Social distancing. It can be boring. And, we all think that we are OK to be out and about. It’s those OTHER people that are the problem. Here are some things to consider in today’s environment:
While people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest), some spread might be possible before people show symptoms. There have been reports of this occurring with this new corona-virus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community. So, we should probably enact the “better safe than sorry” attitude.
You may be taking every precaution and feel very safe about visiting with an at-risk person. But, can you guarantee that the people with which you have contact are taking the best precautions? What about their interactions with others? The best advice may be “Act like you are already contagious.”
Wearing gloves can protect your hands from coming in contact with the virus, but you still can pick up and spread the virus on the gloves. Wearing a pair of gloves all day may actually do more harm than good. Good hygiene is the best alternative.
Be aware of what you touch. Don’t forget to clean your phone, your mouse, your keyboard. Antibacterial gels/hand washing won’t do much good if the items your touch most often are never cleaned/sanitized.
Some of us are still required to go into the office to work. I carry a disposable towel with me from the car to the office and use it as a barrier when I have to touch the stair railing, door handles, elevator buttons and light switches. I dispose of it when I enter the office. I have a bottle of disinfectant that I used daily on my desk items, my desk phone and my cell phone, the copier buttons, light switches and door handles in the office. I wash my hands often and use Hand Sanitizer quite often. When I leave for the day, I reverse the process and use a disposable towel on the way to the car, taking advantage of the garbage cans in the parking garage. Then, I use my hand sanitizer before touching my steering wheel. Because I am still working in an office, I am hesitant to be around any high risk persons.
Social distancing is challenging. But, the better job I do at protecting others from ME, the faster the curve will flatten and life will return to normal (whatever that might be.)
Why are our measurements and comparisons often negative?
When discussing the current pandemic, we focus on the number of current cases and deaths. While these are a valid numbers, why are the number of recoveries not mentioned?
Instead of celebrating that I have a safe home in which to live, I complain about the size or the style or the changes than need to be made.
I look at my overly full closet and moan about having nothing to wear.
My pantry and refrigerator are fully stocked, but I yearn to eat out in a sit down restaurant.
I bemoan coming to work (as an identified essential) while others are sheltering at home. But, I neglect to be thankful for an income and a faster commute.
I watch with fear as the price of oil drops and forget to enjoy the cheaper gas costs.
I whine about not being able to see/visit with my friends in family groups or at church. However, I overlook the opportunities this affords me to spend time studying, crafting and concentrating on my family.
It’s easy to concentrate on what we are missing or losing. This pandemic is affecting weddings and funerals, work and vacations. Maybe, this is a time to refocus on what is important. It’s the marriage that should be the focus, not the wedding. We should cherish the living instead of waiting until it’s too late. We need to count ourselves fortunate that we can work without letting it be the focus of our lives. And, the best vacations are all about spending time with the ones that we love and cherish, not the location that we visit or the entertainment.
Life will return to normal. We will get to have the celebrations as well as all the other options for entertainment and/or travel. Our routines will again take over our lives. One can only hope and pray that we do not forget the positive lessons that we learn right now.
There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death, A right time to plant and another to reap, A right time to kill and another to heal, A right time to destroy and another to construct, A right time to cry and another to laugh, A right time to lament and another to cheer, A right time to make love and another to abstain, A right time to embrace and another to part, A right time to search and another to count your losses, A right time to hold on and another to let go, A right time to rip out and another to mend, A right time to shut up and another to speak up, A right time to love and another to hate, A right time to wage war and another to make peace.
But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I’ve had a good look at what God has given us to do—busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going. I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That’s it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It’s God’s gift.
I’ve also concluded that whatever God does, that’s the way it’s going to be, always. No addition, no subtraction. God’s done it and that’s it. That’s so we’ll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear.
Whatever was, is. Whatever will be, is. That’s how it always is with God.
I like routines. I survive with the illusion of being in control. I do not accept change well. My first defense is just to ignore what’s swirling around me and wait for the dust to settle. But, the dust isn’t settling very quickly this time. The world is caught up in the chaos for disease and failing economies. I track the oil prices on my phone; not a comforting activity right now. Social media has been both a help and a hindrance recently. There are lots of resources being offered up, but the panic buying (hoarding) has also been fueled by some of the posts. The news media seems to be more intent on scaring up a story than providing facts and information in a calm and helpful manner. It’s hard to know what is real and what is just hype.
We are encouraged to practice social distancing. Schools are on extended breaks. Universities are moving to online classes only. Some businesses are instituting remote work. Other are beginning the furlough process (Unpaid Corona Vacations) for employees. Restaurants have shifted takeout only. Churches are using the internet to meet. Stores are closing or cutting hours. Groceries are scarce at times. And, Toilet Paper has become the prime indicator of how well we are doing. When it rains, it pours! What are we supposed to do?
Chaos is defined as “a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order.” I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m living the definition of chaos. Over the past few months, there have been several very unsettling events that have thrown my life a little off-balance. They didn’t happen to me directly, but they have affected me just the same. These events brought change to MY normal and I reacted emotionally and spiritually. As I have been trying to recover my balance, the stock market crashed, oil prices tanked, and the Coronavirus pandemic took center stage. Although, I continue to go to work each day and I may seem to be in control, my mind is reeling as my world seemingly spins out of control. I have to fight the urge to go into “Fix it” mode.
My morning devotion was in Psalm 37. One verse in particular (a very familiar one) answered the question “What am I supposed to do?) Here are several versions of the 7th verse of Psalm 37:
“Quiet down before God, be prayerful before him. Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top.”
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.”
“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.”
“Be still before the Lord; wait patiently for Him and entrust yourself to Him; Do not fret (whine, agonize) because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.”
Be still. Right. Easier said than done. I do not WANT to be still and wait. I want things back to normal. But, right now, being still is the best thing that I can do. I can be still in my home, away from the rush. Families will have the time to eat meals together, to play games together, and to just BE together. There are no extracurricular activities that require our attendance or attention. We can choose to use this time to connect deeply with our spouse and/or children or we can waste the time fretting and binge watching on the internet. We can moan about having to eat at home or enjoy the creativity of prepping meals together, even if that means helping to unpack the take-out. We can worry about where the economy is headed or take advantage of opportunities to save money during this distancing period. We can allow the chaos to eat us alive, or we can turn to God and allow Him to speak to each of us in the quiet.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to spend more time in the quiet. I’ll practice being still before God. I will spend time in His word. I will once again spend time drawing, journaling and creating in order to connect with my refuge and my strength.
I choose to see this chaotic time as an opportunity to reconnect, to return to my roots, to grow in my faith. I will be still.
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. 6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields[d] with fire. 10 He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’
There are several platitudes that we say in order to find or give comfort:
1. Into each life some rain must fall.
2. God will never give you more than you can handle.
The first statement is rather sanctimonious. It basically says “Get over it. We all suffer!”
The 2nd statement is a misrepresentation of a Bible passage: “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength but with your testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
I’ve come to understand that my strength depends on God. If I’m only tested to my strength, I will never need God. However, when I understand that “God will provide”, I know that I rely upon Him for all of my strength and endurance.
I think of The story of Noah. He was told to build a BIG boat. He was ridiculed. I doubt he truly understood, but he obeyed. The children’s stories make us think the journey through the flood lasted 40 days. The rains may have lasted that long, but Noah and his family were in the Ark for almost a year. I wonder if they had enough toilet paper? Do you think Noah survived on his own power? God gave Noah the Ark plans. Did He share the long term (ie: one year on the water) plan? Noah’s Faith was tested.
Are you ready to spend a year of faith living? How about a month or a day or even an hour? I want to say yes. However, the control side of me wants more information and frankly, more control. We are in the midst of panic and fear in our world. Will we trust God to provide everything we need even when we don’t have toilet paper? Do I have a choice?
“So don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them. But your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, and he will give them to you if you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to.
“So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.
We’ve all heard the story of “The Three Little Pigs’. The first little pig built his house out of straw. The second little pig used sticks. The third pig used bricks. The wolf was able to “huff and puff” and blow down the first and second houses, but the brick house withstood his efforts. As a child in VBS, I also remember singing the song about the foolish man and the wise man:
The wise man built his house upon the rock The wise man built his house upon the rock The wise man built his house upon the rock And the rains came tumbling down
The rains came down and the floods came up The rains came down and the floods came up The rains came down and the floods came up And the house on the rock stood firm
The foolish man built his house upon the sand The foolish man built his house upon the sand The foolish man built his house upon the sand And the rains came tumbling down
The rains came down and the floods came up The rains came down and the floods came up The rains came down and the floods came up And the house on the sand went smash.
So, how many of us truly heed the warnings of these two children’s stories?
We live in a “microwave” world. We have no patience to wait for anything. We eat fast food, drink coffee from pods, use credit to the extreme, treat sex as a dating option, and seek “happiness” above all else. We’ve lost the need or the desire to plan, wait and/or build something of value. We struggle and come apart over the “stuff”. We live in a culture that confuses wants with needs. I NEED a bigger house. I NEED a new car. I NEED the new phone. I NEED to be happy. I NEED to have the BEST.
Instead of being content with what we can afford, we buy and sell and trade. We save for the temporary things that we will tire of when the next newest thing is unveiled. But, we forget about investing in the things that matter. We are so intent in our pursuit of happiness, that people and relationships become secondary. We don’t take the time to repair and/or build our marriages or relationships. We treat relationships that should be the most precious with less regard than the latest IPhone.
As we build relationships, we establish a solid footing for marriage. We build the brick house for ourselves. When sex becomes the basis for my happiness, I build a house of straw or sticks without a foundation. A challenge or problem within the fragile walls will knock it down. I know that I’m old school. I do believe in the marriage vows “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.” Unfortunately, the truth of many a marriage is this: “to have and to hold today, (unless you disappoint me or become a bigger liability than an asset to my happiness) or until something better comes along.”
I do believe that we have to return to our strong belief in family values. I do not advocate the “Leave it to Beaver” life, but I do believe that marriage and family have to come first. My children were always important to me. I was the typical Momma Bear and they knew they could depend on me to stand up for them. However, my husband came first. If I did not focus on building a strong marriage, my kids wouldn’t have the family that they needed. These are the “bricks” that I have found critical to a successful life/marriage:
My Relationship with God
My Relationship with my spouse
Taking care of my children
I met both of my husbands through church. Faith has been a huge part of each of my marriages. Without God, I could not have survived some of the things I have endured. We believe that God is in control. We have to trust in Him for all our needs. My kids were also raised in the church. I would make a pallet on the floor of the gym where we had services and lay my baby on it while I practiced the hymns and/or offertories on the piano. Gracie learned hymns in the womb with I practiced. The church was a 2nd home to my children. Sunday’s were not optional. We would be in church that day. Never a question.
Date nights every month away from our kids are important. When my children were small and money was tight, we were known to drop them off with a sitter and go home to watch TV alone. It was what we did as much as just building time together, alone. It’s important to spend time growing together. It’s so easy to get pushed apart with children in the house. There’s so much to do. Sleep is often at a premium. It’s work to remain a couple and not just co-parents.
I’ve spent my life being a working a mom. I went to the office and sometimes traveled for work. I don’t think my children ever felt slighted. In fact, after being laid off and home for 9 months, they were ECSTATIC when I returned to the work force.
There are many, many options in life. I would challenge myself as well as others to decide which battles in which you engage. Is the fight for newest or the best “thing” critical to your life? Or, will it just bring a moment of happiness and feed the “NEXT” wolf? Will my house stand against the huffing and puffing?
Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’
“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.
“But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”
“So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross Till my trophies at last I lay down And I will cling to the old rugged cross And exchange it some day for a crown”
The Old Rugged Cross
There’s nothing that I can do to change the past. I can only hold fast to the truth. The Crucifixion was a horrible event. But, I can celebrate the empty tomb. Because Christ went to the cross and died for me, because He was raised again on the 3rd day, I will strive to honor Him. The Cross & the empty Tomb are intertwined into my life of faith. It is because of Him that I can have peace through the daily grind.
“At the crack of dawn on Sunday, the women came to the tomb carrying the burial spices they had prepared. They found the entrance stone rolled back from the tomb, so they walked in. But once inside, they couldn’t find the body of the Master Jesus. They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there. The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said, “Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? He is not here, but raised up. Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?” Then they remembered Jesus’ words.”
Luke 24:1-8 MSG
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures”
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true It’s shame and reproach gladly bear Then he’ll call me someday to my home far away Where his glory forever I’ll share
The Old Rugged Cross
When I really dig deep and understand the torture that Christ went through for the world, I cringe. And when I realize that it was for “ME” that He died, I am ashamed of the days that I have not been worthy of that gift, of His death.
“The soldiers assigned to the governor took Jesus into the governor’s palace and got the entire brigade together for some fun. They stripped him and dressed him in a red toga. They plaited a crown from branches of a thornbush and set it on his head. They put a stick in his right hand for a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mocking reverence: “Bravo, King of the Jews!” they said. “Bravo!” Then they spit on him and hit him on the head with the stick. When they had had their fun, they took off the toga and put his own clothes back on him. Then they proceeded out to the crucifixion.”
“On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross The emblem of suffering and shame And I love that old cross where the dearest and best For a world of lost sinners was slain.”
The Old Rugged Cross
Things and events often feel very distant, maybe even insignificant to the daily struggles of life. This is especially true of events that we did not personally witness. In my Christian walk, although we talk of the sacrifice that Christ made, I often look at the cross as something very distant from my life. It happened, but I don’t always count the cost in my day to day adventures.
“This isn’t the neighborhood bully mocking me—I could take that. This isn’t a foreign devil spitting invective—I could tune that out. It’s you! We grew up together! You! My best friend! Those long hours of leisure as we walked arm in arm, God a third party to our conversation.”
We have 4 small dogs. All of them are rescues. Three of them came to us as puppies. They moved right in and made themselves comfortable. Our most recent addition is Theodore. He’s a rat terrier found wandering a country road. He had fleas and dermatitis when he was found. Theodore was 5 years old when we got him. We know this because he was chipped and the rescue organization talked to the breeder. Neither the breeder nor his first family would take him back.
When I first met Theodore, I was amazed at how very stiff and almost distant he was. He’s a very muscular dog and can jump over 3 feet, straight up. We jokingly call him Stick Dog because he never seems to relax. His legs are always stick straight. He liked attention, but he never seemed to settle in one spot for very long. It was obvious that Theodore was comfortable. His skin had cleared up and his coat a returned. He was getting good food and putting on weight. He had learned his spot in the dog area. On occasion he would fall asleep in my lap, but not very often. I had resolved in my mind that he was just a loner.
Early in December, however, something changed. It was like Theodore realized that he was in his forever home. He was suddenly a lap dog. He’s still stiff and likes to know what’s going on EVERYWHERE in the house. But now, he’s the first to crawl up for cuddles. He has “his spot” on my right side and it doesn’t matter if one of the other dogs in lying there. Theodore will maneuver his way into HIS spot. He will stand outside my bathroom window and bark while I get dressed to remind me that he needs to come inside. The more that time passes, the more at home he seems. He even jumped up and down to be picked up just a few days ago. That was a new thing. It has been amazing to watch the transformation of his personality.
Theodore’s journey has made me look at my own walk of faith. As a young believer, I treated my relationship with God much as I would Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. If I was good enough, or gave enough, or had something to trade, I would be “blessed” with a happy, pain free life. If things didn’t go well, then I just wasn’t good enough. I could never relax and really trust God to work, because I was too busy being BUSY.
Through the years, I’ve learned and adjusted. I’ve read scripture.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 2:12 TLB
“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Jeremiah 29:11 MSG
“Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need! He lets me rest in the meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams. He gives me new strength. He helps me do what honors him the most.Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way. You provide delicious food for me in the presence of my enemies. You have welcomed me as your guest; blessings overflow! Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with you forever in your home.” Psalm 23 TLB
I claimed these scriptures. I used them as proof that God would take care of me. In some ways, I think I tried to use them as blackmail to get what I wanted in life. I assumed that I would live a long, happy, care-free life. My family and I would serve Him and be under His protection. We were and we are. BUT, my idea of protection and God’s were not the same.
While God promises to ALWAYS care for me, He has never promised that things would be easy and free of trouble. In fact, He said quite the opposite.
”And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.” Ephesians 6:12 MSG
“I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” John 16:33 MSG
I think as a citizen of these United States, I have been spoiled to expect an easy life. I don’t have any idea what it means to be persecuted. So, when I hit a rough patch in life, I get all upset and feel sorry for myself. Bad stuff will happen. Even in our country, bad stuff happens. The worst thing I could imagine happened to me when my first husband died. I screamed and begged and cried out to God during that time. I tried to figure out what I had done wrong to deserve this tragedy. It took several years to come to terms with Terry’s death. I had to recognize my own selfishness. “I” was not being punished. God has a plan for each of us. Terry got his reward earlier than we expected. It was a hard lesson to learn. I’m still not totally sure I understand it all.
“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” Romans 8:26-28 MSG
As I have become more comfortable in my faith, I have learned to relax and depend upon God. Trials come. There are situations and consequences in my life right now that I would definitely prefer not to confront. I really don’t have a choice. There are some regrets about past life choices. There is sorrow in the consequences that must be faced. But, ultimately, God is still there for me. There is forgiveness in every situation. There are blessings and joy to be found.
” Then, when Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his wealth and happiness! In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before!
So the Lord blessed Job at the end of his life more than at the beginning.” Job 42:10,12A TLB
“We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.” Colossians 1: 11-12 MSG
I think one of my favorite Christmas memories is from 1982. That was my first Christmas totally on my own. I had moved to Houston for my first “grown-up” job. This was the first Christmas that I purchased all my Christmas gifts with my own money. I loved shopping for the perfect gift for each family member. And what was even better? I didn’t have to limit myself to just one gift. I set my own budget and made my choices. It was great!
My next Christmas memory is from 1988, the first Christmas that I didn’t spend with my parents. It was the 2nd Christmas after Terry and I were married. I was pregnant with our son and we spent that Christmas in Houston. We were serving part-time in a church north of Houston and Christmas fell on a Sunday that year. The church leadership decided that we should have our normal Sunday School and Church service that Sunday as well as a Christmas Eve service on Saturday night. We spent weekends in a drab little house next to the church. The furniture was old, the bed uncomfortable. Our tree, gifts and dog were all in our apartment back in Houston. After the Christmas Eve service, Terry and I went back to our little weekend house. While he prepared spaghetti for supper, I went into the bedroom and cried. I was homesick and (if I’m honest) a little hurt by the lack of consideration from our church. After some discussion, we loaded up the spaghetti and headed back to Houston for the night. We got back to our apartment about 11:00pm. For our Christmas gifts, we had agreed to a dollar limit and decided to fill a stocking for each other. So, late that night, we feasted on spaghetti and opened our stocking gifts. We drove the 2 hours back to the little church in time for Sunday School the next morning. I was so grateful for the tenderness and understanding of my husband that Christmas. At was the greatest gift.
It’s hard to pick a favorite Christmas with my Kids. I loved shopping for them and seeing their excitement. I think I enjoyed even more, the days when we would take them shopping for each other. I will always remember the excitement of looking for the “best” gift for a sibling or a parent. I believe we taught them that giving is what Christmas is all about.
I find it disappointing when I see the joy of Christmas giving transformed into the greed of Christmas getting. When I hear comments like “No one asked me what I wanted” or “I don’t want some cheap thing, I want a REAL gift” my heart sinks a little. I don’t think it’s wrong to ask for input on Christmas gifts. But, I think it’s also acceptable to be creative and give from the heart. A handmade gift tells such a different story than a mass produced one. Have I gotten things I didn’t need or want? Yes. And, I try to find something to treasure in each gift, even if it’s only the thought.
Too many of us get caught in the trap of chr”I”stmas where “I” is the most important part of the word. When that happens, it’s all about ME:
“I” want (fill in the blank)
“I” need to be central this holiday season
“I” will not be inconvenienced.
“I” don’t care what you need unless it works for me.
“I” deserve to be happy.
The holiday season can be very difficult and life experiences often exaggerate issues.
The family that is missing a key member for the holidays, grieves for the loss of the person as well as many customs. You may not be able to carry on all of your traditions. Why not try something new this year. Don’t be afraid to be original. After my husband died, I didn’t want to celebrate. It took a few years to face Christmas with any type of joyful spirit. When we were ready, we changed a few things. Our tree was no longer traditional. It was white and decorated in pink, purple, orange and lime green. We used flamingos and boas to liven it up. We still added a Santa figure to Terry’s collection and a house to his village. But, we found new ways to move forward.
Blended families may being a competitiveness to the holidays. There may be a desire to provide the “best” experience. And, when adult children marry it adds another level of stress to the holidays. There are expectations of family traditions from every branch of the family. It can be exhausting trying to live up to it all. Young families need to set their own traditions and accept that not everything will remain the same. We celebrate the Sunday before Thanksgiving and Christmas with our children and their significant others. That’s frees up the actual holiday for whatever the individual family groups need/want to do. I’ll spend some “Mumzy time” with my grandson as well.
Too often, the holidays are a stress on the budget. You may feel the need to spend money you really don’t have and as a result, go into debt. I think I forget the lesson from the story of the Little Drummer Boy. He gave what he had. He played his drum. It didn’t matter that there were greater gifts being given. He gave what he had. When we give the best that we can, it shouldn’t have to live up to anything else. It is the BEST.
When “I” become the center of the holiday season, I miss the reason of the season.
When “I” stress about living up to the expectations that others set for me (or my gifts), I ignore the true gift that we celebrate each Christmas.
When “I” focus on what makes ME happy, I don’t have time to see what others need or have to offer.
I need to keep the holidays in focus. I need to remember that it is CHRiSTMAS and I have a very small part of it. The joy of Christmas is in celebrating the birth of Christ, the greatest gift EVER!
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!