Gratitude Day 180 – Less Is More Christmas

Thurs., Dec. 20, 2018

Luke 2:10 –   The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people.  DSC06974

OK, it’s just a few days before Christmas. Two days ago, I was trying to figure out how I was going to get everything done that I still want to accomplish before Christmas. Later, I regrouped. I rethought. And I came up with a new plan; one, I’m confident is more realistic.

Why do we try to do SO MUCH during the holidays? Are we consumed with the right things?

Too often: No.

Interested in my revised plan?

Good. Here it is: Top 10 Most Important Ideas Right Before Christmas:

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  1. DON’T add any more people to your gift-giving list. If they weren’t on your list by now, DON’T ADD THEM. In fact, look over your list and decide where you can cut back if you are still navigating the shopping/wrapping/preparing gift business. (For those of you whose gifts are perfectly wrapped and under the tree, well, you can skip to #9.) The rest of us? Simplify gift-giving. Buy less, use something you already have or just decide that time with this loved one is more important than a gift. Look at the 5-Minute Gift and be inspired to make something that will be special for this person

 

9. DO plan time with a special friend, family member, spouse, etc. I’ve had time with my dear friend Mary Ann this week. We had a specific project that we planned to work on. Problems beyond our control slowed us down. Way down. These special Christmas gifts I had planned will probably not get done by the time I had hoped. Rather than focusing on what isn’t getting done, we’ve hung out and enjoyed a delicious malt Mary Ann’s husband, Bob, made for us.

8. DON’T try to squeeze in one more party than what you’ve already got on the calendar. Running to five different celebrations in 36 hours isn’t heroic. It’s craziness. Pick one or two. Let the rest go.

  1. DO extend the holidays and celebrate beyond the normal Christmas time. I had hoped to have a dear friend over before Christmas. There is literally not a day when we can both make it work. So, we picked a day after Christmas. Problem solved. I’m feeling great that we will see each other. We’re both feeling less stress and know this will be more enjoyable for both.

 

  1. DON’T have ridiculous expectations. Somewhere along the way in the next five days, someone will loss their temper. Someone will feel left out. Someone will be disappointed. Maybe you will be the one! Hubby Rick often reminds me that it is best to have low expectations and be pleasantly surprised when something goes beyond your bottom-of-the-totem pole expectations.

 

  1. DO plan on down time. Hope in the car and drive around and look at Christmas lights. Make a batch of hot chocolate and watch a movie. Get out your favorite card or board game and have a mini-marathon session. Let your soul be restored; not frazzeled.

 

  1. DON’T decide this is the week to go on a diet, try a new exercise routine or follow a tight budget. This are all noble and great ideas. Just probably not this week. Pick a date in the near future when starting to make a change is more realistic.

 

  1. DO take time and think about the last year. What were some of your favorite moments? When could have you responded to a situation with more grace? What lesson did you learn this year can you take forward and use as a spring board for future growth and change?

 

  1. DON’T expect the week to be only filled with Hallmark-worthy pictures and moments. Most of us don’t live in Unrealisticville. Keep your celebrations true to who you are and the traditions you value.

 

  1. DO remember the good news of the season. The angels told the shepherd’s the news was for all people; not just some poor shepherds who were herding wooly sheep on a Judean countryside. This good news is for us as well! How might we keep focused on this great and wonderful news? THIS is the reason we celebrate Christmas. Everything else is residual.

There will be moments in the next five days when I will forget to focus on this list. I pray that I remember to come back to this list of 10 simple ways to come back to the whole reasons we celebrate Christmas.

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For simplifying Christmas, I am grateful.

Lord God – may we not be afraid to slow down and hear the angels sing today. May we be amazed that the Messiah has been born. Help us see the most important aspects of Christmas this year. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 161 – Thankful

Thurs., Nov. 22, 2018 – Thankfulthankful

Psalm 118:29 – Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good. His faithful love continues forever.  

The pies are baked. The corn casserole for the community dinner is laid out, ready to be assembled in the morning and popped into the oven. Yes, I cheated and bought the dinner rolls rather than making them. Someday, I’m going to really learn how to make good dinner rolls. But not this week.

Instead of making dinner rolls, I had a meaningful conversation with a dear friend on Thanksgiving Eve night. In the moment, conversation was a higher priority than making rolls. And I don’t regret the choice.

A year ago, I would have tried to do both: make bread and carry on a conversation. These days, I trying to have a little less busy-body Martha in my life and a little more contemplative Mary.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m wasting time.

Sometimes, I feel like I don’t get enough done.

Sometimes, I delay doing something seemingly important for another day.

It’s hard to let go of Martha. But she’s trying.

Why? Because I don’t want to miss out on the little things. Too often, we focus only on the milestone moments of life: baptisms, first day of school, prom night, graduation, first car, first job, first apartment by ourselves. Marriage, first child and buying a house. A 40th birthday and then a 50th. All important events. All milestones. All significant.

But what about the afternoon sitting by the lake? The bike ride with a grandchild? The good book that just wants to be read?

When Hubby Rick and I were dating, I remember us promising each other to make sure we always would take time to just be with each other. We have … and we haven’t. More so because of my lack of prioritization than Rick’s. We have wonderful moments and we have days in which we don’t see each other awake.

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How might we find the important little moments of today? Put down our phones and have a conversation with the people around us rather than on social media. Turn off the television during dinner and go around the table and share something that you so appreciate in your life. And then, keep the T.V. off and play a game that works for all the ages present. Go outside and take a walk and marvel at the beauty of the world around you. And when you do pick up the phone, may it not be to check Black Friday deals but to call someone who you weren’t able to see today. Tell them that you love and appreciate them and make a date to get together soon.

And simply be thankful. Give thanks not for the big things in life … but for the seemingly insignificant. Appreciate the young boy’s comments about his Mom. After she died of cancer, he was asked what was the most special memory of his Mom that he had. His answer? When she sat with him on the couch and they ate popcorn together.

Sit with someone and eat popcorn today. And cherish every minute of it.

Everything else can wait for a day. Even the dishes could wait.

I am convinced the most meaningful times in my life will always be the simplest of times that I would love to recapture. Like going for a ride with my Dad and talking cows. Snuggling on the couch with a grandchild. Having a cup of coffee with my Grandmother. Picking out fabric with my Mom. Matching my hand in Hubby Rick’s hand.

These are the things I am thankful for today.

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And this card. It was made by one of the kids from one of the churches that I used to serve. It came in the mail just recently. Somewhere, somehow this little person knew to include God in the card, along with Thanksgiving. Just a little reminder that God’s love endures forever.

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For the simple and deeply meaningful moments in life, I am grateful.

In some ways, it seems to silly to need a day in which we stop and remember to be thankful and grateful, Holy God. I pray we find your love and blessings in the littlest of moments of every day. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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