7 Tips for a Meaningful Holiday Season

You want a good holiday season. But you’re a human holding tough things. So how can you–and all of us–enjoy the holidays? Here’s 7 practical tips I believe will help all of us live the holidays fully and without regret.

1. Create boundaries.

When I say create boundaries, I mean it. Create them everywhere and be ruthless. Social media, entertainment, how you spend your evenings, your morning routine, all the things you can think of that need intentional care. We should always have boundaries in our lives, but during the holidays it’s good to reevaluate and adjust where needed. Create boundaries that clear clutter out of your mind and help you more easily choose the valuable ways to finish your year well. Without extra noise, you will have the capacity to slow down and savor your life as it is today, and this makes your holidays much more meaningful. Read more

Garden Delights & Surprises from God

I believed this year would be one for tending all the things already in my life. And I was right. To an extent. But God has given me so many more gifts and invited me to be a part of so much beauty. At some point, I realized there were surprises I needed to record.

Things like roses going into my flowerbed before next spring. I didn’t even plan to have a flowerbed, but I watched one too many gardening shows with Monty Don and before I knew it I was clearing out a place for flowers the next time spring came round. I even began to plan and dream for what I may plant there.

But then our nephews brought us rose clippings from their grandmother’s grand rose collection. And now I have a flowerbed with four different roses and another smaller bed for another type of rose. They are doing well and I hope and believe they have had enough time to get a good root system going before the winter season.Before my friend moved away she gave me a wildflower seed packet. I bravely pushed those seeds in a gardening pot only to find a few months later that zinnias were the shining gift. I’ve had dark and light pink blooms. And the zinnias keep coming back!

I even had enough clippings to make a small centerpiece on my table. I dreamed up zinnia bouquets for next spring, but got to enjoy a little bouquet teaser this fall. I love being surprised with gifts likes these!

In August, I intensely pruned my snapdragons and didn’t expect a big show after the fact. I had a woeful spring and summer season with them and didn’t have high hopes. . . only to discover stunning beauty in September and October with the healthiest and fullest blooms I had seen in a long while. Snapdragons hold a special place in this novice gardener’s heart so it was such personal and kind gift from God!

Watching my tiny “rosebush” bloom had my heart singing, “WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES!!”

I think that can be a sentence that sums up this year. What a difference a day makes! What a difference God’s light makes! What a difference God works with His healing and love and presence!

How different my life would be if God didn’t make the difference.

As I head into this season of savoring all God has done and is doing, I can’t help but be thrilled for the joy that is and the joy that is to come. These garden surprises may seem small, but they’ve been such a deep delight. God knows just how to delight His children. . .truly, fully, personally.

Take a moment. Look at your life. How has God delighted you with His presence? His gifts? His healing? His life-filled surprises? The beauty He’s invited you into?

A honky dory holiday fog is not required for you to see the joy, comfort, and hope God is carving into all the heartbroken places of your year and your soul.

Oh, how we can love life because of God. He makes it worth savoring and celebrating even as we hold this tension of pain and blessing while trusting Him with everything. . . our whole hearts, our open hands, our honest questions. In thy presence there is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

And we resolve with Habakkuk, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. 19 GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.”

Let’s taste fullness of joy and trust God with the tension and tragedy we hold. Let’s come with souls filled up and hearts poured out as we give thanks for this unconventional life. Let’s rejoice always and anyway. Let’s do all of this today.

Let’s begin now.

Chapter 11: It Won’t Be Long at All | Part 2

Even though I’ve been running for miles, the meadow is still and unmovable. Just like it’s always been. My urgency is fruitless, so I force my feet to stop moving. Instead, I take in the meadow with my new life-eyes. I turn my head in every direction. I sink my feet farther into the dewy grass. 

And I breathe in deeply. 

Oh, the music that used to play in the sky. Each sunset and sunrise a different tune! I’d dance in fearless joy and sing off-key and my childlike heart to the Light-Maker’s rhythm pleased Him very much. The meadow memories don’t haunt me now, instead they pour over me like happiness.

I become like Young Maryn once again. Read more

Chapter 11: It Won’t Be Long at All | Part 1

My small conversation with the Light-Maker bolsters my strength to endure the wild, unruly Ocean. When my voice breaks fully free again, I’ll offer more words, but for now, I revel in the Maker’s response to me. Joy that rivals the expanse of Ocean spreads between my heart and soul. Peace becomes a part of me rather than just the place I stand and sleep. An entire world of radiance has been gifted in response to my words that came out small and flat. 

Aneta’s strength makes more sense to me. Her perseverance is a result of a thousand great gifts, not her own ability to strive and overcome. There’s another side to thirty years. . .the side where you see healing and joy and bigger life than you could imagine on your own. 

“Well, look at that! You have daffodils now.” Aneta’s voice cuts through the thoughts that have claimed my entire morning. Read more