Sunday, 12 November 2017

Simplifying Advent this year


If you have been following my writing for a while, you will know that I LOVE Advent. Each year I plan out intentional ways for me and my family to mark this season and celebrate to the full. (You can read more of my advent posts from previous years here.) This year is going to look very different. Next week, I am having shoulder surgery and will be very limited in function for many weeks. In the midst of trying to get through the everyday challenges this will bring, I don't want to miss the opportunity to celebrate Advent. This is especially important to me for the sake of my daughter. Every year we make memories together over our Advent activities. Her little world is being turned upside down and I want to provide some fun and stability in the midst of it all.

My previous years' plans have been jam-packed at times. This year, I have had to consider what is most important in this season and what will be achievable, without losing the real meaning of why we celebrate. Maybe you are wanting to look at celebrating Advent but feel lost as to where to begin. Maybe you feel overwhelmed at all the other events you have coming up but want to be intentional in having some focus on Advent in the midst of it. Maybe my plans will help you to find one thing to try this year.

(You will find an Advent planner template for download below to help you to figure out what your Advent will look like this year.)


If you have young children, I cannot recommend this highly enough. It is an inclusion every year for us and will be part of our plans again this year. If you have the time, the craft activities included for each day are easy to make and so worth it. If you are like me and needing to keep it completely simple this year, there are printable ornaments that can be coloured in and even a printable tree to stick them on. Click on any of the images below to purchase your own ebook and printable ornaments. (This is an affiliate link that gives me a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. It helps to support my writing.)





I have treated our family to a new Advent book and it has a pop-up tree! Each day there is a family devotion and a little ornament to hang on the pop-up tree. I can't wait for this to arrive. 

Kindness Angel

Most years we have included Kindness Angel activities as part of our Advent. This has been with the purpose of focusing on others in the midst of a season that can so quickly become about us. To be honest, I don't know if I will get to this. I am keeping this one as a plan in mind depending on how my recovery is going. It will take some creativity and extra planning to make happen as I will not be driving during this time. I encourage you to make a plan to include some sort of activity that draws your family's focus away from the busyness and commercialism that can take over and look at how you can bring joy to others.

In the past few years, I have used a personal Advent devotional for myself on top of what I do with my family. This year, I am giving myself grace. There are so many great options out there if you are wanting one for yourself. 

No matter whether you have elaborate Advent plans or completely simple, they can be swallowed up in the busyness of this time of year. The planner below will help you to stop and think now and allow you to be intentional and prepared. Include events you want to attend together like Christmas parties, Carols in the Park or Christmas light viewing to make sure you don't miss any of them and make your plans achievable.





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Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Work out what brings you rest


Many of the posts over this series have had this idea of true rest at the core. I am discovering in my own life that prioritising rest is even more important in busy seasons. Ironically, activities that I find restful and recharging are usually the first things that get dropped at these times. With this year seeming to accelerate as we near the end, I am reminding myself to make rest an essential in my everyday life.

Rest might look like spending more time in silence and increasing the whitespace in my days. It may look like getting creative. It will definitely look like switching off devices and getting to bed at a good time. It may look like taking care of myself physically through good nutrition and exercise. It may look like connecting with friends. Rest incorporates all of these and more. None of us has the same rest needs as another. What fills my tank won't be the same as yours. Only you can work out what recharges you and make the time to do these things.

In these last days of 2017, when end of year activities and Christmas events draw on our reserves of energy, make sure you are doing all of this from a place of rest. That is what sustains us.

Thank you so much for being a part of this Write 31 Days Challenge with me. I have loved using my words to encourage and uplift and will continue to do so, although not daily! I hope to write more regularly and finish up some projects I am working on to be able to share with you in the coming months. If you want to stay in touch, please add your name to my email list so that I can include you in my emails. 

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Inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt word: rest. It was written by Five Minute Friday guidelines- five minutes of free write without editing. Making this series achievable this week!
This post is part of a series for Write 31 Days called "For Your Encouragement." 

You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.


Monday, 30 October 2017

What areas of your life need to be refined?


What areas of your life need a little refining? I have been reflecting on some areas in my life that have been good but need to be fine tuned to be great once more. I have habits in place that help me to spend time with God each day but they need to be refined to give me more uninterrupted time. I need to look at the times of day I set aside and how these can be adjusted to new seasons of life.

Ways that I clean and seek to keep my house in some semblence of organisation need looking at as well. I have refined some of my habits, like doing dishes after each meal, to claw back little moments of time and space that impact on my headspace. What might I need to look at next?

Relationships are another big area that I feel the call to work on. I've been married for almost 13 years now but know that our relationship needs constant refining and tuning up to be strong and healthy, getting rid of the junk that builds up and amping up the connection and intimacy. It is the same in other family relationships, friendships and even in connections online that mean a lot to me.

It can be easy to think we have "arrived" and figured things out. The reality of life is that it is never that simple. We never fully arrive. We can take that as a discouragement or see it as abounding opportunities to refine our lives to be better, healthier and more well rounded in small little steps each time.

Inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt word: refine. It was written by Five Minute Friday guidelines- five minutes of free write without editing. Making this series achievable this week!
This post is part of a series for Write 31 Days called "For Your Encouragement." I am taking requests from readers on what they want encouragement about and responding to the best of my ability. I would love to hear from you.



You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.




Sunday, 29 October 2017

Some encouragement from Ephesians


These verses have long been part of my favourites. This version highlights them in a different way for me. It highlights my part in this- not the effort that I need to make or the willpower I need to generate but the role that God has for each one of us to be part of the amazing things that He is doing. He invites us into that. It doesn't stop there, though. He transforms us from deep within to be able to do what we need to in this plan. He won't force this on us. 
This week, my post on the fear of having missed your calling hit home for some. This is the verse that I want to share with you especially. His plans are far more than you can dream up or imagine. It might not look like what you have imagined. He invites you into that. Will you accept His invitation and allow Him access to do the transforming work within?

This post is part of a series for Write 31 Days called "For Your Encouragement." I am taking requests from readers on what they want encouragement about and responding to the best of my ability. I would love to hear from you.



You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.



Saturday, 28 October 2017

How can you connect with someone today?


What has blessed me the most in writing through this series has been the connections with people. People that I didn’t think would connect with my words have commented and reached out to me. It has been a privilege to see my words make that connection between our hearts and our experiences. It has been a reminder that so much more connects us as people than divides.

Connections can be through our words, a smile, a touch, a hug. So often we think in big terms but it is in these little everyday moments that deep connection can be formed over time. I don’t want to miss any of those opportunities to connect. I am preparing a talk on phone addiction for a group and it has reminded me again of how damaging it can be to those connections with my family and friends. I don’t want to be so absorbed in a screen or in my busyness and expectations that I miss an opportunity for my heart to connect to another.


Where do you have those connection moments in your day? Have you been neglecting any of them? Maybe we can spur each other on to value those simple moments and be intentional in making connections with others. Seek out those opportunities. Be brave and bold.

Inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt word: connect. It was written by Five Minute Friday guidelines- five minutes of free write without editing. Making this series achievable this week!
This post is part of a series for Write 31 Days called "For Your Encouragement." I am taking requests from readers on what they want encouragement about and responding to the best of my ability. I would love to hear from you.



You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.




Friday, 27 October 2017

Do you fear that you have missed out on your calling?


When the dreams of our youth haven’t eventuated, have we missed out on our calling? I struggled for years believing that I had missed out on what God had planned for my life because of choices that I had made and pathways I had taken. I came to a place of settling in my mind that I would never have that calling and would live out my days with a consolation prize type of life. The ideas I had in my teen years seemed forbidden to me, that I was disqualified. Maybe you can relate to that in some way.

I think it was this feeling and belief that has made the leadership journey of the past few years seem even more out of the blue and unreal. It may not look like the picture I had in my head as a teenager. It may not be what I had ever imagined for myself. And yet I know that I am living out my calling for this moment. I am living in my calling by being a mother. I am living in my calling in the positions I hold. I am living my calling in the quiet moments alone that no one else sees. I have had to challenge the belief that I am not qualified time and again. I have had to challenge the notion of what I thought my calling would look like in order to step into what it is now.

What has stopped you living out those ideas you had in your youth? I think that would be the place to start. If it has only been fear or the belief that you aren’t good enough, maybe you need to start with seeking out the truth of who you are and the strength that you have. If you have taken steps and made choices based on what you felt led to at the time, maybe you are exactly where you have been called. It might just look different than you expected. If you are in a season of feeling restless and dissatisfied, my experience is that there is something new on the horizon and you’d better get prepared.

Comparison is a dangerous trap in this. We can look at someone else and the path that they are on and think that we have missed out. We might see amazing things going on for another person or in an organisation and fear missing out on being a part of that. We have to question deeply if we are trying to insert ourselves into someone else’s calling or actually following our own. Do we devalue where we are at because it isn’t the “bright and shiny” stage that we had hoped for or see for someone else. Each of us is on a unique journey with unique timing. I am learning that so much of a journey is done in the mundane, seemingly boring parts of life. So much of our calling is developed in those secret, out of sight places. The visible results and “shiny” parts of a calling are not the full picture. Never underestimate the importance of where you are right now.


This tension in you may be a call to take another step forward. It may be an invitation to overcome the fear holding you back. It may be an indicator that you need to be fine tuning your self leadership and everyday life to be ready for something that is ahead. It may also be a call to challenge the perspective you have on what you are doing that is actually what God has called you to, even if it looks different. Nothing we do takes God by surprise and His pathway rarely looks like you expect.

This post is part of a series for Write 31 Days called "For Your Encouragement." I am taking requests from readers on what they want encouragement about and responding to the best of my ability. I would love to hear from you.



You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.







Thursday, 26 October 2017

How do you face change in your life?


I was doing a personality assessment recently and one of the questions was around how you deal with change. We as humans beings don't tend to like change although some handle it better than others. Change tends to leave me feeling unsettled and off-kilter and yet I am in yet another season of changes once more. I have taken on a new leadership role for next year and possibles changes in other areas too. I am realising that this has allowed me to become more adaptable and less dependent on feeling in control. I guess that is why God has brought about so many changes year after year. 

Do you resist change when it comes up in your life? Do you go with it or fight? What changes are you facing in this next season of life? We all have them whether big or little. The key that I have found is having a foundation that is completely stable and dependable. The more I trust in that, the less I am rocked by change. Maybe it is that foundation that you need to work on. 

Inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt word: change. It was written by Five Minute Friday guidelines- five minutes of free write without editing. Making this series achievable this week!
This post is part of a series for Write 31 Days called "For Your Encouragement." I am taking requests from readers on what they want encouragement about and responding to the best of my ability. I would love to hear from you.



You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.