He walked a country mile in those tiny boots on Thanksgiving. The pitter-patter, pitter-patter continues but with a little more trot and tumble. Watching the world unfold before a curious toddler’s eyes has done more for my soul than years of study and books.
We spent Thanksgiving day in the pastures of East Texas. Our family farm is nestled a good distance from the highway where the lowing of cattle drowns out any hum of traffic. The pastures are wide and the pine trees tall—“tickling the toes of angels” as my grandmother used to say. I grew up in those pastures. Learning to fish and check bluebird boxes, jump hay bales and gather wildflowers. I learned to recognize a bird by its song and even how to drive in the old family pickup truck. In the country, life happened beautifully and simply for my brothers, sister and me.
There’s something staggering and simple about being away from the buzz of city life. I am grateful that my parents pulled us away and took us to the country on a regular basis. There in the friendly plains of East Texas, I grew up in the same pastures as my grandfather. He’s the best example of a cowboy and a gentleman that I could ever give our son. And he was the first to welcome us to the ranch on Thanksgiving. We spent the day trotting around the country, picking up pine cones and standing in awe of cows and peacocks. I watched Will breathe in the country air and felt myself take a deeper breath as well. Simple. Oh the gift of simplicity!
Amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, does the practice of simplicity ever cross your mind? There is so much to be done—shopping, baking, wrapping, Christmas programs and holiday parties. The months of November and December are a blur of turkey and tinsel unless we are intentional to stop, slow down, and lean in. I relate to many characters in God’s Word—but none more than Martha, sister of Mary. When I replace Martha’s name with my own in Luke 10, I see a startling resemblance that humbles me every time I read the passage.
Jesus is visiting the sisters’ home, and Mary quickly finds herself listening and learning at the feet of Jesus. Meanwhile, Martha busies herself with making preparations and growing frustrated with her sister’s selfishness. Insert my voice (or yours) here: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me” (Luke 10:40). The kindness of the Lord’s response is convicting to my busy heart. “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (vs. 41). ONE thing is necessary. Not the 34 other things on my ever-growing checklist. One. Convicted and grateful for the Lord’s goodness, I set my list aside and sit. I try to remember. I try to simplify. With David I pray, “ONE thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).
Sally Lloyd-Jones has a spectacular children’s book that has quickly become one of my year-round favorites. Song of the Stars tells the Christmas story from creation’s perspective. The other day I was reading it with Will when a particular page stopped me in my tracks. Crowded around the Savior’s manger, the animals peer in wonder at the baby King. In brilliant simplicity, Lloyd-Jones writes, “The One who made us has come to live with us.” As I read these words to Will, I paused to soak in the significance of that one, simple statement. I felt a lump in my throat and warm tears hit my cheeks. (Imagine Will as he tried to comprehend his mama’s reaction to a seemingly simple book.) What beauty! What truth! The One who made us has come to live with us. That’s Christmas in one, simple, powerful statement. Praise God!
I have thought about that simple page every day this Christmas season. It’s a staggering reminder to keep things simple. Everything else—the shopping, the planning, the busyness—needs to take a backseat. One thing matters: He who made us, who spun the world together and called the stars by name, has come to live with us. To carry our burdens. To bear our suffering. To give us eternal life.
This Christmas, I invite you to this pursuit of simplicity. Step out of your car or your house or your calendar. Get out of the city limits where the hum of traffic disappears. Turn off the radio. Pick up a children’s book. Open God’s Word. Enjoy the simplicity and overwhelming beauty of Christmas. Simply put: the One who made us has come to live with us.