Advent #2

Cathryn   -  

In this month’s issue of Better Homes & Gardens magazine,
tucked between the pages of sweet treat recipes and diy holiday projects
that would have made the old me feel inferior and make the new me shout
“rock on, my friend!” to those who have the time, inclination and creativity to do them, is this little stat:

“38% of Americans say their stress levels climb during the holidays.”

(If any of you are among the 62% whose stress level does not climb during the holidays, I’d love to know you and journey with you and learn from you! Or, is it that 62% of us are already so stressed that we don’t notice extra stress around the holidays? hmm.)

The BGH editors have devoted a full page to describing stress triggers and helpful responses to them. Do any of these feel familiar?

“The Trigger: Your calendar is double-and triple-booked with events and get-togethers. The Feelings: Overwhelmed and rushed.”

“The Trigger: You’re obsessing over every little detail of the holidays in order to make them the best ever- and you can’t stop yourself. The Feelings: Preoccupied and scattered.”

“The Trigger: You’re missing people and traditions that are no longer in your life. The Feelings: Loneliness and sadness.”

There are other triggers, of course…there are as many potential triggers as the people and situations we encounter in a day.

The “fix” for the situations as outlined in the BHG article are practices you are likely familiar with, those that focus on breathing and physical posture.

The key is to remember to employ them in them in the moments that we need them.

I’d like to suggest,
those practices become all the more potent if we employ them while saying these two very powerful words:

“Jesus, help.”

If you are a frequent reader of my posts you’ll know that Arianne Braithwaite Lehn’s Ash and Starlight is one of my most favorite prayer books. If you would like a copy, please let me know. I would be so delighted to see that you get one.
In the meantime, I offer this prayer from her collection:

A parent’s Advent prayer

Dear God,
I now stop what I’m doing, what I’m thinking,
what I’m scrambling to plan and hustling to finish
so that I can be here.
Be here in the safety and warmth of your love.
This love that holds me fast and keeps me centered. What I want to be a season of joy for my children
so quickly becomes a season of
increased expectations for me –
not because they expect things,
but because I do.
It’s the pressure I put on myself to
make things perfect,
and memorable,
and happy,
and “special.”
But, you came to me amidst darkness and stars – reminding me how darkness and light
are most beautiful together.
And, in that holy, mysterious and messy night,
you redefined perfection,
promising me that leaning into the mystery
and laying down in loving awe
compose the most faithful response.
You tell me the best gift I can give
my children this Christmas is
to look with love into their eyes.
To pause throughout the day
to pray over them.
To envelop them with arms
of fierce grace when I feel
most angry or annoyed.
To sit in wonder for a moment (or many)
and marvel at all that shaped
our family this year.
To give thanks
and allow tears to fall
and dreams to rise.
To take my pilgrim band
by their hands and walk together,
deep into the heart of Bethlehem
shining bright within our souls.
This will be more than enough,
because you’ve made a manger
in which my heart will rest and find
your heartbeat becoming mine.
(Matthew 2:10-11; Matthew 6:31; Luke 2:15-20)

permission for use granted by Arianne Braithwaite Lehn

Pastor Cathy