December 18, 2006

 

Encouragement for Today


"Celebrate the Holidays, Heaven’s Style"

Ana Stine, P31 She Speaks Conference Graduate

Key Verse:
John 14:27a, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled...” (NIV)

Devotion:
Christmas time... A time of joy, harmony, and peace, or is it?

 

Years ago, instead of peace my home was filled with stress, rush, and fatigue.  There never seemed to be enough time, money or energy to fulfill my expectations of what a “picture-perfect” Christmas celebration should be. 

 

I remember one particular holiday season, I got this wonderful idea to kick our family celebrations up a notch.  My children were no longer toddlers and I thought we were “ready for the challenge.”  I had visions of all the things we could do.  First, we would make our own Christmas cards, including a lovely family portrait.  Next we would wrap our presents in style, and surely we would win the “best decorated house” neighborhood contest.  Never tiring, we would make crafts, bake and decorate cookies for all of our family, friends and neighbors. Our home, a mini version of Christmas central, would be filled with all the sounds and all the aromas of Christmas.  Peace, joy, and love would ooze from within...

 

Maybe the celebration would have gone better if I would’ve spent more time planning for it and less time daydreaming about it … or if I would have picked a few kid-friendly activities to enjoy instead of overwhelming my family with projects … and if my husband would not have lost his job right before Christmas!

 

I learned then that reality seldom matches my expectations, especially during the holidays.   How can I be joyous, harmonious, peaceful, or even nice to my family during this busy and hectic season?  I learned by painful experience that by simply doing a little homework before the “big test” comes you can preserve the true meaning of the season.

 

Let me share with you some practical pointers I’ve learned over the years, so that you and your family can enjoy the holidays “Heaven’s Style.”

 

n         Let go - Stuff in a big imaginary box all of your unrealistic or unattainable expectations for the holidays, and throw that box away!     

 

n         Make a list - Gather your family to discuss the things you’d like to do during the holidays. 

 

n         Check it twice - Calendar in hand, decide together what can realistically be done and jot it down on the family calendar or schedule.  Decide ahead of time who will be in charge of, or helping with, each task.

 

n         Seek peace - Actively and diligently pursue those things that will guard the peace of your heart and home.  Don’t allow yourself or your family to be so busy that you don’t have time to go to church, pray, or read your Bible during this time.

 

n         Remember - ‘tis the Season to celebrate!  God the Father gave us the best gift in His Son.  Let’s strive not to forget (nor let our families forget) what the most wonderful time of the year is all about.

 

Have a merry Christmas!

My Prayer for Today:
Dear Lord, Thank you for sending Your Son, Jesus, as a tiny baby, the greatest gift to mankind.
Don’t let me forget what Christmas is truly about, and help me to prepare so that I can celebrate His birth in a way that is enjoyable, yet peaceful, both for my family and me.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:

Homespun Gifts of the Heart by Karen Ehman

 

Into the Word, ETC Corner

 

Breathe by Keri Wyatt Kent

 

Application Steps:
Before “the mad rush” takes hold, set aside time to pray and ask God to prepare your heart for the holidays, and to fill you, your family, and your home with His presence.  Be especially careful not to neglect your relationship with the Lord - reflect on His beauty and goodness.

 

Reflection Points:

Study your heart - What does Christmas really mean to you?

 

How could you use this very special time to grow closer to God?

 

What can you do to preserve peace in your home, in the midst of all of the added activities the Holidays bring along? 

 

Power Verses:

Proverbs 14:20a, “A heart at peace gives life to the body...” (NIV)

 

Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (NIV)

 

1 Corinthians 2:12, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” (NIV)

 

2 Corinthians 1:12, “Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace.” (NIV)