December 4, 2017

Embracing the Gift of His Presence & Giveaway

Today, I’m excited to welcome my friend, writing and editing mentor, and Proverbs 31 Ministries sister, Glynnis Whitwer, to share from her new book, Doing Busy Better. As we get swept up in the busyness of the Christmas season, Glynnis reminds us  to not only embrace God’s gift of work, but also of His gift of rest. Jesus tells us to come HIM first. HE is the one who gives us rest. Be sure to read till the end and enter Glynnis’ giveaway!

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Embrace the gift of God's presence this season. #doingbusybetter by Glynnis Whitwer.

It was a Christmas I’d like to forget. With five children at home, I should have planned a Pinterest-perfect experience – complete with decorations, cookies and crafts. But the stress of a crazy year had brought me to end of my strength.

The tree got put up, but no ornaments. It only had lights because it was pre-lit. That’s how bad it was.

Every day I felt like a failure. No matter how hard I worked, I couldn’t get ahead.

When that happens, I usually switch into go-mode. Checking items off my to-do list can easily supersede my desire for the quieter priorities of life, like time with God or my loved ones.

How can I possibly sit when there’s so much to do? That mindset has made me miss some of the most precious moments in life, and it’s a way of thinking I battle daily.

Somehow in the midst of that overwhelmed Christmas, God reminded me of the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible.

Luke 10 records a day when Jesus came to visit at Martha’s house. It’s a very short story, but we know that Martha fussed at Jesus because her sister wasn’t working hard enough. Rather than helping fix the food, Mary was sitting listening to Jesus.

Jesus loved both Mary and Martha. But in that moment, as the story records, Jesus was more delighted with Mary’s heart to be with Him than Martha’s heart to serve Him.

I can be a fusser too. Too busy with the details, too worried about planning for what’s next, too preoccupied with my to-do list. Even worried about other people’s to-do lists.

It’s not that I don’t love Jesus. I do. But so did Martha. She dearly loved Jesus. And I’m sure she loved having Him as a houseguest, where she could hear Him talk as she went about her daily tasks. Maybe she asked Him questions and served Him lunch.

But she didn’t stop to sit at His feet. She didn’t pause her preparation to give Him wholehearted attention. She didn’t embrace the gift of His presence.

Jesus so gently and lovingly corrected Martha saying:

“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:41-42, NIV)

Jesus loved Martha’s heart of service, but He just wanted her to stop what she was doing and prioritize spend time with Him.

I wonder if Martha changed her habits. Did she check her heart and consider where Jesus fit? Did she review her priorities and put Jesus before cleaning up?

We don’t know the answer. The only thing we can know is what we decide to do with this story.

It’s so compelling to jump into our days ¾ whether it’s fixing breakfast for children or leading a meeting at work — without ever pausing to sit at Jesus’ feet. It’s so much easier to whisper a prayer while driving carpool or listen to the Christian radio station and consider that time with God.

That crazy December day I decided to follow Mary’s example and sit in the middle of my mess to spend time with Jesus.

Normally, I feel as if everything has to be clean before I can “treat” myself to some down time. I believe I have to have the dishes clean, counters cleared, urgent emails addressed, laundry going. By the time I’ve done all that, something else has demanded my attention, and my time with Jesus is neglected – much like what happened to Martha.

But not that day. That day I made a cup of coffee and sat at the kitchen table and looked at my mess. It was big. There were papers, dishes, clothes and blankets strewn over every surface. The floor was filthy, and the list went on. I had to fight my instinct to get up.

Closing my eyes, I pictured Jesus sitting across the table from me. Sighing deeply, I felt the stress melt away, as my heart filled with peace. It was pure pleasure … and the mess amazingly faded from my view.

The presence of Jesus brings me more joy and satisfaction than checking 100 things from my list.

This Christmas, whether you’ve gotten your house decorated or not, whether you’ve mailed out cards or not … Jesus has come to your house for a visit. He longs for us to pause our preparations and sit with Him. What a gift.

Giveaway Ended

Congrats Kay (comment December 4, 2017 at 7:42 am) – you won! Please check your email and reply with your mailing address.

Glynnis is giving away a copy of Doing Busy Better to one of my readers! Comment below and let us know how you are embracing God’s presence this month. U.S. Addresses only please.

Doing Busy Better by Glynnis Whitwer.

P.S. The winners of last week’s giveaway were announced here.

About Doing Busy Better

In Doing Busy Better, Glynnis helps you examine your heart and your schedule in order to seek a healthy, holy, and enjoyable balance between work and rest. Most importantly, she shows you that your worth is found not in your accomplishments but in the love of the One who made you for work and for rest.

Glynnis Whitwer is the Executive Director of Communications at Proverbs 31 Ministries. She is one of the writers of Encouragement for Today, the Proverbs 31 e-mail devotions, with over 950,000 daily readers. She is the author and co-author of 10 books, including her latest Doing Busy Better: Enjoying God’s Gifts of Work and Rest. Glynnis, her husband Tod, have five young-adult children and live in Glendale, Arizona. She blogs at www.GlynnisWhitwer.com.

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Comments

  1. Such great encouragement for this season, I love Glynnis’ book Doing Busy Better!

  2. I’m using The Greatest Gift and my Jesse tree to focus my thoughts and heart on Jesus

  3. A timely devotion! I felt like I was reading about myself. Thank you for your perspective!

  4. Being busy even with good things is never a replacement for quietly sitting and praying and enjoying quiet time with my Savior. It’s also amazing how when I prioritize my time with Jesus everything else falls in place:) thank you for this good word.

  5. I tend to think that the house has to be perfect (clean) before I spend time with Jesus. Problem is, the house is never perfectly clean. So, I’m going to make time with Him my first priority and the cleaning/everything else can wait!

  6. Stacey Gray says:

    Honestly, after reading this wonderful reminder, I just went and sat, sat at my table so desperately needing and wanting time with Jesus.

  7. Brenda Agan says:

    This spoke to me this morning. Thank you for reminding me to stop and not worry about all the stuff and spend time with HIM. That is all He wants is for us to spend time with Him. Would love to read your book.

  8. Bonnie Columbia says:

    This was so encouraging. Time with Jesus is the most important pa of the day. and as I have learned the house will never be perfect. Thanks for this timely reminder.

  9. nancys1128 says:

    I am done stressing over “getting eveything perfect” this year. I will only be putting out select Christmas/winter decorations and they’ll get put out when they get put out. My bigger issue is the family dinner with more food than is needed – both food types and quantities of. Hubby does all that – for which I an ever so grateful as I don’t like to cook – but the family is small and sometimes doing things the way they’ve Lways been done can be taken to extremes. I will breathe thru it this year and find blessing in his enjoyment of the process.

  10. I am trying to focus more on spending time in prayer & meditation during the holiday season. I want to be more diligent in seeing how God revels himself to me. When I take the time to put God first, it is amazing all the blessings he gives me during the holiday season.

    • Congrats Kay, you won Doing Busy Better! Please check your email and reply with your mailing address. Enjoy!
      Kim Stewart
      Wendy Blight Ministry Team

  11. Nancy Elam says:

    I’m really trying to b purposeful in not getting caught up w/the cultural Christmas😫 and redirecting my thoughts to celebrating Christ!😃

  12. Oh my goodness do I need this book! Thank you for writing it, need to practice being still before Him!

  13. Lisa Schorp says:

    Full participation in church, along with with my devotion time at home. Giving my all to my Advent time with my family. Putting God first during the rush of the season. Remembering that Unstuck Christmas is one of the best, and showering Gods love to others and strangers is vital in this season of his birth, through little gestures. I love the book Unstuck That I am reading along with 2 others right now.

  14. Nancy Truchinski says:

    I am embracing God’s amazing presence by reading outloud Psalms when I become overstressed with my handicapped husband or my aging Mom…..memorizing scripture has helped me to embrace God’s presence all year.

  15. Peggy Clement says:

    I sit every morning and take time to do a devotional .

  16. Janice Preston says:

    I sit every morning and read my devotional, but I find that the dogs are just always distracting me in the a.m. so at night, I’m doing a advent book with Jesus. I also read the Bible when I lay down in bed, its very comforting to have the Lords presence as I drift off to sleep.

  17. Kat Crawford says:

    I’ve been doing “holy yoga” every morning asking God to hear from him, giving thanks, and by spending time in prayer, reading scripture and listening to worship music while stretching out the body he gave me to look after.

  18. I am determined with the help of God’s grace to keep Jesus at the center of my focus this Christmas.

  19. I can so relate to your devotional today. Thank you for the reminder that Jesus has come to my house for a visit. When you say it like that, it not only hits close to home, but it warms my heart to see it that way.

  20. Embracing His Presence through quiet times and in church.

  21. I’m helping our church feed 35 of our homeless in our community. This week our church provides breakfast, packed lunch, dinner and a warm place to sleep. It’s very humbling to hear their stories and what led them to being homeless. Christmas shopping, wrapping, decorating will be put on hold this week. I look at what I have and find myself feeling selfish to have so much and their belongs fit in a plastic Walmart bag. Praying God will keep them safe, warm and soon lead them to a better life.

  22. DONNA M TORRADO says:

    Rest is one word that I am learning much about. I am debating if I want to go through all the hassle of decorating or making it simple. With the mess currently simply will have to do.
    I much prefer to spend my time at Jesus feet.

  23. Joy Fischer says:

    I’m was so like Martha for so long…now sitting at the feet of Jesus is my first priority. He has made me new! Amen🙏🏻

  24. Vonnie Kronk says:

    I am diligent in seeing how God can revel himself to me this Christmas & really need it going thru separation with husband.

  25. Deb Black says:

    Thank you for this gentle reminder. Setting the goal to be purposeful about spending time with Jesus! Thankful that His precious love never fails and is unchanging❤️.

  26. Paring down on ‘stuff’ and increasing time for others.

  27. I needed this especially this morning. I have been feeling overwhelmed with everything to do this Christmas season. It felt good to stop and sit at Jesus feet!

  28. Nicci Ramirez says:

    Trying to abide. To be still…. and know!

  29. Maria Melendez says:

    Like many I feel overwhelmed due to just having surgery and returning to work in a matter of days and preparing for my husband surgery in two days. I feel that there is much to do in little time.. It has been hard to sit still and do my readings and falling short of it makes me feel guilty.. I am hopeful that I have t strength and be able to sit still because I know my heart needs it in this time of rush

  30. Keatyn Bergsten says:

    I’m trying to be super diligent about keeping my time in the word each day and have been listening to worship music at work.

  31. Nancy Sonnier says:

    Taking one day at a time..enjoying God’s presence and what He has in store for me and my family. God bless you & Merry Christmas!

  32. Heather Goben says:

    I just finished Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado, loved the bible study. Now, I’m spending my time doing an Advent study while spending my time with Jesus.

  33. Kym Ganzer says:

    This is so me! I’m tired from all the pressures in my life. Christmas and starting a new year for our company always seems to add so much more and I realized I have come to dread all the extra duties I face. I started having a flickering of joy this year. I’m sure it’s because my heart has been growing in Him. I really want to get into the spirit…His spirit of Christmas. My hubby loves Christmas and I can tell he isn’t pleased with my bah humbug attitude I tend to carry. I’m going to keep my focus on the true meaning in the midst of my duties and pause for Mary time. I want that joy to overwhelm me and not the pressure of all I have to do. Thank you for this encouragement!

  34. Carissa D. Huffman says:

    I am in way over my head this year, so I have to just let some things be messy for a while. I am not a housekeeper in good times. Right now, I feel like we are wannabe hoarders. But, this message resonates with me, as well. I supervise 20+ people. My 8 year old son has a lot of things going on. The push for the “perfect holiday” from our culture is strong. We have a 7 month old kitten who is a joy, and a cyclone! My aging parents have started to need a great deal of assistance. It all screams out at once.

    But, I am going to take some golden time every day. I have to. Thank you for the reminder!

  35. Thanks for the reminder to stop and rest with Jesus!

  36. It is SO hard to sit still when there is so much to do. Thank you for the reminder of Mary & Martha – and how we need that still precious time with Jesus!

  37. I am trying to keep my focus on Jesus and not on the worldly and material material items. This book sound like something I really could use. I sometimes have a hard time trying to focus on Christ when there is so much to do. It really hit home when I ready your words. God bless. Merry Christmas

  38. It is so easy to get caught up in all that needs to be done. Time with Jesus needs to be done. So, I am going to make it a priority.

  39. I’m trying to spend more time praying and focus on Christ.

  40. I so needed this today. I have been trying to purposely spend time with God and not just another check mark on my to-do list.

  41. Kay Pflueger says:

    We just recently moved into a small 500 square foot apartment after living with friends. I love having my own space and my own kitchen so I can bake and prepare meals for my husband and myself.

    In spite of my joy, I am finding myself grumbling because I don’t have the space to decorate for Christmas the way I want to. All of my decorations are sitting in storage because I have not space for them in the apartment. This blog today reminded me that the coming of Jesus is why we celebrate. The decorations are not important.. it is what is in my heart that I need to be concerned about.

  42. Cathy Loresch says:

    I have been neglecting my God lately, and I felt like He was speaking to me thru your article, to get my priority in order, my spiritual priority. Thank you for opening my eyes!

  43. I feel so distant from God right now with so much to do between work, family, school and church. It is so easy to put aside quiet time with God for all the things that need to be done. I plan on slowing down and I do an Advent study with my kids.

  44. Embracing God’s presence by doing some advent devotional for the first time. Thanks for giving us a chance to win

  45. This is such a good message for all of us to do list keepers. Thank you

  46. I am still at the very initial stage prioritizing my time with God no matter my schedule. It is better on slower days, but like you said- on busy (which seems to be the season lately) it just slips away even though it should be a priority. I’ve even tried getting up an hour earlier than my usual alarm clock- to sit with Jesus- but so far somehow every single morning was taken by something else that I can’t even recall what exactly…but I do want to honor God by prioritizing my schedule for Him.

  47. Kathy Banfield says:

    This Christmas season, I am making a point of starting my day with prayer.I find I can approach ever task with energy and peace when I give a few minutes of my morning to God!

  48. Karen Grove says:

    This Christmas I am embracing our “family traditions” but trying to down size them a bit. I was concerned that in doing so the kids would notice and be upset. Thanks to quite time in the morning and family devotion time at dinner, I have found that my ‘cutting back” has not be noticed by the kids. I have found ways to streamline my decorating and have gotten the kids involved – I have been able to “let go” of my “perfect” decorating – the picture in my head – and turned some of it over to others. I am much more relaxed even though our “white space” is less this year because my kids are in small group and sports.

    My husband and I start our day asking God to give us an extra measure of prioritizing our daily activities in a way that is pleasing to Him and brings peace to our family. We are seeing the fruit!

    Merry Christmas, Abundantly Blessed,

    Karen G.

  49. This is our 3rd year of hosting a shoe box Christmas party for the homeless. We pack shoeboxes with gifts that they need and can use plus goodies! We had a lot of great food! We sang Christmas carols and spent time chatting, snapping pictures, sharing hugs and laughts!! It is such a time of blessing for them as well as for us! It helps me to always remember the real reason for the season: JESUS!!

  50. Oh, I need this book. This post has gone straight to my heart with so many takeaways. Thanks to you both!

  51. Una-Marie Catania says:

    I am praying the Scriptural Rosary every evening after dinner. It has brought me a wonderful sense of peace and a vivid and deep connection to the life of Jesus by meditating and praying about the major events if his life and the miracles he performed.

    • Una-Marie Catania says:

      I am praying the Scriptural Rosary every evening after dinner. It has brought me a wonderful sense of peace and a vivid and deep connection to the life of Jesus by meditating and praying about the major events of his life and the miracles he performed.

  52. Linda Neely says:

    Ann Voscamp’s book The Greatest Gift. I bought it last year later in Dec. so kind of rushed through to get all the days in. Relishing a slow scroll through it this year.

  53. Mary Townsend says:

    I am participating in Max Lucado’s OBS Because of Bethlehem. I have also taken more time to embrace the silence in His Presence and listen…

  54. This message was perfect for me as we are in the process of getting hardwood installed and we have furniture is everywhere! What a mess!

  55. Robin Still says:

    Oh my how this has hit me tonight. I am the one thinks everything must be perfect before I can enjoy anything at all. As I sit here crying I’m realizing how much I have missed and will continue to miss if I don’t just be still. May we all find time to be in His presence this season and always.

  56. Mare Hindall says:

    I would like to win a copy of your book, Glynnis. I feel like a failure when it comes to reading my bible and devotions. I feel like I go through the motions at times. Your book sounds amazing.

  57. I’m putting Jesus front and center in all I do this Christmas. I haven’t even thought of decorations or cards or putting the tree up…instead my husband and I took off for Arizona from Oregon. 😉 We have never been to Arizona and wanted to see if it may be ‘the place’ next to move to.
    I also want to be near my kids and grandkids this Christmas because family is the most important during the Holy Season.
    On a side note: I just read that Glynnis is from Glendale, and had no idea. Funny timing, as me and my husband are staying in Scottsdale this week and just drove through Glendale this evening.
    God loves to surprise me with things like this.
    Thanks for this Glynnis and Merry Christmas to one and all!

  58. I am trying to focus on Him more this year rather than the gifts I feel I have to buy and the food to make. This book sounds interesting. Thank you for the giveaway!

  59. Trying to take a deep breath and read the Bible and/or devotions each morning, before I start on my “list” – Need Jesus to surround me with His strength.

  60. This year I’ve really struggled to find joy in the normal preparations of decorating, shopping etc. I lost my mom to cancer three months ago. The only way I’m feeling any joy is to sit at the feet of Jesus every day. If the rest gets done then it gets done. But my focus truly is on Jesus to sustain me, bring joy and comfort , and to just be.

  61. This year, I’m determined to focus (intentionally) on the true meaning of the season and; reminding others the real reason for the season. As always, my focus is on Jesus! It’s so easy to get distracted with things that truly don’t matter. Focusing on the hustle and busyness and family is a recipe for disaster. How it must pain the Father’s heart to see people get things oh so wrong. I’m doing what I can to direct the attention of those around me to Jesus.

  62. Holli Braun says:

    I am making an extra effort to SEE God in the little things. He is present in so many little details of our lives. He reminds us of things that we are to do for Him and His children. Like when I see a certain item in a room that reminds me of someone and God whispers to me to say a prayer, make a call, send a card, etc. God is good.

  63. I am taking time to breathe and relax. Usually I am running around like a crazy woman. I also make a lot of lists and try to get a little done at a time.

  64. Jenn Taylor says:

    By recommitting myself to bible journaling and scripture writing.

  65. Nay Gelvin says:

    I do a lot of Bible journaling and also a daily bible study, devotions and also read books or listen on audible.

  66. Thanks for this devo. I so relate to Martha and usually don’t like this part of scripture cause Martha is always looked at as the bad girl in the story. But I do understand why and I relate to it well cause I don’t always choose time with God first I love the part about visualizing Jesus sitting beside you or in front you. I think I will give this a try cause I usually get sidetracked thinking of my to do list and other things.

  67. I actual came to your site today to see what Wendy’s plan for the New Year is and read this post. Boy, did this article speak to me. I’ve had so much busyness going on with a recent move and travel that my time with the Lord has suffered. I am such a rule follower so I am exactly that person who has to have dishes done, laundry started, school books piled neatly in order on the table and yet I’m not unpacked, our addition is not finished, my house isn’t decorated, nothing is wrapped, my guest room isn’t ready. My son asked to play in the new snow, and I said No. I believe Jesus is telling me through your article that I need to remember what really matters.

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