Savoring the Season

 

“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” –Jesus, as quoted in Luke 10:41–42 NLT

“Are you ready for Christmas?” someone asked me this past week.

“Yes!” I answered.

She looked surprised and began to commend me, but I stopped her.

“I don’t have a single Christmas card written,” I confessed. “Most of the presents are waiting to be wrapped, and I’m still crocheting an afghan for my son. I should have it done by Christmas Eve. And I don’t have a single thing baked. But I’m ready for Christmas.”

She looked puzzled, so I explained.

“I’m not stressed this year because I’m savoring the unfolding of the season.”

This is, truly, “the most wonderful time of the year.” Anticipation fills the air. Kindness and compassion abound. Joy bubbles. Love spills over. Peace pervades the atmosphere. And I don’t want to miss it by letting the Martha in me overrule the Mary in me.

Over the years of exhausting myself so much that I couldn’t truly enjoy Christmas, I’ve learned a few things.

First, I’ve learned that I don’t have to do it all myself. I’ve learned to let others help.

My son, his girlfriend, and her parents will be with us Christmas Eve. I planned an easy menu that doesn’t require hours upon hours in the kitchen preparing food. Soup, sandwiches, veggies, and dessert. Simple. I’ll provide the soup and sandwiches, and David and Kristin will bring the veggie tray and dessert.

The focus, I’ve come to realize, is not on the food but on family. Time with them is precious and more important than a feast that leaves me wiped out after preparing.

I’ve learned to say “yes” when someone asks if they could do something. Set the table, put out the food trays, light the candles, fill the ice bucket. I know how good it makes me feel when I can help. Allowing my guests—even children—to lend a hand gives them a feeling of being accepted, valued, and needed. More than welcome. Not so much a guest as a cherished friend or a beloved family member. You can’t put a ribbon or a price tag on a gift like that.

Second, I’ve learned that I don’t have to do everything. I’ve learned to let some things on the to-do list go.

I’ve learned that everything doesn’t have to be perfect. I used to strive for a spotless, sparkling, picture-perfect house. I was worried how it would reflect on me if my home didn’t look like a scene from House Beautiful or Good Housekeeping. But I’ve learned that no one looks at the baseboards.

What’s more important than a perfect house or a feast fit for a king is the Spirit of the Babe born in Bethlehem that cold night so long ago filling my home with love, joy, and peace like the fragrance from a scented candle.

I don’t need things done to be ready for Christmas. My heart, mind, and spirit are already celebrating.

What about you—are you ready for Christmas?

As I light the third Advent candle, remind me, Father, that it isn’t so important that my home is ready but that my heart is. Amen.

© 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

There’s an Oil for That!

 

. . . to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. –Isaiah 61:3 NIV

I was making butternut squash soup this past week and had taken a pan of the buttered, cubed squash out of the oven. The pan meaning my largest stainless steel saucepan—with a handle.

Now, I don’t make butternut squash soup too often for several reasons: DH doesn’t like it, it’s a lot of work, and it leaves my kitchen a mess. But it’s perfect for a quick, delicious lunch.

In the process of making this batch, I grabbed the handle—the very hot handle—of the saucepan not once—but twice. Without a hot pad.

Talk about a “stupid of me” moment! Especially since blisters were already forming from the first time.

Since kitchen injuries such as burns and sliced fingers are par for the course for me (I never said I was Betty Crocker), I keep a small bottle of lavender essential oil in a kitchen cupboard. Within minutes of slathering on the oil, the pain eased. By the next morning, no trace of the burn remained. No blisters, no redness.

Because I’d rather use natural remedies than manmade chemicals, I have a medicine cabinet shelf full of various essential oils. My skeptical offspring tease me whenever someone complains about an ailment: “There’s an oil for that, right, Mom?”

They aren’t the only skeptics. I’ve given up trying to convince folks that these oils, which are better for the body than manmade chemicals, really work. So I just use them and hope the results are obvious. And try to keep my mouth shut. But that’s hard when I know of something that will improve their lives.

It’s the same with telling others about the benefits of being a Christian. To receive these blessings is as simple as believing and saying, “Yes” to God.

Simple. But not easy. Because letting go of self-control and accepting God-control is hard, unless we’ve made such a mess of things, divine intervention is our only recourse. (It’s our only recourse anyway.) Or because we’d rather trust in something that we can see, hear, touch, smell, and feel than an invisible God who’s as real as the oxygen we breathe.

That’s probably why there are more skeptics than believers.

But, oh, the benefits of being a believer! 

What are they? 

For starters, the omnipotent, omniscient God’s presence, protection, and provision. His steadfast love. His mercy. His grace. His faithfulness.

I’m never alone. When I’m puzzled or hurt, weary or overwhelmed, I have a trusted Person to go to who will give me rest. All my needs are provided, so worry isn’t something I waste my time and emotions on. When I need answers, He provides them. It may take time, but He has never failed me yet.

I could go on and on and on. The Bible is filled with the blessings that belong to believers. Like my kids say, “There’s an oil for everything.”

Do you know someone who can use God’s oils?

As we light the second candle on the Advent wreath, let it be a reminder that Jesus came to give us the oil of joy.

Help me, Lord, not to be silent about the oils of Your blessings. Amen.

Read and meditate on Isaiah 61:1–3 and Luke 4:16–21

© 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.