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As I think about preparing for Christmas, I think about how my idea of preparing has radically changed through the years.

Back in my 20’s and 30’s, it was all about the gifts, parties, and decorations. I was obsessed with making everything “perfect” for my family.

Things took a drastic turn in my 40’s when I went through a divorce and suddenly my family looked very different than I imagined. In my newfound role of a single Mom, I tried to put my own hurting heart aside so I could do my very best to make things feel “normal” at my absolute favorite time of year, Christmas. As you can imagine, all the tinsel in the world couldn’t hide the fact that things were clearly not “normal.”

Then enters my “Knight in Shining Armor,” my husband, John, and I instantly have this beautiful, blended family that I love. Now the pressure is really on, and making the “perfect” Christmas seemed more important than ever. This only led me into extreme striving mode where I was Mrs. Claus on steroids in my attempts to make the most memorable Christmas ever for our new family unit.

On top of all of this self-imposed holiday stress, add in my Christmas shows, so I would literally find myself shopping for gifts right up until moments before we opened them on Christmas Eve.

As a woman of faith who loves Jesus desperately, how in the world did I think this was the way to “prepare” for the coming of our Savior? I was so caught up in the chaos that can surround Christmas that I completely missed the point. Can you relate?

My recent trip to Israel has thrown everything I thought mattered out the window. As I walked through the streets of Bethlehem and entered the actual cave where Jesus was born (yes, he was born in a cave but we can talk about that later!), my heart and my spirit were forever changed. Christmas will NEVER be the same again, and preparation means something radically different now.

Instead of running around trying to find the perfect gifts, I long to spend time in His Word and get to know His heart better. Yes, I have decorated my house to the extreme. Yes, I have thought about the gifts I need to purchase once all of my Christmas shows are done. But my heart is truly in a different place.

I still want to make Christmas special, because it is; but my focus has changed.

Instead of worrying about the Christmas cookies that I know my family loves and expects, I want to prepare my heart for the sweet gift of Immanuel, God with us. God’s love in the flesh, the Messiah, coming to earth.

Instead of running around frantically to find the exact perfect gift (I rarely shop online because I love to support local businesses), I am preparing my soul to receive the incredible wonder of the gift of the baby Jesus.

After walking where Jesus walked and seeing the Bible stories I have read all of my life come to life before my eyes, I think I finally get it. Christmas doesn’t have to be filled with non-stop hustle and bustle. As a matter of fact, it shouldn’t be.

This year my heart is content to sit in the beautiful glow of the knowledge that God loved us so much that He sent His only son into the world not to condemn us but to save us, to free us from our sins, to be Immanuel, God with us.

And I know if I don’t take the time to stop and take that in, if I don’t prepare my heart and my spirit to receive that life-changing truth, Christmas will simply be another day that flies by like a freight train but doesn’t have a lasting affect on my life.

This year is different, and I am doing my best not to miss a single minute of the true wonders of the season!

How about you, my friend? Are you feeling the craziness of Christmas?

If you are, I encourage you to choose to prepare in a different way.

Prepare your heart. Prepare your soul. Prepare your mind.

And let the love of Jesus be the greatest gift under your tree this year!

Love and hugs,


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