I don't know about you but I feel like Christmas has hit me unexpectedly these last few years. Sometimes we just get so bogged down with the demands and trials of life that we only have the energy to react to this season of decorating, shopping and gift giving.
Well, I've decided I want more this year. Actually, what I mean is I want less. I want this holiday to be different. I want to be intentional about it, not just roll along with the current and try to avoid the undertow.
Here's what I'm thinking:
1. I’m being intentional in my joy. This will be the first year that we wont have both our girls with us. My youngest daughter will be in Florida with our extended family. This is difficult but part of how families change. So, we will do at least two Christmas events this year. One will be to see a light show in a neighboring community. The other I assigned my older daughter and her fiancé (Yep, engaged!) to figure out. One idea is to go downtown this year (something I usually avoid) to see Christmas in the Park.
These are both low cost or free but great fun to do together as a family. What's in your neighborhood? Just planning a night to drive around to see the decorated houses is one of our mainstays. This is not about filling our schedule with activities. It’s about doing something that is intentional in the moment to be in the spirit and love of Christmas, and to share that with our precious family. Every moment is a gift and I want to live each day in appreciation of what Jesus has given me.
2. I’m being intentional in slowing things down. This is part of wanting less—less stress. After the chaos of the last few years, I'm a bit worn out. I sense God's gentle nudge to see things differently this year from a place of rest. So, I'm resisting the usual hurriedness of this time of year and am even planning ahead in my work schedule to have time to read a book by the Christmas tree as the lights twinkle and glow. To spend more time with God in my mornings and read the stories of Jesus’ birth. To really assess everything I'm doing with this question, "Does this please God and draw me closer to Him?" I'm even bringing my television viewing choices under this scrutiny.
3. I worshipping more intentionally. This is an area I really feel I need to develop more. Not out of duty but out of my love for God and desire to know Him better. That is my heart’s desire, to know God better everyday, every year. To grow closer to Him. When I expressed this to Him in the past, He spoke to my heart these words, “You will find Me in worship.” I want to find Him more. Right now, I’m totally loving Casting Crowns’ Christmas album, Peace on Earth. Break out your favorite Christmas music. Sing along out loud or in your heart or both! Let the gift of God’s Son, His greatest gift and the ultimate example of God working “for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28) fall afresh on your heart. Let God wow you!
4. I want to be a willing and intentional blessing. As much as I’d love to just make this month all about R&R for me, I don’t want to be selfish. I want to be a blessing to anyone God puts in my path. This means I will be intentional in staying alert when I go about my day to God’s “interruptions” and be ready to serve. I confess this is a challenge for me because I’m a “get ‘er done kind of girl” and have never been good about interruptions to my agenda. But God knows this and He knows my desire to change this area of my heart and life. He’s already given me couple opportunities recently. (One just yesterday in a MacDonald’s drive thru!) I’m looking forward to more.
These are some of my ideas. I hope you'll share yours too, so that we can help each other have an Intentional Christmas. This is not intended to bring more stress or create more duty. God doesn’t want our relationship with Him to be about duty. He came to give us life and joy (John 10:10).
So, whatever that translates to in your life, go for it. Be joyful and joyfilled. That is a gift we can give intentionally to our Lord and Savior because it reflects Him.
Your intentional servant,