Make Time for Soul Care This Holiday Season

Make Time for Soul Care This Holiday Season

We all know the Holiday season can be stressful and exhausting!  Approximately 6 weeks of non-stop advertising and extra to-do’s added to the calendar. This year the media added the stress of not “getting what you want” and running out of supplies due to the backup of cargo ships . Plus we are still feeling the lingering effects of the pandemic. We can get caught in the trap of consumerism so easily but building memories and caring for people is more important than things. I believe we really need to re-evaluate what is truly important. Everyday we have choices and can control the chaos this Thanksgiving and Christmas.

What are the most important traditions for you and your family?  Put those at the top of the list!  Carefully consider other events before saying yes to others.  Don’t try to do it all or you won’t enjoy anything yourself. If Mommy (or Daddy) isn’t happy then nobody is happy!

Have limits and lower expectations that everything will be Hallmark perfect. If you have  small children and especially if you have children with special needs, you may have to say no to too many extra activities.  Don’t feel guilty. No time to bake? Buy cookies. Limit the visiting hours and try to maintain a regular bedtime. One year we just couldn’t get our family Christmas letter done and didn’t send any cards. Nobody died because of it (but I did get a reprimand from an elderly friend).

If this is a particularly stressful or financially tight year for you then only decorate the Tree, the mantle or table and the front door. The tree represents – eternal life and Jesus the Light of the world.  The mantle or table decoration is right in view for you while the front door is what others see and where you enter and exit everyday.

Plan and limit your shopping. It is too stressful to push through the crowds of people to “find the perfect gift”. I have been so happy with online shopping but watch your spending and set limits there too. Getting into debt over gifts does not leave a satisfying feeling afterwards.

tired shopper

Stop and take a deep breath – seriously. Breathing helps clear our minds, calms our racing thoughts and lowers blood pressure.

Make sleep a PRIORITY –  Take cat naps if necessary – I am finding a great benefit to it. Have a coffee or tea and take a 5 minute power nap – it really will refresh you!

I love the idea of  “no politics” at the table. Sharing funny stories or remembrances is a much better way to enjoy and connect even with difficult relatives. Take a walk, play a board game or watch a classic movie together instead.

group-of-friends-and-family-thanksgiving

Take advantage of FREE things. Driving around the neighborhood to view different lights and displays is fun!  Enjoy a local holiday parade (or Macy’s on TV).  Play music: slow to relax or fast to pump you up to finish a task. Music is the international language that speaks to the soul and that’s why everyone loves Christmas music!

Most important DO NOT neglect your time with God!  Read a Christmas devotional or one Chapter of Luke each day for the month. Read the real story of  Thanksgiving. Learning about their first winter and harvest meal will make you grateful! Christmas is about celebrating Jesus’ birthday and the reason He came.  Ask God to help you count blessings and not focus on difficulties. He will fill your heart with peace, wonder and the joy of the season.

God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen

God rest you merry, gentlemen, Let nothing you dismay

Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day

To save us all from Satan’s power, when we have gone astray

O tidings of comfort and joy – O tidings of comfort and joy!!!

Comfort From the Psalms

Comfort From the Psalms

King David is probably the most famous of all of Israel’s ancient kings. The youngest of his family he began life as a shepherd – a lowly occupation. David was a very talented musician, poet, leader and warrior. He was dependable, a loyal friend, kept his promises and was very zealous for God but in his personal life blew it big time.

The Psalms contain a collection of 150 poems and songs of which 75 are attributed to David. They are not compiled in chronological order but put together by themes. Davids’ poems are rich with emotion whether begging for protection and mercy or in praise to God. We can learn a lot from studying the life of David in these hard days and we can take great comfort reading about God’s faithfulness to him. David’s feelings are not sugar coated but sometimes raw and that is why we can identify with this “man after God’s own heart”.

Needing Assurance and Comfort – Psalm 23 – written by a former shepherd, David shares that God is the Good Shepherd who cares for, leads, heals and provides for His people in all circumstances. A favorite psalm in times of trouble or grief.

Dysfunctional Family – Psalm 2 was written when Absalom, one of his sons, amassed an army to kill him and take over the kingdom. David had 8 wives and 7 sons listed in 2 Samuel which was against God’s command and a pure recipe for jealousy and conflict. He showed favoritism, failed to discipline his children and did not show love or justice toward them.

When Life Isn’t Fair – Psalm 37 encourages us to stop looking at “the other guy” and comparing what seems unfair but tells us to keep doing the right thing. God sees our hearts and actions .

Praising God for Protection and Victory – God is our Rock of refuge in the most difficult circumstances – written after Saul dies and David secures the throne (see also Ps 27 – Our Confidence is in God)

Guilty as Charged A Prayer of Repentance – Psalm 51 – David really blew it! He was where he shouldn’t be, lusted after Bathsheba, committed adultery, got her pregnant and then had the faithful warrior husband killed in battle. How low could he go? His sin greatly affected others. He pours out his heart asking forgiveness and restoration – and God granted his request but there were still consequences – the child died. Psalm 103 is praise for Forgiveness.

Feeling Alone – God’s Omnipresence – Psalm 139 – We cannot run from God or hide from Him. God is our Creator Who knew us before we were born. God cares about us and will bring comfort to our hearts.

These are only a few of the many passages that speak to our very own experience. The Bible is not a dead book but is living and powerful. No matter what circumstances you are facing today there is a message from God, a life lesson or a promise for you within the pages of His Book. Take a look for yourselves and see !

Of Hearth and Home

Of Hearth and Home

warm-and-cozy-firePictures of fireplaces with a crackling flame evoke strong sentiments of warmth and a cozy place to sit. We are drawn in for the warmth and to toast marshmallows or some people just enjoy poking at the wood to raise the blaze. The wavy configurations of flame and glowing embers can be mesmerizing. The fireplace is often a part of Christmas nostalgia because it’s said to be one of Santa’s entryways! And if you don’t have one, you can buy an electric unit or watch the Yule Log blazing on cable.

A hearth is the floor of the fireplace. Years ago, it was the cooking space, the main source of heat for the home and it provided light. Naturally, everyone in the household would gather there.  “Home” is where you live, rest, belong….  Family is there and the word home conveys a strong sense of belonging.

pilgrimhouseWe visited Plimoth Plantation this summer and asked the men and women in costume many questions about daily living. The huge fireplace was the kitchen of the day and most of the homes were one room with curtains for privacy in the sleeping area. The pilgrims traveled across the ocean for the right to practice religious freedom and the chance to own their own land. The trip to get to this new place was horrible. Can you imagine sailing to a strange place in a crowded ship for months with animals,cargo and people you don’t really know? They grew their own food, made their own clothes, took care of the animals and formed the first community in America.  They were very far from family and everything familiar but they were grateful to God for their new hearth and home.

There is an old hymn written first in Germany as a devotional poem in 1782 called “We Plow the Fields and Gather”. It was translated to English in 1861 and became a favorite thanksgiving song. A shortened version of the song was used in “Godspell”

          All Good Gifts

1 We plough the fields, and scatter
the good seed on the land,
but it is fed and watered
by God’s almighty hand:
he sends the snow in winter,
the warmth to swell the grain,the breezes, and the sunshine,                                            pilgrimgarden
and soft, refreshing rain.

3 We thank thee then, O Father,
for all things bright and good,
the seed-time and the harvest,
our life, our health, our food.
Accept the gifts we offer,                      and what thou most desirest,
our humble, thankful hearts.

Refrain:
All good gifts around us
are sent from heaven above;
then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord,
for all his love.

Thanksgiving is the number one traveling holiday in the U.S.  College kids come home, we travel to see Grandma or other relatives and friends…. to a place of belonging.  Even if our holiday travels end up like the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”- it is tradition and a time to gather together to share our homes, food and make memories.

Let the hearth and home symbolize all the food, clothes, and luxuries we enjoy. We are all well aware that the holidays are not happy for some folk. In the Steve Martin movie, on the last leg of a horrible journey, he was imagining his decorated house, happy family and hot dinner when he finally figured out that his traveling companion really had nowhere to go.  We can open up our homes this holiday season by setting an extra plate, checking on elderly neighbors or sharing with others in some way.  group-of-friends-and-family-thanksgivingIf you are the traveler-guest, don’t mumble and complain. Join in the activities and be helpful and grateful for the invitation and a place to go.

Thanksgiving is a National holiday, an original American tradition of sharing hearth and home. We gather together to eat (way too much) and enjoy each others’ company (as much as possible). Let’s truly thank God for all the blessings of this past year.

                                     Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving!

Dear God,   Thank you for all the friends and family gathered today. Thank you for safe travel. Thank you for more than enough food and clothing and a warm place to live. Bless those who are away in the military, our first responders and hospital workers who are serving others away from home. And most of all, help us to be humble and truly grateful for this meal and the freedom we share.       Amen

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