prepare.jpgSpend some time today and reflect on how you need to prepare this season. Here are a few ideas you might consider:

  • Prepare your heart, perhaps by spending some time in reflection or in the Bible.
  • Prepare your schedule, and allow some time today for planning.
  • Prepare your house, maybe by taking a few moments to pick up or cook a meal in advance.
  • Prepare your relationships by stopping and spending quality time with family and/or friends.

Lord, help me to be prepared to receive You this Advent season and throughout the year.


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! (more…)

prepare.jpgLove is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

Tune in with me for a just a minute to It’s a Wonderful Life. I’m sure it’s on at least one channel right now. Fast forward to the end of the movie and look at that picture of Christmas. All the family and neighbors standing around, reveling in their togetherness. The picture of holiday harmony. Is that what Christmas looks like for you and your family?

At our house, the family part of Christmas is anything but serene. Just setting the date for our celebration takes an Act of Congress. School calendars, work deadlines, travel restrictions, and well-meaning in-laws jockey for position on the holiday calendar. Negotiations begin months in advance, leaving all parties ample time to finagle and finesse the dates. In the end, compromises are made, and we manage to be together all in the same place for approximately twenty-two-and-a-half hours on a day some time in December or October or possibly June. (more…)

prepare.jpgLet us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Revelation 19:7 (NIV)

Around mid-July, I walked into one of my favorite craft stores and was shocked to see workers stocking the shelves with Christmas stuff! A month later, I popped into another store and found half of the store dedicated to Christmas decorations. In awe, I pushed my daughter through rows upon rows of pre-lit Christmas trees as she squealed with delight at all of the pretty lights.

Many of us feel frustrated with the commercialization of Christ’s birth. The way businesses continue to push back the Christmas selling season further and further is sometimes irritating. And, although I don’t necessarily like it, I can still learn something from these ambitious marketers. (more…)

prepare.jpgI will hasten and not delay to obey your commands. Psalm 119:60 (NIV)

Webster’s Dictionary defines “prepare” as
1 a : to make ready beforehand for some purpose, use, or activity b : to put in a proper state of mind; 2 : to work out the details of : plan in advance; 3 a : to put together : b : to put into written form.

I think all three are applicable to the season.

Let’s start with 1a: “to make ready beforehand for some purpose.” This is what all the cleaning, shopping, and cooking is about. I teach high school, and every day I am expected to stand before 100 kids with a prepared lesson. Most days I do, but honestly sometimes I have to wing it. I think they learn either way, but the difference is how I feel. When I am prepared, I am less stressed. That tight little knot in my stomach isn’t there. I am focused on them, rather than how to fill the next ninety minutes. I ask them how they are as they walk in the room, rather than frantically looking for papers or supplies. I notice if they are “getting it,” rather than trying to think of what to say next. (more…)

prepare.jpgBut seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

I procrastinate. I like to think I “work well under pressure,” but who am I kidding? There is no more quality in my completed work, no more creativity—I simply work faster. In college, I relished pulling off an all-nighter. After countless cups of coffee, my brain was literally packed to capacity. I would regurgitate all of it onto paper the following day, go home, and proceed to forget everything. Surprisingly, my method worked pretty well for my GPA, but it equated to total mayhem leading up to any major test. If only I had taken the time to actually learn about Aboriginal hierarchies, would I still remember them now?

This “method” has spilled over into my life even now. Anything is subject to my procrastination. I always get it done by my deadline, but I wonder how much more enjoyable life would be if I eliminated the chaos, planned appropriately, and allowed myself some peace in the process. (more…)

prepare.jpgBut the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.’ Luke 1:30-31 (NIV)

She had received word that she would become pregnant. News that she could hardly believe. After all, she was a virgin! But this news had come from an angel, so there could be no doubting it. Yet, she and her fiancé had not planned this pregnancy. So how in the world would she prepare for a baby?

She and Joseph would have to make the seventy-mile journey to be counted in the census, so there would be no time or place to set up a nursery. Thank goodness the angel had already given her the baby’s name; she could cross that off her “to do” list. But there were lots of things that she wanted to do to prepare for parenthood. How would she ever be ready for a baby, much less the Savior of the world? (more…)