The most wonderful / stressful* time of the year (strikethrough what does not apply)

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There have been times I was so busy in December, I could just break into tears whenever I thought about my to-do list.

This was particularly the case a few years ago when I tried to juggle freelance work, being a mom of five (including a girl with special needs), doing housekeeping chores and participating in several church activities — and I had to humbly acknowledge that I just couldn’t do it all.

It stressed me out; the joy and peace in my heart had started to disappear. And that’s absolutely a sign that a change is needed. I had to rigorously cut down my activities, let go of expectations and focus on what is most important.

Wisdom will bring rest

It was in one of those stressful times that I read an article about Mary, who, in contrast to Martha, sought fellowship with Jesus. She didn’t care about all the chores that had to be done, and although Martha had all kinds of demands towards her, she just sat there at the feet of Jesus, and listened quietly. She sure was the wisest of the two! I read:

“Wisdom is being able to arrange my affairs in such a way that rest can fill my home. Whatever the circumstances are in which we may find ourselves, the most important thing is that we bring rest to our surroundings. You say, “Impossible! I’m in such and such a situation.” It can appear that way, but wisdom brings everything to rest. Wisdom enables us to let go of many things so we can enter into this rest. Seek this wisdom!”
— Sigurd Bratlie

And I realized: This is what I need to do! I need to seek this wisdom, I need to go to the Source of this wisdom, and open my ears to learn from Him! And He will make clear what I should do, and what I should let go of – regardless what others might think. In this way I will gain peace inside. And this peace and rest will also fill my home.

Then those stressful times can become wonderful times instead!

We decorated the tree early this year

Difficult moments are opportunities

So, this year we had a much more relaxed December. Of course, I still had many situations in which things weren’t going smoothly at all. I still felt frustration bubbling up inside when things didn’t go my way. These inner thoughts that tried to destroy my peace didn’t just magically go away just because I had less things on my to-do list.

But I was more aware of the fact that these moments were opportunities in which I should acknowledge that I need God’s help! That I shouldn’t rely on my own strength, but pray for His power instead, so that I could respond with kindness and love. And I have experienced His help! Looking back I can’t say I handled every single situation as graciously as I should, but I am learning and making progress.

And of course we still had a lot of things to do. We started out with celebrating Saint Nicholas Day on December 3th, so I had to do some gift shopping! I kept it simple though, and ordered the most important gifts online.

We got a visit from Saint Nicholas and his “Black Petes”!

Early Christmas present

A week later we got an early Christmas present: snow! You should know that it doesn’t snow that often in the Netherlands, and when it does, it rarely stays more than one day. But this time it lasted for almost three days! So we spent much time outdoors, and enjoyed it for as long as possible.

The kids held a snowball fight with their uncle
Oh how I love our street when there’s snow!
We could even build a snowman
And we sleighed down the dunes of North Holland (even though the snow was almost gone)

Christmas activities

The times when I felt so stressed also took away my energy to do fun activities with the kids, like doing Christmas crafts, or baking Christmas cookies. Kids activities always needs some preparation and I need some time and some space in my mind to even begin. But this year we really made time for it – and although the kitchen table and floor were often a mess, we had fun!

Baking cookies always is a favorite activity

A time to reflect

December is also a time to reflect on the past year. There are so many blessings to count… I am truly grateful for everything God has given me. I also realized how quickly my three year old is growing up, and how much I will miss him when he goes to school next February. You can read a little poem about my feelings here: You still fit on my lap.

And it’s especially the time to remember the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who came to earth as a baby. Why? I asked myself, and tried to articulate my thoughts in this article: Why did Jesus come as a baby?

Last year my children participated in a church play on Christmas day

The true Light came into the world

And now Christmas is around the corner. A holiday worth celebrating! And we do it abundantly, with friends and family, with trees and presents, with delicious food and festive lights in the darkest time of the year.

But first and foremost we celebrate the true Light that came into a dark world over two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ, who gives light to everyone!

And my wish for you and me is to walk in this Light, not just these holidays, but the year to come! In that way, only wonderful days are ahead.

Merry Christmas to you all!

 

With love, Anne


3 Comments

  • Andy

    December 22, 2017

    How beautiful! You are doing an amazing job of celebrating the true reason for Christmas, while creating joyful holiday memories with your family. Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  • candy

    December 22, 2017

    Don’t be so hard on yourself. You recognized that you needed to cut back and slow down. Hope more recognized Christ this season.

    Reply
  • Gloryanna

    December 22, 2017

    I really like the reminder about finding opportunities when things get overwhelming–and it ties in with reflecting too. If I can’t take a breath to see an opportunity, then I’m certainly not taking a moment to reflect either, am I? Love this!

    Reply

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