Advent – What Do You Anticipate?

It seems that this holiday has been going on since October, and if you’ve been in some stores, you have, indeed, seen holiday decorations up quite early.  Hallmark traditionally celebrates Christmas in July and most stores begin to mingle the holiday goods with Halloween. Selfridges, a major London department store, opened its celebration on July 29th!  That’s 149 days before Christmas.  Wikipedia has a name for this – it is called the Christmas Creep. 

We can easily get lost when we start to ‘anticipate’ 149 days in advance.  Many people start the rush the day after Thanksgiving with Black Friday (so named as it is one of the few times a year that most stores run in the black instead of the red!). The worrying aspect of this is that we can spend weeks or months in great anticipation for a particular day but forget to live in the moment. We can lose sight of that which is important and needs our attention, namely family, loved ones, and our own health and well-being. If we live through a few months every year just anticipating the arrival of Christmas I’m afraid we run the risk of spending up to ¼ of every year focused on ONE day instead of focusing on every day.  

Each day is a gift, and it is unwrapped every morning when we open our eyes. We wake and rise, and instead of running through the day in anticipation of what is to come several days, weeks, or months down the road – how much MORE could we get out of life if we focused on the NOW, the CURRENT, the day that has been gifted to us as TODAY?

John the Baptist begins the Christmas story with his declaration to “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord!” (Mark 1:3)  He was not telling us to grab the lights and put them up and to start stuffing our shopping bags. His message to us is to take every day and focus on what is important – faith, family, and service to others.  He was reminding us that, although preparation is critical, what is important is the PROCESS of preparing and that process starts TODAY.

May this Advent season be one where you spend every day unwrapping the gift called TODAY, and that your eyes are opened to the wonders and joys around you.  Reach those who need reaching, teach those who need teaching, give to those who are needy, and love everyone. Wake up every day discovering your Awesomeness!! 

Abundant Thanks

I read this quote the other day and found myself laughing out loud. 

“The “what happened” moments are easier to prove today when everyone has a cell phone…”

In sports and in life there are three types of people.  

  1. Those who make it happen
  2. Those who watch it happen
  3. Those who wonder what happened

The “what happened” moments are easier to prove today when everyone has a cell phone.  I laughed while sitting in a coffee shop, staring at my phone. I laughed out loud and looked up around me and of the approximately 12 people in the coffee shop at that time, I would guess maybe 2 of them stopped looking at their devices long enough to look up to see who was laughing.  There was not one individual who was NOT looking at a cell phone or iPad or laptop. It got me thinking – what do we value most?  Should we not be valuing one another and being thankful of having a few moments to talk with another human being and maybe even meet new people?  Should we be spending less time looking down and more time looking around?

What do you value most in this life? Some say that the thing you spent most of your time on is what you value most but I’m not sure it is that easy. For many people, spending a lot of time on something such as work is HOW they show value to other things such as family and financial security and well-being.  We cannot live in line with our values, though, if we cannot identify them. You can start to identify your values by listing that for which you are thankful.

When we identify those things in our lives for which we are thankful, we begin to paint a clear picture in our minds and hearts of what we value the most.  When you wake each day, take a few moments and consider your thanks-giving.  Begin each morning by identifying a few things for which you are thankful and then add the emotions behind those. How do they make you feel?  

Is your list more intrinsically focused on extrinsically?  Do you find yourself more thankful for your cell phone or for your individualism and its role in the community?

Andrews University in Berrien Springs, MI have a report on line which outlines the 10 Core American Values[1]. It is a unique insight on the things that make America unique but can also help us identify our values.  

Experiencing a life of abundance starts with an attitude of gratitude.  If we approach life with any other attitude, I believe, we fall short of what it truly means to be human.  

Take a few moments to count your blessings and instead of Snapchatting about it – try looking up and around and see what new things you may discover.