Monday, December 31

Keep it Simple...

Happy New Year!!!

Having company for New Year's Eve? Make your table look special, without alot of fuss. I started this tradition with my family when the kids were really young, so if you just have your family sitting down for the festivities, add a little intrique by including the following:

CANDY... for sweet adventures in the New Year!

AN APPLE... for a New Year of smiles!

COAL... for love and warmth throughout the New Year!

PEANUTS (in the shell!)...a New Year of surprises!

Scatter some of the items around the table, putting an apple on each plate. A quick note written on the computer could sit beside each place-setting to explain your wishes for each of your loved ones.
Simple, but it works to stimulate a discussion for everyone's dreams for the New Year!

Have a Happy New Year's Eve!!

Be the Life of the Party Tonight!

Impress your friends with trivia tonight about New Year's! Go to for the answers!

Happy New Year, Everybody!!

1. The Scottish tune Auld Lang Syne is a common song sang right after the stroke of midnight. What is the literal translation of the song's title: Auld Lang Syne?

a.Old Long Ago

b.Always Remembering You

c.Another Year Passes

d.Here We Go Again

2. What is oldest known holiday celebrated by mankind?


b.New Year's Day


d.The day is not really known for sure

3. What is the most common New Year's resolutions made by Americans?

a.Resolve to Find a Better Job

b.Resolve to Stop Smoking

c.Resolve to Save More Money

d.Resolve to Lose Weight

4. Who is mainly responsible for us celebrating New Year's day on January 1st?

a.Pope Gregory

b.Pope Benedict

c.Julius Caesar

d.Alexander the Great
5. Western society's official calendar was generated from?

a.The Julian Calendar

b.The Gregorian Calendar

c.The Chinese Calendar

d.The Solar Calendar

6.Regardless of when a society celebrates New Year's Day, what is one common thread between the all?

a. Good Luck Rituals

b.Everyone Eats a Hearty Meal

c.Outrageous Parties

d.Everyone Attends a Spiritual Function

7. The month January was named after?

a.A Hindu Princess

b.The Roman god Janus

c.The Greek god Januarius

d.A former Roman goddess

8. Which society calendar uses animals to mark years?

a.The Jewish Calendar

b.The Chinese Calendar

c.The Gregorian Calendar

d.The Hindu Calendar

9. What is the most watched parade on New Year's Day?

a.Hollywood Christmas Parade

b.Macy's Holiday Parade

c.Walt Disney World's New Year's Parade

d.The Tournament of Roses Parade
10. Speaking of the Tournament of Roses Parade, during between 1903 to 1915 what was the main event at the Rose Bowl Stadium?



c.Chariot Races

d.Sprint Running

Thursday, December 27

Christmas Shopping Continues...

I trust you all had a wonderful Christmas, full of wonderful memories and good times.
Are you wrestling with other shoppers during the after Chrismas sales now? I just wanted to give you a hint if you are ready to do more shopping. After Christmas is a fabulous time to find good deals on nativity scenes. There are so many to choose from and I don't think you can ever have too many of those to put around your home. Since there are so many colors and styles to choose from, think about buying one a year and see if you can decorate each room in your home with a nativity scene. Write the dates on them as you collect them and it will be a fun decoration to take out each year and review the memories that go along with it. If they are too price-prohibitive, buy a few pieces and add to one scene over the years.
It will be a great way to end this Christmas season and will be a fun way to start next year's celebration!


Friday, December 21

What Do You Treasure?

In an earlier posting, I described having a "Mary's Christmas" this year. A year in which you would 'treasure up all these things and ponder them in your heart', like Mary did in Luke 2:19. I focused on the word 'ponder' in that posting. Today, to begin this Christmas weekend, I think it may be helpful to ponder the word 'treasure'! Treasure means to 'cherish or prize'. Mary treasured all the happenings of the first Christmas. May I suggest a way that I prepare my heart to cherish Christmas? I once again need to be intentional in my thoughts and then I find my actions will usually follow. I have made it a practice to list what I am going to give my friends and family early in the Christmas season. The list keeps changing and eventually I firm it up and get the shopping done. Often I am unsure who to give small gifts it an obligation or a true act of love and kindness? This brings me back to the word 'cherish'. I write out beside each name what I cherish about each person I plan on giving a gift to. It sounds rather idealistic to put this in a posting, but it has helped me give with a heart of love rather than of obligation. It is only a short sentence that I write out but it is there to see as I review my list. Each time I refer to my list, I see the character quality or attitude or impact that person has had on my life and I treasure the opportunity to give back. Maybe this comes natural for you. If so, groom that ability. If you find yourself begrudging the money you are spending, the time it takes to shop or the things you would rather buy for yourself, try this habit of mine. I wonder if Mary was chosen by God partly because she could treasure and ponder without practice. For me, this has been a lifetime pursuit.
Once again, have a Mary's Christmas this year. A time to ponder and treasure all that God has blessed you with...beginning with the birth of His son to be our Savior.

Thursday, December 20

The Nativity Story

There seems to be an unplanned theme in our postings....

Last week I wrote about a book called Unafraid based on the life of Mary. Barb wrote about Having a Mary's Christmas. I wrote about the nativity sets I have in my home this year.

Today I want to continue that theme by recommending you ALL go and rent The Nativity Story if you didn't watch it last December when it was released.

While the budget was probably fairly limited, and the acting may not be academy worthy, the story itself is truly so incredible and miraculous (and even so unbelievable at times that I have to remind myself it is not just a story) that there is no doubt it will change the way you read the Christmas story!

Mary is such a brave and obedient young girl. Joseph so courageous. I will not view my nativity sets the same way ever again. I have a greater level of respect for both of them and couldn't help but thank God for choosing the people he did to bring forth the life of Jesus.

So if you are spending some time at home or with family this weekend, go pick it up. It will be well worth your time!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19

Last Minute Gift Idea...

Are you scrambling for one more family gift? Pick up a copy of The Quilt Maker's Gift., by Jeff Brumbeau and Gail de Marcken. It is a short, COLORFUL book that will capture the interest of everyone and the story line couldn't be better for Christmas. I won't give it away...but you will be GRATEFUL that you shared this treasure with your family during this time of giving and receiving. It may become a regular for you to read around the Christmas tree each year.

Tuesday, December 18

What decorates your home...and heart?

"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger." Luke 2:16

This year I set up just two small pieces of Christmas decorations: two nativity sets.

I decided this December that I wanted and needed my heart to be focused on the true meaning of Christmas - Christ's birth. One way for me to do that was to have nativity sets in my home to remind me.

I have nothing against any other Christmas decorations, but I do want to challenge you: Do you have a nativity set in your home? Along with the stockings, Santa decorations, reindeer or elves, a gentle reminder that the true meaning of Christmas is a small baby can be very powerful.

If you don't have a nativity set I urge you to ask for one this Christmas or go shopping as a family and purchase one together.

Then start a tradition of reading the Christmas story together. This precious story of a baby is the reason for the season and I find it difficult to remember that at times with the craziness this time of year holds.

Take some time for yourself, with a significant other or your children to read the story of Christ's birth. Discuss what it may have been like and why we celebrate the 25th day of December each year:
Isaiah 9:6 says, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given."

Now that is reason to celebrate!

Monday, December 17

How Many Christmases Have You Experienced?

I asked that question at Homemakers last week. Think about how many Christmases you remember. You probably remember the one that disappointed you; the one with your first boyfriend; the first one when you were first married and probably a few others. If you have had 25-30 Christmases, shouldn't you remember all of them, if Christmas is as special as we say it is? If Christ gave His son at Christmas shouldn't we remember such a life-changing time each year? My point at Homemakers was that perhaps we need to be more intentional about making our Christmases have more impact in our lives. Not just in December, but all year long. That way, we could look back on 2007 and say, "I remember that year because..." We spend so much time shopping, decorating and baking, and we are so relieved it is over by the time January arrives. How can we make Christmas more memorable? I would like to suggest taking time each Christmas season to write down in a journal or on a calendar what you are expecting Christmas to be like and what you are going to do to make it happen. We have one week til Christmas Eve. It is a perfect time to get away for 10 minutes and write out how you want to affect others during this family time. How are you going to feel if you don't get the 'perfect gift'? What impact are you going to have on making memories and having a good attitude during the busy days ahead? By identifying what you hope to accomplish, you will have a path to move ahead on. After Christmas, take time to access your progress. Did you make Christmas about others or was it all about you? I keep a yearly prayer calendar and I write my 'hopes and dreams' for the Christmas season in that. I can look back and see if I am growing to be more Christ-like, or if I am treading water until next year. If I say Christ is the 'reason for the season' I really living in a way that it makes a difference in my life? I don't remember many Christmases in my 58 years. That is sad. I wish I had documented more and baked less! That would really have changed my focus for Christmas and my anticipation for Christmases in the future. If I can change my ways after so many years, I hope to challenge some of you to start monitoring your Christmases in an intentional way. Experiment this year...keep track of what you learn this Christmas, how you acted, what you gave and how you touched another person. This may be the best gift you can give yourself this year.

Saturday, December 15

The Courage to Be Imperfect

I was reading a book last night while babysitting my six-week-old nephew (I will post some pictures because he is so adorable....and I am very biased!).

The author had a profound point that I want to share. She has a few rules and one of them is to "Renounce Perfectionism." Essentially she says that perfectionism is an enemy. It says wait until you have time to do it properly...

Here's the quote that got me: "The choice is not between doing it imperfectly now and doing it perfectly later. That's an illusion. The real choice is between doing it imperfectly now or not at all."

Isn't that so true? Think of all the activities, projects, to-do things that we want to do perfectly, so we keep putting them off. Often times we never get them done because we are waiting for the perfect moment.

For example - scrapbooking! I have found that many moms have the tendency to believe that if they can't create the perfect scrapbook, with every single picture of the kids, and all the funny comments they say, then we won't do anything at all. I tell many moms: it doesn't have to be perfect. Put the photos in a photo album and journal next to the photos. Your family will appreciate that dearly in the years to come! And when it comes to photo-taking, don't worry about capturing the perfect family photo. If you and your spouse are acting goofy, or if the kids are making faces, capture the moment and share it with the world. We all enjoy knowing that others aren't perfect too!

Our perfection will only end up hurting relationships, our families, our homes. The author mentions in this book that it takes courage to be imperfect. Courage to have the humility to do things imperfectly. So please remember as a wife, mom, daughter, friend, sibling....buying the perfect gift, having our home perfectly decorated, sending the perfect card or letter, making the perfect meals or Christmas cookies, should not be our goal.

Bless your families with imperfection this Christmas. Strive to be humble enough to make imperfection (getting it DONE) the goal.

P.S. I will share the name of this book after Christmas. I need to purchase it for a few gifts this week. If you want to know the name, go to About Us, Stacy and e-mail me!

Thursday, December 13

Hope You Have a Mary's Christmas...!

Maybe that is what we should be wishing each other since 'Merry Christmas' is not politically correct all of a sudden. A Mary's Christmas!? What would that look like? We think we are stressed 13 days before Christmas but just think of Mary, nine months before her first Christmas. She would have just found out that Christ was coming as a baby...her baby. That would have given her reason to be stressed and abit worried. From the very first time the angel spoke to Mary, she responded in such a way that set the tone for her Christmas. She didn't react to the angel or to the message, she just wondered how it could be true that she would give birth to the Christ-child since she was a virgin. Mary may have been young, but she must have had a close walk with God. She didn't react or doubt, she just responded with truth and waited for God's response. The Bible said she 'pondered'. Ponder is a word we don't hear a great deal today. It means to "think deliberately, consider deeply or to ruminate". Mary thought deliberately when she was given the assignment by God. Do we think deliberately or do we jump into a reactive state and begin to worry before we find out God's plan for us? I have imagined over the years that Mary may have used the list of things to think about that are listed in Philippians 4:8..."What ever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praise worthy"...she must have automatically shifted into thinking about 'these things' when faced with such a daunting task from God. How else could she have said so quickly, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said."
To have a 'Mary's Christmas', we need to be ready to respond to God not react with our expectations. Ponder whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy during this Christmas season. See if that doesn't get you closer to having a 'Mary's Christmas'! A Christmas that just might change your life as the first Christmas changed Mary's life.

Wednesday, December 12

Unwed...pregnant...mother of Jesus?

I am still amazed at how the life of Jesus came to be...through a young teenage girl?

That is why I highly recommend reading
Unafraid by Francine Rivers. It's part of the The Lineage of Grace Series. Each book focuses on the life of a woman in the Bible. The other books profile Ruth, Rahab, Tamar, and Bathsheba. They are all excellent. And, best of all, they are small books so they are a quick read.

Unafraid presents a unique picture of an unwed pregnant teenager...and what it must have been like from Mary's perspective. It is a wonderful book to read as we head into Christmas. The author takes plenty of liberties, of course, but it definitely challenges the way you think about and view this young girl as the mother of Jesus!

So take a break from the shopping, curl up and allow yourself the pleasure of a good read. If you've already read it, or if you do, leave a comment and let us know what you think of the book.

Happy reading....

Tuesday, December 11

Are You FAT?

Last night we had our Homemakers with Hope Christmas Party! Besides eating our way through the night, doing a craft, and opening gifts, we had a brief time of serious talk. I am blessed to be a part of this group, as the girls are all so passionate about life and making a home that is of value and worth. I shared with them that when I considered putting a group of gals together as a ministry and support system, I had read that I should find myself a group of FAT girls. FAT as in:




Half of these girls have been with the group for 6 years. They are very FAT!

If you desire to grow in any area of your life, check out how FAT you are. Then move ahead with enthusiasm, knowing you have what it takes to develop and grow into a wise woman who builds her home.

Sunday, December 9

Amazing Grace

Ryan and I watched Amazing Grace this weekend. It is a fantastic movie about the life of a man who pushed to end the slave trade in the British Empire. It is a powerful example of fighting for what you believe in and standing up for injustice.

One of the most interesting aspects of the movie is the character who plays
John Newton - the man who wrote the lyrics to Amazing Grace. The web site says, "John Newton was captain of a slave ship for many years, until he underwent a dramatic religious conversion while steering his vessel through a storm."

I recall hearing that the man who wrote Amazing Grace had been involved in the slave trade but the movie powerfully depicts the great sorrow this man lived with due to his previous lifestyle. If you have Real Player you can watch a video clip about the song here.

It is a great family movie (not for young children) that could lead to some wonderful discussions about grace, and fighting for what you know is right. I highly recommend it this Christmas season!

Friday, December 7

5 Gifts for Children

I used to buy 5 gifts for my kids at Christmas:
Gift #1: A doll or stuffed animal...something to love

Gift #2: A book...something to learn

Gift #3: A game or toy...something to play with!

Gift #4: A gift of activity...something that made my child move

Today is gift #5... and that was a gift of creativity. Something that would let my child express his/her own style. A gift of artistic expression.
Keep it simple. It may be a new box of crayons every year; markers; clay; or paints of all kinds. Scrapbooking and card making is perfect as your kids get older. Build into your child's imagination with this gift. Plan an area in your home where this gift can be used so you aren't complaining about the mess and clean up. This gift should allow your child to explore and get dirty if necessary. After Christmas your family may want to go to an art show or museum together. Show them the end results of developing their creativity. Christmas is a time of wonder...let it start in the mind of your child as he/she creates with the 5th gift of Christmas.

This list of 5 gifts gave me a reason for shopping and buying. I hope you find it to be a guide of some sort for your Christmas. Start young, start simple and stay in touch with your child by giving gifts that make sense.

Thursday, December 6

5 Gifts for Children

I suppose you ran right out and bought the first 3 gifts for your children, right?!

Gift #1 Something to hug and love

Gift #2 A Book

Gift #3 A game or toy

Today's gift may be abit more challenging! Both to find a gift to fit this category and to get your children excited about it. This is the gift of activity! Children need to move and build good habits. This gift will accomplish both. The best part is that your child may not be aware that this gift is really a life lesson! More than ever, kids need to be encouraged to explore and enjoy the outdoors. It may be a pair of skates, a sled, hula hoop, hockey equipment, jumpropes, or a new bike. It doesn't need to be expensive...just something to get your children outdoors! It may be coupons for a family bike ride every month or a family canoe trip. This gift may evolve over the years; make it age appropriate and see how the years develop it.
Better get on the move yourself! Get out and find a gift of activity that your child will really enjoy.

Wednesday, December 5

5 Gifts for Children

We have been talking about 5 categories of gifts you might want to consider for your children as you head out to buy them something.

Gift #1: Something to hug and love like a doll or stuffed animal. This is really the gift that teaches your child to care.

Gift #2: A Book! A book given every year will encourage your child to learn...and spend time with you as you read it together.

Gift #3 is today's topic. For this gift I chose a game or a toy. When my kids were little, a toy was appropriate. It took some educating of myself to realize what toy might be the best for this category. I wanted something for my children just to enjoy. Play is their focus...that is how they learn, so the toy I chose needed to be chosen wisely. To pick a toy based on what a child sees on TV commercials isn't always the best way to go. There are so many educational toys available, but you may need to do some investigating to find the one that meets the needs of your child.

As the kids got older, I always bought a family game to play on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. We would add it to our 'game shelf' and play it throughout the year. The kids gave their opinion of what game to buy as they got older. Starting this tradtion early gives the family a cohesiveness about Christmas. We were adding value to the family as we added a game every year. We added memories as we all sat around and played it over and over again! It continues on with adult children as each year we continue to add a game to our holiday fun.

There are hidden lessons in choosing a gift from this category. A child learns to play, to interact and to win and lose. Winning and losing is a skill to teach and best learned in the safety of the family. What a way to teach it...the kids won't even suspect that they are being 'taught' when they sit beneath the Christmas tree, playing a game as a family!

Enjoy your shopping and check in tomorrow for gift#4

Tuesday, December 4

5 Gifts for Children

Yesterday I shared with you the idea of 'giving intentionally' to your children. I shared how my husband and I tried to give gifts that would fit in one of 5 categories as we chose gifts. If we could give 5 gifts to our children, one from each area, we felt that giving gifts had more meaning and a lasting affect on our children.

Gift #1 is the gift of caring. I chose a gift that my child would love and hug and take care of long after Christmas. A stuffed animal or doll would fall under this category.

Gift #2 is the gift of learning. (Don't put that on the tag that hangs on the present...your child might not be so eager to open it!) This gift was a great book! I would search all year for a special book for each of my children! Over the years, our kids came to expect a book and often would give us suggestions as to what book they would look forward to receiving. Books encourage wonder and exploration. It continues to 'give' long after Christmas as well.
Of course the main benefit of this gift is that you, the parent, comes with this present! The advantage of giving a book to a youngster is that he can't read so he will have to climb up on your lap and enjoy a quiet time with YOU!

Perhaps this gift is a perfect example of when you bless others, the blessing comes back to you. Give a book...and then enjoy reading that book to your child!

Gift #3 comes tomorrow!

Monday, December 3

5 Gifts for Children

Do you mindlessly pick things up as you shop, concerned more about how MUCH you are spending rather than how MUCH you are giving? Oh, I know you think about the giving aspect, but when it comes to giving gifts to your children, a little fore-thought can make Christmas MUCH more meaningful. It will also increase your anticipation for Christmas because there will be a real purpose in giving. When my kids were young, I would look forward to giving my kids 5 gifts. Each gift would fit into one of each category that I had identified ahead of time. I would like to pass on those categories to hopes it will make your gift giving more rewarding.

Gift #1 We would shop for a gift that our children could hug or love. It might be a doll, a stuffed animal or a small toy they could hang onto. The purpose of this gift was to encourage our children to care for something (hopefully that would transfer over to people!). It was a gift that would encourage our children to hug and love and express affection.

If any of you have a gift that you have already purchased that fits into this category, pass the idea along. Share what you are giving your child that will encourage them to care for one another.

Come back tomorrow for gift #2!!