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Family Photos and Updates

It’s been a while since I updated this space with family updates so this post will be news-y.

Our biggest life update is that our daughter Emily is engaged to be married to her childhood friend, Sam. Sam surprised her by proposing two days before she was scheduled to leave on a missions trip. Though they haven’t set a date yet, we’re excited for them. Also, please pray for Emily as she travels with the Musical Missions Team again this year.

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18447218_10154466345245785_8847105110921616241_nMany have asked how things are going with our foster son. There are really no changes in our situation, but he is doing well and thriving.  He’s learning basic three year old stuff (no means no, whining isn’t acceptable, obey the first time, focus) but I’m also unlocking the pieces to his puzzle, and I’ve come to realize that this little guy is a quality time person who just loves to be right with people. His heart is reached through praise and he lights up as soon as you mention that he obeyed well, or colored well, or did a good job shooting hoops. (He’s in a home with 3 adoring teen girls who are constantly telling him how cute he is and doting over everything he does.) Please just pray for his little heart and that God would meet his every heart-felt need as time goes on.

I’ve been reading Adorned and highly recommend it and also,  The Friendships of Women at the recommendation of a friend. It’s excellent so far and has been liberating in a sense. In a world where women are told that we need to be like men, it’s been a great encouragement to use the gifts of intimacy and connection that women as nurturers generally possess. One statistic I didn’t know from the book: both men and women report feeling connected and encouraged when they spend time in the company of female friends over male friends. Hmm.

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Do you find that you read in a certain place? Over the years my reading spot has changed from my couch to the bedroom, and now to this lovely old a chair that a friend gave me. I love opening the breezeway door and hearing the birds in the morning.

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I’ve been enjoying my roses and love taking a few blooms inside to pretty up the table.

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IMG_5650I also tried my hand at some moisturizer because my skin is changing and it’s hard to find a moisturizer that worked. I had heard so much about the Boom Stick makeup, so I looked at the ingredient list and tried to duplicate it. I REALLY love the way it makes my skin feel. I am “forcing” it on my sisters on Sunday because that’s what good sisters do, and if they like it, I’ll share my recipe here. If it burns or irritates their skin, I’ll post pictures of their “after” results.  JK

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I entertained a few times this week and shared my scone recipe.

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What are you reading? What creative pursuits have you tried your hand at this week? Are you planning a garden for summer? I’d love to hear your comments, or if you blog, drop your link so we can all visit your “home”.

 

 

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.

 

A Newsy, Political-free Post

This is going to be newsy because I haven’t had much time to blog in a while. I’m staying off-line for the most part because of the drama/hate/turmoil of the election. It breaks my heart to see the lows of humanity and the fact that #rapeMelania is trending on Twitter makes me realize just how broken we are and how much people need the Lord.

So if I’ve been quiet and slow with answering email and messages, that’s the reason.

On the home front, the cranberry harvest is over and I’m in full holiday mode.

img_4561 In the span of one week, we’ll celebrate three birthdays (Peter, Holly, and Little B) and host Thanksgiving. Matt is flying home and I’m so thankful to have a few days with him. Plus we started construction on our home to repair the water damage from a few winters ago.

What I’ve been up to:

Crafts::

I’ve been decorating (frugally) for fall. I wanted a few little accents for Thanksgiving. I painted this old picture frame and gave it a chalk board insert for fall. (I used Olde Century Paint in Pearwood.)

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Also, I wanted a natural wood sign like you see everywhere, so I decided to make one. In the process I realized that if you stain the wood, then seal it with glossy spray sealer, you can write on it with chalk marker and make it erasable like a chalkboard. I’ve made several of these sizes for the Christmas season and for my mantle. :)

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We had a craft night with some of the kids’ friends and made these little yarn hats to hang on the Christmas tree.

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Ministry::

Hospitality continues to be one of the biggest blessings of this season and I’m always amazed at how often God opens the door when I’m sensitive to His leading. Sharing burdens, encouragement, and common grace over a hot mug of tea or coffee, all while fulfilling God’s commands and the Great Commission. What’s not to love?

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Hospitality can be intimidating, but don’t shy away from it. Don’t confuse “entertaining” and “hospitality.” One focuses on the meal, the food, your performance; the other on the person, their need, and nurturing a growing relationship. We need other people and without the input of other believers, we believe our own “press” and don’t benefit from the truth that others speak into our lives.

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13

If you are nervous about extending hospitality, start with having someone in for tea. Use what you have. Don’t stress over having the best of everything. Most of my dishes are mish-mash and many are things I’ve picked up at second hand shops. They aren’t there to see your things, but to spend time with you, and to get to know Christ a little better through you, and vice-versa.

Mentoring::

I’ve been helping a younger mom who is having some struggles with her kids. In the process, I’m reminded that we so often believe the lie that proper parenting guarantees that your kids won’t make mistakes. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I’m guilty of falling into this mindset as well. I can recall several times when our kids failed and instead of realizing that we are all sinners, I wondered where I went wrong. In my sleepless nights, I’d wondered if maybe I gave them too much leeway, or perhaps too many rules. Did I train them enough in righteousness or just give them all the dos and don’ts.

Friends, we are flawed parents who want to teach our kids the right way. But we can’t function from the mindset that our performance, wisdom, or righteousness is what “sures up” and sustains our family. We can’t measure success by an absence of sin because that is to deny what scripture teaches about all of us.

We are all sinners. You, me, everyone. So don’t be surprised when your kids mess up, and please, please, don’t shame them into thinking that they are in some special class of sinners because you are angry, embarrassed, or devastated by it.

We were never meant to parent as though it all depends on us or our performance. God is a God of grace: for you, me, and our kids.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do your job. Not at all. Do it with all your might. Heed Deuteronomy’s command to talk of God as you rise and sit and live and go your way with your kids. Teach them diligently. But don’t make perfection an idol. It’s an illusion. Make God the aim.

Meals::

I’ve been trying to save some money for Christmas, which means that I’ve been trying to do meals that are less expensive than normal. I’ve really enjoyed these frugal meals.

Quinoa Chili from Cooking Classy. My cousin, Susan, told me about this meatless chili that uses quinoa for protein. My kids even liked it. I served it topped with cheese, guacamole, and sour cream. YUM.

Shakshuska. I don’t even like eggs and I loved this. It’s inexpensive and so yummy. I served it with warm bread and lots of feta on top. Note: If you can’t eat eggs or just plain don’t like them, you could fry up some boneless skinless chicken breast slices in the oil (for protein) and then make the sauce as directed. It could be served over pasta, “fra diavalo” style.

Christmas:: My cards are almost done. Woot.

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Reading::

I’m currently reading through Colossians with Weirsbe’s Commentary and Dr. Constable’s notes , which are very helpful and free online.

Humble Roots is on sale right now for $7.73 (usually $12.99). If you haven’t read it, I’m going to be bossy and insist that you do. 😉 I’m giving it to a few friends for Christmas, it was THAT good.

Also, Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin is also on sale for $7.23 if you haven’t read that yet.

Articles I appreciated::

Steward the Gift God Has Assigned to You. “Our lives are not about pursuing our dreams. Many of our dreams are self-exalting pride fantasies and gratuitously selfish when we really examine them. And the truth is, we rarely know what’s best for us and what will really make us happy. But our Designer knows.

Mothering or Smothering our Adult Children Appreciated the wisdom of this older woman.

I hope you have a wonderful thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for and if we don’t praise the Lord, who will?

 

**This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

DIY Doctored-Up Dollar Tree Church Ornament

Wanted to share an easy craft I’ve been working on for Christmas.

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I love New England churches, so when I saw that Dollar Tree had these ornaments, I snatched up a bunch to doctor-up.

I simply added twine, plaid ribbon from Michael’s Craft Store, and mica glitter with a glue gun to add “snow” to the roof line and perimeter of the church. You could also add a silver bell in place of the pine cone that comes with it.

They’ll be really cute attached to brown paper packages.

Enjoy.

DIY Old Pewter Mint Julep Cups

It’s the weekend and this week I’ve been crafting up a storm for our daughter’s upcoming wedding festivities.

I wanted to decorate one event using the very popular “mint julep cups” look. If you don’t know what I mean, go on pinterest and search “mint julep glass centerpiece.”

The cups are usually silver plated, and they were a little more expensive per piece than I wanted to spend, so I got to crafting, girls, because I needed to copy the look.

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I had trouble finding tutorials online. Everything was either for faux mercury glass (which is lovely and I’ve made before for candle holders) or didn’t look “authentic” to me. Also, I needed something that could hold water for flowers when the project was done, so the mercury glass thing was out because it’s painted on the inside and when water hits, it would all flake off.

So I texted a few crafty friends, including Lindsay and Jolene of New England Nesters, and jumped in. I tried three different approaches, and they yielded three different looks: silver, old zinc, and old pewter.

Here’s what I did:

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I found these cute glasses at the Dollar Tree. They say “Old Fashioned” on them. Right up my alley. I liked that they had ridging detail and a logo on them because many mint julep glasses have monogramming or something fancy on the front. You can use any glass you like.

I removed the price tag and washed and dried them well.

 

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I lightly sprayed the outside with Rust-oleum Bright Coat Metallic Finish. I wanted to give it the thinnest coat I could and tried to avoid paint drips.

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(You may notice little white dots on this pic. My 2 year old foster son squirted me and the cup with his water blaster. LOL. It did no harm and he thought it was hysterical…so he kept doing it.)

(If you want your project to look new and shiny like this picture, this is actually very close to the finish of a new silver mint julep cut. After this step you could give it a second coat and be good to go. These look lovely with votive candles near the base because they reflect the light.)

After this first coat dries, I gently applied a thin coat of “Dark Pewter” acrylic paint with a dry brush and in a circular motion around the perimeter of the cup. (Not up and down height-wise/vertically. Does that make sense?)

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I really liked how this looked after this step. It reminded me of the old zinc lids of a canning jar.

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After this, I ever so lightly sprayed a second coat of the silver spray paint…almost misted it…trying to manipulate the spray so that it didn’t get full coverage. I wanted to leave some of the pewter color peeking through.

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I was so excited with how this turned out. When placed side by side to my old pewter, this finish was extremely close. It even has the dark blemishes of old pewter.

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I filled this with flowers (fake from Walmart for the picture) and I think these will be so pretty in every window.

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IMG_3026I hope you enjoy this tutorial. If you make some, send me a pic or if you are a blogger, shoot me a link. Have a great weekend, everyone.

**These glasses are for decorative purposes only. You should not drink out of anything sprayed with spray paint, Mkay? 😉

God’s Providence Printables

I love to use Scripture or inspirational quotes to decorate my home. I made this series of 5″X7″ quotes to accompany my “When Life’s Hard, Remember these 4 Truths” post from a while back. I thought maybe you’d enjoy them for your home as well. You can print them and mount them on card stock to make a banner, or you could just frame them. Either way, I hope they remind you of God’s presence and goodness during your trials. Enjoy!

CLICK HERE TO PRINT :: Vintage God’s Providence Printables

Vintage Bird 1

Vintage 2

Vintage 3

Vintage 4

A special thanks to the TheGraphicsFairy.com and JustSomethingIMade.com for the free vintage postcards images.

10 Ways To Refresh Your Soul

Looking for ways to refresh this winter? The common theme among my friends is that we are all looking for ways to rest our bodies and revive our hearts a bit after a hectic holiday season. We all know that doesn’t happen automatically. It needs to be planned, especially if you are responsible for the daily care of babies, toddlers, teens, or the elderly. These stages of constant giving can be draining.

I’ve learned from experience that when I am depleted, I’m not the wife, mother, or friend I want to be. The more I feed my own soul, the more I have to give out.

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I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorite ways to refresh. I hope you’ll share yours as well. Maybe your list looks different from mine–that’s okay. But we all have this in common–we all need to rest. So, pour yourself a cup of tea and repeat after me: “Caring for yourself is wise and everybody needs to rest.” 😉

Here goes:

  1. Spend time alone. New research suggests that quiet time–literally solitude and silence–can be therapeutic in the noisy world we live in. If you have young children, try to find a few snatches of time in the early morning, late evening, or during afternoon naps to just sit and listen to the silence. This is a perfect time for a warm cup of coffee, your Bible, a journal, or to meditate on a daily verse. Bonus: A worshipful life gives us the added benefit of direction and strength to face each day, no matter what comes our way.
  2. De-clutter your soul. As you sit, listen to what’s going on in your heart. What recurring theme pops into your mind? What worry, disappointment, regret, or memory is disturbing your peace? Recognize it, acknowledge it, fix it if you can, repent of it if you must, and then give it to God and move on! Don’t let “mind noise” keep you from thinking on “things above.” Colossians 3:2
  3. Rest. We weren’t created to run, run, run. What comes up must come down. After the adrenaline of the holidays you must take a good nap or go to bed early. “You are only as spiritual as you are rested.” ~Jim Berg
  4. Pray. Did you know that simply talking to God and sharing your burdens, disappointments, frustrations, and ambitions with Him is more beneficial than telling them to a friend? Plus, God can actually intervene and do something about all you share…and He’ll never betray your confidence or reveal your inmost secrets. There aren’t too many friends that you can trust like that.
  5. Spend a moment reading for pleasure. Charlotte Mason was a huge proponent of reading quality material in small chunks, allowing the brain time to process and make connections with the material. I’ve found that over-reading can hinder comprehension and appreciation of the material.
  6. Plan time for friendship. Who are your 3 closest friends? If you haven’t told them how much you appreciate them lately, what are you waiting for? Text, write, phone, or visit your friend and make time to laugh, shop, and eat together. You’ll both benefit.
  7. Plan for beauty. When winter is blah, I know that arranging some small vase of flowers, a candle, a freshly pressed table cloth, or some other simple seasonal display does wonders for the atmosphere of my home. Simple creativity bring so much pleasure.
  8. Change of scenery. If you are a stay at home mom or a homeschooling mom, I KNOW it can be hard to load all the kids into the car and go somewhere but just do it. Head to the library, your favorite bagel shop, or to a friend’s house. Go somewhere where you can grab an inexpensive treat and the kids can play. This is a mood booster, especially during long New England winters.
  9. Plan for stimulating conversation. I’m not a small talk person. I love to talk about heart and life matters and I’m not afraid to ask the people I respect their views on difficult subjects. My happiest moments are over a cup of tea discussing philosophy of education, motherhood, and ministry life with a dear friend. If you are far from friends, listen to a pod cast or seminar online about topics that interest you. I loved this one from Sally Clarkson.
  10. Learn a new skill. Anything you ever wanted to learn is on YouTube. What a time to live! Right now in our home, we’re practicing calligraphy and hand lettering, and crocheting.

What refreshes you? Share in the comments.

Great Gift Ideas for your Teen {Christmas 2015}

Not sure what to buy your teen? I’ve done my homework and today I’m going to share a few favorite finds with you.

If the teen in your life has a serious hobby like skiing, skating, writing, or painting, then theme related shirts, accessories, mugs, and prints are great ideas.

2015 gift guide

I’m adding Amazon links below for all of you die hard shop-from-home types (me!) but you might be able to get better deals on some of these things on Black Friday.

 

Great Gift Ideas for your Teen

Mini Portable Projector to use with iPhone/laptop/iPad. Perfect for a dorm room!

North Face eTip Texting Gloves because you can’t text with normal mittens on. 😉

iPhone Camera Lens Kit (Make sure you choose the style that is compatible with your phone. Peter bought these for me for Mother’s Day and they were really cool.

Eno Eagle’s Nest Hammock These are big on college campuses as they go up pretty much anywhere. Emily has one and it’s pretty sweet.

ESV Journaling Bible in Blue Flora. I’m on my second Journaling Bible and it’s been so helpful!

Boot Socks Topper Cuff or Boot Socks or Lace Trimmed Knit Leg Warmers

Skullcandy Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

Kindle Fire – Reasonably priced tablet ($49.99)

Amazon Echo– More expensive, but brilliant.  Just ask it anything and it searches the web for you. We had ours set up in the kitchen, and I don’t know how many times I asked it, “Alexa, what time is it in Berlin, Germany?” this summer while Emily was on her Missions Trip.

Jane-A-Day 5 Year Journal if your teen loves Jane Austen.

Puffin-in-Bloom Collection. Just go look. The most beautifully bound set of classics ever.

Of course, flannel pj’s, make up, gift cards, room decor, scarves, jewelry, chocolate, tickets to the symphony, etc…would all be great gifts for teen girls.

And guys might like tickets to a sports event, gift cards, dorm pants, outer wear, tools, and FOOD.

What do you think? What would you add to this list to make it complete? Share your ideas with me in the comments here or on FB. Happy shopping!

 

 

DIY Spring Bird’s Nest Tutorial

Even though we still have two feet of snow on the ground, I’m working on decorating my house for spring. Today my goal was to finish decorating my mantle.

I made this bird’s nest for the mantle and thought I’d share how I made it. It’s kind of a no-brainer, but if you are not crafty, maybe this will help you to try your own. I just LOVE bird’s nests in general, so this is one of the sweetest crafts in my opinion.

DIY bird's nest

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You need two grapevine wreaths, one bigger and one smaller. The smaller one should fit inside the larger one. I found these at the Dollar Tree.

Using the larger grapevine wreath as the top of the nest and the smaller one as the bottom, wire the two wreaths together. Then form a bottom of the nest by weaving the wire like a basket. It’s okay if it’s a mess. It will all be covered. You want the basic shape of a nest or a bowl. Wire it to death if you have to to get the rounded shape.

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Next, I used a glue gun to add moss to the outside. I found the moss ribbon at Jo-Ann’s Fabric for $3.99. I pulled the moss so that it looked loose and sparse and not “ribbonny.” I wanted it to look natural.

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After I line the outside with green moss, I added some to the inside of the nest. I then stuffed the bottom with a good sized handful of Spanish Moss, also from the Dollar Tree.
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After the basic nest is done, you can pretty it up by hot gluing small flowers, berries, or leaves around the perimeter.

Finished DIY Grapevine Birds Nest

Finished DIY Grapevine Birds Nest

I filled mine with five little eggs (for my 5 kids). The eggs were also at Jo-Ann’s. Other years, I’ve used the nest as a candy dish, placing a shallow dish inside and filling it with Cadbury Mini Eggs, which look adorable. I’ve also filled them with yellow Peeps for Easter.
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Here’s the finished mantle. I used things I had around the house: an old Ball Jar filled with moss, one of my favorite antiques, a signed Wallace Nutting print entitled “The Coming Out of Rose”, some galvanized buckets filled with greens and a few natural elements from some potpourri I had around the house. I hope this inspires you to try your own nest. Send me pics if you make one!
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10 {Small} Gift Ideas to Give to Your Friends

I love giving little “friendship” gifts to some of my closest friends. Nothing expensive…tokens really, just to let them know how special they are to me, or how thankful I am for them.

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Ideally, I’d make a homemade ornament or hot drink mix (like this spicy chai tea mix!) in a cute mason jar, some baked goods like fudge or biscotti and then tuck a couple little extras into a small gift bag: notecards, journal, list paper, a favorite book, coffee, candle, or anything else that I found that reminds me of them during the year.

Since Christmas shopping is on my mind, I thought I’d share some of my favorite little gifts from around the web. :)

1. One-a-day calendar. I love these! Caveat: Be careful which one you choose because many times the messages are weak or unscriptural. For a younger mom at home with kids, Elizabeth George is a great encouragement.
A Woman after God’s Own Heart – Perpetual Calendar

A Woman after God's Own Heart - Perpetual CalendarOr, I’d also recommend
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World – Perpetual Calendar
.  I found that Dayspring.com gives you free shipping on orders over $50 and one of the mugs I liked was marked down to $4.99.

2. Coffee Mug, because, COFFEE! :)
Love Came Down – Love Richly – Christian Mug

Love Came Down - Love Richly - Christian Mug
3. Bible Promises. What could be better than giving God’s word? Do you remember these one a day bible verse boxes that were shaped like a loaf of bread? You chose a tiny paper and read the verse for the daySomething like this: Promise Box – God’s Word

or you could DIY using this idea from Karen Ehman’s blog.

4. Books, books, books. Give your friend the best book you read all year.

My top picks are Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image and Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds. By the way,A Lifelong Love: What If Marriage Is about More Than Just Staying Together? is by far one of the best marriage books I’ve read in a long time!

5. Tea or Coffee. This is a great deal on my favorite tea. They are sold in 100 packs and each teabag is individually wrapped, so I put 20 or so in a cello bag and tie it up with plaid ribbon and add it to my gift bag.

7. Candles. Target sells Yankee Candle votives for around $1.99. Those are great to tuck into a bag. Home Sweet Home and Vanilla Buttercream are my all time favorites!

8. Note Cards.

9. Chocolate! :)

10. Framed photo of the two of you together. Target clearance often has marked down rustic frames for those of us who like primitive country.

Do you give little bags full of homemade treats or something small? What’s your favorite little gift to give at Christmas? Comment below and let’s make this a great resource for each other.

{This post contains my affiliate links at no cost to you. Thanks for reading here!}