Refreshment For The Thirsty...
We've all read a thousand articles about the importance of "slowing down" and "focusing on the true meaning of Christmas." But what does that even mean? And how realistic is it to try and escape the looming beast of American commercialism? For many of us, mothers especially, the fast-forward button gets pressed around November 20th and doesn't stop until January 2nd. As much as we would like to slow down and relax, everyone is counting on us to make their holiday season slower and more relaxing...ironic isn't it?
So how do we stay refreshed and joyful during this season? In my life, refreshment and simplicity always seem to go hand in hand. It's hard for me to find a quiet moment in the day when our schedule is packed or overflowing. So, this December we're scaling way back. In assignments, in commitments, in gift-giving, in everything. I don't want my kids to miss this. I don't want them to miss witnessing the beauty in simplicity. I don't want them, or me, to be so focused on the hundreds of little things that we miss the one big thing. December is the one month where the whole earth holds its breath in anticipation of the birth of our fragile, tiny Savior. If we're constantly rushing, fretting, running, wrapping, buying and going...we'll miss it...we'll miss Him.
First, we will never find true joy or refreshment apart from God. He is our source of Living Water. Isaiah 26:3 says "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee because he trusts in Thee." So, commit to starting your day with Him. Wake-up early to pray and spend a little time in the Word. This is a hard one for me. I.love.my.sleep. There I said it. Getting out of bed before all of my children are up is extremely difficult for this sleep-lover...but it's always worth it. A dear woman once told me that she would leave open bibles near the spots in her house which she frequented the most, such as on the window sill above the kitchen sink, next to the stove, on top of the washer, so that she could swallow down a few verses throughout the day. Keep your mind stayed on Him.
Christmas affords us the most precious teachable moments, where we can use the celebration around us to point our children to Jesus...don't miss that opportunity. Listen to what God said to the Israelites after He parted the Jordan River for them to pass through on dry ground "Take up for yourselves twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan...and carry them over with you and lay them down in the lodging place where you will lodge tonight...Let this be a sign among you so that when your children ask later saying 'what do these stones mean to you?' Then you shall say to them because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever." Joshua 4:3-7. In other words, God told the Israelites to position these stones in a place where He knew the children would see them and ask their parents about them. The parents could then share how those stones commemorated the Lord's work and teach the children how they pointed to God.
Can't we do the same? When they ask why our culture keeps the traditions it does, teach them how they all point to Christ. The lights remind us of the Light of the World, the carols remind us of the jubilant anthems proclaimed by the angels, the tree is pointing from where Christ came and where He is now, the wreath, in it's circular form, is a reminder of God's ever-lasting love and so on. See how many more you and your children can list.
And so, so importantly, remember that your children need a smiling, joyful Mama more than they need a supermom. If something you have planned or committed to is causing you to lose your joy then get rid of it. It's not worth it. Our whole calling of motherhood is to preach the gospel to our children again and again. If something in your life is detracting from that then you need to examine it's place in your life and the life of your family.
"...The joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10
So, now it's your turn. How are you staying refreshed? What are you doing to point those in your charge to Christ this season?