©Joy Dunlap https://joydunlap.com
As I pulled out the carved nativity set found last Christmas Eve in a sidewalk shop in Cartagena, Colombia, I recalled the woman who sold it to me and the hug of understanding we shared. Whimsical wooden, hand-painted ornaments on the tree take me back to fun holiday times with my mom. Lights circling the branches of our crepe myrtle remind me of decorating outdoors with my dad and climbing on the rooftop to secure Santa and his sleigh.
We ooh and ahh over ornament-laden trees, tables full of Christmas china and seasonal centerpieces, and fireplace mantles decked out with greenery and stockings. White lights, multi-colored lights and twinkling lights burst out of the darkness as they rim roofs, hug trees and illuminate characters.
This year I contemplated whether we get the same delight (or give as much attention) in preparing our hearts as we do our homes.
Interestingly, how we adorn our hearts this holiday involves some of the same steps as decorating our homes. Let’s take a look:
Unpack and Put Away the Boxes
Treasures tucked away get pulled out, but before we can fully enjoy them, we have to put away the empty boxes or less desirable mementos. Cherished keepsakes are what we want to surround us during the holiday.
Unwanted recollections of painful or sorrowful situations may be opened in our minds during the holiday season, but the key is to get rid of them, give them to God, and choose to allow the good to envelop us this Christmas.
Reflect on Past Delight
Almost every ornament or Christmas item in our home carries a memory. Hanging a treasured ornament on the tree allows me to fondly remember the person who gave it to me, the vacation place where we got it, or a special time like a childhood memory.
The tangible gives way to the intangible, and the peace and joy connected to that person, location or experience emerges.
By remembering the love, comfort and peace God gave us throughout our lives at different stages, we fix our hearts on His faithfulness, His kindness and His goodness, as well as the closeness of our relationship with Him today.
Focus on the Tree
Ahh, the tree often takes center stage in home décor for the holidays. With its lights, treetop angel or star, ornaments, and sometimes garland it stands prominently like a beacon, a gathering place.
Even the tree’s shape draws our eyes up as we look heavenward.
Christmas celebrates Christ coming to us. His arrival starts us on the journey to the Cross where God provides the way for us to come to Him. Through the cross, we see God’s immense love for us through the gifts of sacrifice, mercy and love. As we experience the precious gift of Jesus and acknowledge His life, crucifixion, resurrection and promise – the branches of love in our lives reach upward to God and outward to others.
Adorn the Inside as well as the Outside
Elaborate light and holiday attractions at some houses give the idea that those inside have a heart for Christmas. Surely a festive, warm and peaceful environment exists inside. Or not.
People do outdoor and showy Christmas decorating for many reasons: to join others doing it in the neighborhood, to promote a cheerful environment, or to continue a tradition. For others, the outward expression of joyful celebration genuinely carries over from the inside.
What beautifies and enhances our hearts is where inside adornment happens – and stays year-round. Oh, that the Light of the Lord would shine in our hearts even in the darkness, and illuminate the path of others around us.
Enjoy the Music and Sing Along
Familiar Christmas tunes weave through the airwaves to put a skip in our step and a warmth in our hearts as we allow chords and carols to seep into our minds and memories.
When I decorate, I enjoy listening to familiar carols and even new Christmas music to add to the celebratory atmosphere. Music runs through my mind and sometimes words come out of my mouth as I sing along. I’ve even been known to dance or twirl around.
Music in our soul is much like that. We have to turn it on and tune in. And move.
When we “sing” along and follow the arrangement God designed for us, we connect more to Him. As we feel the rhythm of the Holy Spirit inside us, we can’t help but “make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”*
One more thing about adorning our homes – and our hearts – during the holidays.
When done in delight – not duty – it’s much more enjoyable, and the true meaning of the season magnifies in us to shine brighter than any twinkles on a tree. Then, our heart light will be seen inside and outside the home – and far beyond the holiday season!
- Which Christmas decorations in your home most remind you of the joy found in Jesus?
- If you could only keep seven Christmas decorations, which ones would you keep?
- What decoration calls your childhood to mind?
- As you prepare and adorn your heart this holiday, which of the above steps is one you most want to work on?
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7 NIV
Life is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™
*Psalm 100:1-3 KJV