Christmas 2012

The eleven months leading up to this December have been teeming with joy and pain unmatched. Ten of these months I have known a little boy named Finn, and he’s changed my life in many many ways.

looking dapper

looking dapper

Firstly, selfishness is no longer, under any circumstance, an option for me. His naps come before mine. His dinner is prepared instead of my own. I wipe his tears and let mine fall. Secondly, he gives me courage. I thought I was strong until I met this little fighter who squeezes my hand when he’s scared and smiles when he has every right to be shaking his fist. Thirdly, I have hope. Hope for his future. I cannot wait to unravel the layers of his complex personality, discovering how God made him uniquely Finn.

Santa Baby at Nana and Papa Armstrong's

Santa Baby at Nana and Papa Armstrong’s

As I get older, I’m more aware that Christmas carries joy and grief in its red satin bag. Just days ago a friend held her disabled daughter as she left this earth to meet her King. A client’s mom died, another client’s father is ill, my dear friend’s grandmother is withering, Connecticut families are grieving over unopened packages under their tree, one cousin is alone on Christmas Eve…

We all need a little cheer; a little good news.

I’ve heard the stories, questioned the theology, researched the history, become frustrated by the inconsistencies, rolled my eyes at the hypocrisy, wept on my knees, been humbled by my own hypocrisy, sung with arms held high, screamed prayers in my car, and one year in college I stopped reading the Bible altogether. But here’s the best news I know:

Jesus, God incarnate, is born.

He came down from the sparkle and purity of Heaven to this dingy, tainted place to show you and I how it’s done. How to love your neighbor and your enemy. How to trust God with the details. How to pray…alone on a mountain. How to tell a good story. How to feed your friends. How to stick to the plan. How to forgive the unforgivable. How to drop the stones of judgment from your hand. How to live and how to die.

Team Armstrong...in pj's

Team Armstrong…in pj’s

My family moved so often while I was growing up that no Christmas was the same. Mom did a fabulous job of creating tradition out of transiency, but Christmas, like her tree, was different every year. Joey and I’s Christmases are looking different too…on staff at a church, we can’t visit far away family on Christmas Eve and we trade holidays every year in Tulsa or San Antonio. Christmas doesn’t look the same from year to year. But one thing that will never change (however cliché) is why we celebrate…

Jesus, God incarnate, is born.

This is good news, friends. I hope you know that deep within your soul.

Matching houndstooth bow ties!

Matching houndstooth bow ties!

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5 thoughts on “Christmas 2012

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this Ash. As always, it is beautifully written and will be a blessing to many. Merry Christmas. Love y’all so much!

  2. Ashley, you have such a gift with words. Reading your thoughts never fails to do 2 things for me, 1. Make me cry 2. Leave with my mind and spirit enlightened and thoughtful. Love you, sis 🙂

  3. Thank you family for sharing from your heart! Papa’s gift this year was writings and this was Ashley’s …. We all were in tears after each of us shared from our hearts! Totally blessed….what a gift…..my heart is full! Joey and Ashley you love Finn so well….you are awesome parents!! I do love my family!

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