I love Christmas and I have been thinking of you precious ones, serving so many, giving yourself away, in the midst of so much. I want you to take care of yourself and breathe in some fun--but you have to plan it, for sure.
Every year, as the busy month of December is upon us, my girls and I would like to share some encouragement specific to this season and the craziness it sometimes brings! So sit down with a cup of tea or coffee or hot chocolate, and read this letter to you, from us-that I actually wrote to a sweet friend. Pretend it is from us to you! (and from my girls to you. )
Today we speak of the need to make good choices always and always and refreshing your planning constantly so that you can live sustainably.
You wrote asking for a bit of help. I, too, have felt a need for help so very often, and so I offer you my best advice on how to make it through December with some enjoyment!
Choose to Breathe in Grace and Peace
First of all, as my son Joel once told me, “chill out.” Take a little time for yourself and endeavor to gain some perspective. I hope something I say here may help. I have had to learn that no one else in the world will be responsible for my over-all well being. I have a husband, dog, friends and children who need me, and they are going to want to continue eating every day, make messes by just living in my home and want to wear relatively clean clothes, with the expectation that I will be the one to keep this going.
Recognize that Irritation and complaining may Indicate the state of your heart or physical exhaustion.
As we all know, if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. You can extend this to all women—if I ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy when I am spreading malice wherever I go. My being drained or sometimes down causes me to drain those in my immediate surroundings. So, I have to tend to my own happiness and well being, and you need to tend to yours, even in the midst of our practical busy-ness for others.
I am responsible for my rest, my quiet time, my eating and exercise, filling my cup, so that it will not be empty when others want and need to keep taking and taking from me. I am also the manager of my "chill time." Laughing and lightening up really brings health to the bones. ("A joyful heart is good medicine" has been proved by medical research1) It is God's will for me to survive with grace.
There are tasks calling my name around the house, but I have become the queen of turning my head away, doing my best to stick to my most important priorities. I have found that there will be just as many things screaming for my attention tomorrow ... and tomorrow ... and tomorrow.
But today, I know that my body and mind need a little rest and my emotions are a bit frayed, and I will become grumpy if I don't create a little break.
No one else is going to tell me when I have reached my limit—I have to recognize my limitations.
If I do not monitor myself, my commitments, my friends, my children and husband and I will come to regret it when I blow! I am steward of my limitations and body. If I don't protect my walk with the Lord, that too will get eaten up in everyone else's agenda.
Though still learning, I am always simplifying and evaluating if something is worth the effort. Making things beautiful and special during the holidays IS worth the effort as it builds the taste and values and work ethic and ministry skills of my children, but I have to make adjustments in different life seasons, and not go overboard.
Everyone says it, but its true: simplify!
Not everything "we have always done," actually has to be done this year. Fast food with candles lit is just fine. Then again, it may not be worth it to answer one more phone call or one more email--as this will certainly steal from my children and husband who need me today. Perhaps making dinner at home tonight will be the priority I will choose.
Each of us has a different puzzle and different personality, and we must accept our limitations within our own story and be comfortable being ourselves. There is great freedom in deciding to enjoy who I am, as I am not going to essentially change any time soon! I see so many moms seeking to live up to other's expectations and ideals and then burning out in the process. I have high work times, followed by times when I just can't get anything done--and somehow the world does not crash even when I take time to just live and enjoy, and avoid the "I have to do everything or I will be a failure" syndrome.
Take time for tea.
This is why I take time to have my cup of tea every day--a way of saying, "I will take time for a moment of pleasure and peace, because it centers me, and I have decided I will last a lot longer in this very long distant race, if I build anchors of serendipity into my schedule."If you and I don't make peace with our own life circumstances, then we are in danger of cultivating a heart of bitterness, inadequacy, guilt, or whining, or possibly blowing apart into oblivion. But if we become the conductors of our own life symphonies and live within our own melody of life, we will last longer more gracefully with the God of grace who leads us.
Spend time in God's word and let Him love you-- and you love Him back. He came for you. He came to comfort. Let His comfort be yours. You cannot find peace without the Prince of peace.
Time for Chocolate—what do you do for a little, one woman break?
Take time to regroup today--Go eat some chocolate, and don't feel guilty as you are eating it (that would certainly be a waste of good chocolate!) Listen to some beautiful music, watch a heart-warming movie, take a nap, eat off of paper plates to save cleanup! The rest of December is still coming and you will be the better for it. I'll be praying for you!
Love, Sally (and Sarah and Joy)