In general, I love the holidays. It’s not decorating, or event planning, or gift giving that I love so much, but spending quality time as a family is what I love the most. After Thanksgiving, I have the hardest time doing anything but fun. So, it is a trying time to fit school in, in between the parties and exciting events that are planned. Come December 1st, after Thanksgiving has been given its proper time of celebration, I am ready to be in the Christmas spirit. Our Christmas tree is Charlie Brown-esque. It’s packed with elementary craft decorations that do not coordinate-but I love it. And it reminds me of the variety of my children. The lights are basic but they are warm and inviting. It’s doing things together that makes it so much fun. We’ve already taken the kids to a lights show, a Christmas performance, and a live nativity. What is great is that I am having a good time too this year, not just the kids.
Christmas is a time of spiritual renewal and excitement for me. I’m often on the verge of tears considering Jesus’ birth and it makes me so emotional. I am enjoying an Advent devotional by Ann Voskamp right now. I happened upon it in a stack of free books at the church where my homeschool group meets.
This is a quote from her devotional by Stuart Briscoe:
“The spirit of Christmas needs to be superseded by the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christmas is annual; the Spirit of Christ is eternal. The spirit of Christmas is sentimental; the Spirit of Christ is supernatural. The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christ is a divine person. That makes all the difference in the world”
The Holy Spirit is cultivating a stillness and peace in my heart and mind even though there has been plenty of turmoil and change in my life recently. For this reason, I’ve neglected to post for about 2 weeks. Since then, I’ve been contemplating Ecclesiastes Chapter 3. A good friend directed me to this book at one of our recent spontaneous prayer and bible study sessions at the YMCA.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
9 What gain have the workers from their toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. 11 He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; 13 moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. 14 I know that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-14
I am pondering how to maintain joy in my life, and enjoy my toil at the same time.
This time of year especially I’m yearning to simplify things. Maybe I just want to simplify the little bit that I actually have control of. Christmas inevitably brings loads of items into the house. So, I’ve got the kids doing a “one toy a day” giveaway until Christmas. Do some quick math and almost 100 items will be exiting my house. Joy!!!
I’m also in a season of adjustment. My youngest boy was diagnosed allergic to dust mites, dogs, and cats 2 weeks ago. So it’s changing the way he interacts with the outside dog (that he loves), I’m trying to get rid of his allergic rash from the dog and see if I can keep it at bay. I’ve also been learning about dust mites. I’ve figured out where they are and what to do with them. I now have to find and extinguish. So now I have new loads of laundry each week to do not to mention dusting. I’m on load 8 as of 4:30pm.
I’m in a new season with my book publishing excitement; I am down the the hard part of marketing now. Which to me is the most uncomfortable salesy part and the least exciting. It was a blessing to have a large amount of people read the book in the first few days. Now it is time to put the book into the hands of people who will be helped by it. So, I will begin this in the new year and until then I will be doing a lot of relaxing. It is encouraging to see people still reading my devotional daily via Kindle Unlimited and I can keep track of their views. The book has opened new avenues for me to minister to others, but also for me to form new friendships and partnerships.
Seasonally, we are approaching winter. It was a wonderful early December surprise when we had about 6 inches of snow at our house this past weekend. The snow was really beautiful. It was deep and the wind was quiet. It was perfect to play in. The littles played for hours outside. I prepared for a power outage and thankfully there was none. But we did lose the back half of the gutters on our house due to the heavy weight of the snow. And our deductible is $1000. Gulp…
I’ve been working on intentionally seeing the beauty and blessings in all things. I catch myself complaining about things and I immediately go to finding things that I can be thankful for. I won’t make a list for you. But family and friends have really come through for me as of late. They have been there for me in numerous trials. Little bits of love are just shining in my life right now. I have met new friends who are loving on me and my family. As my community grows, I’m seeing that the church is so much bigger than I have previously understood it to be. God’s grace is becoming so evident to me in all the little circumstances in life: keys locked in the car, lulls in my schedule, special conversations. I’m at a place where I am peacefully walking knowing that He is in step with me and I am in step with Him. I can’t quite describe it but I pray this is a season that lasts a long long time. Maybe there is something new and amazing around the corner, maybe not. Whatever may come, it is nice to be at a season of resting and peace in my soul.
What do you do to help yourself be at peace despite the hustle and bustle of the holidays?