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De-Stressing Christmas

Advent is upon us. Or as it is more commonly known, the Christmas Season. For many, this season brings with it some mixed emotions…listening to songs about Christmas being the most wonderful time of the year while many experience it as one of the most stressful, or difficult, times of the year. I wish I could tell you there was a magic pill we could take that would transform Christmas into that “wonderful time”, but I can’t. However, I can offer up a few thoughts…

–          The biggest thing we can do is to be intentional. If you want your Christmas experience to be more meaningful, less stressful, and hopefully more spiritual, then you have to make a decision to do so and stick to it. Often we let our calendar get crammed full of activities…work parties, family parties, friend parties, an oversized shopping list to fill, and so forth and so on. Managing all of that requires discipline…put what blesses you most on your calendar, and say no to some things.

–          For a Christ follower, celebrating Christmas without really paying attention to Christ will always make Christmas feel shallow. So be intentional about connecting with God. Follow an Advent reading (http://www.hopechapelsterling.org/advent-readings-2015/), be sure to protect the times to be in worship on Sunday’s and Christmas Eve, participate in a prayer emphasis like Hope’s prayer emphasis for International Missions, catch up on your giving, and so forth. Taking Christ out of Christmas turns it into just another holiday.

–          Challenge yourself. Putting yourself in a position of fresh dependence on the Lord will re-energize your Christmas experience. Challenge yourself to grow, to change, to a greater level of service, or to give more, and so forth. Don’t set yourself up for failure, but make it challenging enough that it really takes faith and trust.
–          And be sure to revel in what God has already done.
That’s enough. I don’t want to stress you out.
Blessings,
Neal

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