Gifts of Joy: Systems

GJ Systems

Welcome to the fourth blog post of the Gifts of Joy series where we share strategies for finding and sharing joy this Christmas.

The buzzword “Systems” seems to be all the rage with business and marketing gurus from Michael Hyatt to Chalene Johnson. We hear that the answer to productive living is getting better systems in place in your life.

Working in publishing for 8 years, I saw firsthand the importance of systems. I was hired as a Ministry Consultant and responsible for designing programs for our Nation-wide network of leaders. In my position, I had a flexible system that I worked from because every week was different. However, the editorial side of my team had a system called the Editorial Production Calendar. This is what the writers, editors, copy editors, and designers lived by. I was also part of the their system!

I often bucked their system when I didn’t turn in articles or return manuscript revisions by their calendar due date. Looking back, I see where I valued my time and obligations more than I valued “the system” or my peers. However, my perceptions of their system quickly changed two years later when I became a team leader.

When I saw how important the production schedule was for my team’s success, my attitude changed! From that point on, I did what I could to make sure my actions didn’t interfere with the system. Also, I had an amazing team with an editor that was a systems master. Not only did I not want to interfere with the system, but I respected the Editor so much that I wanted to do all that I could to see the editorial side and system succeeded. When an outsourced curriculum was placed on our team due to the recession, the system we had almost handled the additional responsibilities. We used the system to prove that our team needed more editorial help if we were to effectively produce additional curriculum. Also, we showed that our team’s system could only do so much before the process could crash from overload.

A system not only is a way to be more productive in the workplace, but when you have clear systems in place at home you are better able to manage your personal life and make time for those things in life that bring you joy. It also helps you identify those things that rob you of your time.

I really struggled when I left my job to be a stay at home mom, because the systems that I had relied on at work no longer kept me on task. When I started my own social media consulting business 5 years ago, I had to set up some systems to get the work completed in my job and at home.

Think of the current systems in your life. You might fall into one of two areas- a System’s Master or a Systems Mess-er (those that mess up systems) or you might be a bit of both.

Most likely, you follow a system every morning without even thinking about it- get out of bed, get in the shower, turn the water on, get wet, shampoo hair, condition hair, wash body, rinse, dry off, blow dry hair, and finish getting ready for work. Your morning and evening routines are systems that you have created in your life.

Take a moment and think of other systems you may need in your life. What are the systems you could create to make your life more productive and make more time for doing the things you love which will bring you JOY. The goal is to systemize the mundane things to be more fully engaged in your relationships.

Christmas is a great time to create systems. As we discussed yesterday, this month like no other month, brings added expectations and responsibilities that can overwhelm even the best of systems and humans.

The Gifts of Joy Challenge is to seek to simplify a system that involves others over the holiday season. This might be helping a family member get ready for a holiday gathering, creating a family calendar for December, or planning sit down meals with your family at certain times during the week. Whatever system you think will bring you and yours joy this Christmas season.

What systems come to your mind?

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Gifts of Joy: Gratitude

GJ Gratitude


Ask for what you need, but be grateful for what you get. -Whitney English

Monday night I heard Whitney English share this statement via scope. My kids came home from their first year of school with a similar sentiment.

You get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit.

These are all ways to say, “Be grateful for what you have”.

Of course, I tell my kids often that by being born in one of the richest countries in the world, like the United States, we have more luxuries than the majority of the world. This is incredibly hard for either of them or myself (really) to completely understand, because we have always had a roof over our heads and warm floors under our feet. However, as a child I lived is a tiny old house where my father grew up of less than 500 square feet. I didn’t know any difference because my basic needs were provided. We felt rich to me, because we had shelter (it was very cold during the mild Alabama winters), food, transportation, and hand-me down or handmade clothing all with a whole lot of faith, hope and love.

Serving to poverty stricken areas in Mexico, Moldova, and Indonesia I have seen poverty. Yet, even among what I see as destitute, I see smiles of joy from children playing together and parents making what little they do have meet their family’s needs to the best of their ability.

Today, especially in the US, there is such a huge movement of entitlement with very little in the way of attitudes of gratitude.

I’m reminded of Ann Voskamp’s book 1000’s Gifts where it was through the counting of gifts that Ann discovered joy as she encountered God and opened her eyes to the work of his hand in simple daily living and in the world at large.

Ann continues to tell the stories of gratitude and inspire others through her blog

How often do we stop to count the ways that we have been blessed? Are we grateful for what we have been given? Do we dare begin to count the gifts?

Today, let’s take a moment to take inventory of the gifts we have been given and give thanks. Instead of looking at everything we don’t have or cannot provide to others, begin looking at all the little things we do have and find joy in those things.

The Gifts of Joy Challenge is to tell someone you know why you are grateful for them. Share with them specific ways that you see them living a life that inspires you.

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Gifts of Joy: Expectations

Realistic Expectations

What are your expectations for Christmas?

My children have huge expectations for Christmas. They have certain things that they want like a go-cart and a $500 drone. We have set the most clear expectation that Santa will not be bringing these two items for Christmas. Santa has limitations, too. He also knows that our neighborhood is not safe for motorized vehicles driven by children. When we know our children’s real expectations, we are better able to guide their thinking towards realistic expectations like a race car set and less expensive gifts…fun but affordable.

Life is better when we have clear and obtainable expectations set for our children and for ourselves.

Fulfilled expectations can fill us with delight. Unreal expectations can rob us of joy.

Part of discovering joy this Christmas is setting clear expectations for yourself and for others.

Take a moment to identify and write expectations:

  1. Of yourself…cards, parties, gifts, giving, decorating, cleaning, hosting family, church services, etc.
  2. Others have of you.
  3. You have for others.

Could it be that all the things you just listed are additional expectations around Christmas? It is an unrealistic expectation of anyone to add this much stuff to their life over one month.

From your list circle the expectations that are priority and are solely your responsibility. If these are not clearly defined, take the time to get them defined. If you have some that are unreal, acknowledge it. Can you mark some expectations off your list?

This second day of December set your own expectations and clearly define those expectation you have of others. Take care of this now. If you do, you will not be struggling with unrealistic expectations of your time during the hustle of the Christmas season.

The “Gifts of Joy Challenge” of today is to extend grace to someone else in the area of expectations over Christmas. Simply stated, extend grace to yourself and others and recapture the joy of Christmas.





Gifts of Joy: Tune Down and Turn Up

Gifts of Joy

In the month of December, we are thinking of ways to be more joyful. Not because I have the market on joy, but because I desire more joy in my own life to share with my family and tribe.

After showing my family a Periscope of my son flying his drone, I realized what a Debbie Downer I had become. I basically told all my negative thoughts on my kid’s most favorite toy which was a very expensive gift from their grandparents. We laughed about it, but that was a wake up call that the joy in my heart was not evident in my life.

I knew something had to change. I started a search for more joy which has lead me to this point where I want to take the month of December to rediscover joy and share that joy with others.

Each day I will present a “Joy Challenge”. This will be a simple action that we can do to find more joy or a share joy with others.

Tune down the negative and turn up the positive voices in your life.

Tune down the negative by thinking of the negative people that influence you in real life and via social media. Tune them out by setting boundaries on when you will accept their calls and see them. Tune down their voice on social media. Avoid liking or commenting on all their posts on Facebook, so that you will not receive more posts from them in your feed. You may have to block a few people this month to tune them out. It also may mean tuning down all media. Do what you need to do to take a break from the negative.

Turn up the positive people in your life by giving them more of your attention. Turn up their influence in your life. Consider having coffee or lunch with someone that encourages you. On social media, like and comment more on their posts so more positive things show up in your feed. Read or listen to positive messages. Consider doing a devotional or reading through the Psalms in the Bible. Seek more joy in your life by being intentional about finding it and sharing it with others.

The “Gifts of Joy Challenge” today is to tell one or more of those positive people in your life, those that bring joy to your life, thank you. Take a moment via social media or mail to send a note letting those know that you appreciate them for bringing joy to this world and making your life better.

You can tune in to my Gifts of Joy Persicopes @Mitzi_Eaker around 9:15 AM daily this month to chat or to share your Joy Challenge experiences in the comments.

I would love to know what brings you joy.