I always wondered how I could make time stop.

When I was a child, time seemed to linger.  There were days it seemed to outlast my creativity and energy.  As the sun would go down, I would welcome curling up in my bed with my pup, Junior, and reliving the day’s romps.

Then, something changed. I had lists. Growing lists. Responsibilities. Goals. Things needed to be accomplished. And suddenly, time was no longer a friend that held the order and pattern for a day, a week or a month. Time was my competitor – my “taunter.” There just didn’t seem to be enough time.

God has set our hearts on eternity, so I understand that time is a natural compressor that we, in the supernatural, feel squeezed by.  However, almost by accident, this past Christmas, I found myself living by a different clock – one that was focused on events rather than lists.  And with that shift, I learned something.

I could make time stop, albeit temporarily, but quite significantly and in a deeply, soul satisfying way.

I wish I had learned this year’s ago.  But I’m thrilled for the lesson even still. How did I come upon this?

Christmas 2015, I decided to not worry about what didn’t get done.  That included not fretting about an extravagant Christmas morning of unwrapping perfect gifts with bows and all.  I didn’t bother with a seven-course meal.  I decided not to sweat it that a few lamps in the house didn’t get that last swipe to combat dust.  And, something amazing happened.  As I trimmed my activities, cut my to do list in half and quit fretting about everything left undone, the holiday stretched.  It seemed to last a good, long time.

It wasn’t just about what I removed from the holiday planning, but rather it was also what we added to the holiday.  My husband Tom requested that we try to focus on a single topic at each of our sit down meals.  I liked the idea so much I suggested we do that for both breakfast and dinner.  So, I planned both breakfast and dinner meals and purchased food ahead of time.

As we sat down to our first dinner, Tom announced his desire.  Everyone was excited.  His first question – what did you learn about yourself this past year?  Each person shared.   The dinner hour seemed to go so wonderfully slow.  We lingered long after the last bite, enjoying the morsels coming from everyone’s stories.

When my sister and her family had to leave, just three and a half days later, I was definitely sad, but I didn’t feel cheated.  Instead, there was fullness in all of our hearts because of the time we took to be with each other.

Even my father, the last living grandparent, remarked that this had been his most favorite Christmas he could remember in over ten years.   He wasn’t competing with phones.  He didn’t need the TV – he had the best entertainment – his family.

I’m learning that not only does over-planning, hyper-accomplishing and perpetual re-crafting of my to do list steal my joy, they also steal my time.

This next year is going to be a good year as I practice a new pattern of living.  One that I can’t quite put my fingers on yet, but I’m sure will become clear as I grow in my understanding of that old adage “less is more.”