Thursday, December 31, 2009
As I think about making simple goals for 2010, I realize that my goals must spring from my values. To come up with goals that really don't fall in line with what my heart believes is most important is a waste of time. How often do we fill up our calendars and time with events or activities that really don't align with our truest desires? So I think the most important thing for us to do to keep our lives simple is to figure out what our personal values are. Each one of us will have values unique to our own personality, marriage and family.
So what do you value?
A couple of years ago I spent about 30 minutes writing down things that I value. I was walking through a season of confusion in regards to my personal vision and what God was calling me towards. Clarifying my values helped me tremendously in organizing/prioritizing my time, my relationships, and my activities. And then making the choice to live by those values simplified my life.
What are my values?
Communion with Jesus/Incarnational living
Community with others (husband and children first and foremost)
Supporting local, handmade, and used
I look to this list and ask myself, "How do I want to grow in some of these areas this year?" Not all of the areas. Goal-setting isn't meant to overwhelm but to give focus.
I want to get into the routine of getting up earlier in the mornings for communion with Jesus and with Mike. Just that one simple choice helps me to live out several of my values.
I want to begin having mothers come over on two Friday mornings a month for muffins and coffee and conversation. Another simple choice that falls in line with many of my values.
We are visiting a local children's home one day a month to love and serve young girls.
We are planning on going to visit Mount Rushmore this summer.
Go to the weekly local Farmer's Market.
Support local parks, festivals, music, museums, libraries, and other community enriching events.
I will continue with my monthly Book Club and invite other women to join.
My sister and I are going to sew together one Saturday morning a month. We plan to come with our materials cut and ready with the goal of completing the project before we leave.
Make a continual stash of handmade items to have on hand to give away.
Have each family in our small group over to eat dinner in order to get to know them better.
I want to turn on music instead of the TV. Read a book instead surf the Web. Take a nature walk instead of shop. Not every single time, because TV, the Web, and shopping aren't bad...they just don't fall into my higher values.
The point is to arrange our daily lives around our values. To make small choices every day that bring us closer to our ideals. When opportunities come across my path, I very quickly ask myself if those things fall in line with my values. Living according to your values keeps you focused on the path God has for you and from wasting time and energy on activities you don't need to be in. At the end of every year I evaluate and pray to make sure my values are still what God is calling me to or if they need to change or evolve. Being dependent on the Holy Spirit is so key...we don't cling to values, we cling to Jesus and His leading.
Here's to a 2010 lived intentionally by our values and simply through our goals...with all glory and honor and love to Jesus.
photo by brendanwestbury
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Yes, I am going to get my values and goals posted...soon. But before that, I just had to give you three great links for celebrating New Year's!
- Fun 2010 glasses...sit around tomorrow and make them with your kids or friends!
- Festive New Year's Garland. I made this today and let me tell you, it is ADORABLE! And it would be great to pull out at birthdays or to decorate a child's room. I didn't use wool felt...just acrylic felt scraps that I already had. I found the invisible thread at JoAnn's. Quick, easy and cute :)
- What is the name of your New Year?
photo by jeffffd
Monday, December 28, 2009
It's that wonderful re-organize-your-lifestyle season. The days that are leading up to a New Year! A time to reflect, tweak, ponder...a time for goal-setting and making sure our every-day lives reflect our heart-felt values. A time to pen our vision for our days at home, for our relationships with spouse, children, and friends, for service, for creativity, for hospitality, for learning, for growing!
Time for purposing.
I'll be back in a day or two to share my thoughts and goals for this coming year. In the meantime, jot down your own musings and be ready to share! We really do need each other's encouragement on this winding journey towards simple, intentional living.
photo by Frenchpage
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Dear Gentle Readers,
My prayer is that we all revel in the celebration of Jesus...the Ultimate Gift...and that we lavish our dear ones with love, laughter, and life. Mike and I are so grateful that God gave us a huge gift of grace this year by sparing his life (Mike was on Flight 1549 that landed in the Hudson in January!) and gave us another gift of grace with the presence of our fifth child Luke Joseph.
May we have eyes to see all the boundless gifts of grace that are given to us every single day by the Ultimate Giver Himself.
photo by sewingamelie
Monday, December 14, 2009
I have been so drawn to gingerbread men (and women!) this Christmas season. World Market has a super-cute line of wrapping paper, gift boxes, tags, etc. (not eco-friendly, but so adorable :). Last night I embroidered a sweet felt gingerbread man on a long-sleeved onesie for Luke after being inspired here. And then today Katie and I enjoyed making felt gingerbread men cookies together so that the children can play pretend with them in their little kitchen. And later this week we will make our own real gingerbread men using this easy kid-friendly recipe that we found last year.
And this gingerbread garland may make it on to my celebration list this week! This one is fabulous too!
Run, Run (to make something gingerbread-y), Fast As You Can!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Something that has been bothering me lately as I have been celebrating Christmas is the fact that so many Christians seem to think that focusing on Christ's birth AND doing the old-fashioned holiday traditions are mutually exclusive. If I am enjoying baking and Christmas tunes and crafting and tree-hunting, then I am not focusing on the "Reason for the season". Christians seem to pendulum swing...giving in to enjoying the traditional ways of celebrating in America but then out of some strange sense of guilt that those things aren't "spiritual", they don their serious, sober faces and quickly retreat to read Luke 2.
This feels strange and disheartening to me.
Baking and merry-making and music and parties and gift-giving ARE my acts of celebrating His coming. All are simple acts of Advent worship. I do these things because of the Joy I have that He is here...Emmanuel! I don't need to segregate the "spiritual" from the so-called "secular". I am finding Jesus in those traditions...He can be seen in the symbols of the tree, the wreaths, the lights, the music, the gifts and the feasting. We don't need to drum up spiritual focus or spiritual feelings...just enjoy Him wherever He may found.
I smile big at the people in the aisles at Target. I offer encouragment to the check-out lady at the Publix. I wave at strangers who pass me on the road. My husband strikes up a conversation with the man who sells us the Christmas tree. My children find money on the ground and pass it on to the red Salvation Army bucket. We make decorations and cookies for our enjoyment and family heart-bonds are becoming stronger. We listen to Christmas tunes and laugh and the children say over and over "this is the most wonderful time of the year!" We drive by lights and ooohh and aaahhhh. We are celebrating Jesus and life at each and every turn.
The Sacred is found in the everyday moments of celebrating. We don't have to choose one or the other or constantly obsess as to whether we are doing the right thing spiritually this season. Enjoy Jesus. The God-man who was found enjoying weddings, dinners with friends, cooking on the beach, taking long walks, looking people in the eye, gathering children, meeting needs, calming storms, resting, praying, healing, telling stories, initiating with strangers. The Incarnate One lived and breathed and did life just as we do...a life not filled with religion but with the Bubbling-Over Life of the Spirit.
Here's to enjoying and celebrating the Life of Jesus in all things every day.
photo by romorga
Friday, December 11, 2009
One of the Christmas presents that I am giving to friends and family this year is a copy of Ann Kroeker's book Not So Fast. The premise of the book is one that is very dear to my heart...giving busy families slow-down solutions so that their lives will be more meaningful, healthy, creative, and spiritually focused. Good stuff. And I had the honor of having one of my blog posts reprinted and placed in this book! Can I tell you how fun it is to see my little (big!) name printed on page 63?!
I had to remind myself of these principles of slow living as I approached the Christmas season. About a week and a half ago I was feeling the anxiety, the pressure, the temptations towards unrealistic expectations ("everything must be handmade!"), and tears were coming and welling up way too often. I took a big breather and thought about what are the most important things to me at Christmas and then toss the rest.
It's important to me to make my Christmas cards, play Christmas music excessively, bake lots of cookies, read my children great Christmas stories, and do our daily advent readings. But parties, full schedules, school work, running around town, homemade pajamas for my kids, patchwork Christmas pillows and handmade gifts for all who are important to me had to all get tossed from "the list". Those things can be good things, but if they come between me and my relationship with the Lord, Mike, and my children, then they can become bad things rather quickly.
So now my schedule is empty and my days are filled with fun stuff. Lots of music, movies, baking, creating and wrapping. All school-ish items (like workboxes!) were vanquished to the attic so that home can just be home. My spirit has lightened and I have joy and peace (although I wish I could send my laundry away for a month :).
If you are feeling the holiday pressure mounting, ask yourself, "Am I doing what I really want to be doing?" Or are you trying to live up to others' expectations or your own unrealistic ones? What can you change, tweak or let go of all together? Where can all the "more, more, more" become less, less, less?
I am dreaming of a slow Christmas. And I think that is one holiday dream that really can come true.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Here are some links to great holiday projects/ideas or contemplations:
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
I hosted a small Christmas Cookie Swap on Sunday evening and I made a pot of Spiced Cranberry Wassail. I had never made it before and it turned out to be a delightful holiday drink!
6 cups cranberry juice
2 cups apple juice (I bought the "no sugar added")
4 cups pineapple juice
4 cinnamon sticks
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. whole cloves
Thinly sliced orange and lemon slices to float on top as garnish.
Combine everything and let simmer on stove on low for 30 minutes. Don't let it boil! Cut back on sugar if desired!
Enjoy your cool wintry evenings with the warmth of wassail!
photo by thedabble
Monday, December 7, 2009
I like a welcoming front porch. We have talked about that before. I love my galvanized pails that flank my front door and knew that with Christmas coming I wanted to put something new in them but wasn't sure what to do.
Then I found this idea and knew I had found my answer!
I cleared out the fall stuff and left about half of each pail filled with dirt. Then I went on a nature hunt for pine branches to cut and then used the pieces to cover my dirt. I went up the road to Walgreens and bought a big bag of Epsom salt for $5...and then filled my recycled local honey jars half way with the salt. Then I placed a small white pillar candle (pack of 8 for $4.99 at Target!) in each jar. Voila!!
Light the candles in the evening when you have guests coming...and you have an instant warm, sparkly welcome!