Can you picture it? Waking to the sun peaking through the frosted windows as you see a beautiful blanket of fresh snow covering the trees. It’s Christmas morning and the stillness of dawn awakens you with thankfulness. The aroma of freshly-brewed coffee fills your house and you want nothing more than this day to be full of peace, love & joy for the holidays.
This is how I imagine Christmas Day, 11 months out of the year. It’s always a hopeful, glorious thought, but as soon as Black Friday comes, somehow, my vision slowly gets tainted with the stress that leads up to what’s said is the “most wonderful time of the year”. They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. I’m in no way calling any of us insane if we’re not feeling “the tidings of cheer” this year, I’m simply suggesting we try something different, just this once. To live from a place of peace this Christmas season — as we are intended to. So here are my 5 tips to feel at Peace during the holidays.
1. Keep It Simple — Don’t Overthink Gifts
I can easily become a procrastinator and resort to the last-minute, splurge-on-gift cards-because-everythings-picked-over, gifts. Now, let me be clear. The procrastinator in me isn’t because I don’t care. It’s actually quite the opposite. I intend to find the PERFECT gift. One that says “Oh Ashley, you really made me feel special this year”. But, somehow, I feel like whatever I come up with, won’t be “good enough” to the way I feel about them…like a present is some sort of scalable value to my love, so I’ll resort to the recurring thought that “I’ll plan better next year”.
I know the Wisemen brought gifts to Jesus. But can I point out something? Those gifts: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, were given as representations of who Jesus is—The one true King who would be worshiped and suffer a cruel death. Those gifts were valuable because of the representation, not because they were on His Christmas list. May I also share that the Bible doesn’t mention the Shepherds bringing a gift at all? They simply came with their time. They came to see the new King. So this year, I encourage you to keep gifts simple. They’re supposed to be a gift from your heart, not from your head. Maybe that’s deciding to do only homemade gifts this year. Or maybe gifts look like gifting your talents. Are you good at photography? Can you bake? Do you build things, babysit, or style hair? These things come natural to us and mean so much more to others. We are created for relationship. What better way to use our gifts as gifts to serve the ones we love with the gifts that we ourselves we’re given?
2. Make a Thankful List
How many times do you have a bad day and your mind goes straight to thinking about everything that is wrong? It’s almost natural to let ourselves go there when we get stressed and things aren’t going as planned. Jesus remind us that we’re blessed when things don’t go our way (Luke 6:20-26). So the next time you’re stressed (which is most-likely now since you’re reading about 5 ways to feel peace), I encourage you to begin with thinking of something you’re thankful for. I always start out with something simple, like, “I’m thankful that I have food in the refrigerator” which often leads to being thankful for my job, which helps pays for our home, that allows us to have our dog, enjoy our land, dream for our future, etc. I could easily go on, but you’ve got your very own list to make! Ways God has provided and favored you, immeasurably! Thankfulness lifts your spirit and positions you into a heart of worship. I encourage you to turn on some music as you begin — which ironically leads me into the next way to keep the peace!
3. Create a Music Playlist for the Holidays
I think that one of the greatest gifts God has gifted us is music. It’s this weird phenomenon that can completely change a mood in seconds! Part of keeping the peace is practicing ways of peace. I encourage you to build a playlist of music that sets the mood of what you want to feel. Maybe it’s calm piano music or exciting holiday cheer! Whatever it is, it will work on keeping your heart in a place of joy. Want a Christmas playlist to start out with? Use mine (I’ve got plenty of other playlists, too)! 🙂
4. Get Organized
Lists are my lifesaver. I LOVE the satisfaction of checking things off. So, no matter the importance of the task, I’ll write it down. Lists keep my mind from stressing. If it’s on paper, I can get it out of my mind. It has already been thought of, so prioritizing my list easily lets me get done the things that need my attention now or that can wait. I’ll usually have my “Must Do Today” section and anything after that becomes extra accomplishments! Focus on the task that’s at hand. That’s the key to staying in the zone and reaching more than you thought you would.
5. Take Time for Yourself
Jesus got alone. We’re called to do the same. Not in self-pity, but in self care. The holidays come with so many plans to conquer that we often have no intentional energy for ourselves. Scheduling in time for yourself as part of your agenda, is important for feeling peace throughout your day. Maybe that looks like a hot bath, a good book, a fun date night, or a phone call with a good friend. Whatever you like to do to reset. To clear your mind. To quiet your heart and listen. God longs to be part of our daily life…He is, no matter if we pay attention or not! Moment by moment, He whispers love into our day, to pour peace inside our hearts and give us the energy we need to get through it gracefully. Christmas is only about remembering the Prince of Peace. The one who came to love and serve.
We’ll have a great Christmas, Friend. We’re meant to. It makes a world of difference when we see that Christmas in itself, is a gift. Cherish it for what it’s meant to be: Celebrating a King who took our sin and exchanged it for a clean heart…that’s only meant to carry His Love.
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