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Christmas! It’s almost here!
As a child when Christmas was approaching, I remember jumping on my parents' bed with all my might, just thinking about how excited I was that Christmas was right around the bend.
As a mom when Christmas is approaching, there are times when the looming date on my calendar is enough to send me into a flurry of panic.
In addition to the long list of extra-fun parties and activities that I want to plan and experience with my own children, there are so many other opportunities to give of my time and resources to those who need them. And above all, my husband and I want to model for our children a life that honors Christ. We want to lead our family in spending time in prayer for others, in family devotions, asking God to prepare our hearts to truly celebrate His most precious gift to us.
As keeper of the calendar at my house, I know that all my good intentions in making December everything it can be have occasionally led my family to exhaustion by the new year. So, what is the secret to a December that honors God?
I believe we find our answer in Matthew 6.
The heading in my Bible for verses 26-34 says "Do Not Be Anxious." I love that it is capitalized. This whole section of Scripture is reminding us to keep our priorities straight. We don't need to do everything – only what God is calling us to do. If I obey him, he will take care of the rest. Matthew 6:33 tells us what to do instead of worrying: "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
So, how can we seek God’s kingdom first each December? Here are three things I try to keep in mind:
The early bird enjoys his worm in peace.
Nobody likes to see Christmas trees in Target on Halloween, but there is something to be said for making your plans before the invitations and opportunities start rolling in. Now that we’re in the second week of December, you may have already committed to things that you need to follow through on, and that’s okay – be encouraged that you’re an early bird for next Christmas! But also consider that it may not be too late to edit your calendar for this Christmas.
Each year at Thanksgiving, my family takes a trip to visit my sister’s home in Boston. My husband, Rob, and I always take a portion of those ten hours in the car while the kids are listening to music to make some decisions about Christmas. We talk about parties that we would like to host, gifts that would be best for our children, and which events we’ll have to do without.
It always calms my heart when I know that we have communicated and agreed upon a plan that we can work on carrying out together. It also helps us organize our calendar according to the things that are most important to us. If you and your family still have time for a quick powwow about your plans for the rest of this month, it’s a great way to make sure you're all on the same page, and that you can help each other out on the days that are extra hectic.
Giving is better when you work together.
When planning your fun, take time to pray as a family about where God might use you this year. Our kids know that our family has a certain amount of money that we designate each month to give away to someone in need. If they hear of a family who has a need, they are welcome to let us know so that we can help out. We also have kids who like to entertain. Because of this, we go to a nursing home every Christmas Eve morning. Each child plays a song on their instrument from a Christmas music book or their recent concert at school, my daughter performs the dance from her December recital, we read Scripture about the birth of Christ, and we all sing Christmas carols together. It is always a blessing to all of us!
Traditions are optional.
I hate to break it to you, but we can’t do it all. If you are a friend of mine, there have been years when you received a beautiful Christmas card from me. There have also been years when I made the choice to completely eliminate Christmas cards from my list of things to do. Rob and I attend the Christmas open house put together by his work friends only every other year. For a few years, we cut down our own live tree, and this year we put it together from a box. When you pray for your family this holiday season, pray that God would bring the things to your mind that you are doing just because you always have, and ask him to show you what can be eliminated.
Seeking first God’s kingdom means cultivating a true desire to do the things that God wants you to do. When I read God’s Word, I know that his desire for me is a life of trust and peace. The only way to know that peace is to know God through Christ, to commit our ways to Him and to obey His leading in our lives. Then we can celebrate Christmas with joy!
My prayer is that this post encourages you as you get ready for Christmas. And we’d love to hear from you! What kinds of things do you do to create a joyful and peaceful holiday for your family? What kinds of things have you eliminated? What’s the best Christmas advice you’ve gotten? Share your thoughts with us…and have a Merry Christmas!