Resist the Holiday Rush: Accept a Gift from God’s Table

Dear friend,

Pull up a chair and notice the gift on the table. The tag reads: “From: God, To: You.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is gift-tag.png

Yes, this present is for you. Take a deep breath and lay aside your to-do list for a moment. Ready?

Now, remove the ribbon. Lift the lid and move the tissue paper aside. Is that not the most beautiful gift you’ve seen in ages? What? You don’t see it? The box looks empty?

That’s the beauty of it, my friend. The box is empty by design. When I explain, you’ll love your one-size-fits-all, yet personally designed, very-much-needed present.

Rest is one of the many gifts God places on His table for us.  

Within this gift, you’ll find margins. Yes, margins. My first-grade teacher taught me to leave margins on my papers. They create a neat appearance and make the writing more attractive and easier to read.

What about margins in our daily calendars?

Margins are bits of unscheduled time for resting, creating or otherwise enjoying the day. Lately, I’ve read several blog posts about this topic. Maybe the idea of setting margins is popular because of our fast-paced lives.

We’re tempted to fill the days with countless chores and opportunities and then become frustrated when tasks are left undone, leaving no time for relaxation. Can anyone identify?

The best news? God designed rest for us because He knows we need it. Rest and margins are among the many gifts our heavenly Father gives us.

Imagine with me the table the psalmist described when he spoke to God,

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

Psalm 23:5 NKJV

How can we fight the spiritual enemies of fear, worry, doubt, and discouragement if we refuse God’s gift of rest until we become bone-tired?

 Jesus said to His disciples,

Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while. For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.

Mark 6:31 NKJV

Although I know Jesus rested and instructed His disciples to do so, I’ll confess. I’m a calendar crammer. (My husband may tell me to practice what I preach if he reads this post!)

Even when weeks are full, I slip extra events and chores into tiny pockets of time, erroneously thinking I’ll get to all of it. That practice creates stress and frustration I don’t need.

Here’s a better way.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:15 ESV

 We obey the last part of the verse, especially during this Thanksgiving month, but we often ignore the first part of the verse in our rush to join the Holiday Rush!

The lives of Christ-followers can overflow with peace and gratitude, but it’s difficult to embrace the peace of Jesus when we’re in a frenzy from a jam-packed agenda. In addition to prayer and Bible study, we need times of rest and relaxation.

The lives of Christ-followers can overflow with peace and gratitude, but it’s difficult to embrace the peace of Jesus when we’re in a frenzy from a jam-packed agenda. Click To Tweet

We need time to allow the peace of Christ to rule our hearts. We need to savor His peace and allow it to fill our minds and direct our decision-making.

Two conversations led me to rethink the way I make holiday decisions.

A dear friend shared her plans.

I’m going to make and freeze a pound cake ahead of time, bake fruitcake cookies, and make nut cookies. That’s all I’m baking this year. I’ll buy some chocolate goodies and cheese straws. I want to honor the Lord and enjoy a calm, joyful time with my family instead of being exhausted when they arrive.

Another friend confessed, “I’m dreading the holidays already! Everyone comes to my house and it’s so much work. I want them to come, and I’m happy to prepare for them, but I end up exhausted and grouchy.”

Sound familiar? It’s a blessing to serve others, but it’s also hard work. Thanksgiving opens the door to the Christmas season and the rush is on before we know it. Food, gifts, programs, cards, dinners, company…and the beat goes on.

What can we do to prepare for a joyous, peaceful holiday season?

I hope you’ll join me and try this four-step process to prepare for the holidays, and more importantly, to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.”

Invite Jesus to Fill Your Heart with His Peace

  1. Stop.
  2. Sit still long enough to pray and seek God’s gift of rest.
  3. Ask the Prince of Peace to fill your hearts and direct your plans.
  4. Proceed with holiday plans and take intentional steps to share His peace with others. 
Planner, Flatlay, Calendar, Schedule

Look into your box again. Pull out those margins of rest and put them into your calendar. It’s refreshing to have time to pray, take a walk, doodle or thumb through a magazine, listen to music, sketch a picture, or read.

Take one more deep breath. (Surely, we have time for at least two a day, right?)

Like the margins on my first-grade papers, unscheduled time makes our lives neater and more appealing as the joy and peace of Christ fill our hearts and overflow to others. Time spent with Him and the addition of margins will bring smiles and fortify us to resist the holiday rush.

Your friend who’s learning to add margins,

Jeannie

Please share the ways you accept God’s gift of rest and add margins to your calendar. Let’s help each other.  

Cheese Slicer, Crackers, Appetizers

P. S. I promised to share holiday appetizer recipes, and I will soon. Until then, here’s a reminder of some old favorites.

                         Pigs in a Blanket

Cut canned biscuits in half or use crescent roll dough.

Add a mini sausage and some sharp cheddar or another cheese.

Roll up and bake at 375 until golden brown.

                           Stuffed Celery

Stuff celery sticks with pimento cheese.

Garnish with extra pimento slices.  

Use the celery leaves as a garnish to create a pretty appetizer plate.

                    Disappearing Snack Crackers

Spread softened cream cheese onto a round, salty cracker.

Add a dollop of green pepper jelly.

Coming soon: Hearty Olé Appetizer, veggie dip, pickle sandwiches, Cheese Crispies, and more

Please feel free to share this post!

38 thoughts on “Resist the Holiday Rush: Accept a Gift from God’s Table

  1. What a wonderful gift indeed Ms. Jeannie. And yes, we can get so busy being busy that we start to forget that our goal is to serve God and others with a joyful heart. Nothing robs my joy faster than being overwhelmed with all that needs to be done. Unwrapping the gift of “God time” (as I like to call it) helps to reset my crazy most days. Great post ma’am.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      You’re right, J. D., that busy schedules can cause us to overlook our purpose–to honor God and share Jesus with others. I love your phrase ” Unwrapping the gift of “God time.” Within that gift, we find peace, wisdom, joy, and other blessings we need. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  2. Thanks for sharing!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      You’re welcome, Kimberly. Thank you for reading. This message is one I’m continuing to learn. There are so many good things we can do or participate in, but choosing the best things, like stopping to seek God’s peace, keeps us centered on His will.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this. Jeannie, you always seem to know what I need. Gifts from God are always the best!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Connie, I agree that God’s gifts are the best. At busy holiday times, it’s easy to substitute activity for rest, peace, and time with Him. I needed this message, too, and pray we’ll all take a proactive stance to value His gifts. Thank you so much for your comments which mean so much to me.

  4. That should say God. 😘

  5. Just the reminder I need as I take a deep breath before the holidays. Thank you!

    • Connie, I needed this message, too. It’s so easy to continue on our current path, thinking we don’t have a choice. When we stop and ask God to fill us with His peace, the path is much smoother. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Lori, I needed the reminder, also. I want to be intentional about what I plan this year instead of filling every day with activity. God’s peace is so much better. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  6. Super post Jeannie! I loved the introduction because this gift unwrapping is the kind I need. Thanks so much!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Sylvia, it’s the gift I need as well. I often continue to push myself until I’m too tired, ignoring God’s gift of rest. His plans are always best. I’m sure you agree. Thanks for reading.

  7. This is so good Jeannie. I’ve thought a lot of how the presence around the tree is so much more satisfying than the presents under the tree. I’m going to be intentional in taking time to enjoy His presence and be fully present myself. Thank you for this reminder.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Terri, I love your powerful statement: “I’ve thought a lot of how the presence around the tree is so much more satisfying than the presents under the tree.” God’s presence is the best gift, and I, too, want to take more time to enjoy visiting with Him and worshipping Him this holiday season. Thanks so much for your valuable comments, Terri.

  8. Why is it so hard to rest? We do get so caught up in our lists we can become distracted by what we need to do instead of why we do it. God put so much emphasis on spiritual rest a whole chapter in Hebrews is devoted to it. I guess that’s why he tells us we have to “labor” to rest. This season is a good time for us to focus on why He came. So we can rest from works and accept His grace. Thanks for the recipes too!

  9. Barbara, thank you for reminding us about Hebrews and the reason we serve the Lord. You’re right that although holiday times are busy, this is a good time of year to take rest breaks and spend time with God.

  10. Great reminder, Jeannie, as we head into the holidays. I, too, struggle with leaving margins. The weekend after Thanksgiving, my family brainstorms about things we might like to include in our Christmas celebration. It’s always a super-long list. Then we circle the most important and cross out things we could do without. The final list goes on the calendar, but even that we hold loosely so we can flex if we’re losing our focus on Jesus (or our minds).

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Annie, thank you for sharing your struggle with setting margins and the wonderful strategy your family developed. I love that you keep plans flexible in case you’re “losing [your] focus on Jesus (or [your] minds). 😉 I appreciate you reading and adding value to our pre-holiday conversation.

  11. This message is so timely for me. Thank you Jeannie!

  12. Your message is one we learn over and over throughout our lives. Thanks for a great reminder. God bless!

    • You’re welcome, Nancy. I certainly need repeated lessons on this topic. The practices of spending time with God and relaxing always bring peace, don’t they? I appreciate you reading and commenting.

  13. I need margins. That is one thing Lyme Disease taught me. It’s ok to say no and take time for yourself. When it becomes a matter of survival you take it seriously. Now healed, I still protect my time because I know the value.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Jen, I’m sorry you had Lyme Disease. I think many of us are like you in that when we have to slow down, we realize the value of rest and the necessity of it. You’re absolutely right that “It’s okay to say no and take time for yourself.” Then we can better focus on God and help others. Thank you so much for sharing the value of rest from your experience. I appreciate your willingness to do that.

  14. I’m guilty, Jeannie. I’m too busy. I’m overwhemed when I think of my “to do” list. I have too many tasks on my “got to do” schedule. I’ve recognized this for some time and I’m trying to do better. Your strategy to solve this is right on target. Stop and focus on Jesus. I’m really going to try to do better, my friend. Thank you (prayers are much appreciated).

  15. Oh, Jeannie…. This is such a wonderful gift from you to my heart! So grateful that you were still long enough to let The Holy Spirit put this message in your heart to share it with your readers. It was very uplifting and I am going to be very mindful of your words to apply them to my spirit this season. Love and blessings you you always.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Mala, thank you so much for your kind words. I’m grateful the post was a blessing to you as it is to me. I obviously needed this lesson, too. Like you, I plan to focus on rest and quality time with God during a season that can become hectic if we allow it to commandeer our hours. Perhaps if we focus on the stillness of that night in Bethlehem, that picture along with beloved Christmas carols will quiet our hearts.

  16. Katherine, let’s pray for each other. I have the same tendencies. I’m so glad you shared. For me, sometimes it’s easy to let good things get in the way of the best things. Spending time with God refreshes my soul and sets the compass for the day. Then I sometimes fail to rest and visit with Him later in the day. I’m going to follow the plan, too. Thanks so much for joining me on the journey.

  17. Jimmie+Annette+Ballard

    I am sure you know me well enough to know I need not only to read, but to heed. Thank you for a reminder.

  18. Oh how I need this. I will save it so I can refer to it in the coming weeks. My intentions during the seasons are always to allow the rest and restoration necessary for a joyful and peaceful holiday. And I’m getting better at it. Your words provide me me additional motivation and inspiration.

    Thanks, Jeannie!

  19. You’re welcome, Candyce. Thank you for sharing this with me. How encouraging. I need this lesson, too. Like you, I’ve moved toward more peaceful holidays but still need to improve.

  20. Thank you , Jeannie. What a way to present such a timely truth. Beautifully done. Now for my heart to savor the gift and be thankful. He is peace, not chaos.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Cathy, your response means so much to me. I love your comments, especially, “Now for my heart to savor the gift and be thankful. He is peace, not chaos.” I hope I remember your wise words and accept rest and peace as His gifts during this time of year.

  21. Thank you, Jeannie, for your creative way to accept the gift of rest from God’s table. Like you I try to cram way too much into every day, so I will try to try!! your idea of building margins into my days!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      I love your expression, “I will try to try.” It sounds like we’re calendar-cramming sisters, Kathy. 😉 Leaving margins goes against the grain to me because I can fill every moment with activity. I pray that during this season of gratitude and the celebration of the birth of Christ, that both of us will remember the gifts of rest, peace, and time with the Savior. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  22. Thank you for this important reminder, Jeannie! I definitely need it. Too often I push peace away with my busyness driven by my lengthy to-do list.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      I do the same, Linda. I’m glad God reminds us that rest is one of His provisions. I appreciate your comments very much.

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