I know, it feels early to be wishing one another a Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas. But it’s not! I don’t know about you, but time is literally flying by for me. The truth is that we are just a few weeks away from the holiday season.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are wonderful times of the year. There are cherished memories of past celebrations that we hold dear, as well as current expectations for how things will turn out this year.
For many, life is different this year than last. Things may be better, prayers answered in the way hoped for, and reasons to celebrate with loved ones. For a lot people though, the upcoming holiday season is met with saddness, loss and uncertainty. Financial changes may also be a concern as the expenses of the holidays start to present themselves.
Whether you are excited or already worried about the holidays to come, it is important to set aside some quiet time to think about what worked last year and what do you need to do different this year. Set realistic goals and expections; especially around relationships. If Uncle Joe was difficult to be around last year, he probably will be again this year! So how can you take care of yourself? Regarding finances, create a budget and stick to it as best you can. On your calendar, block out time for relaxing and rest. Take charge of the things that are within your control.
Above everything else, keep things simple so that more of your focus can be on the One who deserves it most.
It’s summer in Texas. It’s hot. People spend a lot of time floating on, around and in pools. I like to spend time in the lazy river, letting the current do the work. While lounging in the pool, it dawned on me that there is a concept of marriage that is like a lazy river. If you just flow with the current of marriage, it’s predictable and does not require much effort on your part. It appears easy. There is however a price to be paid. Just like if you refused to exercise your body and only floated while in the pool; you wouldn’t get the physical benefits of hard work.
The lazy river of marriage. Sadly, the “natural” selfish current of marriage is flowing towards deadness. Without consistent effort, two people who were passionate about one another are now just frustrated roommates. Conversations that onced flowed easily are now icy and difficult even about small things. Hopes, goals and dreams that a couple shared together are now dead and loneliness has taken up residence within the home.
Floating in a marriage is a plan for disaster. If you want a vibrant marriage, stop floating and start swimming against the current. Make an effort to reconnect, make an effort to break down walls and make an effort to fight the tendency towards taking the easiest path possible.
As some of you know, I recently went on a silent retreat. It was by far one of the best things I have ever done for myself. Although I was a bit dismayed when I initially told people that I was going because many laughed out loud and wondered how I would manage no talking for several days. I am a talker I will admit but I honestly loved the silence in a way not even I had expected.
My desire to attend a silent retreat came about after reading “Leading on Empty” by Wayne Cordeiro. As the owner and lead therapist of a growing ministry, I have been in a very blessed, but busy season in life. In the book, Wayne Cordeiro states that “we don’t forget that we are Christians. We forget that we are human.” So I read (devoured is more accurate) the book and took to heart and soul the principles the author was sharing. Even to the point of going a silent retreat as he had. Although he high-tailed it out of the monastery around day five and headed to the nearest coffee shop for the day. I assure you that I did not follow that direction! No, I sat quietly before my Lord and listened. Listened to the birds chirping, listened to the sound of the trees swaying in the breeze, listened to that still small voice that I love so much. I truly had an Elijah experience – minus the disdain for living though! I slept, ate, slept and ate some more and then received direction from God.
If you feel that you can relate to the concept of leading on empty, I highly encourage you to pick up the book by Wayne Cordeiro. Read with a determination to hear God through it and book yourself a silent retreat to get direction for the next phase of your life. If you are in the Dallas/Ft Worth area, I recommend Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House in Lake Dallas. However, if you are out of town, the web is full of faith-based retreats that can meet your need to encounter God through silence.
I love Starbucks. I love the coffee. I love the pastries. One of my most favorite are coffee frappuccinos. I recently decided that since I liked the small size so much, why not try a large just to enjoy it all the more. Half way through the venti frapp, I came to appreciate the saying that there can be too much of a good thing. My good thing turned on me. No longer was I enjoying it, but was becoming rather sick in fact. As I stood over the trash can getting ready to throw out the remainder, it hit me that this was a good metaphor for many things in life. A good thing overdone can become the very thing that makes us ill.
There is a huge difference between doing something because we can and doing something because the anointing of God is on it. If we fail to follow PRECISELY where God’s anointing is, we can burnout in our human effort to do more than God has asked us to do. I have seen many people take their gifts and talents and push themselves beyond where God has asked them to go. The thinking goes something like this; “God has really blessed me in this area so I guess I need to work longer and harder and be blessed more!” Well maybe not. Maybe the blessing was truly on the smaller thing done well rather than the larger work done in chaos and burnout.
I am happy to report that I have returned to enjoying coffee frapps but I only order a small and enjoy it thoroughly without a desire for more.