How Do You Decorate Your Gingerbread House?

Today’s Word:  DIFFERENT

Today’s Time of Stillness:  17 minutes

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.  –  Romans 12:6a

Seventeen minutes of stillness.  That is today’s practice.  My little crew around the table making gingerbread houses in Ms. Elder’s Kindergarten class could not have been still for 17 seconds, never mind 17 minutes!

So how is your time of stillness going?  If it makes you feel any better, even I cut the time short a few minutes one day last week.

It’s hard to be still.  Yet, like most things worth doing, when I stick it out to the end, I’m always glad that I did.  Kind of like making it to the cool down in Body Pump.  There’s a bit of a rush knowing that you persevered in pursuit of something good.

Stillness is a gift; a gift of letting go – of thoughts, of to do lists, of worry.  A time to shed some of the things that weigh you down; a freedom from the busyness and constant scurry.

There’s no time on the calendar with more scurrying than Christmas.  Much of it is joyful and exciting and fun, but a lot of it is stressful and panicked and expensive.

When I sat down with my 5 year old friends to make gingerbread houses on Friday, I remember thinking I didn’t really have the time to be there.  The day was full of errands to run, presents to wrap and cleaning to avoid.

But there we sat with gum drops and licorice, Skittles and vanilla frosting – all of it off limits for snacking, unfortunately – and a milk carton covered in graham crackers to be decorated and enjoyed.

The little girl next to me has a future in interior design.  Her choice of colors and placement was meticulous and creative.  The girl on the other side of me had more fun squeezing the icing out of the tube from three feet above the house and raining down M&Ms, unconcerned whether they stuck or not.  A distinctively abstract, post-hurricane house.

Across the table another little girl insisted on only using red and black on her gingerbread house in a very deliberate pattern, rebuffing every attempt by her mother to add just a splash of color to the roof.

“It’s a wolf house,” she told me, as she asked me to pass her the black gum drops so she could add some dead mice to the scene.  A sobering request, at odds with her festive holiday headband.  I’m not gonna lie.  It made me a little nervous.

In the chaotic stillness, sitting in a chair made for little people around a table caked with stray frosting and pretzels, I was reminded just how different we all really are… and how much God celebrates that.

Consciously or not, we tend to surround ourselves with people who are just like us.  Maybe it makes life easier, less stressful.  Maybe we think the way we decorate our gingerbread house is the only way it’s supposed to be.  I’ll confess, I am a fan of symmetry.

But God didn’t design us to all be alike.  To think alike.  To act alike.

Create room in your heart this Christmas for those who are different from you.

Appreciate the creativity of the black licorice ninja that hangs off the roof of your neighbor’s gingerbread house.

Be glad that not everyone wants to use the round peppermint candies that you find so perfect for the bottom of your house.

Have patience with those who hoard the Skittles or use more than their share of the icing.  Don’t delight that their chimney is sliding off for too much snow.  Maybe there’s not a lot of excess anywhere else in their life.

Be still today.  Receive the gift of letting go – of worries, of judgments.  Release the weight of envy or pride.  Give thanks that you have enough Tootsie rolls to build a path to your door and rejoice that you can create your gingerbread house exactly the way you want it to be.

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