mom bringing Christ into Christmas with her children

Cleaning Up Your Expectations for Christmas

Finding Jesus in What You Already Do

It was our first Christmas in Pennsylvania. That year, we had transitioned to a new ministry position from Alabama, and expectations of our first northern Christmas were set high. Surely snowflakes would adorn every tree, cold weather would lend to cozy fires, and to top it off, my parents would be up from Florida to spend Christmas with my family! I couldn’t wait to “wow” them with the perfect Pennsylvania Christmas we’d have together.

Christmas morning, I woke up early to get a head start on the day. My to-do list was long and my breakfast menu ambitious. A southern breakfast casserole, fresh, warm biscuits, and ambrosia with chantilly cream (fancy, right?). I tip-toed downstairs in my reindeer jammies so I wouldn’t wake our snugly sleeping toddler, making a few preparations for the morning.

Christmas music playing, I put the finishing touches on my centerpiece, started a pot of coffee, and filled the sink with hot water to wash a few leftover dishes from the night before. Productivity high and expectations higher, I ran back upstairs to take a quick shower before putting our morning feast into the oven.

Showered and refreshed, my family stirring – it was time to start cooking! I ran back downstairs into the kitchen, when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a kitchen nightmare, a disaster, severe.

Water. Lots of water.
E.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.
Cabinet to cabinet.
Wall to wall.
An inch deep.
I forgot to turn off the sink!
Soaking my 5×7 rug.
Flowing quickly into the hallway.
My kitchen island, now an actual island.
“Christmas Oasis” was not the theme I was going for.

I waded through the kitchen, avoiding a few floating objects and turned off my offending sink. As I was mentally shifting my role from gourmet chef and super-host to the Christmas clean-up crew, my husband appeared, horrified. Before I could scoop out a single bucket of water (yes, we’re talking buckets), my parents arrived as well. The whole party was there for my breakfast-bazaar turned, well…just bizarre.

Graciously, my holiday guests, now flood victims, joined our clean-up efforts. Within an hour, we were back on track with breakfast AND my floor was sparkling clean. In my haste and desire to do-it-ALL, I got off track.

I was so distracted that my (foiled) good intentions to have the ultimate Christmas experience, led me to a good dose of humility and the realization that I was off mission.

Hey, this wasn’t the first time God used a flood to get someone’s attention. And, although you may have never given your kids a kitchen water park on Christmas morning, I’m wondering if your family could use a Christmas cleanup too.

Here’s what I know about you, the praying mama, reading a Christmas blog during the busiest time of the year: you’re probably already doing enough.

Does your December calendar look similar to mine?
  • Shopping
  • Cookie baking
  • Christmas light displays
  • A Christmas Eve service
  • Maybe a holiday party or two
  • An attempt at something advent-related with my kids
  • All within 25 days?

While I love Christmas lights and blow-up Grinches as much as the next person, without direction, they have the propensity to scream our culture’s favorite word, “more!” More lights! More gifts! More doing! And, if we’re not careful, we will have experienced Christmas without experiencing Christ.

This is exactly what happened with Martha and Mary. Martha was so busy doing all-the-things that she forgot to be with Jesus. Sound familiar? (Luke 10:38-42) Don’t get too busy or you’ll flood the kitchen! Don’t get so caught up in your to-do list that you neglect your to-be list. 

Now, let me be clear. I am not advocating for not celebrating Christmas and doing all of the merry-memory-making that you do. But is “more” the answer? And if so, more of what? Pinterest offers lists of “50 Gifts to Buy an 8 Year-old Girl” and “10 Holiday Crafts to Make with a Pinecone.” But you know what it can’t offer? Jesus. That’s your job.

Make the crafts, buy the gifts, sing the songs, and see the lights. But in the midst, make sure Jesus is invited.

SCRIPTURE SAYS:
When we’re running our race we are to “fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2)
You’re an eye-fixer.

IT LONGS FOR US TO:
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33)
You’re a priority-placer.

IT REMINDS US:
“Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
You’re a glory-giver.

IT BECKONS US:
“One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.” (Psalm 145:4)
You’re a generation gap-filler.

Christmas is an opportunity like no other to center your family on Christ, and it doesn’t come through scheduling more activities, but through more intentionality. So, let’s make this simple here. What do we actually need more of?

When you enter a holiday moment, feeling the Christmas fuzzies, ask yourself this question: “How can I point to Jesus?” That’s it. More pointing to Jesus.

MORE PRAYERFUL MOMENTS:
“Before we deliver these cookies, let’s pray for our neighbors.”

MORE CHRIST-CENTERED CONVERSATIONS:
“Look at those Christmas lights! How do they remind us of Jesus?”

Our world will make sure we are signed up to do all the stuff. We will make sure Jesus is the center of it.

Cleaning up your expectations for Christmas doesn’t mean you have to do less stuff (unless the Holy Spirit is convicting you of that? Only you know that, sister). It does, however, mean that Christmas is a time to be intentional about pointing to Jesus in everything we do.

In my Moms in Prayer group, a friend of mine always closes with, “God, make up the difference between who we are and who we need to be.” I love that prayer. It covers the things I missed and reminds me that I’m really nothing without Him. I’ll always fall short, whether we’re talking about a flooded kitchen or a worn-down heart.

I don’t have to match up to my Pinterest-worthy neighbor to experience Christ or give my girls lasting memories this Christmas. Jesus is waiting, no matter how fancy my tradition or how full my calendar. He makes up the difference. That’s what he does, mama— today, tomorrow, and on Christmas too. Lean into His grace and make Him known.

Praying mom of elementary age kids, Kristen CzuchraKristen Czuchra lives in Spring City, Pennsylvania with her husband of eleven years and two daughters, Adeline (8) and Annalise (5). She grew up in church, but God became real and personal to Kristen when her mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away when she was nine. That lead to years of turmoil for her family and God became her constant in a changing world. Currently, Kristen and her husband serve as pastors of Grace Assembly of God church. Kristen has her Master’s in Education from the University of Alabama Birmingham.

Comments 10

  1. So needed. We all tend to want to be our best, show others our best. When we let Jesus shine, because we are in His shadow, we have a glow about us that lets others know who He is in us. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Yes, Judy!
      This reminds me of 2 Corinthians‬ ‭4‬:‭5‬-‭6‬.
      “For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake. For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.”
      ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4‬:‭5‬-‭6‬

      May we not proclaim ourselves, but Jesus as Lord. God, illuminateour hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus!

  2. Thank you for this article, Kristen!
    More is less and simple is best!
    I try to focus on that as a guiding principle during this season. To be prayerful asking for wisdom. I think it’s harder for women with young families to find the balance. As a grandmother my duties and expectations are way less! In everything we do, do all for the glory of God!

    1. Thanks for reading Polly. It is very difficult to find the balance, and I’m thankful for women in the next generation, like you, who can point the way to keeping the main thing the main thing and help lessen those self-imposed expectations.
      Merry Christmas and blessings upon your New Year!

    1. Thanks for reading, Lynette! Merry Christmas. Praying blessings on you as your point to Christ in the days leading up to Christmas!

  3. Love, love love this. This year is much different…..one small tree in the room with the hospital bed mom sleeps in…..can’t wait to have my daughter home to visit (last visit was during mom’s stroke a 20 minute hug in a hospital) ….crock pot dinner on Christmas so we can actually sit together & play a favorite family game….”take care of the widows & orphans” & “honor your parents”…..priceless just like Christ’s Love & sacrifice for us

    1. Way to place those priorities in order, Trisha. Lord, bless Trisha and her family this Christmas. As they dedicate this time to you, may your presence be tangible in their home and hearts.

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