Tag Archives: sustainable living

We Already Have It, We Already Know It, Just Ask.

The morning of December 26th, I asked my kids what they wanted to do.  “Go shopping!” was the universal answer.

I’m sorry, what? Do you SEE all the toys literally at your feet amongst the clutter of paper and boxes? You can’t play with these for even a DAY before asking for more?

We see the ridiculousness of this mentality so easily in our kids, but how often do we see it in ourselves?

As the New Year dawns, we are full of two things: resolutions and clutter. Accomplish these, throw away that.  Acquire this body, get rid of these old things.  Learn this new skill, stop doing that.  Pursue and purge.

And according to most magazine covers, this effort will involve a shopping trip (for organizers now!), a gym membership, and a class of some sort.

What if instead we just started playing with all the toys at our feet?

Yes, the boxes and wrapping paper need to be recycled, and if something is broken in our lives or closets, it either needs to be fixed or thrown away.  We can start with that.  But instead of looking at everything we own and are as being inadequate, why don’t we just start USING what we have?

You have a perfect body already.  You just need to USE it, and it will reveal itself.  You’ve already been given the great advice on how to solve your problem- just take it..  Your shelves are filled with life-changing wisdom and entertainment in the form of books you’ve already bought, just finally read them.  Start with the Bible.

But what if, after we’ve inventoried our house, our bodies, and our lives, we realize we still don’t have enough to get us started?  Stop and Ask.  Don’t go out and shop.

That network of love and support we crave and so often ignore is also supposed to be used, and within it is all the help and advice and abundance we need- we just need to pay attention to it, and use it.  When I didn’t know what books to read this year, I asked my Facebook friends.  Since I don’t have any of them, I’ll ask my local library, who will give them to me for free.  That tool you need to complete your task? One of your friends has it and considers it clutter.

But more than anything else, we absolutely cannot, must not cut ourselves off this year from the greatest resource we have and are ignoring: our God.  Just look at the promises of abundance so many of us (myself included!) walk away from, every year:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5)

“Every good and perfect gift is from above.” (James 1:17)

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2)

“If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us- whatever we ask- we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14)

 We cannot spend another year walking away from grace, peace, wisdom, and “anything (good) we ask for” while spending our time, energy, and money trying to acquire it on our own, only to throw it away.  Every gift we need is right in front of us, and being offered to us- let’s just recognize it, appreciate it, and use it!

Knowing THAT makes it a guaranteed Happy New Year!

This week:

  1. Walk around your house, and inventory what hidden blessings there.  What do you already have that you just need to use?
  2. Who in your life do you need to simply pay more attention to? Make a list and start today.
  3. What do you already KNOW you need to be doing to have the life you were meant to have? Don’t go beyond the obvious.
  4. What are your stumbling blocks? Who do you know that can give you advice, guidance, and support on them?
  5. Find your Bible.  Decide today, if you haven’t already, to start using it as a primary resource for everything you need.  If you don’t know how to start reading it, ask, follow a lectionary study, or, at the least, you can follow my quick guide:
    1. For learning the core of the Christian message, read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)
    2. For quick, handy advice: James and Proverbs
    3. Other easy, digestible books: Philippians, I and II Corinthians.

I wish all of us a year in which we recognize what amazing gifts we have at our fingertips, and use them to create Love, Peace, and Joy in ourselves and in our world.


Sustaining Christmas Joy and Gratitude

After more than a month of decorating, baking, shopping, wrapping, and entertaining, the moment arrives: Christmas morning.  The sheer number of hours put into this moment, not to mention the balance on my credit card, already set the tone in my mind:

They had better appreciate all of this.

I still make my kids wait in agony at the top of the stairs while my husband and I  leisurely walk down to make sure Santa has come, make a cup of coffee, and fiddle with the video camera while they writhe in psychological pain upstairs. (This is one family tradition I won’t give up- my own parents made us wait one Christmas morning for my grandparents to drive in from 2 hours away.)

Then we open the floodgates.  We await the squeals of delight we recall from our own childhood and hugs of gratitude as our thoughtfulness, personal sacrifice, and insight into their deepest hidden desires is revealed.

It comes, and it’s beautiful, but it fades.  Quickly.  And it’s not as loud as we heard it in our minds last night at 2am while we were putting together that !@#$% toy.  In fact, we see that fabulous gift tossed aside as we notice greedy eyes cutting over to sibling’s hands and potential hidden crevices under trees, and see the joy slowly get replaced by disappointment and entitlement.

And then it’s over.  Time for breakfast.  I’ll get the bill in the mail.

Then I hear the words that nearly make me go ballistic: “Mom, what can we doooooooo now?”

Ladies and gentlemen, I vowed that day never to repeat this scene, and we are all going to help each other avoid this fate this Christmas season.

n the past few weeks, we have already discussed preemptive strikes against this mentality by first cutting out what we already know doesn’t work for us during the holidays, then stretching out the parts of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Advent that are in line with our values and give us sustainable joy.  Last week, we covered some practical ways on how to do this using inexpensive, environmentally sensitive, and authentic methods that are meant to help us and our loved ones slow down and appreciate the gifts of contentment, love, and gratitude.

Now let’s figure out how to make Christmas last beyond 8am, December 25th.  Here are my ideas- would love to hear more from all of you:

  1. Involve our children more in the process of preparing and giving: We all need to stop doing so much FOR our kids at Christmas and start doing things WITH them.  Have them earn and purchase, or make, gifts for each other, extended family, and you, and wrap themselves.  Their decorations should be decking the halls, not just ours.  And they should be waiting just as much as we for squeals of delight and gratitude upon unwrapping their gifts.
  1. Schedule time, and ways, to use the gifts we will receive.  Making time to celebrate each gift you know someone will receive is a wonderful way to foster appreciation and gratitude.  After allowing everyone to play with the gift of their choosing, plan over the following days ways of giving each gift the attention it deserves.  Play the board game.  Don’t make your child beg for you to find time to extract the action figure from its wrapping – tell him exactly when you’re going to do it, and then play with it with him. Plan a family outing to use the binoculars and flashlights found in the stocking.
  1. Use, celebrate, and share our gifts for 12 Days.  The bulk of the school holiday occurs after Christmas, and even those of us who have to work know that very little usually happens this week.  The number 12 is holy- think about what was accomplished with just 12 disciples, or in 12 months last year.  For the 12 days following Christmas, we can plan ways to celebrate and share our abundance:
    1. Have a “Boxing Day” party either Christmas night (make it “Boxing Day Eve”) or December 26th in which everyone brings a gift to donate, either as a “White Elephant” from that morning (a little sensitivity caution here!), an old toy, or a truly meaningful, themed drive for those less fortunate.  Ask everyone to bring leftovers from their abundance of food, too.  No new spending and cooking needed.
    2. Plan play dates and coffees to share toys, sweets, and gifts.
    3. Schedule a family service project now that you have time.
    4. Put together a family scrapbook and journal of everything you did last year, and look at pictures and video together.
    5. ????? What else could you do with the gifts of time, treasure, talent, and togetherness in these 12 days?

Have fun with all of this- there are so many more wonderful ideas I’m sure you could all share.  The holidays are to be fun, and as today’s Psalm lectionary reading states, we are to “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.” (Psalm 100:4). Anything we can do to spread this attitude in ourselves, our families, and each other will truly make this season abundant.