prepare.jpgBut let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 1 Peter 3:4 (NIV)

A mentor friend of mine once told me that, as the wife and mother of our family, my “thermometer” would set the temperature for our entire home. I believe her. If I get up grumpy in the mornings, guess who leaves for work and school grumpy? If my scheduling (or lack of scheduling!) allows too much activity into our day, guess who remains the grumpiest of all? You got it, yours truly. And it invariably flows into the attitudes of my husband and children. On the other hand, if I exude a degree of patience and some simple smiles throughout the day, this attitude trickles into my family members. I believe the same can be said for the holiday season – what better gift to give our families and those around us than a joyful and restful attitude!

The real question remains, how do we get that joy and laughter into our hearts in the first place? I personally believe that we don’t get it in our hearts at all. . . that work belongs instead to the Holy Spirit. By simply meeting with Him and reading His Word, His peace and calm invades our souls. Even minutes a day spent in prayer or reading a Bible passage can transform our perspective. The Lord overwhelms me with His faithfulness compared to my tiny mustard seed offering. And that Holy-Spirit perspective is vital to preparing for celebrating Christ’s birth.

Unfortunately, many of my lessons in preparing for a harmonious, joyful Christmas season come from failures instead of successes. Below are a few suggestions for preparing a heart and home full of havoc during the Advent season:

  • Be a “yes” person. Say yes to everything. . . every request, every party, every school activity. Even more helpful if you volunteer for heading up some of these things, like organizing your child’s class Christmas party or hosting multiple large events in your home.
  • Decide that gift cards are not personal enough.
  • Decide to make all homemade gifts to save money and show you really care. If possible, make this decision somewhere around December 15th – that way you have plenty of time to pull it all together.
  • Put off assembling toys until Christmas Eve, even better if you’ve managed to misplace the instructions.
  • Overspend. Bonus. . . if married, this provides great date-night discussions come January.
  • If you really want to kick things into high gear, have a baby in November (we’ve done this twice). By the time Christmas arrives, you convince yourself that you’ve enough time to recover and can go full force again. All the shopping, all the cooking, all the baking, and all the gift wrapping. . . also notice that sleep deprivation has set in since it’s been six to eight weeks since baby’s birth. You will be a delight to be around.

These are just a few suggestions, and there are many more where these came from. I have not yet experienced a fully rested, fully joyful, and fully prepared Advent season. My personal thermometer unfortunately hits the boiling point more often than I’d like. But every Advent season with its own failures and successes teaches me a few things: to stay in tune with the Lord through His Word and prayer, that it’s important to keep our family’s schedule manageable, and how critical it is to find – and keep – my (where is it??!) sense of humor.

Lord Jesus, please give me the necessary self-control for keeping my home and soul temperate.

Are you aware of your personal thermometer? What situations create unrest and make it either skyrocket or plunge?

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