7 December Stress-Busters

December dawned a few days ago, but is it possible during this “most wonderful time of the year” that we’re actually feeling a teensy bit of stress? I’d say not only possible but probable—and not only a teensy bit but a pretty big chunk. A chunk that seems to grow, in fact, as the days tick past on the calendar.

If ever there’s a month where my blog series on stress busters appropriate for each month is needed, December has got to be it. So let’s get right to it. May the following stress busters prove to be an early Christmas present for you, my friends!

December Stress Busters 

  1. Take some time each day—even if just two or three minutes—to sit and gaze at your Christmas tree. Take a deep breath, relax your body, and enjoy your tree—the beauty, the nostalgia that Christmas invokes, and the sense of joy and worship that Christmas trees have a way of inspiring.
  2. Plan for simple meals. Fix one meal for dinner each week that will be enough for at least two nights then throw in a night of take-out and go out to dinner once as well. Give yourself a break where you can.
  3. Don’t just listen to Christmas music—sing along. I’m willing to bet it’s impossible to stay all balled up in stress if you’re actually singing the words to your traditional Christmas favorites. Sing while you wrap presents, do laundry, or bake for the holidays. And sing the carols of Christmas during your personal worship time. It will add a whole new dimension of joy and peace to your celebration of Christmas.
  4. Hire a young teen to wrap your Christmas presents. You won’t have to pay as much and the teen will be glad to earn some extra spending money. And as you reduce your work-load, your stress will shrink as well.
  5. Set aside one night each week to watch one of your favorite Christmas movies. Not only will this give you some extended relaxation time, but it will provide a full-circle kind of contentment as you participate in one of your well-loved traditions.
  6. Enjoy the lights of Christmas—both candlelight and twinkling lights. Candlelight is always soothing but seems to take on an extra measure of beauty and peacefulness during Christmas. And the twinkling lights of Christmas? Get outta here. Be sure to go on a light-looking adventure one night and your stress will get lost along the way.
  7. Read Twas the Night Before Christmas and other classic Christmas books and stories to a child. Stress can’t reign if you’re sharing the magical and wonder-filled joy of Christmas with one (or some) of your favorite littles. And if children aren’t in your holiday picture, read aloud to yourself and slip back in time for some Christmas nostalgia.

So there you have it, friends—some ways to trade your stress for joy and peace this holiday season. And remember, over all these methods and any others you may employ, our best stress-relief can be found in spending time with and worshipping the Savior whose birth we celebrate. Come and adore him and you’ll find your stress melting away!

“In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” John 1:4

*Which of these stress-busters will you use this holiday season? What else can you add to the list?

Have you subscribed yet to Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue? If not, sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, just scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Flickr photo by Jonathan Stonehouse, Creative Commons License

The Season of Rejoicing Is Here!

Anyone else ready to kick off Christmas—the season of rejoicing—in song? If so, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve often celebrated the yuletide season here on the blog by inviting you to join in a favorite Christmas carol, and I’d love to do that again this year. No better way to welcome the season of rejoicing, right?

As always, I encourage you to sing all the verses of the carol and to consider its words with fresh eyes. As you do, you’ll find a wealth of treasure in its message and your spirit will soar in worship of the One whose birthday we celebrate this month.

This year let’s raise our voices together in worship as we sing “Good Christian Men, Rejoice.” It has become a favorite of mine in recent years as I sing it during my own personal worship times. I think you’ll understand why as you refresh your memory with its message.

So join me, friends—the season of rejoicing is here! Let’s rejoice together!

Good Christian Men, Rejoice

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice;
Give ye heed to what we say:
News! news!
Jesus Christ is born today!
Ox and ass before Him bow,
And He is in the manger now:
Christ is born today!
Christ is born today!

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice;
Now ye hear of endless bliss:
Joy! joy!
Jesus Christ was born for this!
He has opened heaven’s door,
And man is blessed evermore:
Christ was born for this!
Christ was born for this!

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice;
Now ye need not fear the grave:
Peace! peace!
Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all
To gain His everlasting hall:
Christ was born to save!
Christ was born to save!

(Latin carol, 14th century; translated by John M. Neale)

“‘. . . my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,’” Luke 1:47

*What Christmas carols help you ring in the season?

*Flickr photo by ishane, Creative Commons License

Simplify Your Holiday Season When Wedding Planning

Mother of the Bride, are you trying to prepare for and celebrate the holidays while also in wedding planning mode? My advice is to give yourself a break and simplify where you can. If possible, put wedding planning on the backburner for December. 

If postponing wedding planning is not possible in your situation, why not simplify your holiday preparations and activities. In fact, even if you can put wedding planning on hold during December, go ahead and take it easier during the holiday season anyway. Don’t just trade one demanding season for another.

Here are a few suggestions to help simplify your holidays this year. Try at least two or three of the ideas—or really get some rest and try them all! You deserve the break, MOB!

  1. Hire a young teen to wrap your Christmas presents. You won’t have to pay as much and the teen will be glad to earn some extra spending money.
  2. Decide on a one-size-fits-all gift to give to many on your list. This will ease the strain on your brain and streamline your shopping. You could give something fun like gift cards to a movie theater or tickets to a sporting event or concert, something yummy like gift baskets from your favorite chocolatier or restaurant gift cards, or something meaningful like a donation to a charity.
  3. Take a break from helping with Christmas programs or providing goodies for holiday events. It may be hard to say no but you owe it to yourself and your family this year when wedding planning stress may already be pressing in as you enter the holiday season.
  4. Scale back on decorating your home. You don’t have to put everything out every year. This is one of those areas where you can easily give yourself a break. Decorate only one room—or put just one or two of your favorite things in each room. You might decide you like this approach so much, you’ll make it your new tradition!
  5. Instead of your traditional time-intensive Christmas dinner, do something simpler. Fix a variety of your favorite appetizers along with home-baked rolls and your traditional desserts or bring in a take-out Italian feast from your favorite Italian restaurant. Make it a festive event with music playing and candles glowing.
  6. Forgo sending Christmas cards or letters this year. Friends and family know you are busier this year than usual and will totally understand if you opt not to send holiday greetings. Post a special greeting on your favorite social media outlet and call it good.
  7. Cut back on your holiday baking and candy-making. Like with decorating, you don’t have to do everything this year. Choose your family’s absolute favorite treats and fix only those.

Maybe these suggestions have even sparked some ideas of your own, MOB. If so, that’s wonderful! Give yourself permission to take the pressure off this year!

*You might also like to read Realistic December Wedding Planning, Mother of the Bride, Enjoy December!, and Time Management: Give Yourself a Break, MOB.

*Flickr photo by luna715, Creative Commons License

Meeting a Problem Head-On

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’” John 18:4 NIV

With Easter still fresh on our minds today, let’s take a look at one of the lessons we can learn from the age-old story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Many insights and truths can be drawn from this dramatic real-life event, but let’s focus today on how Jesus handled a problem that came looking for him on that dark night before his crucifixion.

When confronted with the most dreaded and excruciating hours of his life, what did Jesus do? He met the ordeal head-on. Scripture tells us that while Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane—after eating his last Passover meal with his disciples and after spending time in agonizing prayer—some soldiers and religious officials led by Judas came looking for him.

Since Jesus knew all that was about to happen, he could have handled the situation in a number of ways. As soon as the threat was spotted, he could have run for his life and told his disciples to do the same. Or he could have had the disciples stay and cause a delay while he made his getaway. Or since it was nighttime, he might have even told everyone to hide.

But Jesus didn’t do any of those things. Instead, he summoned his courage and went out to meet the threat. He told them he was the one they were looking for. Then he tried to protect his disciples by asking that they be let go. When one of the disciples drew his sword and began to put up a fight, Jesus stopped him and said, “‘Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’” (v. 11) Yes, he was ready to meet the life and death challenge head-on.

How was he able to do this? Love for us. His desire to pay the price for our sins and offer us eternal life instead. Also love for his Father and his commitment to do the Father’s will. And I’m sure he gained strength from the Father during his Garden of Gethsemane prayer time. We’re told in the scriptures that an angel even came and strengthened him there (Luke 22:43.) All of these things combined helped Jesus face his moment of truth.

Are any of us faced with an overwhelming situation? Let’s take strength from the example of Jesus and from the strength God so willingly gives and then go out and meet the challenge head-on. Let’s drink the cup the Father has given us. Let’s bring glory to his name.

“‘The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God and I will exalt him.’” Exodus 15:2

*When has God given you strength to face a dreaded ordeal?

The next issue of Life Notes, my inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in each quarterly issue, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a gift valued at $20 (shipping included) from Beigetone Soaps and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by TimOve, Creative Commons License

Our Savior’s Prayers

4520690603_9d8d54274b_z

For the next few days, as we meditate on our beautiful Savior and on all he did for us through his death on the cross and his resurrection from the grave, let’s consider some prayers he prayed during the last hours before his crucifixion. While you read these prayers of Jesus, ask the Holy Spirit to help you apply them to your own personal life.

 “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.’” John 17:1

 “‘My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one . . . Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth . . . May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.’” John 17:15, 17, 23

 “‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’” Matthew 26:39

 “Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.’” Luke 23:34

 “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice…’My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” Mark 15:34

 “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’” Luke 23:46

 Won’t you join me this Easter in committing our lives into the Father’s hands? A blessed Easter to all!

*Which of these prayers of Jesus most resonated with you today?

*I hope this encore post from April 2011 blesses you today!

 The next issue of Life Notes, my inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in each quarterly issue , comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a gift valued at $20 (shipping included) from Beigetone Soaps and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right!

 *Flickr photo by Kimber Photography, Creative Commons License