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Tag Archives: Holiday

  • Adjusting Our Holiday Focus

    Posted on November 20, 2013 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "But the Lord said to her, 'My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.'" Luke 10:41-42 (NLT)

    As I stared at the hard wood floor covered in shattered ornaments and tangled lights, tears welled up in my eyes.

    The frustration over my fallen Christmas tree had pushed me to the breaking point. This was not the first time my decorated tree had crashed to the floor that week. It was the fourth.

    After a fun day of picking out a tree, my family brought it home and secured the tree in a stand. When the last ornament was hung, we turned on the sparkling lights and stepped back to gaze at our accomplishment.

    We cherished that moment . . . and cherished it again after the second round of decorating. But when the tree fell a third time and the surviving ornaments were sparse, the task of decorating became a chore. So when I heard the tree crash in the middle of the night, for the fourth time, I loudly vowed to never have a Christmas tree again.

    My Christmas joy had been replaced with frustration and a small dose of anger. I'd become consumed with winning the battle with this tree and decorating my house for upcoming guests. Before I knew it, my focus was no longer on what was really important.

    In Luke 10:41-42, Jesus told Martha that she'd lost her focus on what matters most: spending time with the Lord. Martha was so bent on planning the perfect dinner party and completing her tasks, she was too distracted to take time to enjoy the company of Jesus.

    Her pursuit of perfection left her frustrated with her sister Mary's lack of help to make things "just so."

    When Martha voiced her irritation to Jesus, He gently reminded her that she was worried about aspects that didn't matter. "But the Lord said to her, 'My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about'" (vs. 41). Jesus wasn't bothered with how fancy dinner was, or how clean her kitchen was, or if she had a perfectly decorated home. What really mattered to Jesus was Martha seeking Him.

    This season—when our focus should be gratitude and on the birth of Jesus—we can get easily distracted by other details. Gifts to buy and how much they will cost. Social outings and what to wear. Decorating our homes (inside and outdoors). Cooking and cleaning to prepare for guests or parties.

    It's easy to get swept up in many things and forget to stay connected with, and focused on, the one thing that really matters.

    Just as busyness, cooking, and cleaning pulled Martha's focus away from Jesus, the same can happen to us in the fast pace of the holidays. Whether basting the perfect turkey or re-decorating an unstable Christmas tree, if we allow it, there is plenty to distract us and lure us away from the one thing that matters most.

    Might we make a commitment to adjust our focus this holiday season? Let's slow down, pare down, and sit down with the Lord each day as we set our thoughts on being thankful. And remind our hearts to be blessed by the birth of our Savior, instead of being stressed over the season.

    Dear Lord, I tend to get stressed during the holidays. Help me stay focused on You, and not get distracted or frustrated this season. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:

    Have you allowed a particular frustration or disappointment to pull your focus away from Jesus?

    What holiday plans or activities might you need to adjust to stay focused on Jesus, and not seasonal busyness?

    Power Verse:
    Colossians 3:2, "Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth." (NLT)

    © 2013 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Luke, Holiday

  • Adjusting Our Holiday Focus

    Posted on December 18, 2012 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "But the Lord said to her, My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42 (NLT)

    As I stared at the wood floor covered in shattered ornaments and tangled lights, tears welled in my eyes. The frustration and sadness over my fallen Christmas tree had finally pushed me to the breaking point. This wasn't the first time my carefully decorated tree had crashed to the floor that week. It was the fourth.

    After securing our top-heavy tree in its stand, my family and I hung decorations on each branch. When finished, we turned on the sparkling lights and stepped back to gaze at our accomplishment.

    We cherished that moment ... and did our best to cherish it again after the second round of decorating. But after the tree fell a third time and the surviving ornaments were sparse, the task of decorating became a chore.

    When the tree crashed in the middle of the night—for the fourth time—I loudly vowed to never have a Christmas tree again.

    I let that tree steal my Christmas joy, and replaced it with frustration and a small dose of anger. Winning the battle with this tree had consumed way more of my energy and emotions than it should have. Before I knew it, I'd completely lost my focus on what really mattered.

    In Luke 10:41-42, Jesus tells Martha she's lost focus. Martha was so consumed with planning the perfect dinner party for Jesus, and making sure she completed all her important tasks, she was too distracted with 'things' to make Jesus her focal point. She also got frustrated with her sister Mary's lack of help, which left her feeling agitated and upset.

    So when she voiced her irritation to Jesus, He quickly, yet gently, reminded Martha that she was worried about details that didn't matter. He wasn't concerned with fancy food, a perfectly decorated house, or clean kitchen. He wasn't impressed with all the 'things' she was doing. He only wanted her to realign her priorities and fix her attention on Him.

    Christmas is when we turn our focus to the birth of Jesus. Yet it's often where we get most distracted by a variety of 'things.' We stress about what gifts to buy and how much they will cost. We fret over what to wear to parties. We feel anxious about gaining a few pounds from indulging in holiday goodies. We work ourselves into a tizzy decorating. We cook and clean to prepare for special guests.

    We can be concerned about many things and forget to be centered on the One who really matters.

    Just as Martha allowed busyness to cause her to lose focus on Jesus, we can fall into that trap during the holidays. However, it may not always be activities that distract, but concerns over finances, stress over family get-togethers, or yes, even an unstable Christmas tree. It's easy to inadvertently let the chaos of the season lure us away from the joy found in Jesus, the most important thing.

    Let's be deliberate to adjust our focus this year on the birth of our sweet Savior, and avoid being engulfed by holiday stress. This change of heart could be the start of a great tradition. One where we remember to celebrate that Jesus truly is the reason for the season.

    Dear Lord, I can tend to get stressed during the holidays. Help me adjust my focus to stay on You, and not get distracted or frustrated by problems or obligations during the Christmas season. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    In her new book, Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace in Your Chaotic World, Tracie Miles helps you assess the toll that stress might be taking on your heart, mind and body throughout the year, not just at Christmas. If you'd like to learn how to tap into God's peace in the midst of stressful times, click here.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you allowed a frustration or disappointment to pull you away from focusing on the reason to celebrate Christmas?

    It's not too late to adjust your holiday plans or activities so you can stay focused on Jesus, not all the holiday distractions.

    Power Verse:
    Colossians 3:2, "Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth." (NLT)

    © 2012 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Luke, Holiday

  • An Unhurried Holiday

    Posted on December 10, 2012 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger." Luke 2:16 (NIV)

    "Hurry up! We're going to be late to the choir concert!"

    "Come on kids. Help me unload these groceries right now. I've got to get these cookies baked before bedtime."

    "Is it 6 a.m. already? I gotta get to that door buster sale as soon as it opens so I don't miss out on the deals!"

    With the holiday season upon us, the music at the mall announces that folks are dreaming of a white Christmas. That may be true. But in reality, many women are dreaming of something else white: a little more white space on our December calendars!

    Pageants. Parties. Shopping trips. Baking days. Wrapping nights. At every turn there are people to see, things to do, stuff to buy. The hustle and bustle of this supposed-to-be-happy season can knock the holly-jolly right out of our holidays and replace it with hurried-up headaches instead.

    As a result, our calendars become overloaded, crowding out the spiritual significance of the season.

    I wonder if the participants in the original Christmas story ever dreamed that the celebration of Christ's birth would become so hassled and hurried. The shepherds? The angels? The wise men? Mary and Joseph too?

    Was hurriedness present the night Jesus was born? We might think that it was not. But actually, there was hurry present that night. However, it wasn't to the mall or grocery store that people were rushing.

    The shepherds were working in the fields when suddenly an ensemble of angels told them the Christ Child had been born. Luke 2:16 says they hurried off to find Him lying in a manger.

    If I had been one of those shepherds, I would have been quiet and amazed once I got there. Being around a newborn baby makes me speak in a hushed tone and feel such awe as I see new life. In the presence of Jesus I wonder if those men too were settled and silent.

    Maybe we could do the same today. In the midst of our holiday hustle and tasks, we could stop; leave our work. We could slow down long enough to hurry in another direction. We could put our activities on hold so we might quietly meet with our Lord. We could be settled and silent in the presence of Jesus.

    As a result we just might discover an unhurried holiday: a season that will strengthen us spiritually instead of sapping our energy and joy.

    How about it? Will we pause and purpose to hurry into His presence instead of rushing from task to task? Dare we linger long enough to be refreshed by the company of the One whom the holiday is really about? The tasks will wait while we do.

    Here's to more "white space" this Christmas; space that creates more room in our days for meeting with Jesus!

    Dear Lord, remind me daily that it's You I should rush to during the holiday hustle. Not things. Not activities. I want to seek and find only You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    LET. IT. GO.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith by Karen Ehman

    Reflect and Respond:
    What activities and responsibilities threaten to make you rushed and stressed at the holidays?

    Pull away from the holiday hustle and spend time with Jesus.

    Power Verses:
    Luke 2:15, "When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.'" (NIV)

    Proverbs 8:17, "I love those who love me, and those who search for me find me." (HCSB)

    © 2012 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Luke, Holiday

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