by Katie Julius

Each January, in lieu of the typical “New Year’s Resolutions” that inevitably fall to the wayside by February 1, I choose a word or phrase that I feel God has placed on my heart to be my focus for the year. One year, it was “trust,” while another year was “discipline.”

This year, I struggled to find a word or phrase early in the year. I was coming out of an emotional haze after losing my dad in November and was looking forward to a fresh start. Several different words and phrases came to mind, but nothing seemed to be right.

Finally, in late March, during our family trip to the Sierra Nevada mountains to scatter my dad’s ashes, God revealed my phrase for 2018: Be Still.

As you probably know, cell service and wi-fi is not very reliable in the mountains, if it’s even available at all. During this weekend away, a familiar chorus ran through my head while I was preparing the words to share about my dad.
     To be still and know
     That you’re in this place
     Please let me stay and rest
     In your holiness.
This place had become a place of rest after a weary few months; a place to be still and be renewed by God.

This was solidified as we browsed a local Christian gift shop and a small poster with Psalm 46:10 caught my eye, “Be still and know that I am God.”

As many “mountain top” experiences go, we had to come back down the mountain to our regular lives and the ease of being still was gone.

However, there have been reminders throughout the year of the need to just be still in the midst of our chaotic life. Many of these reminders were “firsts” without my dad – his 60th birthday, Father’s Day, and most recently, the anniversary of his passing. These events caused me to pause and reflect and be reminded of the need to be still.

Along with these reminders, obstacles have been put into my path in several areas of my life that have made it a clear that I’m doing too much, I need to cut back. Some of those obstacles have been painful and hard to accept. Some were gentle reminders from friends or blog post I read (a really great one was written recently by CHEA’s General Manager, Rebecca Kocsis for the Support Network leaders, but is applicable to anyone who is easily caught up in “doing.”)

With the Christmas season now in full swing, there are so many activities, parties and opportunities to celebrate the holiday. It’s so easy to get caught up in doing so much. We want our kids to have the best memories and experiences, right? While creating traditions is important, it should never be at the expense of our ability to “be still” and experience those traditions with our kids.

Ever since my daughter was young, probably two or three, we have had an advent activity calendar. Each day we do a Christmas-related activity. Over the years, I’ve learned to incorporate as many of our daily “to do’s” or scheduled events into these holiday activities to help alleviate the “busy” of this season. Dance recitals, co-op park days, sleepovers at Grammie’s house, and church activities always make the cut now. It makes planning easier and less stressful for me because I’m not trying to create additional activities to add to our, already full, calendar.

We also do a Christmas book advent countdown in our house. Each night, we pick a Christmas book to read together. Some years I have time to wrap them so she doesn’t know which one she’s picking and other years, they just get placed in the crate and she can pick what she wants. Whether wrapped or not, we enjoy the time spent reading these special books that only come out of storage during Christmas time.

­Celebrating the birth of Jesus is such an important and special time of year. I encourage you to fill your days with meaningful, yet manageable, traditions. Don’t let the busyness of the next month get in the way of remembering one of the most important events in history and our faith. Take time to reflect. Take time to remember. Take time to be still.