Please stop decking the halls.....


...just stop.  Stop running around trying to accomplish more in the month of December than most can do in 6 months. Stop attempting to be Joanna Gaines when you're more like Frankie Heck. Now I'm not trying to be a scrooge, I'm just taking a different approach this year, and I want to challenge you to do the same.  Typically, I am not a rebel--actually quite the opposite--sometimes following rules at the expense of others sanity.  But this year I have decided that I am resisting.  I’m refusing.  I’m rebelling against the current.  I will not be a slave to the system of Christmas.

When I say “system” of Christmas, it’s because it has become just that—an organized or established procedure to perform a function.  Starting before Halloween, and consuming our every day’s agenda. Dictating how we spend our time from mid-November to January. Walking around in a fog, trying to make sure we have all our bases covered for every party, gift exchange, and long-standing family tradition.  And as a result…we can become slaves--one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence.

I'm sitting here looking at my tree with gifts chewed by the cats, ornaments that are unevenly spaced, and an angel tree topper that could benefit from some yoga.  And I thought, what am I allowing to influence and dominate me this season:
--stores enticing me with “the sale of the year” (although they said that last weekend and will say it again next weekend.
--room moms planning classroom parties and organizing teacher gifts, and doing it all with a smile.
--Amazon’s free shipping days (for the cheapskates like me who don’t have Prime)
--TO DO lists…they.never.stop.
--baking products for next to nothing, making you want to try all 193 desserts that you’ve saved to Pinterest.
--diets…because no one wants to “pack on the holiday pounds”
--talk about exercise because….well, if you didn’t tell someone about it, did it really happen?
--TV ads getting us ready for the “New Year, New You” campaign, to which I shudder every time I hear that phrase.
--the weather, which has the power to dictate our mood
--expectations:  to buy every gift on the kids list and to send a Christmas card that would put Shutterfly to shame.
--traditions:  making sure we never forget to hang that certain ornament, prepare mom's favorite cranberry salad, and to make sure the kids experience the greats of lights, Santa gifts, and homemade cookies. 
--family members.  Need I say more?

Then I read 2 Peter 2:19 and was SUPER convicted...
“Whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be enslaved to these things! It's stressful and disappointing and frustrating and shame-driven.  I don’t want to be overcome by others opinions and expectations of how I should be as a hostess, a decorator, a gift giver, or a cookie baker. I don’t want to be overcome with thoughts of a diet, or more workouts, or feeling like I have to refuse the peppermint bark.

So what do I want to dominate and influence me this holiday season? The overwhelming, amazing love of our God. The fact that He would willingly leave heaven and come down to live in this less-than-perfect and messy world—FOR US. Because He LOVES us.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son…”

Now that is something to be overcome by!  In response to that great love, I want to be enslaved by sharing it with others. Through kind words and selfless acts.  Through taking my girls to buy gifts for their friends, or asking my husband about the details of his day.  Through giving my free Panera bagel to someone, instead of eating that deliciousness all by myself.  By spending the time to pack up 47 years of my parents belongings.  By making eye contact with the Salvation Army ringers (even if I don’t give them money) and allowing my smile to say, “I notice you.”  By engaging in conversation with a family member that is….let’s just say….less than engaging.

When you feel like a robot this Christmas, carrying the weight of expectations and traditions don’t give in.  Don’t just concede.  Fight the system to be free and just enjoy the love of the Savior!
Micah 7:7  “But as for me, I will look to the Lord.”  

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