Make Every Day Like Christmas!!

I’m hoping all of you had a very Merry Christmas!  We had a fabulous day and are now enjoying a relaxing week of vacation with all of us home.

I was thinking today about my favorite Christmas carol… and it was impressed upon me that I should treat every day like Christmas:

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Every day is an opportunity to invite Jesus to come and fix His humble home within me!

Wishing you happy holiday celebrations and a heart that welcomes Christ each day of the coming New Year!

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A gift of a different kind.

Last week I had lunch with a woman who I’ve only recently met.  We are serving together in a ministry capacity and I invited her to lunch so that we could get to know one another a bit better.  I enjoyed our time together very much and when we were about to leave, she said to me something like, “Sharing your real life is a true gift.”

I had been open with her about my doubts and fears in taking on a new ministry role.  Let me tell you, to open up and give others a glimpse of what’s really in my heart feels risky.  Vulnerable.  Scary.

But so many times I’ve seen when getting to know other women that they will only be as open with me as I am with them… and so I am willing to take the risk, and I often do.  I’ve seen firsthand how being authentic is the first step to deeper and more meaningful relationships.

I had never thought of it, though, as a gift that I can give to other people.  And so especially at this time of year, I wanted to share this idea you.

Others don’t need to see my pretty, perfectly packaged “exterior” life and my version of what I think they want me to be.  That doesn’t draw people in.  It doesn’t encourage real relationship.  It doesn’t allow people to breathe a deep sigh of relief and say, “me, too”.

Being real is a gift that allows other people to be who they are, too.

Let’s be women who are gift-givers of a different kind this Christmas!

Advent Calendar 2016

Hey, friends!  Tomorrow is December 1st, can you believe it???

Here are a couple of pics of our advent calendar for this year.  This has become a tradition for us, and although I **thought** maybe my kids were too old for this, they insisted on it!!  We love to celebrate the coming of Christmas in this way.

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(Ha – I guess as the kids get bigger the advent calendar does, too!)

This year, like previous years, there is either a small gift, candy, or and activity to do in each of the bags.  See this post if you want more info on that and some other advent calendar ideas we’ve done in the past!

The white bags I bought at Michael’s and I simply used a chalkboard paint marker to dress them up.  Then I chalked the numbers on them – sooo simple!!  I used a store-bought chalkboard banner and christmas-y mini clothes pins that I bought on clearance last year for the finishing details.  The bags are clipped and/or taped to a twine rope that is hung on the wall with 3M removable hooks.

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The kids can’t wait to get started tomorrow!!

Happy December!

December 2014!

Christmas is two days away!

Today we are finishing up our preparations… wrapping the last of the gifts, making the last of the cookies (peanut butter balls), and all that good stuff.

Here’s what we’ve been up to this month:

We’ve had a rough December in terms of busy-ness and sicknesses, so we’re also doing a lot of resting, too!  This weekend we took it easy and pretty much watched Christmas movies all weekend.

It was a good weekend – probably because I had zero expectations of it.

Unlike last weekend.  One of our advent activities was to pick out a child to sponsor through ICCM.  We’ve been wanting to do this for a while and I thought it would be a great way to celebrate Christ’s birth.  It didn’t go at all like I’d planned.  (ooh – those expectations we have in our heads are so sneaky!)  I guess I thought it would be a truly meaningful family moment – and it was anything but.  We still did it, but the kids were being silly and totally not taking it seriously.  It made me angry and one of them was in time-out before it was over.

And today the littlest had a doctor’s appointment – diagnosis cold with a side of ear infection.  Not exactly how I’d expected to spend today.  But more snuggling and resting is okay, too.

In the midst of all this I thought of the Christmas devotion I’d done at MOPS a couple of years ago.  And realized I needed to hear it again.

Maybe you do, too.  Here’s the good part:

 Are you trying for the perfect Christmas? And don’t get me wrong – I get caught up in it, too! But God keeps reminding me that the only perfection I’ll find on Earth – the only perfection that you’ll find – is in Jesus. He was, and still is, the perfect gift and the reason we celebrate!

Jesus was referred to in the Bible as “Immanuel”, which means “God with us”. God gave us His son as a gift – the gift of His presence in human form. He is present (no pun intended) with us at all times.

Jesus, the Messiah, was born in a dirty stable when people were expecting a King with all the trappings.

But God is more concerned about what people need rather than what they expect. And He is not afraid to come into the mess of our lives – our dirty stables.

Despite your efforts to create the perfect Christmas, what kind of messes do you have in your life?

The good news is that God’s perfect gift is still available to you. Immanuel – God with us. Isn’t it amazing? The God of the universe is willing to give up the majesty of heaven to be with us in our dirty stable. And he is big enough to deal with whatever mess we’ve made – but not too big to care about it!!

So what do you need this Christmas? Instead of chasing after the perfect Christmas, I challenge you to chase after the “perfect gift” – Jesus. He is, in fact, regardless of his birth in a dirty stable, all the things that Isaiah prophesied.

Do you need guidance on how to get out of your mess? Well, Jesus is the wonderful counselor.

Do you need peace to get through? Jesus is the Prince of Peace

Do you need the impossible to happen? Jesus is the mighty God.

Do you need hope? Well, Jesus is also the Savior and light of this world. He is the way, the truth, and the life.

All you need to do is not miss it.

(here’s the original post, if you want to read all of it)

Merry Christmas, friends!  Praying for all of us that we don’t miss Jesus this Christmas.  

 

 

Holiday Prep

The problem with having a blog is that there is this pressure to have something profound to say.

Unfortunately I’ve got nothin’.

So I’ll leave you with some glimpses of what I’ve been up to lately.  Prepping for Christmas by making some handmade gifts.  I’m including links, of course, to the sites where I got the original ideas!

This is an anniversary ornament I made last year for a friend of mine that incorporated her wedding invitation.  I’m making another this year for a special couple for Christmas!  I got the inspiration and instructions here.

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Working on a memorial pendant for my mom that has my Dad’s handwriting on it.  This is my first try… not happy with it because it isn’t smooth enough so I’ll be trying another version today.  Will keep you updated!

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Crocheting up a storm for gifts.  Ruffly scarves (instructions here) and owl hats.

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!!!!Spoiler alert!!!! 

Gifties for friends – fuzzy socks and nail polish.  Aren’t these the cutest?  Free printable tags here.

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And last, but not least, just in case you’ve started thinking I’m one of those women who have it all together – crafting handmade gifts, perfectly well-behaved children, and a picture-perfect home – well, think again.  Those of you who know me well know that cleaning is always last on my list!

This is what my living room looks like this morning:

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Yes, yes, those are dirty clothes on the floor, a mound of knotted yarn under the tree, and books, legos, movies, a tape measure, blankies, and shoes that have not found their true home yet.

Maybe I’d better get off the computer.  😉

 

 

 

Advent Calendar Ideas

This week I will be working on this year’s advent calendar for the kiddos.  Can’t believe it’s almost December already!

Hope you all had lovely Thanksgiving celebrations!

Here are a couple of handmade advent calendars we’ve done in past years:

::Christmas Tree Advent::

::Clothespin Advent::

We will be using the Clothespin Advent Calendar again this year… but with a couple of new twists!

Instead of paper bags, I will be using toilet paper tubes, decorated for Christmas and used as gift boxes!  (see this tutorial).

I try to have a good mix of both goodies and activities for the kids to do.  I found this fabulous printable list of advent activities that is going to be perfect.  Not to mention it’s going to save me some time and energy!

{By the way, both of those blogs are wonderful – I am a regular reader of both and I’m so thankful for awesome bloggers who are willing to share their great ideas!}

 

Handmade Christmas Gifts and Projects

I love making people handmade gifts.  I did a lot of that this year.  But, because I stink at photography, I actually forgot to take photos of most of the things I made!  

Fortunately, most of the ideas came from either pinterest or blogs I frequent.  So in case any of you are interested in some good gift ideas (for next year?) I thought I’d link them up here.  I am so thankful for all the crafty folks who blog out there – I am good at replicating things I see, but not so good at thinking them up myself!

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Get your glue gun ready!

Ceramic Tile Coasters

First, we made Christmas coasters for teacher gifts.  They were simple, turned out really cute, and were quite inexpensive.  We found ceramic tiles at the local Habitat for Humanity Restore for 10 cents each!  Can’t beat that!  Used scrapbooking paper, glue, felt, and ModPodge that I already had on hand.  Tutorial here.

Sign Post

Made this entryway sign post for my porch. 

Since this wasn’t a gift and I still have it, I could take a photo!  Again, quite easy and I’m excited about it because I can use it year-round.  I made a Christmas sign, a Thanksgiving sign, and a generic welcome sign (wood scraps and hardware came from the Restore, and the fence-post topper thingy came from Lowe’s).  Used paint I already had.  Got the idea for the sign post here.  I also used this idea for hand-painting letters.  It worked great.

Craft Stick Nativity

I made three of these handmade nativity scenes – gave two away and kept one for myself!  So easy and took only about 1 hour to finish one.  Used paint and fabric I already had.  Bought the wooden materials at Michael’s and the moss sheets at the Dollar Tree – spent about $10 – that made these three and I have some materials left over.  Tutorial here.  One thing I did differently was to use wooden pieces for the bodies rather than clay pots and I like the way it turned out.

My favorite memory from making these was that my 4 year old helped me paint some of the body pieces – she giggled when she said “I am painting God!”.  She meant the baby Jesus – but it was too cute.

Letter Photo Art

Made one of these for my niece.  Bought scrap wood from Home Depot (and had them cut it for me!) and frames from the Dollar Tree.  Again, I used paint I already had.  Instead of hot gluing the frames to the wood, though, I used hot glue and velcro tabs to attach the frames.  I wanted her to have the option of changing out the letters and putting photos in it in the future.  Great gift – fairly easy and inexpensive.  It seemed like picking out the letters, editing and printing them took the most time!

Scrabble Tile Ornaments

My nephew and his fiancee love to play scrabble.  So I made these Christmas ornaments for them.  One for each of them with their names, and one with their wedding date on it.  As long as you can find a scrabble game at a thrift store for cheap, you’re good to go!!  (and I got some of the tiles, including the numbers, from a friend who was willing to share!  Thanks!)  Instructions here.

White Chocolate Snack Mix

This is a favorite in our home, and perfect for gifting.  Put it in a cute little snack bag and it makes a great gift accompaniment.  (we gave this to the kids’ teachers as well!)

6 cups rice or corn chex (or a mixture of the two!)

3 cups cheerios

1 cup dry roasted peanuts

1 cup pretzel twists

12 ounces m&ms

1 pound white chocolate

Mix first 5 ingredients in large bowl.  Melt white chocolate using the microwave or a double boiler.  Pour over mixture and stir to coat.  Spread out on waxed paper covered cookie sheets until chocolate is hardened and mixture is cool.  Store in an airtight container. 

Be careful because this stuff is addicting!! 

DIY Campfire Starters

I made DIY campfire starters for my hubby and brother-in-law.  We seriously have the worst time starting campfires when we’re camping!  Last summer I had to make an emergency trip to the campground store for firestarters, and at 1.50 a pop, that was my inspiration for making my own!  Survivors we are not.  But DIYers, yes!

These were simple to make – I have two monstrous evergreens in my front yard that drop copious amounts of needles.  So I used those and some old candles I already had.  Genious idea to use egg cartons! 

This makes a great gift for a camping-kinda guy, paired with a camping lighter.  I found some instructions here.  They smell delicious.

(I did find instructions elsewhere that used dryer lint.  I tried that first – but I won’t tell you what I thought they looked like when they were done.  Not exactly gift-worthy.  So I went with the pine needles!)

Melting Snowman Cookies

We made these for my kids’ classmates.  They were a huge hit.  Definitely fun for the kids to decorate, too.  I used my own sugar cookie and frosting recipe.  Inspiration was found here.

Framed Christmas Tree / Scripture Art

My friends got these for Christmas.  Free printable found here, with some scrapbook paper and ribbon I had on hand, and some classy frames from the Dollar Tree.  Wish I’d made one for myself!

Whew!  Lots of ideas here – hopefully they’re helpful to you!  Did you make any handmade gifts or decor for Christmas??  Care to share a link?