Cleaning house, decorating, cooking, shopping. … For many of us, Christmas can be so busy that it’s more of a headache than a holiday. Maybe you have a hard time identifying with those ornaments declaring “peace” and “joy.” And “Silent Night”?
But Friday was different. Nearly 150 women filled the Billy Graham Library lobby to get away from all the pre-holiday hustle and bustle. It wasn’t about which store has the best sale or about the prep work needed to be done before company arrives.
It was about themselves and Christ. Not necessarily in that order.
Friday marked the Library’s first Ladies Night Out, which quickly sold out. Mothers and daughters, girlfriends and church groups all came to share hors d’oeuvres, browse the bookstore and — most importantly — get their hearts and minds focused on Christ.
Some came from out of state — from Florida, Texas and Ohio — to attend the event.
Casey Schutrop, author of Grandma’s Christmas Legacy: The Testimony of the Tree, spoke to the women about their identity in Christ and how they don’t need to be perfect. She stood on a stage with an empty evergreen, saying that like a Christmas tree with some bare branches or gaping holes, we all have imperfections and baggage. But with Christ, she said, we can be whole. Complete.
“We are the tree, and our lives can be dressed and adorned and decorated with the very beauty of God,” she said. “As we adorn Christmas trees, God adorns us with hope.”
Many women in the audience wore dressy blouses, heels and lipstick, but the beauty Schutrop talked about is visible in other ways. Only with the help of Christ can they have real inner beauty that lasts a lifetime. One by one, Schutrop decorated the tree with large ornaments, each bearing words like faithfulness, patience, love and self-control.
“In His presence is fullness of joy,” she said. “And in His presence is peace.”
It is also through Christ that we can have hope, she added, hope that He will guide us through everyday life and hope of a future spent with Him in heaven.
Schutrop, founder of W.O.W. Ministries International, ended her presentation by wrapping the tree in garland and topping it with a star, citing Matthew 5:14 and 16: “You are the light of the world. … Let your light shine before others.”
Gale Kendrick of Charlotte, N.C., was in the audience with her friend, Alicia Slayton of Monroe, N.C. Christmastime has calmed down since Kendrick doesn’t have children at home anymore, but Slayton said it’s still easy for her to get caught up in long to-do lists.
Janet Borchardt, who came with her mom Joyce Kingery, called it “being a Mary and not a Martha” — getting so distracted by doing things that you miss the joy of being with Christ.
“I’m a total Martha,” Slayton said. But she does have a couple of traditions that help her family remember why they celebrate. Her children get no more than three gifts at Christmas — “the same Jesus got,” she said — and almost all of her decorations have something to do with Christ.
“You’ve got to slow down,” Kingery said. “If you’re overwhelmed, you’ll miss the meaning of Christmas.”
Kendrick said women “set the tone” in the household, so it’s important for them to stay Christ-centered around the holidays — and throughout the year.
After Schutrop’s presentation, several women asked for prayer. Some bought Schutrop’s book, Grandma’s Christmas Legacy: The Testimony of the Tree, and asked her to sign it. The book tells the story of a grandmother who, through a letter to her family, describes how each part of the Christmas tree reminds us that we are valuable and created by God.
Schutrop, who lives in Chanhassen, Minn., uses the book in her own family to decorate the tree and to take stock of their walk with God.
For a copy of Schutrop’s book, click here.