Pause to Ponder

Posted by Marcia Newkirk on 11/28/2011
If you are anything like me, you love Christmastime. Our calendars are full--lots of parties, trips to the mall, letters from old friends, gifts to wrap, cookies to bake, cards to send, and houses to decorate. I am tired just thinking ahead! Often times, by December 25 we are so physically exhausted, emotionally drained, financially spent, and depleted of patience, the thought of actually pausing to worship the Christ of Christmas seems impossible. It doesn't have to be this way. Join me in committing this year to spend less, sleep more, eat less, and lower the expectations that we put on ourselves and each other. Let's anticipate a joy filled, peaceful, simple, fulfilling, truly Christ honoring celebration. Sounds great doesn't it, but how can we do this? First of all, sit down this week with a blank notebook and write down what really matters to you this Christmas. List the things that truly MUST be done. If you are honest, your list should not be all that long. Now, do the same thing with each family member:
  • Ask each person if they could do one activity this year, what would it be?
  • If they could have one Christmas treat, what would they choose?
  • If they could have one evening to plan, how would they celebrate?
Now, take the list and create your calendar for the month. It may surprise you to learn that for years you have thought you had to make 12 kinds of cookies, only to discover this year, no one but you really likes 11 of them! Don't cut everything out, but definitely work on paring down your to do list. Now, make a commitment that every day, morning or evening, you will spend time in God's Word praising and thanking Him for the Gift He gave that first Christmas morning 2,000 years ago. There are many tools and resources available online without charge for celebrating Advent (see our Keepers posts on Advent). It only takes a few moments a day to keep your focus on the real reason for the season, as opposed to all the hype and commercialism we face every day. Take charge, make a change, commit your checkbook, calendar, waist line, and to do list this year to be different. Pause to ponder, as Mary did, the miracle of Christmas. Don't be in a hurry. Look at Christmas this year through the eyes of a three year old or a 93 year old. It will surprise you what really matters. This year consider giving some gifts such as writing a friend and telling them you will pray for them every day. Offer to babysit for a friend or family member who is overwhelmed with responsibilities. Bake a loaf of bread and share it with a neighbor you've never taken the time to meet. Leave a thank you note for your mail carrier. Greet each person in a restaurant or store who has to work this holiday season with a smile, patience, and eye contact. You are God's light left here on earth to shine forth His glory this Christmas. Shine brightly for Him! Have a joy filled, peaceful, Christ honoring month! (Marcia Newkirk has been blessed to be married to her best friend, Pastor Dennis Newkirk, for the past 41 years.They have 3 grown sons each with a precious wife, and 4 perfect grandchildren! She loves to study God's Word, read, work in the garden, walk/run, and loves sharing her time with her church family.She enjoys hospital visits, homebound visits, and any encouragement she can give to others. She is an R.N. who seeks to use her gifts and passion to encourage and bless her church family. Marcia teaches the Personal Spiritual Growth Skill Session in the updated Keepers DVD set.)

We would love to hear from you! How are you planning to keep Christ as your focus this Christmas?

2 Comments

dana curtin Says:
November 29th, 2011 at 5:46 pm
I love Marcia's advice to look at Christmas through the eyes of a 3 year old, or 93 year old! Each year decorating our home for Christmas has become more of a stressful time when i become gripey about all the "stuff" to put out and how messy the house gets in the preparation. This year i am going to only decorate with the things that bring myself or members of my family joy instead of trying to decorate each room! When i was a little girl, the only thing i cared about decorations was having a Christmas tree, and the little plastic manger scene that set on top of our TV!

Carla Says:
December 3rd, 2011 at 9:26 am
I love the suggestion to ask for each family member's input about what is important to them!
I am reminded of the Bible verse that says, "let everything you do be done in love"... I may not be thrilled about putting up exterior Christmas lights, but they are important to my eleven year old... so out of love for him we put them up!
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