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Friday, December 16, 2011

12: Mental Health at Christmastime

One evening last week I was driving to Edmonton to meet two of my kids at the Winspear to hear Michael W. Smith in concert with the Edmonton Symphony. (Wow!) As I drove, I thought of a poem I wrote during the Christmas season 17 years ago. I then amused myself during the remainder of the drive by reciting it from memory. I thought of the stressed-out mom who had written that piece and of how far she has come since then. But I was quick to acknowledge, too, that I still have some things to learn about handling stress. I thought it would be good to share this poem, to help us all keep perspective during this most special time of year.

The Week Before Christmas

’Twas a week before Christmas
When I awoke in my bed
Not with joy and good will
But apprehension and dread

Here it was the seventeenth of the month of December
Still, on went renovations that began in September
This neat little house that the Lord led us to
Was subjecting us all to a total re-do

All that morning I had planned to be painting
Though I felt more like sleeping—maybe even like fainting
But it had to be done; that much was clear
In hopes that the carpet-man soon would be here

I wearily crawled out to the big kitchen table
Clutching my trusty, worn Amplified Bible
“Lord, if I ever needed You, I need You now
I’ve just got to get through this day somehow

“And by the way, Lord, if I’m doing too much
I’d drop it all now: just convict me of such”
Then I read a few verses and I went on my way
To get a good start on this formidable day

Well, I won’t explain how: it’d take too much time
And too many words in need of a rhyme
But just ten minutes later, as neat as you please
The Lord brought me down, and hard, to my knees

“Forget the painting for now!” Oh, how my heart strings tugged
“And wait till the New Year to put in the rug!”
So I let it all go, and I wept as I knelt
With thanks for His grace and the relief I now felt

Then I gathered my wits with no further delay
With a fresh new perspective to tackle the day
And a jolly good thing: there was much to be done
Beginning . . . with the kids' dress rehearsal at one!

Before then, there were still three costumes to hem
A parrot head-piece to feather, attach Velcro, and then
I suddenly remembered with a sigh and a frown
Each of the wise men still needed a crown

Did the morning have wings? How quickly it flew!
How could I have painted? There was so much to do!
Twelve-thirty, as kids gobbled hot soup down
From poster-board I hastily cut each crown

Then to give those crowns an appearance more royal
Out came the good old aluminum foil
With eyes on the clock, all the kids stood ’round
My hands shook; my heart was beginning to pound

I couldn’t believe how long this was taking
Stress level at max; grey hairs in the making
It was one when Greg chased them all out the door
And I was left wondering was the rush was all for

I wanted to arrive at Christmas rejoicing
Not exhausted, with cynical sentiments voicing
To enter His rest, from my labours to cease
To celebrate the advent of the Prince of Peace

So I built that day in my heart an altar
And I pledged by His grace my resolve would not falter
This week, I would follow His agenda, not mine
So to be full of peace this Christmastime

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