I often make mistakes as a parent and wish my kids had a more perfect mom. But can you imagine what it would feel like to be Joseph, chosen to raise the Son of God? What a profound honor and what a great responsibility! What qualities was God looking for in an earthly father for baby Jesus? Perhaps patience, gentleness, and kindness.
We know Joseph’s “Christmas experience” was challenging. It must have been a nightmare to think his betrothed had betrayed him. But what a relief to have God explain His plan to him through an angel in a dream. We do not see arguing or reluctance. Instead, Joseph woke up and did what the angel commanded, following God’s instructions.
Michael Card’s “Joseph’s Song,” beautifully describes what this lowly carpenter may have felt when he considered becoming father to the Son of God.
Mercy Me’s “Joseph’s Lullaby” is another link worth a listen.
Joseph’s obedient heart meant he had to give up his vision for his future. He had to put aside his reputation, leave his friends and family, and his village in order to experience Christ’s birth.
How can we follow Joseph’s example and unclutter our December so that we can focus on the Lord, put our family first, and listen to God for directions?
Making our family a priority might mean changing plans and opening up our schedules by saving days on our calendars.
My cousin Joan sent me this e-mail:
We sat in bed with our cups of coffee and calendar and scheduled some “family” days. These are days that are reserved for just the 6 in our family to spend time together. We highlighted the reserved days on the calendar so that as our kids made plans, they could quickly check the calendar for open days. I’m not sure yet what we’ll do on these reserved dates. Maybe we’ll relax at home or do something special like see a play, attend a Christmas program, look at lights, decorate, bake cookies, or play board games. We want to have a few days that we can count on to just have fun or relax together.
In our family I call these family days snow days. Celebrated with or without snow, because in Loudoun County when a snow day is called, everyone rejoices that life comes to a standstill, even if it means giving up scheduled events. Why is that? Similarly, during Washington State’s 2006 Hanukah storm, the power was out for weeks. All Christmas to-do lists and many events were scratched, but it was OK. Christmas Lite allowed time off to focus on what was important.
So perhaps that’s what we all need: snow days, a power outage, or pre-planning our calendar.
One friend said that to help scale back, everybody in her family prioritized their list of activities from first to fourth. Then they were all asked to drop the fourth activity. The family went through a period of mourning, but then a rebirth in the revelation of what they had missed by doing too much.
What will we discover by doing less? What will it take to prepare our hearts to have an obedient spirit, and to be still, not stressed.
Plan ahead to DO LESS. In 34 days, you’ll celebrate Epiphany on January 6th. Could we experience an epiphany in our schedules to help us have the most meaningful Christmas ever? That’s what I want.
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About Ann Stewart
Ann just won the Christy Award for Best Debut Novel of 2017 with Stars in the Grass, originated AMG’s Preparing My Heart series, and writes “Ann’s Lovin’ Ewe” for The Country Register. When she's not writing, she's waving her arms directing musicals, teaching middle schoolers, or watching UVA Basketball, This is Us, or Madam Secretary. In her free time she hangs out with her husband, raising two lovely daughters and a whole flock of fuzzy sheep on Skye Moor Farm, in Virginia--where unscripted drama provides plenty of entertaining material.
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