But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. Luke 10:40.
We leave for Vail on a ski trip tomorrow. Today we made these Christmas tree cakes…
…made and delivered several of these Christmas cocoa mixes…
…sorted, washed and folded a lot of these…
…fetched my dog’s vaccination records from the veterinary clinic, shopped at Walmart (a feat of desperate courage during the holidays), packed for three of the four members of our family, washed approximately seven thousand dishes, sat in on Jack’s Christmas program rehearsal. I ruined a double batch of banana bread. It was undercooked in the center when the timer beeped, so I put it back and and forgot to set the timer as I scooted out of sight, out of mind in order to discipline a wayward child. When I finally remembered the neglected loaves, they were tough in the middle and black on the edges. Bummer. I just love that recipe.
The hours of my day slip away in a whirlwind as I strain to check off the list. I snap at Jack after dinner.
“Do NOT touch that suitcase. Mommy worked super hard to get that ready; please keep it organized. ”
“Mommy, you hurt my feelings. You are kind of grumpy with me.”
Pause. I want to escalate, to blame. I force my mind to see the priorities we choose to live. Relationship over productivity.
“You are right, Jack. I am so sorry. I feel grumpy because I have a lot to do right now, but that is not your fault. I did not make a good choice with my words. I should speak with kindness to you. I’m so sorry. Will you forgive me?”
Competence should not require forgiveness. I lose my sight when I choose a mere series of tasks to guide my hours.
After the day fades into night, the house settles into the peace of sleeping children and finished projects. When I look at my list, I rest in a successful day. But when I look at my heart and the hearts of my children, I feel the loss of missed opportunity.
Lord, I almost completely slipped past who they are today. My little ones were a distraction instead of a priority. I spent my day annoyed at their child-longing for my value and attention. I feel ashamed. I am sorry.
As I sit here typing, tears well up as my eyes lock on the Jesse tree standing strong on the kitchen counter. Every day of Advent, we read a Bible story. Together we weave the ancient truths throughout history, tying the threads of Old Testament foreshadows into the profound glory of Incarnation. After the day’s story, we hang an ornament that represents the daily fragment of grace we just experienced. Every day, we add another simple laminated square onto a growing representation of God’s unfolding redemption story.
The sight of the Jesse tree slays me.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
It is not that the crossed out list does not matter. But the list should always and only be a means to an end. The means is productivity; the end is ever increasing faith and joy embedded into the culture of our family.
Advent is a season of waiting and preparing. It can be a hard season, because waiting and preparing are hard for fragile souls. Today I did not attune my heart to the echoing call of Incarnation – the why of this precious season.
Tomorrow is a new day. I will spend most of it in the car on windy winter roads with a beloved friend and five (likely maniacal) children. Two mommies, five preschoolers, one car, three hours. You do the math. But…..
Only One Thing is necessary.