There is something about the approach of the year’s end that always finds me deep in thought. How about you? It is almost Christmas and I’m not sure how it got here so fast again. I am writing this on the 353rd day in 2014. A nifty internet search tool tells me I have been alive 23, 273 days so far which means this year of 2014 represents only about one and one half percent of my life. What? How did that happen? But it does make sense. My feeling that time goes faster and faster is now totally in perspective. Each passing year is becoming a smaller and smaller fraction of my total life. I’m not sure how I feel about that but it sort of takes my breath away.

Do you remember how endless the month of December felt when you were six or seven? It seemed like an eternity until Santa would arrive and we got to open our presents. Now an entire month slips by like a week used to and days just melt and disappear and maybe for the first time ever I am beginning to understand. Life is short, even a long one. We are so blessed by the gift of another Christmas and then another. Lucky are those of us who have had the opportunity to string together 40 or 60 or 80 Christmases.

This year I have found myself immersed again in retail. Nothing says fast forward like working in a mall at Christmas. With less than a week to go I personally have purchased gifts for just four of the twelve or so people on my list. And this year I am okay with it. I still have five days that I can shop and I’ll get it done. It doesn’t even feel like complacency, it just feels peaceful. I could get used to peaceful, couldn’t  you?

Just twelve short months ago a gift from my daughter, a simple little book entitled Jesus Calling, has been a game changer for me. With few exceptions I have given the first 10 minutes of my day to reading this little devotional and looking up the Bible verses for each short page. Ten minutes is a fraction of the 1440 minutes we are all given each day. A tiny fraction. Simply by doing this one little thing, making this time first in my daymy life has taken on a new dimension. It is amazing how a tiny decision to mentally set my mind on the right path each day has given me a greater sense of peace than I have ever known. I certainly lapse into fits of busyness but I am in recovery!

Even in the rush of this season I have had  sweet moments of total contentment and leisure. An evening here and there in front of the fire. A school music program with my favorite five year old elf, a lovely night out with a friend enjoying beautiful Christmas music, an intimate gathering with some of my dearest women friends openly sharing our devotion for one another. It takes  effort and  some relaxing of our rigidity to slow down, savor and enjoy these precious times but when we do, I can almost see God smiling.

I share this with you as much to remind myself to slow down to the speed of life, to unclench and quit being so driven every single day. I am a work in progress but I am getting better. Really,  it is okay to jump off the hamster wheel for a day. Finally, after 23,274 days I am beginning to understand the importance of allowing myself to relax and that it is not necessary to always be “on”. The thought for yesterday in Jesus calling was this; “Do not be weighed down by the clutter in your life:lots of little chores…you will discover they are endless. They can eat up as much time as you devote to them.” Don’t let them eat up your precious days.

So have yourself a merry, mellow Christmas. Be kind to yourself and know that God loves you exactly how you are. Psalm 91:12 is a good message to think about. “Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom” As we end up this year of 2014, I wish you many blessings and a beautiful holiday season filled with peace and joy.

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Betty Streff

Betty Streff began her career as a customer service representative for a large corporation in Omaha. Four years later she found herself to be a farm wife in a small rural community with limited opportunities for women. After a humbling self assessment, she listed her assets as talents for sketching, sewing, and the natural ability to strike up conversations with complete strangers. Using these and her optimistic nature, she began stitching up some bibs and pillows for a craft show, who wouldn't? Over the next 25 years she became a serial entrepreneur obsessed with studying faith, spirituality, leadership, motivation, and management as she developed her businesses. Betty has spent the last few years working in corporate America in the hospitality and manufacturing world and she continues to immerse herself in the study of what makes people tick. The explosive growth in the relatively recent science of positive psychology fascinates her. Betty devours everything she can find on the subject and is especially intrigued with people who thrive no matter the circumstances and in discovering ways that happiness and optimism can be learned. She is currently exploring ways of sharing and cultivating the exciting possibilities with both individuals and businesses. She and her husband Steve have been married 45 years and are blessed with 2 incredible daughters, 2 fantastic sons-in-law and 6 amazing grandchildren.