Monthly Archives: November 2014

Preparing for the Holidays, Part 2

In part one, we began this series with the premise that “The goal of planning and preparation is not to say, ‘Look at me, I’m so organized’. The goal is to survive this crazy season with a good attitude and a heart that remains focused on what the season is all about: gratitude, faith, family, friends, and showing Jesus’ love in tangible ways.”

With that being said, let’s get organized! This is the third year, I am utilizing a “holiday planner” that I found on-line three years ago. How I wish I would have had this tool years ago! In fact, both as personal gifts and through the women’s ministry at my church over 75 women have been given this planner as a helpful holiday resource.

Here are some of the highlights of this planner that could easily be recreated.

A Calendar

calendar

It helps me to see the big picture of the months of November and December. On my calendar I include birthdays, school events, church events, family plans, etc . . . A calendar helps me to stay organized, but it also helps me to see what is coming up and what needs to be done.

Holiday Menu Planner – one for each meal

Menu Planner

One of the things that makes holidays special are the meals and goodies that you get to make and eat at this time of year. This “Holiday Menu Planner” is a big help in planning meals you are hosting at your house. I especially love the “Delegated to” section . . . but more on delegating later (-smile-). Another helpful thing to do is to ask your family what types of cookies, or other treats they enjoy during the holidays. Make a list of those and gather the recipes to keep in one place. Once you know what you are going to be cooking/baking, begin purchasing a couple things at the store each time you grocery shop, this will help spread out the cost of extra baking supplies and specialty items which is a huge help as far as finances are concerned.

People to Remember

People to Remember

Gift giving can be a major stressor, especially if you’re like me to shop! A good way to get a gift giving plan is to make a list of who you want to remember at Christmas, family, friends, neighbors, service members in your community. After you decide who you want to remember, jot down gift ideas and amount of money you want to spend. Finally, a way to check them off your list when their gift is purchased gives you a sense of accomplishment. I. LOVE. CHECKING. THINGS. OFF. MY. LIST.!!!

Speaking of gift giving, we all know that the holidays are expensive. Between the extra food, baking supplies, gifts, shipping costs, things really add up quickly. It is important that you make a budget and a plan of how you will fund that budget. Maybe you will save a little each month throughout the year, or cut expenses in the last few months of the year to be put towards the holidays, or do some sort of extra work to make some Christmas cash. Let me encourage you that buying on credit is never a good option. It is better to give nothing at all than to give a gift you will be paying for (with interest) over the next many months.

Place to Store Receipts

Receipts

Once you purchase your gifts, have a central location for receipts. This saves time and hassle later if you need to return something.

A few other items to consider when you begin to plan for the holidays are as follows:

  • Christmas Cards – cards, photos, stamps, etc. . .
  • Holiday parties you will be hosting
  • Family traditions
  • Church/community events
  • Thank you notes for gifts you have received
  • For those in ministry, also remember Christmas cards to be sent, people to appreciate, special services to plan for, reaching out to our cities, etc . . .

As previously mentioned, planning takes considerable thought and time, but it is time well spent. Once you have a clear picture of what needs to be done, you can make it happen a whole lot easier than if you wait for things to sneak up on you and have to scramble to get them done at the last minute.

Why not take some time in the next couple of days to write things on a calendar, plan your menus (and special goodies) and jot down the people you want to remember.  This will get you prepared for my next blog post, where I will share ideas about how to practically tackle your to-do lists.

Your Friend in Ministry,

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Preparing for the Holidays, Part 1

Although it has been an unseasonably warm fall here in the Northwest, the calendar doesn’t deceive, the holidays are upon us. When I say “holidays”, I am not trying to be politically correct; I use the word “holidays” to include all the next 2-3 months will bring: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

The holiday season can be challenging for us as women. There is a lot to be done and the majority of it falls upon our shoulders – special meals to plan and make, purchasing, wrapping and sending gifts, decorating our houses, baking, the list goes on and on, doesn’t it?

For those of us who serve in ministry, there is the added pressure of holiday preparations for our church families as well – cards to be sent, people to appreciate, special services to plan for, reaching out to our cities, etc . . .

I have learned over the years that during the busy holiday season, if I fail to plan, I plan to fail. Yes, planning takes considerable thought and time, but it is time well spent. Once you have a clear picture of what needs to be done, you can make it happen a whole lot easier than if you wait for things to sneak up on you and then scramble to get them done.

During this series, I want to share with you how I make a plan and work to accomplish it. The goal of this planning and preparation is not to say, “Look at me, I’m so organized”. The goal is to survive this crazy season with a good attitude and a heart that remains focused on what the season is all about: gratitude, faith, family, friends, and showing Jesus’ love in tangible ways.

Join me for the next couple weeks as I share practical ways to prepare your home, and more importantly, your heart for the holidays.

A good first step is this simple prayer of commitment for the holiday season:

Thank you, God, for this holiday season. It is a time to give you thanks for your goodness and faithfulness. May my heart be truly grateful as I recognize all that you have done for me and the blessings I’ve received. As I make preparations to celebrate your birth, please help me to keep my focus on you. Allow me to make a plan and to not to be overwhelmed with my many tasks, but to serve others with the strength you provide. As the New Year approaches, may I be filled with anticipation of Your faithfulness no matter what the year holds and a sense of excitement about how I will continue to grow in You. I commit this season to You and know You will help me. In Jesus’ Name and for His sake, Amen.

Your Friend in Ministry,

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“Other One Another’s”

Eph 4  32

There are many “one another” verses in the Bible:

Love one another.

Be devoted to one another.

Honor one another above yourselves.

Live in harmony with one another.

Accept one another.

I would like to suggest that the Ephesians 4:32 behaviors of being useful, helpful, kind, compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted and forgiving shouldn’t be just for those who have been brought into relationship with God and each other. There are “Other One Another’s” who, for one reason or another, are on the outside looking in. They do not have a relationship with Jesus or maybe they have a relationship with Him, but need to be brought in to a relationship with you.

Ephesians 4:32 shows us what to do, but how do you practically reach out to “Other One Another’s”?

  1. Ask God to give you a heart that reaches further than your immediate circles (AKA your “comfort zone”). Outreach starts in the heart. If your heart isn’t moved, your hands won’t be either.
  2. Become aware of those God places in your path. Be on the lookout for those God places in your path. Is there someone sitting in your row at church or someone who you have seen around town at your kids school or sports, etc… If God places someone in your path, it is because He wants YOU to be the one to reach out to them. Don’t wait for someone else. You be the one to reach out.
  3. Be quickly obedient to what God asks you to do. I use the word quickly because how many know the longer you wait to do what God asks you to do the less likely you are to do it. The definition of reach is to stretch out, or extend. You will be stretched when you reach out to others. It may be uncomfortable, you may be asked to do things you don’t want to do. Despite the potential discomfort, there is great blessing when you choose to obey and reach out to someone.
  4. Keep reaching until the door closes. Some outreach is a one-time deal. However, there are other times when it will be a continual reaching. Don’t give up. God will give you grace and strength to reach out to “Other One Another’s” either until they are brought into relationship with Him/you or until they close the door on relationship. If that happens, don’t be discouraged, just ask the Lord to begin the process again with another other one another (*smile*).

Why do we want to reach out to “Other One Another’s”? Because Jesus did it for us. Because Jesus showed us love, we get to show that same love towards others.

Because God in Christ helped you, you get to help others.

Because God in Christ was kind to you, you get to be kind to others.

Because God in Christ had compassion for you, you get to have compassion for others.

Because God in Christ was understanding with you, you get to be understanding with others.

Because God in Christ was loving-hearted towards you, you get to be loving-hearted with others.

The ultimate goal is to show Christ’s love. We love with the same love we received.

Who are you reaching out to today?

Your Friend in Ministry,

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