December 25th and the days surrounding it always carry with it many emotions for me.
In January 2005, I made the decision to move to Vienna, Austria with a couple of suitcases, and a pillow and blanket for my carry on. Initially it started as a one-year adventure. I would discover a new life, away from everything that was familiar to me. I thought I’d be back home to Washington in a year, but one, turned into two, which became four and a half years!
Much to my surprise, I also met my best friend during that time, the man who would become my husband. In 2009 I left Austria, which had now become my home and headed back to my parent’s house in Washington to plan our wedding. Four months later, I was back on a plane this time with my South African sweetheart.
We would spend the next four years living in South Africa, Johannesburg and Cape Town, all the while, dreams of living back in Europe kept growing in our hearts.
In 2014 the doors finally opened and another new adventure began. We flew to the Netherlands with two babies and ten suitcases.
It all began with a little, whispered…yes.
So here I sit on this Christmas Eve, my stomach stretched and swollen with another baby boy due to make his appearance soon, reflecting on how Jesus has changed my life.
Christmas is when I remember yet again that Jesus steps in, grabs my hand, and invites me on adventure with Him. Jesus came to do life with me, and you. He didn’t have to, but he chose to become human and stay human so that I could know Him and experience Him like I do a friend.
As I look back through the years, I could have never come up with such a wild adventure for my life. Only God. I was and still am the girl who clings to comfort and routines.
I can tell you that every plane ride, every move, every new community and city, all the ways I’ve had to adapt to different cultures, and make new friends, has not come natural or easy for me.
It’s all been rough. Emotionally challenging. Relationally frustrating. Spiritually uncomfortable. With the excitement and wonder an adventure with God holds, it also comes with seasons of grief, mourning, tears, and longing.
But it’s all been worth it. I wouldn’t change all the change for anything.
So Christmas isn’t just a special time of the year for me anymore. It’s become a lifestyle. The 4-weeks of advent leading up to Jesus’ birth has continued on into months and years…a lifetime of adventure.
From the moment He stepped into the world as a baby, Jesus messed up everyone’s plans. For most people He was a disruption to their life, their rules, their kingdom, their world. He was unwelcome and uninvited. He was misunderstood and rejected. Jesus didn’t fit with people’s idea of a Messiah, a Savior, a King.
They were expectant, yes, but not for Jesus to come and change up everything they had known.
And so it is with me…and maybe you too?
There were and still are times where Jesus feels like a big disruption to my life. And that is the real truth. He comes unexpectedly and surprises me with invitations that feel way out of my comfort zone. He calls me to follow Him, to do things, to go places, to love people that are rarely ever what I had in mind!
But then I remember that His coming, His crashing into our world, always brings change.
The kind of change that is uncomfortable. He may move us out of what we consider home, he may take us out of what is familiar, sometimes away from those we call family, he may lead us down paths filled with challenges, laden with mystery. It will look different for each of us.
However, we can live with expectancy and excitement not just during this season of Christmas, but the whole year through. As we take His hand and follow Him, a beautiful adventure seeps into our every step. Suddenly changes and newness become reasons to celebrate and moments to enjoy!
God took the biggest risk of all. He said YES to adventure.
He came down to us, despite our depravity and poverty and did life with us, without expecting a single thing in return. He went further than we could have ever dreamed, laying down His entire life for us, pouring out extravagant love and grace into our hearts…all so that our lives would never be the same.
Let’s take a risk this Christmas too…
Let’s say Yes to the adventure that beats within our hearts, that He placed there from the beginning.
To live with stretched and swollen hearts of love for Jesus and for others, to welcome the new, embrace change, step out in faith, live with expectancy for what is to come, take risks, and see life with Jesus as a continuous unfolding adventure instead of an unsolicited disruption.
Take a moment to ponder all the adventures Jesus has led you on through the years…
Then make a commitment to keep saying YES to Him, no matter the risk!
There are still lots of adventure journals in the shop, created to empower you to do just that – step out of your comfort zones and into a beautiful adventure with Jesus everyday! Pick one up for you and a friend to adventure together in 2016!