daily devotional

Welcome to Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving where your jeans fit tighter and everything is on sale!

It’s always interesting to me that we go from the day we declare our gratitude for all we have, and jump into the day we need to go out and buy more. Americans will spend approximately $5 billion in this 24 hour period on Christmas shopping. Half of today’s shoppers will go into debt with their purchases. Countless fights will break out among proper, wool-coat wearing women in overly crowded stores. Pushing and shoving, sprinting through the isles in a frenzy, absolute mayhem in the local Walmart over that hot deal, all while Christmas music plays happily in the background. Joy to the world.

Why? Let’s stop the madness for just one moment and think about why we’re doing this.

Oh yeah, because we’re celebrating Jesus. (with my sweetest southern voice)

Then we come home and do the chore we all dread doing … we have to wrap all those presents. Did I mention decorating the house too? The majority of families will decorate their homes today and make them festive … it will start of merry, but then it turns into absolute frustration when that 2 year old pre-lit tree only lights up on the top half, and your house is consumed by a massive mess.

Ya’ll I made the mistake of buying a flocked Christmas tree last year. You know the ones that look like a beautiful fresh snow has fallen on the branches. Yeah, well my tree was straight out of a blizzard with huge clumps of fake white snow that cover every inch of green tree underneath. And it snows … constantly. In my house. From my flocked Christmas tree. There’s a never ending pile of white crap collecting on my dark wood floors that can’t be swept up … it just merrily floats around, landing for brief moments then goes about making a mess somewhere else.

I’m angry sweeping my floors for the 10th time today. Why? Oh yeah, because we’re celebrating Jesus.

I’ve witnessed epic fights in my neighborhood as husband and wives try to hang Christmas lights on the house. He’s not doing it right, she won’t stop bossing him around, he gets mad, climbs down off the ladder, slams the door, and now she’s outside by herself decorating the darn house.

Why? Oh yeah, because we’re celebrating Jesus.

And here we are in the season of never ending dinners, parties and performances. Each one requires a different outfit and time you don’t have. Suddenly our lives are filled with all we HAVE to do, where we HAVE to go, what we HAVE to buy and HAVE to wear.

Why? Oh yeah, because we’re celebrating Jesus.

Do you ever just want to yell STOP?!!!!!

I don’t want to go into debt buying presents that will likely go unused in a few months. I don’t want to go all these places and wear a fake smile and suck it in the entire time. I don’t want to hang up all those Christmas lights to make my house look like the neighbor’s house, because honestly I really hate taking them all back down. I don’t want to … but I feel like I have to.

It takes one brave soul in each family, in each neighborhood, in each friend circle to say … hey ya’ll I’m just going to enjoy Christmas this year and not do all the extra. Okay?

I’ve seen it … I’ve seen the sigh of relief in everyone else once given permission to only do that which brings them happiness and honors the season the way they want to honor the season. Maybe you love decorating and shopping … then girl, go for it as you remember Jesus, but don’t insist that everyone else stand in line with you.

It reminds me of Jesus going to the house of Mary and Martha.

Luke 10: 38-42 “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Oh my sister, are you worried and upset about many things? Did you wake up today overwhelmed by all the shopping left to do, the decorations still necessary, and the overwhelming schedule for the next month? There’s a better way. You don’t have to do all this.

Jesus is here with a reminder for us to not be like Martha. Don’t be distracted by all the preparations that have to be made. Don’t miss the beauty of the season we’re in because of the strings you’ve tied to it.

One Christmas many years ago we were struggling. Struggling like “we might not have a house” struggling. Struggling like “we already dug for change this week and there’s not a dime left in the couch cushions” struggling. As much as we wanted to do all the “stuff” for Christmas, we couldn’t. There were no big gifts that year. Each of the kids got $5 and a trip to Hobby Lobby to buy the supplies to make gifts for their siblings.

It was one of our most memorable Christmases. All these years later, those gifts are the only gifts they still keep.

That year we got it … we were more like Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus. Not because we chose it, but because we were forced into it. And that year forever changed the way we do Christmas.

Christmas day is 3 weeks and 5 days from today. If that brings a sense of overwhelm in any way, sister you’re doing Christmas wrong.

You are not obligated to continue any Christmas activities that leave you broke, stretched or stressed.

I once had a Christmas tree in nearly every room of my house. Each decorated with a theme, some soaring over 15 feet tall. I also had 3 small children at the time, none of which were allowed to touch a tree. Good Lord, I WAS RIDICULOUS!!!!!! Totally and completely missing the point of everything! My children don’t have memories of decorating a tree, because they had to be perfect and only Mama could do it. If I could go back 10 years in time and slap myself, I would have a hand print on my right cheek! In my distracted world of preparations I missed opportunities I will never get back.

Here we are with the gift of another Christmas season. A time when families gather, children sing, and houses are decorated. A time when some buy gifts and some don’t. A time when we choose how we honor Jesus. As for me and my house we will say no Christmas presents for you … and none for you … no card for you … no dinner with you. Understand, it’s not because I don’t love you or treasure you. It’s simply because I won’t spend this beautiful Christmas season being broke, stretched or stressed while I’m honoring the birth of my savior.

In all I do, I honor you. You, Jesus. We remember and honor you.