How can we make Christmas new when we've celebrated this holiday so many times? We begin by being fully present.
I've already been to the Hidden Villa Farm.
That's what I thought when CJ's Mommy-and-Me class announced a field trip for our two-year-olds. Years back, I had taken the same excursion with my now-six-year old son TJ.
This was not your local petting zoo. This was a real farm, people! Open for "educational" purposes.
The highlight for all the kids, of course, were the farm animals. But, this mommy mostly recalled memories of tracking down those cute toddlers, who were following those very animals through chicken cages, pig pens, and sheep fields -- made up of straw mixed with wet mud. And manure. Everywhere.
I obviously could not deprive my second child of the same wonderful childhood experience as the first, so I dressed to battle the elements. I wore boots ready for mud, gloves for both of us and armed myself with Purell.
None of it made a difference this second time around.
I thought I had already seen it all.
But, CJ taught me more than a thing or two about being fully present.
Being Fully Present
I was wrong. I haven't seen it all... Taste. I had never seen CJ's face crinkle like so, with his first taste of super sour rhubarb, cut straight from the earth and light up the next minute with the sweet tart of pomegranate. Touch. I never knew CJs fingers could touch so gently, as he placed his hand warm over the hen, lifting her soft feathers out of curiosity with every stroke. See. I had told CJ to keep his mitten on. Yet, I saw him tug it away because he saw some fuzzy leaves and was naturally drawn to touch them. Hear. I didn't know CJ's favorite farm animal was sheep until I heard him giggle with delight, do a muddy dance, and then surprised everyone -- by planting a kiss on the animal! Smell. This time around, when the manure became overpoweringly intense, I was simply struck in amazement at our Jesus.
How could Jesus arrive this way?
How could Mary's first birth experience be like this?
Jesus wanted to be fully present. In all of our human experience.
He is calling you and me to draw near to Him fully present too.
If only we dare to step closer -- in our fully human self -- we can unwrap Jesus in our moments. As is.
There is no moment too raw, too ordinary, too simple or too complicated to escape His attraction to us.
Don't hold back any part.
Fully -- as is.
Hope This Christmas
Parents around me probably were wondering why in the world I was so happy throughout the tour, laughing and curious just like my two-year-old. Because you see -- God showed me, through my time on the farm, that He knew what my hope this Christmas is -- I want to be fully present. I want to unwrap Jesus in every open space and every corner that I can.
No need to stress to make Christmas meaningful.
It turns out: you really can't walk through a farm -- being fully present -- without getting the farm on you.
And so it is: you and I can't walk through this Christmas season -- being fully present with Jesus -- without Jesus unwrapping in us too.
In the coming days before the 25th, let's be available.
taste. touch. see. hear. smell.
This time around -- this Christmas -- we can have more of Jesus.
How is God calling you to be more fully present this season?
What are your hopes for this Christmas?
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Bonnie Gray is an inspiring Christian writer and blogger, offering encouragement to keep faith fresh in the daily grind. Her writing springs from the belief that the beauty of faith often takes place when life goes off script. Bonnie is the Founder of FaithBarista.com and featured writer for Hallmark subsidiary DaySpring's (in)Courage. Bonnie is a native Californian living in the heart of Silicon Valley with her best friend Hubby, wrangling their two heaven-sent boys on the homestead.
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About Bonnie Gray
Bonnie Gray is an inspiring Christian writer and blogger, offering encouragement to keep faith fresh in the daily grind. Her writing springs from the belief that the beauty of faith often takes place when life goes off script. Bonnie is founder of Faith Barista and featured writer for DaySpring’s (in)courage site for women. Her writing is nationally syndicated and has been spotlighted on Christianity Today and McClatchy-Tribune News Services. Her search for God's calling has brought her to thrive through a variety of life transitions. She is a pastoral ministry graduate of Peninsula Bible Church in California, past missionary, and ministry entrepreneur launching a 30's singles ministry and workshops on Bible Study, Prayer, and Leadership. Prior to becoming a writer, Bonnie led a successful career in high tech as engineering and marketing manager, leading teams to deliver innovative products for Fortune 100 companies for 13 years. Bonnie is a passionate speaker serving up shots of faith in everyday life. She lives in the heart of Silicon Valley, California with her techie husband Eric, wrangling two boys on their homestead.
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