Archive for Holidays

Forgetting Christ At Christmas

I am embarrassed to admit that it is easy for me to forget Christ during the Christmas season.

It is easier to focus on my to-do list than on my Savior. There are presents to be bought and wrapped, Christmas cards to be addressed and mailed, baking and decorating, parties and activities.

And worse, sometimes I know my focus is out of balance and I still desire the meaningless and trivial. My flesh wants “happy” when I know God’s Spirit is leading me toward “holy.”

The thought comes to my mind…

If Satan can’t make me bad, he’ll make me busy.

Busyness means that my mind never “lands”–it just flits from event to event, from one responsibility to the next. When I have free time, I create things to do. I resist sitting still. I mask the emptiness with fun songs about silver bells and a white Christmas.

Why? Could it be that I am actually avoiding Christ? That I am looking for satisfaction in the lights, merriment and wonder of a season, rather than in the person of my Savior, Jesus Christ?

If you are forgetting about Jesus this Christmas, the season might seem hollow and empty.

This quote from John Piper sums it up:

“If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation for the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied.

It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”

(A Hunger for God)

If I do nothing else this season, I want to make sure that I:

1. Am in God’s word every day, especially when I am busy. (And I want to teach my children about Jesus every days as well.) And not just in God’s Word, but meditating and communing with God throughout my day. Conversing with Him. Celebrating for his glory.

Celebrating Christmas while forgetting the Savior is counter-productive and meaningless.

2. Desire the Giver more than the gifts that He graciously gives. God is good, and gives good gifts, but He wants me to love Him more than I love the gifts.

3. Guard my mind and be careful what I “ponder.”

Scripture teaches that “Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” What I think about and meditate on exposes/directs my desires. What I spend my time doing exposes what I value. I tend to put time and effort into what’s important to me. I want to fill my mind with the truth of God’s Word.

So, pray for me, would you? That I would enjoy the season, and all the fun and good gifts that God gives, but that I would treasure Jesus Christ and make knowing Him the goal of this season.

Merry Christmas, Meager Budget Ebook Giveaway

UPDATE: The giveaway is over, but you can snag your own copy here on SALE for just $3.99 right now!

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Merry Christmas, Meager Budget Giveaway!

To celebrate the launch of our new ebook, Beth and I are giving away FIVE copies in 12 hours!

 

This book is written for tired mothers everywhere. Christmas can be overwhelming and can become a test of stamina instead of the joyous holiday it was meant to be. This book covers:

  • Limit your spending during the holiday season.
  • Saying “NO” to many good, fun activities so you can enjoy time making memories with your kids.
  • Plan your calendar so you don’t run yourself ragged.
  • Decorate your home on a dime.
  • Create thoughtful gifts on a limited budget.
  • Whip up some delicious recipes in the kitchen.
  • Create fun memories for your kids without breaking the bank.
Purchasing info:
This is in a pdf. format, so you can either read it on your computer, or on a mobile device or e-reader.
117 pages
$3.99

Add to Cart

Enter to win a copy of “Merry Christmas, Meager Budget” here. Ends tonight at 12pm!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Merry Christmas, Meager Budget is Now Available!

I am SO excited to tell you about our brand new ebook,

Merry Christmas, Meager Budget

 

Let’s face it, this economy is tough and everyone is feeling the pinch. My sister Beth and I wrote this book to give you tips, tutorials and plain old Yankee know-how to help you:

  • Limit your spending during the holiday season.
  • Plan your calendar so you don’t run yourself ragged.
  • Decorate your home on a dime.
  • Create thoughtful gifts on a limited budget.
  • Whip up some delicious recipes in the kitchen.
  • Create fun memories for your kids without breaking the bank.
So, if just the thought Christmas tires you or you feel it has become more a test of endurance than the joyous holiday it was meant to be, you might consider finding some inspiration in this book.
Chapters Include:
  1. Rejecting Commercialism and Embracing What’s Important
  2. Four Sisters and What We Love
  3. Making Memories Without Breaking The Bank
  4. Rethinking Christmas Goals
  5. Old-Fashioned, Farmhouse Inspired Crafts
  6. Holiday Fun for the Frugal Family
  7. Twenty-six Boredom Busters for Little Ones
  8. Cozy Up Your Home For Christmas
  9. Merry Gifts to Make {$10 or less}
  10. Gifts for Children
  11. Your Favorite Frugal Ideas
  12. Favorite Family Recipes
  13. Advent Verses For Children
  14. Free Printable Christmas Tags and Labels
This is in a pdf. format, so you can either read it on your computer, or on a mobile device or e-reader.
117 pages
$4.99

Add to Cart

What I’m up to lately.

So, I’m writing an e-book. Ahem.

It is nearly done, just a few more tweaks. You’ll hear more about that in a few days. But for now, think Christmas on a dime, and dealing with a tough economy during the holidays, M-kay?

And today I am collecting donations for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. If you are in the area and can bring diapers, new underwear, socks or toiletries, gently used clothes, warm coats…whatever…to our house, we have a friend who’ll be taking care of delivering the goods to NY and NJ. We need them by tomorrow (Tuesday). And if you stop in, don’t mind the mess; things are a little chaotic right now.

But, I am learning to give thanks for the messes. It is all good.

Oh, and don’t forget to vote tomorrow. AS IF you guys would! 😉

Peter shared this on Facebook and it was a good look at why conservatism works. We can’t afford to be on the same collision course for four more years. We definitely need a change! Exercise your right to vote. You know I have strong opinions on this one. :)

More on the book later, but right now, we have a country to save. :)

All I Want for Christmas!!

We are all so excited around here. And here’s why. (See pic below. :))

YUP. My oldest will be home in a few short hours for Christmas. SQUEEEE!!!

I have a big pot of beef soup simmering on the stove, along with a nice heavy loaf of bread. Beef soup is her favorite. :)

I got to set the table for SEVEN again tonight. Not six. SEVEN!

Tonight, all my kids will be under one roof!

And I am going to enjoy every minute of it!

Hug your little ones, moms! They grow soooooo fast!!

Have a great weekend!!

Stressed? Rest.

Don’t you sometimes feel as though the hurry and scurry of the Christmas season leaves you depleted? Know what? It is not even December and I am already feeling anxiety to get it all done.

It all starts Thanksgiving night. Can we not even have just one day to focus on God’s goodness? No, we are encouraged to quick– wash those dishes, pack up that turkey and get out and get spending! Christmas is upon us!!  I think I feel an ulcer.

I want to be a fun mom at Christmas. I want to be a great wife and hostess. I want to send heartfelt cards with handwritten  messages. I long to uphold family traditions. But all of these things-good things- must be secondary to a heart seeks God and longs to know Him.  When we are dry and empty during the holidays, chances are we have been so busy icing cookies and stringing lights that we have neglected our relationship with the Lord.

If you are dry spiritually, stressed financially, anxious about tomorrow (or December 25th!) might I suggest that you sit with the One who can help you? Grab your Bible, and a mug of tea and feed your soul!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matt. 11:28-30

Meditate. Ponder. Be still and know that you have a God who loves you and cares about the in’s and out’s of your life, but who wants more for you than what is on the surface. He wants you to know Him. And that takes time.

Problem is, we have no time during the Christmas season. So we have to schedule it and guard it, so that it isn’t gobbled up with other things.  We need to be Word- filled so that we can properly represent Christ and love others well.

Who cares if your home looks “Martha Stewart” worthy,  if you’re miserable to the people who live there in the process? Know what I am saying? Mkay then! :)

I like Elizabeth George’s advice for making decisions:

“We must say no not only to things which are  wrong and sinful, but to things pleasant, profitable, and good which would hinder and clog our grand duties and chief work.”( A Woman After God’s Own Heart, pg. 32.)

There is nothing wrong with having a holly, jolly Christmas. But let’s not neglect what is most important.

“But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”

Linked to Miss Courtney here

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Our Favorite Christmas Story Books

We have always read aloud to our kids. It is one of my favorite homeschool memories–sitting on the couch, wrapped in blankets and reading aloud. Sometimes the kids would play legos quietly while I read. Sometimes they used Stockmar modeling beeswax to keep their hands busy and mouths quiet. :) You will never regret the time you spent snuggling and reading to your little ones.  So grab a cup of tea and your babes, and enjoy some of these titles! These are some of our fav’s–not only do we love the stories, but we enjoyed the illustrations.

1. The Christmas Carol– We used abridged versions when they were young, but love the unabridged verson now that they are older.

2. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey– This is the story of a grouchy woodcarver whose hard heart is softened by the company and kindness of a widow and her young son as he carves out a nativity scene for them.

3. The Christmas Barn– Set in the 1930’s, and full of family love. When a tree falls on the house of a poor Appalachian area family, they make their barn a temporary home and celebrate Christmas using the few resources they have. Heartwarming tale of resourcefulness and contentment.

4. Keeping Holiday– This book is an allegory about two children who go to the city of “Holiday” only to realize that it is somehow shallow. Although they are drawn to the shopping, lights, sounds and smells of Holiday, they longed for something more. They begin searching for the founder of  Holiday, but are told many times along their journey “You can’t find theFounder; he finds you. He’s not just the Founder, he’s the Finder, too!” This is the story of their journey.

5. Christmas In The Big Woods.  I don’t know which I like better: the story or the illustrations.

What are your favorite Chrismas reads? Do share in the comments!

##Please note: WordPress has begun putting ads on my blog, which are sometimes inappropriate. This is due to the amount of traffic on my blog (a good thing!), and I have no control over this! ( a bad thing!!) But, what do you want with a free service? :)  I will be changing over to wordpress.org soon, so until then, please be forewarned that some of the ads on my blog may be offensive at times. You are better off not clicking. Sorry about that!

My Christmas Survival Strategy

The Christmas season is upon us! Did you go out shopping early this morning? I stayed in and avoided the stores, but did some online planning. I will do most of my shopping from my living room this year. :)

Speaking of shopping, are you wondering how you can get it all done while staying in budget this year? Me too. I am a gift giver by nature and want to be as generous as our budget will allow. I want to be a blessing to others, but also want to be respectful of my husbands budget and not overburden him.

So, here is my plan of attack. My goal is to bless others while still being a  blessing to my husband this Christmas.

1. Prioritize my  list. I can’t buy for everyone, although I’d like to.  So I have to narrow it down somehow. Kids, hubby, parents and sisters always make the list. :)

2. Divide and Conquer–your money, that is. Consider using an envelope system with the allotted amount per person in a single envelope. When it is gone, it is gone. If you are purchasing online, stick closely to your budget to avoid maxing out your credit card. :) Remember to search for online coupons…you can usually find them for every store!

3. Make handmade gifts or treats. Each year I make handmade ornaments, candy, chocolate covered pretzels, etc…and make up gift bags for those I  still want to give something special, but cannot afford to buy for.  Sometimes I sew, make candles, paint, etc…Check Pinterest for inspiration galore!

4. Refuse to give in to consumerism. Advertisers spend big money trying to lure you into buying extras…decide what your needs are and stick to that.  “Beware of coveteousness.” Remember that Christmas is not all about material goods. Celebrate with simplicity.

5. Save money by decorating with fresh greens. If you live in the country, snip greens from an oblidging evergreen tree, and fill a basket with berries and a pretty ribbon. Check the LL Bean catalog for greenery idea inspiration, or do a google image search. By filling a basket with fresh floral foam, and then adding your greens, you can make a beautiful, inexpensive, great smelling centerpiece for pennies.

What ideas do you have for celebrating within your budget? Please share with all of us in the comments! We could all use the help!! :)

***PLEASE DO NOT CLICK ON ANY ADVERTISEMENTS THAT APPEAR ON MY BLOG. WORDPRESS AUTOMATICALLY PUTS THEM ON BLOGS WITH A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF VOLUME AND IT HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION THAT  THEY ARE SOMETIMES INAPPROPRIATE.  I WILL BE CHANGING OVER TO WORDPRESS.ORG SOON, AND HOPEFULLY THIS WILL REMEDY THE PROBLEM. THANK YOU!***

At the Sea-Side

All will be quiet here as I will be taking the week off to spend time with our family.  Each year, we have a week long family reunion and we always look forward to this break.  Although the highlight is just being together since my sister Amy lives all the way in Missouri, we also enjoy all 14 kids being together,  big breakfasts and coffee time, walking on the beach early in the morning as the sun is coming up, shopping for school clothes at the outlets, swimming, skim boarding, exploring and visiting friends from college. So, think of me sitting in the warm ocean breeze, watching my kiddos swim and explore while I finish up my latest book and catch up with my three sisters. :)

This is one of our favorite childhood poems of all time, and my kids recite is often at the beach:

At the Sea-Side

By:  Robert Louis Stevenson

When I was down beside the sea

A wooden spade they gave to me
   To dig the sandy shore.
My holes were empty like a cup.
In every hole the sea came up
   Till it could come no more.

Remembering…


Hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day. So thankful for our freedom and for those who sacrificed so that my children and I could live without fear.

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