Every year we experience a marked increase of activity around Christmas. We have our own families to attend to (thinking through and buying of gifts), our co-workers and staff, our churches’ additional services and the normal stuff of life (e.g. food shopping, laundry, car break-downs). This time of year only accentuates our need for increased differentiation and less fusion from the forces seeking to shape us. Consider what, I believe, is God’s order for us as we shape our lives and time. 1. God. It was Heidegger who made the distinction between waiting “for” and waiting “upon” Waiting for involves looking for a specific, concrete result. Waiting upon involves allowing insight and direction to emerge, an openness to whatever God has. I spent a good portion of my day alone with God yesterday meditating on Ps. 123:1-2. The most loving thing we can do for those around us is withdraw for our rhythms with God and to wait upon the Lord without any agenda. 2. Yourself. When we experience pressure and its accompanying anxiety, it is easy for me to skip exercise, eating well, naps, recreation, laughter, fun. This is resting in God’s love and grace for me. This is, I believe, God’s order. Remember: we cannot give out what we don’t possess. Forget checking e mail first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. Keep boundaries for yourself. 3. Marriage. For those of us who are married, we took a vow (similar to a monastic vow) to love our spouses and children (if applicable) that have come as a result of that union. This takes time – lots of it- and comes before our ministries also. Take some time and think how you can invest in your spouse and his/her needs during the next 2 weeks. 4. Church and the World. I am excited about what God is going to do in our Christmas services and New Year’s Eve. At the same time, we are preparing for a “contemplative” strategic planning time in January and making shifts here at NLF. One of the cutting edge skills I am working on is compartmentalization! I am learning how to manage myself so that I will think about a certain issue at a certain time (e.g. next week) so that it does not creep into what I am doing in the present. (e.g. it is time for decorating the Christmas tree at night, then talk, read a novel, relax so I will not answer phone calls, or think about New Life). I remind myself that this is God’s order for my life. What are ways you effectively slow down for God, yourself and life during the Christmas surge?