I’m Feeling The Christmas Pressure

It must be time to put up the Christmas lights; I’m feeling the pressure.

Today I’m watching Lily decorate our upstairs Christmas tree. That’s right, we have an upstairs and a downstairs Christmas tree.

The upstairs one is hers. She decides what goes on it, and she does all the work. The downstairs tree is sort of the family’s tree; it has home-made decorations that we have given each other over the years.

Lily pretty much … well, actually completely puts that one up, too.

My line is that she takes care of the inside and I do the outside.

Just watching her do her thing puts the pressure on me to get moving with the outside lights.

But that’s not the only place from which I’m being pressured to get my task done.

There are several neighbours who already have their lights up. And when I drive down the next street, the homes there seem very much into the Christmas spirit.

About seven years ago I started thinking that people were putting more effort into Halloween decorations than they were Christmas. Now I think people are putting the same effort into decorating for Christmas as they do for Halloween.

For generations Christmas lights have basically been the same. You figured out a pattern of lights that worked on your house and you put them up every year. The only thing that you changed was the bulbs when they burned out.

Now there’s way more stuff!

They have big blow-up Christmas characters – I’m not talking about the baby Jesus and wise men; I’m talking about Frosty and Santa. Some of these blow-ups are as tall as a house!

There are also elaborate laser light shows that change rapidly and cover the whole front of a house.

It’s a big deal! And it seems that every year it’s getting to be an even bigger deal.

Not for me though. I’m old school; I have my pattern of how the lights go up and I just repeat that every year. I’m not trying to add anything new. I just hope that I can find the same eavestrough hooks I used last year.

What’s got me feeling the pressure to get my lights up today is that so many of my neighbours have their lights up, but I’m the Christian guy.

I’m the one who is really supposed to be into Christmas and I feel like not having my lights up yet is saying to them all that I don’t care as much as I should.

There is one other pressure and that’s the weather. It’s a nice day out there today – a balmy 8° Celsius (46 Fahrenheit). The chances that it will stay this warm for much longer are slim.

So between my wife, the neighbourhood, my perceived neighbours’ expectations of me and the weather, today’s the day when the lights go up.

I’m feeling the pressure.

Here’s the thing:  We feel pressure to do outward things, but do we feel pressure to do inward things? It’s hard not to give in to what we see in the world around us or what others are doing. But are you compelled in the same way to respond to what God wants you to do? The pressure to do outward things like put up the lights comes from within; we pressure ourselves. We should put that kind of pressure on ourselves to respond in obedience to what God wants us to do. Faith without obedience is not much good at all.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What should you put pressure on yourself to be doing? Leave your comments below.

The “I Want It” Principle

There’s something about not being able to do something that makes you long to do it more.  This is a true principle that we all live with.

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You see it clearly in the play of young children. A child plays contently until he sees the toy in another child’s hand. Then suddenly, that’s all he wants.

Children don’t have patience, and they can’t control their emotions like adults can, so they grab for what they can’t have, or get upset and have a tantrum.

We’ve all seen this. It’s predicable and amazing every time.

But just because we grow up and are able to control ourselves, doesn’t mean that this principle is not active or true for us who are mature and have lived on this earth for many years.

We are just able to process the situation, control our emotions and know when to give up on something. We have some common sense that drives us which young children don’t have.

This principle, which I call the “I want it” principle, was revealed in me today, probably because of the season.

It happens every year for me, at the time of year that our house gets decorated for Christmas. The artificial trees get hauled out of storage; the boxes of decorations begin to be uncrated.

At this time of year – every year – I have a strong desire to play pool. That’s kind of a strange urge, isn’t it?

Well, it’s not that strange when you realize that when all the Christmas boxes are brought out of their off-season hibernation, they are strewn around my pool table.

And the worse thing of all is my wife uses the top of my pool table as a flat surface to place all the tree ornaments on!

Now the table hasn’t moved in the ten years we’ve had it, and I do play pool from time to time during the year, but my urge to play is never greater than at this time of year when it is unavailable.

The urge continues over the Christmas season because we have a Christmas tree that stands about three feet from the table, making shots from that end very difficult to make.

Now in case you are wondering, no, I don’t scream or yell. I don’t get on my back and shout, flinging my limbs around at the same time.

I say nothing. I do nothing other than longingly look at my precious pool table and wish I could play a few games.

And unlike a child who you can easily distract by saying, “LOOK OVER THERE!”, to completely get their mind off the “I want it” principle, grownups aren’t as easily distracted.

Hey look, my wife is saying she just made breakfast for me . . . Now what was I talking about?

Here’s the thing: This “I want it” principle can get us confused when we pray. When we pray, we should be praying for God’s will. However, with the ‘I want it” principle in effect, we tend to believe that what we want right now is God’s will for us. Then if God doesn’t give it to us quickly, we question His ability, or care, or knowledge of us. But what we really need to do when the “I want it” principle invades our prayer life is find a distraction so that we can get our minds off the “I want it” and on to seeking God’s will.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What have you asked God for that turned out to be an “I want it” request? Leave your comment below.

Bring On Christmas!

Well, our house is finally decorated for Christmas. It has been about a two week process. We’ve lived in a Christmas construction zone in that time, with boxes and decorations lying in wait to be placed where they need to be.

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It’s not just the living room that needs to be decorated, our family room gets almost as much glitter and lights as the upstairs.

For me, I’m glad that it’s all finished now because the in-between stage looks so unfinished and I really don’t like the clutter.

For two weeks I haven’t been able to walk around our pool table and if I need to get in a few more steps for the day, I need that space to pace around in.

But now everything is in place where it should be and the Christmas work site has now turned into a beautiful scene of lights, ornaments and ribbon. Lily’s happy with it and that makes me happy.

Not that I really contributed to the putting up of all the decorations – she has an idea of what she wants to do and I’d probably mess things up if I got involved … at least that’s what I’ve convinced myself of.

Sunday afternoon I sat down on the couch and ended up taking a well-deserved nap. When I awoke, Lily had just finished that last touches on the decorations. I figured I woke up just in time.

She asked what I thought and I said it all looked great. I think she was looking for something more, maybe something more flowery or possibly a “I’ll help take it all down”, but the best I could offer at the time was “great job, dear”.

Hey, I was still waking up.

It’s not like I don’t do anything to contribute to the Christmassy look around our house. I put up the lights outside … and Lil doesn’t help me with them.

I have to risk life and limb going up on a ladder to string the lights along the garage eavestrough and then use an extension ladder to secure the lights along the peak of our roofline.

I don’t see her needing a ladder to put her newly spray-painted star on top of the tree … well maybe a step stool.

I was able to get all my decorating done in one afternoon and not the two weeks that we have had to wade through the junk.

But it’s all good now. We are ready for this season we call Christmas.

The decorations are just a mood-setter for what the season is all about. I think the trimmings trigger memories and alter our mood to usher in a most special time of year where we celebrate the birth of Jesus, God’s Son, who came to restore us to God.

Here’s the thing:  Like decorating for Christmas moves us into experiencing the season with a greater depth of feeling, taking time in the next couple of weeks to focus your attention on Jesus and His birth will move you to cherish Him more. The thing is, like putting up the decorations takes effort, take effort to spend some time in God’s Word around the miracle of the Messiah’s birth.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How much effort goes into preparing for your Christmas? Leave your comment below.

Why Should I Bother?

This is a guest blog post by Lily Silcock.  Lily works for SureWx as an executive administrative assistant, and is also actively involved in church ministry at Kingston Alliance Church. She is mentioned often in this blog, and is chief editor of it; Lily is also my wife!

It’s that time of year again. You know, that “haul-out-the-boxes, set-up-the-tree, decorate-the-house-for-Christmas” time of year.

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The calendar tells me it’s time, but I don’t feel like it. It’s been a busy few weeks: we’ve had company a few times, we’ve both had the flu, and work’s piling up. I’ve got a lot of other things to do and I’m tired.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. It’s just that all that decorating is kind of a bother. Oh, I like the decorations when they’re up, it’s just putting them up I’m not thrilled about! … especially these last years since our daughter moved away and I have to do it all myself (correction: I choose to do it myself) … I’m not yet willing to have our trees and home decorated by the guys in our family. They really have no clue how to arrange mesh ribbon on a tree … I do have standards, ya know.

I’m sure I’ll be delighted with the end product once it’s done. Each year when the house is finally all decorated, I plunk my tired body down in the living room with a cappuccino, admire the glowing lights and soak in the ambience.

But getting there can be such a chore! And I’m not even a Christmas decorating fanatic like some people I know!

Still, there are two trees to decorate, garland to drape, lights to string, and a Dickens village we inherited to set up. It all takes time – most of a day in fact – and, honestly, I just don’t feel like it.

I could do a lot less but, in the end, I know I won’t. I’ll make the effort even if I’m busy and tired because it makes my family happy … and, because after all these years, they expect it.

But if I’m truthful, I really do it for me, because even though I don’t feel like doing it right now, when it’s done, I absolutely love it! Our house looks so pretty, cozy and magical all decorated, with the mini white lights softly glowing all around. All the effort is definitely worth it in the end!

… I guess I’d better get at it. Christmas won’t wait!

Here’s the thing: We often don’t feel like giving praise to God. Sometimes we’re busy, preoccupied or just too tired to worship Him. It can seem like too much effort when we could get away with a lot less. So why bother? God deserves it, He expects it, it makes Him happy. And the crazy thing is, when you praise Him, it’ll make you happy too! It’s SO worth it! HE”S worth it.