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It’s October 1st: Plan for Christmas Now?

Well, it’s officially 12 weeks until Christmas.  That either fills you with joyous excitement or an overwhelmed feeling as your mind races with the abundance of things that you need to accomplish before the year’s end. Hobby Lobby has had their Christmas decorations in stores since June, but really, who has thought about Christmas that early?  If you have, then you don’t need to read this post, you need to write it!

howtoplanforajoousChristmasnow

Some of us, at some point have thought, or verbalized, ” If I can just get past Thanksgiving, then I can think about Christmas.” I will admit there have been times that I have!  In years past, I haven’t always been in the right mindset during the Christmas season, but allowed the activities of the season to cloud my thinking. Why? Because I didn’t properly prepare. I either waited until the last-minute, was too busy trying to do it all, or put unrealistic expectations on myself. It left me frazzled, tired, and with a clouded focus of the clear vision for the season- to fully celebrate the greatest and most precious gift and relationship… Jesus.  It’s not what the Lord wanted for me, nor I wanted for myself, not to mention the tensions my attitude brought into my home.

Can anyone relate?

Why do we, especially women, do this to ourselves? Is it because we overcommit, have too many expectations, lose focus?

I think for some of us, it’s a bit of all these things.

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Here’s 8 Practical Tips to Plan NOW for a Peaceful & Joyous Christmas.

 {I’ll be implementing these myself!}

 

1. Keep a consistent quiet time with the Lord no matter how busy the day. I can not expect to be filled to overflowing and have one ounce to pour out to others, if my own cup is barely full.  Purpose in your heart, right now, time to soak in His Word each day and spend needful moments in prayer and praise. It  will replenish your soul not to mention that God longs to spend time with you.

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.   But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:31-33

2. Make a list of all known commitments now and then choose {beforehand} how many {currently unknown engagements/activities} you will add to that list. Pray, are you keeping it to three or four? Fewer or more?  Decide now and graciously say, “No, thank you,” if activities or invites exceed your number.  Remember, even too many “good things” can be too many.

“A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

3. Keep gift giving simple. Shouldn’t our gift giving be an extension of the love we have for the Lord and the celebration of His love for us? Shouldn’t it reflect the love  and appreciation we have shared with a person throughout the whole year?  Don’t let yourself get caught up in “obligation” giving. Pray, and give from your heart. It doesn’t have to be something big and elaborate. Stay within your means, and if you feel lead, give. A small, meaningful gift from the heart can speak volumes.

“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.”            1 Peter 1:22

4. Live in grace. With Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, kazillions {that’s my number with too many zeros after it that it makes my head spin} of blog posts, and all those gorgeous holiday photos of what others are doing, decorating, wearing, giving, baking, {the list goes on!}  a person can feel overwhelmed and unsatisfied over what their plans are or how their house appears. It was Theodore Roosevelt who said, “Comparison is the theft of joy.” How true that is! So, what is the solution?  Live in grace and obedience! Pray and see what the Lord would have you do and then do that!

It’s OK to sit at home with your family and read or play games over hot chocolate and dessert. It’s OK to not have every room in your home decorated for the holidays. It’s OK to not throw that big Christmas party that you did last year. Do what the Lord is leading you to do and don’t be swayed by others. It’s the investment in relationships that matters most, and while you’re giving yourself grace, make sure you’re extending grace to others, as well.

“For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—  and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.  Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.”  2 Cor 8:3-7 {ESV}

5. Plan ahead.  It alleviates stress. At least once per week {that’s doable, right?} double a recipe {whether a main dish, side, or dessert} and freeze it. If you start this week, that will give you 12 meals/dishes you can pull from the freezer on a busy day or the ability to spontaneously bless another family in need during the holiday season. If you do this twice a week, you’ll have 24 meals. Just think, that would be everyday in December up until Christmas!

“Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you further behind. ” Proverbs 21:5 { The Message Bible}

6. Shop now. Don’t just wait until Black Friday after Thanksgiving to take advantage of all those sales. There  are a lot of great sales right now!  Shop early…early in the season and early in the day {if you can}, while the selection is good, and the crowds are few. You can still take part in your Black Friday shopping {if this is your thing}, but you won’t be pressed to get all your shopping done that weekend. This isn’t only for gifts, but shop now, and stock up on household essentials, food staples, and seasonal supplies, so that you will have fewer trips to the store during peak shopping season.

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Col 3:17 {NKJV}

7. Limit expectations.  One year we made all these wonderful plans for the holiday season and our Sweet Pea  {daughter} walked off the plane from college and straight to Urgent Care. She had a horrible case of viral pneumonia and was literally down for the entire month of vacation. Before she returned to college, I caught it. It was the most miserable time. All the plans we had came crashing to a halt. One thing I learned {again} was flexibility! Life and sickness happens. Realize not everything may go according to how you picture or desire it. Give the Lord the praise anyway! He has allowed these things in our lives for a higher purpose and reason. Our suffering never goes unseen by Him, nor has no value in His eyes.  Allow Him to work whatever He is working in your heart to accomplish something good from a disappointment or difficult situation.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 {NIV}

8. Don’t lose perspective.  Ask yourself several times during the holiday season, “Why am I  doing the things I am doing?” Ultimately, this season is not for us, but to celebrate Him. Keeping the proper perspective is so key.  Allow Jesus to flood your heart with eternal perspective, so much so, that all the flurry of the season fades in comparison to the glory of the most precious gift~ Emmanuel…God with Us.

 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,   who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,   but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.   And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.   Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,   that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,  and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2: 5-11

~

 As You Plan, May a Peaceful and Joyous Christmas Season Be Yours.

Merry Christmas… a little early!

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