The women's small group I attend through my church recently wrapped up Donna Partow's "Becoming a Vessel God Can Use" study. I would recommend this study to any woman. Partow has a blunt, truthful way of wording things and offers practical ways of becoming more God-centered. Plus, the lessons are short making completing it each week quite manageable.
As anyone who has completed any kind of study knows, as soon as you are finished and you put the book on your shelf, everything you just learned dribbles out your ears. At our Christmas potluck a couple of weeks ago, a woman spoke about how she wrote out a list of things from the study that she wanted to focus on over the Christmas season when most of us are vulnerable to missing the point by becoming too busy and distracted. With my family arriving tomorrow, I thought this was a great idea.
Here is my top-ten list of (Christmas) takeaways...
1. Instead of focusing on all the great things I am going to accomplish or have accomplished this season (like cute xmas letters, and awesome gift finds), focus on the great things God wants to accomplish through me. Seek opportunities to give back and serve others. In other words, focus my thoughts on the fact that the season is about the glory of God, not the glory of me.
2. I am responsible for the choices I make this Christmas. God is responsible for the results.
3. As I spend time with family and friends over the holidays, ask God to help me remove the labels I've given them. God hasn't labelled them and he doesn't hold things they have done (real or imagined) against them, so I shouldn't either.
4. Instead of longing for a new Coach purse, long to know God better. Ask God for the gift of faith and peace over the holidays, instead of hoping for more stuff.
5. Instead of quarrelling with God about how he made me every time I compare myself to someone else (whose baking is better, or whose house is more perfectly decorated, or who got a new Coach purse...), ask God to help me love and accept myself exactly as he specifically made me.
6. Don't allow myself to become so absorbed and wrapped up in the busyness of the season that I miss the joy my children and husband bring to it. Ask God to adjust my attitude from expecting them to do things for me. Towards my husband and children, ask God to help me be thoughtful but not moody. Helpful but not bossy. Thankful but not critical.
7. Don't allow myself to become so absorbed and wrapped up in the busyness of the season that I don't spend some quiet time honoring God and thinking about the baby Jesus who was born. The Christmas season shouldn't be about filling my life with more commitments, more activities, and more stuff, but about celebrating and reflecting on the birth of Jesus.
8. Ask God to help me let go of the expectations, hopes and dreams I hold for how I want this Christmas to be, in order to make more room for him.
9. Seek to be filled with a joyful, forgiving attitude over the holidays. Instead of expecting the people around me to provide these things, or a Christmas show or carol, look to God to provide them.
10. Listen for God's voice and act as he directs.