Claim Your Christmas

My home is so quiet this morning. Steve has already left for the hospital and I've decided to let the kids sleep in to soak up a few extra minutes of the peaceful glow of my Christmas trees.

For a brief moment last night I found myself wishing Christmas would just get here and get over so I can get on it with so much I have on my plate.

We have a large production in less than three weeks, end of year accounting for the business, costumes do in 19 days. (It's actually a lot). I have rehearsals to schedule, scripts to get out and daily business to attend. Then there is next semester's homeschool planning that hasn't even begun.

Last night brought to a conclusion a weekend of visiting back in our hometown for Christmas. Returning from traveling, recovering from outrageous stress, late nights, going full speed for a few days put me in bed for the entirety of the day yesterday. I didn't feel completely wiped out but decided it was wiser to rest and recover than to push through and get back to work yesterday. Glad I did.

But as often happens when I am still, I am restless. The worries, the tasks, the to-do lists nagged and called to me and I thought, "Let's get Christmas over with, so I can get back to my life."

Even as that little thought was germinating in my weary brain, my soul cried no! My mind and my heart resisted it. How many more Christmases do we have? We never know. How many more with children at home? Those are definitely numbered. I love Christmas.

It is the work of the enemy of peace to want to rush past the celebration of the giver of peace. It is the work of the enemy trying to knit me to the stress and worries of this world that I might overlook the hope, love and joy of the life everlasting that came to earth to save me.

I felt that tug to be cynical. I feel it every year like everyone else.

The enemy cannot have my Christmas. He cannot have my joy. Sometimes joy is very hard to find, especially at this time of year for many, but it only means we must look harder.

You know the familiar phrase, 

Wise Men Still Seek Him

We are not journeying through deserts, warring nations, across seas and lands to find Him, avoiding bandits and political complexities like the Magi. The long tireless journey we undertake is within our own hearts and minds. Frankly for most of us, a thousand mile journey across a continent would probably be easier.

The enemy wants you to believe Christmas is at risk because of retailers not saying, "Merry Christmas" or an absence of decorations on a coffee cup. Do not be fooled. Christmas is at risk within your own heart, within your own home, your own family.

How do we resist an internal battle? How do we navigate all the baggage, all the worry, all the stress? Where is our Star to follow? The Church gives us Advent to prepare and help us. Following closely in the readings and the teachings helps a great deal. I wish I could say that was the simple answer - easy peasy. Problem solved. It's not.

Donating and giving to others is an important component for me. Keeping spending and obligations in check is important to keep the stress level to a manageable state. Mostly though, I have to fight back. The enemy uses every tool at his disposal to steal away my Christmas. It's a spiritual battle and if I don't fight, I'm surrendering. Mostly the battle is one of dialogue. The random thoughts that knock through your head aren't random at all. They are carefully orchestrated by the enemy of God to play on your fears, your guilt, your sorrow, your anxiety. They come in whispers and they inspire entire conversations that happen in your thoughts.

"Take captive your thoughts." 2 Corinthians 10:5

Say "No". Push back. 

I find myself saying yes it's stressful, it was stressful last year but I question it - was I still reeling from it Dec 29th? Jan. 5th? March 12th? No. It's temporary and it really doesn't matter at all. Everything comes out in the wash. I physically turn my eyes to things that refocus me. Making an extra visit to Church just to sit with Jesus a few minutes and "Adore Him". Having coffee and meditating on the birth as I look upon the Nativity under my tree. Recalling Christmases past as I touch ornaments on the tree placed by the people I love most in the world, and offering prayers of thanksgiving for them, helps.

Regrouping in the morning in this quiet space and walking forward in the day intentionally preparing to do what needs doing, helps. Making time and space for the King of the Kings, for Christmas magic, laughter, traditions, fun, surprises, helps. Filling up my soul and my brain with His good things, helps. Then like a miracle, a Star seems to appear in my heart and the path to Christmas is clear again.

We lose our way at Christmas. We do. We all do. It's okay. I don't know that the Magi didn't have to take a detour, here and there before getting back on course. Beating yourself up about it, is a battle the enemy wants to win. Feeling defeated because you can't find your Christmas spirit is a battle the enemy wants to win. Fight him, even if he wins a battle from time to time, do not allow him to win the war.

Reclaim your Christmas. It's yours, He came down from heaven and gave it to you. Do not allow anything to rob you of it. 

Christmas is hope. We were lost and then a baby was born, and He was the hope of the whole world. Guard your hope. Guard your Christmas.

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