Unplug the Christmas Machine

At MOPS this morning, Deb Mantel spoke to us about "SOULful Living in December". She defines SOULful living as "a life that flows from Jesus & our relationship with him, that has room for the relationships & activities that God is calling us to, and that overflows with love, joy, & peace." I love that. :-)

The focus of her talk was not getting caught up in the Christmas Machine. (She referenced these three books: Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, & The Too-Busy Book: Slowing Down to Catch Up with Life.) I feel kind of blessed that I don't ever get super stressed over Christmas. I enjoy the quest for the perfect gifts for my beloveds, I love having an excuse to bake cookies, and sending out Christmas cards plays right into my loves of design & keeping in touch - none of these things burden me. We don't even have too many obligations, b/c since we move so often, we don't have 15 annual Christmas parties that we *have* to go to (or find excuses to skip) every single year. (We're actually lucky if we get invited to ANY! :-P) I also don't have to worry about making my house perfect, b/c we don't have any holiday houseguests. WE'RE the guests, since we travel to the grandparents' every year. (We've never even spent a married Christmas in the same state that we were currently living in.) I'm good with that! I'm already taking Deb's advice w/o realizing it: I've eliminated what I would consider to be personal holiday stressors (clean house, hosting guests) and am only doing the holiday stuff I *truly* enjoy (cookies, cards, decorating, Advent calendar, etc.)

I'd love to share here more of what she had to say:
* Jesus offers true rest. He wants us to live freely & lightly. The question is, do we want what Jesus offers enough to let go of what He isn't calling us to?
* We don't have to be producing & achieving 24/7 to be blessed.
* God wants us to overflow with fruit, not busyness.
* Jesus wants to be enough for us. He wants to meet us where we are.
* Our deepest longings & dreams surface at Christmas: desire for the perfect home, a picture-perfect & angelically-behaved family, plenty of money to buy all that & then some... but if we're already struggling in some of these areas, we can't expect those hardships to disappear just b/c it's Christmas. Have realistic & relaxed expectations.
* Don't let the Christmas machine bulldoze over our families, trying to make perfect memories, (stressing to the point of arguing over getting things "just right" - my favorite guilty example: making everyone MISERABLE posing for the "perfect" family photo. :-P Praise that we got a great one this year on the spur of the moment in just 4 quick snaps! ;-))
* Wives tend to be in charge of dictating family traditions & festivities, but make sure to ask your husband what would make the holidays special for him, too!
* Prioritize! Make a list of all of your Christmas to-do's; put your favorites at the top, and only do those that encourage & fill you with joy! Let the rest go. God does not want us to waste our time doing stuff that He hasn't called us to do.

Psalm 46:10 ~ “Be still, and know that I am God!”
Ask God to help you recapture the joy of the FIRST Christmas. Let everything you do this holiday season bring HIM glory!

The ABCs of a Joyful Christmas

ccept your limitations
Bake something delicious
Create beauty
Dance to music
Enjoy the process
Give thanks
Hug someone
Ignore the ads
Joyfully sing
Kindle a fire
Let go of perfectionism
Make someone smile
Nourish your body
Open your heart
Pamper yourself
Quiet your soul before Him
Scale back
Trust Jesus
Unite in Christ
Value relationships
Watch lights twinkle
eXalt His name
Yield to God's to-do list
Zap discontentment