advent week 2 | on love in the midst of chaos

Last week, Delwin and I sat at a table surrounded by five of our closest friends. My girlfriend was hosting, and the idea was for all of the adults to sit around sipping holiday beverages and enjoying a cozy meal of gourmet grilled cheese, homemade tomato soup, a brilliant green salad - brownies for desert - all while our five kids were watching Mickey Mouse in the living room. We were going to share our hearts in a quiet space, listening to and encouraging one another in our relationships, our families, our walks with Christ. It was going to be the best small group, ever.

Well, then, my kid peed on the floor. 

And the baby woke up, and the two oldest kids kept pushing the fancy buttons on the new recliner. And my kids' soups were too hot, so back and forth I went between the fridge and the table until the temperature was Brooklyn-approved. And then Myles took a block of cheese off the table and started eating the whole thing raw. And then he pooped. And then, like, everyone, needed milk at the same time. On and on and on . . . 

Needless to say, small group wasn't this picturesque experience any of us imagined. It was just the opposite. It was chaos. 

There are two weeks left until Christmas and I wonder, "Is chaos winning?" In our hearts, in our lives, in our homes - is it? Are we holding such high expectations of what Christmas should be that we're refusing to embrace what actually is? Are we so consumed with our schedules or what needs to get done that we forget that the antidote to chaos is gratitude in the now, an active recognition and welcoming of love found in the most simple and mundane of moments?

That night, around the table - dishes and kids everywhere - the chaos didn't win. We were able to listen and love in the midst of it. And I told my friends that I was boycotting Christmas. Not Christ. But the Christmas that we've made it: the one that's stressful and image-conscious and financially taxing and altogether tiring. Most people put up their decorations around Thanksgiving or right after. I put up our decorations two days ago, and there are still zero decorations on my tree. Why?

Because I don't want to argue with Delwin about needing to rush and put decorations up. I want to be present with him and the kids, unhurried and focused on their reactions - not the final product. I want to love them well.

So I'm staring at a big red bin as I type, accepting what is. I will not be buying any additional decorations - or even putting lights up outside. We'll simply have a wreath on our front door because, this year, that's what I'm choosing.

I'm choosing love over chaos.



Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Son of God love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth


When I think about this second week of Advent - a week focused on love and faith, depending on your Church tradition - I immediately think of Mary and baby Jesus, together in a manger. Christ, out of His great love for us, subjected himself to the human experience. He loved us enough to endure the process of childbirth along with His mother Mary, and didn't come strewn with tinsel or choreographed Christmas lights or overly-decked and gilded halls. He came into this world in the most humble of circumstances. His life began in simplicity. The night as we imagine it was quiet. You could've noticed the stars and perhaps heard the animals rustling in the hay. Mary probably nursed Him out of instinct and Joseph, as I imagine him, would've sat quietly - awestruck and tired from their long journey beforehand. 

Jesus came into our world as Love in the chaos, but He didn't become chaos in order to get our attention. He did the opposite, becoming nothing - emptying Himself for us. And He continued to do just that for the rest of His life. 

So this week, as we reflect on the love of Christ, would you do three things?

  1. Take an honest examination of where chaos might be winning in your life this Advent season.
  2. Commit to a posture of gratitude for the way things are, not the way you want them to be. 
  3. Reflect on the tenderness and mildness of Christ. How can you actively simplify your life this week in order to make room for both His Love for you and your love for others? 

Just last night, I rocked my daughter to bed, and told her that if I could line up all the little girls in the world and pick one to be my own, that I'd choose her. She looked up at me and said,

"Mommy, if I could line up all the moms, I'd pick you every day. You're beautiful." 

I cried, obviously, but the tears were about more than just her words. I realized that in making room - in allowing simplicity to win this year, I was able to hear her. To be with her and for being with her to be enough.

For love to win in the midst of the chaos.

Friends, may it be so in our lives, in our hearts, in our homes. Amen.

Ashlee Eiland