I enjoy blogging and reading Christian blogs—both keep my heart and mind focused on the Lord and living for him. But life is cyclical, and recently, I’ve been in one of those crazy-busy cycles. You know, a period of time in which it seems that you are so busy from the time your feet hit the floor in the morning until your head hits the pillow at night that you hardly have time to eat, never mind get a full eight hours of sleep. Or read a blog post all the way through, never mind write one. That’s been me these past few weeks. Has it been you, too?
I won’t bore you by telling you every activity I’ve done and every project I’ve completed during these crazy weeks (or how many items I have baked!), but I will tell you how I approach times like these.
First, I do my utmost never to skip my time with the Lord. For me, that means reading my Bible and praying first thing in the morning, before I even leave my bed. If I don’t take time for God then, I may not make time the rest of the day.
Second, when choosing activities, particularly Christmas activities, I don’t say yes to every opportunity that comes our way. I consider whether an event will draw me and my family closer to the Lord and focus my heart on the true reason for the season. That’s why, year after year, I lead our little children’s Christmas program at our church. That event went off without a hitch last Sunday, and the kids were stars, including my youngest, who was a short and solemn wise man. Most sang loudly and some sang joyfully, and despite some nervous throat-clearing and foot-shifting, they all recited verses from Luke 2 beautifully. It was by no means a polished performance, but I loved that aspect of it—the children’s smiles and frowns alike, the costumes that were a little too big or too small, slight stumbles in a recitation—all of that only made their performance more endearing.
Immediately following the children’s program, we hurried home and back to town to attend a Vespers performance at a local university. The entire community looks forward to this event every year, and it’s attended by 7,000+ people over the course of three performances. More than 200 students fill the balcony, aisles, and stage of the performance hall, so the experience is truly surround-sound. I wish you all could have attended—every piece, both ancient and modern, from cultures all over the world, told the story of the nativity in such a reverent, yet joyful way that I felt as though my Christmas were complete, then and there. The music washed over me and through me and poured right into my soul, and I cried and prayed my way through the entire thing (silently, of course, so as not to embarrass my teenagers). Needless to say, that event definitely ticked the box of drawing me closer to the Lord.
Another item I consider when choosing a holiday activity is its benefit to others. My kids are heavily involved with their local 4-H club, and they decided to spend some of their club money on gifts for local needy children. They loved the idea of getting as many gifts as they could within their chosen budget, and they tried to choose things that they’d like to get themselves. It was a pleasure to see them experience the pleasure of giving.
With those general considerations in mind, my husband and I are able to eliminate some events that we’d be attending only out of obligation or strictly for pleasure (though fun events are great, and we squeeze in a few of those, too). But that doesn’t mean I still don’t spread myself too thinly this time of year. I still stay up too late doing online shopping, which I am convinced is both a blessing and a curse. I still find it hard to let go of housecleaning (although I actually did not clean every bathroom from top to bottom last weekend, just cleaned the toilets and called it a day. For me, that’s progress). I still may be in the kitchen or at the computer working when the rest of my family is hanging out in the living room. But, I think that’s part of being a mom, working at home and teaching my kids at home.
In the midst of this crazy-busy cycle, I’d like to reflect upon the words of a woman who rightfully could have been more stressed during the first Christmas than I’ll ever be at Christmastime. In Luke 2, Mary said,
My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
Just like the music from the Vespers performance, those words from a long-ago superwoman pour into my soul and focus my heart right where it needs to be this Christmas season.
And eventually, I’ll get to that nap.