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Tuesday, December 8, 2015
9:29 PM | Posted by Scott | Edit Post
Tip #1 - pick priorities over plans
I've got plans. Big plans. Lots of big plans.
My plans for this marriage ministry include a brand new, completely redesigned website. (I know some of you are saying "It's about time!" Thanks for putting up with my rough and ugly site for so long!)
I've got a bunch of writing projects that I'm very excited about. Stuff that is going to make a huge impact on a lot of marriages. I can't wait to share these with you! I want to start doing some videos, maybe even a podcast. Some day.
If you are at all like me there is a slight down side to having lots of big, exciting plans - they can make you completely miserable if you let them.
Balancing Plans and Priorities
What I have to keep in mind as I plan, is that I can't let my plans mess up my priorities. That means keeping God at the center of all I do. It means keeping family priorities high. It means making sure I'm not so busy writing about marriage that I neglect my own.
In the same way, I also have to balance plans and priorities when it comes to fighting off the Christmas crazies.
As we make plans this Christmas, whether it be parties, church activities, shopping, family gatherings or whatever, let's not let our non-seasonal priorities slip by the wayside.
In the press of plans and many opportunities for festivities of all kinds, let's remember to keep our first things first:
Keep Christ First in Christmas - It's easy to lose track of the real reason for the season among all the trappings. Consider what you might do this year that intentionally keeps the holiday centered on the miraculous gift of God to mankind in his Son, Jesus. Observe Advent. Do a Christmas devotional study. Read over the Gospel accounts of the Christmas story as a family, spreading the readings out through the remaining days until Christmas. Have periodic candle-lit prayer times, either personally, as a couple, or as a family, where you intentionally focus on the light of Christ that came into the world and it's meaning for your daily life. Have a child-friendly nativity set that you can play with together with your children as you explain the story.
Keep Your Marriage First in Your Family - There is a tendency, especially at Christmas, to make it all about the kids. It's fun to focus on them and their wide-eyed wonder, but remember that your only covenant relationship, outside of the one with Christ, is with your spouse. Don't let December craziness cause you to neglect date nights. Christmas can be an extremely romantic time of year. Take the time to snuggle by a roaring fire, maybe with a glass of wine or eggnog, and connect about your relationship (this is not the time to compare to-do lists or talk about holiday plans - this is a great time to kiss and hold each other). Reflect together on the goodness of God and take turns expressing thanks for the good things in your life and relationship. Keep your marriage first in your extended family as well. Protect each other and be a refuge for each other from the drama that so often comes with extended families.
Keep Your Family First Above Others - There is research to support the fact that families who observe holiday traditions together have happier, healthier children. But the research also shows that this effect is only true when these traditions are filled with meaning and full family participation (including, and especially fathers). In other words, it's not about going through the motions of tradition. I encourage you to keep and/or establish some thoughtful traditions this year for your family to enjoy. Make family time a priority as you sort out your other plans.
Let Some Things Go
In my family we often joke about certain family members having ATMS (Afraid To Miss Something). It's what causes college students to stay up late at night, not wanting to risk sleeping through some potential fun, spur-of-the-moment outing. It's what compels others to attend a party that they aren't really all that interested in because something fun might happen without them.
So this Christmas season, say no to ATMS, and say no to too much activity. Saying no to some activities and plans is saying yes to your most important things. Let some things go. You don't have to do it all. Don't allow the expectations of others to press you into a frenzy of activities. Just. Say. No. Respectfully explain that you are keeping activities to a minimum this year in order to keep your priorities in line.
Plans are great. Plans can be fun. But too many plans, when they end up competing with your first priorities, can cause you needless stress and misery. I'm going to take steps to keep my first things first this Christmas, how about you?
What might you do differently this year to avoid the Christmas crazies? Leave a comment!
Next time: Tip #2 - Enjoy the Doing, Not Just the Being Done
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