December 15 – Ten Days of Grace
Ten days until Christmas Day. Are you ready? No, don’t answer that, because if there’s one thing that I hope I have helped you with this Christmas season, it’s that there really is no pressure of “being ready”. Instead, be present. Be intentional. Be honest with yourself, and be realistic with your time, money, talents, and needs.
Give yourself grace and truth over the next ten days.
Don’t bake all the cookies. Pick two favorites, and roll with that.
Don’t go to all of the events. Pick a couple that work with your schedule, and decline the others with love: “Please, think of us next year, but this year, we will have to pass. I love you, though!”
Don’t buy all the presents. Pick the most meaningful gifts, and write a great letter to that special someone. My husband began this tradition for our first Christmas as a married couple, and now he continues to write each of us a personal letter. He reads them to us on Christmas morning, and it has become my most beloved tradition. I know that years from now, our children will treasure these written expressions of their father’s heart for his daughters. Give gifts that never expire, need batteries, or grow old. An “I love you, because…” or an “I am thankful for you, because…” goes a very long way and ripples through a lifetime.
Spend time with the people you love.
Reach out to the people who may need love the most. It just occurred to me the other day that 10% of our day is over two hours. Simple math, right? But, gosh. What could we do with two hours?! Makes that ten minute phone call seem a lot less intrusive on our day, doesn’t it? Make yourself a cup of tea, grab the phone, and take ten minutes to tell someone you’re thinking about them.
Slow down. I know it’s so hard. Truly, I know. We have so many opportunities within reach, but, as one of my favorite writers reminded me earlier this year, for every “yes,” there is a “no.” Say “yes” to the simple and the meaningful, and forgive yourself for saying “no” to the “muchness” of Christmas.
One of the things that I have taken on, as a mother who enjoys sewing, is the crafting of Christmas dresses for each of my daughters. But, unlike in previous years, if I don’t get to them this time around, I need to be okay with that. Rather than pull all-nighters, I need to remind myself that, one, my girls are loved, and two, my children have store-bought dresses that are just fine. The only person judging me if I don’t do it is me, so I must resolve to get a grip and move on from that unnecessary guilt trip.
For the next ten days, will you commit to living under grace with me? Give yourself grace. Give your children and spouse grace. Give your co-workers grace, and give every bah-humbugger you meet along the way extra grace, too.
This is not a countdown, friend. This is a call to live for the next ten days (at least) with intention, purpose, meaning, and the most severe grace you have ever given yourself. I repeat: Severe Grace. Free yourself up to love, and free yourself up to feel and be in the moment. It’s so hard sometimes, isn’t it? Our lives are so full that we feel we have no choice but to stay on our toes, keep everything excessively organized, and constantly look ahead for the next mark on the list and the next thing on the calendar. This is your stop sign, or at least your blinking light. Stop fretting and get ready for a lot of breathing room this week. Look purposefully for opportunities to create blank space for yourself and celebrate it!
Stick with simple gift-wrapping. Stick with recipes you know and love. Ask for help, even if you don’t think you need it. You may not need the extra hand, but that person whom you call upon, well, he or she may need to feel useful today. Maybe you were an answer to an unspoken prayer with your fellowship. I know that I like feeling needed and handy. Give someone a chance to feel those warm fuzzies at your pride’s expense.
Keep your heart light, because, like all the Christmases before this one, you will blink, and it will have passed. It won’t matter if you had casserole or soup. It won’t matter if you tied extravagant ribbons or used stick-on bows. And it won’t matter if you spent $6 or $60. Don’t sweat the small stuff, as they say, but rather, enjoy the small stuff. Life is found in the random moments. People will remember how you made them feel, and when you carry grace with you, it’s bound to rub off on others.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
– John 1:16,18
Jesus was “full of grace and truth.” I believe that these words are special, because when you are walking in grace (knowing where your strength comes from and that you have humbly received the undeserved gift of salvation from a Father who loves you) and truth (you know whose you are and that you have authority to live a life free from stress and chaos), then you have room to experience love, joy, peace, favor and gratitude. You have room to operate out of hope, patience, kindness, wisdom and generosity.
So, know whose you are today, and, for these next ten days, accept the grace that is actually yours to keep the whole year through.
Klover House Christmas:
Today, I made myself a list of ten areas in which I am going to give myself grace over the next ten days. I invite you to make your own list. What can you say “No” to, in order that you can have enough “Yes” moments that really matter?
I will give myself grace (temporary exemption, mercy, pardon, kindness, courtesy, privilege, blessing…) in the following ways:
1 – Housework – I will say “No” to my never-ending list of chores and home projects today and say “Yes” to talking with my daughters about all of the randomness they usually want to talk about, spending time finishing a little Christmas shopping as a family, and wrapping gifts with my husband after the kids go to bed.
2 – Family – I will say “No” to my own personal to-do list and say “Yes” to playing with my kids and watching a movie with my husband.
3 – Pride – I will say “No” to the desire to make “bigger and better” meals and say “Yes” to simple and familiar, so that I can enjoy an early celebration with family. I plan to throw on a huge pot of soup, like Chicken Gnocchi or Wedding Soup, and have a break from time in the kitchen.
4 – Cell phone – I will say “No” to the endless gazing at my phone and say “Yes” to offering my family my full attention for the afternoon.
5 – Sleep – I will say “No” to staying up too late tonight, so that I can say “Yes” to being mentally and emotionally present for my daughters.
6 – School – I will say “Yes” to keeping school celebrations and expectations simple, affordable, and fun, and say “No” to trying to impress or go overboard, planning elaborate or costly activities.
7 – Business – I will say “No” to the desire to push myself too far in order to finish too many things, and I will say “Yes” to checking in on a few customers/friends.
8 – Plans – I will say “No” to scrambling around at the last minute and say “Yes” to being satisfied with what I have accomplished so far, so I can enjoy these last days before Christmas.
9 – Mom Guilt – I will say “No” to staying up all night to create unnecessary things, such as handmade Christmas dresses, knowing that my children have beautiful clothing and such things aren’t always needed. In doing so, I will say “Yes” to my sanity and health.
10 – Christmas Eve – I will say “No” to anything unrelated to this Holy night and say “Yes” to making it meaningful for my children. I will say “No” to the distractions so that I can remember to say “Yes” to my heart’s desire for my family to know and feel my love for them.
What will you say “No” to this week so that you can say “Yes” to who and what you treasure?
You can do this – I believe in you. Write it down as simply or elaborately as you’d like, and carry it with you or put it on your refrigerator. Let’s make these next ten days the easiest days of your month.
Everything you need for a beautiful Christmas, you most-likely already possess.