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Saturday, December 13, 2008

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.


Joyful said...

Glynnis, thanks for being so genuine. I too usually stress out over Christmas. I was sharing with someone last night how I usually end up ill between Christmas and New Years - even trips to the Emergency Department of the hospital. I take too much on, and stress out having everything perfect. Last year the Lord really got a hold of me and although it was difficult to drop some of the 'tradition' and let go of other's expectations, I stayed well and ENJOYED the holiday. His peace and presence filled me and Christmas was simplified.

In regards to my weight accountability here - I dropped a couple more pounds this week, although to be honest, I don't know how??? I got on the scales several times - in shock that the needle had moved down!!! When I looked back over my week, I guess it was possible - I've been busy, and probably forgot to really stop for lunch a couple of times. I'm not eating any sweets - except treating myself on the weekends - however, I was still surprised. (You'd probably hate me if I actually told you what I weighed, but you have to remember I'm only 5'2" and very tiny. I have two more pounds to go to get to my desired weight before the Christmas feasting sets in!)

Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for the reminder to not get caught up in the hustle and bustle again this year, but rest in His presence,

Spring Fricks said...

I'm so sorry you were sick. That is not fun. I'm glad you are feeling better.

I'm in my usual Christmas routine. I am a self professed agoraphobic. I freeze up in crowds. So, I'm always done with my shopping by November 1st. But then it all sits in my closet while a line on my to-do list that says "wrap presents" keeps getting pushed to the next day. When will I learn?

I do have to admit, Jesus has been a lot more evident in my Christmas season this year and I'm loving it. I think I missed him in '07 and '06 too. :-)

Anonymous said...

Glynnis, I don't know you at all, but I am grateful that you have posted your shortcomings so honestly. It's as though you have written some of my shortcomings for everyone to read as well! When I fall short though, I have the tendency to wallow in my failure and lose more precious time! When will I learn that my attempts to seek Jesus in everything will be a daily and a life-long commitment and not something that will be simply mastered and become automatic? My efforts in the face of my failures are so much more valuable! Although I may often times fall short, I will spend the rest of my life reaching for Jesus.
Wishing you and your family a blessed, Jesus-filled Christmas!

Patti VZ said...

Glynnis, thank you for your honesty and willingness to share those thoughts with us - even thoughts of not feeling well (we'll be praying for you) to Christmas frustrations to challenges/frustrations with your weight. I'm right there with you!

TINA said...

I have learned to take my time with God(Jesus) in the morning. I know for many of you this might be tough to accommplish,especially those of you who have children. I get hubby off to work, then I soak in the quiet calm which have enveloped my home. I begain my meditation time with a spiritual reading from one of my meditation books, listen to bird sing, read my online deveotional,and or checking in with one or two e-support groups. I do this for 30min to an hour. I am then centered in peace and God's will. Where the chaos of the day gets me is in the evening. I would like to end my day the same way. But I can never seem to get evening meditation time accomplished. I am starting a new way of doing things. One important task for me is to turn the TV OFF. My 3:40 am wake-up is helping me to achieve this. I realized this morning I get up early enough to have a great deal accomplished by noon. Along with turning of the TV,limiting my time on the computer is next. And I need to use my time on the compter more productively. Not sure if you guessed yet, but I am a procrastinator. This shortcoming is the biggest hurdle I must get over in my effort to be a better servant of God. I know this is what interfers with me getting things completed regardless of what time of year it is. Knowing what needs to be corrected is half the battle. The other half is putting the solution in action. My time in the mornings with Jesus has been a big help in reaching my goal. Also, I keep in mind when thing get to hectic for my head. I can stop and start my day over again. Giving God praises and asking for serenity to continue on with the next task.
Your in Christ

ShabbyInTheCity said...

Hello Glynnis :)
I came over because your devotional made me laugh today and I wanted to ask...do you have a spy who sees into my house? You described my situtation to a "t" :)
I just had talked myself into at least reading the 2 devotionals that come to my inbox before going to grab some gifts before school gets out for ice that is coming. I should have known the message God was going to give me in light of the few cheap minutes I was about to give Him!!! He's so precious, isn't He? Thank you!!! Blessings!!!

Van said...

I have made it a habit to ask people what they mean when they ask if I am ready for Christmas. I am never ready from the world's point of view - but otherwise - YES! I am ready for the peace, comfort, and joy found in His presence. Thanks for sharing your real self. That is what I love about you!

Pamela said...

Thank you Glynnis for both your devotional and blog today. It hit the spot for me. I've been feeling like I'm missing the reason for the season and berating myself because I haven't been able to try to focus on Him more and draw my kids attention to Him more. I've been in shopping, preparing mode, trying to get it all done before tomorrow because I'm flying back east to help/visit my mom & dad for a couple of days. My dad had open heart surgery 2 weeks ago and I purposely delayed my trip so I could help them after. So I've gotten caught up in rushing around, trying to finish up things and have things be ready for my husband to handle while I'm gone (I have an 8 yr old and 11 yr old), back up plans if school is delayed or cancelled, etc. BUT, I did stop this morning, when I planned to rush right out after dropping my son off to school!
May you have a blessed Christmas and thank you (and the Lord) for the wonderful reminders and encouragement!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your honest thoughts! I had a cold right after Thanksgiving and then shared it with my daughter who has Crohn's and then with my husband. So we are still recovering and I feel your "pain"!:) Anyway, this Christmas will be very different for us as our 3 youngest children are in Georgia and we are in Iowa. Our 2 oldest sons are in the Midwest. We were all together at Thanksgiving for the first time in 2 years, but will not be in GA for Christmas. This is the first time we haven't been with them on Christmas day ever, so are not sure how to celebrate! Those traditions and sentimental feelings are difficult to deal with. I just feel sorry for my kids as they won't have any family around on Christmas day. They are "adults", but it is still hard to not be there. We flew them here for Thanksgiving, so just can't afford more airline tickets at this time. So I appreciate your reminder to focus on the reason for the season, not what others say is important!

Suzanne Eller said...

I loved your devo today. We are talking about the holiday blues today on Christian Momlogic, and it's amazing to hear you share what His peace can do in the midst of what can be a stressful season. I appreciate your friendship.

Anonymous said...

I'm An Organizing Junkie is a good site that has some related articles about celebrating Christmas by doing less, not trying to do it all, etc. Some of you might enjoy those articles.

Jeanies Heavenly Treasures said...

I love your Proverbs 31 posts! I also have you listed on my blog. So, I am sure that many people will be inspired by it as well. You said that you have a home based business. What kind is it? Can you send me a link to it?
Thanks for the reminder not to stress over Christmas "stuff to be done"! I'm working hard on trying to simplify. It sure is hard to do! Here's my blog: http://jeanielovesthelord.blogspot.com.
God Bless You,

Always smiling said...

Dear Glynnis,

I am an organised person and have every thing done for Christmas, But I don't work any more nor do I have young children to care for, but my daughter isn't like me and doesn't cope with her house work and children and job. So thank you for your writings today because it has opened my eyes to the world where she lives, and one where I have been critical with her not coping.
To me Jesus is the reason for this season and at this time of the year I love my Baptist church services, I want her to see the joy I have too, to worry less about the household chores and love her children regardless of the mess they make.
I don't know why God made me like this person I am, where I can whoosh round and get things straight with what appears little effort, but when I am doing it I have The Lord in my heart and his songs on my tongue and the work is done.
Get well soon and enjoy the card writing and trees decorating and even cake making with and put your children in charge, they will love helping and it will be all their own work!

Sylvia Goode Basham said...

Thanks for you devotional today. A great reminder. I'm ready to meet Jesus in the middle of my mess today after hosting an outreach Christmas Tea for 50 young women yesterday.

My answer to the question about being ready is, "As much as I need to be at this point." :-)

I have 4 children and have bought 1 gift so far....so I'll make a one-day trek to a town nearby (so that I won't keep running into people I know and talking) and get it all done in one day. Just have to make that list...

Thanks again!

Janelle said...

Glynnis, You are not alone in you "Martha" personality. All the things you wrote about how you deal with stress and busyness describe me as well. This past year has been a doozy for me. My second daughter was born in May and my hubby is attending college and working full time. Leaving me with to try to do it all and work full time myself. I fail miserably and try to be as realistic as possible, but I needed to see that someone else was able to sit in the middle of her mess and see Jesus. I'm always asking God to help me make time for him, I'm slowly improving, but I'd like to still do better. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Bless you! I don't know why I've always had trouble distinguishing Martha and Mary- which one am I trying to be? Which one do I naturally trend toward? I'll never forget again! Jesus' Martha was a Martha Stewart worker bee and Mary's heart is what we all need to strive for. Why I never equated this Mary and Mary the mother of Jesus I'll never know.

What I love about getting to know the Lord is that every year He takes me one more step towards both Mary's. He shows me something in each one which I can learn and grow in. He also keeps me humble as I relate to Martha and thankfully he keeps refining the side of Martha me.

The year our second daughter was born I returned to a six day a week ten hour work day in retail management the day after Thanksgiving. Talk about overwhelming! Somehow the Lord sustained my husband and I as we learned to juggle a two year old, an infant and two jobs. Something had to give and it was decorating. We had so much more than a sense of relief that Christmas Eve because we had a new joy in our family that was straight from heaven and far from the pressures of things and materialism. I'll never forget the look my husband and I exchanged after the service when his parents said they wanted to just drop in for a few moments to share part of Christmas morning with us. How couldn't we share the joy of our girls with them? The tree would be going up after all! We were not super bedtime parents and often struggled to get the kids down but not that night. I think special angels must have sung the girls to sleep and comforted them in peaceful slumber. I recall the two of us really enjoying putting the tree up (which was not always the case) and the glow of the lights being more special than ever that night. We never told his folks but I think I'll have to thank them this year and make sure they know they're always welcome at our house Christmas Morning.

This will be my first Christmas away from my husband as He celebrates his first Christmas in heaven. My tree isn't up this year yet either but I've never felt closer to the sweet Savior whose birth makes our joy complete. Thanks for helping us know we're not alone and encouraging us. Your devotion led me to journal this precious memory which I can always treasure. I've been reading 'The Shack' and it much like your devotion and post, has been a hug from God reminding me that my fractal mess is indeed in His grip. The Prince of peace is the best gift of all.

Anonymous said...

I think my personal situation makes Christmas easier for me than most to get things done. When I had a heavier load in the past I found that it helps to start early. In January - YES JANUARY find a couple of big boxes 1 for food and one for other items and decorate them for Christmas. It might be good to have the children help with this, you could use all kinds of leftover bits of used wrapping paper and broken decorations. Next compose a list of everything you need for next Christmas that has a long shelf life on it. Each week when you go shopping buy a few things to put in the boxes and mark them off your list. You will find that it is possible to get a lot of stuff like crackers decorations etc cheap in the January sales and you can make good use of things you see on special offer during the year. You could also have a mid summer "Christmas day" have a family time sorting and tidying the boxes and reviewing the list you have made. I know this doesn't help this year but I hope this goes someway to help releive the stress of next year.

Truth Intersects Life said...

Thank you for the freedom you express in your blog! Love and Merry Christmas!

Julie Gillies said...

What a powerful post, Glynnis. Apparently we have the same personalities. I, too tend to become so focused that I can miss out on the truly important "little" things - which are really "big" things in God's eyes. I'm really making every effort this year to just focus on Christ and my family.

By the way, after losing 6 of my 8 pounds, I'm on maintenance mode through the holidays. I may try to lose a few more pounds after the New Year.