Can you just hear it? Andy Williams singing, "It's the most wonderful time of the year!". I know we haven't got through Thanksgiving or Chanukah yet, but pretty soon the Christmas season will be upon us. We can't fool ourselves, the stores are already marketing the products.
Now, I write this thinking back to one year ago, today. At that time our family was going through a time when my husband was unemployed from a layoff and our emergency savings fund was dwindling to the end. Bills were coming in, and we did not know how we would get through December let alone Christmas. I was working my Mary Kay business which brought in our only income. My husband was looking for work, and getting closer to finding that new job. We were hopeful. To add to all of that, we were getting ready to move to another home in another city which we did all one week before Christmas. Talk about stressomania!
Financial stress during the holidays can be a bummer. However, what I learned during that time surprised me. I realized I didn't have to have it altogether and the holiday season is not the most wonderful time of the year. What? You ask? Let me continue. Every day is the most wonderful time of the year!Every day you spend with your family loving them, forgiving them, taking care of each other . . . that is wonderful! The Bible tells us that we are not promised tomorrow. Today is the only day we have. Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that. But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. James 4:13-16
Money, gifts, material things, these are all ideas the world makes us believe that Christmas is . . . well, it's a lie. Don't be fooled. I'm here to encourage you today to realize that stress during this season does not have to exist. No, stress does not exist if you believe.
Now naturally, I'm the type of person who is a stressoholic. I could go bonkers when everything is not in it's place or just the way I want it. I can easily get crazy overwhelmed when my plate gets too full. That would be stressful, but I don't live by that rule anymore. I've learned to rest in the presence of the Lord. I can tell you this has changed my life! I've decided to live by and follow what God's Word says about stress: Don’t worry about anything; on the contrary, make your requests known to God by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving. Then God’s shalom (peace), passing all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). In conclusion, brothers, focus your thoughts on what is true, noble, righteous, pure, lovable or admirable, on some virtue or on something praiseworthy. Philippians 4:6 Now going back to our family situation last year. I know you probably want to know how it ended up. Well we moved with the help of friends and family. We received cards with money in them from anonymous givers. Our new kitchen pantry was filled with food when we moved in thanks to our congregation at the time. God got us through it all. Sure things weren't like they were other years, and that was ok. Yes, it is ok.
During that stressful time, I could have done two things. I could have thrown a big pity party or I could have given it all to Jesus. What do you think I did? Yes, I gave my situation, my life, my finances, my hurts, my doubts, my stress. . . everything I gave to Jesus. As a family we did this together. Jesus took it away, the stress. We put our trust in Him and He never let us down, NEVER.
I remember hurting inside because I knew we couldn't get our daughter much that Christmas. But, God came through. The day before Christmas Eve, my husband's brother had a neighbor who was giving away his daughter's bike. Well, I think you get the picture. Christmas morning, our daughter woke up to find a usednew bike just for her. God provided. He always does. All the time.
Are you feeling overwhelmed my friend? You don't have to be . . . give it to Jesus. He cares for you. When you start to feel overwhelmed remember that peace is just a prayer away!
Dear Jesus, I pray for my dear friend. Touch them and reach out where they are, you know what they need. Fill them with your peace and give them your love and understanding. In Jesus Name Amen Here are 10 ways to keep stress out of your life!
1. Stay organized-make a list of the most important things you want to do with your family. 2. Take time to pray-we can do anything when we get strength from the Lord.
3. Keep your priorities: God first, family second, career third
4. Delegate things that can be handled by others.
5. Learn to say no and stand your ground. Don't overcommit yourself.
6. Quiet time for you- read the Bible, take a bubble bath, sip that cup of cocoa Go ahead. . . you have my permission.
7. Unplug-let things go you can't control. Give your needs to the Lord. He can handle it.
8. Be a blessing to others- bake some cookies for the elderly, mail a hand written note
9. Sing- put on some good worship music that helps you give thanks to the Lord.
10. Be grateful to others and thank God for everything. Remember that cup of cocoa I told you to sip? Well here is some chocolate yumminess just for you as a bonus. Score!
What are some ways Jesus has helped you through stressful times? Do you got a yummy cocoa recipe?
Blessings and Shalom,