Archive for Christmas

Still, Still, Still: The Missing Key to Adoration.

There’s no shame in listening to Christmas carols before Thanksgiving in my book. They somehow bring all of the sentiments we hold dear–home, family, faith, hope, love– and tie them all together in one musical, merry package. {And who can lift your spirits like Bing Crosby or Perry Como?}

One of my favorites Christmas hymns, “O Come, All Ye Faithful” says,

“Come and behold Him, born the King of angels,

O Come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

I love it because it beckons you and me to worship.

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Isn’t that exactly the call we need when we have over-burdened ourselves with mammoth to-do lists?

Before we pull a Black Friday all-nighter, coordinate/dress/photograph a Pinterest worthy family Christmas card, bake ourselves into oblivion,

before we run to do one more thing,

we need to bow.

Worship is our first priority. 

And we need to worship rightly,

because worship can so easily shift and drift into false worship of anything and everything. 

As conservative Christian women, we’d confess that we do, in fact, worship. Oh, yes. We document our quiet time on Instagram, yes we do. #soblessed

When talking about our quiet time, we can produce lists, plans, schedules, and studies. We trot out our favorite commentary and think we’ve done okay. That’s all good,

but have we worshiped?

Have we quieted our heart at all before the Lord?

Have we taken the time to recognize His presence and ascribe Him the worth He is due, or are we so busy talking to Him and telling Him all that needs to be blessed and done and fixed?

Come, let us adore Him. Let those words do their work on your tired soul.

When was the last time you were still in the presence of God? Still, as in, quieted, weaned, submissive, yielding-– nothing to say or dictate, no agenda but to know Him, see Him in His beauty, acknowledge and adore His presence?

And if it has been a while, have you replaced worship for service? Let’s be honest, service is safe. You can control it. Yes, I’ll do this. No, I’ll not do that.

Worship requires submission and admission that God is greater and worthy of anything and everything, and that’s a little scarier than service.

Some have spent their entire life in ministry and service and have never surrendered to the Lord. We’ve given parts, sure. But we cling and hoard those secret loves that we refuse to part with. We still fight and demand self-adoration. We say, “No, Lord. That’s too much. I can’t release that.”

I like this quote from Joseph Carroll:

“The first essential condition for true worship is total submission. The second essential is that Christ alone should be glorified. We must meet these conditions, submitting ourselves absolutely, without reserve, to Jesus Christ.

In Revelation 4:11, we find the worshipers ascribing worth to the One on the throne, telling Him he is worthy.

“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”

What have they done? They have abdicated and cast their crowns before the throne, divesting themselves of their glory and saying, “You are worthy to receive glory, and You alone.” Honor and power follow. These three things are what men seek: to be glorified, to be exalted, to be honored.

Therefore to worship Jesus Christ, we must divest ourselves of all desire for glory and honor and power; for He and He alone is worthy of such.”

“O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

So much clamors for our attention this season.

The world promises we can have it all.

Advertisers tell us that if we do more, buy more, we’ll be happier, more glamorous, more, more, more.

God says to be still. Adore. Come unto me.

“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple.”

Let’s take a few minutes today to do this: be still, truly adore, and go forward mindful of God, aware of His presence, submitted to His will, and active in His service to love others and exalt Him. This is the worship-ful life.

 

The Beauty of Humility: A Christian Woman’s Ornament

One of the most beautiful adornments of a Christian woman is the grace of humility. The Christmas story is jam-pack full of examples of humility for us to emulate.

“Humility is simply the disposition which prepares the soul for living on trust.”-Andrew Murray, Humility

A humble woman trusts that God is good and can be trusted with all the aspects of our lives.

“Our humility before God has no value, except that it prepares us to reveal the humility of Jesus to our fellow men.
― Andrew Murray, Humility

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How do you know if you are humble before God? The tell-tale sign: she’s humble and gracious to her fellow man. Our regard for God is seen in our treatment of others and our mistreatment of others betrays all of our claims of “loving God.”

Humility colors all of our interactions with other people. It enables graciousness, the ability to act with appropriateness and thoughtfulness in any situation. Those who’ve received grace live gracious lives.

In real life, graciousness looks like this:

A humble woman uses common courtesy. She doesn’t interrupt others because she doesn’t assume that what she has to say is so important that it must be said right now.

She doesn’t make others uncomfortable by asking probing personal questions because she doesn’t assume that people owe her an answer.

She doesn’t seek attention but rather promotes others.

She’s socially sensitive and thinks before she speaks. She considers the feelings of others. “Venting” (verbal vomiting) and telling people off is not something she does.

When she acts in less than courteous ways, she shows that she knows better by making it right and apologizing for her shortcoming.

A humble heart gives rise to kindness, courteousness, and a host of other virtues so that social graces come naturally.

Humility is one of the chief characteristics of Christ’s life in the gospels. We see humility throughout his life, and at his death, but we see it first in His birth.

 

We can hardly wrap our head around the fact that our King, Jesus,  left his throne for a lousy stable in order to save sinful, hateful people. A humbling act for our benefit.

We see Mary’s humility as she says “Yes, Lord,” to whatever God ordained for her life. This meant misunderstanding, scandal, pain, and a life of trials for her, ending in the gruesome murder of her Son on a cross. She signed up for pain knowing that God’s ways are always higher than our plans or temporal pain.

Humility gives up it’s rights and doesn’t demand it’s own way. 

Isaiah 53:6 reminds us that in our flesh, we all want our own way: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

We also see Mary’s humility in her interactions with Joseph. She believes him and follows him to Egypt when he tells her he was warned “in a dream” (eye roll!) “by an angel” to flee. A proud Mary might have asserted her rights or pulled the “I’m the one God chose to carry His Son” card so you’ll listen to me.  But her lifestyle of humility shines through in her interactions with her husband at home.

We see Joseph’s humility as he refused to “get even” with Mary when he found out she was expecting “miraculously.” He could have socially shamed her. But he was godly enough to refuse to give into vengeance. A humble heart is quick to protect like that. It’s the proud who loves to avenge.

We see Jesus humility in His birth. No shiny-floored birthing room. Just a dirty animal place.

And again, we see Mary’s humility as the stable-birth-room is invaded by shepherds right after she just.gave.birth.on.a.dirt.floor and we see her demeanor is not one of “give us a little space” or “who do you think you are barging in like this?” In the noise and excitement, we see she was quiet before the Lord, “pondering” all these thing in her heart.

Where do you find yourself today?

Maybe you think humility doesn’t matter too much because your moments are mundane or menial and considered “unimportant” by the world.

Did you know that the fiber of your character is being woven by every humble interaction you have with your children, your neighbor, your fellow church member, that sick parent you’re caring for?

Did you know that your influence is not determined by a spotlight on a stage or by thousands of followers on social media, but by the tiny, seemingly unimportant words and deeds of your everyday life?

Did you know that the most influential person in the Kingdom is the humblest?

That the strongest is the meekest?

That the One who sees all sees all of your unseen and unnoticed works, words, and actions that you’ve performed on His behalf?

He knows when your hands served as His hands in another’s life.

Did you know that our humble Lord will take up your cause when you are mistreated? That God resists the proud and refuses to bless the works of the self-reliant and self-serving? Call it what you will–ministry, social work, or sacrifice–if pride is present the Lord rejects it. “Pride renders humility impossible.”

“The truth is this: Pride must die in you or nothing of heaven can live in you. Under the banner of the truth, give yourself up to the meek and humble spirit of the holy Jesus. Humility must sow the seed or there can be no reaping in heaven. Look not at pride only as an unbecoming temper, nor at humility only as a decent virtue: for the one is death and the other is life; the one is hell and the other is heaven. So much as you have of pride within you, you have of the fallen angel alive in you; so much as you have of true humility, so much you have of the Lamb of God within you.”

Andrew Murray

This Christmas, we have the opportunity to deal with so many different people. We have ministry opportunities, and family gatherings, we run into friends and neighbors, and even some people we’d rather not spend time with. Let’s make humility a matter of utmost importance and prayer. Let’s let our interactions show that we are under the control of the Master and that we represent Jesus correctly.

Do you need to find humble friends?

It’s counter-cultural to seek out the meek. In our flesh, we want to be associated with the people calling the shots, the loud, assertive, flashy, and popular. But, believe me, befriending the humble woman and finding the women who are dealing humbly with their family and church members is where it’s at. You’ll rarely find them on stage or seeking the spotlight. You may not know what they are doing at all because they don’t have to announce it to everyone. You’ll know them because they’re gracious and courteous in their interactions. They’re not frazzled, but live lives of peace and contentment. They know their God and they’re servants just like Him.

Surround yourself with these lovely women. Encourage them. Learn from them. And as you ponder all the examples of humility this Christmas, ask God:

“Where am I proud?” (great resource here)

“How have my interactions with others not reflected humility and how can I make that right?”

“What steps can I take right now to put pride to death to show my love for God and to have proper relationships with others?”

 

Mary’s secret for peace {for all of us.}

Do you find peace elusive? Do circumstances dictate your mood? Does the behavior (or misbehavior) of others rattle you and threaten to steal your joy?

On what does your happiness depend?

One of the greatest lessons we can learn is that peace is not dependent on circumstances when you are in Christ. When my peace is threatened, I know my focus is on the wrong things: problems, injustices, situations.

Getting alone with my Bible and some time with the Lord is really the needed re-calibration for my anxious heart. “Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on Thee, because he trusts in Thee.”

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Perfect peace.

One of my favorite examples from scripture, as you already know, is the humility of Mary.

Mary exemplifies a peace filled heart.

Mary’s world was turned upside down and we see her in a state of surrender. Angel appears, news delivered: You’re going to deliver the Messiah.

Peace. Belief. Surrender.—>And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

Mary was living in a time when women had few rights. She was not master of her own destiny. She was dependent on God and she knew it. She called herself a servant–one who does the will of another.

Mary had few resources. She didn’t have riches or influence or people in high places that could get her out of a fix.

It’s easy to romanticize the manger scene with a soft-focused nostalgia. But think about Mary in her material state, flesh and blood, pregnant and uncomfortable with no where to give birth after traveling on a donkey to get to her birthing room, which turns out is no where, because there was no room for them. Plan B: Give birth in a stable on the ground.

Picture her giving of herself in order to give life to another, like every mother does. Her delivery wasn’t sterile or pain free. Shaking, sweating, panting, cold, hot, writhing in pain, holding her breath, frantic to survive another contraction and hoping the excruciating pain would soon be over. Her attitude on the dirt floor and hay bed of a birthing room: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord.”

When shepherds interrupted the scene to see the newborn, and people were invading their space, chattering on and on about the angels and the stars, about the news, and why they were there…

with all that noise and confusion after you just gave birth.in.a.stable.

and we see that Mary is not joining in with the noise and confusion, and is not agitated or demanding her space or rights, but is simply quiet. At rest. Pondering. Unaffected by the outward circumstances. She knew her God and she simply trusted Him. “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

We see very little of Mary during the Lord’s 33 years on earth. We assume she did what normal mothers do. Night after night she nursed baby Jesus. She changed diapers, rocked, burped Him, cleaned a home, made meals, swept floors, cared for Joseph. Nothing spectacular by the world’s standards. Just faithful care for the people around her in her own little sphere of influence. But when we do see her, she was doing the right thing, and following the teachings of God. She followed Joseph when he was warned in a “dream” to flee to Egypt. We don’t see any recorded resistance to Joseph’s leadership. Then, years later, she was faithfully bringing the Lord to the temple when he was 12. Before Jesus first miracle, we see her instructing the servants to “do whatever He tells you.” Her steadfast heart was the same. She still saw herself as a servant of the Lord and trusted in Him.

And this is the secret to our peace as well. We need to see ourselves as servants of the Lord, to do what He commands, to walk where He leads, to serve in humility where He puts us.

Your life may seem mundane and maybe you are doing small things by the world’s standards. You may be obscure and poor and hidden. Maybe you are changing a baby’s diaper, or maybe caring for an elderly parent. And while you’ll never receive recognition for these things, an nobody seems to notice or care, God does see and notice. In fact, you are His servant doing His bidding right there as you feed that baby in the middle of the night, and as you calm that anxious loved one with Alzheimers.

Mary taught us that the ordinary, as well as the extraordinary, are to be embraced as “unto the Lord” and as “from the Lord.” This should teach us to say, with Mary, “Yes, Lord. Anything. Everything. Whatever you think is best for me.”

Mary held the “The Prince of Peace” in her physical arms. We have something better: We are “in Him” and have Him in our hearts.

Col. 3:1-3 “If you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

This Christmas, why not hand over that thing that has toyed with you and robbed you of your joy for so long. Why not meditate on the Prince of Peace and the one who did so much to bring peace with God to your life, heart, and eternity? Like Mary, why not trust God with everything and proclaim yourself a handmaiden/servant of God?

Why did we allow that small thing to steal our joy and peace again? What can threaten our peace now?

Frugal DIY Chalkboard Hack

Wanted to share this quick idea with you. I came up with it while trying to think of a frugal way to decorate for a church event this weekend.

Behold, the foamboard “chalkboard.”

Foam board "chalkboard"

Foam board “chalkboard”

My Walmart sells black foam board near the poster board. It was less than $3.

I brought it home, rubbed it over with chalk, then wiped it with a tissue. That gave it a chalkboard look, instead of it being solid black. I sketched words and the nativity (I used a clip art image as a guide) then, when I was happy with my design, I traced it with white chalk marker, also available at Walmart.

What do you think? Pretty convincing for a fake, huh? I don’t think it will hold up to erasing the chalk pen, but I will let you know if it does.

It’s large, so it would also be great as a focal piece on your Christmas mantle.
Let me know if you make one, or share your link in the comments! Have fun!
Magic Cabin

Virtual Christmas Open House

Magic Cabin
I love decorating, and never more than at Christmas time. It’s a love my mother taught me. And like I told you in Merry Christmas, Meager Budget , my decorations are not elaborate or expensive, but they don’t have to be. Simple things make the home feel warm and cozy.

I mostly decorate with natural greenery, lights, and ribbon.  I snip pieces of different greens and wire them in bundles and stuff them in corners here and there. It does the trick and makes the house smell beautiful.

I thought it would be fun to do a virtual open house, so come on inside.

Wreath Welcome

I found this ribbon at Homegoods and fell in love with it!

I found this ribbon at Homegoods and fell in love with it!

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Come on inside.

The kitchen. This is my favorite room to decorate. We spend so much time here. We homeschool at the kitchen table, so we are here a lot of the day.

The kitchen. This is my favorite room to decorate. We spend so much time here. We homeschool at the kitchen table, so we are here a lot of the day.

I absolutely love this antique jelly cabinet. It holds my extra dishes and behind the magic curtain I store home school resources.

I absolutely love this antique jelly cabinet. It holds my extra dishes and behind the magic curtain I store home school resources.

I stick cedar and holly everywhere. My grandmother gave me this brown transfer-ware gravy boat and dish set.

I stick cedar and holly everywhere. My grandmother gave me this brown transfer-ware gravy boat and dish set.

I found this antique recipe box at an antique shop 20 years ago. It's full of handwritten recipes. Someday I will go through them.

I found this antique recipe box at an antique shop 20 years ago. It’s full of handwritten recipes. Someday I will go through them.

I refinished this Hoosier Cabinet when I was 25. It was a wedding gift from my mother in law.

I refinished this Hoosier Cabinet when I was 25. It was a wedding gift from my mother in law.

Kitchen tree with antique style mini cookie cutters. My hoosier holds all of my Gooseberry Patch cookbooks.

Kitchen tree decorated with mini cookie cutters and mercury glass. My Hoosier holds all of my Gooseberry Patch cookbooks.

 

This beeswax lamb was made by my sister Bethy with an antique chocolate mold.

This beeswax lamb candle was made by my sister Bethy with an antique chocolate mold.

Motto sampler in old Adirondack style frame.

Motto sampler in old Adirondack style frame.

This is an idea I found on Pinterest. I altered it by adding mini lights inside the jars rather than tea light candles. I was afraid it would go up in flames the other way.

This is an idea I found on Pinterest. It’s an antique milk carrier, ball jars, and greens. It called for tealights inside the jar, but I substituted mini-lights…I was afraid it would go up in flames the other way.

Vintage Eatmore Cranberry box. They use to sell berries in these.

Vintage Eatmore Cranberry box. They used to sell berries in these.

Family room mantle and tree.

Family room mantle and tree.

My friend, Jen, gave me this sparkly "Merry Christmas" years ago. I filled pots from Ikea with mini trees, added greens and lights. Easy.

My friend, Jen, gave me this sparkly “Merry Christmas” years ago. I filled pots from Ikea with mini trees, added greens and lights. Easy.

Our tree is decorated with handmade ornaments. This is from a dear friend. Cross stitched on linen.

Our tree is decorated with handmade ornaments. This is from a dear friend. Cross stitched on linen.

The kids learned a simple whip stitch on felt ornaments.

The kids learned a simple blanket stitch on felt ornaments.

This mitten is needle felted onto a felt heart.

This mitten is needle felted onto a felt heart.

Calligraphy from a dear friend.

Calligraphy from a dear friend.

Another mantle

Another mantle

Greens inside the fireplace that doesn't work.

Greens inside the fireplace that doesn’t work.

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Entry way

Entry way

Hope set up this tea table.

Hope set up this tea table.

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Plum Pudding candle.

Plum Pudding candle.

Seasonal table.

Seasonal table.

That’s about it! I enjoyed sharing these pictures with you. Feel free to link up to your Christmas virtual tours or blog posts about what you’re up to!

Happy decorating!

Sarah

 

 

Thy God Shall Be Thy Glory

Today is the first day of Advent, and a special time to focus on what Christmas really means. I’m posting devotional prep that I did for my kids. We’ll be lighting a candle during dinner, to represent the one true light and HOPE coming into the world…Jesus Christ!

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These are by far some of the most beautiful verses in all the Bible foretelling the coming of Christ and His ministry from Isaiah 11.

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.

From a humble family tree, the Messiah would come. This One was both anointed and appointed by the Spirit of God. He would show us what true, Spirit led, perfect wisdom, understanding, counsel and strength looked like. He’d show us perfect obedience–a life that truly feared God. He always did the will of His father, never trying to do more or less than was ordained.
He wouldn’t judge men by the sight of eyes, as He is no respecter of persons, fooled by outward shows and hypocrisy. He is not fooled by appearances, but sees into the heart to the integrity or lack thereof of a man or woman.
He wouldn’t judge by the hearing of ears. Men will often overly praise or gossip and malign another man, but these rumors and representations are not how God judges you.
He judges with righteousness the poor and meek, or the lowest of society. Righteousness and faithfulness will reign, and peace like we’ve never known will come. Those, who were once stubborn and headstrong will be compliant and teachable, so much so that a little child could teach them.”

Later on in the chapter, Isaiah talks about God enlarging His kingdom to the Gentiles. Amazing grace!
And what should be our response to all of this goodness towards us?
Isaiah 60:19
“The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee, but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.”
When we truly understand and know God,
we won’t be enthralled by lesser lights,

things that distract us, that promise happiness but remain elusive,

even the sun and moon will be nothing when we truly treasure all that God is and all that we are in Him.

God will be an everlasting light to us, and we’ll GLORY in our God.

60 Stocking Stuffers that Encourage Creativity and Won’t Break In One Day

Need some ideas for stocking stuffers that will encourage your kids to be creative? I’ve got some ideas for you, because after 21 years of buying stocking stuffers, I’m pretty adamant that we NOT amass a pile of plastic junk. (Think junk times five kids, and it adds up!). I can’t afford to spend money on stuff that breaks after one use, so I opt for things we’ll use during the year and that will encourage creativity.

60 stocking stuffers

So here is a list of my favorite stuffers that encourage artistic pursuits, imagination, and creative play.

  1.  Crayola Markers
  2.  Strathmore  Spiral Drawing Notebook, 50-Sheet
    (rolls or notebooks, depending on age)
  3.  Pencil sets (HB should be included)
  4. General Kneaded Eraser Jumbo (stretchy eraser that can be used on watercolor paper.)
  5. Watercolor set (quality depending on age. Prang is fine for toddlers.)
  6.  Watercolor paper
  7. Stretched canvas (they make adorable 3X3″ canvases for mini artwork
  8. Acrylic paints
  9. Brushes
  10. Origami paper
  11. Sculpey clay
  12. Stamps
  13. Ink pads
  14. Colorful Duct Tape(patterns are fun for covering pencils, books, cans.)
  15. Scrapbook chubby pads (small 5X7 blocks)
  16. ArtSkills Neon Jumbo Glitter Glue, 5 Pieces (PA-1478)
    Glitter glue
  17. Jewelry findings
  18. Beads, charms, etc…for jewelry making
  19. Ribbon
  20. Blank Cards
  21. Glue stick
  22. Photo tabs
  23. Colorful tissue paper
  24. Pastel chalks
  25. Tackle box for art supplies
  26. Wool felt
  27. Wool Roving for needle felting
  28. Small scissors
  29. Embroidery floss in primary colors
  30. Wooden “people” to paint and dress. Some people use wooden clothes pins.
  31. Pipe cleaners (the huge ones are fun)
  32. Play Dough
  33. Rolling pin, cutters for dough
  34. Wikki Stix Rainbow Pak
  35. Pocket Microscope (My kids loved these things and still use them, including one of my college kids!)
  36. Mini Field Guides
  37. magnifying glass
  38. Pocket Dictionary
  39. Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Puddy in Candy Cane 2″ Tin
  40. Dress up clothes
  41. Sheet music
  42. Playsilk
  43. Wooden blocks
  44. PLAYMOBIL mini sets
  45. Legos
  46. Bubbles
  47. Jump Rope
  48. Butterfly net
  49. Harmonica
  50. Beach bucket and shovel
  51. Water toys, toy boats
  52. Puzzles
  53. Mind Teasers like Rush Hour
  54. Memory Game
  55. Mad Libs
  56. Checkers
  57. Magnetic Doodle Balls
  58. Kinetic Sand 
  59. Fun Water Games
  60. Hammond’s Natural Mint Candy Canes Because, old fashioned and fun!

Many of these items can be purchased at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon. I provided Amazon links in case you can’t find them locally.

Easy, Crocheted Cowl Pattern

I’ve been crocheting up a storm this week, and after making several infinity cowls and playing with patterns,  I’ve determined that this one is my favorite! Thank you, Liz!

 

IMG_5356.JPGYou need to know that my crocheting expertise is next to nil. I literally have to look on YouTube for a tutorial video every time I change stitches. So, if you have some crocheting skills, you are good to go. I made this cowl in 2.5 hours.

It’s my favorite because it has a beautiful drape to it. 

I used 2 skeins of Lion Brand Yarns, Hometown USA, Super Bulky Chicago Charcoal for this piece. I used a size P hook.

Learn from my mistakes, folks. Crocheting gauge is a real thing. Although the pattern specifies to chain 78 for your initial chain, MEASURE your chain to make sure it is the finished size of 54″! Mkay? THESE are the important things. 😉

I did this one with an N hook and it was a little tighter, and I didn’t like the drape as much. I plan to remake this one using the P hook.

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THIS one, I’m loving as well, but it’s a completely different look. I made this one in Tampa Spice (it uses twice the yarn!) , and it was crocheted using two strands of the bulky yarn. I also had to use a Q hook, which was a little awkward at first but I eventually got the hang of it. I think the younger set would love this chunky look. :)

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These work up so quickly for gifts, and I purchased all my materials at WalMart.

And did I mention that crocheting is therapeutic? Yes, yes it is. :)

What are your Christmas crafting ideas? Feel free to link to them in the comments or tell me about them on our FB page. We’re all ears for Christmas crafting ideas!

Merry Christmas! A Note To My Readers.

Merry, merry Christmas!

My girls are home from Bob Jones University for three weeks and I’m in the thick of Christmas vacation, parties, visiting and cooking. I’m honestly loving every minute of it, though I drop into bed exhausted at night. :)

This Christmas, the girls brought home a friend from college to spend the vacation with us. We’re thankful that God sent Caitlyn to our home for the Holidays. (She loves BBC Drama and cheese platters, like I do. We’re gonna have a ball! ;))

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Tea Party

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Tea Party

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Enchanted Ice Skating

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The girls were part of a Children’s Choir at our church.

 

I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for reading here and for being iron-sharpening-iron women.

Just because I blog does not mean that I think I have it all together or that I know everything. In fact, I’m painfully aware of all that I don’t know and I’m growing and learning every day! But, I enjoy hashing out ideas here and jotting down what I’m learning and hearing your thoughts and struggles as well. Your encouragement is a ministry to me!

Sometimes blogging is like writing into the air, but each time I sit, I pray that God would give me wisdom and that I would encourage and minister to you, the reader.

Initially, this space was a place to record family life. But at God’s prompting, I began writing about my devotional life and you all showed up and wanted to talk about God and all that He means to you, too! I never actually expected real life readers for some reason, so you are a wonderful blessing.

With every blessing comes responsibility, and I just wanted to let you know that  as I look toward 2014, my prayer for this space is that I’d encourage you to be Word-filled women, that we’d seek discernment, use our time wisely and love our family and community well.

I look forward to the future with you, and am thankful that you’re here.

Merry Christmas!

Love,

Sarah

 

Is Your Love Like A Soul-Less Donation?

Today’s post is going to be more of a small ramble and straight to a point because it seems that the bloggesphere is full of talk lately about what our “Christian duty” is this Christmas and I’m tired of words and evaluating. Is being liable the question? Really? Are we so anemic spiritually that we need this kind of talk? It’s exhausting.

Jesus came to give us what we needed, yes. We needed redemption, we needed forgiveness, we were a wreck and lost and all of that. Jesus birth and death met the need. But God doesn’t stop at just being a Providential care-giver, doling out prescriptive fixes.

Meeting needs is good, but meeting needs de-void of love is just meeting needs. It’s not scriptural, or biblical or Christ-like.

God loved us first, then told us, and then acted upon that love.

And God isn’t loving as in “He knows how to love a person” and that is one of His attributes. ===>HE IS LOVE.

HE IS ALL love and ALL justice and ALL mercy and ALL holy and so many other wonderful things all at the same time. His attributes are perfect and are never in conflict.

And we only know how to truly love====> because we know Him.

People around you need to know that you love them. People don’t care what you do for them if it’s without love.

  • If you are wondering why your influence is so small or people don’t seem to be taking to you, check your love. Are you hot, indifferent or cold in the love department?
  • Are you possibly more concerned about declaring your own rights, getting your own way, setting up controlling, selfish boundaries and stomping your foot as you build your own small k-kingdom? Check your love. You’re loving someone, but it’s not God and it’s not others.
  • If your marriage is falling apart and you don’t know what’s gone wrong, check your love.
  • Do you share the gospel without love? Do you hand out a gospel track to that smelly homeless man with your arms out-stretched as far as possible to avoid contact or to avoid personal space so you can make a get-a-way after performing your duty? I think you’ve missed something significant in this approach.
  • Have your words shown love? Actions? Do your non-verbal cues communicate indifference? Are you treating and speaking to others the way you’d want to be spoken to? If others spoke to you the way you do to them, would that be acceptable or would you bristle? Do others put up with your harshness or indifference while you expect a free pass for this behavior? Check your love.

People don’t want charity, they want love. They crave it. They want to know that they belong, that you accept them. In fact, there’s nothing worse than being the object of someone’s pity or duty.

Can you image “loving” someone out of duty? It doesn’t even make sense. If you’ve convinced yourself that it’s your duty to love your mother-in-law or that annoying neighbor, or that prickly person, please re-evaluate. It’s not your duty, but a command to have a certain heart disposition towards them. 

“I feel I should give you this because it’s my Christian duty.” Save it. And save the self-righteous words behind an empty heart. Yes, it’s good to know what’s expected, but as soon as you know that “life and heart” are not in sync, pray for grace and repent of the selfishness before moving forward in action.

Don’t do things without love behind it.

Loveless gifts are mere soul-less donations.

But, give me a mere cup of water in love, and because of the Christ who prompts you to love and you’ve won me.

God made it known that His plans were full of love. He didn’t have to tell us that, but He did.

WE were the objects of His love.

“For God SO LOVED the world, that He gave His one and only Son….” (John 3:16a)

For those of you hurting:

When you feel insignificant, or overlooked, remember that all of this “Christmas business” was with you in mind. God loved YOU.

When your life takes a seemingly downward turn, never to be the same again, {like Mary who would be misunderstood by her peers and labeled a fornicator although she was innocent and was actually the direct recipient of God’s favor just like you and me} remember that God loves you.

And if you have the chance to love someone today, do it. We have no guarantees of tomorrow.