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.

Have Yoursefl

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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When Moms Are Weak

My mother suffered from serious depression during much of my childhood. I don’t remember her ever getting me up for school, making me breakfast or packing my lunch. I did all of that myself starting in the 1st grade. I was given an alarm clock, poured a bowl of Cheerios for myself every morning alone, and made my own lunch everyday.

I don’t tell you this so you will feel sorry for me, I turned out ok. But I tell you to explain how I turned out OK.

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My mother and I had a conversation recently about these years when I was young and taking care of myself. There is still much pain over the subject that we are slowly working through. But at some point in the conversation she said to me, “I knew I wasn’t being a mother to you. And when I couldn’t do things for you or be there for you – I could pray. And that is what I did. When I couldn’t do it myself, I asked Him to fill in the gaps for you.”

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And I can sit here today and tell you that He did just that. He filled in the gaps. He pursued me, gave me strength, discernment and wisdom. He was with me and had a great purpose in mind for my life. I had to go through some hard stuff along the way, but He was with me in every painful step.

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This fall has been a difficult one. We are over scheduled and I hate that. I can’t spend time with the kids as much as I would like, we are always rushing and I feel like I am not being the mom I want to be. So I take hope in prayer. Because of my story, I have buckets of faith that when I am weak as a mother, God is strong. He will fill the gaps and protect my children, give them strength and bring people into their lives who fill them as well.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

On the days that we just don’t have it to give or when we make mistakes in mothering our little ones, He is made perfect in our weakness. It’s not fashionable to boast about such days but maybe we should – at least to ourselves and close friends!

Thank you Lord!

 

 

How Are You Going to Change the World?

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This question was asked of my 1st grader’s class. “How are you going to change the world?”

And my son’s answer was, “I’m going to be a football player.”

My reaction, “How is THAT going to change the world?”

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And then came his beautiful explanation.

“Well when I’m a football player I’m going to help up all of the players when they get knocked down.”

Well, shut my mouth.

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WOW. Wouldn’t that change THE WORLD if we ALL just helped up those who got knocked down around us? We don’t have to pick them up, or hold them up. We don’t have to stand around for years supporting them up. But if we just help them up. Just a friendly gesture, a good sportsman like move, an encouraging statement. It would go so far.

That’s how I want to change the world too.

Thank you little man. I love your wise words.

Boo Baskets

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Halloween “Boo”ing.

We were introduced to this tradition when the kids were really young. And we LOVE it. We make up some cute little baskets of goodies to share with our friends and neighbors and then…

Drop it. Knock. RUN.

We used to get caught all the time, but now, we are able to make the get away without anyone seeing us. Usually. Unless someone falls down (which does happen). Or one of the smalls has a change of heart and starts to go back to the door. So many things can go wrong when five little kids are trying to be sneaky! It really is difficult for us to pull this off. But we are getting better.

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And sometimes I think the kids hope to get caught!

But half of the fun is in putting the cute little packages together. We usually buy some treats and a cute container. Then we type the letter and stick it in. This is the one we have been using for a few years now:

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There used to be some rules that went with it about putting the sheet on your door so people knew you had already been boo’ed and then boo’ing two or more people in the next week. blah blah blah..

But we scrapped all that. Who doesn’t want to be boo’ed more than once? And it isn’t a chain letter. Spread it if you want and don’t if this isn’t your year! We don’t need any more pressure as moms, do we?

For some fun inspiration, here are some ideas for boo baskets that we are considering this year:

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I think this last one is my favorite, I’m just not sure I will be able to pull it off. Some years it is just so much easier to go through the dollar isle at Target and pick up a simple little container, throw some candy in it and voila.

So if this is your type of thing and it totally energizes you to do it, then by all means pass it on! Either way, I hope you are all boo’ed this year!

My Personal Monologue

About a week ago I wrote a post about “Who God Says I Am“. And in that post I said I had a fun exercise to do with that info. Well, here it is.

Some, no, many days I need a good dose of who God says I am to combat what the world says I am, or I say I am, or what I think others think I am. Right? Do you ever do that too? Well, I have a terrible habit of letting those negative messages sink in  and run my life instead of letting God’s message dictate my attitude and mindset. After looking up what the Bible said about me I came up with a personal monologue that I wrote down and keep somewhere that I can easily access it when I am needing a little dose of God thinking.

I took several of these things I found that really resonate with me (and combat some of my typical negative recordings) and put them together in a short paragraph. Really simple. But so impactful. Throw one of these together for yourself and see what difference it makes for you.

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So the next time I start getting down on myself with the lies that fill my head I will say:

“I am God’s child and I belong to Him. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am not condemned for the wrong I do because I am saved by grace. I am never alone. I am a co-heir with Christ. I have a  heavenly calling. I am a temple of God and His Spirit dwells in me. I am God’s workmanship created in Christ to do His work that He planned for me. I am chosen and called by God. I have wisdom from God. I am the light of the world. I am a victor. My labor is not in vain. I can never be separated from God’s love. I am strong. I am forgiven. I am chosen by God, holy and dearly loved.”

Yeah, take that!

I may even play the “Rocky” theme song as I read it.

Now you write yours…and please share it, I would love to see what you cone up with.

 

Children Experiencing God

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I pray that my kids will experience God in a real way everyday. I pray that as they encounter God in their lives their faith will grow and they will see who He is for themselves. Not just what their Sunday School teacher says, not just what their parents say, or worse, what their friends say. But that they themselves KNOW that God is real.

I pray these things, but I don’t always get to be there when it happens for a child.

But the other day, I did have the opportunity to see God at work. Number 1 and I have had many, many conversations about appropriate books and inappropriate books for her age lately. And I have come down on the “too protective” side according to her (and some of her friends). Maybe so. But I made the decisions (with some help from http://www.commonsensemedia.com) to help guard her heart and mind UNTIL she is ready to deal with such topics.

This isn’t about how over-protective, or permissive I am as a parent, It’s about how number 1 saw God in our conversation that day.

As I explained to her why I didn’t feel those books were appropriate to read yet and why it mattered, I quoted:

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

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She looked at me and said, “you just read that off my paper.”

No, I hadn’t.

But sure enough, there it was written right in front of her and as I quoted it, she looked down and saw it for herself. When I told her that in fact I had not seen that written there I looked at her and said, “God just spoke to you. You, my sweet girl, just had a moment with God. Believe that.” And in her reaction I know that she knew it too.

Thank you LORD!

My Favorite Fall Kids Craft EVER

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This has to be the cutest idea ever. I had two kids do this craft in preschool and all the parents were nuts about it. The only problem is that you can’t keep it since it is all organic material, but the pictures of them will last forever.

Each child received a small pumpkin and they had all sorts of food, ribbon and material to decorate with but mostly food. Each child got to pick out what they wanted to use for eyes, a nose, mouth, ears and hair if they wanted. Then the teacher attached them to the pumpkin for the children with corsage pins.

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This is a great idea to do at home and then use as your halloween table decoration!