October 27, 2011

A Year of Challenges

OK!  Here is some exciting news for the Year of Challenges! 

I’m going to be posting the upcoming Challenges three at a time – and we have our very own TAB (look up there!  CHALLENGES…hooray!) to keep track of what’s coming and what’s already taken place.   If you want to take a look at what’s coming  - here’s your sneak peak and you can always check the tab across the top too. 

I’m a planner.  I like to know my options, and what I need to do to prepare.  So I started thinking it might be nice for those of you who might like to participate to have that same information.  This will give you the chance to decide if the challenges (all or some) are something you or your family might like to do also.  And it will also give you the time you need to really consider it and decide if it's right for you. 

  • The Challenges will always begin on the first of the month they are in, and end on the last day of the month.  
  • There is no "scoring", there is no prize.  Just inspiration.
  • This is an opportunity to see what we can accomplish within a year, when we set our minds and our hearts to focusing on very specific things.  

I think you will be amazed what you can do!  I had so many wonderful e-mails from those who participated in 30 Days of Nothing – the “no spending” challenge of September.  It was amazing to see the changes that had taken place in your homes and in your hearts.  These challenges will be no different – aimed in many different areas but ultimately reaching to our need for a more purposeful life. 

Here’s what’s coming – prepare to be CHALLENGED!

November 2011 - Starts in 6 days!
30 Days of Giving and Thanks

This Challenge is designed to stir up our sense of gratitude for all the blessings in our lives.  Over this thirty days, we will be finding ways each day to Give or to offer Thanks.  It doesn’t have to be monetary, but it certainly can be. 

Here’s what our family is doing:
Even days of the month (2nd, 4th, 6th, etc.), an act of “Thanks” - a note-card to a family member, co-worker, friend, or neighbor to say that we are thankful for them. 

Odd days (1st, 3rd, 5th, etc.) an act of giving, just because.  We’re going with small gifts that will either be hand-carried or mailed.  From homemade items to small gift cards ($5)

You can do 100 different things.  You can make baked goods and deliver them with a note-card every other day.  You can create homemade crafts.  You can show up at someone’s house and rake their leaves.  You can clean for an elderly friend.  You can volunteer at a soup kitchen.  You know what your family is good at and can commit to!  You can come up with a variety of amazing ways to offer Thanks or Give to others.  Whatever you decide, the discipline is to make it happen all of the 30 days of November. 

This is a choice to say that for this year, for this month, for this holiday season - we’re reaching out to those we maybe haven’t been so great at keeping up with, or maybe those we just want to show extra love to, or to those who have needs that we can meet. 

Whatever your reasons, and whomever you lavish your Thanks and Giving on…we want to turn-around the habit of taking care of ourselves or always looking out for #1 into Giving and Thanks.  You will be blessed! (trust me…)

December 2011
31 Days of Goodwill

December’s Challenge is an exercise in stepping outside of the comfort zone.  Maybe not for some, but definitely for myself.  For this month, our family will be finding FOUR WAYS to show GOODWILL that will impact:

1. our neighbors 
2. our community
3. our church
4. our world.  

Your areas of impact will be your own choice.  

First, I’ll start by telling you that I LOVE {love} LOVE Christmas.  Always have.  Probably always will.  But there is a big difference in the way Anton would prefer to celebrate and the way I would prefer to celebrate.  I would like all of the nostalgia; perfect tree, carols and eggnog with dear friends, stocking hung by the chimney with care, plate of cookies for Santa with a side of carrot for the reindeer, snow on Christmas morning, too many presents, lots of family, and spiral cut ham falling off the bone by 4pm. 

He would prefer quiet, contemplative reflection about what our Savior came to do.  (ouch) 

So we have spent many Christmases (twelve to be exact) bantering gently about our positions on Christmas.  And we’ve always compromised for a little bit of my style and a little bit of his.  Except…

Except it’s starting to get to me a little bit.  To start with, Christmas décor is up in stores by Halloween.  That’s just pitiful – even to this diehard Christmas fan.  It reeks of money, doesn’t it?  Second, I felt a little bit convicted last year when my kids were buried neck high in wrapping paper and bows and ribbons, and were far too cranky and overwhelmed to enjoy an ounce of what they had received.  Reeks of consumerism, doesn’t it?  Third, I think it’s been happening to me for a while now that I lose sight of this every year.  I go into December saying “I’m not doing that this year…we’re toning it down” and yet somehow Christmas Eve arrives with a bit of a chagrin from both of us – it has happened again.  We I went overboard.  Reeks of “self”, doesn’t it?  We rush through the season – head to parties – see relatives – over shop – over eat – over indulge…and then it’s over.  And sometimes we have missed the whole point.

So all I’m saying, is I’m taking four baby-steps back to the meaning of Christmas – which for our family is all about a wonderful gift that had no bow, no wrapping, but cost more than money could ever purchase.   The birth, life, love and forgiveness of a perfect lamb…Jesus. Someone who truly understood Goodwill towards Man.

Now, I realize, that may not be your personal conviction – but it certainly lends me to want more out of Christmas for my kids than a frenzy of desire, followed by inevitable meltdowns.  No, I want more for them.  I want more for us.  Does this mean we won’t decorate a tree or hang a stocking or sip eggnog?  No.  However, it does mean that this year we are going to find FOUR WAYS to spread GOODWILL and try to reconnect to our fellow man – our neighbors, our community, our church family, and yes – even to our world. 

Each act will take a different form, and I’m not yet sure what that will look like – it could be caroling to our neighbors and delivering cookies, serving food at the local shelter, volunteering our time to our church, or sponsoring an orphanage in Africa.  I don’t know.  But I have hope that with each act, we will have had even a little part in restoring the brotherhood of mankind…just enough to wet our hearts for more. 

January 2012
31 Days of Nothing {Unhealthy}

Ah yes…January and the time for resolutions.  The time for joining gyms and trying to lose all that weight we gained by eating too much of the Chocolate Bundt Cake that Aunt Edna makes every year. 

I get that.  I really do.

But let’s face it; you’ve just spent two months taking care of and giving to others – so we’re going to take a month and focus on ourselves and our health.  Something I am in SORE need of.  Years, people.  Years.

Anyway – AB and I decided that for the month of January we are going to commit ourselves to healthy eating.  And maybe even some exercise too.  Ugh.  Can’t lie.  Gonna be UGLY, my friends.  U.G.L.Y. 

Much like 30 Days of Nothing in September, wherein we documented all of our meals and spending habits – we’ll be documenting pictorially our *healthy* food choices, meals we come up with, and ideas for healthier living.  We are by no means the authority as our idea of a good meal always includes a small vat of mayo.  Sadly that statement is too true.  Sigh… 

But we will be trying, just as with all the other monthly challenges, to extend ourselves beyond the norm.  To step outside of our comfy spots and MAKE POSITIVE CHANGES. 

No guarantees that I can live on carrots alone.  (blech…not gonna happen)  But I will be giving it all I’ve got.  Cough.  Sputter.  (nervously chews nails)

Signed – The Girl in Sweatpants  (cuz that’s all that fits)


SO NOW YOU HAVE the next three challenges lined up and ready to go.  You can pick and choose what you’d like to do and leave a comment with any questions!  If you’d like to blog about it – be sure to tell me so I can brag about you here while you’re on your journey and so that we can follow your progress and get inspiration!

There will be a Mr. Linky sign up option within the context of each individual post the first day of each challenge.  That's where you can list your Name and the Link to your Blog, so we can easily follow along.

I’m EXCITED!  It feels good to head into the next three months with PURPOSE outside of the predictable.  I can safely say, I have not had that feeling in a while. 

Who’s with me?!?!

No comments :