Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Threaten to Withhold Christmas Gifts from Your Kids

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  A season filled with love, joy and giving. It’s a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus–the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

I understand that it can also be a time of anxiety and stress as the realities of life and the endless demands often accompany this season.

We do our best, don’t we?

  • We do our best to be filled with joy, peace and love.
  • We do our best with the little or a lot we have to buy, make or re -gift Christmas presents for the ones we love.
  • We do our best to remember it’s better to give than to receive.
  • We do our best to not envy the extravagant Christmas others experience.
  • We do our best cultivating a generous and grateful spirit in our children while blessing them with things they want.

We do our best.

And, it’s all holly and jolly until we get an hour into our Christmas errands with hungry, irritable kids who have screamed, cried and not listened to us and we lose it. We are out of options and have pulled all the stops.

Then we remember we have one more card to pull—You know which one I’m talking about.

“If you don’t behave, you won’t get _______ for Christmas.”

We blurt it out and immediately these crazy kids whip into shape and become perfect little elves. And we go on our merry, little ways.

It works every single time, like magic, doesn’t it? And, as much as I’m over here like, do what you have to do momma, can I tell you why we shouldn’t threaten to withhold gifts from our children?

Can I encourage you for a second? Can I remind you of a famous little story?

Over 2,000 years ago, God, the creator of the earth, sent His only Son to this earth. In the middle of our mess and our inability to do right, Christmas still came, God still gave us his best—His name is Jesus.

Christmas time is a time to celebrate the best gift that came when we least deserved it. So, let us not be tempted to use Christmas gifts to keep our kids in line.

Instead, let us use this time to show that even when we fall short, mess up or do wrong, God did not or will not withhold His very best from us.

In the same way, as we gift our children and those we love, let us remember that we are not giving because they have earned it, but because it is just that—a gift.

Generosity is not a favor or a reward for doing good. Generosity is giving what is not earned or expected without expectation of getting anything in return.

I pray that this is a Holiday season filled with JOY, PEACE, LOVE, HOPE and GENEROSITY.

 

Here’s How I’m Celebrating Turning 34!

Hello friends,

I am so excited to share with you the next step on this journey! I turn 34 next month and I am celebrating with the release of my FIRST, e-book, Waiting.

This book is for the girl, who like me, is waiting on a promise. It’s been a message in my heart for a long time and I can’t wait to finally share it with you.

I’ve had a dream of becoming an author since I was a little girl, so this moment is a pretty big deal for me, personally. And, it’s a big moment for us, who have been on this journey, together.

I will be giving this book away, as a gift to all of you who have been a part of this community! So, be sure to spread the word to any of your friends who have not yet subscribed so they can get their FREE copy, too!

While in my seasons of waiting, God has given me a story to tell. A story about a God who cares so much for us that He allows us to wait.

I’ve been waiting on a promise and perhaps you have too. My prayer is that the words written in this book speak to you, wherever you find yourself on this journey.

I’m so excited! Ok, now get back to whatever it was you were doing. Has anyone finished their Christmas shopping? I haven’t even started…shh, don’t tell!

Love,

Sarah

Waiting the book about faith, trusting God

Progress

We live in a social media, digital world where we can see into the lives of people in a matter of seconds- their picture perfect world compared to ours looks wildly different. We see results, we romance results, we compare results–we are obsessed with results!! We place  a high value on overnight successes and one hit wonders and under value the grind, the struggle, the everyday ordinary choices, the hard work that’s necessary to yield the results we wish to achieve.

A little background story about me… I’ve always been athletic and pretty disciplined when it has come to my health. I enjoy running and being active. After having twins, I was able to get back into pre baby (babies) weight in a few months. Fast forward a few years and gave birth to my son just 8 days before giving birth to a spiritual child, LOL and launched our church, Influence Culture. That year was a whirlwind, trying to adjust to life with three children and a new church. So, unlike my first experience, I wasn’t back to my pre baby weight. In fact, I was heavier than I had ever been, more tired than ever and just plain exhausted. So, as we sang happy birthday to my son and our church, I knew it was time for change.

So, I started working out in my apartment complex’s gym (so boring, by the way) everyday, getting up and doing the very unattractive, not so very exciting workout. I started to adjust my eating and you know , more boring stuff. I didn’t take any pills, I did however look up a tummy tuck a time or two and realized that’s outta my budget, haha! I didn’t do any miracle shakes, I just did boring stuff, everyday. There were days I ate too much, had pizza one too many times in a week and didn’t feel like any of it was worth it. My goal was to not start over every Monday, but to keep going. So I did.

I kept going.

I set a goal weight (success) That I wanted to achieve after one year-I didn’t achieve that goal… but I kept going. I hit hard seasons, experienced bad days, but I kept going. I knew that although I hadn’t given up, I wasn’t seeing my desired results because there were areas where I needed to be more disciplined and more intentional.

October of this past year, I stepped it up and began to be more intentional and more disciplined,  not starting over, but taking the next step.

One day, someone recognized this change and asked, “what have you been doing? You look like you’ve lost a lot of weight?” I replied, “You know the boring stuff-eating better and working out.” They were uninterested in a matter of seconds. Even more so when they found out it had almost been a two year journey. Haha!

Fast forward to stepping on the scale for the past three weeks and not seeing the weight change. I’ve been working out 5-6 days a week, getting up at 4:25 AM in order to workout before my day begins. I’ve been working hard, but not seeing results on the scale.

This past week when I stepped on the scale, I had a moment–results are out of my control, but, progress is not. I need to de romanticize (is that a word) my relationship with results and start falling in love with the progress, the process. I know, more boring stuff!

Yes, my body weight on the scale isn’t changing currently, but I am making progress. I can run longer and faster and I can lift heavier weights.  Yes, my tummy still has a lot of stretched skin (thank you twins!!) and my arms still move too much when I waive (thank you Jett) but I’m making progress.

We want a hail marry, game ending touch down, but we only need a few first downs and we are going to earn ourselves 6 points on the board.

The same is true as I am looking at other areas where I want to see results. Our church, for example is in a new season, and boy do I have some expectations! Expectations aren’t bad, but I need to re evaluate what success means to me. Progress doesn’t always feel and look like progress, but when you change your perspective, you begin to see progress loud and clear.

Progress collects compound interest–over time we not only achieve those desired results but we shatter those barriers!

I read something this week that spoke to me and reminded me about this very thing.

“Success is not sexy. It’s sweaty!
Success is not glamorous. It’s gritty!”

-Mark Batterson from the book, “Chase the Lion.”

Um, HELLO! How true is that?!

I didn’t give you the play by play to show you how awesome I am (because I’m not) and I surely don’t plan to start my own fitness instagram (you’re welcome)  haha! But, I wanted to encourage you that whatever it is that you are wanting to achieve, to get a vision in your heart and get to work! Keep showing up, keep doing the boring, not so awesome things. STOP looking at results and start measuring progress. Anyone can fantasize about results, but it takes true heart and mental toughness to get excited about progress.

When you get excited about progress you realize that your desired goal isn’t a destination but a moving target. Every time you inch your way towards it, it moves forward–as it should.

Are you facing discouragement or frustration because you aren’t seeing the results you wish to see? I encourage you to take a deep breath and do a little inventory, place the value on progress!

I know, boring stuff… but it will get you there, one decision at a time,  I promise.

These two pictures were taken exactly two years a part. I know, boring stuff…. but I’m going to keep making progress.

Personal Record

This morning, I ran a personal record, clocking in one mile at 7 minutes and 32 seconds and I’m pretty excited about it! Personal records are supposed to be exciting- they are your best, so far!

I wasn’t the only person in the room who hit a PR. When our coach asked the group if anyone hit a PR, many hands went up. It was motivating and exciting to see that others hit a personal record as well.

When I got home, I saw that my friend also hit a personal record during her one mile run this morning! I immediately texted her to celebrate. She and I ran our best today, even though we didn’t run the same. 

I didn’t have to ask her for her time to know that she CRUSHED it because comparing her results with mine was and is irrelevant. Her running a 5 minute and 54 second mile (heyyyo!!!) took nothing away from my 7 minute and 32 second mile.

She owned her mile and I owned mine. 

In life, we are called to own our mile, to train better, work harder, run faster than our last time. While we work to earn our best, we are to encourage and cheer others on as they do the same. We are all in the same race and called to run with endurance, but we are not supposed to run the same. You and I are not experiencing the same season–some of you are further along in your journey than I am, and maybe I am further along in my journey than you are.

What matters most, is that we get better.

I know it can at times feel deflating when in one moment you feel like you had a victory, but compared to the person next to you, it quickly becomes a defeat–but it’s not my friend! The enemy of our lives wants to discourage you-he wants you to believe the lie that you are losing, that you are not measuring up… but listen to me, YOU ARE WINNING!

You are winning every time you decide to try again, every time you take on the challenge, put in the work and do the hard things that are before you. 

Our focus needs to be input minded not outcome driven. What do I mean? We live in a culture that celebrates the results, we celebrate the outcomes and then we hold ourselves to that standard-when we don’t achieve that outcome, we experience defeat. What we should focus on is input work–we can always measure our try, our passion, and our time we put into that goal or the ceiling we are trying to shatter.

Where do you feel like you’re losing? I encourage you to not compare what you are experiencing to others, but instead focus on your best. I know, when you do, you’ll realize very quickly that you are winning!

If you are not experiencing victory, I want to also encourage you to examine your input work–are you putting in the time and the work that you need to in order to get better?

 

 

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!

1 Corinthians 9:24

 

I’d love to hear from you and your experience! Are you a runner? What’s your personal best?

 

Please comment below & share your story. I’m cheering you on, friend!!