Saying Goodbye to 2009 and Welcoming 2010

I can’t believe it is the last day of 2009.  This year has gone by so fast.  I say that every year.  They keep getting faster and faster and I know that is because I am either getting older or having more fun.  One of the two, or both. 

I want to take time today to give you two lists.  I want to highlight the top 10 blessings I am thankful for in 2009 and I want to give you my top 10 goals for 2010.  I think that is a good way to end a good year and begin an even better one.

Top 10 Blessings of 2009:

  1. My personal relationship with God.
  2. My marriage and how much we have grown together this year.
  3. Good health.
  4. The great lessons from God on money, relationships and choices.
  5. Bible studies and the friends we have made this year.
  6. Our kids and how they have grown inside and out.
  7. The time I’ve been able to spend with the kids this year, during the summer and after school.
  8. Great neighbors.
  9. The schools our kids attend.
  10. Our church and Mobile Loaves and Fishes  (I cheated and put two for #10, but this is my list so it’s ok).

My Top 10 Goals for 2010: 

  1. Get closer to God through daily prayer and Bible reading.
  2. Continue to grow in my marriage with open communication and time together.
  3. Exercise as much as possible. (not just when I feel like it)
  4. Eat well and drink a lot more water.
  5. Work with God on the issues I need to work on. (He and I know what they are)
  6. Read and write more.
  7. Spend lots of quality time with the kids individually and as a family.
  8. Spend less and save more.
  9. Serve others as much as possible.
  10. Be a good example.

Happy New Year!!

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Getting Ready for the New Year’s Revolution!

If you’ve been reading my blog recently you’ve seen the New Years Revolution challenge that my church is doing for the first 90 days of 2010.   There is a spiritual challenge, a physical challenge and a financial challenge.  They are calling it REV90 (Revolution in 90 days).  I’m excited and ready to get started.  They will be sending us emails each day with our daily goals.  If you would like me to forward you these emails please email me at michelle@creatingpeace.com.  I will forward the email to you each day and you can “join the revolution”!

Here is a quick re-cap of the goals:

Spiritual Challenge –

  1. Pray daily and journal.
  2. Read the Bible daily.
  3. Attend your worship service 10 out of the 13 weeks.
  4. Share the good news and invite someone to church at least twice a month.
  5. Each week serve within your church and outside the church.

Physical Challenge  –  PURE

  1. Purify your life and keep your body pure for your husband or wife.
  2. Use High Octane Fuel.  Eat healthy, drink lots of water and limit alcohol.
  3. Rest.  Get good sleep each night, honor Sunday as your Sabbath day and take a vacation (Sabbatical) each year.
  4. Exercise.  Get moving.  Have a goal of moving each and every day, even if it is just for 10 minutes.

Financial Challenge  –

  1. Plan for peace.  Plan out your goals for the year.
  2. Tithe to test.  Test God by tithing 10% off the top for 90 days straight (and beyond hopefully)
  3. Pay to Play.  Do not use any credit for the first 90 days of 2010.  Only buy what you can afford.

Christmas Traditions

I love coming up with new traditions during the holidays.  They are fun and I want our children to remember our traditions when they are grown.  I think that is what makes the holidays so special.

We cut down our own tree two years in a row, but this year my husband cut down a tree (that my daughter picked out) from right behind our house.  She loved picking it out and she did most of the decorating.  It looks really good (and it was free).  I’m not sure if we will always cut down our own trees, but we will let our kids pick them out.

Yesterday we spent one full day baking cookies.  We will definitely be keeping that as a tradition.  We’ve baked some here and there in the past, but yesterday was a full production.  My daughter and I ate breakfast and then started baking (in our pajamas).  It was fun, she loved icing the sugar cookies and rolling other cookies into some ground almonds.  I think her favorite part was, of course, eating the dough and sampling the cookies as they came out of the oven.  I’m pretty sure we did not get all the recommended daily vitamins and minerals yesterday….but we had a good time.

After we baked we took some plates of cookies over to our neighbors.  We still have a few more deliveries today, including the fire department that is just up the street.  That was my daughter’s idea….to take some to the firemen.  What a great idea.  That will definitely become part of the tradition.

We are also going to bake a cake for Jesus tomorrow.  We will be baking a Red Velvet cake.  Surely that would’ve been Jesus’ favorite kind of cake, right?  🙂

We looked at lights last night (something I love to do) and today we will be going to an evening service at church.  They are starting some of the services today.  My daughter will get to go with us to “big church” which will be fun.  This is her first time, she’s finally old enough.  I LOVE the Christmas Service.  We usually all get a little candle to hold and light, that is my favorite part.

We will spend Christmas Eve with my parents and come home that night so we can wake up at home Christmas morning.   Once we open presents Christmas morning we will be reading the story of Jesus’ birth in the Bible and we will have some cake to celebrate his birth!   We haven’t decided quite yet what we’ll be doing the rest of Christmas Day, but I look forward to creating more traditions and memories. 

Merry Christmas!

New Year’s Revolution #3 – Financial Peace

We had the third and last installment of the New Year’s Revolution challenge yesterday at church.  This one covered our finances, but more importantly having peace about them.  It was a good message that we needed to hear.  The financial peace challenge that our pastor gave us for the first 90 days of 2010 is:

1.  Plan for peace.  Make a financial plan for 2010.  Sit down and look at where you are and where you want to be by the end of the year and make a plan to get there, which will ultimately create more peace in your life.  Live as God explains in the Bible and let him guide the way you handle your finances.  Allow him to give you the peace He promises.

“You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.” Acts 10:36

” Be sure you know the condition of your flocks (accounts), give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.”  Proverbs 27:23

2.  Tithe to test.  Tithe 10% for 90 days and see what God does.  Test Him. 

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.  Test me in this.” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates and heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”  Malachi 3:10

3.  Pay to play.  Do not use any credit for the first 90 days of 2010.  Work towards using NO credit at all.  Pay to play, in other words – only purchase something if you have the cash to pay for it.  If not, then you don’t need it or you’ll have to wait and save for it.  If it’s an emergency then you can use your emergency fund.  Do not have one?  Get started on an emergency fund as well, trying to save 6 months of living expenses as your goal.  That way as you need money for car trouble, unexpected medical bills, etc. you will have money saved for those occurrences and will not have to use credit.  Stay away from credit cards!!

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender”  Proverbs 22:7

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:21

“No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and Money.” Matthew 6:24

The goal is to treat money with respect, be thankful for it, know that it all comes from God, and take care of it.  Tithe, save and do not go into debt.  Work on the three challenges above and decide to make 2010 the year you get your finances in order and create financial peace in your life!

Smilebox

If you haven’t heard of Smilebox, you should check it out.  I love it. You can create e-cards to send all your friends and family and there are tons of different designs to send (for all different occasions).  You can include 1 picture or up to 10 or so depending on which template you pick.  There are even some scrapbook options where you can create a digital scrapbook with up to 400 pictures.  They have newsletter templates (with pictures) if you send newsletters out at Christmas. 

Once you create your e-card, scrapbook, or slide show you can then email it, add it to your facebook or your blog….as well as save it to a DVD or print it.  I believe you have to pay either monthly or a $39.99 a year charge to save it to a DVD (but then it’s unlimited),  and you can email it for absolutely free (with some ads showing up on your email).  If you do not want ads to show up on your email you can pay a $3.99 one time fee (for that card)   That’s it.  I paid $3.99 because I did not want ads to show up on our Christmas e-card, and I have the option to email it over and over to as many people as I want to.  I can also print it.

I think it’s a great deal and people love getting those.  You can include more than one picture so you don’t have to pick just one and you can add music to it.  You can pick from a few they have defaulted for the design you pick, or you can even upload and add your own music.

It’s pretty cool, and it saves money, paper and time! Check it out…

Here is the website:  http://www.smilebox.com/

P-U-R-E

Yesterday we had the second installment in the New Years Revolution challenge at church.  This week we discussed our physical lives and the sermon was titled “Body of Work.”  Our pastor gave us the acronym PURE and gave us the following goals for our bodies beginning on January 1st.  The challenge is for the first 90 days of 2010, but I plan on continuing after that (which of course is the idea).

P – Purify your life.  Eliminate all sexual impurities, everything should be kept pure between a husband and a wife, and you should not participate in any inappropriate activity outside of the marriage or before marriage.   Keep your body pure for your husband/wife.  

U – Use High Octane Fuel.  Feed your body well with good healthy food and plenty of water.  Limit alcohol, and cut out smoking and drugs (obviously). 

R – Rest.   Sleep, Sabbath, and Sabbatical.  We need an average of 8 hours of sleep a night, be sure to have downtime and good sleep every single night.   The Bible commands us to keep the Sabbath day holy and a day of rest.   Work to get all of your errands and chores accomplished throughout the week and on Saturday.  Keep Sunday open for relaxing, church, maybe some lunch, but lots of rest!  Take a sabbatical (vacation) once a year at least.  You should really be taking a weekend vacation every quarter and a week vacation once a year.  Ideally you could take a trip with your kids, but also make time to take a trip with just your spouse.  This allows for true relaxation!

E – Exercise.  Get moving.  Start a goal of moving every single day, even if it is for 10  minutes.  Then expand that, but try to do something every single day.  Ride your bike, go for a walk, join a running group, join a gym, do an aerobics class, do yoga, play with your kids outside, etc.

I love these challenges.  Some are very easy for me personally, but I know for others they are not.  I pray for all those at our church that struggle with some of the more difficult issues above.

Do you want to join us in this challenge?   It’s a good one.  If nothing else it will make us more aware of our spiritual and physical lives.  Next week we cover the financial area of our lives.  I’m looking forward to it!

Updates

I apologize for not much blogging this week.  It has been a busy week, but I’m back!   I wanted to post some updates to two of my previous posts.

Cleansing  – The cleanse went great and I felt so good, however I was starting to feel a bit weak.  We started back on fruits and vegetables after the 5th day, and now we are continuing to eat healthy.  We are eating organic food as much as possible, as many fruits and vegetables as we can.  Not much, if any, meat and no caffeine or sugar.   I feel so good and my skin is softer than it has been in longer than I can even remember.  My clothes are looser and my stomach is definitely flatter.  We have not been exercising much yet, but I plan to work on that this weekend and next week.  I know that will make me feel even better!

100 Thing Challenge – I’m still working on my 100 thing challenge, I am not down to 100 yet, but I did give myself until January 1st to do this.  I have paired down my clothes and jewelry quite a bit, but I still have a little ways to go.  I notice there are still things that I do not really wear.  I do however miss one or two things I gave away.  Oh well, overall I’m happy with how my closet looks and feels.  I think this challenge is a teeny bit harder for a female given we have to include a little bit more accessories, etc.   But I’m still going to do my very best and I think I can do it.

I love the New Year, it is such a great time for fresh starts and I feel as if I have a jump-start on 2010.  I just need to stay on track!

New Year’s Revolution

Yes, you read that right.  Revolution.  Not Resolution. 

Yesterday at church our pastor (Mac) began a new series called “New Year’s Revolution”.  I know it’s a little early to be talking about the new year, but not really.  He assured us he would in fact be having a Christmas service by Christmas, but for now we are focused on our goals for the new year.  I am really excited about this challenge because it is right in step with where Brian and I are right now. 

Mac challenged us to NOT make resolutions this year, but to join the revolution!  We are in.

The challenge includes three main areas: Spiritual, Physical and Financial.  This first message dealt with Spirituality.  He challenged us to do the following in our spiritual lives from January 1st to March 31st:

  1. Pray –  Daily prayer followed by journaling what you pray for and what you hear from God.  
  2. Scripture – Read the Bible daily. (He is also challenging us to read the entire New Testament front to back from January to June.  So we will be challenged to read half of it in this 90-day period. 
  3. Worship – Attend the worship service 10 out of the 13 weeks.  We will have no problem with this, unless we are out-of-town, which is rare, we are there ever single week.  We miss it when we cannot go.
  4. Evangelism  –  Share the good news with others and invite someone to church at least twice a month.  This one is going to somewhat difficult, but a great challenge.
  5. Service – Every week serve inside the church and outside the church.  I will need to step up my serving.  I was serving every other week, but that needs to increase and I need to be doing something outside of the church as well. 

I love challenges like this. I really do.  Challenges like this are ONLY to make us better.  These in particular will only improve and strengthen our relationship with God. 

Next week Mac is going to talk about the physical portion of the challenge.  Brian and I feel as if we have a good start on this one because we did the Master Cleanse last week, and since we finished we have been eating really well and making smart and healthy choices.  We will continue doing so and look forward to the challenge.

I can’t wait to get started!

One of My Favorite Blogs

I thought I would share a scrapbooking blog that I follow, and I don’t even scrapbook!  But I used to, sort of.  Let’s just say I “dabbled” in scrapbooking, but if I were to take it up again, I would have about 6 years to catch up on.  Ouch.  So, I have decided to give it up for good.  I just order photo books now.  (and I love photo books!)

Becky’s Blog

This is Becky Higgin’s blog.  Becky used to work with Creating Keepsakes, which is a scrapbook magazine company.  She worked for them for around 10-15 years I think.  She now is on her own (as of his fall)  and has come up with her own line of scrapbooking products.  Why do I read her blog if I don’t scrapbook?  Because she also gives great tips on organizing, photography, decorating, creating gifts and crafts, and cooking.  She has some great recipes and provides links and pictures of some great products from time to time.

If you are a scrapbooker then definitely check it out, if you are not…well you still might want to check it out.  The blog itself is fun to look at.  She has some beautiful pictures.  I check her blog on a weekly basis, it just makes me happy to look at it.

The Miracle of Christmas

Well we are into December now and the holidays are in full swing.  It’s easy to get caught up in the season and all the stress that goes with it.   All the presents you need to buy, what food you are going to have for your Christmas party or dinner, what events you are going to attend and what traditions you want to keep or add this year.  It can be very overwhelming.  Just don’t forget the reason we are celebrating.  Jesus’ birth.

I want to focus more on celebrating Jesus’ birth than stressing over presents and food.  In the past my daughter has wanted to bake a cake for Jesus and this year we are going to do that.  I will also be reading the story of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:1-19) to our kids and talking about what a miracle it was and how amazing God is.  I will also be looking for more ways to celebrate Jesus’ birth with my family.

In our society there are many mixed messages about Christmas.  Be sure your kids know the real reason for the celebration.  It’s not about how many presents they receive, it’s about the miracle that God sent for us so long ago.   That was the biggest gift He could have ever given us and nothing will ever compare to that.

I like this quote from Rick Warren the author of  “The Purpose Driven Life”. “The miracle of Christmas is not on 34th Street; it’s in Bethlehem.”