A Challenge for an Intentional December

December is the most beautiful month of the year. Sure, it has to compete a little bit with September and May, but between the joy laced into every single day of the month, the chilly weather forcing you inside with the ones you love and all the decorations and lights–December wins. I often find, though, I excuse much more in this month than I do any other time of the year. Staying up late? No problem! It’s Christmas time! There’s too much to do to go to bed early. Overindulging? It’s Christmas time! January will be here soon enough. Overpacking the calendar? It’s Christmas time! There are places to go! People to see! Completely forgoing all physical activity? You already know the response to this one. Last month I decided I wanted to have my most intentional December yet.

For me, this meant looking at the areas that tend to fall by the wayside this time of year. Let me tell you, the list was not short. The areas that ended up meaning the most to me were my time with the Lord, eating the right amount of healthy foods, getting enough sleep, exercise and serving others. After seeing my priorities, I was able to make a list of doable goals to achieve throughout the month of December.

1. My quiet time first thing in the morning. Every morning, I wake up about an hour before the kids to spend time with the Lord. (a few days a week that’s a short time before my workout.) I’ve already noticed starting last month I had gotten way too relaxed on my bedtime and when I go to bed late, especially with an autoimmune disease, my exhaustion in the morning is next level. I spend my time reading and praying just dozing off which is certainly not ideal and the day just doesn’t start off on the right foot for me as a mother. GOAL: Wake up at 6am every weekday for a devotional and prayer time. I’ll be doing this free Advent devotional this month and cannot wait! I think a devotional format is perfect for this month and I’ll look forward to it every morning.

2. Exercise (or lack thereof). In our old house, O and I had a gym in our basement. I’d head downstairs at 5:30 to spend a half hour on the elliptical before doing some lifting 4 mornings a week. It was awesome. When we moved and lost the baby in June, my workout routine was completely thrown off and while I did get back on track there for a couple months, I’m back in the phase where I put off my workout all day long and eventually it just doesn’t get done. Not anymore, friends! GOAL: work out before the kids wake up 4 mornings a week. O starts coaching this month which is going to turn my schedule alllll the way upside down, but I know if I don’t get some movement in before 8am it will never happen for the day. I downloaded the Sweat app and will be trying BBG again since I can do the entire workout in my bedroom in 30 minutes. If it’s too hard on my body, I’ll be doing ballet workouts from good’ ol Youtube. I also tend to stop taking long walks with the kids because it’s so stinkin’ cold, but we’re Texans now. No excuses.

3. Sleep. Oh man, sleep. This is my weakest area by far. Every doctor has told me I’ll see the greatest strides in my Hashimoto’s flare-ups when I consistently get 8+ hours of sleep a night. HOW! I just can’t even wrap my head around this! Do any of you get that much sleep every night? Please, teach me your ways! The evenings are still the time I get work done most days which isn’t ideal, and the evenings are always my most inspired time. That being said, my health is much more important than whatever I could be spending my evenings doing. GOAL: to be in bed (showered, makeup off, teeth brushed) at 10:30 every night. If I make it into bed earlier, fantastic! But 10:30 is the hard cutoff. I’ll schedule my day accordingly and whatever work I know will take longest, whether it be typing our a blog post, editing photos, painting, cleaning, chores or whatever else needing attention that day, I’ll find a way to get it done early in the day instead.

4. Eating the right amount of healthy foods. We eat pretty clean in our house, especially in the last few months since removing all refined sugar, grains, soy and still avoiding all meat and dairy. While I don’t overindulge or eat too many sweets like I would in the past, I go to the opposite extreme and end up malnourished. Malnourished doesn’t mean starved- it means not eating enough nutrient-dense foods and this is my current battle. GOAL: Have a vegetable with every meal and eat 3 well rounded meals a day. This is so, so difficult in December! Cooking suddenly just feels like another thing on the “to-do” list and at the end of a busy day, the last thing I want to do is chop and meal-prep. In order to accomplish this goal, I’ll meal-plan on Saturday and meal-prep on Sundays to make lunches and dinners easy and predictable. I tend to take way better care of O and the kids than I do myself in this area so my plan is to eat the way my toddlers eat and I’ll be all set!

5. Serving others. I can often watch all of December go by without taking advantage of all the opportunities to serve and give. We always donate to foundations and charities and create gift packages for families through our church, but when it comes to actually serving in a way that feels sacrificial I miss the mark. GOAL: Give aside from monetarily giving each week. One week, we’ll pack bags from our own home to gift to those who need it much more. The next, we’ll take the kids to the store to choose items to bless other kids their age with. This can also look like bringing a meal to a friend who’s too busy or overwhelmed, taking gift cards to a restaurant right by a place the homeless congregate, or inviting others into your home. I’m so looking forward to this part of my intentional December.

A small goal I just want to be mindful of is allowing time for rest. I can be tempted to plan something for every spare minute of this month which can definitely cause burnout in O and the kids. I’ll be leaving room for margin to relax, recoup and rest together to leave this year better than we entered it.

What are your goals for the next month? If you’d like to join me, comment or email to let me know and we’ll keep each other accountable with weekly check-ins! Here’s to our best December yet.

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