Saturday, September 29, 2012

How It Works (via Bullet Points & Videos!)

This week's give-away is for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. (It's a Gregory Family tradition to have Daniel read this aloud to us every Christmas Eve...and for him to choke up at the end!)  3 names will be drawn -- enter via the Rafflecopter at the end of the blog post or click here to enter!

Each day in October, Untangling Christmas by Karen Ehman and LeAnn Rice, will be our give-away prize! 


“Why is it that the holidays string us out and knot us up?  This sparkling little book easily and happily untangles it all — so you can do what you really want with the holidays: Tie heart strings.”


Ann Voskamp – author of the New York Times Bestseller, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are


“Reading Untangling Christmas is a better tonic for holiday stress than spiked eggnog! My racing mind took a yuletide break by the fire, my breath slowed down and inhaled the distinct aromas of the season, and my blood pressure thought I was lying on the beach in the middle of summer. If you’re looking for a fun-filled, guilt-free, memory-making, stress-less Christmas…Karen and LeAnn have written the book for you!”

Lisa Whelchel – author of Creative Correction and “The ADVENTure of Christmas”
* * * * * 

I sat down to record a short video to walk us through the steps of The PURSE-onality Challenge "A Holiday-Ready Heart".

Almost 20 minutes later I realized that I failed to make a "short" video!

So, I edited it down to 8 bite-sized segments. Here they are, along with the main points as bullets:

Part 1: Integrated vs. Complicated? + Blog Comments


  • I love pulling several concepts together and integrating them.
  • Others might find this too complicated; do what works for you!
  • I've scheduled time to respond to blog comments and e-mails (which I failed to do in May).


Part 2:  John 15:9-17 and "A Holiday-Ready Heart"

  • In order to be "A woman whose love protects" I must remain in Christ's love
  • Remaining in His love results in joy
  • "A Holiday-Ready Heart" is one that loves others

Part 3:  Using the Bracelet

  • Move the bracelet when ever my thinking needs to shift
  • Change wrists for: Complaining, Criticizing, Gossipping, and using Sarcasm...any "baditude" that keeps me from being "a woman whose love protects"
  • Switch from an "if it bleeds it leads" headline to a thanks-giving headline


Part 4:  Using the 31 Bible Verse Cards

  • Keep the verse of the day nearby -- ready when I need it!
  • Interrupt "baditude" with God's word.
  • Replace "baditude" with God's word.
  • Pausing to focus on God's word makes a huge difference!

Part 5:  "Let's Get PURSE-onal!"

  • This is my message on the four "PURSE-onality" types.
  • You'll understand your basic PURSE-onality needs and the needs of those you love and work with.
  • You'll understand how to better get your own needs met.
  • You'll understand how to adjust your expectations and approaches to others.
  • You'll learn to focus on others' strengths.


Part 6:  The Journal & "Gift Card"


  • Journal invites me to Pause, Pray, Perceive, and Praise
  • Journal reminds me to focus on the strengths of others when "baditude" tempts me to focus only on their weaknesses
  • Journal gives me a place to physically write my prayers, remind myself to seek strengths, and list gratitude
  • "Gift card" is a quick reminder of the strengths of each PURSE-onality


Part 7:  Walking Thru a Real-Life Example

  • Step 1: I become annoyed at Daniel. 
  • Step 2: I switch the bracelet.
  • Step 3: I interrupt my "baditude" with a Bible verse card and replace it with God's word.
  • Step 4: I redirect my thoughts toward appreciating Daniel's strengths via the "gift card."
  • Step 5: I reinforce my gratitude by writing in my journal--I pray for Daniel, I set myself up to seek his strengths, and I put my appreciation of him into words.
  • Changing my mind changes my feelings!


Part 8:  Deciding What Works for You

  • Does doing everything together sound wonderfully integrated?  Great!  Try it and enjoy it!
  • Does doing everything together sound overwhelming? Then only do what you feel led to do!
  • Maybe it's just wearing the bracelet to increase your awareness of "baditude"
  • Maybe it's making your own set of Bible verse cards to get God's word into your mind and heart.
  • Maybe it's listening to "Let's Get PURSE-onal!" and applying that information to your relationships.
  • Maybe it's writing in the journal to focus on Pausing, Praying, Perceiving, and Praising.
  • Maybe it's using the "gift card" and watching for the strengths of the people you interact with.
  • I can't control what will happen in November and December.
  • I can be intentional about pray-paring my heart now. 
  • I will  be a woman whose love protects when I am abiding in His love.
  • I will celebrate Jesus' birth with joy when I am abiding in His love!

Parts 1-8 All Together



Your Turn
  • Any questions?
  • Any suggestions?
  • Anything else on your heart!


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Friday, September 28, 2012

Doing "So That" vs. Responding "Just Because"

It's Warm-Up Week for October's PURSE-onality Challenge: "A Holiday-Ready Heart"!  Here's a handy checklist to make sure you're all ready. (And if you're a blogger, grab the button on the right, let me know you've added it to your site, and I'll add you to my blogroll!)

This week's give-away is for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. (It's a Gregory Family tradition to have Daniel read this aloud to us every Christmas Eve...and for him to choke up at the end!)  3 names will be drawn -- enter via the Rafflecopter at the end of the blog post or click here to enter!

* * * * * 
I don’t want to feel pressured by anybody or myself (especially) to do anything that my heart truly isn’t into! I want to do holiday things because it is valuable to my spiritual heart. I want to do things with Jesus in mind. I want to have a desire to do things because my heart is in it, not because something is expected of me. 

I am negative when I do things without checking in with my Lord first, to see if it is something He wants me to do. If it is something He wants me to do, and I don’t want to do it, then I ask Him to gently change my heart, so I want to do whatever it may be. 

The holidays for me are wonderful and so much fun. But I get bogged down in all the DOING, and lose sight of my heart being in the right place as I am DOING. 

Does that make sense?”  

Ingrid


Makes perfect sense to me!

I’ve been a teacher and a pastor’s wife for almost a quarter of a century. 

For me, December has meant DOING the school Christmas program.

Then DOING the church Christmas program.

Then DOING first semester grades before Christmas vacation started. 


For ten years, I was a Sales Director for a direct sales company.

Up to ½ of my yearly business happened in the last two months of the year. 

So I was DOING as many home parties as possible.

I was DOING daytime boutiques and fairs.

I was DOING last-minute deliveries (often on Christmas Eve!)


How I wish I’d been intentional about having a Holiday-Ready Heart when my children were young. 

They witnessed me scurrying from here to there to somewhere else. I was DOING...
  • so that my employers would be impressed.
  • so that my students would make me look good.
  • so that church members would see me “doing my part.”
  • so that the company would reward me with money, recognition, and a trip to Hawaii.


I wonder what those years would have been like if I’d been responding rather than doing.  Responding not so that but just
  • because of Jesus’ overwhelming love.
  • because of the God-given gifts and unique abilities of my students.
  • because I am part of the body of Christ.
  • because I had life-changing products to share.


I know I can’t go back and change the past. 

But I’m determined to learn from it. 

Having “A Holiday-Ready Heart” means that I’m going to make very different holiday choices.

Less doing.

More responding.


(I’m so done with “so that”!)


Your Turn:

  • What "so that"s seem to drive holiday choices for you?
  • What "just because"s would you rather respond to?
  • Anything else on your heart!


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Thursday, September 27, 2012

3 Steps to Prevent Holiday Stress

It's Warm-Up Week for October's PURSE-onality Challenge: "A Holiday-Ready Heart"!  Here's a handy checklist to make sure you're all ready. (And if you're a blogger, grab the button on the right, let me know you've added it to your site, and I'll add you to my blogroll!)

This week's give-away is for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. (It's a Gregory Family tradition to have Daniel read this aloud to us every Christmas Eve...and for him to choke up at the end!)  3 names will be drawn -- enter via the Rafflecopter at the end of the blog post or click here to enter!

* * * * * 

I really don't want my December looking like this again this year!
When I started reading Stumbling on Happiness a couple of years ago, I didn't expect to have my lifetime of procrastination and last-minute anxiety explained.

I didn't even think I needed (or deserved) an explanation beyond "Cheri's a Sanguine, and Sanguines are flakes."

Here's a new concept I find simultaneously comforting and challenging...and potentially practical for pray-paring A Holiday-Ready Heart.


Far Away vs. Close Up

Gilbert points out that when we see little black specks on a prairie horizon, we recognize them -- visually -- to be buffalo located far away. 

We do not look at them and think, "They are tiny; thus, they must be insects."  The fact that they are vague and blurry signals to our brains that they are far away.


Conversely, we recognize insects not just because they are small but also because we see the wings and legs; we see details!  Visually, we do very well at recognizing that vagueness and blurriness indicate distance while details signal closeness.

When a buffalo comes walking across the prairie toward us, we do not act shocked that it has hooves or fur or eyelashes or other details we couldn't see when it was far away. We know that the closer it comes, the more details we will see.  

This is normal for us, at least visually.


Future vs. Present

However, when it comes to dealing with time –- specifically planning for the future, –- some of us can go “all wonky” (as my daughter would say)!

When I "see" something on the horizon of my future, it's all vague and blurry. 

I have a "feel" for it. 

This vague, blurry feel is typically the why of the future event, and I make my decisions based on that why.

But as that vague and blurry future gets closer, inevitably becoming the up-close detailed present, I am shocked -- positively appalled! -- by all the details I did not agree to! The myriad details of the how throw me into fits. 

Gilbert illustrates this by asking how many times we've committed to something a month or two ahead of time, thrilled by the concept of being (for example) a doting aunt and loving sister: "Yes, I'd love to babysit my nephews!"  

But when the time actually comes, the reality of screaming children, runny noses, and poopy diapers bears no resemblence to what I initially agreed upon because I agreed to the why of a concept not the how of the details

Getting PURSE-onal

Applying this to myself as a (50%) Sanguine, and I’ve got nothing but trouble!  I’m a visionary, so I love saying "yes" to new ideas!  I love the ideas. I love how I expect I’ll feel when the vague, blurry idea occurs!

But as the commitment draws closer, my (50%) Choleric side knows it should be checking details off a list. Well, Sanguine Cheri didn't sign up for no stinkin' details. I signed up for a glorious why

Finally, when disaster is imminent, Choleric Cheri knows she has to take action.  Having procrastinated as long as possible (because Sanguine Cheri wants to bask in the splendor of the glorious why as long as possible before reality comes crashing down around her.) I am then stuck trying to execute dozens, if not hundreds, of soul-killing details in an absurdly short period of time.

To live from a holiday-ready heart, I will pause long enough to take into consideration both the why of a concept and the how of the details before making a commitment



3 Steps to Prevent Holiday Stress

Here are the three steps I'll be taking when I'm invited to make a commitment that I think might be a good fit for me:

1)  I will take time to think. 24 to 48 hours, minimum. (My people-pleasing knee-jerk "yes" has gotten me into too much trouble over the years!) I will set aside time for prayer and quiet listening. Then I'll spend 15-20 minutes brainstorming every possible detail that needs to be dealt with in order for this new commitment to be a success by my standards.

2)  I'll take my list to Daniel and ask him what worst case scenarios I've left off my list. As a Melancholy, he is well qualified to "rain on my parade," and pre-commitment is when I want (or at least need!) to have my spirits dampened.

3)  I will then prayerfully consider whether or not I can say "yes" to everything on the list. Not just the vague and blurry why of glory, but also to all the nitty-gritty details required to get me there. 

If I say "no," thank heavens for all involved!

If I say "yes," then I'll prioritize all those brainstormed details, add them to my calendar, and start chipping away at them so I can actually enjoy the why when it rolls around.


Your Turn
  • Are you more of a "big picture" or "detail-oriented" person? How has this influenced your holiday experiences?
  • When you say "yes" to a commitment, are you typically saying "yes" to the why, the details, or both?
  • Anything else on your heart!


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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What "Headlines" Lead Our Lives?


It's Warm-Up Week for October's PURSE-onality Challenge: "A Holiday-Ready Heart"!  Here's a handy checklist to make sure you're all ready. (And if you're a blogger, grab the button on the right, let me know you've added it to your site, and I'll add you to my blogroll!)

This week's give-away is for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. (It's a Gregory Family tradition to have Daniel read this aloud to us every Christmas Eve...and for him to choke up at the end!)  3 names will be drawn -- enter via the Rafflecopter at the end of the blog post or click here to enter!

* * * * * 
(Can't view the vlog? Click here to see it directly via YouTube!  No time to watch? Scroll down to read the blog!)


Today’s title question comes from me getting stuck while trying to read through John 11.

The first place I got stuck was at verse 16. All my life, the one word I’ve associated with the disciple Thomas is “doubting.”  

But here, after all the other disciples have urged Jesus not to go where people are planning to kill him, Thomas says to them, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Putting this into a headline, I’ve always thought of Thomas as a rather negative one:


THOMAS DOUBTS

Somehow I’ve missed this headline, which reveals some amazing courage:

THOMAS OFFERS TO DIE

I got stuck again in verses 36 and 37. Jesus sees Mary mourning, and he begins to weep. Verse 36 tells us, “Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” but verse 37 gives a very different perspective: “But some of them said, Could not he who opened th eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Two vastly different headlines:

JESUS’ POWER IN QUESTION: 
Why No Miracle This Time?

or

JESUS’ LOVE TOO STRONG FOR WORDS: He Weeps With Mourners

So back to the question: What headlines lead our lives? 

Especially when both versions are true. We have a choice.

I’m working on memorizing Colossians 3:15-17. You’ll notice a common thread connecting all three verses:  thankful, gratitude, giving thanks

Now this is in total opposition to what happens in modern media. You’ve probably heard the phrase “if it bleeds it leads.” And if we buy into that philosophy, then our holiday headlines might read:

STORES CROWDED WITH RUDE SHOPPERS

or

FAMILY BUDGET STRETCHED BEYOND CAPACITY

or


COMMERCIALIZATION DESTROYS TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

Each of these will likely be true.

I’m also trying to memorize Colossians 2:6-7, and I love the last phrase:  overflowing with thankfulness


So back to the question: What headlines lead our lives? 

During October, I’m going to focus on leading with thanks-giving, well before the holidays hit. Because I know that whatever habits I have before the holidays are the habits that will stay with me–and even get magnified–during the Christmas season.

So here are a few thanks-giving headlines leading my life right now:

CAT WITH BROKEN LEG FULLY RECOVERS

Our little cat Dusty dislocated a leg bone in June, and for a couple of months, we didn’t know if she would recover. We feared she’d end up lame. But since the cast came off, she’s been as good as new, able to leap to the top of the fence and chase the dog to her heart’s content!

I’m trying to be intentional, each time I see one of our three cats, to let a headline of thanks-giving lead my life. To pause to be in awe of God’s creative, re-creative, and restorative power in Dusty’s lie...and especially in mine!


TEACHER COMPLETES MASTERS DEGREE

I almost didn’t share this one for two reasons. First, it sounds like I’m bragging. No idea how to handle that. Second, I was really embarrassed that it took me so long: 7 years! So when people congratulated me, I shrugged it off by saying, “FINALLY...it was about time!” 

But then I realized that we do this with our positive headlines. We downplay them, negate them, or don’t even share them. In my case, God has blessed me so much in the last couple of years with important insights and key people who have helped me finish my degree, I need a headline of thanks to lead my life! I praise God that I am done!


COUPLE CELEBRATES 24th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY

On September 11, Daniel and I started our silver year of marriage. It’s all by God’s grace that we’re still together; we have opposite PURSE-onalities, and we’re both pretty high-maintenance people. When I see him in the morning and in the evening, I’m reminded to have a headline of thanks-giving lead my life.


So back, once more, to the question: What headlines lead our lives? 

And more specifically: What headlines lead my holidays?

That’s the question I’m going to be asking myself as I wear (and switch!) my “A Holiday-Ready Heart” bracelet in October. 

Yes, I’ll aim to avoid complaining, criticizing, gossipping, and using sarcasm just like in May. 

But now I realize that those are just outward manifestations of the “headline” that is currently leading my life.

And the more I practice leading with thanks-giving, the more “holiday ready” my heart will become!

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