Home and Family

My goals for the New Year

Be still, and know that I am God.  Psalms 46:10

It’s that time again.  New Year’s Resolutions.  *sigh*  Often this exercise results in a list of things about which to berate myself, or, at the very least, to recognize where I fall short.  Not this year.  I won’t do it.  Instead of the more common goals of “fixing” my life, my goal for 2014 is to accept what is.  And work with it.  I don’t need another reason to feel I have failed, or a yard stick to measure my progress against those around me.  I need to simply “be still” and trust more. My limitations are no reason to not wish the absolute best for others, and my abilities do not give me the right to be critical towards anyone else (good, bad, or indifferent).  So how does such a basic, human, fundamental attitude change break-down into manageable, definable bites?  Here is what I have come up with so far.

  • If 20 lbs. (or more) comes off, fabulous.  If not, I still need to take care of the body I have rather than wishing I was 23 again.  (And really, I don’t want to be 23 again!)
  • Finances are okay.  Not ideal, not terrible.  I will continue to change things for the better a bit at a time, and refuse to feel as though the last of our debt isn’t disappearing quickly enough because I need to change something major, i.e. no more date nights, dvd purchases, cable bills, clothing purchases, days-out with Mom, etc. until it is all paid off.
  • Serving where I can, and doing what brings me joy is good enough.  Spending time with my grandchildren, or teaching cooking classes are wonderful and worthy places to spend my time.
  • Watching the news and wanting to throw something at the screen accomplishes nothing.  Being involved where I can, and trusting that, ultimately, the Lord is in charge is a much better plan.  He is smarter than I am, and can see things I can’t.
  • Find more joy as wonderful things happen to those around me, and express it.  I am pretty good at feeling happy for them, but I need to write more notes telling them congratulations, or simply patting them on the back!
  • Other people make decisions or participate in behaviors that confuse, annoy, or sadden me sometimes.  Not mine to fix.  My job is to love them, pray for them, and carry enough of His peace with me that perhaps I can share a bit with others as needed.  I am only in charge of my own sphere; I don’t have the time or energy to try to “take on” anyone else’s.
  • Laugh more-in a kind-hearted way.  Life is generally pretty funny.
  • Saving the planet single-handedly is not in my wheelhouse.  I will use my fabric shopping bags when I have them.  If I forget them, oh well, get over it, shoot for next time.  I can’t always recycle every bit of paper.  Or walk to every destination.  It’s okay; I simply need to do what I can. Reduce, reuse, and recycle is a good idea, but not a religion to me.
  • Remember that my children, grandchildren, and others I come in contact with may learn much from what I say as well as what I do.  Choosing to be cynical (which IS different than clever), or sarcastic, or negative is neither helpful nor worth-while.  Speaking positively and looking for the good can be much more difficult, but yields much better results!
  • I have an auto-immune disorder.  Not everyone understands my limits.  No problem.  But I MUST put my pride in my back pocket, count the cost of any given activity, and stay true to what I can and cannot do.  No more trying to push past where it is wise in order to meet someone else’s expectations.  No more worrying about how someone might (or did) react because I said “no” to something. No more worrying about letting others down because I’m having a bad-health day.  If the Lord gave me my limits, then He made them part of my package and will help me become what I need to become regardless of them.

So what do I do when I am not peaceful or still?  I am sure it will happen…repeatedly.  Sing a hymn.  Look out my window at the beauty all around me.  Say a prayer.  Serve someone else.  Count my blessings.  Re-read a favorite book.  Look for the good in others.  Hug someone.  Laugh.  Be happy.

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Home and Family

Christmas learning ideas for the coming week

Christmas is definitely one of our favorite times of the year.  I love the meaning, music, books, food, decorations, activities, traditions, smells, and even the occasional Christmas sweater!  Here are some of our favorite things to do during this season of the year.

Christmas Around the World
Learn about Christmas in other parts of the world. Try recipes used in other countries in association with Christmas. Learn what other holidays are celebrated close to or instead of Christmas in other cultures.

Attend Christmas Programs with Friends of another Faith
Attend Christmas Mass or Christmas celebrations from other faiths. This could include a Christmas pagent at a local  church, attend Christmas Eve mass, or join a Sunday service you’ve never before attended.

Sub for Santa
Find a family in need and make a family project of doing a Sub for Santa.When this becomes a personal endeavor it means much more. Take time with your children to make the gifts personal. Give them a budget. Plan purchases, take your children with you to shop, and have them help you wrap the presents.

Sing in Other Languages
Learn Christmas songs in other languages. “Stille Nacht”, the German version of “Silent Night” is a great place to begin. Go caroling as a family. Take cookies that you baked together…of course. Learn the history behind the writing of your favorite carol.

Help Others
If the kids are old enough they could volunteer to sort food at the food bank or to help serve a Christmas meal.

Include Others
Find a widow, widower or other single in your area to include in your family activities.

Gather Stories
Gather stories from the older folks in your area. They generally love to tell stories. Type the stories up into a booklet and give copies to the people who contributed..

Handel’s Messiah
Attend or participate in a Messiah sing-along.

Write Your Own
Read the different versions of “The Night Before Christmas”. There are many versions such as the “Cajun Night Before Christmas” and the “Cowboy Night Before Christmas”. Try writing your own version. Create your own Christmas ABC Book.

Decorations
Make ornaments for the Christmas Tree.

Themed Christmas
Celebrate a themed Christmas, i.e. colonial, pioneer, Christmas in other lands, World War II,etc.

Take a Break
Have a Christmas-special watching marathon. Pop a bowl of popcorn and see how many Christmas specials you can watch. Or watch a different version of the Christmas Carol every weekend.

Resources:

The Best Christmas Pagent Ever by Barbara Robinson

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Amahl and the Night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti

The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell

Check with your local librarian for what’s new in the Christmas section.