Celebrating Life

I don’t know about you, but so many I’ve talked to in the past few weeks tell me they feel like they're still recouping from the holidays.  I was in Cracker Barrel Restaurant and gift Shop a week before Christmas and noticed a salesperson displaying Easter décor. Another employee was displaying summer garden items. I couldn’t help but comment, “Well, you’d think we could at least get through Christmas before we start putting out the rabbits and butterflies!
It makes you wonder if you should be singing Here Comes Santa Claus or Here Comes Peter Cottontail!”  I even suggested I might think about creatimg a Happy Everything Wreath since all the holidays seem to run together.

All three of us laughed at the truthfulness of what has become (in my humble opinion) an almost bazaar way of celebrating the holidays. The phrase, “Less is more,” has become a powerful thought that comes to mind when I see the opposite in marketing and merchandising of the seasons. Being in retail for several years when I owned my own antiques and gifts shop, I learned from going to market how the art and brains of retail marketing work. Always months ahead, the driving phrase of the market screams, “More is more.” And it’s a mindset with visuals that spill over to the consumer a message of hurrying and preparing for another holiday before the current one is even over.

Something deep in my soul remembers the good ole days of childhood when holidays weren’t hurried. In fact, it seemed they’d never get here. The old phrase “slow as Christmas” simply doesn’t fit in this new, fast paced, market driven world. The same part of me that remembers, also grieves a lost simplicity,reverence,and innocence of what was once reflected in those special days.

Almost everyone I’ve talked to in this New Year says they rushed through Christmas, felt they couldn’t get everything done, and are still exhausted. And so here we are, at the end of January, striving to begin a new year with a renewed spirit, and new sense of purpose and peace.

How do we get there while recovering from the past few months of overdoing? For me, nothing about a new year seems right unless I stop, take time to reflect on the important things of life, display them on paper, and resolve to keep them before me.

I start each New Year with four things. Prayer, a new calendar, a new journal, and a new devotional book. All things that help get me back on track and hopefully keep me centered and balanced.  Along with reading my Bible, I look forward to reading a devotional each morning and writing my thoughts and observations of life in my journal each evening. I try to focus, not on the things I can’t change each day, but on what and who is constant in my life.

You may have written a long list of resolutions for 2010. And you may be well on your way to accomplishing many goals and dreams. But there are times we are just as guilty as the retailers who display too many “things” way too soon. I confess—I’ve made those kinds of resolutions myself –only to pack the guilt trip suitcase months later when none of them panned out. That’s a trip I’ve resolved not to take again.  Resolutions are fine as long as we don'gt allow all of our “doings” to keep us from being—and taking time to soak up all the little wonders of life that whisper to your soul the secret of real, abundant living.
If you’re needing some inspiration for the new year, consider the thoughts and resolutions below from my own journal, or write your own.  And before you celebrate holidays in this New Year, resolve to keep Santa in the sleigh until Christmas is over, Peter Cottontail hopping, not speeding down the right trail, and above all else—Jesus first and glorified in the everyday celebrations of your life.

Have a blessed New Year!
My Favorite Life Verse

For in Him we live, and move, and have our being.
Acts 17:28

1. Embrace each day as a gift.
2. Resolve to slow down, hurry less.
3. Determine to live life fully awake, with passion.
4. Ask God His agenda each morning instead of squeezing Him into yours.
5. Fill each day with inspiration through music, art, reading, or writing.
6. Renew the art of hand written notes and letters.
7. Remember that life’s greatest treasures are found in the little things.
8. Start and end each day with a thankful prayer from your heart.
9. Sing and dance to the rhythm of your unfolding life.
10. Praise God with childlike passion, with pure and unashamed freedom.
11. Spend time with friends who love to laugh.
12. Make grace your mission statement for all relationships.

Susan Duke
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