I’m a fidgeter. My constant foot tapping or knee bouncing drives my super calm husband crazy some days. So it probably won’t surprise you to learn that I like to be up and about… walking, dancing, going, anything that requires movement (well, except aerobic exercise ☺). I like to have plans and keep busy, and working full time and raising three kiddos, I can assure you this is never a problem! And as we enter the month of December, I’m reminded that the plans are usually multiplied.
Now let’s add an additional layer to my personality… I’m also a procrastinator. I’m the queen of adding too many commitments to my list and putting them off until I know they have to get done. I’m a list-maker, and I thrive under pressure, so you better believe I can knock a dozen things off my to-do, make sure the kids have their school projects done, and finish the teachers’ homemade Christmas gifts (the night before, at midnight, and with my husband’s precious help).
I don’t know if you can relate, but I’ve spent many Christmases wondering where my December went. How did we get to that moment of unwrapped packages and full bellies so quickly? Let me share a little something I’ve noticed with you: the older you and I get, the faster time appears to fly. I bet that’s not news to you – in fact, you’ve likely had that same thought before!
Could this possibly have something to do with the fact that we are in a constant state of busy-ness? Remember the days when you were a kid, bored on a hot summer day, and the afternoon seemed to drag on and on forever? Add a hundred responsibilities, and tack on a few extras just for fun, and those days are long gone. No wonder we seem to run straight from Halloween into January!
But here’s the thing: I’m tired of celebrating the birth of our Savior on empty.
And I don’t mean exhausted with no gas left in my tank. I mean, empty of His presence. As I fill my schedule, I am no longer preparing room for Him.
Sure, the days are fun. Shopping to surprise my family is special, and we have really neat traditions in our home. My daughter and I spend most of Christmas Eve baking, and I treasure that time with her. Some things are worth doing, and not only would I not trade those memories for the world, but I pray we continue the tradition for years to come.
But do I really need to spend hours researching on Amazon for just the right brand of speaker to buy my son, comparing all the reviews until my head is spinning? Do I really need to make a last minute trip to Hobby Lobby because I heard their decorations are 75% off and I might grab a few things? And, knowing how busy the Christmas season is, should I really be adding to it by binging on Netflix all Sunday afternoon?
Quite honestly, just re-reading the paragraphs above made me anxious! So let me propose a different Christmas season….
I’m sure you’ve planned a birthday party for a special someone. Think for a moment about all the preparation that goes into that day: selecting and creating invitations, addressing and mailing them, researching the perfect gifts to buy and the hours spent shopping for them, choosing the decorations, blowing up balloons, baking the cake, etc. Hours and hours, days and days, all for the perfect celebration for your loved one.
Now imagine what it would be like if we focused that sort of attention into preparing to celebrate our King on His birthday.
They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
– Matthew 2:11
In all His goodness and lovingkindness, our sweet Father doesn’t ask us to throw Him a party and doesn’t expect a cake or presents. So what does celebrating Him in this season look like?
I believe it begins with simply remembering who He is: For a child is born unto us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen! – Isaiah 9:6-7
I have experienced Jesus by every one of those names above…as my counselor, comforter, and mighty protector. Reminding myself daily of the beautiful gift He is surely makes me want to celebrate His precious birth. How could I not make him a priority in this season when I am always His priority?
I want to make room for Him and shove out the lesser important details of my life. I want to sit in His presence and dwell on the wonderful things He’s done for me. I want to turn up the Christmas music and dance unabashedly the way King David did on the streets, laughing with my children and praising God together.
So how can I keep my focus? As I mentioned, I’m a list-maker, so here a few helpful lists that can help keep you and me on track:
Make a list of your musts. What is top priority during this month? Is it making sure you read your Advent Scripture with the family each night? Perhaps it’s protecting your quiet time to get away and pray in the evenings before bed. Whatever the case, write them down and consider these items sacred!
Make a list of the things you could give up. Do you need to attend all of your friends’ holiday events? Do you need to be the room mom who coordinates all the snacks and crafts at the school party? Think of Christmases past and the things that have consumed too much of your time, and just say no this year.
Make a list of your holiday temptations. What throws you off course? Whether it’s the quick run for the sale at your favorite store, or your propensity to stay glued to Netflix, be aware of your weaknesses and be ready to hit the self-control button. Most importantly, ask God to help you resist these luring attractions.
Start your day with Jesus. Tell Him what you’re grateful for in that moment, and thank Him for what He’s done for you. Ask Him to help you make room for Him in your day and then take Him with you everywhere you go. When you pick up your child from school, praise Jesus. As you bake cookies for the neighbors, worship in the kitchen. And as you lay down at night, whisper to Him about your love and awe in His provision and protection.
And finally, allow yourself grace when you get off track. Do not beat yourself up because everyone collapsed in bed after a busy day at school, and you realize you forgot to read the December 19th daily Christmas devotion together. Guess what? You can read two on Sunday afternoon to catch up…or you miss one. It’s perfectly acceptable in God’s eyes. Rest in that grace, my friend.
My favorite family tradition is attending Christmas Eve service. The reverence and serenity is the perfect way to prepare my heart for the following day. May this year’s service be the culmination of an entire month’s worth of making room for my Lord.
Someone once told me her family woke each other up on December 25th by shouting “Happy birthday, Jesus!” I pray that your preparations leading up to the moment provide you with the excitement and fulfillment you need to be able to wake on Christmas morn’ celebrating our King with such passion and joy!
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Heaven and nature sing…
And Heaven and nature sing…
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.”
I’m Traci Jones – married to my college sweetheart, raising three rambunctious teens, and still acting like a kid myself. I’m a blogger and artist – I love to use my artistic gifts to fund raise for worthy causes, and I’m passionate about using my writing to encourage and motivate others to find their joy in Jesus. My favorite place on earth is Zambia, Africa, and I’m always looking forward to my family’s next trip back to see the beautiful faces I’ve come to know and love there!