exhausted before I’ve barely stepped into 2019.
As I deconstructed my perfectly formed tree, the glow of simplicity was lost.
But I want to know the peace of simple all year long. Simplicity is a choice.
I chose to sit in the glow of a plain tree. I chose to still my mind in those moments and focus on the birth of my King. I chose the simplicity of the moment.
And I can choose simplicity still.
In this new year, in the planning, in the doing I can trust in the Lord & bask in the simple.
If you need provision, that's what the story of the boy and his simple lunch teaches us in Matthew 14. The young man offered what he had and the disciples simply reached into the basket and the Lord provided. They didn't know how the Lord was going to do it or what was going to come out as they reached in. But in the end all who ate were full and there was extra.
If you need direction consider the Apostle Paul. Through out the book of Acts, Paul simply waited and the Holy Spirit directed him in his next steps at just the right moment. Nothing happens outside of God's timing. Being anxious will not speed Him up. Instead "offer your requests to God in prayer and thanksgiving and the peace of God will transcend all understanding."
If you have a relationship that needs fixing choose love. In our family we have a saying, "Over & above to show our love." If we are abiding by the truths found in Matthew 22:37-39, then we can simply choose to love others more than ourselves. It's funny how putting people first and showering them with kindness can melt away anger, hurt & bitterness.
Granted, when we hear the word simple, we tend to think easy or quick. You may be saying, "Kelly, years of hurt don't just disappear." Or "Kelly, the decision is so complicated." Yes, I know and agree. The simplicity is not in the situation, rather a matter of our heart attitudes.
I have a dear friend who has allowed to me to share a small peek at her situation as an example.
She and her husband are loosing their home. It is a home that they prayed for, prayed over and have used to meet the needs of many families. For two years they have been stuck in a situation not of their making & out of their control. They are having to walk away from all that they know, start over & do so without knowing what's next. This situation is hopeless. They feel all the emotions of hopelessness. But I have watched her walk through the sorrow and desperate times with her faith not only intact but deepened. She said she had lost faith in their situation, but not faith in her God, His provision or His plans. They are moving forward, looking for the new thing God is doing.
So, I'm not saying life isn't nitty gritty and difficult to walk through. What I am saying is the answer is a matter of the heart. Any burden that your heart may carry has a simple answer, faith in Jesus. Does it always look simple in our day to day life? No. But when we carry the simplicity of the Truth in our hearts rather than the burdens, we can walk through the complexity of our daily lives with peace.