Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ready for Christmas

If you've come over from my devotion and would like to read the chapter in my new book it's based from, click here. You'll find the table of contents, introduction, and Always RSVP chapter followed by a few Bible study questions.

To be honest with you, I was convicted writing that chapter. The story Jesus tells about the people too busy and distracted with the things of life to answer the call feels like it could easily be a story about me. 

Not just me before I came to Christ, not just me a decade ago, but me today. And especially at this time of year, as ironic as that is.

Whenever someone asks me if I am ready for Christmas, I run through a mental checklist to determine my answer:
  1. Is my tree up and decorated?
  2. Have I sent out holiday cards?
  3. Have I finished shopping?
  4. Are the gifts wrapped?
  5. Do I know what I'll wear for the occasion?
  6. And what I'm cooking?
Sometimes I'm able to answer "yes" to those six questions - depending on what week of the month it is - and breathe a sigh of satisfied relief.  Only to realize come December 25th or 26th that I've missed something important along the way. It's over and done with (all but the cleaning up and exchanges to be made) and somehow something rings slightly hollow.

It's then, when things settle down, that I wish I could go back and do things differently - ensure that my spirit and not just my household was ready for the day.

I'm tempted to ask if anyone else knows what I'm talking about.  But based on the story Jesus told, I'm guessing someone can relate. So here's your chance to do things differently this year - it's only December 14th now.

I recently heard of an old world custom that calls for all Christmas holiday preparations to be completed by St. Thomas Day, December 21st. That way the last few days of Advent could be given to focusing the heart, mind and spirit on the Christ of Christmas. Perhaps you'd like to try that tradition this year.

Or maybe you could commit to doing a handful of Christ-centering activities between now and Christmas Day. Exactly what those would be or what that would look like for you may vary but some examples might include:
  • Commit to a consistent quiet time - start or end each day with the Word of God.  
  • Give generously to someone in need.  Anonymously.
  • Pick up that Bible study or Christian book/novel you've been meaning to read, and read it.
  • Serve at a soup kitchen.
  • Write Jesus a letter.
  • Go caroling in your neighborhood with a couple friends or family - and invite those you sing to, to join the group for the next house. Print out a couple copies of the lyrics off the Internet.
  • Read the Christmas story in the gospels.  Or read one entire gospel.
  • Write your own account of Christ's birth in your own words based on the biblical account.
  • Go prayer walking through the park or snow and come up with 25 things to thank Christ for. Thank Him as you walk.
  • Volunteer your time.
  • Sleep in sleeping bags around your Christmas tree and reflect on the conditions surrounding His birth.
  • Cook or deliver for Meals on Wheels.
  • Put the most inspiring Christmas carols on repeat. Dim the lights, close your eyes and soak in His presence as you sing.
  • Do that last one in the hot bathtub and thank Him for washing your sins clean.
  • Choose one night to go without out electric light - use only candles - and reflect on the One who is called the Light of the World.

Let's not let this month be a whirlwind of preparation absent of reflection. Let's fully, spiritually, intentionally anticipate the arrival of Christ the Lord. If we concern ourselves with more than tying the perfect package bow, I think we'll find the gift our hearts really long for. And come Dec. 26, we'll feel full.

I'd love for you to share your ideas or plans for ensuring your heart is ready for the spiritual celebration of Christ's birth.

Merry Christmas!


  1. Thank you for sharing this today. Growing up, every Christmas I remember my Mom becoming so stressed out that she couldn't enjoy the real reason for Christmas. Now that I am an adult, I don't want to repeat that same scenario. I love the ideas of having the goal of finishing all the Christmas preparations by December 21st so you can focus solely on Christ until the 25th. I have started my morning with the Word of God every day this year and it has made such a difference in my attitude and my walk with Christ. I encourage everyone to start their day with Christ-give 5 minutes or 15-but start with Him and the rest of your day will be better for it! Visit my Christian women's blog for a little laughter, fun ideas, and encouragement at A Busy Woman's Life www.abusywomanslife.com

  2. This year Christmas has had a much deeper meaning for me, maybe its because I am older. My favorite "Christmas" songs are the ones that tell the story thru the eyes of the ones who were there. I loved reading your blog this morning, thank you for the wonderful suggestions. I found several I want to try this year. Thanks, Tonya Freels

  3. thanks for your wisdom in giving such great ideas. The "21st", "25 things to be thankful for"--these are the numbers i will focus on-not the number of things to be done. bless you!

  4. I LOVE this idea! Your devotion pricked my own heart today. I really do my best to spend time with the Lord each day. However, here lately (like within the past couple of weeks) I've allowed myself to get too busy. Each night as I got to bed & pray I realize I haven't been in the Word & promise God I'll do it tomorrow. Tomorrow has come and went. Thanks for sharing this today. Most of my stuff is done. Just going to be doing some baking today. I love your list of ideas. I'm going to mention it to my Husband. May our hearts be prepared come Christmas. :o)

  5. Thank you for your blog today.
    I came into work early- with mind racing concering "things that need to be done for my husband (Pastor Jim Grable), church (NCBC), family (both sides), and my grandsons!
    Although I did have one pleasant thought - it's not as "stressful" as it used to be -- I've learned that "NO" is a complete sentence without any guilt attached. I'm sixty - it's taken me a while - but I'm getting there -- you can say "NO" graciously - knowing you are doing what God wants - not what "all the others want and need"
    :o) This year we do have some very personal stressors in our daughter's life and marriage, son-n-law's serious illness and two grandsons (brothers) ages 18 and 7!
    Keep us in your prayers as we continue to pray for you and enjoy your blog. 'Tricia Grable

  6. Thank you Rachel :)

  7. Rachel,

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this hectic time of year and what the season really means. I love the idea of completion by the 21st. Though it probably won't happen this year, it is a goal to shoot for! A walk in the snowy park thinking of 25 things to be thankful for is a beautiful idea.

    Even though I still have pretty much everything to do, I do not feel panic or fear that it won't get done. I have peace in my heart that can only come from God. Keeping in mind the real reason for the season will keep me balanced, and somehow it always comes together.

    Blessings to you and your family this holiday season and throughout the new year!

  8. I love the idea of being ready by 12/21 so the days leading up to Christmas can be more relaxed and calm.... thank you for the idea. I think I can make this happen!

  9. It is so amazing how God uses His timing and perfection to reach us who really needed to hear this message this morning. Thank you Rachel for being the willing servent to which He used you to send His message. The ideas you listed were wonderful and very simple to do. I love the idea of sleeping around the Christmas tree. My kids ages 10 and 7 will love it too. As well as using only the glow of candle lights and Christmas tree lights one evening. And i love the idea of listening to soft Christmas music while relaxing in a hot bubble bath relfecting on the glory of God and the wonderful gift He gave to us.

  10. Your blog and the devotional at P31 touched me and shows that our hearts are the main place to prepare for Christmas and indeed for each day! If we are in a right relationship with the Lord, then we are "more than conquerors" over the circumstances of our living. Christ will be our living and bring us into peace and fulfillment. The Word is so precious that He gave us and I try to begin the day with reading it and then take time throughout the day to read a verse or two. Thanks for your wonderful thoughts on the main focus of this season, Jesus! Kathy

  11. Thank you for sharing. These are such helpful suggestions.

  12. A beautiful encouraging post. I like the idea of starting on the 21st and being thankful for things God has done this year. May God bless you and your family with a wonderful Christmas filled with lots of joy, peace and love.

  13. I don't think I will be completely done by the 21st, I still have one gift to get for my mother. But I have definitely focused more on Christ this year, and your suggestions have helped. Thanks!


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