Today I’d like to share an excerpt from the introduction of the book about why I wrote Experience Christmas. This is a book no one asked for, but was started as an act of obedience, because God knew I needed this message for myself first.
It must have started when I was a child in the Christmas productions at church.
The lights. The sets. The orchestra and choir tuned and prepared, with a cast of actors ready to share the message of Christmas with a neighborhood waiting to remember.
It’s what we did as a family. As a church body. From September to December, we got ready for Christmas. It wasn’t just about putting on a show, or keeping up our creative reputation. We had something worth learning again – something worth singing about and memorizing lines for – all wrapped up in swaddling cloths, tucked away in an old wooden manger.
It’s true there were other things, other memories and traditions that made the season special. But this one filled me with something bigger than I could explain. A kind of preparation that gave way to anticipation, and finally the celebration of Good News.
Jesus is here. Jesus is real. Jesus is FOR me, and you.
Year after year, the tradition cemented itself into my heart until I was writing the script, selecting songs, and directing rehearsals. That preparation continued to make my heart come alive, fresh with the hope and wonder of each new Christmas season.
It wasn’t until years later, as a young wife turned stay-at-home mom trying to establish traditions for my own family, that I realized how empty it felt to come to Christmas all at once on the 24th. Trying to recreate the emotion, joy, and gratitude I knew should be there in moments of family celebration and remembrance. Feeling so terribly that something was missing. Having no idea how to recapture what I felt I had lost.
For a while, I wondered if I was just missing a beautiful piece of my history – a door God had closed without making clear what might be next. What I realized instead, was that I was missing the long drawn-out pauses of the story; the days of preparing myself, studying Scripture, and experiencing Christmas slowly through a song, or a reading, or the response of my own heart through writing.
This all takes time.
I can still remember the Sunday we drove home from church, tears streaming down my face because I finally understood where the disconnect was. I needed the discipline of preparation – of reading and listening, writing and responding to the story God had told, long before I hit the ground running in December. At this stage of my life, I knew I couldn’t go back to writing and directing like I used to. But I knew I could take a journey of remembering, giving myself space to rediscover and embrace the heart of Christmas for all that it is and all it had come to mean to me.
And so Experience Christmas was born.
It was the months of writing, sifting through Christmas music, and revisiting the Biblical narrative that breathed new life into my experience of Christmas. This project helped reconnect me to the Child in the manger in an incredible way.
I hope it might do the same for you.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets a little busy, or a little distracted, with the demands of life at Christmas. I’m praying that God would somehow use this book to bring you closer to Him. That you would be able to slow down enough to see and feel and remember all that He has for you. And that this year you would experience Christmas like never before.
Thanks for joining me,