Sunday, November 16, 2008

Preparing Your Heart for the Holidays

If you’re like most people, you love Christmas, but not the stress that accompanies it. The holiday season is supposed to be filled with love and laughter, but this year promises to be especially tough for a lot of families. Money is tighter, and jobs are uncertain. Credit cards are maxed out, and bonuses aren’t likely to be issued. You hate the thought of having to tell your children that they can’t have the big-ticket items on their list, or having to phone your relatives to request that you all cut down on the gift-giving this year. So, approaching Christmas with the right mindset is very important. Despite what the commercials say, it’s not about the toys or the money or the video game systems. It’s about love and hope and family and a little baby in a manger. Perhaps we need to focus on our hearts instead of our bank accounts.

My family has certainly been guilty of this emphasis on the material aspect of the holidays. Every year, my mother looks at all the presents under the tree and says, “We did too much!” Then she says, “Next year, we need to cut back.” But the following year, it’s the same scenario. I’m certainly not against gift-giving, but I think we sometimes feel empty inside because we haven’t focused enough on acquiring the real Christmas spirit. Women are especially vulnerable to this as we’re often responsible for selecting gifts for extended family, making the holiday plans, getting the cards mailed, arranging for the family photo, getting the groceries, making the cookies, and…the list goes on and on. So, this year, I decided to take a little time each day to express my gratitude and reflect on what Christmas really means to me.

I recently found a book that is going to help me do just that. It’s called Prepare Your Heart for a Great Christmas, by Maria Rodgers O’Rourke. It’s a devotional journal that reminds us that we can still find God during this very hectic and stressful time of year. The book begins on Thanksgiving Day and goes through the first week of January. Each day includes a Bible verse and a story or message from the author. In the journal section for each day, readers fill in what they are grateful for, their intentions for the day and their to-do list. (Notice that gratitude comes before thinking about what needs to get done!) I’m really excited to start this book on Thanksgiving because it will encourage me to take ten minutes a day to cherish the joy of the season, despite all the craziness going on around me.

In addition to using Prepare Your Heart for a Great Christmas, I encourage you to visit the author’s website at Maria Rodgers O’Rourke is a popular speaker, columnist and radio host, and has been involved in church ministry for more than 20 years. You can sign up for her email newsletter to help you stay in the Christmas spirit, and you’ll receive a free bonus document called “The Seven-Step Action Plan for a Great Christmas.” So, give the first gift of Christmas to yourself! Prepare Your Heart for a Great Christmas is only $10.15 on Amazon, and it’s a gift that will save you a lot of anxiety this holiday season. Rejoice!

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  1. Anonymous2:12 AM

    Such a great post. I am so excited about the holidays. It is our first christams at home out of the hospital with our son. I hope all is well and i wish you the best.

  2. Hi Kayla,
    Sounds like you already got the best Christmas gift ever! I'm so happy to hear that your son is home. I wish you a wonderful Christmas, too!
    Warm wishes, Susan Heim


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