Wednesday, November 23, 2011

As We Enter Into The Holidays

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio
What would you LOVE to EXPERIENCE over the Holidays?
Colossians 2: 6-8
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

Well the Holiday season has arrived. You may already be up to your eyeballs in preparing pies and turkey or at least the shopping for all those foods that make up your families traditions. If thats not your job perhaps you are having to deal with that dear over stressed loved who is doing all of that prep work. Maybe you are packing and traveling to visit family or friends. Whatever the case the Holidays is a bit of a change in normal day to day life. Personally I am hoping to rest and re-charge as I am feeling tired all the time lately. I may need to re-evaluate some of the things I've taken on and work towards a slightly slower pace to find the balance between accomplishing various goals and being exhausted. 

So here's the big question:  
What would you LOVE to EXPERIENCE over the holidays?
This is a question posed by my coaching instructor Mitch Matthews.
His instructions were to take a few minutes and jot down a list, or if you like to journal if you enjoy writing. Either way take a few minutes to think about what you would like your holiday season to be like. What do you want to do? Who do you want to spend time with? What traditions are important? What would you LOVE to EXPERIENCE over the holiday?

Here's why... it is so easy to be swept up in the expectations of others, the traditions, the parties, and all the things that get added to our lives, that all you experience is stress. Then there is the over spending and over scheduling...we can get so grumpy as a result that we miss the blessings that God has for us.

How can we decide not to miss out on the joy, the peace, the beauty, the laughter...and to not get  sucked into the Holiday Rat Race.  One way is to take the time to answer the question, and write it down and keep it before you so your focus is on what you want. your holiday season to hold. As a result you will make choices to move in the direction of what you want. You can begin to sort out what is important and shift your focus to accomplishing those things this Holiday season.

So stress is not something I want to put on my list.
On my list are things like rest and recharge. Which means I will have to say no to some things and work to protect some time to be able to rest and recharge.
Also on my list is to enjoy some focused time with my family. I think I will have them all answer this question and try to do some of the holiday things that are important to each of us.
Also on my list, to enjoy some beautiful music. I was given tickets to the symphony a year ago during the holidays. It is now a special memory. I will be looking for some way to add a special musical experience to the holidays. We have a piano carol recital in two weeks - boy do I need to practice.

I want to celebrate the birth of Christ in some meaningful way. I've chosen the advent readings for our services and I will enjoy the singing of carols and being with my church family.

I want to do some special things just with my husband. (Nothing big dinner and the movies would be fine)

I've wanted to do that sleigh ride down town - but never made time to do it.
We've talked about going sledding on Mt. Spokane. I need to decide to make these kind of things happen.

I'll probably add to my list - but I did give this question a few minutes of thoughts. My holidays don't have to be stress filled. Your's don't have to be either.

What might happen if we were able to shift our focus from all the obligations to creating a holiday season filled with the things we would Love to EXPERIENCE.

Keep your list somewhere that you will see it. Like your car visior or the bathroom mirror or in my case my desk.

What if we took it a bit further and asked the same question of some of the important people in our lives. Could we put a positive spin on the Holidays. What if you compared lists with the people you spend the holidays with.  - It just might shake things up a bit.
Mitch writes
"You might find out some gatherings might get smaller and more intimate.
Other activities might get bigger and louder
You might find yourself spending less on gifts and agreeing to spend more time together instead.
You might go out less and spend more time around your own kitchen table.
You might agree to venture out to see people who you haven't see forever"

Who knows.... I dare you to take even five minutes to consider what you would really LOVE to EXPERIENCE this Holiday. You could make a list of 100 things I love to do during the Holidays and try to do more of those things you love doing.

In our verse we are reminded to not get sucked into the rat race of this world and is traditions. We do that by remembering to live like verse 7 suggests.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, (Just because this time of year is busy don't let it cause your quiet time with the Lord to erode)
7 rooted and built up in him, (what will you do to be rooted and built up in him?)
strengthened in the faith as you were taught, (how will you strengthen your faith?)
and overflowing with thankfulness. (Thankfulness is the focus of this current Holiday but it is also a powerful thing that unlocks faith and trust in God. It is something that as a believer, should be part of every day of our life. Its funny that we have a day to remember to be thankful.) 

Dear Lord, 
We come to you with thankful hearts as we remember all the things you have done for us. Help us to focus on you in this holiday season and to focus on the things we would like to have be part of our holiday experience this year. Help us to not be swept away by the holiday rat race and to be purposeful about the things you have put on our hearts to expereince this year. 
Go before us as we enter this season and help us to want the things that you want for us.

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