Autumn officially arrived on September 23. That means, according to Texas chat, “it’s fall, y’all”! Pumpkin lattes replaced iced drinks in coffee kiosks, pool supplies give way to pumpkins in the market, and holiday craft ideas spark the reminder that the holiday season is rapidly approaching.
What is your reaction when you think of the holiday season? Did you know that the holiday season is actually a “holy-season” that should bring us closer to the event or person we are celebrating? Contrary to current practice, Thanksgiving Day is rooted in an occasion focused on thanking God for His provision rather than parades, football games, and shopping at odd hours. Our study of American history reminds us that the Pilgrims had experienced an incredibly difficult year, yet they chose to be thankful and extended hospitality to their neighbors. Christmas is the birthday of our Savior who was born in the humblest of circumstances and gave the best gift ever—salvation. So, what are some ways that you can make this holiday season one that is “holy” by tackling the “Holiday Hospitality Hurdles?”
Focus on the “reasons for the seasons.” The book of Psalms is an excellent source for holiday meditation. Begin today by dividing the number of days you have remaining until December 31 by the 150 Psalms. Purpose to finish the book by December 31. Remember as you read that the Psalms are directed to the will, not the emotions. As you read, underline or highlight each time you read the phrase, “I will.” When your emotions attempt to control the season, purpose to allow your will to be your reflect reaction (2 Cor. 10:5).
Maintain realistic expectations. Remember that your heavenly Father will give you the strength, financial resources, time, and ability to create the holiday season He has planned for you. He has promised to meet all of your needs, not all of your wants (Phil. 4:13, 19). Kelsey’s Korner provides you with tips to assist you in embracing realistic expectations for the décor and appearance of your home in relation to extending holiday hospitality!
Keep a gratitude list. Use Psalm 103 as your guide to remembering all of your heavenly Father’s goodnesses to you. Record at least one blessing a day (even if it was a challenging day, you are still breathing). Review the list before retiring each evening.
Set a realistic budget. List all of the individuals you want to remember during the holiday season. Consider giving the “gift of time.” A coupon for a meal (with some advance notice to you) for an aging person (be sure to eat with them) or child care for a young Mom may mean more to them than a purchased gift (Prov. 31:18a; 1. Cor. 4:2).
Expand your holiday calendar. We have the tendency to think the only time we can fellowship with others is during the holidays. Our calendars are packed solid and then from January 2 to Valentine’s Day are they are empty. Consider “post-holiday” events during those cold, sometimes dreary winter months. Purpose, however, to set the dates during or before the holiday season (Ps. 90:12).
Set priorities. Focus on what is important and release the “nice to do but not critical” tasks or activities (Matt. 6:33; 1 Cor. 14:40).
Work smarter, not harder. Setting aside specific days for shopping, food preparation, and other activities lessens stress. Make lists and use a calendar to schedule tasks to do and events to attend. Refuse to double book yourself! Share tasks and consider spending time with friends and family while wrapping packages or preparing food (Prov. 31:27).
Maintain regular meal, exercise, and sleep patterns. Taking care of yourself will help you cope with the stressful situations (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
Anticipate a joyful season by meditating on what is right in your life. Listen to music that relaxes, revives, and keeps you focused on the “reasons for the seasons” (Phil. 4:8-9).
This summer here in Fort Worth, Texas we had a good two or three weeks of temperatures over 100 degrees…as we all melted into the asphalt, thoughts of changing leaves and cold nights kept us chugging along! Now, just a month later, autumn is so close I can almost reach out and touch it. My mind is filled with memories of past holidays—what food I cooked, who came for Thanksgiving—as well as ideas for our upcoming holiday get-togethers. Although the season brings much anticipated excitement, one looming concern attempts to squelch my yearning to extend holiday hospitality: my house is not ready!
My husband and I just purchased our first home. We knew it would be a little bit of a fixer-upper, but we were sure we could handle it. J Fast-forward two months, and here we are—in the wake of a tussle with asbestos, boxes still littered everywhere, raw plaster sprayed on the walls of the bathrooms, and (surprise!) termites residing in the walls of part of the house. We’ve faced an exhausting mix of gratitude for the home, waves of stress, tinges of embarrassment, and a sprinkle of regret these past two months. With the holidays approaching, my pride and people pleasing tendencies are nudging me, tempting me to close the doors of my unfinished home to holiday hospitality.
With these new struggles wrestling in my heart, the Lord has drawn me back to His Word and His definitions and purposes of biblical hospitality. Join me as I, in the Lords strength, purpose to fix my heart this season on these truths:
Hospitality is a command. Romans 12:13 tells us to, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Again, in 1 Peter 4:9, we are told to “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” These statements are imperatives, or commands, and are not just for easy, convenient times of life. Think of it like a child reasoning that his mother’s command to “go brush your teeth” is optional if he is too tired or if the trip down the hall to the bathroom is too inconvenient. As believers, we are to seek to show hospitality as often as we are able, no matter the circumstance.
Our homes are a tool we must wield. As God’s stewards, every gift we are given we must be ready to turn around and use as a tool to further His kingdom (Acts 4:32-35, 16:13-15). Has the Lord blessed you with health? Work hard every day to serve Him. Has he blessed you with money? Contribute regularly to the needs of the saints. Has he blessed you with a place to live? No matter how glorious or humble, use it to show hospitality. Ultimately, everything belongs to God, not us. We must use our gifts for His purposes (Luke 12:48).
Hospitality in hard times corrects our focus. Although not about us, our sinful hearts often distort the beauty of hospitality, making it into an opportunity to stroke our ego. We “selflessly” invite guests over with the secret motivation of showing off our lovely homes, our obedient children, or our enviable cooking and cleaning skills. However, when we are forced to extend hospitality in difficult times, our pride and selfish motivations become very apparent (Ps. 119:67; Phil. 2:3-4).
Even our trials are blessings in disguise, used as tools in the hand of our Master to cut away the garments of pride that cloak our hearts (James 1:12). The Lord is so very good to us. So this holiday season, as I dream about festive menus and plan my guest lists, I am filled with a new song: “Praise the Lord for His provisions, praise the Lord that He reveals our sins, and praise the Lord for asbestos and Termites!” J
THE EVERYDAY HOMEMAKER’S MONTHLY MEDITATION THOUGHT
God has said, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (Ro. 12:13) and “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9).
Therefore, I may boldly say, I am capable of tackling the Holiday Hospitality Hurdles with confidence because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13).
Blessings on you as you focus on making your holiday season a holy one!