There's one question I don't like this time of year. It's "Are you ready for Christmas?" What does that mean? Do I have all my Christmas gifts purchased? No. Do I have my Christmas menu planned? No. Do my kids have special outfits for Christmas Eve services? No. Are my Christmas cards mailed? No.
I guess some folks would say I'm far from being "ready." It didn't help that I got sick this week.
There's nothing like a head cold to put you in a fog. And being in a fog in the month of December is not the best place to be. Especially when your precious children are enjoying the countdown to Christmas and you know exactly how many presents you have purchased, and that number is FAR below where it should be. But that's where I've been this past week.
But instead of stressing out about all I still need to do, I'm trying to learn something from my mistakes of Christmas 2006 & 2007. Those weren't Christmas' to write about. I was very stressed out, especially about all I didn't do.
Some time in the midst of last December, I read my friend Renee Swope's experience about finding Jesus' presence in the midst of the stress. I was undone. I remember sitting at my desk and just sobbing because I had missed Jesus' presence that Christmas (and the one before) It wasn't that He was missing - I was.
With my personality, stress has the potential to turn me into a machine. I don't collapse under stress, I get hardened. I get focused on my mission, and when that happens, mercy and patience evaporate. I stop noticing the little things - which are usually the most important. Like a child whose face shuts down because her feelings have just been hurt when I didn't stop what I was doing to be fully present with her. Yep, I have the potential to power right over those "little" things.
I sensed this state coming on last week (before the cold) and it was as if I stood outside myself and looked within. The picture wasn't pretty. I saw the stirring up of annoyance and I didn't like what I saw at all.
It was as if God put up a series of stop signs for me. The first was that look at my heart, somewhat how Ebenezer Scrooge got to see himself in the "Christmas Story."
The second was a Christmas wish that was shared on a writing group. Camille Cannon Eide wrote that her wish was for a new heart. She wrote, "Not the blood pumping kind, but the kind of heart that hungers for God with an unbearable ache, a heart that breaks over lost souls, a heart that only sees people the way God sees them. A pure heart too blinded by grace to criticize, too saddened by sin to contemplate it."
(Read more from Camille here: http://www.camillecannon.blogspot.com/)
Wow! That's what I want for Christmas too.
Finally God used this head cold to slow me down. I don't think God intentionally made me sick, but I think He didn't want to waste it.
So while I'm not "ready" for Christmas according to my own self-imposed expectations, my heart is much more ready than it's been the past two years. And that is a very good place to be.
Instead of shopping today, I'll be sitting at my son's wrestling tournament. And this afternoon I'll be cheering my daughter on in soccer. And throughout the entire weekend, it's my prayer to be resting in Jesus' presence. I'm trusting God to help me get everything else done, and if it doesn't get done, oh well. At least I won't have missed the most important thing this year: Jesus.
P.S. Friday reveal: Last week I weighed in but didn't post my weight. It had actually dropped to 159.5. In celebration I went and ate Chinese food buffet. (will I ever learn???) This week it went back up to 161. After a month of watching everything that went in my mouth, I just got tired of it. Which is why I've stopped before. Thank you for allowing me to be transparent here. Knowing I'll be posting my weight is a great motivator.