My goal for Christmas has always been that it is a heart focus time for my family. That we don’t get caught up in the commercialism, that we make time for memories and most important that we make time for Jesus. Jesus is the reason can be a clever quip – or it can be a reality. For us to have a heart focus Christmas it all starts in my heart.
Let me explain what I mean by a heart focus – it is more than Jesus. I don’t mean to be disrespectful here – Jesus is certainly the reason, and not just at Christmastime – but the heart is something that exists for all peoples, before and after they meet Jesus. The heart is the place where we hold beliefs, values, passions, emotions, it is the place where we process and make choices. So we hold more than our relationship with Jesus in our heart: the idea that Christmastime is a time for family is a belief, the very thought of not being caught up with commercialism is based on a value, decorating the house and preparing food maybe a passion and wanting to evoke love, hope, joy, peace during this season – that works with our emotions.
As a Christian, my bottom line, core, central belief is Jesus and when it comes to Christmas – it is because of Jesus. But I also believe that Jesus came to give us life here on this earth – so we could walk in the garden with God every day, so we could enjoy his creation, so we could do the tasks he gave us to do. And part of that life – is family. So a heart focus Christmas is more than remembering Jesus, and yet it is all because of Jesus.
Keeping My Heart Right
I have two mantras that I want to share with you today. They are just two sentences that keeps my heart in the right place as I prepare for Christmas.
The first one is:
If the things of Christmas take all my time, then I am planning to do too much.
I have tried with the best of them to do elaborate Christmas. I usually stumble somewhere around the first week of December – I realise I’m not going to achieve ½ of what is on my to-do list. Unfortunately – the world won’t stop just because it is Christmas time. We still have our normal lives to live. The normal responsibilities, the normal commitments, the normal day to day family life still needs to happen even though Christmas is getting closer.
When my to do list becomes my focus my heart gets all crunched up and out of whack. When I’m focused on my to do list I’m always looking ahead – always planning towards THE day. Not today. Nothing is about today – it is all about Christmas Day.
This is not sustainable, but neither does it help us create the type of Christmas that is in our heart.
It is not sustainable because if we move our focus from our kids and their hearts to preparing for a big party then sooner or later our kids are going to start playing up, (this isn’t necessarily my story these days with grown up kids! 🙂 ) But when my kids were younger – when I was not available to our kids I found myself taking one step forward, two steps back as my kids didn’t fit in with my planning for christmas focus.
On the other hand if we take it slow, if we have realistic expectations, if we include our kids in preparing for Christmas then we actually make the time and space for memories to be made. Memories are made as we live in the present, as we become aware of others, and as we give to those around us.
Our Christmas plans need to take into account the season of our family.
Heart Focus Christmas starts with Me
The second quote that keeps a check on my heart is:
My Christmas prayer: Lord help me keep my spirit gentle, my house peaceful and my heart full of love.
Keep my spirit gentle…
I’m not necessarily what you would call a gentle person. I have strong opinions and I want to get things done. But I can choose to do this forcefully, abruptly, harshly or I can do things with love, joy, grace.
- I can be a gentle person – it means that I watch my tongue, I watch my tone because unguarded words hurt people – hurt my children.
- It means I let the stress of the day roll off my shoulders – I don’t take offense.
- It means ’m nice to be around – pleasant even. It means I have self control and use my manners.
- It means I am helpful and generous, I’m not demanding, angry or loud.
This is a high idea to attain to. What does being gentle mean to you?
When life gets busy I can only be pleasant, I can only be gentle if I spend time in God’s presence. When I spend time with him my priorities get sorted, I no longer strive to have the best decorated table, I no longer focus on who is doing what down my street – instead I am focusing on Jesus – what he has done for me, and what he requires of me. He requires me to love Him and love others. He requires me to honour him in all that I do. He requires me to focus on the heart not the externals.
When I spend time with Jesus I am reminded that he sent His Spirit to help me with the things he has asked of me.
Keep my Home Peaceful…
So keeping my heart gentle, keeping my heart in the right place has a huge impact on the atmosphere in our home. Christmas is all about atmosphere isn’t it – especially in the northern hemisphere where there is snow and warm fires and hot chocolate. We don’t have that type of Christmas here – it is very very hot, humid, likely to have a tropical thunderstorm and there is always flies. But I can still create a atmosphere in my home. And as my prayer says – I want to create a peaceful atmosphere.
A peaceful atmosphere starts with a peaceful heart – and as we’ve said, a peaceful heart starts when we are in relationship with Jesus.
To me a peaceful home is a welcoming place. It a place of refuge, safety, calm in the midst of a crazy world.
We will all create a peaceful home in different ways – some might always have music playing, some might like the quiet. Some might always have the smell of cookies wafting through the house, others may enjoy mangos and watermelon. Some may have little kids and therefore toys and legos scattered across the floor – others may have a nicely decorated home. Though our stuff can add or distract from the seemingly peaceful atmosphere in a home I know that true peacefulness comes from the ability to connect with people and meet their needs.
For me, a peaceful home is where people are welcomed. Where people find rest from the crazy world. Where people can be themselves. We are a very loud family, and I am looking forward to us being all together this Christmas. There is going to be so much noise – but it will be in the midst of a peaceful home. A home where people can find peace – they can find peace in their spirits, they can find peace in their relationships and yes, they can find peace in their bodies as they take time to sit and relax and enjoy each other’s company.
What does a peaceful home look like to you? Don’t try and copy my home, or a home atmosphere that you see online – but ask God for a definition of peace that you can hold onto.
Keep my Heart full of Love…
The third part to my little prayer is ‘a heart full of love’.
These three things are really so closely woven in with each other – how do you separate gentleness, peace and love from each other? They feed each other, they depend on each other and they help each other be expressed. You can’t really do one without the other. Gentleness, Peace, Love.
At Christmastime I need to remind myself to keep my heart full of love for God, for my husband, for my kids and for others. This really hits the motivation for why we do anything this Christmas.
I remind myself that I celebrate Christmas because I love God, I love my family and I want to show love to others.
Busyness often distracts us from any one of those relationships – and as we spend less and less time with each other it becomes harder to find how to express our love in the midst of the crazy going on around us.
We need to guard our relationships as get hooked into the preparations and Christmas gets closer.
- Are you finding time to think about God during the day?
- Are you finding time to touch base and be a blessing to your spouse?
- Are you finding time to be heart focused with your kids?
This then flows back to my first mantra – if preparing for Christmas is taking all my time – I am planning too much!
Christmas is more than tinsel and gingerbread. Think about the heart stuff now, so you are truly prepared to celebrate Christmas with your family.