What to Hold onto in the Midst of the Holiday Swirl

The Feast Day 12: Can I please jump back into this 31 day exploration of learning to stay present? (a feast of the present moment) Thank you, thank you for your grace!

As I write this, I’m about to be sucked into the great Thanksgiving week vortex.

We will be swirled into the arms of packs of cousins and uncles and aunts and then gratefully drop heavy bags and sink down onto the floor to look eye to eye with those precious little ones.

Oh, and three turkeys and mashed potatoes (yum!),

one early Christmas celebration,

one freshly pulled, healthy baby niece (Welcome baby Maggie!  You made your appearance early enough for us to meet you!)

and what my husband calls yuppy Christmas tree hunting here.

All throughout, we will be pingponged back and forth to four houses, rolling five small hard suitcases up four sets of front steps.

Are you exhausted yet? (I’m holding onto a brown paper bag trying not to hyperventilate!)

Thanksgiving week is a joyful spinning top that will leave me gasping on Monday morning,

hopefully gasping for joy.

The fear is that the swirl will include levels of overstimulation too high for this introvert. Think six children under 8 for three and a half days.

I close my eyes and sense the dizzy motion, and then wait, stop and listen to Truth always Present.

And here is the whisper from the Eternal Word: Ballet dancers pirouette, spinning their bodies, but spot, fixing their eyes on just one point.

Psalm 16:8 “I keep my eyes always on the Lord.    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

The swirl slows and then comes to a stop.

And this is the message: Summer, when the dizziness begins, remember, I’m always fixed, motionless, changeless.

I AM GOD. Fix your eyes.  Be still and know.

My friend, a counselor, once told me that when the mix gets too overstimulating, to excuse myself, close the door of the bathroom, turn the lock and give myself permission to get recentered.  In those moments, I can Feast on the Present and go through one sense at a time, taking deep breaths.  If I can feel the ground solid beneath me again, I can get fixed and slowly open my heart to love.

I will begin to remember who and Whose I am.

Two years ago, as I was praying through a trip to someone’s house where a heavy bowling ball of intimidation would normally flatten me, I was given this image: Jesus, sitting on the right side of the oversized couch at their house.  Waiting.

Ahhhh, peace spread over me like an warm blanket.  Here was the amazing truth: He was already there, already present.

Could this be the antidote to that vague, off in the darkness black cloud of fear?

Christ present always.

Would we have enough for retirement?  He is already there.  How would tomorrow’s busy small group curriculum be crowded in?  He is already there.  Would our tan minivan make it through the winter?  Again, He is already there.

And this week? I can sense Him patting the couch next to Him

…because once I have my spot, I can love…I can twirl unhindered.

Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life,

in Your Presence there is fullness of joy

in Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Summer Gross

Precious Maggie, because I know you all just wanted a peek:


Today I’m joining Ann and giving thanks, because through her I have learned, Thanksgiving is not a day, it is a lifestyle:

1. Xavier singing behind me on his booster seat: Alleluia  a- ll- e- lu- i- a.

2. Eight hours of a car trip proves what a joy my children really have become,

3. A friend speaking forgiveness and the holy cleansing afterwards,

4. Hot Cinnamon tea, a cream puff and a rest stop among the books at Barnes and Noble,

5. Listening to jigs and reels and lullabyes by the Crossings, children falling asleep to drums and bagpipes

6. A patience infiltrating my home…oh may it be,

7. Cousins, wrestling in a pile on the floor at the joy of seeing each other,

8. Mobile phone pictures of a healthy new Maggie, one month early,

9. Children reading scripture, sounding out those beautiful words,

10. Thanksgiving tree right next to the altar.  Eucharist and Eucharisteo.

also joining Shanda here:


and my virtual friend, Jen at:



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  1. Thank you! I can’t tell you how much I needed to read this today. I had my own panic moment this morning wondering how I would survive the hustle and bustle while roasting a turkey and feeding a baby. Now I’m picturing Jesus there in the midst of it and planning (praying, really) to keep my eyes fixed on him.

    1. So precious…really, Christie. I think I might be your main audience and you might be mine. Just when I wonder why I write from out of the struggle, I hear that it is your too. Thank you, virtual sister.

  2. Amen, sister. Thank you for sharing! And I’m glad that you got to get away and reflect a bit. I love that image of Jesus with us in the midst of the chaos. So thankful for Him and His peace–and for you, as well!

  3. I really appreciate this post and it comes in a timely manner. I feel like you just gave me permission to take a break from the Thanksgiving chaos to get re-centered, be it in the bathroom or the backyard…just taking a moment to breathe in Him.

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