Challenge, Christmas, Family

Challenges.

I love challenges.  I constantly sign up for new e-mail challenges, Christmas, stress-busters, health, you name it.  And that was just this month.  I don’t know if it’s the challenge themselves, just to prove I “can” do it or something else.  I think it’s probably a mix, a desire to better myself and to push myself.

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http://www.karenehman.com/

I would encourage you to check out Karen’s blog and challenge.

Here’s a few things I learned from it:

Day 1:  I didn’t necessarily learn this entirely today, but it does apply.  I am a control freak.  Holidays, especially Christmas, included.  It’s not specific items I want to control, but mainly, I don’t want my important things forgotten.

I do find it a bit challenging to give up all control of the holidays to my ten year old.  (The challenge is backing off on making any holiday decision.)  But I can commit to backing off of some and including her more, backing off completely at time.  Part two of the challenge, I did include having Fiona’s input on our Random Acts of Christmas Kindness — and I changed some of them to better suit her.  I want her to enjoy it, so she should be in on the planning and this year I will let her do it her way.;  🙂

Day 2:  Today was a good one for me!!  I think it was a good reminder of what’s really important!  The holidays (any holiday) doesn’t have to be “perfect.”  Especially when our standard of perfect comes from HGTV, a magazine, or Pinterest.  Sometimes imperfection makes the best memories…sometimes way better memories than the “perfect” ones.  Change your focus from the external to the internal.

Christmas at my actual home has never been perfect, rarely ever lived up to my expectations.  And in the past, that’s always made me sad/frustrated/discouraged.  This year, thanks to the challenge, I hope to resolve that.  Instead of the old standard, this year we will focus on others.  Our “measuring stick” will be the joy that we see.  In the big picture — and really, truly, the important Eternity picture — nothing else matters.  It’s about loving family and celebrating Jesus’ birth. It is not about gifts, lights, decorations, food, or whatever.  And refocusing makes all the difference in the world.

Day 3:  Ooh!  I love the Bible.  Today’s verse really hit me — Mark 7:8.  Check it out.  Traditions are a funny thing.  We really stuck to them more when I was a kid, then the last few years have been this weird in-flux time in our lives.  A couple things have remained, but not really a lot of our traditions.  I did have a family meeting with Fiona and we together decided what this would look like for our family this year.

The tradition that knocks me out is the amount of gifts.  Too much money, too much time shopping, too much wrapping.  It’s just too much.  This year we are downsizing.  And grabbing a new perspective?  Done.  Love others.  Seek peace.  Don’t worry.  Love this…I am enjoying this Christmas more already!!

Day 4:  Ah, family…what would Christmas be without them?  And I am lucky to have one pretty amazing family.  Not perfect.  But perfect for me.  However, that being said…our holidays have often been overshadowed by conflict and a lot of tears.  Today reminded how often I should be praying (constantly!) about interacting with challenging people.  Another good reminder — I can’t control everyone’s actions and responses, but I can control mine.  My reactions and actions.  I can make sure that my actions are not hurtful or cruel, that they are pleasing to God.
I won’t name names on who my difficult family members are, wouldn’t that be hurtful?  But I can remind them, as well as the other members of my family that Jesus loves them unconditionally — and I do too.  Even when they hurt me or betray me, not just because they are in my family — because I want to love like Jesus does.
Day 5:  Loved today!  Loved it!!  You see, I LOVE to buy gifts for people.  One of my favorite things to do…give someone a gift.  But today, really helped remind me of something — give purposefully.  It’s not about quantity, but about the thought and love behind the giving.
The challenge today was to do one act of kindness for someone in need, but one of the things that we have decided to continue as a tradition is our Advent Calendar — Random/intentional acts of kindness from Dec 1 to Dec 25.  It’s about making ourselves focus on other’s throughout the holiday season.  And it’s FUN.
Thanks for letting me share about this challenge and how it influenced me…I hope you sign up and then let me know what you think.  🙂
God bless…Katie
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