Merry Christmas Strong Mamas!
Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. The idea that my Heavenly Father would give everything to come and get me always wrecks my heart. It is the greatest love I have ever known, the strongest force of passion and power I have ever experienced. Love came to rescue me, and you, on Christmas.
And yet, I am forgetful.
And very, very busy.
Because with Christmas also comes chaos. Gifts, shopping, parties, decorating, office get-togethers, travel, guests, traditions, cooking, school plays and for some kids, finals.
We all know this. But what we often overlook is what else all of this busyness brings: anxiety, worry, pain, loneliness, doubt, discouragement, depression, irritability and impatience. Isn’t that the terrible truth of the holiday season? It is so often the exact opposite of what we want!
What if it could be different? What if the days leading up to Christmas could be a time of quiet, joyful expectation? A time of prayer, of focus on what Jesus accomplished on our behalf, a time of getting stronger against sin and sinners, of forgiveness and repentance? Just think about it. If those things are our focus, could we really be ruled by impatience? Or loneliness? Or discouragement? If the glory of God coming to the earth to devour and spit out our sin is on our hearts… who the heck has time to be irritated by broken ornaments or wracked with anxiety about impressing their in-laws?
It can be this way. But we have to be intentional about it. We have to fight for it. You know all of the energy we put into decorating or cooking or planning for guests? We should give that to God first, and a place of personal worship and prayer is a great way to keep the focus where it needs to be: On the manger, not the mall. On the Gift, not the grind. On the Savior, not the sales.
Here’s a shot of my worship center last year. I’ll do a quick video on Instgram to show you the way it looks this year. I keep it on the coffee table in the family room, where I pass by several times a day. You might want to make a small one on your desk at work, in a corner in the kitchen or on your bedside table. It doesn’t matter how large or small you make it. Here are the key elements you should have in your personal worship center:
A good devotional. This devotional completely prepared my heart for Christmas last year and I am loving it again this year. It is incredible.
Obviously, your Bible! I keep mine open to Luke and read and re-read the story of Christ’s birth. And I meditate on it. What was it like for Him to be on the throne of heaven and then in a filthy stable? What was it like to be a baby? What about Joseph, he had to help with the delivery! And Mary… what must have been going through her mind when they presented Jesus at the temple and the prophesy was given that “would pierce her very soul?” It is a rich story. And if you are a Christian it is your story. Your history. Your family.
At least one journal. This one is optional-not everyone likes to write. But we are a word family so I have two on the table! One I keep under my bible to write and pray and process in, and another for the family to write in prayers and thanks. I love this journal because it gives me a glimpse into the hearts of my kids that I never would have known if I had not provided a place for them to be recorded. During my time of devotion (usually in the morning before the kids wake up) I pray over these needs for my family and invite God to show up in these places.
Candles. Totally not necessary but there is something ceremonial about lighting them before time with God!
A jar of sand and a jar of rocks. You’ve heard the story, right? If you try to fill a jar with the sand first, the rocks won’t fit, but if you put the rocks in first, then the sand fills in the spaces between the rocks. And so it is with our time during the holidays. If I start with my to do list (which is as long as the grains of sand are plentiful) then there will be no time to do the truly important things (the rocks) like pray, read the Bible, play with my kids, pour into my marriage, etc. I keep these jars to remind me to do the important things first. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33
Prayer Starters. This is an idea I got from the book in the pic. As Christmas cards come in they go in this basket and I pray for the folks. Sometimes the kids will write the name of a friend on a piece of paper and put it in there also. Some years we pray over these folks as a family and sometimes it is just me. But the best way to prepare our hearts for Christ is TO ACTUALLY PREPARE. Have a strategy. If I just sit down to pray I last 2 minutes. I almost always have some kind of tool to keep me going: Bible verses, prayer card or, in this case, Christmas cards!
Comfort! Nuff said!
It is from spending intentional time with Christ that I was inspired to write the following…
As I said before, the best way to prepare our hearts for Christ is TO ACTUALLY PREPARE. To have a strategy. So many Christmases passed me by and I never even gave Him a second thought. Not this year. This year I fight to remember. To know. To see.
This year will be a Christ-centered Christmas.