I’m so excited for you to meet my next friend, Glynnis Whitwer. She is part of Proverbs 31 and is the author of Taming the To-Do List (she is a woman after my own heart.) When I go to Arizona, Glynnis and I get together over food (lots of food) and talk about keeping life simple and beautiful. Today, you get the same opportunity by reading her post. And be sure to head over to her blog to enter to win a copy of her book!
Some people love Christmas and look forward to it all year. Me? I love the reason for Christmas … but the extra work required? Not so much.
Although Christmas should be a season of pausing and pondering, rejoicing and revering, it can turn into just one more thing on my overloaded to-do list. It’s so easy for me to lose the beauty of the season in the bedlam of an overloaded schedule.
And that’s not God’s wish for me.
I’m confident God longs for me to use this season of joy as an opportunity to connect with Him in a deeper way and to connect with others as we celebrate the birth of Jesus together. Christmas is a time to remember Emmanuel, God with us. And my heart and home need to be prepared for this Special Guest.
But without a plan, my heart will struggle. I’ll feel resentment at the added expectations. I’ll feel frustration at the extra time shopping takes. I’ll feel stressed when other people are stressed, and then I can add to the tension with my out-of-proportion reactions.
I don’t want to be the Grinch! I want to be a woman who reflects God’s love and grace, especially when others might be feeling the pinch of the season.
Even though it can feel a bit overwhelming, it is possible to minimize, or even eliminate, many of the practical challenges of Christmas. And when there’s order at the foundation of my life, my heart is lighter and I can laugh rather than cry when something goes wrong. I can also take advantage of opportunities that only come around this time of year.
But while some people can spontaneously make all this peace and joyfulness happen, I need some intentionality to bring about special moments and experiences.
I’ve discovered I don’t need a fancy planner or app to help bring some order to my life at Christmas. All I need is some quiet time to think and some paper or a computer to create my lists.
Christmas is a time when there’s more required of us. And lists help me keep track of all the things I want to remember. They help me prepare in advance so I can enjoy the moment. They help me think through gift giving so everyone doesn’t get a mug. They help me plan events where I can show the love of Jesus.
A good way to keep track of all your lists is a Christmas notebook. This is something you can easily create digitally or with a 3-ring binder, tabbed inserts and paper. You could also pick up a pretty journal and keep your lists there.
Next, grab a hot cup of coffee, your notepad or computer, and find a quiet place. It’s good to start with prayer, asking God what He wants for you. Let Him bring to mind people who need to be remembered, lessons you want to teach your children, maybe a lesson you need to learn. Lists don’t have to contain things to do. They can also be personal and spiritual goals.
Then, think through what would make this Christmas special for you and your family. What are your hopes? Once you’ve thought about it, invite your family into the discussion. Capture these ideas on your lists.
Here are some other lists you might consider making:
- Prayer requests
- Gifts for others
- Books to read
- Stocking stuffer ideas
- Outreaches you want to do (Ex. Operation Christmas Child)
- Menus for special dinners
- Holiday events to attend
- Decorations you need to buy
- Traditions you want to remember
- Cookies you want to bake
- People you want to connect with
Now that you have a fabulous start to your lists, keep them handy so you can add to them. But don’t let all those wonderful ideas stay on a list. The final step is to transfer some of them to your schedule. Just do what you can do this year, and save other ideas for next year.
Don’t worry about doing any of this perfectly. The goal isn’t to have a perfect Christmas. The goal is to be more intentional and to create a foundation where everyone will experience more peace and joy than stress.
Lists certainly aren’t the solution to every holiday challenge. But in a season when we tend towards overload, they are a good practice. And hopefully they’ll create some margin in your life so you can do more pausing and pondering, rejoicing and revering.
Looking for encouragement to help you recover from that pesky problem of perfectionism? Today’s featured book is Taming the To Do List. You can enter to win a signed copy by leaving a comment directly on Glynnis’ blog. PLUS, you’ll also be entered into the grand prize drawing for the Wrapped In Grace gift package: signed copies of all five of our books, a $100 Visa gift card, and a bunch of other fun goodies. All winners will be announced Saturday, October 24th at http://www.WrappedInGrace.info.
Glynnis Whitwer, executive director of communications for Proverbs 31 Ministries, is a regular contributor to Encouragement for Today, the Proverbs 31 email devotional. She is the author of I Used to Be So Organized, When Your Child Hurts, and work@home: A Practical Guide for Women Who Want to Work from Home, and the co-author of Everyday Confetti. Glynnis, her husband, Tod, and their five young adult children live in Arizona. She blogs regularly at http://www.glynniswhitwer.com.