18 Dec Majesty In A Tree
By: Laura Nell Burton
Photography by: Christin Gish
Christmas time is my jam. Fresh boxwood wreaths dressed in velvet ribbon adorn the downstairs windows before Thanksgiving and our tree goes up while we’re still finishing turkey leftovers…
Throughout the month, my children delight in creative traditions that I learned from my own artistic mother.
Coordinated Christmas ensembles are curated in the early fall.
I’m embarrassed to confess that I usually design our Christmas card over the summer (when we have our annual family photograph taken).
Suffice it to say, I like to get ahead…
“Anxiety I will transform you
into something useful and productive.
I will not bow down to you.”
This year, though, things are different. Cloche has been incredibly blessed with a steady flow of beautiful projects since we opened for business last April. November was an absolute marathon. Christin and I have been ducks in the water…calm and collected on the surface, while paddling our sweet hearts out underneath. Christmas finally went up in my house on December 8 and just this afternoon I’m headed to pick up the photos for our card which is still at the printer.
In all honesty, balancing Christmas with Cloche has been a death of sorts. I’ve had to look in the mirror and say farewell to the entirely organized wife, mother and friend that I once was during the holidays. In this season of my life, God is showing me, in new ways, that I’m not in control. He’s inviting me to lean on Him and reminding me to trust. He’s calling both Christin and me to slow down and spend time with our ducklings before they fly away. And, I’m finding through Him, at the age of 42, that I’ve still got a lot of growing up to do…
Before I sign off on this Love Letter, I want to share a piece I wrote five years ago. Reading it with fresh eyes brought me back to my own knees, and was my inspiration to write to you this morning. I pray its message touches you over these next few nights before Christmas comes and is gone, once again…
“Sometimes you will never know
the value of a moment
until it becomes a memory.”
Written December 11, 2012
This morning I went for my run…my favorite time of the day…life is under control…feet hitting the pavement…stress melting away…praise music on the iPod. It’s the only uninterrupted time I have with the Great I Am. Life is so busy. My children are relentless. We’re five people and an elderly dog living in a tiny house under construction. Someone is crying or needs something at every minute. There’s no place to hide for a moment of peace. We share a small bathroom. We’re piled together in our cramped living room all the time. Lately, I find myself complaining—a lot. Sunday night, my sweet husband, Trace, called me out on it—gently suggested that I adjust my attitude. There’s a wonderful story behind this tiny house. I’ve actually owned it twice. It broke my heart to sell it the first time when I faced the hard reality that, as a single mother working as hard as I possibly could professionally to provide for my precious little Nancy Nell, I could no longer afford it. When Trace arrived in my life, he gave it back to me. What a gift it will be to grow old here. What a gift it is to be given a second chance at marriage, and to be at home every day as a full-time mother to my now three children. What gifts of extraordinary redemption…and yet, I complain.
Amidst such overwhelming bounty, I’ve lost my focus on how wondrous is the place in life that I’m in where all around me my dreams are being realized. It’s time to get down to the heart of the matter…
This year we decided not to get Christmas ornaments down (less is more in this tiny house)…so we let Nancy Nell pick out a table-top tree, and put her in charge, to her absolute delight. She spent Sunday afternoon outside collecting leaves and gifts of nature, gathered up from the majestic woods that surround this magical house, which she turned into ornaments…she is so creative. Without question, it’s the most beautiful Christmas tree, ever. I knew it on Sunday, but didn’t stop to really marvel.
Today during my run, thinking about my sweet husband’s rebuke on Sunday, I rounded a street corner and suddenly, with winter crisp in my lungs and leaves swirling above my head like snowflakes, a ray of sunshine pierced through the cedar elms pouring light all over my face as He filled my ears with this song…
“I want to be close
Close to Your Side
So Heaven is real
And death is a lie
I want to hear voices of angels above
Singing as one
Hallelujah, holy, holy
God Almighty, the Great I Am
Who is worthy, none beside Thee
God Almighty, the Great I Am”
—Phillips, Craig & Dean
And in His perfect timing, the overwhelming bounty of God’s blessings in my life really hit me. And I am humbled, so very humbled.
Christmas this year will be a simple one, and I plan to spend the days ahead worshiping and bringing great glory to Him in how I love and care for my family. Lord, give me a pure heart for this! This season is about the greatest gift of all time…how thankful I am that my home is full of people who give me that gift in the flesh every day. His majesty is everywhere, even in a tree.