Monday, October 31, 2011

Fully Enjoying the Seaon Day 31 Thirty Seconds a Day to Holiday Bliss

Day 31 Thirty Seconds a day to Holiday Bliss

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

As promised somewhere in these 31 days (I simply cannot find it now...), here's my list of ways to take back moments each day that will result in our enjoying the (Holiday) season a little more fully without adding to our costs or stress or endless 'to do lists".

1. Go to your spice rack, pick up the cinnamon and cloves, close your eyes, sniff and for 15 seconds. Whisper your gratitude for the season to come.

2. Today go out your front door or onto balcony, take your sweater but don’t put it on, let the cold, crisp air really hit you. Then go back inside to the warmth and put your sweater on. Whisper your gratitude that you have heat in your home today.

3. When you buy your groceries today, buy an extra can or two for the food drive at your church, school, etc. Whisper your gratitude that you can.

4. When you arrive home at night, and the house is lit up. Sit for 20 seconds and just enjoy it, don’t focus on what you’d do differently with more money or time, just enjoy it. Whisper your thanks.

5. At the end of the day, turn off all the lights but those on the tree. Sit in the light of the tree for a bit and give thanks.

6. After you’ve made your favourite soup or stew, etc – sit down with your bowl but wait a second before you start eating. Remember why it’s a favourite and savor the first bite. Whisper your thanks.

7. When you receive a card in the mail, don’t open it right away, wait until you have 30 seonds or more, preferably with a cup of tea, sit down, think about the sender, their friendship and what it means to you – then open it and enjoy. Whisper your thanks.

8. Take a minute today to think about those who will not be with you this season. Let your heart be softened by the sadness, and then whisper your gratitude.

9. Find the nearest child, sit with them, listen to them and enjoy the splendour through their eyes today. Whisper your thanks.

10. In a dark room, light a candle (scented if you like); reflect on how the darkness is displaced when a light is shining, no matter how small. Whisper your thanks.

11. When a fresh snow is falling, go outside and try to catch a snowflake on your tongue, take someone along and you’ll laugh too. Whisper your thanks.

12. When you are shopping in a mall where Christmas music is playing, take a second to just sit down on a bench and listen to the song and watch the shoppers going by. Whisper your thanks.

13. If you come across a fire burning in the hearth of your home, or someone else’s, take a moment to sit by the fire. Let the warmth touch your face. Whisper your thanks.

14. Eat a candy cane, really slow (make sure it’s fresh). Whisper your thanks.

15. When you wake up in the morning, don’t rush out from under the covers right away, linger a moment in that early morning peace and whisper your thanks.

16. When something pretty and sparkly catches your eye, stop long enough to really enjoy it. Whisper your thanks.

17. When walking to your car, enjoy the crunch of fallen leaves or snow. Whisper your thanks.

18. When you come across a frosted window, scratch a greeting into it J Smile to yourself.

19. Read Matthew 11:28-30 and reflect. Then read Luke 2: 10-14 and reflect.

20. Call someone at an hour when you know they won't be home and leave a brief message of love on their voice mail. Wish them A Happy Holiday season.

21. Take a walk to the mailbox, or the end of your driveway or to the foyer of your apartment building and as you go, hold hands with one of your children. Whisper your thanks.

22. Pull out a favourite classic and take a few minutes to just reflect on why you love it so much. Set aside some time later to read a chapter or two.

23. Put a Christmas ornament in your car, hang it from the dashboard and be merry. The sillier the better.

24. When you hear your favourite Christmas carol or song come on at home, sing along, at the top of your lungs whether you can sing or not. Enjoy the release of joy.

25. Whenever you can, pay it forward. Leave some parking time on your meter for the next guy, pay for the coffee of the guy in line behind you in the drive-thru, tip the server - spread the holiday cheer and it will follow you wherever you go.

"Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." Colossians 3:17

Just a side note, there are things that you could do to fully immerse yourself in enjoyment of the season that take longer (go for a long walk in the snow, take in a musical or ballet or variety show, go to mass or a church service, watch a favourite old movie, etc) The obvious reason they didn't make this list, is that I was giving you tips for quick 30 second "moment's" to refocus or recenter ourselves and truly enjoy our days more fully this year.

I have really enjoyed this challenge and am looking forward to many more posts that I've been reflecting on outside of this 31 days series this past month, but I am going to take a break for a few days first...

with much love,


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fully Enjoying the Seaon Day 30 Bringing things to a Close

Day 30 Bringing Things to a Close

The season for enjoying the fullness of life -- partaking of the harvest,

sharing the harvest with others,

and reinvesting and saving portions

of the harvest for yet another season of growth.

Denis Waitley

As we near the end of our 31 Day journey, I decided that today's post will simply be a personal reflection on endings.

I'm not sure why as human beings we have such a difficult time with endings. Perhaps it is the glimmer of the Divine within us that struggles with being "inside" of time. We were created into time, yet, we from the moment we are born, begin moving toward eternity which is "outside" of time...

We seem to struggle with reconciling ourselves with TIME. We never have enough of it, seldom make the most of it and often waste it. I know for myself, I make every effort to avoid grief, sadness and discomfort, thinking that in embracing it, it's not a good use of my time. But why? I think I do myself a disservice? I believe that God created the world we live in to demonstrate how the grand scheme of things works - over and over and over again.

Birth/Beginnings/ Greetings
Living/Journeys/ Communion
Death/Endings/ Goodbyes

This cycle keeps repeating itself in every facet of life...

Birth/Beginnings/ Greetings
Living/Journeys/ Communion
Death/Endings/ Goodbyes

Every ending is followed by another beginning. Why is it that we get so hung up on the sadness of endings that we miss that? Why do we not use the seasons of endings to celebrate life as well? Isn't that how God designed it? Why do we resist them? avoid them? see them only through eyes of sadness?

I believe that gratitude is the missing link. An illustration if you may...

When we clear out our garden beds in the fall, its an opportunity to rejoice in hope over the life that was brought forth, and the life that is to come again in the spring. We are grateful that the land will have a season of rest. Of underground growth and renewal. We usually embrace this easily...

Yet in other areas, like our relationships, seasons of work, home, even age - the focus of our 20's, 30's, 40's and upward... we continue to struggle...

Have we not fully enjoyed each season? Why not? Will resisting letting go and saying goodbye help to change that at all?

Of course we know this is not the case.

I post this mostly because this past year I've gone through a serious shift in my life. I left the job and church that has been the central hub for most of my adult life (over 16 years). I felt it coming for so long, yet I resisted. I fought it internally and it carried over into my thoughts, my prayers, my conversations. There was no ONE thing that brought about this change, except perhaps, God's direction...but I needed something to blame, a reason, a justification.

Now I'm asking myself why?

There's is no reason that our gardens die off, that the summer turns into autumn, into winter into spring...they just do. Sometimes there is no specific reason for a friendship to peter out, or to change jobs, churches, affilitions... they just happen.

Rather than fight it, why not celebrate it? Reflect in grace on all the good, in faith let go of the not so good. Embrace the beauty of the current season with joy and look with hope and expectation of the glorious season to come.

Every season has beauty after all - despite the downsides and they have those too.

I came across this fable that illustrates this, I couldn't find the author...

Lessons on Life

There was a man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn not to judge things too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away.

The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer, and the youngest son in the fall. When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen.

The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted. The second son said no it was covered with green buds and full of promise. The third son disagreed; he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen. The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.

The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had each seen but only one season in the tree's life. He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season, and that the essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up.

If you give up when it's winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, fulfillment of your fall.

We can choose to celebrate or to mourn. Both are blessed seasons of life...meant to bring us to the fullness of God.

Here in Canada, the glory of fall will be brought low within a week or two. Then it will be cold and grey more often than not as winter moves in... I will choose to celebrate the end of a lovely season by fully embracing the holiday season in my heart and home. I will walk in gratitude by choice and I will approach the changes in the other areas of my life with the same grace, faith and hope.

It is a beautiful season in my life, God is good.

With love,


"In the garden, Autumn is, indeed the crowning glory of the year, bringing us the fruition of months of thought and care and toil. And at no season, safe perhaps in Daffodil time, do we get such superb colour effects as from August to November."
- Rose G. Kingsley, The Autumn Garden, 1905

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fully Enjoying the Seaon Day 29 Favourite Traditions

I must preface today's post with a shout out to my "peeps". The ones to showed up today on a rainy Saturday afternoon prepared to party inside or out with us - regardless of the rain. We had a great time hosting our Annual Harvest Hoorah.

Due to the rain, all the games were cut. But we did manage to carve pumpkins on our kitchen floor - mostly the dads and all the kids fit in there.

The potluck was super yummy and the visiting was much needed and I think enjoyed by all.

Special thanks to Julie for doing the face painting for the kiddos!

I just stood back a couple times and watched as everyone was reconnecting, new aquaintances were made and the new babies were cuddled. We laughed at the bigger kids running through the house and into the yard and having a riot, sneaking all kinds of treats and polishing off the hot apple cider.

The rain did manage to clear up for some to enjoy a fire out back. After everyone had left I had such a nice visit with my younger two boys on a blanket by the fire. They were full of tales of their day and questions about the fire and the stars and the red leaves on the maple tree behind us... sigh. It was perfect.

Now as I write this post: the dishes are done, the furniture is put back, the garbage out, the dog fed, the boys in bed... some of the men folk are having a poker game in the "man cave" of our garage. I'll be going to sleep a contented woman tonight :) I'm so grateful for the community that God has given us.

Week Four - Christmas Bliss

29 Christmas Traditions

Some of my favourite traditionsL

1. The Christmas Candle

My mom started this tradition when I was young and now when we celebrate Christmas with my side of the family, we continue with it. It's always a bit different, but always special.
After dinner and the fun and games just before the kids go to bed really, we pass around a candle and share our gratitude for something/one from the past year and/or our hopes & prayers for the coming one.

2. Stockings

Hubby and I prepare our boys stockings and leave them on the foot of their beds on Christmas Eve after they've fallen asleep. I love hearing them whisper and squeal in the morning, (and it also gives us a couple minutes more to wake up, while they check out their treasures). Also, hubby and I exchange stockings too so we can join in on the fun.

3. Gingerbread houses/ Cookie Decorating with Grandma

I love watching the boys interact with their grandparents and this is always a fun and messy event.

4. Yaya's Greek Doughnuts

My mom makes these for us at our family gathering and they are simply delicious - round puffs of warm pastry smothered in cinnamon and honey-lemon syrup.

5. Christmas Carols - either via carolling or participating in church services. I love to sing them, I love to hear them.

6. Watching Christmas movies by the tree all lit up.

7. This is a new one, requested by the kids - to have a sleepover under the tree one night. All of us. We'll see how that one goes over with Daddy's back :)

The most important thing to us is to be together, loving each other and the One who the season is all about. We honestly have so many more things that we do each year. I'm looking forward to December because we can do so many more little things to celebrate all day long as homeschoolers. Ho ho ho!

with love,


Friday, October 28, 2011

Fully Enjoying the Seaon Day 28 Our Holiday Media Collection

Week Four - Christmas Bliss

28 Our Holiday Media Collections (Movies and Tunes)

One of our favourite family activities over the holidays in snuggling up together under blankets and quilts, by the lit tree, to watch some favourites. We've seen them all, and will watch them again and again.

Dad's Pics

Dad pretty much likes them all, but especially Vacation, and A Christmas Carol. We usually watch all the standard versions...

Mom's Picks
I like the classics and a good romantic comedy thrown in for good measure.

Kids Picks
The kids like cartoons, and the new digital media like in Polar Express.

Some Musical Favourites Include:

Harry Connick Jr. - When My Heart Finds Christmas

Kenny G – Miracles

Mariah Carey – Merry Christmas

Manheim Steamroller...all of them

Michael Buble – Let it Snow

Sarah McLaughlin – Winter Song

Bing Crosby – White Christmas

Josh Groban – Noel

Amy Grant – Home for Christmas

The Carpenters – Christmas Portrait

Celine Dion – These are Special Times

In years Past...
Before we had kids we could drive to the city more often. Go skating in Nathan Phillips Square, go window shopping and check out the decor at The Eaton Center. One year I went to hear Handel's Messiah and another to hear the Pops Symphony Orchestra. A few years in a row we got tickets to see the Nutcracker Ballet.

Over the years we've also been involved in community or church productions. Many of our favourite memories over the years were on or offstage with these productions.

Dreams for Someday...
I still dream of spending a December week or so in New York City.

And I'd also LOVE to see the Christmas Show with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.

I could've written so much more today, but it's a busy day and I gotta run!
Are you enjoying the season fully? Hope so!

with love,


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