thanksgiving

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.

3 Ways to Make Thanksgiving a Verb

imagesWe all know thanksgiving should be more than a day to gather with family and eat too much turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie only to drift off into a tryptophan induced coma. The truly grateful see it as a verb. When it comes to our churches, it is tempting for the entire holiday season to come down to a series of services that celebrate what we should be living out every day of our lives. So, let’s “talk turkey” about giving thanks (Sorry, couldn’t resist.).

Here are three simple suggestion for engaging your family, small group and/or congregation in making thanksgiving a verb…

1) “Thanksgiving Crash!” Set a specific date and challenge everyone to post about something or someone they are thankful to God for on your personal, family or church’s social media sites. The only people not happy about this one may be your Social Media Team if you succeed in the “Thanksgiving Crash!”

2) Thanksgiving Letter. Challenge everyone to write a letter expressing gratitude to someone who has played a major role and had a big influence on their lives for Christ. They can email it, message it, or… they might even take the time to write it, fold it, stamp and mail it. There is still something to having and holding documents of significance. And, a letter that says, “I thank God for you!” may just be that for someone in your life.

3) Thanksgiving Offering. Prepare a space in your home or a table (or multiple stations) in your worship center. Decorate it simply so the focus will be on the centerpiece… an empty “Horn of Plenty.” Then, create “My Thanksgiving Offering” cards that everyone can use to write something they are thankful to the Lord for and then place it in the “Horn of Plenty.” ThankOfferingCard Make it a goal for the horn and table to overflow with thanksgiving to God for His amazing grace and love.

This year, make Thanksgiving a verb as never before. Take your gratitude to a whole other level with these simple ideas. Have other ideas? Leave your suggestion in the comment section below!

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.