Today is December 1, my official beginning date for Christmas. I like to keep Thanksgiving decorations up until today. Then I take down the brown and orange wreath and hang up my red, green and gold Christmas one. I also try to begin the busy process of bringing down decorations from the attic with items that bring the glow and beauty of Christmas to our home.
But another thing could happen today to me and you; stress! The most stressful month of the year is December. I know we don’t want to be stressed. We know Jesus came to the world in simplicity and lived a life the same way. So, we have to make choices continually so that we stay in balance between getting things accomplished while at the same time not feeling or acting stressed.
Planning is the best way to cross stress off your list:
- 1. Make a list of everything you need to do and when you need to do it.
2. If the list becomes too long, reduce it!
3. Do as much as you can early; shopping (gifts as well as food items), wrapping, decorating and shipping.
4. This is not the time for major house changes as painting, new rooms added, etc.! Try to keep the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve as simple as possible.
5. For meal planning, choose recipes you are familiar with and choose those that can be made in advance. Keep it simple.
6. Keep your family involved. Many times, the very thing you are stressing over “because it’s a tradition” isn’t even something they want! So, ask for their input and remember to delegate.
7. Involve your guests. Most people want to bring something when invited to a dinner or occasion. So, ask for what you need. That way, you won’t end up with items you don’t need.
8. For meals, set the table at least one day early and get out all the dishes that you will need. Place a label or sticky note by each food item dish so you will know where it will be placed on your table or buffet and you will less likely forget an item.
9. Stay on a schedule so children will not get too tired or hungry. Also, have some activities planned for them.
10. Be ready for the unexpected! Nothing goes as planned so if the beans burn or the baby gets sick, go with the flow. The most important thing is a sweet, godly spirit and that all those around you are loved.
Advent Season Begins Now Too
Usually four weeks before Christmas is the “Advent Season” which concludes with the celebration of Christ’s birth. The word Advent means arrival and it refers to the arrival of Jesus Christ into the world. Why do we celebrate Jesus’ birth? Because over 2,000 years ago, God stooped down from Heaven and became a human being.
The Bible says: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” John 1:14 God loves us so much that He came in human form to show us who He is. That is why we celebrate this miraculous event!
Take time between now and Christmas to reflect on this great truth. Each week I will give a reading to help you prepare to celebrate the coming of the Christ child, which is from the pamphlet “Arrival” by Billy Graham. Week 1 actually started last Sunday on November 28 so Week 1 and 2 will be in today’s blog.
Week 1: November 28 – Read Isaiah 9:6
In this Scripture we find the message and meaning of Christmas. Isaiah the prophet gave five awe-inspiring names of our Lord that encourage us, thrill us, and fill us with Hope at this Christmas season:
1. Wonderful. When He did His many miracles, the Scripture says, “The people wondered” (Luke 11:14).
2. Counselor. The people said, “No one ever spoke the way this man does” (John 7:46).
3. The Mighty God. He is the God-Man. He said that He and Father are one (John 10:30).
4. The Everlasting Father. It was by Him, the living Word, that all things were created. He is the designer of the whole universe (John 1:3; Hebrews 11:3).
5. The Prince of Peace. There will never be lasting peace on earth until He comes again to reign in righteousness.
The full meaning of these words from Isaiah should give us enough strength, hope, and joy to face any crisis, endure any sorrow, and meet any temptation. How has Jesus shown you recently that He is “Wonderful, Counselor…the Prince of Peace?”
Week 2: December 5 – Read Matthew 1:19-21
We’re given just a little glimpse of Mary and Joseph before Jesus was born. They lived in the hill country of Galilee. Joseph was a religious man. Mary gives every evidence of having a thorough knowledge of the Scripture, even though she was a teenager. The Bible teaches that God was so pleased with her that He chose her to be the mother of Jesus. Mary and Joseph weren’t married, and yet Mary became pregnant.
While Joseph was trying to decide what he should do with this situation, God’s angel appeared to him in a dream to give Joseph an explanation of the situation. All Joseph’s suspicions were put away. He accepted what God had said through the angel, and he was immediately married to Mary.
Both Joseph and Mary followed the call and plan of God, and through their obedience the way was prepared for Christ to come and bless us. May we be so faithful! Are you seeking to follow God’s call on your life? Are you actively responding to Him?
Peace is the one emotion that is hoped for and expressed the most during the Christmas season. Perhaps that is why Christ is called The Prince of Peace. There will never be lasting peace on earth until He comes again to reign in righteousness. But He is also the Prince of Peace in other ways. None can have peace with God apart from Him and the peace that He made through the blood of His cross (Colossians 1:20). What are you and I doing to keep peace in our lives and homes?
What is one super food to have during the holidays? The sweet potato! With more fiber that a bowl of oatmeal, more vitamin A than a cup of carrots, and more potassium than a banana, a sweet potato is the healthiest – and possible least appreciated – holiday food. Rich in vitamin C, it’s loaded with carotenoids – powerful antioxidants that protect against cancer and heart disease and boost immune function. Its high potassium content helps control blood pressure. And at 150 calories, it is a good low calorie choice.
I am looking forward to spending this month with you as we anticipate and celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus. May this month be extra meaningful to you…and less stressful!