Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Holiday Grace

My husband has been listening to Christmas music in his truck and at home ever since they began playing it a few weeks ago.  Last year, I decided to jump in with both feet, at the beginning of November, and commence all of my traditional celebratory acts of the holiday season.  I personally don't have a problem wrapping Thanksgiving and Christmas together; to me, it's all about God's grace and blessing and I'm thankful for that at Thanksgiving and don't cease being thankful when the Christmas season begins.  

However, this year has been different.  I hate to admit that I've been almost grinchy already!  Sure, I've allowed the music...I've even tried to enhance my holiday spirit by listening at times.  But, I haven't felt the usual joy at all.  Up until this morning, I have felt a sense of overwhelming stress concerning almost everything that the holiday season has to offer.  I strongly dislike the commercialism of it all (well mostly...except that I love the "Red Cup" with a decaf peppermint mocha on occasion...and all my fellow coffee drinkers said "amen").  But yes, I've been grinchy!

So much of the holiday duties fall on me, as mama, in this home.  Okay, with the exception of decorating the tree and wrapping gifts, it all falls on me!  Not because my husband isn't a helper either.  He's an amazing helper!  It's just that I'm the one here.  I'm the one who compiles the lists; shops online or in the stores; bakes; sends cards; gathers hats and mittens to donate; distributes the teacher and bus driver gifts...  It falls on me.  The other part of it that (I feel) falls on making it all happen.  Year after year, I feel more and more that I need to turn into some kind of a miracle worker to make it all happen.  I've even shaken my fists at God in times of frustration and stress and declared, "I'm not the are!"  But am I relying on the truth of who He IS??

The reality is no.  I'm not.  I've been reading these Pioneer Christmas stories lately; I could get lost in them for hours.  Truly, it's that simple Christmas that I crave.  I'm tired of the overabundance.  I feel like my insides are screaming "ENOUGH!"  But the reality is that I'm simply not relying on who God is during this time.  The reality is that I don't live in Pioneer days because God put me right where He wanted me to be:  this time, this place, this family!

This morning while vacuuming...and being close to tears about it all, again, I felt a nudge from God to shut up and listen to Him.  That may sound harsh, but I'm a communicator and God knows it all too well.  Sometimes if I'm not reminded or urged to shut up...I won't!  Not even in my own spirit.  So as I quieted myself, He reminded me of 2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is SUFFICIENT for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Grace is defined by the Free Merriam Webster Dictionary, as "unmerited divine assistance".  Wow!  I can honestly say that my heart was moved to complete repentance while vacuuming cereal under the table.  I have been trusting in myself alone to get through this holiday season.

Whether or not my husband and I make big or small changes about how we do the holidays, some things won't change.  Some things I don't want to change!  Only, I don't need to rely on my own strength to make them happen!  God lovingly reminded me this morning of my sinful nature, which wants to go at it alone, rather than trust in the divine assistance of a Savior.  I think this is true all the time, but it seems glaringly true during the holidays; it's so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle!

We won't have an old-fashioned Pioneer Christmas, now or ever!  I like baking too many batches of cookies, muffins, and bread!  I like sending cards to loved ones.  I enjoy buying gifts for my children's amazing teachers and cupcakes for the school administrators.  But I need to stop shaking my fists at God, expecting Him to work miracles.  Rather, I need to open those fists and receive, with open hands, whatever daily bread He has for me this holiday season.  And with the daily bread, I will also thank Him for His grace--His unmerited divine assistance--to accomplish whatever I need to accomplish during this season.  Relying on His grace and His power alone, is what will give me strength with each holiday task.  Relying on His sufficient grace is what will turn these tasks into joy!  I'm so thankful that He doesn't give up on me when I'm selfish and stubborn!  I'm so thankful that His Word reminds me I don't ever have to go at it alone!  I'm so thankful that His grace truly is sufficient for me today and every day.

I'm having Coffee For Your Heart with my friend Holley Gerth.


  1. My heart resonates with this, Stephanie. It's a wonderful privilege to plan and provide a special Christmas for those we love. But, oh, how it can press on our hearts. Indeed, those sweet times alone with the Lord help to center us. Visiting from Holley's.

    1. Thank you Dianne! I like that: centering us. Yes, bringing it all back to God truly centers us. Blessings!

  2. Stephanie, I'm with you! Thanksgiving and Christmas could all be wrapped into a new 'extended version.' I'm praying your family has a wonderful holiday driven by God's grace. He'll absolutely give you the strength. He showed me how to pare things down, too, when I got super crazy. No one missed a thing! Blessings to you, this Christ's season.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement Bonny! That's good to hear that mama can pare down...and everyone survives! There is God's grace for sure, when we need to make life adjustments. I'm so thankful! Be blessed during this holiday season!