Confessions of a Bewildered Gift Giver

gift-giving

Hello, do you like my gift?

I was recently invited to a ladies’ Christmas luncheon. I was excited about going, except for one detail—everyone was asked to bring a gift to exchange.

Perhaps you are someone who finds it enjoyable to purchase gifts for others, even those you don’t know well. Perhaps I am the only one whose stomach tightens at the thought of selecting a nice-but-inexpensive gift for some complete stranger.

Perhaps, although I suspect I am not alone in my gift-giving angst. Continue reading

Counting the Days: 7 Twists on Advent Calendars

Photo Credit: savanasdesign Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: savanasdesign Flickr via Compfight cc

Back in my day, we counted down the days to Christmas with an advent calendar. These days kids can download an app or visit a site like the Christmas Clock that ticks off the seconds.

However we count them, there are only 25 days left until Christmas. How will you spend them?

Here are seven fun takes on the advent calendar that will help you make the most of your December days and boost your Christmas spirit.

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How to have a great Thanksgiving weekend in ten easy steps

angry turkey-face

HEY YOU! Don’t get so stressed over Thanksgiving. At least no one’s going to eat you.

Wishing for a perfect Thanksgiving holiday?

I’m not.

Instead, I’m hoping for a satisfying weekend–one where I can laugh, catch up with loved ones, play a few games, and eat yummy food.

Here’s a few suggestions to help your Thanksgiving weekend be more satisfying and less stressful. Continue reading

Start Today

Do something today that your future self will thank you for.

The future starts today, not tomorrow. Pope John Paul II

We all have things we would like to accomplish in life. We would like to be a better person. We wish we could spend more time doing things that bring joy to our souls. We hope for the day when our dreams become reality.

Have we done anything to reach those goals today? Continue reading

20 Ways Your Words Can Make a Difference

words-make-a-difference

What we say matters, because words are powerful.

Our words can make someone’s day, or ruin it. We know this, but how often do we use our words intentionally to give life and hope to the world around us?

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. -Mother Teresa

Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble. -Yehuda Berg

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A Secret for a Freer Life: De-accumulate

de-accumulate

We all tend to live “ash heap lives”; we spend most of our time and money for things that will end up in the city dump. Francis Schaeffer in No Little People

Not a pretty picture, is it? All our precious possessions in a smoldering heap, surrounded by piles of everyone else’s refuse. And yet, much of what we accumulate will one day end up either thrown into a dump or recycled into something else.

Not that owning stuff is bad, of course. We all need clothes, coffee cups, and car keys, but our attitudes toward our stuff, and our reasons for accumulating more of it, are probably a little warped. Continue reading

Are You Making the Most of Your Fall?

making-the-most-of-fall

Many people claim fall is their favorite season. They love the fall colors, the crisp temperatures, the apple cider and pumpkin spice everything.

But fall is already zipping by. In fact, before we know it, the holidays will be upon us. We’ll be deep into decorating, gift buying, and holiday concerts. Too deep to savor the simple, cozy pleasures of autumn.

And that’s a problem. Continue reading

Why Is It So Hard to Be Myself?

Identity: why is it so hard to be myself?

Will the real me please stand up?

Sometimes I wish I were someone else.

Someone younger. More fashionable. Better at networking, or singing, or gardening. Someone without my imperfections, quirks, or weaknesses.

In other words, sometimes I’m not happy simply being myself.

It’s all too easy to compare myself to others and wish I had their finer qualities. To be frustrated because of who I am not instead of celebrating who I am.

Why is that? Continue reading

Do I Like My Empty Nest?

Photo Credit: beeep via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: beeep via Compfight cc

An empty nest means saying goodbye to the kids.

As in, letting go.

Letting go of our kids isn’t easy, is it? Even when they’re grown.

And yet, as parents our main goal is to raise our children in such a way that they will grow up to be independent, capable adults. Which means letting go is part of good parenting, whether we’re seeing them off to the first day of kindergarten or helping them move their worldly possessions into an apartment.  Continue reading