advent is winding down.
hard to believe that the season of waiting and preparation is about to end.
christmas is in two days.
christmas eve is on saturday (today is thursday)

as this season comes to a close (in a big celebration), i’ve been spending a lot of time just thinking and reflecting.

this past month has been what i call “rough”
i’ve not felt well all month with lots of down days where i was either sleeping, vegging out, struggling with headaches, fighting insomnia or feeling antisocial.
i don’t know what happened, but i’ve never felt so tired in my life.

at the same time, i’ve had some AMAZING days where i felt like i was truly connecting with people as their pastor, when i was able to be my usual perky self full of hope and joy. i’ve been here for almost 6 months, and i am truly beginning to feel part of the community.
i made a few intentional choices to help people realize that i have no plans to leave anytime soon.
1. i have a north dakota drivers license
2. i purchased a vehicle and registered it in north dakota
3. i bought a season pass to dakota prairie high school sporting events
these actions were bold statements for me since i’ve been a south dakota girl, and it was tough to leave that part of my history behind.
but i live in north dakota and i need to be part of my community.

i tried to figure out what happened this month to lead to some bad days and i have a few possible culprits:
1. i switched my diet. i cut out all sweets. fruits are the exception just like any sweets served at xmas parties. i have only eaten chocolate (which used to be its own food group for me) or sugar at xmas parties. granted, i’ve had a few of those this month (6 and counting). but overall this has been good for me. yes, i totally had a bad day once all the sugar left my body. the sugar that used to keep me energized and alert.
2. i messed with my schedule. i have a set schedule to help me keep going. i nap on sunday afternoons. i take mondays off. and i only ever work two evenings max. unfortunately, the month of december messes with my schedule. sunday afternoons have been for xmas parties/programs with no naps involved. evenings have been filled with basketball games or christmas concerts. there was one week in particular when i had 4 christmas concerts and two games, meaning i spent sunday-friday evenings out.
3. i’m stressed out about this weekend. this is my first xmas as a pastor. every other time i’ve been involved with christmas services i had help from the “real” pastor so i had no pressure on me. not this year. this year i’m on my own. and although i know that everything will be perfect, i still have expectations for what i should do, what i should say, etc.
4. i overextended myself. within 6 days, i hosted two parties at my house. i had the youth over one sunday afternoon and the following saturday was an open house for all the parish. granted, i love having people over since i hate being lonely, but the prep work (cooking and cleaning and decorating) can take a toll on my sanity and stress level.
5. i escaped my reality. i have spent several hours of my days just staring at the tv (well, tv via netflix). i used the captivating experiences of other people’s lives in order to forget about my own issues. while this is quite useful most of the year, i went a bit too far this month. at the same time, it was nice to know that i still have something in me that is able to get so energized and captivated. now i just need to learn what in my job and my real life will give me the same drive and ambition and energy…
6. i lost track of the days. all of a sudden, i realized that christmas is going to arrive whether or not i’m ready for it. i haven’t mailed off christmas cards. i didn’t print out letters to include or find the pics i want to mail with. i can’t find where i hid half of the gifts i purchased. i haven’t been baking like i had planned. and now that the time has run out, i’m at a loss as to where to start. so much to do, so little time…

i have family coming this weekend. tonight, two sisters and a niece arrive. by saturday night, the rest of my immediate family should arrive. and on sunday, i may or may not have more showing up at my house.
and as much as i look forward to their arrival, i’m also stressed about making sure i have enough food and sufficient sleeping arrangements.

but at least i’m well aware that this is EXACTLY why Jesus needed to come into our broken world to bring peace and healing and a new reality where God triumphs over all that holds us back

i guess i should get back to working on the sermon i shall preach twice on christmas eve (4:00 in binford, 5:30 in mchenry), figure out what to do with the 11:00 pm service in mcville, and make sure i have everything lined up for christmas morning service in grace city.


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