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Happy New Year, everybody!
I’ve not been with you in a while because I’ve been busy with my family, but you’ve all been on my mind often. 

The holidays are a very busy time for you as well I’m sure, but there have got to be ways to make things simpler, doesn’t there? Holidays often leave people stressed and worn out, and that’s not what its supposed to be all about. Therefore, this year, my family did a few things a bit differently, to take some of the hectic nature out of the holidays that are supposed to be about God’s love, and family.  Here are some of my top tips for surviving the holidays, and even enjoying them.


1. When shopping at malls, you are most likely to find a parking spot near the most expensive stores. Why? Because most people don’t want to shop for $300 items that they can get for $30 elsewhere.


2. Instead of shopping during the holiday rush, shop during sale seasons throughout the year. This will help take away some financial stress, and make you feel like a boss.


3. If you know where you are going to be shopping, go online and find coupon codes, and printable coupons for as many stores as possible. The reasons why are the same as tip 2, but lets be real, things are way over priced. You aren’t being cheap, you’re being smart.


4.  If you are normally the person who cooks the holiday meal for your family and friends, you probably don’t get to spend much time relaxing, so try having each person attending (outside of your house) bring a side dish. If this isn’t an option, try making dishes that can be frozen ahead of time, so that all that needs to be done is heating everything up.


5. Order Chinese. My family did this on Christmas. Cookies, pies, and other desserts can be prepared ahead of time, but if there is a place where you can order food for the whole family that will leave them happy, and you without the pressure, go for it! This was the first Christmas in ages where my mom didn’t insist on staying in the Kitchen all day. (It was pretty cool)


But of course after the holidays are over, the time comes for the age old tradition of New Years Resolutions!

Most people don’t keep all of their resolutions when they make a long list of them, so if you’re thinking about trying 20, maybe you should start smaller. If you are the most dedicated, determined person you know, and are sure you can handle 20 life/habit changes, power to ya! However, it seems that when people take small steps and succeed, they are encouraged to add more.


Most Common Resolutions/tips to help


(These tips are given humbly by a girl who hasn’t gotten it all right yet, and needs to get better at taking her own advise)


1. I will lose 20 pounds by eating healthy and drinking water ALL THE TIME.  

Good for you! However, if you’re a bit of a junk food junkie who prefers soda and coffee to herbal teas and water, this could be very difficult for two reasons. 1. You know what you love, and you know where to find it. This will take self control. 2. You might have all the motivation in the world, but your body craves what its used to. If you drink 3 cups of coffee, full-caffeine daily, your body WILL go through withdrawals. Same with major changes in diet.  You don’t want to just go on a diet, because once you’re off it, everything could go back to the way it was. You want to change how you eat and drink altogether. Be patient. Switch out one of your daily cups o’ joe for water. Adding citrus fruits, ice, frozen fruit, or cucumber to it gives a nice light flavor, and extra vitamins! Switching to decaf is also a good move. Make other alterations to how you eat as well. Whole grain bread instead of white, more vegetables and less starches, and less sugar will ALL add up. Slow and steady wins out in the habit wars.


2. I am going to work out 6 times a week!


Again, this is a wonderful goal, but if you’re like me and for the past few years haven’t had the time/ energy to workout, don’t feel bad starting slow! First find a few types of exercise that make you happy. Lifting and running are fine, but if you like yoga, dancing, or something else….DO THAT! If you hate the type of exercise you choose to do, you probably won’t do it. If time is your issue, find something that can be done in short spurts. My personal favorite can be found here–> http://www.bodyrock.tv/. These people put together tons of workouts that can be done in 10 to 15 minutes at home, and plenty of them are bodyweight workouts, so they can be done without tons of equipment. If youve got somebody to work out with, that’s a HUGE bonus. Above all don’t get discouraged. Start with a couple times a week set into your schedule, and if there are other times throughout the week you feel pumped, go for it. Much like eating habits, slow and steady will win out in the end.

3. I will trust God and feel peace.  


This is one that I’ve struggled with as much as the next guy, so this tip is preaching to me as much as it is to you, but I’ll give it with a humble heart.  Try your best to spend time each day with God. Not just so He can do for you, but so that you can grow in relationship with Him. Sometimes I find myself thinking about how I haven’t spent enough time with God and how that will hurt me, but forget that I should just want to hang out with God because….I can know God! When you let that sink in for a while, it’s truly astounding. YOU can have a heart to heart relationship with the Most Holy. The spirit that placed the stars. How unfathomable that really is! 

Back to the actual tip, try to add more time to just sit with God into your life (Slow and steady as always). God LOVES you, and He wants to pour into His relationship with you as you give Him time. Read the book he wrote to you as you’d read a love letter. Spill your guts to Him before you spill them to your friends. Sing to Him when you just want Him to know how much you love him.  I don’t know of any better way to learn to trust Him more. Just always go to Him first, and never give up.


Happy New Year, everyone! God bless.