Best Year Ever

I sincerely hope that these 16 things will make 2016 your best year ever:

  1. Put God first. In your life, in your marriage, in your parenting, in your career, in your schedule.
  2. Pray. Without ceasing. Your prayer is never too big or too small.
  3. Adopt a “word of the year”. This word will become your theme for 2016. In 2015, my word was “generosity”. It has been life-changing.
  4. Establish evening rituals. Lay out your clothes for tomorrow, plan your schedule for tomorrow, check your calendar, go to bed at a reasonable hour.
  5. Master your morning routine. Wake up early, pray/meditate, be active, journal, drink lemon water, eat a healthy breakfast.
  6. Set SMART goals. Every goal should be specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-bound. Set goals for the day, for the week, for the month, for the quarter, for the year. Not just for yourself, but for your marriage, for your family, for your career, for your health, for your finances. Write them down!!
  7. Write a personal mission statement. I mean it- and I would love to help you create it!
  8. Own your calendar. Does your calendar reflect your personal mission statement? Schedule down time. Just because Thursday night at 7:00 is open on your calendar doesn’t mean you are “free” for another activity, another lesson or another meeting. Instead- eat dinner with your family, play with your kids, put on your pjs and watch your favorite sitcom. You are only as busy as you allow yourself to be.
  9. Simplify. Embrace simplicity in all areas of life.
  10. Purge to splurge. For simplicity’s sake – purge your to do list, your schedule, your possessions, your wardrobe… Identify things that you can get rid of, stop doing or avoid in order to have and do things that matter. Make sure your daily habits and routines reflect your personal mission statement.
  11. Be a quitter. When you “purge” your to-do list, quit anything that isn’t in alignment with your personal mission statement. If it is something that you dread, it is a waste of your time and/or it doesn’t bring you joy- QUIT IT!
  12. Load up on the good stuff. Good food, good books, good music, good people.  Allow time for “good stuff” for yourself every single day.  Leave no room for garbage- literally and figuratively.
  13. Embrace abundance. You can’t simultaneously have your best year ever and a scarcity mentality.
  14. Cultivate meaningful relationships. With friends, family, your spouse, your coworkers.
  15. Live generously. Be a cheerful giver of your time, talents and resources.
  16. Demonstrate acts of love every day. Kindness matters. The simplest gesture can mean so much to so many. Change your life and change the world.

Be a blessing today.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Confession

I have a confession to make. I’m not a big fan of Christmas music. Does that make me a terrible person? I do have my favorites (yes, Bono sings a few of them). In my defense, right before Christmas I get in the mood for it and could listen to (most of) it all day.

With the exception of this song. I am a HUGE fan of this song. It gets me every time. It is beautiful, and poignant, and heartbreaking, and inspiring and it brings me to tears without fail. It could come on the radio in July and I wouldn’t switch the station. Every version gets me right in the feels. This version, sung by CeeLo Green with video from Roma Downey and Mark Burnett’s “The Bible”, is epic.

Take a moment and give this video your undivided attention. You will be glad you did. Merry Christmas!

Be blessed today.

 

 

 

 

 

Friends

Poor Sheldon! At least he recognizes the importance of making friends, right? You’ve heard the saying, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”. Another saying in the same vein is, “Show me your friends, I’ll show you your future”. I believe this wholeheartedly.

I’m stealing this idea and generalizing it to another area. I believe that the degree to which you are generous/kind equates to the generosity/kindness of the people around you. If my theory is true, it would be physically impossible for me not to be a nice person. I have the absolute most generous people in my life. Can you believe that recently  I received gifts from two different friends for absolutely no reason within 24 hours? Seriously. Two gifts (not for my birthday, not for Christmas) from two different people in two different cities in two separate gorgeous gift bags stuffed with cute tissue paper. It just isn’t fair. I don’t deserve the generosity I receive on a daily basis. It inspires me to bless others all.day.long!

I have friends who send me written notes of encouragement. I have friends who send me text messages that say exactly the right thing at exactly the right time. I have friends who are foster parents. I have friends who adopt children from all over the world. I have friends who visit the sick. I have friends who serve the homeless. I have friends who feed the hungry. I am blessed to be friends with some of the kindest, most generous people on the planet.

Two years ago, I participated in the Chazown workshop at my church. Our pastor says, “Everyone ends up somewhere. Few people end up somewhere on purpose”. It was through this experience that I created my Chazown statement. It is basically my personal mission statement. It goes like this: “My Chazown is to passionately lead and encourage women (sorry guys- don’t tune out) to pursue excellence and inspire them to demonstrate acts of irrational generosity in everyday life”.

One of my action steps for bringing my Chazown to life was to start a lifegroup that would help me to live out this mission. One of my BFFs, Natalie, and I started the Love Gives life group (unlike Jen Hatmaker, Natalie is a real life best friend of mine). This is the description of our group: “Love Gives is a lifegroup for women who share a passion for leading the way with irrational generosity in everyday life…Various books, lessons and activities will be used to explore what it means to be a missionary in our own neighborhood”.

Do you long for more meaningful relationships, or to be more intentional in showing your love for others, or to show more kindness to strangers or to feel more hopeful? “Join the club”. Or, start your own. Surround yourself with people who inspire you, encourage you and share a desire to lead the way with irrational generosity. Simply hang out with super nice people!

Who are the kindest and most generous people you know? I hope they are among the 5 people you spend the most time with. If not, reach out to them (without applying Sheldon’s algorithm, of course). Cultivate that relationship. Meet them for coffee. Meet them for lunch. Start a book club. Start a bible study. Show me your friends, I’ll show you your future.

Be a blessing today.

 

 

 

 

Unravel

Can I just say that I am a little (totally) obsessed with Jen Hatmaker? In my (very active) imagination she and I are super close friends. We hang out, and laugh, and eat, and drink wine, and wear big earrings and she thinks I’m awesome even though I don’t cook or have lots of kids. Ha!

I fell in love with her while reading Interrupted- When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity. Her words inspire me, encourage me and make me ugly cry. Just like the “Pulling the Thread” video. I may or may not have watched it 3 times already.

Through my personal “journey of generosity” I have discovered that what begins with simple acts of kindness in everyday life, can grow into something much greater. Before you know it, you are seeking out opportunities to bless complete strangers. Even when it is uncomfortable. Even when it is hard. Even when people think you are crazy.

When your heart opens to the poor, the marginalized and the suffering- your life is transformed in ways you could never imagine. When you start to “pull the thread” you never know what might unravel in you.

In Interrupted, Jen (I am on a first name basis with my imaginary BFF) wrote, “We have the privilege of serving Jesus Himself every time we feed a hungry belly, each moment we give dignity to someone who has none left, when we acknowledge the value of a convict because he is a human being, when we share our extreme excess with those who have nothing, when we love the forsaken and remember the forgotten. Jesus is there”.

I can’t wait to hear about your journey. Keep pulling.

Be a blessing today.

 

 

In the spirit of full disclosure, I may get a small commission (no additional cost to you) if you decide to purchase anything from the link in this post.  I only recommend products & systems that I use and love.