So much stretches out before us in a new year. Plans, appointments, schedules, events. We fill in the little boxes on our calendars, and we make our agenda.
At the same time, there is so much to come. So much on the way to our lives that can’t be scribbled into a little white box.
Happy New Year, 2018!
We make our plans, and God makes His.
I pray for all your new years and your fresh starts and for all your calendars. I bless all the days to come. I stand with you for your hopes and dreams. I pray that all the things that need to go are overwhelmed in a fresh wave of God’s love for you. I pray for new visions, new relationships, healing, blessing, provision, protection. I pray for a new sense of order in every area of your life. I pray for all the old things that have expired to fall away, and for them to be replaced with His best for you in every way.
Here we go.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come! 2 Cor 5:17
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
If you caught the Christmas Crazies, you are not alone. Crazy is contagious this time of year.
At Christmas, we can spin between extremes of fantasy and regret, the fun of spending and the crush of debt, the disconnect of feeling alone in the middle of all the social pressure.
No matter what the season, or what the neighbors or the stores or the churches are doing, we have to live our days in a healthy way at a healthy pace that works for us. No manic-panic-sinking-Christmas-Titanic allowed at my house. No pushing for perfect and then screaming at the kids when it doesn’t work out. Been there, done that. Sheesh. Seriously. Those are not the Christmas memories that I’m trying to make.
Below are a few ways to keep the Christmas crazies at bay.
Three ways to Kill the Christmas Crazies
1) Fuel your spirit by spending time with God.Hello. This season is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Rolling around in glitter is all good, but taking a deep breath and remembering why we are doing it is a key to seasonal peace. Christmas tree fell down? What would Jesus do? Feel sick about spending that much money on that overpriced plastic toy? What would Jesus do? People acting crazy? What would Jesus do?
He came for a reason beyond Christmas. He came to change us, to raise us from the dead in every way. Celebrate Christmas by letting Him change you even in the holiday chaos.
Now, maybe more than any other time of year, I have to focus on who God says I am and what His plans are for me. I’m busier than I’ve ever been–that means I don’t have time to not spend time with God. Spend five minutes every morning in worship, celebrating who God is. Out loud, say every good thing you can think of about God.
What would Jesus do?
Spending time with God can be a challenge. But your thoughts about God and who He is to you arethe source of your deep beliefs about what life can be and about yourself. You are made in His image. What you believe about who God is for you is a foundational belief.
The Lord is for me, I will not fear. Ps118:6a
This I know, that God is for me! Ps56:9
I will sing to the LORD because he is good to me. Ps13:6
2) Fuel your soul by thinking healthy thoughts. Thoughts are the source of behaviors, and thoughts come out of the deep core beliefs we hold in our hearts and our minds. Lifestyle and behaviors are the outward expression of these thoughts and beliefs. To change a life, change the thoughts. To change the thoughts, we have to take them under conscious control and submit them to Jesus. He wants to change the deep wrong beliefs of our minds so that we can live an abundant life.
To change a life, change the thoughts.
To take thoughts captive, say “no,” and start speaking a better thought–out loud. I notice myself getting critical and prideful when I get stressed and out of His peace. That is my red flag. When I lose my joy and my ability to give people permission to take the time they need, when I lose my patience and my sense of humor, I need to do a mental inventory–quick–so that I don’t take it out on anyone. I can handle a pretty big to-do list, but even so, it can get heavy at times. I have to know myself well enough to know when to say “no,” when to take a rest, when to stop and refocus my thoughts.
Be prepared by having a verse ready when the crazy tries to come in. Keep a note in your pocket or stuck on your mirror or dashboard with a verse that you can easily see and read out loud.
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 1Peter5:7
A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. Jn10:10
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jer29:11
Investments don’t always feel good right now–a lot of times, they hurt. Think about exercising or saving money instead of spending it. But in six months, life looks very different for the person living for the whim of now vs. the one investing for tomorrow.
Poverty focuses on the moment. Abundance focuses on investments.
So. Take care of your body! It’s your temple; it’s God’s temple. Get good sleep when you can. Drink water. Eat an apple every day, because, you know what they say. Eat well. Go for a walk. At the mall, while you are shopping, sit down and take a break. Get a salad and water at the food court before you head over to Cinnabon. Hot tea is good, too. Please take care of you. You are part of this human team. We need you.
Christmas is not about working ourselves up to a case of Christmas Crazies. It’s about celebrating the Prince of Peace.
This year, I pray you have a peaceful, wonderful, joyful, beautiful, crazy-free Christmas.
For unto 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, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Cor 1:2
I love American history. I love our flag. The Fourth of July, Mom, and apple pie. Love it all.
On Easter Sunday, we celebrated the weekend with a bike ride from Lexington, Massachusetts, where the first shots of the American Revolutionary war were fired, to Boston, Massachusetts, and then back again to Lexington.
We are rebels.
Appropriate, I think.
When we parked our cars in Lexington, I picked up a few leaflets announcing Patriot’s Day activities. I was thrilled to find that a reenactment of Paul Revere’s ride into Lexington would be held in town that very night.
I get more excited about a Paul Revere reenactment than any band live in concert that I can think of.
I am a patriot and a rebel.
And a nerd.
I announced to my family that we would be staying in Lexington after our bike ride until 11:30 pm to witness this exciting event. Much moaning and groaning commenced, but I was not deterred.
“Hush,” I said. “We are staying, Paul Revere is going to be here, and you are going to love it.”
The bike path in Lexington is an award winning Rail- to-Trails path. If you are a biker and ever visit there, it’s a great ride. Only about 12 miles to Boston through beautiful communities.
Along the way, it occurred to me that our return would mirror Paul Revere’s famous ride from Boston to Lexington.
I prayed for our country as I rode. That the original godly plan for our nation would be realized. The Land of the Free. Home of the Brave. Justice. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness.
It was our first real ride of the year. A high sun and a cool breeze. People everywhere with spring fever smiles, and a city planning to celebrate its patriots.
We rode through Arlington and on to the Charles River across from the Harvard campus in Cambridge. We stopped to rest by the water. Boston was just a few stoplights around the corner.
When we jumped back on our bikes, I started praying again. Angels for our country. Freedom and peace.
My kids swerved left in front of me, and as the last one cleared my view, I saw the cause of their changing course. A man was running toward us with no sign of turning. And I was riding straight for him, a pedestrian game of chicken.
I made a decision in a split second. I pulled my bike on to the pavement from the soft shoulder to avoid hitting the runner. When I did, the front tire caught on the edge and then went full-on serpentine. The path was full of people, and I didn’t want to hit them either. I thought I could brake the bike, and it seemed to be working, so I put my foot down.
Never do that.
When I planted my foot, the bike was going too fast for me to stop. I saw the bike swing forward and then swerve left in front of me–with my right leg still on it. It twisted my whole body forward around my left leg, and I felt more deep pops in my knee than I could count. The bike threw me back, and I landed on my hip and then bounced over onto my shoulder. I was in so much pain, I think I left my body for one flashing second.
If the runner stopped to see if I was ok, it was in that second. As far as I know, he ran on.
But Good Samaritans are alive and well. The runner did not stop, but he was only one who passed me by. So many people took time to help me.
I prayed before I hit the ground that I would not have a serious injury.
But I confess that, as I went down, actually two thoughts went through my mind: One, an arrow prayer, “Oh! God! No injury!” And, two, this gem, “Dangit! I’m not going to get to see Paul Revere!”
A few minutes later, I tried to stand on that knee, and it buckled under me. The ambulance came soon after, and my rescuers lifted me onto the stretcher.
Delirious with pain and adrenaline, “I like your moons,” I said, pointing to the lunar phase tattoos on the arms of the shaved bald beautiful girl that buckled me into the stretcher straps.
“Why would I want to spend the day with Paul Revere when I can spend the day with you guys? First responders, my heroes!” I said to the guy that rode with me as I patted his knee and prayed for his safety. He smiled at me, only slightly patronizing, looking as young as my daughter.
Six hours and nine X-rays later, I left the ER with an extension knee cast and a pair of crutches.
My kids pushed my wheelchair out the front door as my husband pulled the van around to pick me up. All day, I had been watching the clock creep toward evening. Eight o’clock, nine o’clock, now almost ten. I was holding out hope that we would be in Lexington for Paul Revere’s ride and that, since I was injured, my family would do whatever I wanted.
I was not wasting this incident, I can promise you that.
When we got in the van, I said, “I really wanted to see Paul Revere.” Sigh.
I said again, “I just so really wanted to see Paul Revere.” Sigh. Sigh.
I waited a minute.
Then, “Well, so sad. I guess I won’t get to see Paul Revere.”
My husband’s turn to sigh. He said, “I think it’s crazy, but you are the one who got hurt. You can decide if you feel like waiting until ELEVEN THIRTY at night and then driving home.”
I felt like it.
I felt like I had been run over, but I felt good enough to wait for Paul Revere.
We got to Lexington to pick up our cars. My husband stopped by the pharmacy, and I waited and watched the clock. I became aware of fatigue, along with a little nagging sense that this might not be my best idea ever. But I wanted to see Paul Revere. So, so bad.
I wanted to live in a moment of pure passion. To put myself in the place of flawed men of the past and catch the vision they had for our future.
It is worth it to me to stay up late and hobble to a restored historical site. To stand on the same ground where blood was shed for my freedom, for our country’s freedom. To catch a little glimpse of what it really meant and what it really means now to be a Patriot, someone who believes in freedom enough to be willing to die for it.
I wanted to stand there for one moment among the minutemen and peer through the shadows at history. I wanted the strength and the courage and the fierce honor to fly through the air and hit me with the force of centuries.
Paul Revere was also interrupted on his ride to Lexington, a part of his story that we rarely hear. He was captured by the British in between Concord and Lexington, and I’m sure, for a moment, that he wondered if he would be able to complete his mission. John Hancock and Samuel Adams were waiting for information in Lexington so that they could determine their next move.
The British soldiers weren’t sure what to do with Paul Revere. Apparently they decided he was harmless and took him back with them to Lexington. After a short detainment they let him go, presumably with orders to stop being so rebellious.
Unbeknownst to them, they delivered him to his exact destination.
After his release, he rode straight to the Hancock house to warn John and Sam that the British were in town with warrants for their arrests. He helped them escape just a few hours before the troops marched into Lexington and the first shots of the war were fired.
My family thought we could drive in closer to the house, so I would only have to hobble a few feet. But the streets were blocked, and the guardians of the event were not impressed with my injury. We would have to “pahk in the pahking lot” and walk the quarter mile with everyone else.
We tried to access the house from every possible angle. My family looked earnest in their desire to humor me, and also earnestly exhausted. And the more we drove, the more fatigued I felt. My head hurt. My leg hurt.
“Ok,” I said, “You’re right. I know. We tried. We should go home.”
Back to the parking lot we went for our other car and left the city, my husband in his truck and me driving my van like a tin man, stiff legged and far away from the wheel.
As we drove away, I thought I might cry. I had missed my chance. I might not ever come this way on Patriot’s Day again. I had ridden from Boston to Lexington, raising up a prayer of freedom for our country, a prayer of all that was intended for this nation from the beginning. And I wanted to end it with the breathless sight of Paul Revere leaping off of his horse, interrupted but unstoppable.
We pulled to the last stoplight on our way out of town, minutes before the great event. I was fighting back tears, and then, out of nowhere in the dark, there he was.
Striding down the street in his long blue coat and tricorn hat, manly ponytail bouncing and dramatic.
I’m sure he saw me. And I’m pretty sure we nodded to each other, a dignified patriotic salute.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Jn15:13