Finish list 2012

It’s the last Friday of 2011 and my first Finish it Friday.

On Fridays I’m going to post an update on what I’m working toward finishing. Goals should be S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely

So here goes:

  1. I’m going to finish those quilt squares. Not high on my want-to list, but on the top of my making me feel guilty list. So I’m knocking those out. I’ve all but quit watching TV for lack of time, so I don’t have a lot of “I might as well be doing something with my hands” time. So I need to schedule some time in my evenings. I’d like them all done by the end of March. That’s nuts. How about the end of April.
  2. I’m going to “finish” getting my house decluttered and organized. This is obviously never “done,” but I’d like to be in the “maintain” phase, instead of the “various piles and stacks about the house” phase. Baby stuff be-gone! Items from abandoned projects are out of here! Items need to be donated, consigned, or sold at a yard sale. Need to make a decision about a yard sale. If we don’t do a yard sale by the end of April, what’s not consigned is going to the Oliver Gospel Mission store. How’s that for a non-committal goal.
  3. I want to finish a Beth Moore Bible study. I’m a great study starter, but once again, not a good finisher. I’m thinking the new James study. I’m teaching GAs on Wednesday nights this semester, so I’ll be doing it myself, at my own pace, which might not be a bad idea. Giving myself until the end of March on this one.
  4. I’ve got a list of things I’d like to learn this year: crochet and/or knitting, Photoshop and/or Illustrator (for work.) I’ll give myself until the end of the year to be proficient at Photoshop and one of the two things with yarn.
  5. I want to finish 4 projects with the sewing machine. One per quarter of the year.
  6. I want to paint the kids’ bathroom. Cause it’s my least favorite of all the rooms in this house. It’s dark and dreary and I really really really hate it. It’s small and aside from the painting around and behind things part, it shouldn’t be too difficult to actually do. I have dreamed of hand painting something cute. So: something cute on the walls in there by the end of the summer.
  7. Get back on the Financial Peace wagon. We’ve got the head knowledge. We’ve got to get the discipline part. The “finish” here is “not quitting.” I want to finish 2012 in a better financial place than where we are starting.
  8. Finish the 90 day Bible reading plan I quit last year (somewhere in the middle of Jeremiah.)

From Starter to Finisher

So. January is a few days away, and like many others I’m thinking of what I want from the new year.

A new year brings a magical feeling of “starting over.”

I’m a good Starter.  Over at Jon Acuff’s blog he is encouraging people to be Finishers. That’s what I need to do. Finish a lot of stuff I’ve started.

I am a champ at starting. I get all excited, dream of the possibilities, make a plan, make a list, buy some stuff, and then the results vary from there. Sometimes I just end up with a pile of supplies, sometimes I end up with a half done project. It doesn’t even matter what kind of project it is. Cooking or crafts or something that needs to be done around the house. Doesn’t matter. They are equally likely to become “half done.” I’ve had the ingredients for Oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies in my cabinets for some time now. Homemade marshmallows, too.

There is a box of quilt squares I need to embroider FOR OTHER PEOPLE. They are sitting in a box. Waiting to be finished.

I have a sewing machine that I bought 13 years ago. So far I’ve made an apron, a table runner, and 1.75 crib dust ruffles. That’s right. Will’s dust ruffle only had 3 sides. Don’t judge–you really don’t need 4 sides on a crib ruffle. One side is up against the wall and you never see it.

I have a cabinet full of scrapbook supplies. And one small scrapbook I made in 2009.

I have knitting needles and crochet hooks and Learn to Knit and Crochet books and DVDs. Both of those are a no-go. I’ve got a chest full of fabric and patterns that are just waiting to become something.

As if I didn’t have enough half done things around my house, someone invented Pinterest. Pinterest is a dangerous place for a Starter. I love Pinterest, but I immediately knew it had the potential to become a long list of things I could, but don’t create. My solution for that is the “Things I actually made from Pinterest “ board on Pinterest. When I actually make something that I’ve previously pinned onto one of my boards, I move it to my “made it” board. Kind of like a pat on the back I give myself–and justification for spending time on Pinterest.

On of my problems is perfectionism. When the idea is in my head, it’s PERFECT. And because I haven’t actually done anything yet, if I change my mind, it’s easy to change the project because I haven’t actually done anything. It’s easy to re-work an imaginary project.

The other is just making time. I love to create. Back in high school, when I had WAY more time on my hands than I ever realized, I loved to write and paint and I even did some embroidery. I FINISHED an apron that had been my great grandmother’s. It’s hanging in my kitchen now. It’s proof I can be a Finisher.

Proof I Can Finish

So, back to how I’m going to make Finishing a habit.

I need a plan for the new year. A plan of what to finish. So, in 2012 Fridays are going to be “Finish it Fridays” here at The Fair. Tomorrow is the last Friday of 2012 so I’ll be listing my things I want to FINISH in 2012. They are going to be specific. They are going to have deadlines. There’s going to be a plan. Cause that’s how you finish things.

Life Doesn’t Stop For Christmas

Life doesn’t stop for Christmas.

The movies and stores paint Christmas as a wonderful, magical, time. We imagine it filled with family, friends, gifts, and goodies. And it can be. I don’t mean to be a downer.

But life doesn’t stop for Christmas.

There are expectations. Gifts to buy. Trees to decorate. Food to cook. Cookies to bake. If you are a parent there is the expectation of creating memories to last a lifetime. Who doesn’t want their grown children to say, “remember that Christmas when we were little…”

Even attempts to “keep the Christ in Christmas” can prove stressful. Suddenly our full lives have a whole list of “to-dos” added into an already busy mix. I found this great idea of a “Jesse Tree” as part of Advent this year. I had good intentions. (Check out what a Jesse Tree is here) We need to double and triple up some devotions this week to make it to the end before Christmas.

But life doesn’t stop for Christmas.

My Facebook feed is full of real life happening in the month of December:

  • I’ve seen a single mother loose everything except her two young children in a fire.
  • I’ve seen children in the hospital.
  • I’ve seen friends in car accidents.
  • I’ve seen mother dealing with being a single parent in a difficult situation.
  • I’ve seen police officers just doing their job, shot and killed.
  • I’ve seen friends dealing with their elderly parents, stressed with the choices that lie ahead for them.
  • I’ve seen adult children facing their first Christmas without their parents.

My job puts me in the position to answer numerous calls with desperate people on the other end of the line. Can you help with food? Can you help with the light bill. Can you help find presents for my children? Can you help me find a place to stay. We get these calls year round. They just increase in December as people with little try to make more. Some are truly in need, some may have overspent on presents and let things like the power bill slip by until that letter finally comes saying “pay, or all the Christmas lights go out.” Some may just be scammers. Sad, but true.

Life doesn’t stop for Christmas.

Life didn’t even stop for the very first Christmas, over 2000 years ago.

Mary was pregnant. And she wasn’t married. Not even remotely as accepted as that is now. Was she stressed? Did God give her a peace that passes all understanding? And Joseph, too?  And what about their families? Not an easy time.

And on top of that is was tax season. And it wasn’t as easy as filling out some 1040 forms online. A really pregnant Mary had to go with Joseph back to his hometown. I can’t imagine that was a comfortable trip.

If you’ve ever given birth, imagine that it was almost time, and instead of being at home (or in your preferred hospital suite) that you had to pack up and travel back to your husband’s hometown and give birth who knows where.

And when they got to where they were going, no one could (or would?) offer them a bed. Or even a corner of the floor in their living room.

For goodness sake! This poor extremely pregnant woman was sent to sleep with the animals. Were they in a barn? A cave? Depends on who you listen to. I just know that it doesn’t sound comfortable and certainly not what a first time mom has in mind for giving birth. Even a couple of thousand of years ago.

Had word got around? Were they already the talk of the town? “Hey, that Mary chick–she got pregnant and they aren’t even married yet!” Who’s letting that couple into the inn to stay? Nobody–that’s who. I’m sure Bethlehem was full of people, but really!

But all of these worldly circumstances didn’t stop Christmas from happening.

The Emmanuel, the Alpha and Omega, the Great I Am, made His way into our world to save us all in the middle of life happening.

So, Christmas isn’t about everything being perfect. It’s about remembering that life doesn’t have to be perfect to invite Jesus into your life. He’s ok with how your life is RIGHT NOW. Even if everyone around you thinks you are a mess, He’ll still show up. Life may not stop for Christmas, but when we invite Christ to be with us, we are able to celebrate-beyond our circumstances-the awesome gift of Jesus Christ that was given to us so many Christmases ago.

A gift that we can still claim today.

A gift we NEED to claim today, and every day.

Because life doesn’t stop.