My head fell wearily against the car’s headrest as night quickly enveloped the last bits of day. The sound of my young sons’ voices chattering in the backseat floated and swirled, breaking the silence I so desperately craved. The ending to a day of celebrating was minutes away as the car made its way home. I silently prayed that bedtime for my sons was near and my own would follow suit shortly thereafter.

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For years this scene played over and over. The holidays sped by in a blur and my sons were always surprised when the day came to an end. In their naive minds, the holidays should be endless.  I picked up the emotional pieces of two young sons on a sugar high and present overload wishing the holidays looked different every year.

As my sons grew older and I entertained family at my house rather than traveling to multiple celebrations, I stressed over decorations, meal planning and making sure the house was holiday-ready. I became obsessed with making sure everything was perfect and gave up the most important gift of the holidays- presence.

A switch in focus and an intentional choice to live life with less stress during the holidays led me to a holiday slow down. But it really started with an invitation and an opening of my heart to listening, resting and preparing.

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Where will you seek your invitation to slow down as the holidays approach? Will you embrace the invitation and lean into a holiday season with less hustle and more soul care?

In the last several years, I intentionally chose to slow down and prepare my heart for the season. But as with all preparations, this time I needed to filter my focus through a loving God rather than my own desire for perfectionism. When invited, God loves nothing more than to sit beside us and teach us all we need to know. In this space where invitation meets acceptance, I found a gracious God with an open, loving heart.

When I chose to draw near to God, I found Him drawing ever closer to me. Abiding in God allowed Him to sit with me and in that time, I found deep soul rest.

Intentionally choosing quiet time made space for my mind and heart to find a steady heartbeat of renewal and restoration. Where hustle once reigned, I now found a peace that pointed me to God rather than busyness.

In the quiet, I soaked up God’s Word and prepared my heart for the most beautiful gift ever given – the birth of Jesus. I gave up the perfect decorations and dozens of Christmas cookies for time with God. This time the holidays focused on family and being present rather than the number of presents under the tree.

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The gift of a holiday slow down is one that I’ve never regretted. When I changed my focus from more to less scattered around the tree, I found room in my heart to center on the gift of presence. I only wish I had chosen this when my sons were growing up.

Perfect presence is being intentional in our interactions with others and letting God use us to be His gift for others daily. Perfect presence is saying “yes” and allowing others needs to take precedence over ours. Perfect presence is a present that will bless all. The best part is it is free.

My prayer the last few years is for God’s presence to become my focus during the holidays. As I let go of the hustle and bustle, I remember these words:

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence? Psalm 139:7

May we be intentional this holiday season. One invitation is all it takes for God to join you in your walk to a holiday slow down.

Seeking peace,

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As I read through my words above, I want you to know I am a work in progress. I continue to seek the secret to slowing down and a deeper relationship with God.

This post first was published on the Sacred Holidays blog.

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