"Tis the season to be jolly, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la".

I have always enjoyed Christmas, so I've never been a "bah-humbug" person. This is a special time of year for family gatherings, special foods, and a kinder, gentler atmosphere; but most of all, this is a time for us to honor our God's coming to earth in the form of a precious babe. The serene and holy, Christmas Eve candlelight service at the little country church, where I pastor, has always my favorite.

This year, nothing is different. I know this world has been under attack from terrorists, unusual weather patterns with freakish storms at home and abroad, (whoever heard of the term "tsunami" before this year?). We've had incomparable earthquakes, wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6-8), political upheavals, and soaring prices, due to all of the above; but even with all of that, I have been given many personal blessing in 2005.

 Last year, was our family's "year from Hell". Each sibling took turns having heart surgeries; some suffered financial set-backs, while others dealt with various family upheavals. Those were hard blows, and we took one hit after another, from March through December;  but our God got us through every crisis, and we were stronger in our faith for it, praise His Name! We'd call each other for prayer, as well as our own prayer partners and intercession flowed up to the Father. We EXPECTED God to move, and He always did, thereby averting several pending tragedies.

Sometimes, I think God's people get conditioned to fighting the impossible, yet we can get tripped up over the little things in life. 2004 was certainly a very trying year, but we all made it through, and life eventually returned to normal.

I don't know what is going on this Christmas season, but I cannot remember such a stressful holiday. This time it seems to be those little things...or maybe it's just me 

Certainly, a lot of good things have happened this past year. This was supposed to be the Church's year of overflow, according to the current prophets...and in many ways, it has been...but there can be a lot of stress, even with overflow...or is it just ME?!

There used to be such an even pace to life, as I knew it, but it seems this past year, the pace has really quickened. I find myself so far behind, I think I'm in front!  I seem to be scrambling just to break even, let alone accomplishing anything extra. Time keeps getting away from me. I feel like I'm taking one step ahead, and two steps behind...or is it just ME?!

 What appears to be getting me down this year, are not those big battles (like we fought and won last year). It is these constant, little things that just won't let up. Every day, it is a new irritation, a new conflict, a new ache or pain or some kind of ailment. Additionally, the winter weather has come hard and early this year, with sudden snow storms bringing treacherous driving conditions, as well as a loss of electric, phone, and cable services, TWICE in two months, which makes life more difficult. So how can it be ME?!

There are endless chores, errands galore, and birthdays right before Christmas. The Holiday baking is not even started, due to my being ill with a virus surprise! Trying to decide where to have Christmas dinner, or IF to have a dinner at all; preparing for church services, mailing out dozens of cards...and forget shopping...everybody is getting cash.

Various aggravations, like another winter cold, and feeling like all I want to do is crawl back into bed. This is out of the question because I bought a new puppy I just HAD to have after the old dog died, who has abandonment issues! What WAS I thinking?!

It seems the phone is always ringing with people calling me about horrific things they are going through, so MY stuff seems petty by comparison. As a minister of God, I must pray with them, and give comfort and words of Wisdom, which requires me to get out of myself and into the Spirit mode, so God can use me. (We are required to be in season and out of season... 2 Timothy 4:2).

Sometimes, I notice that I've forgotten things that I could have SWORN I had done...like shutting off the computer before retiring...and realizing I had not covered the puppy's cage after putting her to bed the night before...this is not like me.

My blood pressure is up and my energy level is down, instead of the other way around. I have no big crisis to deal with, praise the Lord, but it seems like the little things are really getting to me. It MUST be me!

I wondered if this was the depression that I've read about that some people have during holidays. It appeared in those cases, however, that the victims suffered from loneliness, or had nothing to do. I, on the other hand, felt overwhelmed because I have had so much to do. Of course, God knows all about it, and He has a way of speaking individually to us...and very often with a sense of humor.

One day, I had to run out at the last minute to pick up some birthday cards. I was browsing around the Dollar Store, when I came upon a display of refrigerator magnets. Suddenly I saw one that clarified exactly how I have felt these past weeks. I laughed so hard when I read one of the lines, that the salesgirls started to stare.     

I thought, "Dear God, that's it!" (My great epiphany). "I feel like I'm being pecked to death by chickens!"

I could NOT have said it any better, and I couldn't quit laughing. I even sensed the Lord was laughing with me!

I laughed through two more stores, and even sat in the parking lot before I could start my car, just LAUGHING. Maybe this was what I needed...all this laughter. And you know, it is scriptural, like most things. Proverbs 17:22  says that a merry heart (laughter) is as medicine (for the soul).

(So what if people looked at me as if I were nuts?! I had been feeling sorry for myself, and NEEDED a good laugh).

It is also scriptural at how the small things in life can cause big problems. The Song of Solomon 2:15 tells us that it is the "little foxes that spoil the vine".

This time of year is always busier than any other time. I realize now, I was trying to do too much. At a time when I was dealing with several physical problems, I was trying to stuff additional holiday responsibilities into my regular routine. Each within themselves were manageable, but all together, I felt like I was being pecked to death by a flock of those pesky chickens!

I would now advise (myself included), that before things escalate from molehills into mountains, ENJOY Christmas. Take a moment and refocus. Remember the coming of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the reason for the season.  I would urge us all to shake off the small stuff and concentrate on the importance of our most holy-day. We must minimize and rise above, the self-inflicted chaos.

Try to take care of your health: watch what you eat, get enough sleep, and don't over-extend yourself. Trim some of those unnecessary engagements off your list, and perhaps give IOU's in a pretty card for some future personal services, instead of buying gifts you can't afford. (What frazzled mother wouldn't love someone to baby-sit for the afternoon, for FREE?!).

Cut down on your holiday baking by initiating a cookie exchange among close family and friends; if that isn't possible, use homemade baked goods as gifts. There are a lot of things the Lord will show you, to reduce the stress (and expense) of the season. You can create special memories with the kids or grandkids; like going to a Christmas Eve service, then drive around to see the Christmas lights afterwards. Have some special treats before bedtime, and make it an evening of FUN. Every family should create their own holiday traditions. We make lifetime memories that cement a family. I call it "a clan custom".

And don't forget a special Christmas gift to the Church, even a basket of food for the Benevolence Fund, (canned goods can be accumulated in advance). Perhaps you can help out at a local soup kitchen. After all, it is Christ's birthday, and He said whoever gives to the poor, lends to the Lord (Proverbs 19:17).Be sure to include the older children and especially the teens when you go to minister to the needy. They should to learn the joy of giving as well, especially while they are young. And don't forget the lonely, elderly, or shut-ins. If they can't come to your house for dinner, at least take or send (with Dad and the kids) a meal to your neighbor.

We not only bless the Lord, we teach the next generation by our example. It makes children feel good to assist sick or helpless adults, and they will always remember how their parents reached out to their neighbors in need. What a great Clan Custom, "to love your neighbor as yourself". I have a sister who has had extra people at her table at every holiday, for years. Her whole Christian life has been about service to others. Her example has been passed down to her children and now to her grandchildren. What a legacy! (God bless you, Kathy. Well done).

I, personally, am considering roasting a stuffed chicken instead of preparing the usual Christmas Dinner fare this year. It  is much cheaper than ham or turkey, takes less time, and is a nice change... not to mention a sweet mental revenge, ha-ha!

Oh yeah, you might want to drop by the Dollar Store the next time you're shopping, and browse the refrigerator magnet section. I hear it is always good for a laugh! Or is it just ME?!

"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night"!

God Bless Your New Year,
Pastor Moser
December, 2005