Hard to believe Christmas is just around the corner again! Had such great intentions to budget a little money every month so that when it came time to buy gifts for everyone, there would be no painful pocketbook pinch. With the economy the way it is and the kids getting bigger—or are their clothes and shoes shrinking?—and the dentist/orthodontist bills—how much to pull those teeth? (Ever think about offering a "buy-three-get-one-free" deal?)—and the car trouble, Ugh!—there just hasn't been much more than pennies left at the end of the paycheck. The gift requests seem to be getting bigger, and the extended family keeps extending. Granted, we only buy a little something for everyone, but all those little somethings add up in a hurry! And thinking about little extras, I almost dread going into the stores and seeing all the pretty new ideas for decorating. Do some people actually "do" a whole new theme every year? The only time I have "done" a whole new tree was back in 2000 when the tree fell over . . . twice. Really, I don't want to think about how big the credit card bill is going to be in January. Just not sure how to give the kids a Christmas to remember when all I am going to remember is how many months it is going to take me to pay off all those bills.

Welcome to my Christmas Spaghetti Brain. You know, like a big plate of spaghetti where one thing touches everything else and is somehow connected? Recognizing how my brain works, I can't help but think that Martha—of the "Mary and Martha" account in the Bible—had a "spaghetti brain" too. She was busy with Christmas preparations of a sort. She was preparing to have Jesus come to her house. Of course, he never traveled alone, so there were all those extra mouths to feed! How to get everything done in time and done well, and . . . and . . . and then I hear Jesus so gently reminding, "Martha, Martha. Think about what is most needed."

Jesus' words to Martha shake me into the realization that I am looking at Christmas all wrong. Instead of focusing on how to most effectively budget my finances so that I can give to my kids and family and friends, I need to focus on what is most necessary. Instead of the focus being on gifts and decorations and parties and busyness—not all wrong, yet somehow leaving me feeling empty and exhausted come January—I want to focus on God's budget.