December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

The annual Christmas card photo shoot.  This is the first one I took.  The dog swooped in, the 13 year old is not happy to be interrupted for this event.  It only goes downhill from here. 

Get. The. Dog. Out. Of. Here.

"Happy now?  I'm even smiling."


"My teeth are showing.  Please stop taking pictures."

"Nice try Josiah."

"I'm leaving."

 Obviously, I had to use the first picture.  Everett also paid bigtime by keeping me company while I went Christmas shopping that afternoon.  I think next year he will be more tolerant of my family picture requests.  Merry Christmas!!

December 14, 2013

Our Advent Traditions

Sorry, I'm so late with posting this!

For years I have struggled to make this time of year special.  It is difficult to find a happy place between a complicated program and a fluffy one-time devotional.  So, we do several things that work for our family.

The first Sunday of Advent, we begin reading from this series by Arnold Ytreeide.  The stories begin with Jotham, then each year you can read the next in the series.  In each book, you follow the tragic events in  the main character's life that lead them to the birth of the Messiah.  Each day, there is an cliff-hanger chapter followed by a short advent reading.  It sounds cheesy, but everyone in the family crowds onto the sofa and sits spellbound as I read the day's pages.  I wouldn't suggest these books for young children, it would be over their heads.  They also might be stressed with the perilous events in the books.   We love them, and I love that it makes us sit still and think about what Advent means to us.

The other tradition we have is an advent calender.  My mom bought it for us years ago.  It is wood with magnetic pieces.  As the month passes, the nativity scene is built, day by day.  It doesn't matter that we open the little doors every year, or that I always put Jesus behind the 24th door. 

The biggest tradition is the celebration of "Jesus Day".  This evolved over seven years ago.  We wanted to do something that focused on Jesus and on serving others.  We always find a service project to complete as a family.  Over the years we have stuffed boxes for the military in Afghanistan, where my uncle was flying helicopters with the Marines.  One year we made baby blankets for the local Women's Center.  Last year, we sewed and delivered bags for walkers and wheelchairs for residents of the local nursing home.  My mom sings hymns with them twice a month, and we join her the Monday before Christmas to sing Christmas Carols.  This year, we baked cookies and treats to deliver to several fire and police stations on Christmas Day.  The kids even got to tour the firehouse!  We also found an organization that provides crafts and projects for children in the hospital.  This was perfect for our large family.  Our group ranged from under a year old to 83 years old. 


We also put on a family nativity play.  I know, it sounds super cheesy, but it is one of those family traditions that will never end.  When Everett was a precocious five year old, he wanted to direct the adults in a nativity play.  Seeing as he was pretty cute, we all agreed.  I still have visions of my 80 year old grandpa dressed up as an angel, complete with golden wings and a halo.   As the families have grown, so has the play.  This year we celebrated with a 22 member cast.  It's not a serious event, but has been happening each Jesus Day for seven years.

I love the holiday traditions, but its terribly important that you choose a few special events and let that be enough for your family.  In my life, I am the ultimate in mom-guilt.  During the holiday season, mom-guilt can peak at an all time high.  In the world of Pinterest and Facebook, it's easy to look at the amazing things that other families are doing and feel like you aren't doing enough.  I've been there!  This year, in an effort to stay sane and healthy, I dialed things down.  My kids didn't care that our annual 'homeschool Christmas party'  turned into sledding and lunch with dear friends.  It was fantastic!

I hope this helps you out with a few ideas of simple things our family has done to celebrate this special time of year!

December 4, 2013

Thanksgiving Day 7

As you focused on thankfulness for the past six days have you found people, things, or circumstances that are not easy for which to be thankful?

Write out one or more circumstances or relationships for which you find it hard to give thanks.  Express your thanks to God for His help and care in spite of your lack of comprehension of what the end will be.

Tomorrow I'll post what we will be doing for Advent this year.  I would love to hear what you do to make this time of year special for your family!

December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving Day 6

I hope you have enjoyed the past few days of thankfulness.  I'm a people person, so that sort of thing is lovely to me.  My husband...well, we are opposites.  He would rather have his toenails removed than make a phone call.  The past few days have been hard for him.  Today, this is more his speed:

Meditate on the following verses:
1 Thessalonians 5:18  In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God...

Ephesians 5:20  Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the father in the name of our Lord JEsus Christ

"If tomorrow's supply depended on today's thanksgiving, how much would you have tomorrow?"

December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Day 5

Today put your thankfulness into action!

Call, visit, or write some of the people you listed yesterday to express your appreciation for their influence in your life.

You can do it! 

December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Day 4

Make a list of others who have blessed or touched your life.  This may include pastors, teachers, friends, people at work, neighbors, or writers.  Put a check mark by their name if or when you have let them know your appreciation for them.

I am a firm believer in the beauty of sending cards.  I delight in receiving them and sending them.  It seems that God brings a special note from a friend when I most desperately need it.  If you can't call or sit over coffee with someone from this list, send them a card.