Monday, November 3, 2014

One Urgent Question You Must Ask Yourself Before This Holiday Season

The fall is over and done.

The winter has come.

And not because the weather has turned blustery and brisk.

It's just that we've flipped the calendar and out of the blue, November has arrived. Just on time ... but a tad early, it seems.



 
'Season's Greetings' shout the catalogs that are beginning to cram the mailbox full.  The glossy pages are sporting red plaid articles of clothing that you'd never be caught dead wearing.  Way-too-decorated felt stockings and toys galore, expensive gourmet munchies and enough knit sweaters to sink a ship beckon with each flip of the page. 

Stores are clearing out the last remnants of anything orange and spooky, and shelves are filling to overflowing with red and green and shiny objects that demand you open your wallet and tote them home.  And even as we speak, the endless jolly Christmas music and incessant TV commercials shouting loud about the ideal presents are making their 24 / 7 debut. 

Before we know it, we're going to be bombarded with demands and lists, opportunities and invitations.  And yet, this one simple question whispers quietly, yet persistently, just begging to be asked.
 
What's essential?
 
The answer to these two words will be the key to our stress-less delight and His sacred honor this year.  It's a meaningful question that's meant to be calmly pondered somewhere deep and still.  There's no one right or wrong answer, no one-size-fits-all.  Because the most necessary gift isn't one we're going to find under the tree come December 25th.  It's a priceless gift we choose to give ourselves. 
 
The lovely ability to say, with a gentle confidence, 'yes, please' or 'no, thanks' to each request that calls our name.
 
For all of us who are prone to be people-pleasers, this is a hard one ... especially this time of year.  But let's encourage each other to not waste time wringing our hands, fretting over the endless expectations people will so readily place on us. A gracious setting of boundaries will only help us keep our sanity and lend us a calm focus and peace-fueled serenity that will enable us to truly cherish this coming season.

So may we seek out solitude before we're swallowed alive by our jam-packed calendars.  May the Spirit give us discernment to figure out what to claim and what to release.  May we be sweetly gutsy and simply brave enough to let our 'yes' be 'yes' and our 'no' be 'no,' so His nativity season will shine bright and meaningful, yet restful and uplifting. 

And may we graciously allow others the same guilt-trip free space to make their own decisions.
 
We each get to figure out what's essential so that we can truly say, with hearts overflowing with adoration, Happy Birthday, Jesus.  With a relaxed joy and plenty of time to savor this one truth ...
 
It truly is all about Him.

 
Dear friend, what do you want to say 'yes' to? 
 
And ... what just might need to go?
 
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connecting with kindred spirits at Laura'sKristen's & Holly's

34 comments:

  1. I keep telling myself that this Christmas is going to be different! I hate the crowds and crazy busyness. I want to savor the moments because I know they are racing past me and if I don't look closely and slowly they will be gone before I know it. Your words are that important reminder to me, Linda. This season is all about celebrating Christ and not the race to Black Friday Sales! Love ya!

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    1. I'm with you, Beth. If we lived near each other, we wouldn't be prowling the mall together, trust me. The more I can do ahead of time, online, the happier and more relaxed I am.

      And if mama's relaxed, then everyone's relaxed!

      ;-}

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  2. Oh, do I hear this. I'm feeling it these days. Feeling pulled toward family even though they're hours and states away. But in a good way. And trying not to feel the guilt when I pull back from certain schedules. Thanks for saying this now.

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    1. It seemed a bit early to post this, Debby ... but I couldn't help myself. I had to hit that orange publish button NOW ... 'cause all this is coming so very soon.

      Thanks for letting me know this worked for you. I'm so glad you've joined us today!

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  3. I REFUSE to celebrate Christmas until after Thanksgiving. Everyday though I am thankful for the gift of the birth of Christ! I said "No" just this morning---it is really quite easy to do after all!

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    1. A catalog just arrived that is actually smaller in size than usual! And the gorgeous cover looks like they're implying that if I buy something from them, I should be fit to do some extensive cross-country skiing with great ease through a very snowy landscape.

      When pigs fly ...

      8-}

      I think I'll page through it anyway!

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  4. Oh, thank you for this, Linda. I need to start asking myself "What's essential?" right now, before the hubbub gets in full swing. I want to enjoy the season with as minimal stress as possible. Have a great Monday, friend!

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    1. Yep, now's the time. It won't be long til we're swept up into the crazed frenzy, the maddening rush.

      Let's hear it for a bit of prayerful planning, and very very minimal stress. I had fun making my own essentials list in my head as I walked this afternoon. There were at least 3 'no, thanks' swirling in the mix.

      Now ... to grab a pen and paper and get these written down!

      Thanks for jumping on into the conversation, Lisa. I always love it when you're here!

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  5. "The holidays" seem to invade earlier and earlier. This year we are only getting a gift for a few family members and of course teachers. It is so freeing! I want to focus on people who need help and not on ourselves.
    All we need is peace and joy, and those don't come from a store anyways. :)

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    1. Sarah ... yes, yes to focusing on others who truly need our help in creating brighter holidays! Cutting down on our own self-absorption allows us to cheerfully give with generous hearts and wide open hands ...

      Peace and joy. Amen. You've said it all, friend ...

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  6. So needed this encouragement, Linda. And it follows wonderfully inspiration received through my two-days at the Storyline Conference on establishing priorities. I think I even have a few powerful quotes written down within my notes on our yes's and no's and making our yes's count. You will find me sharing a bit on Wednesday about my own realignment of things based on priorities established. I recently changed a yes to a no. While it was a good yes, I needed to make room for a great yes. I adore you, friend. xoxo

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    1. I love the idea of a 'GREAT YES,' Beth! Can't wait to hear what you'll be offering us on Wednesday. So cool that our hearts and our posts have aligned up on this important topic. No better time than now ...

      Dear reader ... please head over to Beth's on Wednesday with me!

      ;-}

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  7. A great message to start the season, my friend!

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  8. It's so funny that you posted this now because God woke me up in the middle of the night to share His wisdom with me. I host Thanksgiving every year for about 20 plus relatives. I just love the preparation and the absolute chaos of the day because my house is very small and we practically sit on each other's lap. But seeing the joy on everyone's face as we cram around tables pushed together and laugh at our annual Bingo game when 80 year old grandma jumps up screaming she won!! But I tend to fret over the details of the day. When God woke me up he had 2 powerful words for me......paper products. Why did I never think of that?!! I always had to have out the festive hand washable china, silverware and crystal and I would cringe at the hours it took for clean up. Nobody will care if I go with festive paper plates and cups. I felt such a relief wash over me and I'm just giddy about Thanksgiving and wondering what else God will reveal to me about the holidays!!!

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    1. Paper products. Amen, Val. Don't you love when God gives you a word or two in the night? Seriously! He cares about all these little things in our lives. Sounds like a great choice that will leave you cringe-free with energy to enjoy your gang.

      I love that! And I hope you win at Bingo.

      ;-}

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  9. All I can think to say is...be careful of the people to whom you say 'no'.

    Their requests for your presence mean that you're important to them.

    Their disappointment at your refusal may be deeper than you know.

    And they will not be around forever. "I'm sorry" can come too late.

    This was a hard lesson to learn, especially at Christmas.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2014/11/just-for-fun-20-random-things-about-me.html

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    1. I hear you, Andrew. This is hard stuff, especially around the holidays.

      People's expectations of us can be endless and relentless, and oft' times they only want to hear our 'yes' and do not value our 'no.'

      In the end, it's all about 'making it our goal to please Him,' as Paul wrote to the Corinthians. And that's why these decisions must be made with that discernment that only comes from the Spirit.

      My best to you, friend ... especially during this difficult season.

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  10. Well, this was a great way to start the holiday season. I always need the reminder to take deep breaths and not let the season over take me. Boy are those boundary lines hard to draw, especially when you want to please everyone. Saying no is hard regardless, but this time of year it seems to be even harder. Thank you for this refreshing reminder.

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    1. It kinda makes me wonder what Jesus would do if he was living here on earth as a man these days and had all these cultural expectations on Him. How would He spend His time, what traditions would He embrace, what would He say 'no, thanks' to?

      Just thinkin' ...

      Thanks for dropping by today, friend!

      8-}

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  11. Wonderful reminder Linda! We have been asking ourselves the same things over the years. What we decided to give away this time of the year is shopping...we don't really do gifts anymore. And we have added being more intentional in our time and our giving to others. It's a beautiful time of the year, if we don't let all the craziness of the world get in the way. Wonderful reminder today!

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    1. Wow, Nicki! No thanks to shopping and gifts leaves a wide open vista for giving to others. Thanks for sharing what works for you ...

      What a meaningful challenge you've put on the table for each of us to consider.

      Can I tell you how grateful I am that you are here?

      Blessings ...

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  12. Ah, I loved the idea of a 'gracious setting of boundaries'. It's easier to say 'no' the closer I draw to the heart of God--and easier to ask him what HE wants me to do, rather than depend on what I think others want me to do.

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    1. Staying close to Him ... yes, yes, Anita. That's where we're going to get our discernment, our grace, our energy. Love what you've written ... and I love that you're here with us!

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  13. Hi Linda! I love Advent, almost more than Christmas! The anticipation, the quiet nights with a candle and my devotional, the soft Christmas lights on my tree, the outpouring of love from family and friends. So I say yes to the Advent Season, the season of becoming, of growing closer, of waiting with grace.

    Blessings!
    Ceil

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    1. That prep time leading up to the actual celebration ... yes, yes, Ceil. I came home from work a few weeks ago and my husband had put a candle in each window. They glow each evening, they whisper peace, light, rest. To me, and hopefully to those who pass by.

      Amen. Thank you for penning your wise words here, friend ...

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  14. Yes to more rest and no to stress. Yes to abundance and no to mindless spending. Yes to love and no to frogs pretending to be prince. :) Happy Christmas in advance. :)

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    1. I'm with you! No to mindless spending. No to empty wallets, filled credit cards, and empty hopes that things will bring us joy.

      And no no no to frogs!

      ;-}

      Thanks for visiting this afternoon ...

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  15. Oh how I needed these words for holiday preparation, Linda! I'm definitely a people pleaser. Every year I say I'm going to focus more on keeping Christ in Christmas. Time gets away from me and it stays all about gifts, food, and other people. I can't believe it's already November! How did that happen?

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    1. I hear you, I hear you, Candace! We all have those good intentions and for some reason they often fly out the window. I feel good about what I've said yes to so far. I've got a few things I'm not all that sure about. And some definite 'no thanks' on a few things.

      Trying to discern His whisper, His direction instead of our own desires ... or everyone elses ... can be hard work. But in the end, it's always worth it.

      Sigh.

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  16. I need to reread your words many times in the next few weeks to really remember what is important this Christmas season. Bottom line is that I want everyone to be happy and many times it is at the expense of me!!! What I hope for is the chance to truly enjoy family without the stress of the just right Christmas present or the perfect meal. I will pray for all that God leads our holidays and we step back and let Him. Blessings!

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    1. Well, there's good news! We want everyone to be happy.

      And there's even better news! We can't be responsible for their happiness!

      And this truth becomes so freeing when we can finally grab hold of it. We give with joy because we're not in control and the ultimate obligation we're under is pleasing Him.

      This is hard stuff, yep, especially at this time of year. But He is there, helping us make choices that bless others and honor Him.

      Love that.

      And I so appreciate you, Mary ... I hope you're embraced with restful moments this weekend.

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  17. I struggle with this every year - this year, I think I'll set down with my husband and we'll decide ahead of time what dates we're unavailable so we'll be prepared to just say, "no, that won't work for us, but thanks for asking." Life is too short and peace too important to feel pulled too many directions. Thanks for this reminder.

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    1. A lovely, gracious 'no, thanks' is usually better than a reluctant, exasperated 'yes.'

      And I love that you're sitting down with your man and comparing calendars. Now's the time, isn't it ...

      ;-}

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Welcome to the table, friend!

This is where we gather and hang out. I'd love for you to pull up a chair and jump right into the conversation. Or simply say 'hello.'

l'll be dropping in to visit you sometime soon ...

Linda

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