Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Coping Mechanisms

I've reached a conclusion: no matter how much I stress and whine, Christmas comes. Tis the season so there's no sense fighting it. What remains is for me to get over it already and get on with it.

I was already pondering a post loosely titled "Coping with Christmas" or "Christmastime Is Here So Deal With It," you know, something all spiritual and helpful in remembering the reason for the season (or not), when I read this delightful, upbeat post by Katrina of Callapidder Days. Great minds think alike; however in this instance one of us continues to view Christmas through slightly green-colored glasses, as in Grinch-y green, but I'm not saying who; no doubt you can guess for yourself.

Anyway, as Christmastime is indeed here, and truly it is an awe-inspiring, glory-filled celebration of the God-man become flesh, here are a few ways I am seeking to fix my eyes on Jesus, honoring Him as the indescribable Gift of Christmas...

A Jesse tree. I'm not sure if you're familiar with the Jesse tree; I know I wasn't until a few years ago when my mom presented us with a set she made for us: a tree banner, a notebook with Bible reading and devotion for each night and a corresponding item to place on the tree following each nights' devotion. The Bible readings begin in Genesis and work their way loosely through the lineage of Jesse right up to Jesus. We are a little behind due to the crazy nature of our current schedule, but the nights we are able to sit down together as a family and focus even for a few moments on God's sovereign plan to redeem His people, well, they do much to cheer the heart of this frazzled, overwhelmed mom.

If you're interested in your own Jesse tree observance, try googling "Jesse tree"; I did and found a wealth of information on creating your own Jesse tree tradition.

Spiritual disciplines. I don't know about you, but it seems that those times when I most need to be in the Word of God and prayer are the very times I am most tempted to not. I need Him, how I need Him, every hour I need Him...especially now, when my energy level is low and my stress level high. Even when the time seems too precious to give up for something as seemingly passive as prayer and reading the Word, I must discipline myself and diligently seek Him, knowing He has promised that she who seeks Him with her whole heart will find...

Praise and gratitude. Counting my blessings, naming them one by one, truly one of the most effective methods of altering my mood. Rehearsing God's faithfulness and blessing, humbly offering praise and thanksgiving for His goodness and mercy, acknowledging His holiness and seeking His glory...the more I praise Him, the more my Grinchiness is replaced by joy!

Music. I loaded my Christmas music on my iPod just a couple of days ago and as I was unplugging my iPod from the computer I muttered to my husband something like, "I don't know why I even went to the trouble..." A little lacking in the holiday spirit, if you know what I mean. Of course you know what I mean, if you've been visiting here for any length of time! Anyway, I'm glad I did go to the trouble. While I admittedly grow weary of much of the cheesy offerings found under the guise of Christmas music, I am thankful for the songs that lift my heart, that make me smile, or that give me the sobering reminder of the depth of Jesus' gift.

Christmas cards. I love them. I love to send them; I love to receive them. Every year, as I go through the addressing process, I am overwhelmed by the many, many people that have touched our lives, making us the better for knowing them, often only for a time. Family members, college roommates, friends who were there for our wedding, friends who were there for the birth of our first child...or second...or third...or fourth, friends who moved away, friends who stayed behind when we moved away. I am so very thankful that because of Christ we share not just a bond between friends, but a bond between sisters and brothers. How good He is! The Lord Jesus is indeed enough for us--more than enough! Yet He is so good to grant us fellowship with each other as well.

The little things. Burning a candle. Turning on the tree lights. A cup of coffee at night (decaf!) with Peppermint Mocha creamer. Singing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" with your kids and trying to ignore any obvious parallels. Taking a deep breath. Asking for His grace and knowing He will provide.

Please don't think I've achieved any state of Christmas bliss. Quite the opposite. Tonight as I was frantically shuttling kids from one location to another, we passed a house that was truly a Christmas light extravaganza. Lights, lights everywhere! My just-today-turned-ten year old remarks, "I bet they don't have any holiday stress."

I'm not real sure about the correlation between holiday stress and the number of lights, but I do know this: last year we had none. Nope, no lights whatsoever decking the halls outside our home. This year, I did manage to drape a lighted garland on our porch and one over the front door.

So maybe there's progress.

To God be the glory.

10 comments:

  1. I hope you are for real...because I get you. This is an excellent list. I could go on and on with how much I relate to each thing you mentioned, but I'll just mention one thing. The music. I forced myself to pull out the music this week. And I forced myself to sing along as I piddled around the house and ran errands. And singing helped fix my mind on the wonder of God made flesh (as you have been putting it in your recent posts), God with us. Yes, there is progress, my friend.

    Glory!

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  2. Thanks for the list. It seems I need it a little more than I thought. Yesterday, my 7 year old daughter said, "Mom, I need to ask you a question. It's just a question, so don't get all cranky on me, okay?" From the mouths of babes.

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  3. You ARE making progress, Lisa! Blessings!

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  4. Julie: your daughter's cranky comment made me laugh out loud! Sounds like something my kids could (and probably should) say! :-)

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  5. I've found it's virtually impossible for me to be in a bad mood if I'm truly thankful.

    Great list, Lisa.

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  6. If I can just keep my focus on the all I can be thankful for, even though I do have lots to do, it really helps to keep my perspective. Great suggestions, Lisa!

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  7. I'm grateful that you're willing to blog through this season with a realistic attitude towards self and the season. Humbling myself to see what must be left out, what should be left out, what can be left out--all for the sake of seeing what must be put in--the focus on Christ and His message to "repent and believe."

    Thank you friend, for your heart convicting posts.

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  8. I have so appreciated your Christmas posts and I really relate to what you're sharing.

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  9. Great thoughts, Lisa! And let me assure you that I have had my share of grinch-like moments this month!

    I especially love your thoughts on seeking the Lord. I'm definitely the same way -- tempted to ignore/avoid spiritual disciplines when I most need them.

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  10. Thanks for the list. It seems I need it a little more than I thought. Yesterday, my 7 year old daughter said, "Mom, I need to ask you a question. It's just a question, so don't get all cranky on me, okay?" From the mouths of babes.

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