Sunday, December 10, 2017

Holiday Striving

by Heidi Ashe

I have this vision of how the holiday season is going to go at my house. Every night my husband and I will cuddle up with our kiddos and read a Bible story from our advent book. We’ll go to the town Christmas parade and enjoy hot chocolate snuggled under blankets. We’ll attend all the church services: plays, cantata, caroling and the candlelit communion on Christmas Eve. We’ll make cookies with the cousins and build a gingerbread house from scratch. It’s a beautiful scene. Then I open my eyes and look down at my calendar. Already we have five parties we HAVE to attend. I forgot my girls are supposed to be IN the parade, I’m pretty sure I got an email about costumes. Oh and my son made the middle school basketball team, so add six ballgames and twelve practices. I close my eyes again. The vision is now replaced with an image of my jam packed schedule and my eyes begin to fill with tears.  
I just want to throw up my hands in defeat. To chalk December up as yet another crazy month that I’m striving to get through. I begin to pray that God would give me the strength to just make it through the month and all the extras it brings. Gently I hear Him, “No, I did not come so that you could simply “get through” life. I came that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly.” Uh-oh.  I certainly don’t feel like I have a more abundant life right this minute. I continue with my prayer asking God to show me how. How do I enjoy this abundant life You’ve promised when I feel like I’m constantly running in circles? Being the patient father He is, He leads me to His word and a verse I know by heart.   
John 10:10 says The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
I take a deep breath and realize, there it is, a thief.  But this isn’t a thief in a black ski mask. This thief is all the things on my calendar. All the MUST do’s to make the holidays perfect. It has me striving to do all the things, make all the things, be all the things and this thief is doing just what Jesus said he would; stealing, killing, and destroying. My packed calendar and crazy high expectations for this season are stealing every bit of joy and sanity I have. They’re killing my hopes for a fun holiday season with my family and destroying any chance at my children looking back on the Christmases of their childhood with anything more than exhaustion.
Once again I close my eyes in prayer, Lord, help me to be deliberate in what our family does this holiday season. Guide me to be intentional and hold tight to our time, because I know if I don’t manage it, someone or something else will. Remind me to give myself and those around me grace, Lord, when my plans fall apart. Give me eyes to see You in every moment, for it’s all about You anyway. Help me to slow down and breathe deep. I know this is a time I’ll never get back, help me to live like that. Thank You for Your reminder Lord. You and You alone give life and You long for me to have it abundantly. Help me to live in Your abundance this holiday season and always, Lord. Amen.

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