Category Archives: Traditions

A Pre-Christmas Makeover

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My friend, author Amanda Flinn, really knows how to speak to the heart of mamas. In this guest post, she shares five ways to perform a spiritual makeover, just in time to really appreciate the Christmas season and prepare for the New Year. Be sure to check out Amanda’s blog for more encouragement.


 

At this time last year, I was really in a funk about life.

Not depressed or anything, just overwhelmed, out of routine and really just out of sorts. I was using the cold, dark mornings as an excuse to skip my workouts and my daily quiet time, which definitely added to my sour mood. My marriage was struggling, my gig as a stay at home mom was exhausting and my efforts to follow my dreams were slower than I had hoped. I was basically going through the motions, attempting to celebrate the holidays with friends and family, but not truly engaged. And my feelings were spilling over into my journal entries.

Check out this sad little snippet from November 19, 2017.

“Friendsgiving last night. Nice time, but I also felt tired and a bit disconnected. Aside from eating too much, not sure why.”

Have you been there?

Have you ever spent so much time taking care of others that you have forgotten to take care of yourself? Have you ever been so overwhelmed by life, that you are at the party, but not truly present? Have you ever been so mentally and physically exhausted that you have started medicating with Netflix rather than the Word of God?

That is where I was last year.  And that is where I know so many mommas are at today.

The holiday season is busy and demanding and often times overstimulating, with added pressures to make everything perfect for our families and our friends. We are bombarded by extra activities, extra spending and extra calories and before we know it our schedule, bank account and waistline have been zapped.

What we need, and what I began last year, is a pre-Christmas makeover. A reset of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self. A re-boost of our entire being. A reminder that it is important to take care of ourselves and that by doing so, we can better care for others, especially during the holidays.

Here are five simple challenges to start today and get your pre-Christmas makeover in motion:

 

Get Up.

Even if you already wake up early, try getting up thirty minutes earlier than normal. Time alone in the morning is vital to your success. This process starts by telling yourself the night before that you will get up on time, no matter what. If you know you are getting up earlier, then you may need to go to bed earlier. Adjust it out and make it happen.

 

Get Silent.

Just be still. Be present. If God speaks to you then listen, but do not talk. Set a timer and just be in the presence of your Creator. I find that sitting by a fireplace, or a candle, or a lit Christmas tree helps set the mood. I do not recommend staying in bed, under the covers. Trust me on this one.

 

Get Gratitude.

Start with a few gratitude statements. Example: I am grateful for my health. I am grateful for my coffee. I am grateful for my kids. Then move on to some “I am” affirmations. Example: I am strong. I am capable. I am worthy of love. And finally a big dream statement. If you have a dream inside of your heart, there is a good chance it was placed inside of you by a God that is bigger than any dream you could ever imagine. What big idea are you sitting on and waiting around for that you need to hand over to the one who created it? Example: I want to write a children’s picture book. (That was mine last year.)

 

Get Reading.

Spending a few minutes in God’s Word at the beginning of each day is a game changer. There are so many places to start and a multitude of reading plans to guide you through. The book and verse does not matter, just an open heart and a willingness to hear from God. I find that journaling about what I’ve read really helps with this process.

 

Get Moving.

This could be a short walk, a few stretches or a thirty second wall sit. Just spend a few minutes moving your body and build from there. Looking back at my journal, this part of my morning was pretty basic for the first two weeks. After that, I was able to challenge myself to actual thirty minute workouts (which pushed me to get up even a few minutes sooner than before).

 

All of these challenges are simple, but they will take commitment and a willingness to care for yourself—your whole self. Speaking from experience, I know how difficult that can be. I also know how wonderful it feels to come out of that pre-Christmas funk. But like any good plan, it doesn’t work unless you work.

So, get to it. I believe in you and you are worth it.

~ By Amanda Flinn of www.amandaflinn.com

Christmas Traditions

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In this week’s post, my friend, author Amanda Flinn, shares some great insights with us on how to establish and continue meaningful family traditions for the Christmas season. Be sure to check out Amanda’s encouraging—and often humorous—blog at www.AmandaFlinn.com.


 

I love family traditions.

Especially traditions associated with Christmas.

And recently, I was able to sit down with a few older people in our community and hear stories of their Christmas memories and traditions from long ago. This was such a special moment, not only for them, but for me as well. Hearing about their childhood memories, along with the memories of their parenting years, gave me a sweet opportunity to reflect on my own family, our traditions and the legacy that I hope to pass down to my grandchildren one day.

Depending on your season of life, sometimes you will be the tradition maker and sometimes you’ll be the receiver of the traditions. I have three children at home right now, so I seem to be in the busy stage of tradition making. I love it, but it’s a lot more work than my mom let on. Over the years, my husband and I have used traditions from our own childhood, but we’ve also adopted a few new ones for our kids.

And what we have discovered is that the key to lasting traditions is purpose, joy and fulfillment.

 

Traditions need to have purpose.

Why are you doing it? What’s the point? If it’s to get a great picture for your Instagram account, then great, but know the reason. Traditions were super popular in the Bible. Some we still follow today. Some we have let go of because they no longer serve their purpose. Do you go on long walks after your holiday meal because your purpose is to create healthy lifestyle memories with your children? Perfect. Then get out there and move it.

 

Joy. We all want joy, right?

We sing about it, and talk about it, and I literally have the word hanging all over my house at Christmastime. Why? Because I need the reminder to be joyful. While Christmas is amazing, it can be stressful, and if we are not careful, the joy can be sucked right out of it. So, what brings you joy? What traditions do you have that keep you focused on Jesus and the true joy that He brings? Find out what those are and put them on repeat, ‘cause mama, you’re gonna need ‘em!

 

And finally, fulfillment.

If it’s not filling you up, then stop doing it. For example: If you make a gingerbread house every year, just because you have always made a gingerbread house, but secretly hate making the gingerbread house, then this is the time to put that tradition to rest. Your mom will survive. Your kids will survive. In fact, you may all be better for it.

What’s great about traditions is that they can be adapted through the generations. They can be flipped and switched and moved around until you find some that stick. Here are three that we have in our home. If you love them, try them out for your family, or adapt them as needed. If you don’t, then no worries, but find some of your own and enjoy the journey.

 

Three Presents

In an effort to keep Christmas simple and tie our celebrations back to Jesus, each of our kids get three gifts on Christmas morning, to represent the three gifts that Jesus received at his birth. To make this fun and a little more drawn out, we hide the gifts and leave clues for them to find them around the house. My kids are 5, 11, and 14. They still love this.

 

The Christmas Eve Ornament

Every year on Christmas Eve, my kids get to open a special ornament. The ornament represents something good or memorable that happened to them within the past year. A cross for my son’s baptism, a parasailing chute for overcoming fear on family vacation, or even an old pacifier or special toy that they love. I write their name and year on each ornament and when they move out and start their own families, they will have eighteen ornaments to take with them.

 

The Advent Calendar

About 8 years ago, I made a simple Advent calendar from a mini muffin tin. It was an easy DIY that I found on Pinterest. Inside each little space is a message for the day and a scripture reading. Sometimes the message is a task to do in preparation for Christmas, like “bake cookies for a neighbor” or “wrap presents”. Other days, it’s an activity to do together like “family game night” or “drive around and look at Christmas lights”. Some take two minutes, like “say a prayer for our country” and others take more thought and planning, like “pay for someone’s meal behind you in the drive thru”. The scripture reading each day leads up through the story of Jesus’ birth (also found on Pinterest).

Whatever traditions you have, just make sure that they work for you! Have fun making them, receiving them and finding purpose, joy and fulfillment in them. Praying sweet memories for all of you during this Christmas season.

If you have a special Christmas tradition, we would love to hear about it! Comment down below.

 

~ By Amanda Flinn of www.AmandaFlinn.com

When to Say Thanks

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Yup, that’s me and Robby at our wedding. Photo by Lindsay Osborne.

The following post appeared this week on Lift Up Your Day. Check out their site for more encouraging blogs from other writers.


 

My friend Rachael is getting married this year. She was my wedding planner extraordinaire, and I am attempting to return the favor this year as I plan hers.

Although Robby and I were married just six years ago, I had already forgotten how many details go into a wedding.

 

No Thanks!

One of those details that many brides forget about is the thank-you cards.

I never knew this was an issue until after our wedding. As soon as we got back from the honeymoon, I started writing thank you notes to all our friends and family members who supported us in one way or another, whether they threw us a party, donated to the honeymoon fund, or gave us a traditional gift. We took great care to let everyone know how much we appreciated them.

Then, we started to hear it.

I can’t believe you actually sent me a thank-you card! I haven’t received one of these in years! 

I just can’t thank you enough for my thank-you card! I thought proper etiquette was dead.

I was flabbergasted! I had no idea that people were actually foregoing this most basic of common courtesies.

 

The Faux Pas

Reputable wedding sites (such as Brides.com) still dictate that thank-you cards be handwritten and mailed within three months of the wedding (or within two weeks for engagement and bridal shower gifts). Yet an online search will prove that there is a pervasive trend of thanklessness. It’s so bad that jilted guests are threatening to stop bestowing gifts because no one seems to appreciate them.

Some speculate this might be an issue today because young couples feel a lavish reception is thanks enough for those who attended the wedding or gave them gifts. Well, it’s not. We want our thank-you cards!

 

The Responsibility

Now, the man may be the head of the household, but the woman is the CEO of Hospitality. It’s ultimately our responsibility to keep up with social etiquette, from ensuring the thank-you cards get mailed to stocking toilet paper in the guest bathroom. Guys just don’t think of this stuff.

It’s true that social norms change with the times. However, if you want to keep your friends and earn the respect of your new family (especially your mother-in-law), you’re going to have to write those thank-you cards.

 

The Heart Behind It

As Christians, everything we do is important because we’re representatives of God’s kingdom. Paul even wrote that we should perform all our work “heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:22-24 NAS).

Thankfulness, in particular, is something we should be ready to share because it’s rooted in love. Not only does love come from God, but Jesus commanded that we love one another as He loved us. Why? “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 NAS).

 

An Attitude of Gratitude

I’m so proud of my friend Rachael. She’s already purchased her thank-you cards, and she’s included the cost of stamps in her budget. Rachael is prepared to show her appreciation.

If you’re planning to get married soon, I encourage you to approach the thank-you list with an attitude of gratitude. Thank the Lord for your family and friends; thank Him for blessing you with a beautiful wedding, a great husband, and a new life together; thank Him for all the goodies that now fill your home. Then let that spirit of thankfulness overflow as you write to those who cared enough to support you. Your guests will thank you.

“I thank my God always concerning you…” (1 Corinthians 1:4a NAS).