Aaah - yes! A couple of weeks ago - I got caught up in all the rush of the commercialized Christmas season! I was so disappointed in myself... I was feeling a little stressed and behind and felt pressure that, in all reality, I was putting on myself! I knew this was true... and yet - I also knew that just a few more days of craziness and it would all be worth it!
I am normally one of 'those' people - the ones who start Christmas shopping in July and finish before Thanksgiving! But - this year was not the norm' and I had not purchased one gift as of December 1st! Not a one!? It was crazy!? I set for myself a personal goal to be completely and totally done with all things Christmas (shopping, wrapping, shipping, crafting, stocking stuffers, cards, letter, etc.!) by December 10th! It is a 'deadline' that I put on myself so I can spend the REST of December enjoying Peace (Snow,) & Quiet!
My Honey kept reminding me that it was not, in fact, a 'deadline' and it would not be the end of the world if I was, in fact, not done... and then it hit me! I did the unthinkable... (Gasp!?) I decided that the last two people we had to buy for would get... delegated! That's right! Delegated... to my loving husband! I have to repent and admit that it was mildly entertaining to see my husband stress out a bit in having to buy just two gifts?! Just two!? Normally I love the entire process of shopping, finding, and all - but I wanted to be DONE... and to meet my deadline! (Er, um - "Goal"!?) I know, I know... it was sort of cheating to just pass it off - but I had peace about it!? LOL!? ...And in the end, he did great! So - we have been officially done with it all for several days now (ALMOST a week, if you must know!) All the craziness of running around and rushing here and there was worth it to now have a bit of peace and quiet!
The thing that the Lord has been speaking to me lately has been the importance of FOCUS! Focus on the task at hand... I think in our culture of multi-tasking frenzies we may have lost the art of finishing one thing at a time... of really being able to focus and concentrate... we are constantly doing five things at once... and we tend to squeeze the Lord in there too... when what He is really desiring from us is focus... not just on Him... although that is never wasted time - but on what He is calling us to do on any given day, in any given hour! I believe He is wanting to lavish gifts upon us this Christmas season, in ways that we can't imagine! Gifts that we have been wanting, and asking for, and hinting at for a very long time! I believe that if we set aside time in the midst of the hustle and bustle, and focus on Him - Worship Him - He will pour out gifts in abundance for the holidays and the New Year to come!
Below is a portion of our Family Christmas letter... I will leave you with that and pray you have a very Merry Christmas, and a blessed and prosperous New Year!
Winter is upon us again & as I sit & look out at the blanket of snow that has covered our Valley, I find myself thinking about Traditions. It seems Christmas time, more than at any other, conjures up visions of ritual, tradition, & nostalgia! What comes to mind when you think of Traditions? What kinds of traditions have you kept going in your family & what, if any, have you purposefully put an end to?
I am a planner at heart, & I love it when things go as planned! I find comfort & security in tradition, a sense of knowing what’s ahead. Who doesn’t love that? But then I think about the very Reason we celebrate, & He was not as much about Tradition as He was about Change! Jesus brought with Him the unexpected, the unplanned for, the seemingly impossible made possible! I reflect on all the changes & challenges that we have faced over the past year, & I realize that our Christmas (& Hanukkah) traditions give me a sense of Home, a sense that even as we grow & change, the things that are most important to us, remain the same!
The familiarity of decorations, of the scents & sounds of the holidays all mix together this morning with the falling snow & remind me of the glad tidings, good will, & peace on earth. To be honest, I am more at peace with Tradition than I am with Change! Yet, we know that change is inevitable, & if God is calling us to change, or is bringing about a change within us, we can rest assured that it is for our greater good! The one thing He has been working on in me is my lack of follow through. Even as I write this He revealed that the reason I pull back, or don’t follow through much of the time is because I know that if I do what He is calling me to do, there will be opportunities for change. I suppose I am just not sure that I am ready to move out of this season of life that we are in. I have grown comfortable & feel so blessed… yet I know He is preparing us for more. A new Season is coming!
For the last several years, we have celebrated Hanukkah as well as Christmas. Speaking of Tradition, the main reason we started doing this is because while Jesus Himself did not celebrate his birthday like WE do, He DID, in fact, light the Hanukkah lights & recite the nightly blessings. There is something powerful for us to do the same thing, to say the same things, that Jesus did so long ago… knowing that He IS the Light of the World!
So, as much as I love tradition, I am hoping to be more open to change in the New Year, to hold on to the Good, & get ready for what’s next! We want to do LESS, as I mentioned last year, & BE more… we want to cut back on our gift giving for the sake of giving gifts, & increase our budget to reach out to our community where there is real need. We are blessed, & He takes care of us in amazing ways… we want to be His hands & His feet in this season, & always! The most important Tradition that we can keep going is to continue on in His work… to heal the sick, to raise the dead, to feed & clothe the poor, to set free those who are in bondage, to preach the good news, & proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor! After all, isn’t that what we all want – the Favor of God resting upon us?! Isn’t that what He brought with Him when He became the Word made Flesh and dwelling among us?
2007 has been full of blessings & challenges alike & while all of our Why’s have not been answered, we rest in knowing that we are covered & taken care of… that we are not alone, & that He has plans for us in each day!
We pray He surprises you with gifts this Season... with the unexpected, & unplanned for, and that He will make the seemingly impossible possible for you and yours!