Wednesday, December 31

New Year's Eve...

I really like to take time on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day to REMEMBER.

I have seen over the years the benefit of setting time aside to remember. To remember what the past year taught me. To remember what I celebrated.

2008 has been an extremely joyful year for me with the birth of our first 2 grandsons. If I wasn't in the habit of reviewing my year, I may overlook the details that made these births so special. Life gets busy and I begin to take things for granted if I don't stop and REMEMBER.

This year has been a year of good health for me and my family and it causes me to stop and give thanks. I have had years in the past where sickness and the death of my parents consumed the year. A year of good health is something to be grateful for and to REMEMBER.

My children took on great challenges this year in their families, work and schooling. They stepped out in faith. They grew in their walk with the Lord. It is a year to REMEMBER and give thanks.

I had to come to terms with a friendship that didn't meet my expectations. I thought I had worked through enough friendships in my days that I knew how to handle disappointment. I need to REMEMBER how I had to learn to forgive again.

My ministry with Homemakers and MOPS provided many opportunities to trust God. I want to REMEMBER how He desired that I learn more than I taught.

As I review my year, I remember how much I forgot has happened this year.

In the book of Deuteromy, God tells the Israelites to REMEMBER 15 times. God knows how life seems to go on whether we REMEMBER or not, but if I remember, I learn. I am grateful. I am ready for the New Year.

Tuesday, December 30


Each year Barb encourages the Homemakers women to choose a theme. This theme is something we read books about, search Scripture for, keep in mind as we make decisions, etc.

For 2008 I chose the theme Knowing God.

While that may seem like a rather general and vague theme with no real focus, I heard this quote by Beth Moore and knew that I wanted to know my God better by the end of 2008: "I know my God. I don't understand everything about Him. But I know my God is good. I know my God is love. I know my God has my best interest in mind."

It made me think...what do I really KNOW about my God?

The following quotes affirmed my chosen theme:
“There’s a lot of people who know about God, there’s fewer people who actually know God.” – Michael Binder

“Some people pray just to pray and some people pray to know God.” - Andrew Murray

“We only trust people we know,” says Martha Tennison. “If you’re really struggling to trust God, it may be because you don’t really know God.”

In the beginning of 2008 I WAS struggling to trust God. I didn't understand the journey He had me on. Throughout the year I realized that I needed to know God in order to trust Him. And then trust brings peace and peace brought me healing.

What a year!!!!

My theme verse for the year was Psalm 9:10, "Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you."

Ginger Garrett says that "God wants you to simply know Him in the present and trust Him with the unspoken ending."

Throughout the year I wrote down verses that taught me about God's character and who God is.

I can look back on my year and say I know God more. I know Him better. I knew Him in sorrow and deep pain. I knew Him in joy. I knew Him in miracles. I knew Him with an unknown future when I moved and didn't have my next home lined up.

When we miscarried I knew God in a different way because of my loss. "When we recognize that God can uniquely use suffering to draw us to himself and to glorify himself, we're able to actually see it as an opportunity to come to KNOW God in a way we haven't KNOWN him before, in a way we couldn't have KNOWN him without the suffering."

God is the source of all good things.
God gives and takes away.
God is my strength and my shield.
God blesses His people with peace.
God's thoughts are not my thoughts. His ways not my ways.
God's words are flawless.
God loves justice.
God searches hearts and minds.
God is righteous.
God performs wonders that cannot be fathomed and miracles that cannot be counted.
God is a refuge for the oppressed.
God determines our steps.
God weighs our motives.
God blesses those who trust in Him.

Monday, December 29


3 more days in 2008! How was your year? Did it unfold like you had hoped it would? Did you make a difference in somebody else's life?

I love to review each year as it comes to a close. Some years are easier to evaluate than others, but by reviewing the year just gone by, I am more mindful of where I may be going.

As women, we are probably all exhausted after a busy Christmas week, but take time with me to answer just a few question in your head if nothing else. At some point, write down the answers and then keep them in a place you can refer to in the years to come. This will give you a synopsis of your life!

What was the 'moment of the year' for you in 2008?
(If you can't answer that this year, keep it in mind for 2009. It helps you slow down and live 'in the moment'!)

What was the best choice you made this year?

Who influenced you the most in 2008?

Who do you think YOU influenced the most in 2008?

What was good for you this year?

How many books did you read this year?

Remember that phase we use alot in this blog: "the people you meet, the books you read and the choices you make" will determine the person you will become.

Hopefully, you are pleased with who you have become in 2008, if not, maybe this will give you incentive for making specific New Year's Resolutions.

Monday, December 22

Don't Forget...

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

Today I paused in the middle of my long 'to do' list to read a Christmas card from a friend. She always writes a special Christmas poem each year. This one brought all my senses to life and got me excited for celebrating Christmas ...whether I am ready or not. Take a moment to enjoy:

Christmas Gifts

Seeing Christmas...
A child's eyes reflecting wonder
from lights and glistening snow

Hearing Christmas...
Carols and sleigh bells and laughter
Santa's HO-HO-HO

Smelling Chrismas...
Cinnamon and nutmeg
The pungency of pine

Tasting Christmas...

Gingerbread and sugar cookies
Hot cider and spiced wine

Feeling Christmas...

Hugs from friends and family
bring warmth to Christmas morn

Knowing Christmas...

The gift of hope to all the world
Jesus Christ was born

@Debbie Pea

It's the most wonderful time of the year, start celebrating!

Let it go

Ok I have 3 words for all of us women who are striving to be wise...wise in our homes, wise with our families, wise in our work:




At this point, 4 days before Christmas, there is a good chance that everything you have planned to do might not get done.

That's ok. Let it go.

The shopping, baking, Christmas cards, cooking, decorating, scheduling, picture-taking, planning, etc, etc.

It most likely won't all get done. And if it does all get done, it might be at the expense of you losing sleep, or not spending time with family, or being crabby with your spouse or kids because they are preventing you from getting it all done.

If you are feeling tired or overwhelmed or frustrated or stressed then....




Change your menu plans and cook something simpler. Don't worry about finding the 'perfect' gift. Wait until after the holidays to do some of the things you were hoping to get done pre-Christmas.

It's ok. Really. It is.

I'm 4 days out from Christmas and my baby announcements and thank yous (which are my Christmas cards) are still piled high on the table.

I will get some sent. But not all.

Oh well. I'm letting it go.

Friday, December 19

Home Improvement...Serving Others

The woman who serves others is the "person who reaches her hand into the darkness to help another hand out into the light and discovers it is her own!"

I know I need to serve others.

I know I want to serve others.

I just get tired and pulled in so many directions that I often lose the vision I need.

Join me this weekend in Home Improvement...Serving Others, to pray this prayer when our energy is low and the demands on our time and money are great:

O Christ, do not give me tasks equal to my powers,
but give me powers equal to my tasks,
for I want to be stretched by things too great for me.
I want to grow through the greatness of my tasks,
but I shall need your help for the growing.
(E.Stanley Jones)

When I 'help another hand out into the light' during this Christmas season, I hope to find my own hand...and that it is stronger.

Thursday, December 18

Joy in serving

I think part of serving at Christmas is remembering...

If serving comes from a heart of gratitude than we need to remember our blessings and serving will come easier.

However, this time of year can be very difficult for some people. I know there are people who are finding it tough to be thankful and are lacking in the area of joy.

These people are still waiting on the Lord for their unanswered prayer. They are waiting to hear the results of a medical test. They are watching their marriage fall apart. Their family is not talking with one another. They have experienced loss and this will be the first Christmas without a loved one. A relationship has left them broken and filled with pain. They are job less and money is scarce during 'the most wonderful time of the year.'

For those of you who might find yourself in this category - it's ok. It's ok to hurt. To be angry. To ask God your questions. To cry.

But through that pain-filled heart I still encourage you to look around and find the blessings in your life.

Then find someone to whom you can be a blessing. You might think you have nothing to offer if you are broken or sad or lonely this Christmas. But in reality, you can bring immense joy to others when you serve them out of a heart that is hurting. What a precious gift you give to another when you serve in the midst of your own pain or loss.

God will honor that. He will bless that. And I believe, you will find a joy that comes, not from your circumstances, but from deep within.

"The only ones around you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve. " - Albert Schweitzer

Wednesday, December 17

Serving with a Smile...

Women serve at Christmas time. Ok, so we serve all year long, but Christmas just magnifies all that we to do so our family has memories, good food, special presents, fabulous decorations, an attractive home, harmony and happiness!

Carol Travilla, in her book Caring Without Wearing, warns about becoming a perfectionist when serving. She lists 5 unrealistic expectations that can contribute to burnout while serving:

1. There should not be any limits to what I can do

2. I have the capacity to help everyone

3. I am the only person available to help

4. I must never make a mistake

5. I have the ability to change another person

I don't consider myself a perfectionist, but I feel like I may crash and burn at times when I start believing these false expectations.

Christmas is a perfect time to serve with a smile. It is a time to reach out to others. It is also a good time to evaluate if you are truly serving or if you are trying to be all things to all people.

Stacy cited a verse in yesterday's posting:

"Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men." Ephesians 6:7

If we stay focused on serving the Lord, I think we can avoid the 5 unrealistic expectations and we will be able to serve with a Christmas and during the rest of the year!

Tuesday, December 16

An opportunity to serve

Yesterday Barb mentioned serving...

I can't think of a better way to honor Christ's birth than by serving others during the Christmas season! I think our ideas of serving vary greatly from person to person. But we all have opportunities to serve if we look around!

For example,
As an individual, think of someone you can serve in the next week...maybe a co-worker who wouldn't expect it or a parent or a friend.

Or, grab a few friends and plan a way to serve others as a group: go to a homeless shelter and serve food. Volunteer at a food shelf. Adopt a family and plan to serve them anonymously. Go shopping and buy some toys for a local organization.

Or, if you are married, talk with your spouse (and kids?) and find out how they would like to serve. Is there a family you know of who could use a meal or some gifts this Christmas? Maybe there are some parents who could use a night out while you watch their kids? Look around you and notice those in need.

Maybe serving is just the gift of your presence...rather than presents. A listening ear for the elderly or a single mom? A plate of cookies for a family. A evening of encouragement for someone in need of joy this holiday season.

Whatever you do "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men." Ephesians 6:7

Monday, December 15


Saturday was December 13th. Every year for the past 25 years or so our family has celebrated Santa Lucia Day,the 13th of December. I began this tradition when my kids were very young in hopes to instill in them the 'magic' of serving others and a way to reach out to people who didn't celebrate Christ's birth. Each year I would introduce a new cookie that would go along with a Christmas tradition and we would focus on the meaning and background of that tradition. Everything was done by candlelight and that made the 'magic' of the day memorable.

It became an overwhelming task as the cookies began stacking up and the kids invited their friends over for our Santa Lucia 'feast'. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the kids' involvement and anticipation even when they were in college and out of the house. I looked forward to meeting their friends and loved having a venue that would encourage them to share with others.

Last week, my niece borrowed my Santa Lucia scrapbooks. Her 7 year old daughter needed to share a custom with her 1st grade class, so my niece wanted more info on how we celebrated, but didn't want to get as elaborate as my celebration had gotten. The reason for this posting is to share about her telephone call she made to me Friday night:

"Barb, you did this 'Santa Lucia thing' different every year! I think I see some possibility in doing this if I don't have to be so rigid in tradition."

When talking about this tradition with her earlier, I had emphasized the years that things went smoothly. I didn't think she needed to hear all the times I was frustrated and disappointed. I didn't think she needed to hear about the times I cried to my husband that my plans weren't coming together.

After talking with her, I realized it was because of my shortcomings that she decided she could take on this celebration. She realized she could make it as big or as small as she wanted to, depending on what each year looked like.

Too often we put our best foot forward, trying to make everything look like a success. Success comes in trying. meant to be special, not perfect. I encourage you to continue to try different celebrations and make the most of them every year. That's what will make memories and that is what will turn a celebration into a tradition that will fit your family.

Friday, December 12

Home Improvement...Christmas Giving!

Think Outside the Box!

As you prepare for your Christmas celebration and gift giving time, think of ways to share your gifts that make it fun to give rather than receive.

The last few Christmases, we've decided we needed to add some levity to our Christmas morning so we incorporated a TV game to help us distribute the gifts.

One year, we made up our own version of 'Deal or No Deal'. It was the 1st year that program was popular. My husband and I made sheets of paper to represent the suitcases that are popular on the TV show. My husband was the banker and he called my cell phone to offer a 'deal' to whoever was picking a suitcase. The excitement mounted as the deal started at $1.00 and continued to increase to $5, $10 and even $25! It extended our Christmas day and we still talk about the fun.

Last year, we decided to have all the adults bring 5 small gifts to exchange with one another. We put them in a big pile, and then played a 'match game'. We had teams that tried to 'match' family photos that I had blown up and had turned upside down. As matches were made, a gift was opened. After all the gifts were opened, we played the 'dice' game that let us swap gifts away from one another.

The memories we made playing the games have surpassed the gifts that were exchanged.

Improve your family interaction this Christmas and think outside the box. I have a new game I hope to try out this year, share your Christmas gift-giving habits with us.

Thursday, December 11

A homemade Christmas

Last Christmas I received two homemade gifts that were so memorable...

The first was a beautiful crocheted blanket. We use it almost every day and it is a gift that I will always treasure and I think of the friend who made it every time I wrap myself in it.

The second was a jar with the makings for scones. I had never eaten scones, much less made them. They were delicious. I just added the 'wet' ingredients and enjoyed this tasty gift.

This Christmas season, I challenge you to MAKE at least ONE Christmas gift. It's a challenge that I am taking upon myself as well and I hope you'll consider it!

If you are used to making gifts, make a few more than normal. But if making homemade gifts is not your style, then just start with one.

Here are a couple ideas:
Crochet or knit (I've been working on a gift for almost a year....maybe it will be done by Christmas?)
Make a plate of Christmas treats and give to friends, neighbors or family
Make a booklet of coupons for the recipient to redeem throughout the year
A DVD slideshow of pictures throughout the year

Please comment and share what homemade gifts you make or ones that you have received that were memorable.

Let's make this year a homemade, memorable, from-the-heart Christmas.

Tuesday, December 9


"Don't tell me you will do it...JUST DO IT!" Those words probably ring in my kids' ears today, because my husband and I were constantly telling them that good intentions didn't count, actions did. They could tell us over and over again how they were going to clean their rooms, improve their grades or use better manners, but we were never impressed until we saw actual changes in their behavior that brought about changes in their grades, cleanliness or manners.

I recalled that phrase..."Don't tell me you will do it...JUST DO IT!" as I walked out of the Galleria shopping center tonight. I was convicted as I read Stacy's posting yesterday. It encouraged everyone to give their 'presence', not 'presents' this year. I told myself yesterday how I agreed with that...and then I went shopping.

Wow, is it easy to get caught up in the hype and glitter of THINGS. I suddenly felt I needed to purchase items I never even considered before stepping into some of the stores. My 'presence' paled in comparison to some of the 'presents' I could buy with my Visa card.

I came home and pulled out some journals of years gone by. I had a habit of writing down what I was thankful for everyday between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I tried to extend the list daily, never duplicating anything. I made a point of writing down at least one if not more things or people I was thankful for before I would make my Christmas lists. That exercise trained me over the years to focus on what I had, not what I needed to buy. It helped me focus on WHY I was buying something for someone and it helped me develop a giving spirit. My 'presence' was actually worth something to others if I had a thankful spirit within me. I stopped that discipline a few years ago, thinking I knew what I was thankful for and just knowing that would carry me through. Wrong.

I am not going to tell you that I am going to start this exercise of writing out what I am thankful for between now and Christmas. I am not going to just say I will be more mindful of giving my 'presence' to others this Christmas. I am just going to DO IT!

Monday, December 8

450 Billion on Christmas Gifts???

We saw this video at church last night. It was really powerful and I've been contemplating it ever since.

Please watch:

I love gifts. I mean I really love gifts. I love giving them. I love buying them. I love opening them. I just love finding the right gift for the right person. But this time of year we can get so caught up in the obligation of giving that we lose our focus and the purpose of giving.

I hope you take up the challenge presented in the video: buy ONE less gift this year. Less presents - more presence.

Check out this web site for ideas on celebrating the Chrismas season in different ways this year:

Friday, December 5

Home Improvement-for the Holidays!

As you get into 'high-gear' this weekend to finish your decorating or start your shopping, pick up a 3 ring binder and start recording your activities and plans.

In Simplify Your Holidays, Marcia Ramsland recommends 6 tabs to keep you on track:
The Plan
Cards & Decorations
December 1-25

Looking back at past Christmases, it would be helpful to have this all written down and it would be such a good reminder of things that went right and also for those areas I needed to improve on.

Check out her website: and click on downloads for a few free hints.

I love this quote from her book:

"Holidays are as much a matter of organization as they are a matter of the heart.
The two work together. Organization during the holidays IS an expression of the heart."

You are going to be putting together a Christmas for your family this year, you might as well start recording it and give yourself direction for the years to come.

Thursday, December 4

A book for the Christmas season

Today I'm making a book recommendation for the Christmas season: Unafraid by Francine Rivers. I think I did this last year as well, but I was so impacted by this book that I encourage you to check it out of your local library and read it as we head into Christmas. It is a small book and a quick read!

It will challenge your perspective of the Christmas story. It will remind you of the miracle of it all. It will help you refocus on what is important in the weeks to come.

Samuel: Two months

In case you're wondering about my cute little miracle man, yesterday was Samuel's two-month birthday so we did a little birthday photo shoot...

You can check out the pictures here:

Thanks to all of you who continue to pray for the adoption process.

Wednesday, December 3

Are You a Planner?

In life, there are those who plan...and those who are more 'free-spirited'!

At Christmas, I think everyone needs to plan! The time is short and there is so much to do, I don't think you can just 'let things happen'.

Marcia Ramsland has a new book out called Simplify Your Holidays. It is a great resource for you 'free-spirited' women. She suggests that you start your Christmas planning in Oct, so you know that alot of planning is necessary according to the experts.

One idea she promotes is to make notes of all you do each year.
I have kept a notebook over the years, not as extensive as she would like, but I use it as a resource to keep all my Christmas recipes and ideas. I also keep track of gifts I give, so I don't duplicate giving my co-workers or sunday school teachers, candles or Avon every year.

Marcia says to think about giving similar items each year. For example, give all magazine subscriptions to friends one year. The next year, give them all spa certificates or give all of them books. That way you can do one-stop shopping and check off a good numbers of recipients from your list.

If you mail out alot of gifts, you may enjoy shopping at Von Maur. They offer interest-free credit, free gift wrap and NO shipping fee.

Being intentional and planning this year will save you time and money.

Tuesday, December 2

An intentional Christmas

As wise women, we strive to make choices intentionally. Our goal is to daily live out our purpose, priorities and principles.

During the Christmas season, it is so easy to let these slide.

Lets challenge one another this month to make choices wisely...deliberately...intentionally.

Every November a friend calls me and says lets get dates on the calendar for December. We plan to work on our Christmas cards together. We plan a day to bake Christmas cookies with a few family members. We plan events that are priorities in our life and we don't want the month to slip by without those happening.

I am so grateful for this friend and how she intentionally pursues me.

Make the choice to live out your priorities this month: whether that be family, friends, your faith, your home, etc.

Plan a new tradition. Take time to read the Christmas story each week. Take photographs that reflect the Christmas season. Call a friend who might be having a hard time and meet her for coffee. Turn on the Christmas music and let the true meaning of Christmas minister to your heart.

Living intentionally requires effort and planning on our part. Lets start today!

Monday, December 1

Cyber Monday...

Today is supposed to be the busiest day on the internet for shopping...Check out these sights:

Or this is good for additional coupons!:

Just a reminder before you click "order" or before you head to the mall, make a list of all the gifts you need to buy. Write the names of who you need to buy for and one short statement of why you are buying for them. It will put your heart in the right mood for sharing with others and give you the right motive for shopping.
If you can't write a reason for buying for that person, perhaps you will do better this year to renew that relationship by spending time with them...or deleting them from your list.

Be intentional in your shopping this Christmas. This time of year, I like to recall a definition of maturity I read along time ago. You are mature when you can 'carry money without spending it'