Christmas

Holiday Survival Guide

Unknown-3Let’s face it, the frenzy of the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons seem to come earlier and move faster along with a “Christmas Wish” list that grows almost as long as the lines at the mall. Then there are the obligatory events, parties, concerts, fundraisers, year-end meetings, and a new year beckoning for us to be at our visionary and resolved best as leaders.

How do you keep from getting caught up in the merry madness? Here are 5 ways to survive the holidays, maybe even enjoy them again…

1) Declare your intentions now. Talk about your desire to avoid the mayhem this year with your spouse, kids, lead team, co-workers, etc. Ask them for input into how, together, you can avoid the overkill that so often accompanies what one classic song describes as, “The most wonderful time of the year.”

2) Plan on doing (and spending) less and experiencing more. This doesn’t mean taking a page out of the “Christmas with the Cranks” playbook with an all-out boycott. It does mean choosing to say “No” to some otherwise festive events that, collectively, only serve to bring out the “bah-humbug” in all of us. And, why not opt for more thoughtful and less expensive gifts for your loved-ones and friends? This may just start a trend everyone will be grateful for and happy to follow.

3) Eat less, exercise (and sleep) more. Determine to enjoy your favorite holiday foods in moderation and to stay active. And, no, “Black Friday” doesn’t count as aerobic exercise. Get the rest you need by going to bed a little earlier and, when that rare opportunity presents itself, take a “power nap.” Why wait until the New Year to resolve and live healthier?

4) Serve together. What if you gathered your family or small group and traded a day looking for a parking space and standing in crowded lines shopping for an afternoon volunteering at a homeless shelter or evening caroling at a nursing home? Do this with no other agenda than to be a blessing to others.

5) Hit the “pause” button often. No, we can’t always drop everything for several hours. Still, be intentional about some 15-30 minute moments of reflection daily, social media free! Make a list of all the people and the things you are most thankful for. Read the Christmas story (Luke 2) slowly and reflect on what “Immanuel, God with us” really means to you.

You don’t have to settle for merely surviving this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Determine to take back this holiday season and discover again the true reasons for the season.

Glad Tidings!

Image-1“Glad Tidings!” The expression evokes days of old when life was simpler. Images of warm hearths and hearts, children playing, carolers caroling, halls trimmed, the smell of sweet spice filling the song-filled air… at least in the movies.

Here’s the real deal we need to challenge from as leaders…

The world is in trouble. There is evil. Life is hard. Everything from too much month at the end of the money, loved-ones getting cancer, to the increasing scourge of global terrorism, we are constantly faced with the facts of our fallen world. Is there any good news to be heard in the world today? Are there any glad tidings as in days of yore? YES! Now, more than ever!

There is a Savior. The angel, Gabriel, first came with these “tidings” to the priest, Zechariah and his wife, Elisabeth. They would have a son who would be the one to bring yet more tidings, preparing the way for the one the prophets had spoken of. Somehow, it just sounds better “old school” in the KJV…

“And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.” (Luke 1:11-19, KJV)

These glad tidings were a whisper of hope leading to a roar of victory by the One Gabriel spoke of, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

What does hope sound like in a world so broken? How do we herald these tidings to those all around us who are hurting so deeply and searching so desperately?  In Glad Tidings Part 2 we will explore how to share “…good news of great joy…”

5 Ways to Avoid the Merry Madness

images-19Are you ready for the holidays? The Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons seem to come earlier and move faster along with a “Christmas Wish” list that grows almost as long as the lines at the mall. Then there are the obligatory events… parties, concerts, fundraisers, year-end meetings, and more. How do you keep from getting caught up in the merry madness? Here are 5 ways to take back the holidays…

1) Declare your intentions. Talk about your desire to avoid the mayhem this year with your spouse, kids, lead team, co-workers, etc. Ask them for input into how, together, you can avoid the overkill that so often accompanies what one classic song describes as, “The most wonderful time of the year.”

2) Plan on doing (and spending) less and experiencing more. This doesn’t mean taking a page out of the “Christmas with the Cranks” playbook with an all-out boycott. It does mean choosing to say “No” to some otherwise festive events that, collectively, only serve to bring out the “bah-humbug” in all of us. And, why not opt for more thoughtful and less expensive gifts for your loved-ones and friends? This may just start a trend everyone will be grateful for and happy to follow.

3) Eat less, exercise (and sleep) more. Determine to enjoy your favorite holiday foods in moderation and to stay active. And, no, “Black Friday” doesn’t count as aerobic exercise. Get the rest you need by going to bed a little earlier and, when that rare opportunity presents itself, take a “power nap.” Why wait until the New Year to resolve and live healthier?

4) Serve together. What if you gathered your family or small group and traded a day looking for a parking space and standing in crowded lines shopping for an afternoon volunteering at a homeless shelter or evening caroling at a nursing home? Do this with no other agenda than to be a blessing to others.

5) Hit the “pause” button often. No, we can’t always drop everything for several hours. Still, be intentional about some 15-30 minute moments of reflection. Make a list of all the people and the things you are most thankful for. Read the Christmas story (Luke 2) slowly and reflect on what “Immanuel, God with us” really means to you.

You don’t have to settle for merely surviving this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Determine to take back this holiday season and discover again the true reasons for the season.