Intentional Holidays – A Restful Thanksgiving

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A week or so ago I talked about being intentional with my holidays and eliminating some of the stress they bring.

So for Thanksgiving I punted. We went to a friend’s home and celebrated with them. For nearly 20 years these friends of ours have feasted with family and friends that need a place to celebrate. It’s always large. It’s always fun. The traditions are deep. But the cast is always different. And the stories…oh the stories we have heard of the fun. Roll-throwing contests. Burnt casseroles. Movies. Piano playing. Singing. Relaxing.

There is no formal invitation that goes out. Just a “hey you are always welcome to join us” kind of thing. But this year we accepted. We were excited and honored at the idea.

And all I had to do was bring some green beans!

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It was everything we had heard about and plenty more. The table was beautiful and yet practical. There were 19 people there sitting at one very long table that was pieced together from three tables.  We used paper plates and napkins but real silverware – a lesson learned over the years I understand. I took notes.

The food was plentiful and fantastic. Each of us brought a special dish to share. We loaded our plates up the first time and went back for more as many times as our stomachs would allow. We laughed, we relaxed.

We shared what we were thankful for in an “anything goes” sort of way. Some were funny, some sweet. All were honest. Everyone participated including a few who couldn’t be there this year and phoned them in. As they were read we had to guess who’s it was.

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While it was a total vacation for me it reminded me how very blessed we are to have such good, generous and loving friends. I know that day was a lot of work and preparation for them. I know because I have lived it. But this year, because of their generosity and goodness, I didn’t have to. I got to relax. For years through this tradition they have nourished many, many people. Their bodies, spirits and souls.

And I am very thankful for what they gave me this holiday season. Rest.

Intentional Holidays – Advent Calendar

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One way I wanted to be intentional about Christmas this year was through our Advent calendar. I want to help my children be others-focused instead of me-focused during this very self-centered, consumeristic season. In the past I have filled my Advent calendar with little gifts, or treats each day. Oddly, this didn’t get the results I was hoping for – instead it perpetuated the me-focus.

So this year I will fill the Advent calendar with kind deeds for us to do each day and promises we receive because Jesus came to earth as a baby and grew up to die for our sins.

The list of kind deeds are fun and silly and all the stuff kids love, but instead of focusing them on what they are going to get, they focus us on giving to others. Click Here: Advent Kind Deed List for a list of more-than-you-will-need ideas. Pick a few you like and add them to your Advent calendar this year!

Here is a list of Promises God gives to those who believe in Jesus. I hope these help us focus on the gifts Jesus brought to each and every one of us through His birth and life here on Earth.

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Table Inspiration

It’s here, the start of crazy season. This week I’m taking it easy at This Beautifully Imperfect Life – not so much at home! But I thought I would share a little last minute inspiration for your thanksgiving table. Enjoy!

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Intentional Holidays

 

Its the most wonderful

Is it the most wonderful time of the year? Can it be?

In several, recent, years I have wrapped my holiday season up in the doctor’s office with anxiety coming out my ears, toes and everywhere in-between.

Some of it I bring on myself, and some of it others generously give me.

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There are so many fun and exciting things to do during the holidays. Parties, shows, planning, decorating, baking, cooking, prepping, church services, family gatherings, shopping, wrapping, lists, notes, dressing up, going out, elves, rain deer, sleighs and bells, hustle and bustle, christmas tree lighting ceremonies, Santa breakfasts and brunches, movies, treats, presents, oh my.

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Let’s take Christmas Eve for starters. We have so many traditions packed into that night it is neither Jesus focused, relaxing or enjoyable. In that one life-changing, history-making night when our dear savior was born we celebrate it with: a full day of cleaning, cooking and preparing, followed by an early evening of church services, singing and pictures, followed by a sit-down dinner, clean up, listening to the Christmas story before we rush out the door to spread out reindeer food on the lawn, leave our cookies and milk for Santa, watch the Santa Tracker on cable, open our one gift, more pictures, get the kids in bed, wait for them to FINALLY fall asleep, while we finish wrapping and prepping breakfast, then digging out all the gifts and stocking stuffers from their hiding places, trying to remember what you had and what is missing, placing it under the tree and in the stockings, rearranging the furniture so it all fits, taking “before” pictures and then finally settling down to a very, short, winters nap. Only to wake up very early the next morning for more of the same. Add on to this very chaotic schedule some lovely family drama and voila – you are in the doctor’s office being diagnosed with a very serious case of holiday anxiety disorder.

Can you relate??

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This year, my husband and I have decided to change this story. We want a different ending and we need to have a clearer focus along the way.

This year we want to be intentional about our holidays. Not only WHAT we do, but HOW we do it. We have to make changes. And we want to make changes.

If your holidays are anything like mine, how about coming with me and doing it different this year?

Be intentional about what you want to get out of your holidays

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1. I want to enjoy my family. I want to lay around and watch movies on the floor with them. I want to look in their eyes and tell them how much Jesus loves them, how much I love them and that I know God has a beautiful plan for their lives.

2. I want to keep the focus on the real reason for the season. I want to prioritize Jesus this year. Plain and simple.

3. I want to keep the stress and drama around me to a minimum. This may mean thinking about appropriate boundaries now and having others help keep me accountable to them as the season progresses.

Those are my priorities. What are yours?

If you too need to change your holiday ending this year let me challenge you to list your priorities: what you want to get out of the holidays, what you want them to feel like and what you want to avoid. Then when you are scheduling the next several weeks, if something doesn’t fit with these priorities, nix it. Share your priorities with a friend or two and ask them to keep you accountable to them.

In the next few days I am going to share some of my plan for how I will accomplish my holiday priorities.

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Thanksgiving Tablescapes

Oh yeah, this is my favorite part of decorating for the holidays – the table.

Here are some inspirational pictures from our Thanksgiving tables over the years.

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A Letter to My Son

Sorry I’m sending this again, the link didn’t take before. So let’s try it again.

I love this letter! It is a great reminder of the things we should be teaching our boys and girls. Our girls should read this too so they know how a boy should treat them.

When I was younger I said I would have my boys opening doors for me at the age of 2. I have to say I haven’t accomplished that yet, but now that the little dude is 7 I should start working with him on it. Every girl loves a boy with manners!

Please click on this to read the post:

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