Monday, December 19, 2016

He Calms the Seas AND the Season ( Plus...A Giveaway!)

Tea Party Prep!
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays always start the same way for the 40-somethings at my house. 

Up early. 
Workout clothes on.
Bible reading with a side of hot tea. 
Out the door for a run - on the nearby rail trail or at the nearby Planet Fitness depending on weather conditions.
(On Mondays we add the special treat of breakfast together at Whole Foods and a "What do you have going on this week?" conversation.)

But last Wednesday I couldn't do it. 

The homeschooling. 
The holidays. 
The endless (but good!) events, deliveries, visits, houseguests, conferences.
The deep needs of people - both inside and outside of my home. 
The anxiety rising up in the heart of this introvert who could not remember the last time she was alone and not required to either talk or actively listen. 
And the stark reality that Christmas was just 10 days away.


Drove slowly through the snow to see Ebeneezer Scrooge: A Christmas Carol.
In those coming 10 days there would be several coffee dates, doctor appointments, a retreat planning meeting, a trip out of town for a musical, church, a congrats party, a meal delivery, babysitting gigs for the teenaged girl, a trip to New York City to celebrate her dear friend's Sweet Sixteen, airport pickups, an annual tea party, an open house, a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, and a Christmas morning worship service.

And not one gift had been bought. Not even one.

I should confess that these are all my choices and felt responsibilities and desires. I like to be busy. I like to put extra effort in celebrating the Christ-focused holidays. I like to serve and host. I like people and parties.

But I still don't know my own limits.

I think I'm fine. I feel strong and full of life in all of this whirlwind of activity and people. And then it hits me, and all of a sudden I'm weary, and slipping into despair. I wish there were clear ways of calculating when this will happen. A formula to follow. (Not that I would follow it.)

So, last Wednesday, I stayed in bed in the early morning hours. The other 40-something brought me a cup of tea before he went out the door to exercise without me.

I was so tempted to grab my computer and start shopping, because....NO GIFTS! How many days do I have left before they won't arrive in time for Christmas? I had already received a reprimanded by my father who had been calling me daily for ideas and sizes for all the grandkids.

I resisted the urge in my driven heart and restless mind to start crossing things off my very long list, and grabbed my Bible instead. Immediate temptation rose up again - to not read everything I usually do. To skip the advent devotion...or the Proverb....or the New Testament chapter. Or prayer. (Oh, how often that one gets cut short. Prayer is "the greater work..." as someone reminded me last Sunday, and it's so true.)



So I started reading.
I read everything I was "supposed" to read.
And He spoke. (As He ALWAYS does in this situation.)
And what a gift...

"And He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, 'Hush, be still." And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them 'Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?' And they became very much afraid and said to one another, 
'Who is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him?'"
 Mark 4: 39-41

"When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, 
but the righteous has an everlasting foundation." 
Proverbs 10: 25

"So that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God." 
I Corinthians 2: 4-5

And I prayed (like, wrote-it-in-my-journal-prayer)...

Lord, I am in need of your peace and your wisdom in the whirlwind of Christmas. There have been so many people and concerts and meetings and even gift-wrapping gigs for CC and more. I fought the tears of the accumulation of input and interaction all day yesterday. Please help me to have faith in your power and your wisdom and not in mine. I don't know how to manage my time well and factor in my own needs. I want to be poured out for your church, and so I say yes to a lot of people and seeming responsibilities, but then I crash. Show me how to have a better balance, so that I'm not going from one urgent request or need to another with no time for reflection or real prayer. Help me to prioritize that. Show me how to be thoughtful and mindful and how to pray and how to listen to you - hearing your guidance.

I went on to pray for help focusing on and resting in Him, for gift ideas for friends and family, for wisdom in preparing for the retreat meeting, and for protection from the enemy who is truly ramping up his game lately. (Maybe more on this later?)
Small Group Christmas Party
True Highlight of the Season: Amherst College Christian A Cappella concert
And He is answering my prayers. He's bringing to mind those scriptures and realities...

My faith is not in earthly wisdom. (i.e. Christmas is about gifts! Get an early start!) God is the one with power and true wisdom. (Christmas is about Him. Emmanuel. God come near to be with us.)

When the whirlwind passes (and it will), I'll still be standing. (Both the Christmas whirlwind, and the eternal judgment whirlwind!)

He has sovereign control. (Over the raging sea AND over this season. It's all going to be okay.)

Oh, I'm working down the list. The packages are all mailed off. The Christmas cards go out today...all 225 of them. The teenaged babysitter has been dropped off and has already had Starbucks and lunch delivered to her. The trip to NYC is tomorrow, and I'm not even fretting about the tea party for a bunch of teenaged girls which is two days later. It's really going to be okay.

The Christmas Eve open house for our church members will be icing on the cake, and I can't wait. We've even recruited some dear helpers for the evening. (Thank you in advance, Corey & Yulia!)

After my tea-and-Bible-in-bed-morning, I went out and did some shopping and then had a couple of appointments. I made up my morning run on Thursday morning, and miraculously the earth kept spinning on its regular axis. I even almost finished up the shopping after that morning workout.

That Christ has power to calm the sea, gave me peace all throughout those days. That I'd still be standing on December 26 (and forever), because He promises to sustain, gave me hope.

He even gave me the idea and desire to offer you all a couple of gifts, and I'm super excited about sharing some of my favorite authors and trinkets with you. If you comment here on the blog or on Facebook or via private message with a verse that is sustaining you this advent season (or in the recent past), I'll put your name in the hat for one of these bundles. There will be two winners - one for each bundle.

Here's the first:



Bird's Nest Necklace from JoyWares

And the second:



Bird's Nest Necklace fro JoyWares
I have not read The Broken Way yet, but I asked for it for Christmas. If it appears under my tree, it will likely consume the remainder of my Christmas day. Ann Voskamp has an intriguing style, and I find it so full of truth and encouragement. Her son makes the necklaces and several other wonderful items for encouraging faith in families. Check out his site, JoyWares.

Ok - comment away!  I'll pick a winner on the morning of Christmas Eve, so you've got until midnight Friday. I'll let you know via message and will post it here as well.  You can expect your goodies by the middle of January.

In the mean time, may you find peace and hope in the One who presides over the seas and is the very reason for the advent season.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Jesus. Name above all names. Beautiful Savior. Glorious Lord. Immanuel, God is with us. Blessed Redeemer. Living Word." The song in my heart this season, Love, K&J

Anonymous said...

"...Everlasting joy will be theirs!" Isaiah 61:7
~Shemaiah

Melanie said...

Thank you, Kelly and Shemaiah! (Way to go with the posting, S! ;-) )

Natalie Litzau said...

The verse that has stuck out to us this season is "Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever"
Psalm 106:1
But my favorite Christmas verse is Luke 1:14
"He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth"

-Natalie :)

Melanie said...

Got it, Natalie! Love those verses.

Unknown said...

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

Psalm 27:13
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mel,

But the Lord said to Samuel,"Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him; Man does not see the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart" 1 Sam 16:7
Just a reminder for me to see others through His lense vs my cloudy ones. ~Neena