Monday, November 26, 2018

Christmas stressing you out?


I listened to a really great Podcast I wanted to pass on called Loving My Actual Christmas with Alexandra Kuykendall.  It was on the Focus On The Family broadcast.  Here is the link:

This is an excellent Podcast to listen to if you are stressed about Christmas in any way at all!  I definitely related to the guest, author Alexandra Kuykendall because there have been years that I too have been anxious to the point of being resentful.  As she says, we women are often the orchestrators of the holiday and our task lists are lengthy.  This conversation was filled with great insight and reminders to shift my focus back to what is good.

My first take-away was that Christmas is messy and imperfect and it was that way since the day Jesus was born!  Mary probably didn’t want to travel pregnant or give birth in a barn!  

Alexandra: “So Christmas entered humanity’s story when things weren’t perfect. And the holiday enters our lives every year when life isn’t perfect.”

My second take-away is that Christmas accentuates the struggles of our lives that we feel all year.  If we’re lonely, we’re lonelier at Christmas.  If money is tight all year, it’s even more so at Christmas.  Family struggles peak during the holidays.  So I think that perspective was something so good to point out!  

They talked about expectations and opinions (including the kids’) and traditions and how we want them to look.  She wrote a book where she looks at hope, love, joy and peace and what those words really mean.  They are often just words decorated on pillows but they have a deep meaning especially this time of year.  It was a really thought-provoking conversation and I would encourage you to listen to it (and probably read the book if this all hits a nerve.)

Here is the last bit I really liked.  Rather than risk losing its meaning with my paraphrase, here is what Alexandra said:

Alexandra: “Well, the good news is that we have good news, right? So the Christmas story is God entering in the middle of grief. He enters the world for us, especially for us that are grieving. He came for the brokenhearted. He didn’t come for the people who already had a joy-filled heart. He came for the brokenhearted. So that - if you think about the characters in the Christmas story, there was a lot of grief in there, a lot of disappointment, a lot of unmet expectations…”

And later she says:  “You know, this is a crazy time for me, too. I’ve got all the same to-do lists that you do. But I am living under this umbrella of peace because my heart knows that I am loved and because I remember that the reason we do this whole crazy making in the first place is because God changed the trajectory of humanity when He stepped on to Earth as a baby, and we celebrate that now. And that is what gives me peace, even though I’ve got a lot of wrapping still to do.”


Thrilled to learn that she also has a Podcast called "Open Door Sisterhood".  I subscribed to it because I like how she words and packages things.  

Anywho... just wanted to pass this on in case anyone else is feel anxious about the upcoming holiday!

Thanks for swinging by,
Mary

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Roses and thorns


I’ve been attending a moms group and we played Rose and Thorn.  It’s a game where you share something good and something bad from your week.  I really liked that idea!  Great to share a little good and get a little real too about the hard parts of the week.
I am also attending a weekly bible study.  We’re studying 2 Corinthians and today in chapter 12, we read where Paul talks about having a thorn in his side. 
With roses on my mind, it got me thinking how they are a good representation for life.  We all live among a garden of roses.  Some days we dwell on the thorns and are sad.  Some days the thorns prick us and we bleed.  Some days we see the buds of hope.  And other days the bloom is open and fragrant.
I think we need to be careful to not get too down because of the thorns.  It can be hard to not focus solely on them, especially when we’ve been hurt.  It’s hard to look up and see the soft petals that bring us so much joy. 
To add… we receive flowers from people as a way to know they love us.  Blooms sooth our souls and brighten our day.  Roses are a gift, even with their thorns attached.  We see the whole of them and they’re beautiful.  I think our lives are like that.  A gift from God even when painful and we get hurt. 
Roses are the most romantic and well known flower.  Just think about the occasions we give them… The ones where people’s love are at an all-time high… proposals, weddings, Valentine’s Day yet they are the ones that hurt us if we don’t handle them carefully.  Same with our lives.  They’ll hurt us too if we don’t handle things right.  If we dwell on the negative, play victim and sit in our misery.
So today I’m thinking about my rose and thorn of the week.  I want to be sure to always think about both parts and not just the thorns.  My prayer this week is that I’d focus on the big picture of what’s going on in my life and not get hung up on the snags or thorns that can really frustrate me.  
haha... I want to stop and "smell the roses".  
How about you?  What are your rose and thorns this week?  
Thanks for swinging by,
Mary

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Book Review: The Magnolia Story


When I stayed in a hotel for a month I had cable (what a treat!) and watched Fixer Upper for the first time.  Oh my word, I love that show!  I never saw a designer whose style I liked more than Joanna Gaines!  And her clothes!  Oh wow… love her look too.  I might have recently bought new sandals with her in mind!  Ya... and posted it on Instagram! #dork

I recently read The Magnolia Story and love them even more!  The book is written by Joanna with add ins by Chip.  It was a fun book to read, so much so that I read it in a few hours one day. 

The way these two interact is fun.  Chip, who has big ideas reminds me of my husband.  Her “go with the flow” attitude is one I admire and envy.  I really want to be more like her when I grow up!

(I realize I am waaaay behind the times since they wrapped up the series and most people are watching reruns, but hey… I’m a little slow sometimes and newly obsessed!)

If you’re looking for a fun read and you are a fan of their work, then definitely check it out.  Thanks Kim for the recommendation!

Thanks for swinging by,
Mary

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Book review: Present over Perfect


I recently finished reading Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist.  

Her story is quite different from my own but I enjoyed the book and got some nuggets from it.  I walked away with some things to think about as I settle in the southwest after moving cross-country… and before getting involved in too much again!

She was a very busy woman with a full schedule and ended up getting physically sick from it.  My situation wasn’t that severe but at some point a few years ago, I recognized that I too had too many commitments outside my home.  It left me with little white space on my calendar so I purposefully stepped back and slowed down to focus on my home and family.  What this book brought to my attention is that while I slowed down, I stayed task-oriented and didn’t shift my attitude.  I let my lengthy to-do list overwhelm me and I didn’t find ways to get alone time to recharge, even though my overall schedule was better. 

Shauna said:
“I felt that in many ways I was making good progress, inching toward a life marked more by presence and connection and less by exhaustion and competition. But this vein of inner darkness remained. If anything, maybe it became more visible once I slowed down a little.” P.68

Yes that sounded familiar!  She wrote about how she used to believe in the power of silliness until she became responsible.  Ahhh!  That made a lot of sense to me!  I am often focused so much on what needs to get done that I forget to have fun in the process.  When my kids were smaller it was easy to be silly.  We’d turn music on and dance but now that they are older, it’s different.  They’re more serious and self-conscious and they’re a tougher audience to perform for! 

My biggest take away is to remember to be goofy and laugh more often!  I miss my silly side and my husband always says, “A happy wife is a happy life.”  Hopefully my kids won’t get eyeball damage rolling their eyes at me.  Haha! 

Moving is great for fresh starts!

Thanks for swinging by,
Mary