Making My List, Checking it Twice - Encouragement for Today - December 14, 2015

Glynnis Whitwer

DECEMBER 14, 2015

Making My List, Checking it Twice

"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19 (NIV)

Some people love Christmas and look forward to it all year. Me? I love the reason for Christmas … but the extra work required? Well, let’s just say it doesn’t always feel like the most wonderful time of the year.

Although Christmas should be a season of pausing and pondering, rejoicing and revering, it can turn into just one more thing on my overloaded to-do list. It’s so easy to lose the beauty of the season in the bedlam of my schedule.

And that’s not God’s wish for me.

I’m confident God longs for me to use this season of joy as an opportunity to connect with Him in a deeper way and to connect with others as we celebrate the birth of Jesus together. Christmas is a time to remember Emmanuel, God with us. And my heart and home need to be prepared for this Special Guest.

I wish I could simply follow Mary’s example, like our key verse from Luke 2:19 reminds us, and that treasuring and pondering things in my heart came more naturally to me.

But without planning ahead, my heart will struggle. I’ll feel resentment at the added expectations. I’ll feel frustration at the extra time shopping takes. I’ll feel stressed when other people are stressed, and then I can add to the tension with out-of-proportion reactions.

I don’t want to be the Grinch! I want to be a woman who reflects God’s love and grace, especially when others might be feeling the pinch of the season.

Yet I also realize the only way the overflow of my attitude and words can be gracious is when I’ve made time preparing my heart first, then crafting a plan for the details.

Even if you’ve never had a practice of a personal quiet time, it’s okay to start now. Create a place that physically says, It’s time to be quiet before the Lord. For me, that’s my kitchen table with a cup of coffee, my Bible and my to-do list. A lit candle helps set the mood.

Then, I use this time to just be still, sometimes to speak, sometimes to listen. And many times I imagine Jesus sitting across the table from me. It’s easy to have conversation with someone who’s right there with you.

Then here’s where it gets very practical: I ask for the Lord’s help in making to-do lists.

Maybe that seems a bit irreverent, but God is the greatest source of wisdom around. So when I need help organizing my lists, He’s the first one I consult.

Christmas is a time when more is required of us. It’s also a time when we as Christ-followers want to make the most of the season and celebrate Jesus in our hearts and homes.

While some people can spontaneously make all this peace and joyfulness happen, I need some intentionality to bring about special moments and experiences.

Lists help me track everything and prepare in advance so I can enjoy the moment. They help me think through gift giving so everyone doesn’t get a mug. They help me plan events where I can show the love of Jesus.

Lists don’t just have to be tasks. Think through what would make this Christmas special for you and your family. What are your hopes? Once you’ve thought about it, invite your family into the discussion. Capture these ideas on your lists.

Here are some lists you might consider making:

  • Prayer requests
  • Gifts for others
  • Books to read
  • Stocking stuffer ideas
  • Outreaches (e.g., Operation Christmas Child, Project Angel Tree)
  • Menus for special dinners
  • Holiday events to attend
  • Decorations to buy or create
  • Traditions to start or continue
  • Special treats to bake
  • People to connect with
  • Don’t worry about doing any of this perfectly. The goal isn’t to have a perfect Christmas. The goal is to be with Jesus. To be more intentional and create a foundation where everyone will experience more peace and joy, and less stress.

    Careful planning and to-do lists certainly aren’t the solution to every holiday challenge. But in a season when we tend toward overload, they help. And hopefully they’ll create some margin in your life to do more pausing and pondering, rejoicing and revering.

    Heavenly Father, I don’t want to miss what You have for me this Christmas. Help me have the details of my life in order, so I can relax and truly experience Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    Psalm 90:17, "May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us — yes, establish the work of our hands." (NIV)

    Glynnis Whitwer’s newest book, Taming the To-Do List, is a fabulous gift for anyone looking to gain control over their schedule and enjoy more of the best things in life.

    Visit Glynnis’ blog for suggestions on creating a Christmas planner.

    Take time to sit quiet in the Lord’s presence today. It’s okay if your desk or home is a mess. The meeting place is really in your heart.

    What are a few things you can do in the next two weeks to make Christmas special? Start a list.

    © 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105

    Originally published Monday, 14 December 2015.