I am a terrible goal maker. I'm horrible at getting clarity and then following through. Last year I decided I wanted to run four 5ks during the year. I looked them up, started running a bit...and never even did one.
Oh, I know all about S.M.A.R.T. goals - I've taught it to my kids. I just don't have the follow through- which means that they aren't developing it, either. Ugh. I've gotten pretty frustrated with myself lately: not following through, avoiding hard stuff and letting someone else (usually my amazing husband) pick up the slack. I hate that I do that!
So this month, I decided to get serious about fixing myself. I purchased Michael Hyatt's 5 Days To Your Best Year Ever course on deliberately planning for the new year. I just started it yesterday, so I am still learning, but one thing about it has really struck a chord and I am seeing changes in my life already.
He talks about having cynicism about ourselves. About my feeling badly that I don't follow through, am often lazy and have little self discipline--and not being totally sure that I can overcome it. I mean, I have hope, but that hope is also tinged with past failures.
Do you ever feel that way about yourself and the issues you have, or am I the only one?
Stocking stuffers are a dilemma for a lot of us. We get our kids the regular gifts under the tree, but what to fill those stockings with?
Underwear and socks are certainly necessary, but not really exciting. A ton of candy is not ideal either. And since most of us are budget conscious, we don't want to spend a ton of money, since we already purchased the other gifts. Plus, would it be too much to ask if the stuffers didn't have to be homemade, but would still be memorable and were helpful and practical to boot? And big. Some of those stockings are huge!
Enter The Best Stocking Stuffer Idea Ever. I'm serious, I love this idea.
My sister-in-law asked me for some Christmas movie recommendations. She wants to watch something Christmas-y, but doesn't know what, exactly. I thought that we could all learn from each other, so I will post my favorites here, and I would love it if you would post your favorites in the comments!
I'll start with the lighter, fun stuff, and you'll see that I tend to favor older classics over newer movies.
1. It's A Wonderful Life: Yes, it's black and white...but PLEASE don't let that throw you! What do you think: do the small good deeds you do really matter, especially if you feel like a failure in the big things? Jimmy Stewart faces a crisis and because of it, wishes he had never been born. A quirky angel named Clarence comes to show him what life in Bedford Falls would have been like if George Bailey (Stewart) had never existed. This is a fabulous, feel good movie we watch every year without fail.
2. Miracle on 34th Street: Also in black and white, Maureen O'Hara and young Natalie Wood are at their finest. A jaded mother and her daughter discover that Santa really is real, and the USPS helps provide a Christmas miracle for a young lawyer who is defending Santa Claus in court.
3. The Bishop's Wife: I'm talking about the OLD one (sensing a theme here?). Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston star in a remake of this (love them both!), but really, can anyone beat Cary Grant and Loretta Young? I think not. David Niven is a bishop whose relationship with his wife is in trouble. Help comes in the form of a dashingly handsome and charming angel who helps convince the good Bishop that he should focus on what is most important- or he might lose her.
4. Arthur Christmas: This is a recent animated movie that I completely fell in love with. Life as part of the Claus family is more complicated than you might imagine. Father/son relationships are strained, and Arthur is often overlooked since he is clumsy and definitely not cool like his brother Steve. But when he saves The Day, everyone can see his value. This is a charming, wise cracking movie that has uber cool elves and a sweet ride for Santa. But at the end of the movie, your heart will be touched. And right now, it's less than $4 on Amazon!
5. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: Need I say more? I grew up watching this every December, and now my children do as well. Plus, who does't love Burl Ives?
7. A Muppet Christmas Carol: Now, I have to admit- I'm not a huge Muppets fan generally. But two of their movies that count as classics in our home: Treasure Island and A Christmas Carol. This movie is filled with puns, silly antics and of course, Michael Caine as the perfect Scrooge. Kermit the Frog is Bob Cratchit and he and Tiny Tim are amazing and simply heartwarming-even if they are muppets. This is a must-watch for our family every Christmas season.
8. White Christmas: Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney (she is George's aunt), Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen are so talented, it's a little ridiculous. Two famous singers meet up with two sisters and decide to put on a show to save the business of their former army general. Of course, they find love along the way. Love this movie and the songs- especially the "Sisters" number. ;) It's a perfect Christmas movie.
9.Meet Me in St. Louis: Not your typical Christmas movie (it is mostly about the world's fair), but the Christmas scenes are fabulous. It is also where Judy Garland debuted the beloved "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" song (my favorite!). Another bonus: the clothes are A.MA.ZING.
10. Scrooge: Do you musicals? If so, you will enjoy Albert Finney in "A Christmas Carol". Songs like "I Hate People" (a great song for the end of a bad day) at the beginning and "Thank You Very Much" at the end will stick in your head. The Amazon reviews for this movie are practically all 5 stars!
11. The Shop Around The Corner: Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan hate each other. But unbeknownst to them, they are falling in love during Christmas through anonymous letters. This is "You've Got Mail" before Meg Ryan was born or even thought about email.
12. Holiday Inn: Bing Crosby is lazy. So he decides to open a hotel that is only open on the holidays- because really, there aren't that many of them. He hires a lovely assistant who Fred Astaire and he both fall for. They sing and dance their way through a whole year of holidays, but it is the debut of "I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas" that really put this movie on the map.
13. Dr. Suess's The Grinch Who Stole Christmas: Because no Christmas movie list would be complete without this movie- it's a no-brainer!
If you are looking for movies that focus on the true meaning of Christmas, here are some other ideas:
You can find excellent Bible videos of various stories of Jesus Christ's life here. These are especially helpful if you enjoy reviewing, reading or acting out the story of the Nativity on Christmas Eve, as many families do.
Mr. Kruger's Christmas is about a lonely old man (Jimmy Stewart) who re-discovers the true meaning of Christmas. It's a little dated, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Jimmy Stewart.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has amazing Christmas concerts every year that are also available on DVD. They have guests like the Candy Bomber, David McCullough, Sissel, Natalie Cole, Jane Seymour, Tom Brokaw, John Rhys-Davies and even Sesame Street! The music, dancing and story telling is superb. They are definitely worth checking out as well.
Did I miss any? I know your family will have different favorites than mine does. It seems like The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe also makes it in the mix sometimes. What Christmas movies are a "must see" tradition for you? List them in the comments!
"The Greatest Deception Men Suffer Is From Their Own Opinions"
If I had to choose one book, only one (excepting religious texts) to have with me for the rest of my life, I would choose Leadership and Self-Deception. It is written by the Arbinger Institute and I adore EVERYTHING they do.
Have you ever known a... special someone... who thought the reason things in their life were wrong was because of EVERYONE ELSE, when really, they were the one causing their own problems? I'll bet they were exceptionally good at ticking people off and causing a ton of problems for everyone around them as well. Know anyone like that? Yeah, me too.
Have YOU ever been that "special someone" (and maybe not even known it)? I totally have. And I still am. I have stomped around the house saying that the house is never clean because my kids are slobs. But MY room is not clean. When I think everyone else is grumpy and misbehaving, it's really me that is grumpy because I stayed up until 1am reading a book. When I complain that my teenager is not listening to me...have I really listened to him?
Sometimes (read: USUALLY) WE are the problem, but we don't KNOW that we are the problem. This is called self-deception and this book helps us to see more clearly. It all starts with self-betrayal.
When we betray ourselves, we are "in the box". This means our vision gets distorted, we deceive ourselves and we end up being "that person". I'm not doing a great job of explaining this (I'm probably just confusing you), so just get Leadership and Self-Deception already. Really. It is life changing.
I find that I have to read this book every year, at least. It is so easy to betray myself. It is super easy for me not help someone when I feel I should because I am "too busy", because they were a jerk or because it should be someone else's turn. Or maybe to just view people as objects that are in my way, or problems that need to be solved.
I do this all the time. But being aware of it, and reviewing it often helps me to get better at it. The great thing about this book is that it is an easy read. It's in a story format and even my 11 year old understands this deep concept that they teach so brilliantly.
Buy this book, get it from the library, or borrow it from a friend and read it now. Give it to yourself for Christmas. It will change your life, I promise.
P.S. A Tip From One Who Knows: Don't give this book to anyone else unless they ask for it. I fell in love with it and gave it to a lot of people for Christmas one year. I totally offended everyone- they thought I was telling them that they were in the box! (And truthfully, maybe I was, now that I think about it.) True story- it was bad. :(
By Rachel Nielson
The first time that I saw Gogo, I was standing with my back against a crude brick wall, leaning into a pocket of shade under the hot African sun.
I heard her before I saw her. “Oh, thank you, Jesus! Oh, Jesus!” she was calling. And when she came around the corner, her wrinkled hands were clasped, her face tilted up toward heaven in praise.
She was wearing a navy stocking cap, a brown sweater and long skirt—and she reached out to each of us American visitors as if we were her family, squeezing our hands and whispering her thanks to God that we had come.
Christmas is many things to many people: snow, presents, Santa, gingerbread men. But really, it's only about one thing: celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I love this video because it shows parallels between how Jesus served and how we can serve. This year, my church is celebrating by doing an advent calendar of service. And they are inviting everyone to join them! It's already begun, but it's not too late to start!
If you go here (scroll down a little), you can see the days of service and the themes associated with them. Things like honoring your parents, feeding the hungy, and lifting others' burdens.
This project is perfect for families, and what's great about it is that all of the hard work has already been done for you! Each day's theme has a mini video that goes with it, scriptures that reinforce the principle being practiced, and practical ideas of how to serve in that particular way. It is an easy way to create a meaningful Christmas and really get into the spirit of the season.
In a perfect world, we would all act like this every day, taking opportunities to notice and take care of those around us. But...we're not perfect. However by using this calendar, we get a little closer to that perfect world and perhaps we can start a new habit that will carry into the new year.
You can find both the video and the calendar here. Gather your kids together, get them involved and start today- I am, and I would love to hear of the experiences your family has!
Proud to be an
affiliate of these wonderful partners!
Do you have an awesome resource you want us to share with our readers? Great! Let us know here.
"We want to illuminate the sacred meaning