Keeping it Simple
"…his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)
My excuses for not decorating my home, not cooking a big meal on Christmas day, and not shopping till I dropped were valid ones. Our new business would be opening two weeks after Christmas, and I was working furiously to meet a book deadline. My husband and I had more to do than we had hours in the day.
When December approached, my neck stiffened and my heart skipped beats as I anticipated the stress more activities would bring to our already overstuffed lives. The thought of more clutter, even my favorite Christmas decorations, in our topsy-turvy home with all the undone laundry and crowded kitchen counters about sent me over the edge. So I began to think about how we could eliminate some stress to have a peaceful Christmas.
"Keep it simple" became my catchphrase. With my family's assurance they'd join me with the simple Christmas idea, I gave myself permission not to do it all. I wouldn't say yes to every invitation or fill the calendar every night, and I didn't even send the annual Christmas photo and newsletter. These choices brought me a large measure of peace.
Each family member named some traditions they wanted to keep. We included a live Christmas tree, a wreath on the front door, reading the Christmas story from the Bible, Christmas Eve church service, limited gifts, helping with a toy drive, favorite Christmas movies, and a few get-togethers with good friends. Being more selective about our Christmas traditions brought us less stress and more peace. In addition, because we weren't caught up in the seasonal frenzy, the activities we did include became more meaningful. We were able to focus on what really mattered: time with our family and hearts centered on the birth of Christ.
At the end of Christmas day we agreed that despite the stressors of a new business and meeting my deadline, and despite giving up some of our usual Christmas activities, we hadn't missed out on a thing. Simplicity had given us breathing room and fresh hearts to celebrate the Prince of Peace.
Dear Lord, don't let us miss You this Christmas season. Help us to simplify our activities and traditions so we can focus our celebration on Your birth. Thank You for being the Prince of Peace, and I ask You for that supernatural peace to reign in our hearts. Thank You for the simple but life-changing message of Your love for us. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
A Recipe for Christmas Joy (E-book) by Marybeth Whalen
"A Simple Christmas" - Our "free" feature article from The P31 Woman magazine (December 2010 issue)
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Ask your family which traditions are important to them. Can you focus on including these while letting go of other traditions that are not priorities?
Read the Christmas story in Luke 1:5-56.
What would a simple Christmas look like for you and your family?
How can I keep my eyes focused on the Prince of Peace?
In which situations of my life do I need the Prince of Peace?
John 16:33, "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (NAS)
Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." (NIV)