As the Christmas season is coming to a close, if you haven’t already undecorated, I imagine that will be happening soon. Decorating brings so much joy and excitement, which is now replaced with a tinge of sadness and regret as we remove all the bauble.  We pull out those familiar containers and begin filling them with decorations. Suddenly, without all the shimmering lights, the house seems a little less magical and bright.

Most of my Christmas wonder is now laying on a bed waiting to be packed away – except my tree. I have removed all the ornaments and now it just has the ribbon and lights. It is looking more ordinary and plain, much like January.


Somehow it feels a little less sad as I give it meaning and make a new tradition. With the ending of Christmas celebrations and this sacred season, we prepare for the beginning of Northpark’s 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting. It’s a new season. The ending and beginning collide, and my tree seems to bear witness to it. As it is stripped of all that seemed to make it amazing, it becomes just an evergreen tree again, much like it began.

Evergreen. Even the name causes me to pause and contemplate the full meaning. This tree will remain green, even when all others turn brown and lose their leaves. Thisis the type of tree we bring into our homes and elevate its plainness. Memories hang from its branches that initiate conversations and bring smiles. In the dark winter evenings, it shines with a brightness that illuminates the room. Under its branches, we place special gifts purchased for those we love. I’m reminded that ordinary things can often accomplish much more than we imagined.

As this season ends, it rolls right into this new beginning, a new decade, a new year. The Northpark family has set aside 21 days (January 6-26) to gain new perspective and allow spiritual growth to occur in the very midst of normal, plain days. This change will not happen with simple resolutions at the start of the new year, but rather with discipline and a priority shift, day by day. As Pastor Anthony shared with us this past Sunday, taking small steps every day can lead to big results. (For a quick recap of the message and for some great resources to help take those small steps daily, check out Pastor Anthony’s blog post HERE.) It is not in the majestic or magical that change always takes place. It most often lies in the ordinary and plain. Maybe, just like January.      

As you gaze at your simple tree, let it be a reminder to focus on being “evergreen” for the Lord. Commit to being consistent in your spiritual walk, making each moment count. I would encourage you to follow the daily updates on Northpark’s Facebook and Instagram pages, and also take a look at all the resources on the 21 Days of Prayer page. Take it a step further and find an accountability partner who will encourage you to be faithful to your time with the Lord. Be content with the quiet of winter, the plainness of the season, and remember today will be as bright as the light you shine on it.

SHERRIE SMITLEY |  Follower of Jesus. Wife. Mom. Leader. Friend.