Stressed or Blessed? A Time to Prepare
‘Prepare the way of the Lord!’
Spoken by the prophet Isaiah about the coming Messiah (Isaiah 40:3), these words led the way to change the world. This verse is quoted in every gospel. What needed preparation?
God brought together over 300 prophecies to prepare the way for Jesus’ birth. Preparation took a lot of work, for at just the right time in history, Jesus was born.
As we move closer to Christmas, life gets busier with preparations. We clear things out to prepare space for decorations and time in the calendar for once a year events. Somehow we move from the tangled mess of lights to the beautiful tree before December 25.
Using the letters of the word PREPARE, here are some ideas for you to go from stressed to blessed as you prepare for Christmas.
Position your heart at the feet of Jesus. As you get your home ready for the holidays with cleaning and decorating, get your heart ready. Be intentional about having a short devotion time to begin your day. It will help you refocus on what’s really important. Listen to Christian music while you drive to work or run errands. A few moments spent quietly at the feet of Jesus will help your attitude on the busiest of days. The Christian Devotions website has some great helps.
Release hard feelings.The holidays stir up a lot of feelings. We celebrate nostalgic sweet Christmas memories. Unfortunately, unpleasant recollections or family issues rise to the surface, too. To release someone from hard feelings is to free yourself from carrying the heavy burden of a grudge. Before Christmas celebrations, take time to release any hard feelings. Pray. Speak to anyone privately if necessary. Christmas can come early with the gift of forgiveness. This article ‘Connection Not Conflict’ by Bill and Pam Farrel offers good counsel.
Eliminate Excess. Bigger is not always better; more is not always best. The culture drives us to think we need to spend more or give more than we can afford. Set a limit on spending and stick to it. Choose one area of your Christmas preparations to simplify. Does every corner of the house have to be decorated? Is it necessary to bake dozens of ten types of cookies and four types of breads? Decide what is essential and choose to be satisfied with it.
Pray. Scripture says to ‘pray without ceasing.’ One way to do this is through ‘arrow prayers,’ which are short prayers lifted to God directed at a certain situation or person. Also offer thankful prayers. Try to keep a thankful heart throughout December. Pray over those who sent you Christmas cards. Pray over your schedule, to determine what is realistic and what is not. Pray for your family that they would embrace the Lord Jesus Christ. There’s never a lack of things to pray! Click here for some more ideas from NavPress.
Accept limitations. Realize there is no perfect tree. There is no perfect marriage or family, either. Travel, family, gift giving and unrealistic expectations can turn holiday merriment into meltdown. Holidays mixed with perfection leads to disappointment and frustration.
Relax your expectations. Allow yourself to make small mistakes. Focus on the fun process, not a ‘perfect’ outcome. When you need to relax your expectations, read this.
Read the Word. There are many wonderful Christmas stories and readings for Advent. Choose one and do it. Open the Word of God as a family to learn more of the Christmas story. Read portions of it each week with an Advent wreath. Let it be a special time, even if it’s only a few minutes.
Encourage someone. Help a neighbor with their Christmas lights. Babysit 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.
I hope you have joy as you P.R.E.P.A.R.E. the way for the Lord this Christmas!