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When Love Abounds: Four Choices to an Intentional Christmas

IMG_1874We’d said farewell to precious friends and the turkey and fixings now resided in our fridge, along with the deserts, thank goodness! Our Thanksgiving Day drew to a close with a sweet contentment that warmed our hearts. My husband even commented that he thought it was his favorite Thanksgiving so far.

He and I worked to clean up the rest of the pots and pans, unaware that our two daughters and their sweeties sat at the dining room table, hooked into an action packed game of Catch Phrase.

Only when we’d finished our clean-up did we become fully aware of the momentous scene playing out.

How many years had I prayed and dreamed of such a day? For my two daughters to not just get along (with four years between them they often struggled to connect) but hang out and enjoy each other’s company? To one day see them with them as adults moving into their lives and witness the fruit of so many prayers?

I’m so glad I didn’t miss this moment, my friends, because even as I sat there, I knew this was a gift. A moment to ponder and hold in my heart, much like Mary did as she heard the shepherds and wise men sing the praises of the tiny babe she held close.

My husband and I whipped out our phones and snapped some shots to capture this moment because even he knew this time was special. To my chagrin, he even took a few pictures of me because “I looked so beautiful.”

I know without a doubt what he saw was my joy in the Lord for this time, for this rich blessing, for this sweet “kiss” from God telling me He’d heard every prayer and what I now saw was the promise of what was to come.

Love abounded. Great love. Great joy. A Great God.

Part of walking in God’s presence is staying aware of moments like these and staying in them. Right there, right in the moment. I could only sit on our couch and watch, soaking in every bit of it.

10563775_mAs we enter this Christmas season already full of events and family visits, it’s easy to miss special moments in the chaos so prevalent this time of year but therein may lay some of our greatest gifts of the season! Here’s what I learned last year in my determination to have an “Intentional Christmas:”

Intentional Choice #1: Reject the chaos. Decide how many “things” you and your family realistically have time for, pick a number and stick with it. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Sometimes last minute “things” come up so do be flexible but factor in margins to accommodate those sudden events so that your plans aren’t totally thrown off. Spontaneity can visit but don’t let her roost.

Intentional Choice #2: Choose specifically. Which events and activities do you and your family want to partake in? Which relationships do you feel the need to invest more time in this year? Even make time for rest in your schedule. Have a super busy day planned? Make the next day one of rest and relaxation. Make it a Christmas movie day, a time to read stories and just enjoy each other.

Intentional Choice #3: Release expectations. We often walk into the holidays with unrealistic expectations. We can’t control everything. Let go of unrealistic expectations of yourself, your husband, your immediate family, your extended family, of others and even of situations that serve only to create conflict and resentment. Let’s face the reality that the Christmas season can bring the best and worst out of us. Extend lots of grace and enjoy those moments when things just seem to fall into place and go smoothly. Be Mary and give Martha the season off. Moments with loved ones are way more important than making sure all your dishes match. Take this from someone who knows (wink).

Intentional Choice #4: Accept whatever comes. Not as a passive gesture but as a willingness to let God surprise you. This is where not just the good stuff happens but the great stuff. Don’t miss a moment of it. Cover yourself and your family in prayer for God’s love to abound and bring His blessings in the most unexpected places. Look for opportunities to bless your family, your friends and even a stranger here and there. This is where we find true joy and share it with the world!

I’ll end here with a wonderful moment right from the Bible:

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. — Luke 2:16-19

Let’s ponder those moments of the heart together!

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