In Hot Pursuit of Peace

I woke up this morning to a frightening realization. Today is December 2! That means I have only 23 days to prepare for Christmas!!! I have yet to buy one gift, bake one cookie or put up one decoration. How did this sneak up on me so fast??? Breathe, Susie, breathe. This happens to me every year. From Thanksgiving to Christmas is a flurry, no actually, a blizzard of activity. From Thanksgiving dinner to Return to Bethlehem to the girls’ dance recital to the church Christmas programs to Christmas morning with 5 kids…then add in gift shopping, baking, all the extra rehearsals and practices for said programs and all the normal day to day activities of our busy family’s life minus my husband who is out of town for work most of the month…Oh my! Our regular life is crazy to begin with..December life is like a 5 year old after drinking a whole box of 5 hour energy drinks. Seriously.

No wonder I nearly have a nervous breakdown each year! I get stressed out, I’m in a chronic bad mood, I yell at my kids, I yell at my husband, and am just an angsty ball of unhappiness that progressively builds until Christmas morning when it all comes crashing down and I finally “feel” like it’s Christmas. I have even been guilty of saying that I hate the month of December and the Christmas season (gasp!) because it is so stressful for me. What a shame, don’t you think? Christmas should not be this way. It IS the most wonderful time of the year! And, I want it to be that way THIS year for me and my family. So how am I going to make this happen? My mother says to me, “It’s too much, Suze, it’s just too much. You need to cut back on all that you guys are doing. Something’s gotta give.” Easy for her to say now that her kids are out of the house! You know that commercial that was out a couple years ago about drug/tobacco use? The one where the parents find out that the kid is using drugs (or smoking, I can’t remember exactly)? The parent asks the kid how did they become hooked on the drug or whatever and the kid looks at the parent and says, “I learned it by watching you.” That would be the situation with me and my mother. I learned to be like this because my mom was the same way!!! My dad says I am like my mom on steroids…anyway…

Sure, I could cut back on the activities that we are all involved in. That would definitely help. But, which ones? Do I tell the girls they can’t sing with the children’s choir at church or do I not allow the boys to be involved with Return to Bethlehem or do I not participate in the adult choir at church this year? Or better yet, do I not bake Christmas cookies this year or decorate my house? Ummm….no. None of these is an option for me or our family. There is no way I can say no to any of these, especially at this point. And honestly, I don’t want to say no. Christmas means more to us than just one day of presents and singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Christmas is a month-long celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus, and showing His love to as many people as we can by serving in all these different areas to our community. From Lew all the way down to Emma, December and all its activities (big and small) are a big deal for us. So how do I make this year different from all the years before? How do I not get stressed out and turn into Cruella Deville this year?

I spent some time in the Word this morning, asking God to help me to be calm during this Christmas season, to be at peace and enjoy myself. Isaiah 9:6 says this, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the PRINCE OF PEACE.” He’s the PRINCE OF PEACE!!! Are you seeing this with me? The irony? Here I am, losing my cool, going bananas, fighting with my family during a time of year when we are to be celebrating the arrival of the Prince of Peace! I’m actually laughing out loud over the ridiculousness of ME!

Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” I’m just shaking my head at myself right now. When I was going through the separation and divorce of my first marriage and the subsequent trying times afterwards, God gave me this sweet peace that I can not even describe. I trusted God completely and it was a beautiful and intimate time with the Lord like no other time in my life. Now, honestly, how can the stress of the Christmas season even compare with the stress of going through a divorce with three little kids? There is no comparison.

What God has done before, He will do again. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. That’s His word. That being said, I am going to rest in Him and cast all my cares upon Him. I will find joy in every day of this Christmas season. I will laugh instead of yell. I will take a deep breath and remember what is important when I feel overwhelmed. I will enjoy my children and share in their excitement and joy of Christmas instead of being so busy with the task at hand. We’ll take time to drink hot cocoa and watch Christmas movies and build fires in the fireplace and sing Christmas carols and actually talk about Jesus and His birth. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll let the kids help me decorate the Christmas tree this year instead of allowing the crazy OCD lady to take over. The possibilities for joy and peace are endless!

So, even though it’s only December, I am making a resolution. I resolve in the month of December to be calm, cool and collected. To not allow the stress of the season to affect how I treat others around me. I will enjoy myself and be okay with whatever gets done. I will not allow others to make me feel bad for saying “no” to extra stuff that will steal my joy and peace this Christmas season. I am going to allow the Prince of Peace to fill me with peace. And just breathe…

If you see me this month and I’m not smiling, feel free to remind me of my resolution. I have a feeling this will require daily effort. 🙂

Psalm 34:14 “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” I’ll be in hot pursuit of peace from now on!

Peace and joy to you and your family too!

Susie 🙂

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