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.
How are you doing? 2020 has been an interesting year, wouldn't you agree?
I did something this year that I thought that I would never do.
I signed up for a group coaching membership. Yep, I did. The past few years have been difficult and I have really been struggling with trying to figure it all out. So I had to try something. And in my typical fashion I had to do something that was somewhat anonymous. The group is big enough that you can attend and not be seen, but you get all of the teaching. And this works perfectly for me, and I have been learning a lot. I am so thankful that I put aside my preconceived ideals and make this investment in myself.
What could have been a very difficult year - that continued to spiral downward, has become a year of healing that I am so thankful for.
Are you taking time to invest in you? It is really important that you do. I carried some baggage around for far too long, and I wasn't taking care of my health - I just kind of let everything go. This is not a good place to live your life.
Making active choices to live intentionally is where we all need to be.
I have made a variety of changes in my life and part of it includes the environment that I live in and how I start my day. I am going to share a bit of that with you.
I have been following Yoga with Adriene on YouTube for years. I am not a big fan of public displays of exercise, I like the comfort of my own home. I start my diffuser with a relaxing scent, play some relaxing music (which for me is jazz), lay down my yoga mat and spend 30 minutes relaxing and stretching. It is an amazing way to start my day.
Now that I am working from home I have more time in the mornings because I no longer have the commute. Yoga helps clear my mind, stretches out the muscles that ache from the night (which seem to be increasing year by year) and gets me motivated to take on my day!
Yoga for Writers is a favourite of mine. I like the stretching with a little bit of core.
king the time to invest in my mental wellness has so important.
I created the My Journey journal years ago and it keeps evolving and become something that is a huge part of my life. It is my weekly check in with myself and has become a place where I can see my journey unfold and give myself more grace in my journey.
If you are interested in checking it out for yourself all you have to do it CLICK HERE to download your free journal.
2020 is year that I will always remember and I am thankful that I used this time as a positive experience. It is so easy to get sucked into a negative environment - and it happens. But you don't have to stay there. You get to choose, I really hope that you will join me as we choose to end 2020 well.
*affiliate links included
Just two minutes of your time can have an incredible impact.
I am on a journey of learning. My heart is ripe for life lessons. I have become more aware of the needs that surround me each day. I am not sure how I got here but I have to share a few things that I have learned.
The needs are great and we have a serious problem.
Let me try to explain - society has become so inwardly focused that we have lost sight of what is around us. In my analytical discussions I have concluded with all my earthly wisdom - that it all stems from the self-improvement industry that took over the book publishing world a couple of decades ago. While improving yourself is not a negative action, not sharing the improvements with the world around you is. The majority of the self-improvement books didn't include that chapter.
So what we see today is a society that is looking for the next thing to make them happy, for other people to make them happy, to buy the next trendy item to make them happy. They are not going to find happiness in any of those locations.
What I have learned is that heart happiness comes from a two minute investment.
A couple of years ago I tried something different for lent, I decided to "give" instead of "give up". You can read about it here. That experience has never left the way that I look at relationships around me.
I see the needs around me and I want to help - but the needs are great and I am just me.
I have friends that are traveling down some dark roads and through deep water and I wanted to add a little light and encouragement to their day. So I began taking two minutes out of my day and investing in those that need support and strength. I would pray for my friend and then text them a scripture picture.
I could write all sorts of fancy words and quotes but nothing that I could text would bring comfort and support the way God's holy word can.
Finding two minutes is easy- sitting in the car line, one less scroll through social media or sitting down at the end of your day. A short prayer and God's word will have a tremendous impact on those with needs around each one of us. All of us have an opportunity to be the hands and feet and light of Jesus to the world around us.
I am so enjoying investing my time this way. I am finding more two minute opportunites in my day and searching for more cell phone numbers to send messages to. Many times I will be praying for someone and I word or scripture will come to mind and then I know what I need to send to them, many times I get a reply that says, "That is just what I needed to hear today." and that just makes my heart smile. Our Father knows what they need and I am happy to send the text message for Him.
I created a board on Pinterest where I keep scriptures that I want to share and then I have saved them on my phone. If you want a head start you can follow my board for options.
Let's be an encourager to the world around us. Think of someone that needs encouragement and invest two minutes of your time. You won't regret it.
The last few months have been a time of great stretching for me. I have been trying to wrap my head around it all - to make sense of it all. To not be angry. To listen to Paul's advice and be thankful in all circumstances.
I was stopped at a red light, chatting with my daughter about her day at school - then everything went black. It took me a few moments to try and understand what happened. I looked over at my daughter and she looked so scared. I looked behind me and saw smoke billowing out of the vehicle behind me. So many thoughts went racing through my head, "Why did the vehicle behind me run into me?" "Did the driver have a heart attack?" "Were they on their cell phone and didn't see the line of cars stopped at the red light?" I exited my vehicle to see what was going on and saw all the damage and knew I needed to call the police - nothing was where it once was in my vehicle. Luckily my cell phone was charging so I pulled on the cord until my cell phone appeared. I never knew how difficult it could be to dial 911 when your body is shaking, your thoughts are foggy and going in all directions. As I am trying to figure out how to use my phone my daughter keeps trying to tell me something. I am so confused.
I soon realize that the person that just ran into me is speeding away. I am finally able to dial 911 and I tell them that the vehicle that just ran into me just drove away, luckily the person from the vehicle that I was pushed into in front me got the license plate and we were able to give the information to the police.
In no time at all the police were everywhere and I find out that when the vehicle ran into me it pushed me into the two vehicles in front of me. The police caught the person who hit me - he was drunk with a suspended license.
There is so much more to this story. The past two months have been painful physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and have been full of blessings.
It has be so encouraging as friends came alongside to help and support. We have seen God's hand moving in so many areas since the accident. It's hard for us to truly understand how deeply He genuinely cares about everything that His children experience.
A few months ago I read a blog post from my friend Becky (Farmgirl Paints) about Love Hugs. Love Hugs are those simple moments in your life that you know God is doing something just for you. God shows up in our day to day life in ways that are unique to each of us.
I have experienced these moments many times and I am so glad that Becky gave them a name - Love hugs. I told my daughters about it one day as I was driving them to school. They immediate knew what my "love hugs" were. Many times when I have been having a negative moment or feeling low I will see wildlife. Living in Northern Saskatchewan gives you the opportunity to see a variety of wildlife - fox, deer, moose, elk, coyotes, bear or even a wolf. I tend to get so excited that I nearly scare my husband off the road as he is driving. I know these are my "Love hugs". Since I have shared this with my daughters they are on the look out for their own "Love hugs" and they point mine out as well. I am so glad that they can recognize how God is active and alive in our lives daily. What a gift.
Shortly before my accident I was asked to speak at a Mother/Daughter retreat. After my accident I wasn't sure that I should teach because of my concussion and how foggy my thinking was. But I knew without a doubt that there was a reason for all of this. That Friday I packed up both our daughters and myself and we traveled to beautiful Christopher Lake for the retreat, just as we rounded the last bend in the road there stood five deer grazing in the ditch. Then I hear from the back seat, "Mom you just got a "love hug!" Yes, I did.
I am loved,
I am protected,
I am so very thankful.
You are who you are for a reason.
You’re a part of an intricate plan.
You’re a precious and perfect unique design,
Called God’s special woman or man.
You look like you look for a reason.
Our God made no mistake.
He knit you together within the womb,
You’re just what he wanted to make.
The parents you have are the ones he chose,
And no matter how you may feel,
They were custom–designed with God‘s plan in mind,
And they bear the Master‘s seal.
No, that trauma you faced was not easy,
And God wept that it hurt you so,
But it was allowed to shape your heart
So that into his likeness you‘d grow.
You are who you are for a reason,
You‘ve been formed by the Master‘s rod.
You are who you are, beloved,
Because there is a God!
We spend so much of our life listening to what others are trying to tell us and teach us. At age 5 we are sitting in class learning the basics, we continue on through grade after grade building on the basics. Our parents help us to grow in character, our Church feeds into our spiritual life and the media we are constantly surrounded with gives us all kinds of messages. With all this knowledge and input all around us sometimes it feels like our head may explode.
Over the past few years I have been trying to escape this life craziness and figure out what is important in my life. I thought about the relationships in my life: my husband, my daughters, my extended family and my friends. I thought about my Church, my involvement at my daughter’s school and my neighbourhood. Just like most people, I have a lot going on; where do I put my focus?
The answer is so simple that often times we take it for granted. The most important thing in our life needs to be our relationship with Christ. Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it. Depending how you look at it, it is pretty easy but in today’s society we really complicate it.
Imagine what life could look like if we put our relationship with Christ over everything else. Life would be easy, not a care or worry in the world. WRONG!
Once you give control over to Christ you never know what could happen. He will choose to grow and develop your character when it may not be on your schedule. Time is required to develop your relationship with your Creator. Think about relationships in your own life, the people you know the best. How did that happen? By investing time to get to know the person. The same is with Christ, you need to spend time with Him studying His Word, meditating on His Word, journaling about His Word, talking with other followers about His Word and choosing to be silent to hear that still small voice. (1 Kings 19:22) Sounds pretty easy, right?
I have been listening to an audio version of the book of Acts. The beginnings of the early church are so exciting for me. To see the leading of God in people’s lives, the choice to be obedient and the miracles that happened in the lives of believers. The apostles did not have an easy time but they remained steady in what they were required to do. Personally, I believe that, that is only possible when you have your priorities right. Your relationship with Christ is above all else and believe it or not, everything will feel like it is falling into place.
Matthew 6:33 “He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.”
Things in life may not always turn out the way that we want or how we expect but what is necessary for God’s plan.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
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