Adjusting Our Christmas Expectations (Guest Post by Shanyn Salinski)

Photo by Shanyn Salinski

She asks me every year for the past couple of years, “Are you coming Christmas Day or Boxing Day?”

She knows the answer.  Our family day is Christmas Day. For us, just us three.

She asks him every year for the past couple of years, “What time will you arrive?”

She knows the answer. When we get there, we’ll be there. We try to get away in good time. But with gifts, animals, weather and traffic the journey becomes something fluid.

Being there. That is what matters.  

Not when. Not with how much, or how little. 

Standards the things that we own.  Spending time as a family. Having a Special Christmas our own way.

Expectations the things that want to own us. Get here quick. Hurry up. What took you so long? Get done. We want to do something else. 

We have set a family standard for how we try to conduct ourselves. How we choose to celebrate holy days like Christmas.  Like letting people wish us the best of the season in their own way. Like slowing down, like saying no. And sometimes saying NO!

We have worked hard to reject expectations. Of ourselves, and of others – and that`s tough.  We are bombarded with expectations in the media, in our devotionals, at church and by our friends and family. Do this. Do that. Say this. Say that. Don`t. Do.  STOP! STOP!

But how hard is it to let go?  So hard. We WANT that TV movie Christmas, even the comedy. We WANT the ___________________.  (Fill in your own blank!)  And yet when we find ourselves with what we have, right in front of us, we find exactly what we need.

Playing with new toys. Reading new books. Napping. Not cooking. Not traveling. Those matter to us. Talking about Jesus, and the reason we celebrate. Praying for those who are far away, and those who are ill. Lonely. Struggling.

Standards – seems like some get lower and lower all the time. While, in perfect harmony, the expectations get higher and higher.

Jesus was born in a barn. A barn, in a manger. His young parents held him in the dark, smelling the breath of animals. Hearing the songs of angels. God set the standard right there – Jesus came to save everyone. No one was too low. Too humble. Too dirty. Too hopeless. Too ANYTHING!

People who knew prophecy had expectations of a King. They had high expectations of the one who would come to save THEM.   God crushed that expectation with so much love, with such a gentle hand. He said no. And then He said come.

If you could drop one expectation this year, what would it be?  Buying gifts for people you don’t really know because they are ‘family’?  Spending too much because you don’t want to be accused of being ‘cheap’?  Rushing here and there to please someone?  Not being able to say no because you’ll be letting someone down?

If you could raise one standard this year, what would it be? To sing more carols? To shout greetings out the window as you drive downtown? To make cookies and squares to share? To seek joy and embrace it? To be able to say, with love, no?

I challenge you to embrace something new and wonderful for you this Christmas season!  If you are alone, reach out to someone. If you are rushed, slow down. If you are tired, rest. If you are stressed out, do something silly. Make a list of your expectations – and give them to God.  Surrender them and let Him fill you with joy.

Shanyn blogs from her farm house in western Manitoba, surrounded by her critters and the wild animals who inspire her writing and photography. She blogs at: http://sunflowershan.wordpress.com; and http://mystic-mom.blogspot.com and has contributed to a number of magazines and blogs. She is a Son Follower who is married to her best friend and has an amazing son. 

Shanyn is an inspiring blogger, poet, and soul sister. An encouragement to many, including me, I am grateful to include her in our Inspiring Women Series for this special Christmas post.  Shanyn was also interviewed over at dVerse Poet’s Pub this past week- be sure and pop over to check it out! 


Are You A Perfect Homemaker? (Guest Post by Susie Jackson)

Credit

One of my very favorite bloggers to turn to for homemaking encouragement for my domestically challenged mind is Susie Jackson of The Homemakers Journey. I asked Susie to share a bit of her special style of inspiration for my readers (and ME TOO!) and know you will be blessed by her sweet perspective. A special thank you to this sweet bloggy sister and friend who despite a difficult season in her life came through to share a few words of wisdom today. I know you will love my friend, if you have not already met her here she is…the Homemaker Mom, Susie Jackson!

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The homemaker sets the tone for the home. They help bring balance to the family unit. Are homemakers perfect? No way! But, no matter if you’re a woman who works or is home full time, your home is your home and you’re a homemaker either part time or full time. Some, who stereotype women, think homemakers are the perfect housewives that can sew, make meals from scratch, can foods, grow a garden, keep a perfect home, look perfect etc. All those things are very good & worthy, but as a full time homemaker I used to think I was not a true homemaker if I didn’t do those things. There is pressure sometimes, even on moms who are home, to measure up. I would long to do those things and do them well. I would see other homemakers who seemed perfect with all their domestic skills and felt guilty. I would feel as if I was not a true homemaker when I would not measure up. But life is truly a journey even if you ‘re at home. We women carry guilt we should n’t.

Sometimes we, as ladies, look at others to measure up when we should only be looking at Jesus. 

Our jobs as homemakers is not to sew perfect, garden perfect, look perfect, clean perfect, decorate perfect.

Ask yourself, are you: 
praying daily for your family? 
Are you bringing peace and balance to your home in any way you can? 
Do you take care of your families’ daily needs? 
Do you tend to your home? 
Are you setting a good example for your kids? 
Are you raising your family in the Word of God? 
Are you trying to keep them safe & healthy? 

Then guess what you’re a great homemaker momma! Do not feel guilt. We are not perfect- only Jesus is and he wants to help us to be the women of God he called us to be. What matters is what Jesus thinks of you not the ladies at the PTA meetings. So focus on what really matters and do not feel guilty for opening that box of hamburger helper instead of making a five star meal! 

*Susie is my honorary guest and latest addition to The Inspiring Women Series find all of the Inspiring Women Posts at the Contacts Tab, or just click HERE.

**Susie Jackson is a mom of 2 teens with a few babies waiting for her in heaven. She loves God, family, home, to many hobbies & the journey life brings. She is a blogger and mom brand ambassador@ http://www.homemaker-mom.com

Start Each Day with God {Inspiring Women Series: Catherine Galasso-Vigorito}

Friends, I want to introduce you to one of my favorite authors. Catherine Galasso-Vigorito is a truly inspiring and uplifting writer who you need to know! I am honored to welcome her as the first in my posts in the Inspiring Women Series for 2013. This is the first of two parts. This is a wonderful guest post for the New Year and next week I will be sharing Part two which will be an interview! I found Catherine’s book “A New You” a few years back and fell in love with her wonderful style of sharing faith based wisdom. Catherine has just released a brand new book called The Open Window: 8 Weeks To Creating An Extraordinary Life which I am hoping to read soon! Details are below.  It is my honor and pleasure to introduce you to the lovely Catherine Galasso-Vigorito.

“But this thing I did command them: Listen to and obey My voice,
and I will be your God and you will be My people;
and walk in the whole way that I command you, that it may be well with you”  (Jeremiah 7:23).
There was once a man who brought love, joy and hope to everyone around him. Although the man had his share of challenges, he was always optimistic, and daily looked for ways that he could be a blessing to other people.
One afternoon, an acquaintance who had observed all the good the man had done in his community, questioned him, “How are you always so helpful and happy? What is the secret to your continual joy and optimism?”
The man smiled at his acquaintance. And with an angelic-like voice, the man spoke, “My mother was a great positive force in my life. When I was a young boy, my mother asked me to make her a promise.”
“Well,” the man continued, “I probed, ‘Mom, what is it? What do you want me to promise?’ But, my mother wouldn’t say anything until I gave her my word that I would always carry out what she asked.”
The acquaintance hung on the man’s every word, waiting in anticipation, anxious to hear the rest of his story. “So,” recalled the man, “I assured my mother that I would do as she requested and she looked at me with love in her eyes and said, ‘All I ask is that you promise me that you’ll start your day with God.’
With tears in his eyes, the man declared, “Carrying out the promise that I made to my mother has completely changed my outlook on life, for starting the day with God is the secret to my joy.”
Each day is a gift. So let’s spend a few minutes each morning giving thanks to God. Let us devote time praising Him, pondering on the great things God has done in our lives, and all the joys, friendships, and opportunities that await in our futures. In the Bible, there’s a narrative of two sisters named Mary and Martha. One day, Jesus stopped by their home to visit. Instead of visiting with Jesus, Martha was actively working around the house; while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to him talk.
Martha objected to the fact that she was left to do all the work and was frustrated that her sister, Mary, was not helping her. Hence, Martha went to Jesus and complained, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10: 38-42). What Mary chose to do was of more importance. For all that was needed to be done, was to sit at His feet and hear His Word.
Accordingly:
·         Take time to pray: God loves you. He hears your prayers and wants to give you the desires of your heart. Today can be a new beginning. Thus, ask boldly and believe for new blessings in the days to come. God is leading you forward to your breakthrough, and He is with you every step of the way. John 14:14 says, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
·         Meditate on God’s Word: Choose a short passage and throughout the day think about its meaning. You have the potential to accomplish great things, and you’re close to seeing your dreams come to pass, so don’t give up nowJoshua 1:8 says, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful…”
·         Call to mind past experiences of God’s faithfulness: If God has brought you through difficulties before, God’s goodness will carry you through successfully again. God has not finished His work; He has more in store for you. Hebrews 10:32 says, “Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering.”
In spite of what you are facing, trust that God will come through for you. Do your part, giving your best effort, and then put your confidence in Him. For with God, all things are possible, even during a moment in time when your hopes and dreams for your life seem distant.
A dear friend of mine recently had some medical tests and the results were cause for concern. After he heard the adverse health news, he refused to give into worry. Rather, he followed the doctor’s recommendations and remained his same positive self, keeping his thoughts and words faith-filled and optimistic. A few weeks later, when my friend returned to the doctor’s office for an examination, he was told that his new tests came back normal. The doctor said, “Whoever your angel is, keep him! And continue doing what you’re doing!” Overjoyed, my friend exclaimed with thankfulness, “What I do, is pray to God every morning.”
Daily, take hold of the peace, joy and victory that God can provide. Trust His capable hands. Praise and bless everything and everyone. There are amazing possibilities ahead. And this joy will last and last and… last.


The Open Window 8 Weeks To Creating An Extraordinary Life
America’s bestselling author and inspirational columnist Catherine Galasso-Vigorito brings practical Biblical advice and true, modern-day stories to serve as illuminating encouragement in the face of life’s challenges.

Filled with encouraging true stories, rich Biblical passages, and pragmatic words of wisdom, The Open Window provides workable suggestions and concrete ways to help deal with the challenges of life. This unique devotional offers strengthening principles for difficult circumstances, as well as stories of encouragement that reveal how times of adversity can become windows of opportunity—if we can see that a window is open.
Featuring eight weeks of daily guidance, The Open Window will show how, with faith and trust in God, one can take focused steps to look beyond present difficulties and find the Light that is shining inside. In a captivating voice, Catherine Galasso-Vigorito shares personal moments from her own life as intimate examples of persistence. Recommended for individual or group study.

                  *Free Downloadable Teachers Guide available Here: Turner Publishing-Guide 

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The Inspiring Women Series {how to give birth to a dream}

The Inspiring Women Series actually came about from something I had a desire to start many years ago at my church. I am a naturally inquisitive girl who likes to ask a lot of questions. I enjoy finding out about how people come to their conclusions on topics and beliefs. As a newly married chick, I thought it might be good to pick the brains of some of the women at church to find out all I could about, faith, marriage, life and their unique perspectives on each. I shared the idea with my Women’s ministry leader who loved it and encouraged me to go ahead and do it with her support. I would interview a list of women at the church and team up with a few others to share with the congregation through a bulletin. Unfortunately it did not come to fruition at that time but when I began blogging, a new list of women began to emerge in my mind. As you read yesterday, the 30 day challenge allowed many more ideas to come forth from this fertile little mind garden of mine. Think of writing as a garden. The more tending and nurturing the more growth and harvest! I started to realize that since this was not my full time career (and I was out of work) I may as well be bold! I chose women, not for their level of celebrity but for their unique ability and gifting to inspire and touch others in their specific expressed vision. I became bold in my asking and  received all “yes” answers much to my delight and surprise. The Inspiring Women Series found it’s way into the Blogosphere last November and I have been greatly blessed by the sharing from each of the women who honored me with their yes! 
Here is a list of the women and their guest posts or interviews,
starting with the initial prompt that initiated to BIG PUSH!

Inspiring Women Announcement and Post

Jenny Penton: Creator of Planner Perfect, Homeschooling Mom and Inspiring Woman! Jenny wrote about her vision to encourage women to plan their lives with purpose and she gave three excellent tips to apply immediately-don’t we all love practical tips that we can use right away?
Jenny’s Post

Susie Klein blogs at Recovering Church Lady and is my sweet co- host for the Random Journal Day link up!
I was inspired by a post that Susie wrote which shared from one of her own journals. I contacted her and asked if she would like to start a link up based on the idea since I am a compulsive Journaler! She concurred and immediately delegated the details to me and Wala! Random Journal Day was born! Susie wrote a post for December last year and it is the Most Viewed post on my blog to date! A blessing for the season awaits you in the reading!
Susie’s Post

Penny Price is a former Ms Olympia Contestant, fitness model, nutritionist and coach. Back in my competitive lifting days I appreciated women who maintained a level of femininity and grace and class in a complex and complicated sport dominated by men and without clearly defined judging standards. There were a handful of athletes I admired and who epitomized what I hoped to accomplish at that time. Penny was sweet enough to grant me an interview and I was blessed to have the opportunity!
Penny’s Interview

Dianna Sanchez is a freelance writer and editor who shares at Beauty In The Storm. Dionna wrote an encouraging women’s newsletter called Emphasis on Moms which was my first connection to online/internet Christian women connection. Dionna shares at these places: A Woman of PurposeEveryday Christian,
Beauty In the StormInfluencing Lives BlogA Lasting Foundation Blog. Dionna wrote a guest post that was perfectly timed for me last year called “Things Change”.
Dionna’s Post

Rudy Galdonik spoke at a women’s event at my church and I enjoyed her storytelling style and humor so much I just felt like I wanted to know more about her! Rudy is truly a gifted speaker and her stories are memorable! I still remember the details of the story she shared about lightning bugs and her son’s hike across the Appalachian Mountain Trail his Senior year of High School!
Rudy’s Interview

Dawn Stegall heads up an online Scrapbook Site called Faithfully Yours which offers heaps of inspiration for spiritually minded scrapbookers through the act of Faithbooking. Dawn also offers personal encouragement through a Facebook group where members share projects and prayer requests!
Dawn’s Interview

Sharon Linder is a multi-talented woman who has put her business savvy and entrepreneurial spirit to work by designing a unique women’s patient gown (in place of the dreaded “Johnny”) and offering a portion of proceeds to help women get mammograms who are not able to get them otherwise. I know Sharon personally and I promise you she is one of the most inspiring women I have ever met! You must check out Janes  and Sharon’s coolness for yourself! 
Emily Wierenga is an author, artist, speaker, God loving, soul baring, fellow blogger and all round female superhero: mom & wife. She recently authored Chasing Silhouettes which chronicles her journey to healing and offers insights and support for those who are dealing with a loved one who has an eating disorder. 
I now want to announce the return of The Inspiring Women Series starting with a wonderful guest post tomorrow! You don’t want to miss it! It just might inspire you to give birth to your own dream that is sleeping within. 
Look for authors, artists, entrepreneurs and many more inspiring women in the New Year!
Please come by tomorrow for a very special guest and guest post!

*This post is part of The 12 Days of Blog Posts, weekends and Wednesdays in December!*

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Heart Cry {Event Invitation}

“Restrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, 
for there is a reward for your work, declares the Lord, 
and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. 
There is hope for your future, declares the Lord, 
and your children shall come back…” 
Jeremiah 31:16-17
It’s almost time. 
The clock is ticking.
Our Summer days and relaxed schedules will be the 
sweet memories we look back upon during the Fall and Winter.
Yes, I just said that!

Fall, as you know means back to school for our children.
Some children may be entering Kindergarten, some college-
but you know what they all have in common?

They all need Moms who pray.
One more thing. 
We all need to be Moms who pray!
How would you like to spend one morning, 
seeking God for His vision
for your children and your motherhood 
for this coming season, 
this school year?
Come worship, praise, pray and let your heart cry out with other 
moms and women in various seasons of life to the 
God who hears our hearts clearly.
Come catch some God-Sized Inspiration for your Mom
 journey this year at this interactive, uplifting event!

Top Ten Reasons for attending 
HEART CRY

10.   The cost is so reasonable. 
$10 at the door
$ 5 in advance 
(contact  Heartcry2012@yahoo.com)


9. Children’s sports not started yet!   
Save the date: September 8th.
See event flyer HERE 

8. Light breakfast refreshments provided 
baked by some wonderful chefs-
Yum!

7. Doors open at 8:45AM and we will be done by Noon.

6. Located close to the seacoast. 
It’s a perfect location for you and your friends (fellow bloggers?)
to head to the ocean for a bag lunch and fellowship before your trip home. 


 *Held at Eliot Baptist Church, 
912 Harold L. Dow Highway (Rte 236) in Eliot, Maine. 
Eliot is within 15 minutes of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, 
and only 6 minutes off of RTE 95.

5. Great opportunity to praise and worship with 
women who love the Lord from all over New England!

4. Incredible group of worship leaders, 
with the focus being on Jesus, the King of kings!

3. Preparing for the year ahead: 
 Gathering together for this event and being reminded that prayer 
is essential in a world where the enemy and our culture 
battle for the lives of our children.

2. A great introduction to the  Moms in Prayer  experience. 
Praying shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart.
You will come away ready to pray your way through 
whatever comes your way this school year!

1. A time to unite our hearts in prayer !

On behalf of Sharon Gamble, Moms In Prayer and all of my fellow praying Moms,
please join us as we come together to pray, rejoice, seek and enjoy His presence!

I am planning to be there;
 will you join me?

*Sharon Gamble 
New England Regional Director 
Moms in Prayer International 
603.740.4113 
NewEngland@MomsInPrayer.org 
www.MomsInPrayer.org

 *Learn more about this very inspiring Facilitator
and Leader under my FAITH TAB!

*Gently modified for blogger/reader user friendliness 
from Sharon’s Top Ten Reasons To Attend Heart Cry
 e-mail 



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