December brings all kinds of preparations that can either be fun or overwhelming. The list includes special meals to prepare, gifts to purchase, lights to hang, and the Christmas tree to put up. The schedule bulges with additional rehearsals for church or school programs as well as the events themselves.
The preparations can crush us if we’re not careful. Being a ministry wife, by the time we got to Christmas Day, my husband and I were exhausted from all the church preparations on top of our family preps.
By intentionally focusing on the real reason for the season, we can find joy as we prepare for Christmas.
Here are some tips to PREPARE for December.
Position your heart and mind on the Lord.
As you get your home ready for the holiday with cleaning and decorating, make time to also prepare you heart. Intentionally having a short devotion time helps with focus on the reason for Christmas. Short moments of sitting at the feet of Jesus will improve your attitude in the craziness of December.
Release hard feelings—offer the gift of forgiveness.
Old resentments and hurts can resurface during the holidays, leading to bitterness and a Scrooge-like attitude. We become nostalgic for sweet Christmas memories, but unfortunately, family issues or unpleasant memories can linger instead. Before Christmas celebrations, take time to release any hard feelings or grudges. Speak to anyone privately if necessary. Christmas can come early with the gift of forgiveness.
Eliminate excessive preparations and purchases.
The culture drives us to think we need to spend more or give more than we can afford. By setting a limits on spending, there is freedom to not go overboard with purchases. Choose one area of your Christmas preparations to simplify, deciding what is essential for your family celebration.
Pray as you prepare.
Maintaining a thankful heart throughout December is a blessing. Ask the Lord for guidance over your schedule, determining what is realistic and what is not. Pray for your family that they would embrace the Lord Jesus Christ.
Accept limitations with grace.
We all have limitations—by accepting them, we can find contentment in the Lord. Unrealistic expectations can turn holiday merriment into meltdowns. Holidays mixed with perfection leads to disappointment and frustration. By relaxing your expectations, you can give yourself grace, focussing on the fun of Christmas activities, not a perfect outcome.
Read the Word to prepare your heart.
Reading the Bible prepares our hearts and strengthens our spirits. In the busyness of life, the Word anchors us. Open the Word of God as a family to learn more of the Christmas story or read portions of it each week with an Advent wreath. Let this be a special time, even if it’s only a few minutes.
Encourage someone as they prepare for Christmas.
Encouraging someone take our mind off our situation as we become aware of someone else. Some ways to do this are helping a neighbor with their Christmas lights or babysitting for someone so they can get some shopping done. Remember those who are in the midst of a tough time and reach out to them.
Recently I created a short Christmas devotional, 12 Words for Christmas. This project was in my mind for many years, and last month the Lord prompted me to work on it. By his grace, it is done! Discover 12 words to help you focus on the meaning of Christmas.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3 NIV
As you PREPARE for Christmas, may you prepare the way for the Lord in your heart and home.