Being a sentimental person, I wanted to make just one more batch of sugar cookies in the place we had called home 12 years before moving. It was the home where we brought all three babies home from the hospital. It was the home where all three babies learned to roll over, sit up, crawl, walk and talk. It was the home where we buried several fish and one (mean) cat in a sacred space in the back woods. It was the home my oldest learning to perfect his baseball pitching on a mound in the yard carefully counted out one foot at a time by his daddy. It was the home all three of my children got their first thrill of sledding down a really fast hill and being launched into the air from the drift on the curb. It was the home where parties, celebrations, deep conversations and countless secrets were shared. It was indeed a home. And lots of cookies were made there.
I carefully made that dough, but didn’t get to roll it out and make the cookies. I decided to freeze the dough until I could get to it, sure I would make one more batch of sugar cookies before saying goodbye to those kitchen counters I had covered with cookie ingredients for so many years. I recalled the countless times flour dusted my nose and the little noses of my three Christmas elves. Santa aprons, sticky fingers and sprinkles all over the floor due to cookie decorating were sure signs that it was Christmas on Malvern Road.
Time went on, the pod arrived, baseball games did not slow down, the for sale sign said “sold” and all of a sudden, I was carrying that frozen cookie dough with me to our new home. How could it be that I didn’t make time to make that one last batch of cookies in our home? I certainly had every intention of doing so. Just like I had intentions of making time to sit and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas this Advent season…
Jesus, the pinnacle of the faith I hold so dear, was that baby in the manger we celebrate on Christmas Day. Just like my memories of cookie making on Malvern Road, I reflect on the sweet molding of my faith over the years and what my relationship with Jesus really means to me. Countless journals filled with prayers, most now answered. Mentors of faith who guided me since childhood, pouring their wisdom into my heart and soul. Times when I prayed for the day I would be married and eventually have children with whom I would celebrate Christ’s birth. Pausing during Advent to consider the greatest gift I had ever been given certainly seems like something I would be able to make time for.
My very best intentions of fully embracing the Advent season get swept away every year by daily demands that don’t stop just because it is December. Similarly, during our move, I could not leave the house messy for showings if I, indeed, wanted to sell it. I could not forgo the phone call to the power company to assure power would be initiated at our new residence. And, I still really did have to feed, clothe and raise my sweet children even though empty packing boxes begged to be filled. Those were only a few of the reasons those cookies didn’t get made before the move.
But eventually, I did make the cookies.
I checked the max amount of time the cookie dough could be frozen and managed to finally pull it from our new freezer. I stared at it for a minute. This was the last piece of my former home that I still felt somewhat attached to. This was the event that would make the move final in my mind. I reflected on the good times, the cookie times, the reasons we stayed in that home for 12 years. Then, I kneaded that frozen dough.
I kneaded it and kneaded it. Three months in the freezer, it was hard.
It was in the kneading that I realized just how perfect the timing was for me to be completing this cycle. Alone in my new kitchen, I glanced around. Overwhelmed, I prayed prayers of thanksgiving to God for the gift of our new home.
I also reflected on the past 2 years of my life. Unfortunately, due to several unfortunate events, I had become very distrusting. No longer expecting the best of others, I’d say my heart had hardened, just like that frozen cookie dough. The worst of the events involved a minor fender bender that happened on our way home from a delightful day at the zoo with friends. A year, a subpoena, a lawsuit and a settlement later, I was truly left numb. I felt as though I was like a child who had just been stripped of my innocence. My vision narrowed and I felt the sad sin of the world. And it seemed as though it was everywhere.
As I pressed into the dough, I released questions, fears and even some tears. As I pressed, that hard dough became softer and softer, just like my heart…and what a time for a softening…but Advent.
And all of a sudden, I was fully embracing Advent…while finally making those cookies.
As I cut each cookie out of the dough, I thought about the many times I had previously done the same task, really without much thought. This time, it was very intentional. I was so present when making those cookies that it made me think just how similar I behave with daily devotions. Having done daily devotions for years, I often resemble a trained robot. But, wow to the moments when I find myself present with my Savior because I intentionally pause and consider all He has done for me. Those moments take discipline and focus on a normal day, but even more so during Advent. Those moments are when my heart softens just like that dough.
All of the household routines remain in full swing during Advent. But, we pause. We light a candle a week, representing Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. We read our 2-3 minute daily Jesse tree lesson, we go to the party hosted by our dear friends and bring school supplies for a low income school in the area, we watch our children sing their hearts out to Jesus in the church Christmas musical. We take our kids to collect food from the porches in our new neighborhood to be given to those less fortunate than us right here in Durham. And we are more present than ever, even though we are busy.
In the busyness, the fully embraced Advent speaks, “Mom, I like this neighborhood and I like that we went and collected food for people in need. This was the best part of my week.”
The busyness of the Advent season is something many of us reflect on and talk about. It is for real. It is here to stay and there is just no way of denying it. Our move was the same. It happened amidst everyday life. There were many necessary tasks to complete and children to come alongside through the transition. But, eventually, the cookies were made and then shared with special friends.
Just like we shared those sweet cookies with our dear friends, I am sharing this message with you. May your intentional moments of pause this Advent season be blessed with deep meaning and deep love as the reason for the season makes His way to our hearts and homes. A very Merry Christmas to you all.