Christmas Crunch Time-Be Flexible

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It is almost THE DAY…Christmas…the culmination of the “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.  Over the next week, families will gather, travel to gather,split their time between various households, attend church services and all other kinds of “good stuff”.

It is all of this “good stuff” ( the who, what, where and why) that often leaves people just wanting the whole holiday thing to be over or simply dreading it before it starts.  Perhaps it is just me but creating Hallmark Card or ABC Family Holiday Movie quality Christmas memories can be difficult.

I struggle with the “who, what, where, hustle-bustle and gift-buying” part Christmas every year.  Even when I thought I had the whole thing figured out and I put my foot down on some things….plans changed.

So my mantra this Christmas is to be Flexible.

Everything is NOT going to go as I planned and that is ok.  Better yet, that may be for the best. (I will have to remind myself of this over and over…because things just go better when they are done my way. Hehe!)

People’s lives change–weddings, deaths, births, sickness.  What has ALWAYS worked for years may or may not work this year or EVER again.

Top all the plan changes, gifts, and family  with the realization that somebody will probably dance on your happy and you have a recipe for the famous “Unmet-Christmas-Expectations-fruitcake”!

As the moments progress….pretend you are playing twister and remember to be flexible.Image Source: Wikipedia

“If we aren’t careful to be intentional, the joy of the holiday season can quickly be replaced with hard feelings, anger, and disappointment. More than anything, sometimes extending grace to ourselves and others is the simplest way to allow us to experience the most wonderful time of the year.”-Kelly Gordon (www.simplemom.net)

Colossians 3:12-14 (NLT)

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

I put the Christmas Lights Back in the Box-Pour Your Heart Out

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I have traditionally NOT been a Christmas person, (especially since having children)…gasp I know.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the look of excitement and anticipation on my daughters’ faces but all of the things to do prior to their looks of elation on Christmas morning,  just stress me out.  I usually end up doing tons of things because I felt like that “I should”.  Since I probably really didn’t “want to” in the first place, I procrastinated every year.  Shopping, decorating…all last minute and by the time Christmas actually got here…attitude in the tank!

So I decided to be proactive this year and get started with everything early.  I soon discovered, getting started early did not help my “want-to”.  I had my husband lug all the decorations up stairs from the basement and we put up the Christmas Tree this past weekend. (I realize the weekend after Thanksgiving is not “early” for Christmas decorating but it was early for me!)  Anyway,  we have an old pre-lit artificial tree that challenges us like crazy every year to hook up correctly so the lights will come on.  This year, no matter how many times we plugged and re-plugged…the tree did not light up.  So, we had to go “old-school” and string lights around the tree.

Divas, after I strung those lights and the girls helped but the ornaments on, I had NO DESIRE to put up any more decorations.  So I put all those Christmas lights and such back in the box and took them back to the basement!  At first, I felt a little guilty…I felt that “you should ” coming on.  After a few moments, I felt empowered and down right peaceful.

I can feel it in my bones, this Christmas is going to be different.

This year, we have decided to only buy a few gifts for our girls and that is it!  Every year, we buy gifts for family, close friends, close friends’ kids, teachers, and the list goes on and exhaustively on!  Even with my daughters, …….no more buying just to be buying,

For the first time in YEARS, I am looking forward to our annual Christmas Breakfast.  Instead of doing it on Christmas day as we always have, I decided to do it on the Saturday before Christmas…at 11am instead of our traditional 9am.   Doing it on Christmas morning was just too stressful for me but that is the way it has always been.  Perhaps it is this whole turning 40 thing but…….. I put my foot down.

We are going to have a theme for the breakfast this year….”ugly Christmas Sweater”! I can’t wait to spend time together eating, laughing and poking fun at each other’s sweaters.

Ahhhhh this feels good.

“Remember, as you unbox all your decor and start penciling in the squares of your calendar, that “more” of the holiday season isn’t always better.”-Trish (Art of Simple.net)

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:10-11 (NIV)

Check out this interesting article on Zen Habits about NOT buying Christmas Gifts. (I know it sounds so Un-American but it is good food for thought!)

This post is part of a weekly meme hosted by Shell over at Things I can’t Say.

Five Minute Friday-Fly

Every Friday, Lisa Jo Baker hosts a blog link up called Five Minute Fridays. She provides a word prompt and then participants are to set their timers for five minutes and write until the timer goes off. The word for today is Fly. Happy Friday Divas and here goes:

Sometimes life gets so hectic, I wish I was a bird so I could fly away.  Perhaps I am alone, but a quick escape always seems like utopia when life takes a trip to crazytown. Maybe it is the illusion of rising above my problems and then finding solace some place else. Or, could it be that flying is faster?  I can fly from North Carolina to California in a matter of hours, driving would take days.

In the 140 character age we live in, things happen quickly. I have come to expect next day delivery, instant downloads to my iPad Kindle app, and the ability to purchase music with a simple double tap.DSC_6493

When trouble comes, I want OUT….like yesterday.

Let’s not even talk about when a decision needs to be made in the big Jeopardy game of life……. “I’ll take wings for $200 Alex”.

Although I know flying away is irrational, I often so desperately want to do so.

Do you ever want to just fly away?

Even King David in the Bible could relate to this whole “fly” thing–

Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking.  Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! (Psalm 55:5-6)

Fly away and rest….that sounds lovely doesn’t it?

Yes….Lovely just not likely!

David must have realized that his transformation into a dove was not going to happen.  In Pslam 55:16 he listed his plan:  “But I will call on God  and the Lord will rescue me.”

Last week, my pastor said a profound sentence that I am choosing (so not there yet..still working on it) to say when my “let-me-just-fly-away” moments happen.

“God, I trust you with it and I honor you in it.”-Jonathan Robbins

As the holiday season rushes in, what are some ways you can remember to trust God and honor Him in your actions?

Five Minute Friday-Laundry

Every Friday, Lisa Jo Baker hosts a blog link up called Five Minute Fridays. She provides a word prompt and then participants are to set their timers for five minutes and write until the timer goes off. The word for today is Laundry. Happy Friday Divas and here goes:

Laundry is one of those things that always NEEDS to be done.  It is cyclical.  It begins but never seems to end and even if it does end, it really doesn’t cause in reality it is piled up somewhere.  I often joke and say that I would like for the laundry fairy to come and sprinkle a little of her magic fairy dust and viola clean laundry all folded and put away.   Soooo not reality.

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In reality, laundry is like the parts of life we would rather say we did but really didn’t.  In life and in laundry, we can whine, wish the problem-solver fairy would come and handle things, or simply let our dirty laundry pile up.

I am the laundry-pile up queen.  Some weeks I just go to the laundry mat because it would just take too long to finish it at home.

I went to a conference a couple of years ago and the speaker said:  “we get the path that we are on and we have to walk it.  In fact, God wants us to run with endurance on our path.”

Endurance is a hard thing to muster when the task at hand is really hard, you simply just don’t wanna, or the craziness of life has you stuck on the spin cycle.

A quick look back at an old devotional reminded me of the prescription for endurance with laundry and life:

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. 

Five Minute Friday-Write..and I am 40

Every Friday, Lisa Jo Baker hosts a blog link up called Five Minute Fridays. She provides a word prompt and then participants are to set their timers for five minutes and write until the timer goes off. The word for today is WRITE. Happy Friday Divas and here goes:

Me with hatI turned the big 4-0 on Monday.  Honestly, it was a little harder than I thought.  I don’t feel older, I guess I just began to realize that over half of my life is well…..over.  Kind of shocking to think of it that way.  However, thinking of it as half over places a sense of urgency on me to make the years that I have left REALLY count.

Have you celebrated any milestone birthdays that made you reflect on your life?

As I look back over my life and think about the things that have consistently brought me joy, the words dance and write bubble up to the top of my mind.  As I stand with over half of my life behind me, it is getting harder and harder to silence the little girl in me who wants to write and dance for a living.

The practical side of me that has always been able to push through and do what is logical, is now fighting against this 40-year-old inner spirit who will NOT be silenced.

Believe me, I have tried to not get so excited about dancing a new song in class.  I have prayed.  “God please just make me normal.”  I have longed to just love my day job and be a go-to-work-and-come-home kind of girl. (It would be so much easier.)

NO DICE:(

May I ask a birthday favor of you?  I think I have worn down the ears of my dear friends:  Keysier, Larae, Traci and Kim.  Will you pray for me, my dreams and this sassy, 40- year-old attitude?

Thank you in advance,

I need it.

What do you need prayer about?  Tell me in the comments:)

 

 

I’m a Roller Coaster Conductor

Rollercoaster

I am sooo not a daredevil.  I do NOT like roller coasters.  I just don’t like the you-are-falling-and-going-to-die feeling I get down deep in my stomach.  Just like a roller coaster, the back-to-school season of life seems to always throw me for a loop. I get that falling feeling when I am rushing in the mornings, shuffling kids to activities and desperately trying to make it to work on time.  Unlike at Disney World when I was in the eighth grade, I cannot get to the beginning of the line for Space Mountain and then change my mind.  I am Mommy and the conductor of the back-to-school roller coaster.

As the conductor, I get to decide how fast the roller coaster travels (sometimes) and I get to decide when to shut the ride down for the night.  I just need to remember to exercise my “conductor power”.

Two things that I have struggled with as “Mommy Conductor” is finding time to read God’s Word consistently and mommy guilt.

Yep, the more things that I am NOT able to do, the more I hear a little disapproving voice saying…you should have done blah blah blah……GUILTY!

I am leading a bible study with my fitness ministry called Bad Girls of the Bible.  Last week, our leading lady was Eve.  When we were in group discussion, a lovely lady name Vivian Grice said some thing that rocked my world.  She said “when you don’t know God’s plan for you, you will do ANYTHING”.  WOW.

God’s plan for us is that we bring Him glory.

Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth – everyone who is called by my name whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made, (Isaiah 43:6-7 NIV).

The back-to-school roller coaster or the life roller coaster can try to take us up and down and all around scurrying about so that if we are not careful, we will do just anything.  We must exercise our “conductor power” and ask ourselves, “How can I bring God glory in this situation”.  I bet it won’t be doing just anything.

I found two AWESOME reads this week that have helped me find creative ways to read the Bible and let go of Mommy Guilt!

Seven Ways for Busy Moms to Get into the Word (By Courtney Joseph)

Mom guilt.  I’m getting over it. (By Lisa Jo Baker)

Menu Plan Monday

Ok so school starts tomorrow.  I tried to just ignore it but denial did not work.  Tomorrow is it!  So Divas, in my best Tommy from the Rugrats voice….”a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do”.

Cough, gag, kick scream…….key the horror music….MENU PLAN.

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I found this really neat FREE printable meal planner on Crystal and Comp!  Our weeks go so much smoother and my jeans sure fit better in the waist when we eat at home.  I am soooooo busy, grabbing something while I am out SEEMS easier. Well, it is easier but easy has a price…late nights and elevated BMIs (body mass index).

So, I am being intentional.  Preparation in advance!  Please don’t roll your eyes and think I am Mrs. Goody two shoes…I have not cooked multiple nights in a row in over two months.

Here is my plan this week!

Sunday- Bacon Penne Alfredo, Salad, mixed Fruit Salad

Monday-LEFT OVERS (whoo hoo)

Tuesday-Chicken Sliders, Microwave steamable (so not a word but you get my drift) broccoli, Green Grapes **I will prepare my chicken breasts in advance in the crock pot (For frozen chicken breasts, arrange in crock pot, add 1/2 cup chicken broth or water, cover, and cook on low for 8-9 hours, rearranging once during cooking time.)

Wednesday-Slow Cooker Tex Mex Round Steak

Thursday-LEFT OVERS

Friday-Barbecue Chicken Pizza (Using the same pre made Chicken from Tuesday)

Saturday–Mama Needs a break!

So this is the plan and I am standing firm in faith that God will give me the “want to” to follow through!

“Spectacular achievement is always preceded by spectacular preparation.”-Robert Schuller

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

Do you meal plan?

Don’t forget to download your free Meal Planner Printable!

This post is part of a weekly link-up hosted by Organizing Junkie.

 

The Working Mama Paradox

My daughter’s field hockey team practice was cancelled yesterday due to rain.  Is it bad that I was secretly happy that I did not have to bark out orders to get all of the equipment packed up and drive all the way across town?

Wanna know something else?  I AM NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO SCHOOL STARTING! Boom!

Yep, I have continued my yearly denial techniques:  no shopping on the tax-free weekend (there are NO good sales that weekend anyway) and waiting until the last-minute to purchase school supplies.

Perhaps I am not looking forward to school because we did not have a restful summer filled with “just hanging by the pool” and lazy days of nothing to do. Since I have to be at work at 8am, we still get up early just like during the school year so I can get the girls to summer camp before work.

Although summer offers a reprieve from homework and extracurricular activities, this mama is not feeling refreshed and ready to begin a new school year.

Just thinking about homework and the hurry, scurry schedule gives me a rash.

Totally not trying to be a Debbie Downer–just keeping it real.

Ladies, kids or not….are you rested and full of renewed energy?  Are you happy?

Do you feel like you can efficiently wear all of the hats your life demands you to put on AND look fresh and fashionable?

I found an interesting article and graphic on www.greatbusinessschools.org called: A Woman’s Paradox: The unique challenges facing women who “want it all”.

With studies to back up their claims, the article states: “Despite progress toward “having it all,” research shows that American women are less satisfied and burn out more quickly. And today’s economic realities mean fewer options when it comes to choosing between work and home.”

WOW…

Check it out and let me know your thoughts in the comments section! (Click on the graphic see a larger view.)

A Woman's Paradox
Source: Great Business Schools

Today’s post is part of a weekly meme called Pour Your Heart Out hosted by Shell over at Things I can’t say.

Brave-Writer’s Workshop

Happy Thursday y’all! Today I am participating in Mama Kat’s writers workshop! Each week Mama Kat provides several blogging prompts to help bloggers keep de ‘ol writer’s block away! I chose the prompt: “write a post inspired by the word BRAVE”.

As an adjective, BRAVE is defined as: courageous – gallant – valiant – bold. As a verb, BRAVE is defined as: defy – dare – challenge – face.

The last few months have taught me BRAVE also means asking for help. BRAVE means going to bed when my body is tired instead of valiantly trying to get it all done. BRAVE is seeking truth as negative thoughts swirl around in my mind. But most of all, love is BRAVE.

Lisa Jo Baker described BRAVE as a whisper some days and a battle cry on others. So true.

With every dance fitness class I teach, I get the awesome opportunity to watch women dance in spite of all that is going on in their lives. But more than that, I see women saying hello to each other. I see women giving much-needed hugs. I see women challenging other ladies in the class to work harder.

Even the little ones get in on the action!  This mama daughter shake contest has BRAVE written all over it!(LOL)

Becky and Edith

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Dear God,

Thank you so much for the very air I breathe. Please continue to remind me that I am my BRAVEst when I surrender my plans and my will to you.

Amen

How do you define the word BRAVE? {Tell me in the comments:)}

Wordless Wednesday

Camera wordless Wednesday