Every year we know Christmas is coming. The date doesn't change - but it always seems to sneak up and overwhelm us.
This year I want Christmas to look different, I want it to feel different. I want to enjoy every second, I want to be intentional with how I invest my time and energy.
Several years ago we started a family tradition of walking into the wooded area behind our home and chop down a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. We string lights, hang a few handmade ornaments and it is our family tree.
We thought last year would be our last year of this tradition. Our oldest moved out a year ago, our youngest is in University so my husband and I were not planning on trumping through the snow in search of a tree.
One day my husband asked our youngest if she still wanted to go into the woods to find a tree this year. Her response was unexpected and hilarious, she stated matter-of-factly, "I'm offended that you would even ask!" She went on to tell us that she had already invited her boyfriend to join our excursion.
A few nights later our oldest and her boyfriend were over for supper and we invited her along for the Christmas tree hunt if she was interested and she immediately asked for the date and invited her boyfriend along as well. Now it is a Christmas experience that has extended to include our now family of 6 - or 8 if you include the dogs. 😁
What was a random idea a few years ago, is now apparently an expected part of the Carleton family Christmas.
This made me think about Christmas traditions in my family growing up and different experiences that stand out through my almost 5 decades on this earth. I remember waking up far too early on Christmas morning and trying to be quiet to not wake my parents. There was just something about the glow of the tree, and the sparkle of the tinsel that captivated me. I remember the Christmas Cantata's at church where I sang soprano with my aunt. The Christmas Panorama in the park, and the families all together, filling our bellies with potluck and recovering from turkey coma with endless games of cards.
As I sat and smiled at the thoughts of Christmas past, I continued to paused and think of Christmas present. What Christmas memories will be created this year?
If you have attended any of my journaling workshops - you know I like to put paper to pen and ask questions. So if you click on the button below you will receive your Christmas worksheet with two questions to ask yourself.
What are your memories and traditions of Christmas past? And what do you want this Christmas to look and feel like? As you answer the questions think of it holistically- physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
By investing a few minutes to answer the questions you will find that you choose to live more intentionally this Christmas. It doesn't need to overwhelm if we approach it with the right perspective. Have a very merry Christmas!
I would love to hear about some of your Christmas memories and traditions - share them on Instagram and be sure to tag me @carolyn.carleton.
I have to admit that I come across as a confident person, but really I am a chicken!
Far too often I give up too easily, I start off strong but then I get in my own way. This is something that I will never have to stop working on.
I know deep down in my gut things that I need to do and yet I still hold back. Why oh why do I continually do that! Am I the only one that does this?
I am making a list of what I know I need to do and I am going to put my view of myself and my abilities to the side and I am going to Be Bravely ME!
Why am I choosing this?
Because others may be missing out on something that I can share with, a way that I can encourage them, a life lesson that they can relate to.
So here I am making a public proclamation that I will actively choose to begin working on what the still small voice has laid heavy on my heart. Ready, set, here I go!!!!!!!
Life sometimes just feels so full. Sometimes too full. I am wondering how it got that way.
Since having health problems for over a year now, I have tried to slow down and yet I still feel like I am running around like a crazy person. At the end of the day I continue to ask myself, "What did I accomplish today?" And sometimes I can't think of anything but yet my day felt so full.
Why do I choose to do this to myself each day? I know I need to slow down. I had physio today and yikes am I sore right now. I felt really good when I came home but right now I feel really tight and sore, and well, like a truck hit me. Physiotherapists really know how to hurt a person. :) But I know that I will continue to get better from this. That all of this pain will help me in the long run.
Kinda sounds like life lessons. Well, it is how it works for me most of the time. You know the character building exercises that we go through in our lives? It really sucks when you are in those places in your life, but then in the end when you can see what you were learning and how it helped you. In a weird and yet wonderful way it all seems worth it in the end.
I guess that is what physio is going to do for me. I am not going to feel like a 90 year old woman anymore. I will be able to run and play with our daughters again. I wish I wasn't in this place right now but I know that I am taking the right steps, on the right path to get to where I need to be. I just have to figure out how to slow down this ride of life that seems like it is spinning out of control. I know I need to cut somethings out of my life, but where do you start cutting? Who do you cut?
I was talking to my husband about having to cut some things and he asks me, that if I decided to leave something, "Who is going to lose out from having me involved?"
It is interesting to look at things from the larger perspective - I start cutting things that I wouldn't mind losing, but what effect is that going to have on other people? There is more to life than ourselves. Even though that is what the media likes to teach us - 'Life is all about me!" Someone else is always going to be affected by every decision that we make. Man! I thought I had difficult decisions to make before, but now it got even worse!
So now my brain hurts along with my back. So I am going to bed, and hopefully when I wake up tomorrow I will try to take my day bit by bit and enjoy the day with my husband and our daughters and not worry about the next thing on my to-do list that I feel I need to cross off. Hey, I bought a new purse today! Life is good!
It's a strange habit of mine - but I like to read obituaries.
All of us leave a story of our lives and I find it interesting to read the thoughts and memories of family about their loved one. A few months ago I came across this special story from Hertha and a memory shared from her grandson Josh:
During an incredibly special early morning hospital visit with her grandson Josh, Grandma provided a lesson in finances …
Even now, I can’t wait to tithe!
In lieu of flowers, it would be Hertha’s wish that you would instead put the money in a jar, pray and wait for the Lord to direct your gift. Be blessed!
“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
As I read that obituary tears began to roll down my cheeks. To instill a passion for tithing - what a blessed woman. Not only did she leave this legacy for her grandson, but also to everyone that read about this special early morning visit. It is such an important message that I had to share her wish that we would all put money in a jar and wait and see what God will choose to do with it.
2 Corinthians 9: 6-11 (The Message) "Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.
God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,
He throws caution to the winds,
giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways
never run out, never wear out.
This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God."
Today's challenge: find a jar, hold it in your hands and pray that what is placed in it will be used for God's glory and purpose, now start to fill it and continue to pray for direction on how you can give it away!
I see so much pain. The hurt that is spreading across the world today just breaks my heart. I have an overwhelming ache as I think about the needs in the hearts of mankind, and I feel weakness as I wonder "What can I do for so great a need?"
I can honestly admit that I have lost sleep over this - I lay in bed praying and seeking guidance as to how I can help. What can I do? Something needs to be done.
Why am I so obsessed with this?
The pain and hurt I see in the actions of others are an outward expression of the pain they are feeling on the inside. People are carrying around so much pain, they dislike themselves so much that they share it with those around them. This just breaks my heart.
Think for a moment about the positive people in your life.
Can you imagine something hurtful coming from their mouth? People who have peace with who they are - are happy and have no desire or need to hurt others. They are a light in the dark world around them.
Scripture tells us that what is in your heart shines out (Luke 6:45) As I think about my calling to be the hands and feet of Jesus - what kind of light am I? What is my wattage? Am I adding to the pain that I see in the world around me? Are people drawn to my light?
Everyday we have the opportunity to be a light of positivity and love to our families, friends and wherever our path may lead that day. I know that I have wasted too many days and nights worrying about how I can make a difference - how silly. I can make a difference by being the hands and feet of Jesus each day with a servants heart.
I want to leave you this promise found in Romans:
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." Romans 15:13
Life is made up with a variety of seasons. Each season offers character building exercises, stretches you and hopefully guides you along the path to becoming all that we have been created to be.
Check out this video by Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper
I watched this video a year ago, and it's message of trust has never left me.
What I have been learning is that even though something is good, it may mean that you have to let it go.
For the past few years I have had a small, fun business called Living Skies Crochet. I took my passion of creating with yarn and turned it into a business. I started selling crochet items at markets but found I couldn't keep up to the demand, so I decided to sell the patterns so that anyone that could read a pattern and crochet could make my original designs. Financially this wasn't a business that I could retire on, but it provided money for groceries and my yarn stash. :)
This past year has been hard on a lot of families in Western Canada due to the low price of oil and our Canadian economy. My husband is self-employed and some months were harder than others. Last fall I was in a vehicle accident where I was hit by a drunk driver and my vehicle was totaled. Sometimes life presents situations where we have to learn to live a new reality.
I have been really working on listening, rather than asking. When life seems difficult I tend to become rather needy and full of prayers of petition. But what I have found, is that there is peace and answers if I just remain silent, listen and be still.
So here I am, closing Living Skies Crochet. This source of income will be gone at the end of March, and I have such peace about it.
When we get out of our comfort zone and trust God's hand to work in our lives, it creates such a beautiful picture.
I am excited to see the picture evolve in my own life, I know that He is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.. (Eph. 3:20)
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