Today, we kick off our “Home for the Holidays” series. Over the next few weeks I’m excited to bring you a plethora of inspiration for your holidays from some of my favorite bloggers. From recipes to family traditions to finding hope this holiday season, my blogging friends have put together a fabulous series just for you!
For some, the holiday season unleashes a sense of dread. The pressure to “do it all” squeezes the joy right out of the season. For others, Christmas can’t come fast enough. Whether you are excited for or dreading the season, I hope you’ll stick with us. We aren’t going to tell you how to create the perfect Christmas, but we are hoping to ignite the spirit of Christmas in your heart and help you center your celebration around the birth of our Savior.
For our first bit of inspiration we have the fabulous Mitzi Neely joining us. I met Mitzi this past summer at a writer’s conference. Mitzi exudes generosity. Her spirit is gentle and her heart is full. Mitzi’s desire is to help other’s lighten their load, while conveying the message that nobody’s perfect. Welcome to our series, Mitzi!
I love the holiday season. I’m reminded that gratitude, thankfulness, joy, peace, and love should be embedded in my thoughts and prayers as I start each new day. When I do this, the burden of hectic schedules, a frantic pace, and the stress and strain of a mile-long to-do list fades into the background and what’s most important rises to the top.
The holiday season is a particularly busy time and over the years, I like many women, have tried to balance working a full-time job, spending time with family, maintaining traditions at home, fulfilling outside commitments, attending family dinners, buying gifts, and completing my writing commitments. It’s easy to be exhausted. I hadn’t realized how out of hand things had gotten during the months of October, November and December.
When I started to seriously evaluate the busyness in my life, I realized that much of the list above was because of me. My family is good with whatever décor, because they live by the mantra, ‘less is more.’ My husband does minimal shopping, and he and my daughter are both very skilled at saying ‘NO,’ and that leaves me as the one who is stretched and quietly frazzled at all ends.
So, a year ago I decided I would try something different. I focused on how I could streamline all of the busyness and still be happy with my efforts. For the first time in my 35 years of married life I did not put up the big tree with all the trimmings, and I did not drag out box after box of decorations. Instead, I made choices.
We weren’t entertaining at our home over the holidays so no one would see it. In other words, we were doing the traveling to family events. So I opted for a small tabletop tree that was pretty, yet understated, and from there I strategically targeted two other areas (the mantel and the entry way) that I wanted to decorate, and just focused on those.
With that decision made, I was free to pursue other interests. I love spending time in the kitchen, so I baked more than I had baked in years. I simplified my shopping list, planned and wrote my blogs ahead for the month of December, participated in a couple of church events, celebrated Christmas with family, and then took some time off to rest and relax.
Of course it took preparation and planning to make this schedule work, but what I came to realize was everything I had been doing all of these years was created by me. I simply had to cut out the busyness and be intentional about my focus and my time. And it worked.
Why had I waited so long to make these changes? I believe three reasons are to account:
- First, it was partly because of the ‘I’ve always done it that way’ mentality.
- Second, I had become so skilled at ‘burning the candles’ on all ends.
- Third, I believed I would let my family down.
Turns out, that was my own faulty thinking and unrealistic expectations. But through all of this I realized it was perfectly okay to do something other than what was expected–I could revert to Plan B and be just as content.
All along God had wanted me to plan with purpose and pare down my to-do list. I could hear him saying, “Mitzi, honor your commitment to be intentional with your time.” I’m so thankful when He nudges me to pay attention.
I knew I had to make this change, but I had to give up being in control of my time. I also needed to remember that my time was HIS time. Ephesians 5:16 clearly reminds us to ‘Redeem the time.’ And when I do that, I honor God.
Honoring Him with my time, attitude, actions, and thoughts sure makes for a brighter and more meaningful holiday season.
Blessings & Hugs!
As a treat, Mitzi has graciously included one of her favorite holiday recipes for you and I to enjoy.
Poppy Seed Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour 1 ½ cups milk
1 ½ tsp. baking powder 1 ½ cups oil
1 ½ tsp. salt 1 ½ T. poppy seeds
2 ¼ cups sugar 2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs 2 tsp. butter flavoring
Mix together all ingredients. Beat two minutes. Pour into 5 or 6 greased/floured mini-loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.
Glaze for Poppy Seed Bread
¾ cup sugar 1 ½ tsp. Vanilla
¼ cup orange juice ½ tsp. butter flavoring
Mix together and pour over hot bread. Let stand 30 minutes. Remove from bread pan and package/wrap for gifts.
Mitzi Neely is an inspiring motivational speaker who encourages women of all ages through her experiences and shortcomings. She has been blessed with a passion and love for people that stretches across the generations. Her heart is to lighten your load, while conveying her message that nobody’s perfect. So often God places certain people in your life at just the right moment; whether the reason is to help teach you, help you grow in your walk with Him, or to simply love and lift up others. Whatever your struggle or need, you will find encouragement through her words as she refreshes your heart and renews your joy.
Follow Mitzi at www.peacefullyimperfect.net because the joy of the journey is learning in His word together.