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Preparing My Heart For Christmas

In my humble attempt to keep love at the core of this holiday, I am going to share a couple Christmassy posts in the final countdown to Santa's arrival! By this I don't mean another unnecessary gift guide or the family Christmas pudding recipe, but rather I'm hoping to go beyond that into the nitty-gritty, sometimes messy and broken 'heart stuff' that we all love avoiding so much. I'm not talking heart stuff in a romantic sense, I simply mean the heart you use for life, that gets trampled on and crushed in simple everyday moments. For me, 'preparing my heart for Christmas' means getting myself into a healthy and joyful mindset that will be a gift not only to me but to whoever is around me over the holidays. Christmas can mean high pressure and when it comes to most families, an extra spoonful of patience and kindness is required to keep the peace. So with a prepared heart, everyone benefits from genuine affection and sincere holiday spirit, or at least this is what I hope. 15571309_10154889084896554_408161057_n

Preparing my heart for Christmas has a lot to do with what Christmas means to me personally, as well as dealing with the end-of-year gear shift and smoothly changing lanes into next year as seamless and enthusiastically as possible.

I've often wondered how we all go from the haggard end-of-the-year-feels to the sudden energetic, New Year - New me selves, are we for real? All it seems to take is one overrated night with a few fireworks and a magical kiss when the clocks hit 12 and we are revived with new minds and energy? I'm not convinced.

For the past two years, I have successfully started each year with three main goals, with the intention that those three goals set me up to be the person I am looking to be. I am delighted to report that this structure works incredibly well and I would encourage all friends to give it a go. Ditch the inevitable failure in the annual attempt at a New Years Resolutions and focus rather on what I like to call yearly time-kept dreams. These mini dreams or goals as most would call them push me towards the person I know I can be, and a little further away from the excuse of "well that's just how I am". It's important to remind ourselves that we are in control over our choices and actions, the temptations life throws at us will always be there, but never more than we can handle. Because after all, it is promised.

In the next few posts I hope to share moments of truth from my little life and the revelations that those have brought. Sometimes I am quiet enough to hear little whispers from heaven, and perhaps if I feel it's right, I'll share those too.

This year has been one of great transition and big change. 2016 has also been unbelievably tough for many people and on a global scale, downright dreadful. I won't go into the list of reasons because overhearing numerous conversations while making my way through central London earlier this week, we all have an arm's length list of reasons that we could recite without my promptings.

The state of our world. The deterioration of planet earth beyond our personal pain. The heartache in war-riddled countries, far beyond our conflict-riddled families, is overwhelming, to say the least. And most of us feel hopeless at the mere thought. Which is why the opening lines of Love Actually will drive my point home better than I could;

"Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around."

Christmas, whether you believe in Jesus or not, brings out much emotion in the western world. Our senses, particularly that of love are heightened. Family comes together to celebrate and share in a sense of belonging and community that are often bypassed the rest of the year.

Preparing our hearts for Christmas means unwrapping love and kindness on the morning of the 25th will be a priority over the disappointment of getting another pair of socks or underpants. So may our focus be unwrapping heavenly gifts that last throughout the day and fill our New Year too. Gifts of joy, peace, and patience.

15515562_10154888769851554_733765550_oThis year, as for me and my life, I hope Christmas to be; giving without getting, loving with no agenda, and above all, letting God who is rooted in the mystery, receive all glory and honour for sending His only son to be born into an incredibly dark world, to save us from ourselves and make our broken hearts a little more whole than they would be without His unending grace and never failing love.

If you're interested in joining me on preparing your heart for Christmas, let me know in the comments and be sure to follow the blog, it would be an honour to do this with as many readers as possible.

Until then, may you never lose your wander.

Ash xx