Thursday, December 18, 2014

5 WAYS TO REALLY 'EXPERIENCE' CHRISTMAS!



5 WAYS TO REALLY 'EXPERIENCE' CHRISTMAS!
And a Easy Yummy Recipe- Don’t Miss It!
Usually, it is right around this time that the press sets in...
You know what I’m talking about – the ‘still have Christmas cards to send, gifts to buy, cookies to bake, a house to clean and plans to make,’ press.  It’s precisely at this time that tensions begin to rise, intentions start to fail, focus begins to wane and joy starts to sneak out the back door…
It’s right at this time, less than ten days before Christmas, that we start to lose perspective…
In November, my husband and I welcomed a beautiful six pound baby girl into our lives.  To say that we have been busy and tired would be a huge understatement.  We are beyond blessed and excited to be a family of four, but if I am being honest, keeping a super clean house, being ready for Christmas and, well, even getting a shower on some days has proven to be a challenge for me...
With that being said, my perspective has truly been a bit off until recently.  In a mad dash to clean my house before company was coming over, I found myself extremely fatigued and frustrated as my two year old was literally under my feet at every single step.  Mix that with a screaming newborn and I am sure you could sympathize with my fleeing thoughts of running away to some remote island by myself!  It didn’t take long however, for my witty two year old to help me see my error.
With all the wonder one could ever muster, his eyes glowed and he said, “Look Momma! Look at the stars!!!” as he whimsically stared at all the dust catching sunlight, as it came through the blinds in our bedroom window.  For five still minutes, he stared at these ‘stars’ as if they had fallen from the sky itself.  I was speechless.

Stars.  He saw stars. I saw mess and felt frustration because I believed my house just might not be clean enough for Christmas guests, that I am sure are not coming for a clean house anyway.  Here I was a half second away from blowing my top, putting him in time out and allowing myself to feel bad about ‘all’ I have going on in that moment, when his sweet perspective gently changed mine.  Staring at him staring at the ‘stars,’ I felt my heartrate slow, my mind clear and in that moment I entered his little world of wonder- only to experience it for myself.  Had I stayed in my hustle and bustle I would have missed it.  I would have missed Christmas too…
This incident only happened a few days ago, but it taught me something that I pray the Lord will have me remember for years to come.
PERSPECTIVE.

In a season known for endless to do lists, busyness and sadly frustration, it is easy to lose sight of ALL that matters this time of year.  To help keep my mind where it needs to stay, I made a list of Christmas songs, which will help me keep the right perspective this beautifully blessed Christmas season.  Maybe this can help you too if you can relate.

1.      My Grown Up Christmas List:  Make yourself a grown up Christmas list.  Not filled with gifts for yourself (although the benefit will turn out to be just that) but a list of ways YOU can be the gift!
 
a.       Bake for a neighbor
b.      Serve food at the homeless shelter (great to do with your kiddos)
c.       Bring coats downtown and hand them out to the homeless.
d.      Sit with your elderly family member, listen with your whole heart, and let them tell you all the stories their heart desires. (you can do this at the nursing home if you have no elderly family members.)

2.      Silent Night: Give yourself a silent night and some time to reflect.  Turn on the old Christmas Carols that mean the most to you, pour yourself some hot chocolate, and be intentionally reflective for even just 5 minutes.  Sit, think and soak in the beauty of the Christmas season.  You won’t regret it.

3.      There’s No Place Like Home For The Holidays:  Home does not have to be your house, but it could be.  Home is the place and time you spend with the people you love most- while doing the most simplest of things.  It’s there in the simplicity that the spirit of Christmas can most sweetly be experienced.

4.      Away In A Manger:  Although many choose not to, true holiday joy cannot be experienced without first accepting the real Gift of Christmas.  Christ is the gift, cliché or not, he is a true historically documented figure that came to the Earth, lived a more than righteous life, performed miracles, was crucified to death only to be seen alive again by hundreds of eye witnesses’…  His birth, His life is the Gift of Christmas. Belief in Him comes with the promise of eternity, joy, fulfilling love and peace in abundance.  Now that’s better than any Black Friday deal I’ve heard of! (People, churches, religions and even I myself have made a mess out of who Jesus really is.  If you do not know Him, please do not let the mess we’ve made of Him dictate Who He is to you.  He would love the opportunity to introduce Himself to you, with no help from any of us, just ask Him.)  Unwrapping His love at Christmas is a gift that truly is priceless.

5.      Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas:  Finally, remember that it is not always the circumstance or trial that is permanent but our memories.  As crazy as this season can be, and as hard as some of our lives are at the current time, usually these things past.  How we respond, the way we allow ourselves to react- that will be what we (and sometimes others) remember most as our Christmas experience during this season.  SO- Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Relax, Reflect and Rejoice in this beautiful Christmas Season!

Quick and Easy Yummy Chocolate Bark Recipe
Make This With Your Kiddos- Make a Memory!  Makes a Great Gift!

Ingredients:

25 Oreo cookies

3 cups white chocolate chips or semisweet chocolate chips (can do half of both)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (use with semisweet chips only)

To Make:

Line a 9-inch-square baking pan with waxed paper. Coat the paper with nonstick spray; set it aside. Pour the cookies into a large bowl and break them into small pieces.  Melt the chips in a large microwave-safe bowl according to the package directions. After chips have melted add extract. Remove from the microwave and quickly fold in the cookie pieces with a spatula. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and spread to about a 1/2-inch thickness. Refrigerate until solid, about 1 hour.

Remove the bark from the pan and carefully peel off the waxed paper. Set the bark on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the bark into 12 bars for wrapping or 24 triangles for boxing.  Store in an airtight container.
 
Because Each Minute Is A Gift, Let's Be Intentional This Christmas Season and
Truly Experience Every Second!
 #MinutesMatter
 

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord...“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Luke 2:10-14


 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Teaching Children about Giving

 
 
 "Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." Matthew 25:45
After an exciting birthday weekend full of gifts and fun my 6 year old walked away with $40.00 to spend however her little heart desired. She was excited (although she didn't really understand the full value of $40.00) she understood it meant she could indulge in more gifts for herself. In the midst of her excitement I decided to reminded her to make sure she gave back to God from her birthday money. With a puzzled look on her face she asked?

"How am I suppose to do that when I can't even see him?"

I honestly can say I wasn't ready for this question. Giving back to God has always been an unspoken priority in my life. I always felt a need and desire to give back to God. So it never occurred to me that I would have to explain to my little one why she should feel the same way. Some parents would have had the PERFECT immediate response. It would have been spiritual and enlightening. Well, I wasn't one of those parents. I looked just as shocked as she did. Rather than give a quick response out of a felt obligation to respond, I decided to take time to seek out the right answer. I knew that this was a delicate topic and could shape her perspective of giving for the rest of her life. So I pondered her question for a few days... 

How do I explain giving back to GOD to a child who has yet to completely wrap her head around how God exist?

After a few days of seeking God  I called my daughter into the dining room and included my son in the conversation. I began to ask them questions about God, our existence and Jesus. I then began to show them the giving nature of God and his son through scriptures and biblical stories. Finally I shared with the mandate God gave to his children to

"Look after orphans and widows in their distress" James 1:27

I explained to them how in our giving we are able to do this.  We looked through pictures of orphan children and talked about the role of a missionary.

I can honestly say that I am thankful I was slow to speak and quick to listen. I truly believe that I have sparked a new passion in my children that wasn't there before and with Gods help given them a greater understanding of why it's important to give.

I'd like to share a few Tips on Teaching our Children about Giving:

1.) Try not to force the concept of giving on your child. God loves a cheerful giver and a child can quickly become unhappy when they give and don't want to.

2.) Show your child the value of helping others through their giving. Show them pictures of those that benefit from the giving nature of others.

3.) Share with them how in giving we can make God smile and proud of us because it shows we are becoming more like him. 

Lastly, as we approach the Christmas Holiday, let's teach our children the value in looking for opportunities to give. 95.5 The Fish sponsored a day of hope late last month and giving to Cross International is still an option. Visit Cross International on the Fish Website to sign up.

Blessings to you and your family and Merry Christmas

Friday, December 12, 2014

12 Days of Fitness

 
This is the BEST time of the year!  Unfortunately, we make it more than what it should be, and it becomes the busiest/craziest time of year!  Our schedules become so full and we hardly have time to breath let alone exercise. So, below I have made up a fun little workout called the 12 Days of Fitness. It's quick and meant to be done everyday for the next 12 days.  Just like the song, start with day 1 with exercise 1 and finish on day 12 with a circuit of 12 exercises.  Above all else, be sure to take the time to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Savior, Christ The Lord!


12 DAYS OF FITNESS


*Make sure with each exercise to pull your belly button into your spine (TVA Contraction) and contract you abs.


DAY 1 - 1 Minute Plank
You can hold on elbows and toes for 1 minute or to modify alternate between toes and knees (toes for 10 seconds and knees for 3 seconds).  Do not let your back sag and keep your belly button pulled into your spine (TVA contraction).

DAY 2 - 2 Minutes of Jumping Jacks
You never have to jump.  To modify, keep your arms moving and step one heel out and back in towards body, alternate between legs.


DAY 3 - 3 Sets of Abdominal Exercises (Reverse crunch, Basic crunch, Heel touch)   

Basic crunch - you want to keep your elbows out and rest hands on back of head.  Do not use your hands to help pull yourself up.  Instead, contract your abs, keep back in neutral position along with pelvis, and lift shoulder blades off the ground and up towards the ceiling. Keeping your neck straight and chin up. 

 












Heel touch - Arms at your sides, raise your shoulders slightly off the ground.  Using your abs rotate our right hand down to your right heel and then back.  Repeat on left side.
 












Reverse crunch - this is a very small movement so you want to contract your abs to lift the hips off the floor rather than swinging your legs and creating momentum.  This is very hard to do so if you are starting out, the modified move is bringing the knees into the chest and using your abs to lift hips off the floor and using momentum is ok here. 


DAY 4 - 4 Burpees
With feet together, jump up in the air reaching hands up.  Land on slightly bent legs, put hands on ground just in front of your feet.  Keep your feet together and jump them back so you land in a push-up.  Jump your feet back in, under your body, and leap up into the air. Modify this by not jumping and stepping one foot back at a time into a push up position.



 DAY 5 - 5 Side Plank (each side)
Lie on your side with your right elbow and forearm on the ground.  Lift your hip off the ground keeping your body in a straight line, tightening your abs and glute muscles.  Hold 1 count and lower right hip back down to the ground for 1 count.  Modify this by bending knees, lift hip off ground pressing into elbow and knees.



DAY 6 - 6 Triceps Dips
Hands at your sides, palms facing down.  Bend elbows to lower your body down off the bench, keep legs straight for more of a challenge.  Extend arms to push your body back up until arms are straight.  To modify, bend your legs and use them for more support.
 













DAY 7 - 7 Mountain Climbers (each side)
Begin in a push up position on hands and toes.  Bring right knee in towards the chest with right foot off the ground.  Bring right foot back and down to starting position and bring left knee up towards chest.  To make this more of a cardio challenge you can pick up the tempo by running the knees in and back out.













DAY 8 - 8 Y Squats
Stand with feet hip width apart.  Squat with arms overhead (forming a "Y").  Keep your knees behind your toes and as you come up, press through your heels back to your starting position.













DAY 9 - 9 Push Ups
Place hands slightly wider than your shoulders.  Raise up onto your toes so you are balanced on your hands and toes.  Keep your body in a straight line from head to toe without sagging in the middle or arching your back.  Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and press back yourself back up to starting position.  You can modify by being on your knees during push up.




 DAY 10 - 10 Forward Lunges
                        (each side)
Stand with your feet about 6 inches apart from each other and your toes pointed forward.
Step forward with one leg and lower your body to 90 degrees with both knees.  Keep your weight in your heels and don't allow your knee to cross the plane of your toes.  Push up and back to the starting position.













DAY 11 - 11 Supermans
Lie face down on the floor with your arms stretched out above your head and your legs extended.  Lift your arms and legs off the floor as if you were superman flying.  Hold 3 seconds and then slowly lower your arms and legs back to the starting position and repeat.
 











DAY 12 - 12 Side Lunges (each side)
Stand upright with arms at your sides.  Step your right foot out to the side keeping toes of both feet pointing forward.  Bend your right leg to a 90 degree angle, squatting down.  Keep your left leg extended straight and your left foot flat on the ground.  Push your right foot off ground and back to center.  
                                











For more helpful fitness tips go to www.get2thecorefitness.com. 

*Be sure to check with your physician before starting any exercise program.