A restful heart during the Christmas season…

Is it even possible for a mom?

Tree to decorate. Decorations to hang. Presents to buy. Presents to wrap. Cookies to bake. Parties to attend. Cards to address. Advent book to read. Jesse Tree to explain. Carols to sing. Nativity play to perform. And that little elf needs some mischief again.

Don’t forget there are still mouths to feed, clothes to wash, messes to clean.

Perhaps you have the added interruptions of sickness, disobedience, fussing, appointments, conflict.

Oh, and if you’re a homeschool mom? There is still math and language and science and history.

Is anyone feeling restful yet?

You want to enjoy silent nights and joy in your world. You want this to be a season of family togetherness. You want a heart that is filled with rest and joy.

But in our culture, unless you are intentional, it won’t happen. You probably find yourself more stressed and frazzled in December than the rest of the year.

Not who you want to be? Take hope! You can be a restful, joyful mother during Christmas.

God gave us a model of a mother at rest during Christmas: Mary, the first mother of the Christmas season. We can follow her example to foster rest in our own hearts during this complicated time of year.

Surrender Your Expectations

I don’t think Mary’s life met her expectations as a young girl. Conversation with an angel. Immaculate conception. Carrying the long-awaited Messiah. Pregnant before married.

Mary’s response?

“Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to Your Word.” (Luke 1:38)

Mary chose to let go of her plan and receive the better plan God had for her. She could not see the future and probably did not understand. But she knew her God and trusted him.

What are your expectations?

Do you entertain a Norman Rockwell picture of Christmas? A little mischief, yet still perfect?

June Cleaver expectations? Everything is calm, orderly, and clean.

Dr. Phil expectations? Yep, family drama is just bound to happen.

Perhaps you have Pinterest expectations. Need I say more?

How do you surrender your expectations, whatever they may be?

Sit. Yes, sit still. Just for a few minutes. List your expectations of the coming days, either on paper or just in your heart. Then surrender them to Jesus. Let go. Trust Jesus. Say with Mary, “May it be done to me according to Your Word.”

Establish an Environment of Worship

During the time that Mary was still expecting the physical birth of Jesus, she visited her cousin Elizabeth. Their immediate response: Worship.

In 40 verses of the first chapter of Luke, three songs of praise are recorded. Elizabeth. Mary. Zacharias. All sang praise to their coming Messiah.

In a season of confusion and interruption, Mary could have withdrawn in selfishness and despair. But she chose to worship.

Mary’s song? 

“My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:46-47)

Mary resolved to focus on her Lord rather than her circumstances. She clothed herself in a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:3).

What is the environment in your home?

Be honest with yourself. Are you leading your family to intentionally focus on Jesus? Do your traditions turn your gaze to the One who the season is really about?

Or are you lost in a frenzy of activity, simply striving to get everything done?

When we worship, Jesus becomes bigger and all the stuff of life grows smaller.

How do you establish an environment of worship?

Think for a few moments about the environment in your home. Then do one thing to focus your heart on Jesus and lead your family to do the same.

Read a devotion. Make a craft. Decorate a Jesse Tree. Sing a carol. Bake some cookies. Turn on a worship song. If you need something simple, just sit and talk.

But only if they turn your hearts toward Jesus.

Any activity can turn your heart to Jesus if He is first in your mind. But if the activity leads you away from love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, perhaps you should reconsider it.

Create Space to Ponder

Pregnant before married. Difficult travel while pregnant. Giving birth in a barn. Dirty shepherds as her baby’s first visitors. Fleeing for her son’s life.

Mary had reason to be overwhelmed. No one would have been surprised if she complained about the events that unfolded for her.

Mary’s heart?

“But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

Mary made a choice. She allowed her heart to enjoy her circumstances. As she reflected on the happenings of that first Christmas season, she chose joy and rest.

On January 1, what will you remember about this Christmas season?

Will you see a flash, a flurry of activity, a blur that is over before you realize? It doesn’t have to be that way. You can make a choice to treasure this season. But you must create space to think, space to treasure, space to ponder.

How do you create space to ponder?

You must be intentional. It won’t happen automatically.

So today, right now, do something restful. Just for a few minutes.

Then tomorrow? Do it again. Stop. Give thanks. Prioritize the mundane. Play a game. Read a book. Walk outside. Sip slowly. Open a space in your calendar. Just sit.

Draw Near to Jesus

Mary drew close to Jesus. She embraced Him in her heart before she embraced Him in her arms. The point of all Mary did is that she moved closer to the heart of Jesus Himself.

The bottom line of how we can rest during Christmas? Draw near to Jesus.

Do you want to foster a restful Christmas heart like Mary?

Surrender your expectations of this season. Surrender your efforts to create rest in the midst of it.

Because rest is a gift to be received.

Establish an environment to worship Jesus. Do one thing to lift Him up.

Because He is the One who is rest.

Create space to ponder. Open space to breathe and time to think.

Because space allows you to receive the gift of rest in the person of Jesus.

Draw near to Jesus.

Because this is a choice you can make.

Then you will be a restful, joyful mother for your family to enjoy during Christmas.