How to Seek Peace in the Holiday Hustle

I stared at the half-dangling greenery, feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.

Laundry waited to be washed, presents waited to be purchased and wrapped.

My work schedule was full and our family calendar even more full.

I wanted this Christmas to be different than last year’s holiday. I wanted to really savor the season, but I felt like I was failing.

Where was the peace I longed for?

How was I missing it? Where was I going wrong?

Because the overwhelming emotion ruling my heart lately was an awful lot of stress.

Like the world before Christ’s birth, I felt the reality of “sin and error, pining.”

Between book writing, and client work, and church-planting, and home life, it often seems like there just aren’t enough hours in a day.

But I need some peace.

I need to savor this season because I’ve had oh-so-many reminders this year, friends, that our time here on earth is short, our days and hours and minutes never guaranteed.

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And as our oldest son prepares to head out into the world, I feel that reality all the more keenly.

So, how do we make the most of Christmas without becoming burdened and overwhelmed?

How do we truly seek peace without creating additional stress by adding another thing to the to-do list ?

4 Meaningful Ways to Find Peace in the Holiday Hustle

1. We put first things first for peace in the holiday hustle.

When I feel overwhelmed, I can often pinpoint one of the root causes as a lack of consistent quiet time. Whenever my calendar gets too full, my time with Jesus often becomes less and less. This is a reality we must guard against, friends.

We may even be tempted to justify spending less time in His presence because we’re spending time doing advent activities with our family, attending extra church services, and so forth.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. John 15:4

Truthfully, nothing can take the place of that one-on-one time with Emmanuel, the God who came to be with us.

We’re literally starving our souls when we neglect this most important relationship, and we will reap the fruit of that neglect in our lives. Stress, lack of motivation, discontent, worry, impatience – all can be indicators of a spiritual problem.

A return to right priorities goes a long way toward helping us regain peace in the holiday hustle!

2. We content ourselves with “good enough” for peace in the holiday hustle.

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but perfect holidays don’t exist in reality.

When we fail to reign in our expectations for what a “good Christmas” entails, we set ourselves up for failure every time!

I have to continually remind myself this year that some is better than none.

Some exercise is better than no exercise.

Some Christmas baking is better than no Christmas baking.

Some advent devotions with the kids is better than no advent.

Some planning is better than no planning. You get the idea. :)

It’s all about showing yourself some grace. After all, would your husband and children rather have lots of Christmas goodies but a stressed-out, grumpy mama, or would they prefer less treats and a mama who is at peace? I can guarantee mine would choose the latter every time.

I cannot have a perfect Christmas, and neither can you, friend. Let’s just toss that impossible notion right out into the cold.

What we can have is a meaningful, peaceful Christmas, and that happens when we slow down and savor the season.

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3. We pray for peace in the holiday hustle.

It seems to me that the Enemy works overtime during the Christmas season. As we plan and prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth with our loved ones, he’s planning for our destruction.

But we need not fear his tactics, friends, because his power is limited while our God’s power is limitless. In Christ, we have the power to resist temptation, to choose peace, to choose kindness, to choose love, and all of the other fruit of the Spirit.

Ask the Father for a special covering this Christmas. I know I will be asking the same for our household – that God’s peace will rule our home, that we will be free to joyfully celebrate Jesus’ birth, that we will be free to enjoy loved ones and gift giving and delicious food, and so on.

Peace, Father, give us peace this Christmas!

I’ll be asking for all of these things that I might be able to give God the glory for the kind of supernatural peace that can only come from Him, and trusting that His peace is already ours to claim. :)

4. We seek scripture to give us peace in the holiday hustle.

I can’t tell you how often the Spirit brings a verse to mind that I’ve previously memorized just when I need it most. I’m certain you know what I mean, friends.

God’s Word brings us peace through His promises and His guidance.

So when I was thinking of you all, faithful friends and readers, and wondering what small gift I might be able to give you this Christmas, I thought of what busy women needed most during the holidays.

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Peace.

If you’re already on my subscriber list, you should have received a link to the printable below in your inbox. But if you’re new here, just fill in your information at the bottom of this article to access all of our free resources, as well as join the list for encouraging monthly newsletters.

Above all, take time to seek real peace this Christmas.

The best Peace you’ll ever find came to Earth as a mere babe thousands of years ago, just so He might know us. If you’ve never accepted the gift of His love and salvation, you can do so today. Just cry out to Jesus.

Lay down your burdens.

And let Christ give you peace.

Jen :)

What I Learned from Our Christmas Light Fight and the God Who Is “With You”

This week I received a not-so-subtle reminder of how Christmas used to be around our house.  It started out as an unnamed tension, a small inkling that something just wasn’t right between us.

Eventually, my frustration grew, and with it the realization that my husband and I were quickly heading down a path that neither one of us wished to revisit – the path of Christmas past.

In years past, unresolved issues often flared during the holiday season with the pressure of family functions and high expectations for extra quality togetherness.

Christmas expectations tend to create an unhealthy, doomed-to-fail attitude in my husband who struggles with baggage from the past.

Add to that my equally destructive tendency toward perfectionism (also heightened by Christmas expectations) and desire for magical family moments, and… well… you can imagine the disappointment when things don’t go as planned.

The Christmas Light Fight

It took a strand of Christmas lights for me to finally experience the “Aha!” moment we desperately needed.

Because every single year we argued over those stinkin’ Christmas lights!

Why, why, why?!

Why argue over something so silly and insignificant?

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Because we’re different.

My husband is a get-‘er-done, looks-good-enough-to-me kind of guy while I’m a detail-oriented, slightly OCD perfectionist.

His goal was to get the job done quickly while mine was to get the job done right!

And at Christmastime, of all times, I felt we should be on the same page (which, if I’m honest, really meant I believed he should get on my page). ;)

One year, we found a way around the seemingly inevitable Christmas light argument. Somehow, we managed to work together to get the lights on the tree without losing patience with each other.

It was our very own Christmas miracle!

Not only that, but we also managed to discuss a plan for the outdoor lights that we both agreed upon, and my husband carried out to near perfection.

That Christmas certainly wasn’t perfect, but it demonstrated real progress.

Sometimes, friends, we focus so intently on the standard, on where we desire to be, on the relationship that we desperately long for, that we fail to see the small steps that have carried us away from where we were.

When that happens, when we fail to see the progress, we wrongly believe that we’re stuck, doomed to repeat patterns of failure that we’re sick and tired of repeating.

Like our annual Christmas light fight.

Christmas Expectations & The Enemy

The truth is that Christmas, for all of its joy and light, is also a season of added stress – financial stress, relational stress, physical stress, and mental stress.

It’s enough stress to downright break an already limping marriage relationship like the straw that broke the camel’s back.

For women in particular, we often expect our husbands to be even more family-oriented during holiday seasons.

I can’t believe he’s acting like this at Christmas!

Doesn’t he love me enough not to ruin my holiday?

Can we get just one day without his selfishness – for the kids?!

Our unrealistic Christmas expectations provide fertile ground for the Enemy’s seeds of discontent.

Believe me when I say that the Enemy is keenly aware of the opportunity that added Christmas expectations provides, and he is quick to pounce on every opportunity to grow bitterness and resentment in our hearts, even during, no especially during the season of light.

It must make him incredibly angry to see families working together to decorate their homes in anticipation of the celebration of Christ’s birth.

It must make him seethe with hatred to see the love and joy we experience in the act of giving to one another in honor of the Greatest Gift.

He must burn with rage to see families gathered around to listen to God’s Word, His love story come to life in the babe called Jesus, the God sent to earth to be “with us.”

No wonder he attacks families during the Christmas season.

There’s so much joy that he is determined to steal all that he can, and sometimes… sometimes we let him.

Friends, don’t let your Christmas expectations diminish your joy this year.

Unrealistic expectations add pressure to marriage relationships during the Christmas season! What I learned from a Christmas light fight and the God who is "with" you. Hope for the Hurting Wife sale|Being Confident of This|Christian women|Bible study|encouragement|devotional thought|inspiration|growing in Christ|progress|perfectionism|marriage|marriage help  #marriage #hope #Christianbook

The Setup for Christmas Success

Instead of setting yourself up for Christmas failure, set yourself up for success by:

  1. Lowering expectations. Be realistic! (will the Christmas light setup really matter in years to come? Or that perfect family photo – you know, the one where everyone is smiling but you remember the true feelings that reigned that day).
  2. Focusing on progress rather than perfection. (even baby steps are still steps in the right direction!)
  3. Recognizing the Enemy’s attempts to steal your Christmas joy.
  4. Keeping your mind stayed fast on the hope you have in Christ, the God who is with you!

Don’t let the sorrow of broken relationships or life’s hardships eclipse the light of the Savior’s birth.

After all, He came to be the God who is with us in all our brokenness, in all our sorrow and joy and love and frustration and messiness and wild beauty.

He came to be with us.

That’s the hope we have to offer you this Christmas season, that your God is the God who is “with you.” He never leaves you nor forsakes you, even when you disappoint yourself and your spouse by arguing over Christmas lights.

The God Who Is With You

He loves you with an everlasting love, even when you miss the first fourteen days of your advent plan.

He delights in you even when you fail time and time again.

He lavishes new mercies every morning upon you when you’ve spent half the night worrying about whether or not you and your spouse will make it.

He strengthens you to keep fighting for the healthy, abundant-life kind of marriage that He designed you to experience from the beginning.

He is the God who is with you.

Emmanuel.

And according to His word, nothing can separate you from his love, not even the prowling Enemy.

Believe in His promises today, friend. Cling to the hope that you are not alone!

When those dark thoughts and temptations enter your mind, just whisper His name – Jesus…Jesus…Jesus…

and remember He is the God who is with you, the ultimate, life-giving Gift!

*This post contains affiliate links.* Jen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Jen also participates in affiliate programs for other trusted products. Thank you for helping to support the ministry of this blog!

Hope for Wives This Christmas

Friends, we know the holiday season is rough on marriages, even healthy ones. But it’s especially hard on marriages that have nearly reached the breaking point. We know wives and spouses who are living unloved experience an intense loneliness and sadness during Christmas.

So, as a gift to you, my co-author Rebekah Hallberg and I have scheduled a special one-week Kindle countdown sale on our book, Hope for the Hurting Wife – a 30 day devotional for encouragement in your marriage.

What better gift can we give than the gift of knowing you are not alone, and that real Hope is within your grasp?

It’s the only kind of hope that is guaranteed not to put us to shame!

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5

If you’re living in a broken relationship, if you are a wife who is hurting this holiday season, I encourage you to pick up this book, especially while it’s so affordable.  Or maybe you know a fellow wife who is doing her best to fight for her marriage? Give her the gift of Hope this Christmas.

What I learned from a Christmas light fight and the God who is "with" you. Hope for the Hurting Wife sale|Being Confident of This|Christian women|Bible study|encouragement|devotional thought|inspiration|growing in Christ|progress|perfectionism|marriage|marriage help  #marriage #hope #Christianbook

Please don’t delay because the nature of the countdown sale is that the price increases incrementally as time passes.

Our greatest desire is that no wife should go through this Christmas feeling alone and hopeless!

Whatever your circumstances, choose to celebrate the hope of the God who is with you.

Let’s share that message around this season!

Jen :)

P.S.  My lovely and brave author friend Kaylene Yoder is also “birthing” these babies (below) into the world today. If you’re looking for more marriage and parenting encouragement, please check out her prayer journals! Harness the power of prayer to change your most important family relationships.