Blogmas Day 6: How to Slow Down + Make the Most Of Christmas
While reading, listen to Hark by Hillsong Worship.
The Christmas season seems to fly by more than any other.
We feel this way because of how delightful it all is...a time when everyone comes together, the festive spirit lingers in the air, when traditions are enjoyed, and generosity abounds. We love the sights and sounds, the gift-giving (and receiving!), the decorations, and the sense of wonder we feel - young and old alike. The minute December arrives, I want to cling tightly to every moment, because I know in a blink of an eye, it will have come and gone. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the many simple pleasures of the season, but the heart of the holiday can often get lost in the noise.
I believe with all of my heart that Jesus is the reason for the season. His breaking through Heaven, to be in and save the world is at the center of my life’s meaning. He was and is our long-awaited Savior, our King, and the Hope of the world. His humble birth and glorious life change absolutely everything about us, and his Gospel truly is peace. I love reading about the birth of Jesus in Luke 2. So many ordinary people played a part in this extraordinary display of God’s love, and that continues to be the case everyday, as we have always been a part of the plan. His story is an awe-inspiring one...reminding me that God keeps his promises, Jesus relates to our journey, and faith is the thing on which real life hinges.
I love watching this magical time of year breathe new life and a renewed sense of excitement into the Church. Every December, we are reminded of what we so often forget: Our Savior has come. He lives. He moves. He is at work. These are the things I do not want to overlook this Christmas, for they are why Christmas exists at all. So how do we savor the season? How do we slow down in the midst of the hustle and bustle to quiet our hearts and remember? What does it look like to not just be blessed but to bless others this Christmas?
These things matter. Slowing down, savoring, and remembering this season’s cause does not mean you can’t watch Elf, decorate your tree, or teach your kids about Santa Claus. It’s just about making the main thing, the main thing. It’s about fighting to keep Jesus at the center of all we do and celebrate. Will you join me in the pursuit of depth and meaning this Christmas season? Here are ten ways we can intentionally slow down and soak it all up…
Blogmas Day 6: How to Slow Down and Make the Most of Christmas
#1 - Join the She Reads Truth Advent 2017: Joy to the World 29 Day Reading Plan.
She Reads Truth is an amazing Bible reading app, and every Christmas, they offer an incredible Advent reading plan. This plan is a mere $1.99 and offers a daily passage and beautifully written reflection that challenges and inspires.
#2 - Try a Caroline Williams Advent Yoga session.
Caroline William’s holy yoga (she has two playlists) has added a special physical connection to my time with God, that I didn’t even knew I needed! Her advent yoga sessions are all centered around remembering Jesus and the meaning of his birth. Each session is under 30 minutes and will leave you feeling so refreshed and at peace!
#3 - Stop multitasking.
Enjoying one thing at a time is a lost art. We hardly notice it anymore, but how often do you do three things at once? Just the other evening, I was watching a movie, uploading pictures on my laptop, and found myself mindlessly scrolling on my phone. I caught myself in the act, and realized I was missing out on an opportunity to be present and enjoy a movie at home with my husband. Our relentless multi-tasking keeps our minds from peace, and steals the simple joy and gratitude that can arise from giving one thing your undivided attention.
#4 - Walk around your neighborhood and pray for your city.
One of the quickest ways we can grow in compassion for those around us is to put ourselves in their shoes. One of the ways I do this is by walking around our neighborhood and praying for people. When I see their homes, cars, and Christmas trees in the window, I’m reminded they are just like you and me. They have ups, downs, and a need for a real Savior. I pray for them to encounter Jesus and for their needs (emotional, physical, and spiritual!) to be met in Him.
#5 - Go on a fast.
Making a sacrifice, big or small, is a great way to stay focused on what really matters. Perhaps you need to delete your social media apps for the month, or fast from TV. Maybe it means not spending a lot of extra money, or just listening to Christian Christmas music. Taking a break from things we depend on increases our dependence on Christ, and opens our eyes to imbalance that may exist in our lives.
#6 - Take the time to unexpectedly bless someone.
Paying it forward never gets old. Whether that means paying for the person’s coffee in line behind you, or thinking about how you may support a global cause this Christmas. On Christmas morning, I plan on leaving a bag of homemade snickerdoodles on each of my neighbor's doorstep. They all may not celebrate Christmas, but it's the gesture and thought that counts.
#7 - Write handwritten Christmas cards.
I love a cute personalized card from Minted or otherwise with a professional picture of a couple or family on the front. We receive plenty of those and they all lovingly live on my fridge. Last year, Reed and I ordered and sent out our own, too! However this year, we adjusted our budget and decided to not send special designed cards, but to send handwritten ones. (We bought this set, and this set!)
There is something so special and personal about a card that has a handwritten message. It shows the sender was really thinking about you, not just checking a box on their Christmas to-do list, and is a great reminder of the friendship for years to come. Plus, when’s the last time you sat down and wrote a card? For me, the process of slowing down and using a pen in my hands is therapeutic.
#8 - Call a long-distance friend or family member.
One of the best parts of this seasons is how it brings friends and family together. I look forward to having my own siblings and friends who are in college elsewhere, all fly home to the Bay for the holidays. But maybe someone in your life is unable to make it home for Christmas. Maybe their plans have changed, or you’re spending this year with the other side of the family. Maybe there is someone on your mind who you haven’t talked to in years. Take some time to call those people...not just for a 5-minute “hello” on Christmas morning, but sometime this month, when you have a little more time to catch up and to tell them you love them.
#9 - Make a Christmas bucket list.
I promise, this is different than a shopping list! At the beginning of every season, my Mom and I put together a bucket list of what we want to do to make the most of those few, short months. Yours may include a visit to the ice rink, or seeing a movie with friends who are in town. Maybe you want to finally see that Nutcracker performance, or there’s a baking recipe you’re dying to try. Make a list, include some friends in the fun, and watch how your December will fill up with new memories and traditions made.
#10 - Volunteer in your community.
No matter where you live, whether it’s big city or small town, I guarantee there are at least a few good opportunities to give back this Christmas. See what food or toy drives you can be a part of. What shelters could use more warm coats and some volunteer hours? How might your favorite local business be giving back this month? Every year, our church partners with Angel Tree, which is the Christmas outreach of Prison Fellowship. We give gifts to children whose parents are incarcerated, in their parent’s name with a special note.
This outreach has various elements to it: donation, delivery, and financial support for the family members who are taking care of the kids. The incredible stories that come out of this annual outreach completely melt my heart! If you go to church, ask around to see how you can get involved with what they are doing to love and serve your community.
This might be my favorite Blogmas post so far.
I love thinking about the ways we can quiet our souls, do things that matter, and return to the real meaning of Christmas. What tip for “slowing down and making the most of Christmas“ will you try? How do you keep Jesus at the center of Christmas? Share in the comments below!