With rushing from task to task, preparation and shopping, what happens to peace, perfect peace?

I found it recently when my dear friend stopped by, and as always, she came with armfuls of gifts.
She placed a big box in my hand. "It's hand-painted," she said as she pulled out a glass pitcher and four glasses to match.

I ran my fingertips across the painted flowers as she described the colors -- delicate, unique and so very special. I grinned with delight and profound gratitude stirred in me. And when she left, I lifted the pitcher, still admiring the artwork. I sat and pondered -- what to put in it? Lemonade, tea, juice? All have either sugar or caffeine. I chose refreshing, pure water.

Our heart is the same thing -- a container waiting to be filled. Our choice? To fill it with toxic pressures or with peace.

If it's peace that we long for, here are five ways to finding it in the midst of the stressful holiday season.

1. Recognize that no matter what happens around us, we have the power to select peaceful reassurance to fill our heart (Psalm 138:7).

2. Receive God's offer of wisdom to choose (James 1:5-6).

3. Remember that quiet, still moments in His presence clears the mind, calms the heart and brings back perfect peace (Psalm 46:10).

4. Remove the debris of the world's demands that cloud the water of peace (Proverbs 22:11).

5. Rest assured that God's peace in us will reflect upon others around us (Matthew 5:16).

What we store in the pitcher of our heart will pour out, "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him" (Matthew 12:34).

Father, I confess that too often I fill my spiritual pitcher with burdens that don't belong to me, with worry that makes me weak, with self-imposed fear. I ask that you give me the wisdom to take quiet moments in your presence so your perfect peace can flow through me. In Jesus' name, amen.

• What fills your pitcher lately?
• What will you pour out this holiday season?
• How can you change what you store inside so perfect peace can rule your days?

Janet Perez Eckles