My husband, Scott, is a relentless Christmas music lover. We usually start listening to Christmas music at the first sign of cold weather, although it’s not unusual for him to pop a Christmas CD in on our way to the grocery in August, either.  My kids would love it if we kept our tree up all year. They want our elf, Carol to vacation with us and sleep in their rooms so Santa can see just how delightful they are all year-round (when they’re not fighting or talking back.) I love decorating the house and reminiscing about the homemade ornaments the kids made in their preschool class or the craft we did 5-years-ago that HAS to sit on the mantle. Needless to say, Christmas is our FAVORITE!

Last year, we started our Activity Advent. It’s our countdown to Christmas day and a way to spend quality family-time together during this busy season. The kids take turns opening the little envelopes that are attached to the red and white twine hanging near their rooms. Some activities just require our PJs and a Redbox Christmas movie. Others take us outside the home to look at lights or to see a Christmas concert. And there are several that help us see how blessed our family is and to share our blessings with others. Every day, though, we’re taking time to celebrate intentionally and it ends without fighting, tears, or name-calling – my idea of perfect. Download the Activity Advent HERE and start creating more of your own Christmas memories.

The Christmas season is without a doubt, the Murray-est time of our year and hopefully, yours’ too.  So put a little Johnny Mathis Christmas music on, pour yourself a mug of hot chocolate and start building that gingerbread house. Blessings to your and your family this Christmas season! Have Yourself a Murray Little Christmas.
I know it may be shocking. Maybe not to you, but to my kids, their school teachers, my neighbors, some friends, and that person on Facebook who always wants to measure my life to hers’, it is. I’m not perfect. I wake up with mascara smeared across my eyelid, much to my daughter’s dismay, since I didn’t notice it before I picked her and a gaggle of girlfriends up from school. I sometimes forget to force my son to do his spelling test every night and he comes to school on Friday, seeing the word “accountable” for the first time. I occasionally leave my garbage cans out an extra day after the trucks have hauled away the stinky trash. And sometimes, God forgive me, I leave a word out of my Facebook status that should have read: “I left my daughter’s coat at Meijer” when instead, it said “I left my daughter at Meijer.” Does this bother me that I mess up, that I can’t balance everything perfectly? Yes. Yes, it does. And many times, the guilt that I feel or the anxiety that comes after a not-so-perfect incident is overwhelming.

But, I’m starting to mellow out. And I’m giving more things to God. He knows that the time I forgot to send my dad his birthday gift, I didn’t love him any less. His grace is given to us, why don’t we allow it for ourselves? I struggle with this daily and at times, I’m able to see that I’m my own worst critic. Other times, it’s clearly pointed out to me. And those are the times I have to remember His grace the most. I know that I’m doing my best and that’s pretty darn good.

Another way that I keep it all in perspective is my Gratitude Journal. When I see all the things I’m grateful for in my life, things that REALLY matter, all the other stuff starts to fade away. It becomes less important and allows me to feel less small. At our Retreat in September, we challenged all of the ladies in attendance to start 100 Days of Gratitude to end their year. Each day or night, they were asked to write down one thing that they were grateful for. My list includes things like warm baths, date nights with my husband, peanut butter, snuggles with my kids, and fingerless gloves. Of course, “God’s grace” and “my relationship with God” are in my journal as well, but the little things are important, too. Those things keep me grounded and allow me to be okay with not being perfect. 

It’s fine. I know my life will not be full of perfect moments. I know that my house won’t always be clean when a friend stops by, that my car won’t always get an oil change when the dealership thinks it’s time, and that my kids’ birthday cakes won’t always be homemade, but those are the things that really don’t matter in the scheme of things. What does matter is that a friend stops by, regardless of the way my house looks; that I have a car that gets me and my family safely where we need to go; that I get to celebrate one more birthday with my kids. And that’s perfect to me.