Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Top Posts of 2016, Plus That One That Went Unnoticed

Top in 2016
As 2016 draws to a close, I am excited to provide you with some of the top posts for the year, plus one of my favorites that ended up under the radar and is worth visiting if you haven't yet had the chance.

1.  A Good Enough Advent is a short post about giving up our lofty and maybe unrealistic goals and finding what works for each of us. You can read it here. It is short and simple as things really need to be this time of year.

2.  One of the most personal and also most clinical posts of the year was my post-hysterectomy write up. I think I must have the write search-words for that post. If you or someone you know is thinking about a hysterectomy they should read this. Or you too if you are into reading about the nitty-gritty! You can find it here.

3.  Being a Bricklayer (here) gets the award for the least descriptive title ever.  It is about finding balance in our lives and learning to take things one day at a time. I have renamed it Focusing on Today: Learning to be a bricklayer. I really loved this one!

4.  The post Tattle-Tailing on your Friend's Kids provides some tips for navigating that uncomfortable conversation we all have to have sometime. I wrote it after a friend had to tell me about my daughters mis-deeds. Oh the opportunity for humility that parenthood provides us! Read it here. 

5. and 6. As I looked through the titles I came to realize I had two very similar titles that thankfully did NOT have the same content: How to Survive the Seasons of Parenthood and Surviving the Seasons of Motherhood. The first (here) is more about accepting the changes of parenthood and redefining our normal (rather than pining for our past life).  The second post which I renamed Transitioning through the Transitions (here), is about the constancy of the changes in parenthood. I love this post because with 4 kids it seems like someone is always dealing with something major (but thankfully still minor in the grand scheme of things).

7. How to Make a Catholic Education Affordable (here) was written for a link-up on Catholic Education. It has a lot of tips and links to education support/grant/scholarship opportunities and is super practical.

8.  The best one that went unnoticed is certainly the post Teaching Forgiveness (click here).  In it I discuss the importance of learning to say you are sorry.

You can read other's great Top 2016 posts over at Revolution in Love (click here). My friend Bobbi has opened up her site for all of us so be sure you check some of my buddies out there. Thanks for your interest and support in 2016. I am looking forward to much more writing in 2017 so tune in next year for more. Until then, thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Good Enough Advent: No more Advent fails

This time of year, as advent draws to a close, it is easy to have a heavy heart about what I call my Advent Fails.  The advent wreath that was lit once (yes once), the mad scramble to purchase gifts, spending more time making sure thing are even and balanced under the tree than on the thoughtfulness of each gift, the prayer journal that has many, many more blank pages than it does completed ones, and the utter exhaustions that comes from running at sprint speed for a marathon season.

But take a minute (just a minute because you have cookies to bake), and give yourself a break.  Look into your heart and ask yourself three questions –

Have I spread Joy?

Have I sought Peace? 

Have I shown Faith? 

Have I brought Hope?

God doesn’t care if your advent wreath was lit each night.  God doesn’t care if your packages have perfect bows. God doesn’t care if your house is adorned in Christmas lights.  What counts this season is what is in your heart, and how you show that to those around you. 

Today I was determined to bake gingerbread men with my girls. Why? I don't know. It seemed like a good idea.  We are gluten-free so baking in rare and more complicated and generally less satisfying that it used to be. But I found a recipe... and two hours later I was near tears. Stupid stupid stupid gingerbread men. I don't even like gingerbread. I don't know how people make them so pretty.  Mine are sticky blobs. And then my sweet third-born said "Mama that is the best gingerbread Santa I have ever seen!" My girls didn't care that they were ugly blobs. They were having fun.

Intentions count. So does attitude. God knows what is in our hearts.

I am not saying blow off Advent, quite the opposite - Strive for more, but strive for the right things and the right reasons and realize that there is no such thing as a perfect Advent because should all be striving towards more. Strive to have peace in the unrest. Strive to keep perspective about gifts and giving. Strive for what is really important. So we didn't get the nice lights up outside. Oh well. Maybe we can take some walks around the neighborhood instead and enjoy their lights. 

Strive to do a little more, but also a little less of the stuff that distracts you from preparing your heart for His coming. If we do this right, then each year we may feel like we want to do just a little bit more spiritually than we did last year - and that is a good thing. 

Be intentional about what you do today. Maybe you bake gingerbread cookies, maybe you don’t.  Chat with the Lord throughout the day. Pray while you bake or wrap or shop. Buy a little meal for the guy on the street with a sign. Don’t make it complicated. Spread joy, seek peace, show faith and bring hope.

And hey, if you don’t light your wreath this year, finding Advent candles will be one less thing you will have to do next year when the season comes back around.

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