(read in :03) It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.~W T Ellis

Take a look at the battle lines. They’ve been in place for a while now. On social media and almost every place we look, there’s a battle for our heart.

On one side are gorgeous magazine covers, Pinterest pins, HGTV and television commercials. The decorating gurus beckon us, crooning that our home must be sparkly, trendy and impeccably coordinated for the holidays. From the top of the tree to the stuff on our wall, dash away! dash away! dash away to the mall!

On the opposite side of the battlefield, there’s another face, staring down the Goliath of commercialism. It’s quiet and David-like; small but determined and strong. All along the sidelines are followers, cheering him on. They’re the mavericks who’ve discovered it is possible to jump off the hamster wheel of never enough stuff.

A collective change of heart is happening right now

Gradually, from the margins of our culture, a new movement has begun. Every cultural shift that shakes the rafters begins in the same way; quietly, from the fringe, almost imperceptible at first, embraced by only the bravest few. We see the evidence in blogs and magazine articles about minimalism, spirituality, and simplicity. YouTube videos and TED talks are bubbling up, warning us of the toxic effects our excess consumption has on people and on our planet. Messages urging us to rethink our priorities.

The “buy buy buy” mentality we’ve embraced for so long has reached a crescendo. And it’s sobering to observe that our collective happiness has plunged even though we have more and more stuff in our larger and larger homes. The equation has been proofed. More stuff does not equal happiness.

It takes focus and effort to recover from any addiction (and let’s call it what it is). Even more important, it requires strong desire and an understanding of our unique reason “why.” Take a deep breath and ask yourself if the hurry and worry are worth leaving you with less peace, less time and less joy. Deep in our soul, we know the answer. Believe me, I’m working on it too.

Personally, I always go back to scripture for affirmation of my thinking, checking to make sure that I am headed in the right direction. The Bible is full of references to surrendering our need for “more stuff.” Luke says it eloquently in 6:34, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” And in 12:15, “life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

But I’m not the Grinch!

I’m not here to take away your glitter, your sprinkles or your sequins. I happen to love them all! And, I’m not suggesting that you should throw away all your holiday décor or dress in burlap for that party (although it might look amazing with a wide gold cinch belt and huge hoop earrings). Nothing drastic. In everything that is worthwhile, changes must be heartfelt and gradual to stick. Try this today. Pause a sacred minute before you add one more thing to your to-do list and ask yourself if it will be a blessing or a burden.

More than anything else, my Christmas wish for you is joy in small things, peace, tranquility and knowing that the best gift we ever received came to us humbly, unwrapped and lying in a manger. Blessings to you for a Christmas that is divinely simple and simply divine.

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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.

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