A Deepening Hope During the Holidays

Christmas decor in entry with red plaid scarf, red boots, zinc vase, and pom pom wreath - Hello Lovely Studio

Photo: Hello Lovely Studio

Are you humming “Santa Claus is Comin to Town” with a batch of Christmas cookies in the oven? I HONOR YOU. You are adorable and such a hard worker.

Is your heart kind of a mess as you realize you’ll be glad when the holidays are over? I HONOR YOU. Yours is such a beautiful soul.

Are you struggling with overeating, addiction, or treating yourself unkindly? I HONOR YOU. You’re not alone and were created so perfectly to be loved.

I’m just like you. Struggling too. And muddling through.

Snow covered bench with bucket of Christmas greenery, wood lantern, and French mirror - Hello Lovely Studio

Our courtyard last Christmas.

I must confess the holidays are a challenging time for me to feel peaceful. Moments ago, I stood in a long line at TJ Maxx with too much time to grow discouraged. Even though I fully celebrate the birth of Jesus with a heart wide open, grateful for his presence, teachings, and wisdom, December overwhelms me as an overly sensitive soul who too easily despairs in the middle of TJ Maxx.

A Deepening Hope During the Holidays

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(What follows visually are before/afters of our home – a story of transformation.)

B E F O R E – a kitchen transforming

White Shaker kitchen with Christmas wreath over sink - Hello Lovely Studio

A F T E R – Hello Lovely Studio

My pity party goes like this: The days are too grey. There are too many calories. Too much weeping from children in the store aisles. Too many commercials, too many shopping lists, too many crowds, and too much pressure to please and make Christmas memorable.

I tire easily. I feel drained and wonder how the joyful ones have strength to deck their halls as my heart grows weary. My inner cynic sighs, “Christmas belongs to children.”

Except it doesn’t.

Thankfully, the Christmas story and my story are about transformation.

Swedish candles at window over farm sink with Christmas wreath and fairy lights - Hello Lovely Studio

Hello Lovely Studio

As I age and grow wiser, I am discovering a deeper sense of Christmas hope and peace.

Peace is meeting me right where I am in the dark lowly stable of my depravity. In the silent night, my spirit finds comfort as I reflect upon how the light of the world sees me during this holy season.

I consider THE RADIANT GLANCE OF MERCY.

It’s always there, and when my life’s circumstances distract me from the radiance, I must seek the grace to find it again.

Related image

Unlike DIY whole house renovation, the mechanics of interior transformation are beyond me. I only know I sense a trustworthy energy, glowing from a lighter realm and holding everything together. If I’m honest, most days the eyes of my heart are not open, and I do not see in the way I was created to see. Yet each day is a new day to awaken. When I slow down and become still enough to surrender thoughts, judgment, and mental chatter, something happens. Purity of heart and new sight become possible. I express this not with certainty, but in wonder: a heart can become Bethlehem where something new may be born.

B E F O R E – a DIY labor of love

Heartfulness is a word I learned along the wisdom path from teachers Cynthia Bourgeault and Matthew Wright.

Cultivating heartfulness is one of the most meaningful pursuits I know and involves aligning with qualities like sweetness and gentleness. It blossoms with faith, trust, and practices such as silence and solitude.

There’s a gesture in my own daily life which has helped me cultivate heartfulness for decades, and it’s as simple as…

B E F O R E – the dining room transforming

Belgian style living room and dining room - Hello Lovely Studio

A F T E R – Hello Lovely Studio

Sweep the floor prayerfully. It can be your floor or someone else’s floor, but be alone in the room with the broom. Allow the rhythm and tender sway of dust and crumb to have its way. The idea is to “work in stillness” and to keep breathing. You may notice you are no longer simply sweeping but are preparing room in your heart for heaven and nature to sing. Should tears come, continue sweeping and know you are richly blessed. Let them cleanse what requires cleansing.

Fresh branches and gold balls on my mantel - Hello Lovely Studio

Hello Lovely Studio

I share this vulnerable territory with a tender heart

prone to sadness during the holidays,

prone to shame, and prone to wander.

But heart pain can be transformed!

Rather than repress or transmit it,

I long to surrender it.

I long to place it near the manger,

alongside Frankincense and Myrrh,

under the Christmas blessing of faith and truth.

I long to meet and reflect

the radiant glance of mercy

shining like a Star in the East,

awakening my soul to beauty, and

reminding me of who I am (love) and to whom I belong (L.O.V.E.).

It’s as if I keep relearning the depth and intimacy within these two simple words:

HELLO, LOVELY.

**********

Pure joy.

Sending hope and…

Peace to you right where you are.

~michele

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22 Comments

  1. December 12, 2017 / 6:03 pm

    Michele this is such a beautiful post. So many struggle during the holidays and it is a beautiful message to share that they are not alone. I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas surrounded by the love of your family and friends and the love and peace of Jesus.

    • michele
      Author
      December 12, 2017 / 9:13 pm

      Thanks, Elizabeth. I know it’s a bit of a melancholic, heavy sort of post so I appreciate the kind words. 🙂

  2. PJ
    December 13, 2017 / 4:00 am

    Beautifully written, Michele! This is such an inspirational piece.

    • michele
      Author
      December 14, 2017 / 9:42 am

      Thanks for reading, PJ. Peace to you.

  3. December 13, 2017 / 5:40 am

    This is such a beautifully written post and echos some of the feelings I’ve experienced in Christmases past. This year is different as we are moving and not decorating and my home is nearly bare. As I wrote to a friend last night, I think that in the simplicity I might sense His Presence more this year than any other.

    I don’t know where you’ve been Hello Lovely, or why I’ve never seen this blog before but I can’t wait to read more. I can tell I’m going to love it!

    Thank you and have a blessed holiday season.
    Patti

    • michele
      Author
      December 14, 2017 / 10:05 am

      Thank you for finding me and adding so much beauty to this post, Patricia. So happy to hear you are sensing His Presence in the simplicity, and I think I know just what you mean. Peace to you, new friend. 🙂

  4. Alice Genzlinget
    December 13, 2017 / 6:59 am

    Beautifully and wonderfully put.

    • michele
      Author
      December 14, 2017 / 10:00 am

      Thanks so much for reading and for your kindness, Alice. Peace to you. 🙂

  5. Kathy
    December 13, 2017 / 7:21 am

    Beautiful, Michele. I love the thought of transforming heart pain by placing it near the manger! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

    • michele
      Author
      December 14, 2017 / 9:59 am

      Thank you for reading with such a lovely heart, Kathy. Merry Christmas to you and yours! 🙂

  6. December 13, 2017 / 7:50 am

    You have such a beautiful way with words my friend! Know that you’re not the only one feeling overwhelmed in TJ Maxx. It’s hard to measure up to the holiday ads I see on TV. My life isn’t that perfect ? But Bethlehem IS in our hearts and the light ALWAYS overcomes the darkness. xoxoxo

    • michele
      Author
      December 14, 2017 / 9:43 am

      It is so comforting to feel joined, and I honor you for doing this for me. Thanks for being a radiant source of light and encouragement, friend. xox

  7. Kristin Dimmich
    December 13, 2017 / 8:20 am

    Thank you for sharing your heart. I pray peace of our Savior Jesus for you during this season. I have always loved Christmas although because the passing of our oldest son several years ago I found it so difficult. Even though our holidays will be forever missing the one who is no longer with us, I have once again found the joy in the birth of our Lord. Having 2 little Grand boys helps with the joy as well! Peace to all your readers.

    • michele
      Author
      December 14, 2017 / 9:58 am

      Thank you for the loveliness of your vulnerability, Kristin. Thinking of you this very moment and praying that love will meet you just where you are in your grief and loss. I’m so encouraged by your words “once again found the joy in the birth” which is so life-giving and beautiful. So happy your grandchildren shine so much light in your darkness and sending peace to you and yours. 🙂

  8. susan
    December 13, 2017 / 9:05 am

    Oh my, you are richly blessed. God created you to do exactly what you are doing. Thank you for your honesty and for allowing the love of God to flow through you to others.
    May we all feel His glory and love during this Christmas season.
    Blessings to you and your family.
    Susan in MT (wintering in AZ)

    • michele
      Author
      December 14, 2017 / 9:44 am

      What kind words to share. I receive them as a precious gift, Susan. Peace and love to you, friend.

  9. Rhonda
    December 13, 2017 / 12:19 pm

    What a beautiful heart and soul you possess. And, how lucky we all are to gain inspiration from you. I tend to feel sadness at Christmas because I lost my mother December 27 of 2004. I still feel the sadness during the holidays after all this time. However, I try to remind myself how truly blessed I am, especially when I see all the devastation in California amid the fires. Thank you for reminding me once again of my blessings, of which I count you as one.

    • michele
      Author
      December 14, 2017 / 9:52 am

      Thank you for adding to the beauty by sharing your loss, Rhonda. Each Christmas I feel compelled to reach out to those who may have mixed feelings about the season – the emotions and excitement trigger painful memories in many of us and can cause us to feel alienated. I hope I can offer reminders and comfort that even though despair may be stirred up, we are NOT our feelings or thoughts, we are lovely souls experiencing them and need not feel shamed or damaged because of them. I am so grateful to have you following and uplifting me with your encouragement and light. xox

  10. December 13, 2017 / 12:30 pm

    What a beautiful post. Merry Christmas to you. And thank you.

    • michele
      Author
      December 14, 2017 / 10:07 am

      Thanks so much for reading and for your kindness. Merry Christmas, friend. 🙂

  11. Karen H.
    December 15, 2017 / 11:02 am

    Simply beautiful, Michele. You have a way of blessing others with your words of inspiration and encouragement. May you and yours feel the Peace of His Presence this season and all through the year. Blessings to you.

    • michele
      Author
      December 15, 2017 / 12:32 pm

      Thanks for your kind encouragement, Karen. Peace to you, and thank you for reading. xox

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