Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Christmas Traditions - A Picnic under the tree

Traditions are huge for our family. I am convinced that this is a way to unite us as a family and to woo my children's hearts.
Noel Piper said in her book Treasuring God in our Traditions, that "in Deuteronomy 11 (is) the essence, the core, or traditions for God's people" ""You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul"" (vs 18). The things we do regularly that help us in our deepest being to know and love and want God, the things that help our lives to be infiltrated with God - those things are traditions. And then if there are children in our lives, to pass the God-focused activities to the next generation - that's what tradition is for a Christian."

This season, I wanted to share some of our traditions with you to spur you on to begin some of your own. Not all of our traditions in and of themselves are "spiritual." But the bigger picture behind them all is always about our children knowing God and His great love for them. Our first tradition of the season begins the Friday after Thanksgiving. As a family we put up and decorate our Christmas tress. Then we spend some time in the kitchen as a family. John and I cook some of our favorite appetizers and the boys decorate cookies. For dinner we have a picnic under the Christmas tree. We turn off all the lights but the tree and a few candles and we eat our cooked goodies. We spend some time chatting with the boys (as much as they could understand now) about the true meaning of Christmas. Then we get out our special ornaments from the previous years and discuss the meanings behind each of them - remembering. After our dinner the boys open 2 gifts from us and then there are 2 more gifts under the tree. This is what those gifts consist of:
1. An ornament - John and I decide on an ornament that reminds us of something that happened in that child's life for the year. A big event, a big obsession, a favorite song that lasted all year long, a silly saying that they have said forever. It is a symbol of a memory that we don't want to forget. I have a mini scrapbook and I take a pic of the ornament and will write the reasoning behind that ornament in it so we can always remember why Brady got a rooster for his 3rd Christmas, for example. When the kids get a little older I want them to participate in this tradition, buying an ornament for their siblings that has a memory attached to it.
2. A Christmas Book - each year we also pick out a Christmas book to build them a collection of Christmas books to have as adults but to enjoy as a child and to be able to one day tell their children about how we read those books to them every Christmas as a child.
3. John and I try to take turns buying an ornament for us - just one ornament and we switch out who buys it (we try to do this). I don't want all of our Christmas to be just about the kids for several reasons. First of all, we were a family before the boys joined us and we will be a family after they leave and cleave with their spouses one day. Second, it is just fun and I don't want my tree to be absent of memories when the kids take their ornaments to their house to share with their family.
4. A Christmas movie - We just get one movie for us to keep at our house for our kids to enjoy but for our grand kids one day. Then our boys can bring their kids home and say we watched this video when we were little kids - and then all 3 generations can watch it together.

So after we open our gifts, put the ornaments on the tree and read the books, we eat the cookies the boys decorated during the day and we watch our new Christmas video - this year it is Max and Ruby's Christmas. This night is soooo fun and just writing about it makes me ready for it to be here. It is a precious night to me and I know that my boys feel completely loved and thought of as we give them their ornament and recall some of our favorite memories of each of them this year. Hope you are inspired - try it I promise you will be hooked.

Is He Real?

Since Jake was a baby, I have wanted him to believe in Santa. It made me sad to think about him not experiencing that "magic" of Christmas. I always said that we would keep it in perspective and not let it override the true meaning of Christmas. Well what I didn't count on as a young mom (I am still in this category by the way) was his little sinful heart that, like myself, wants life to be about ME!!! So this year when we started talking about Christmas all he wanted to talk about was Santa bringing him presents. This just did not sit well with my heart. So I began literally begging God to help me figure out how to make this season about HIM - ALL HIM but at the same time keeping that "magic" that comes with the idea of Santa clause. My heart so much desires to help the Lord to create a longing in my boys hearts for Him and His glory. I want to woo them on this earth and point them to the one who ultimately will woo their hearts forever. I am not naturally an emotional person and so I don't expect my walk with God or Christmas for that matter to be all emotional and "magical" but I do think that true love and passion can not exist without emotion some of the times. So that being said, I want the boys to love love love the Lord with all of their hearts and to be filled with passion for Him. From my experience, knowing Him more is what makes this happen.
So the Lord has begin to literally place what I needed to explain this to my son in my hands. I received an email from Doorpost that talked about how the owners of this business have handled Santa Clause and Christmas. She listed several books that they read and a video they watch and they even had a tradition that they celebrate St. Nick. And then today, I went to the library to get Christmas books for the boys to have next week. I just pulled Christmas books off the shelf - not knowing anything about them. When I was waiting in the McDonald's drive through I begin reading one of the books - Antonella and Her Santa. It was great and very helpful for what I am trying to wrap my head around. I have ordered the book and DVD that Pam Forrester recommended and John and I will watch and read before talking with the boys. December the 6th is St Nicholas Day and their family ate a German meal on Dec 5th, watched the video, and hung their stockings and they all camped out that night by the fireplace (were the stocking were) and the next morning they awoke to their stockings filled with gold coins (chocolate) and little gifts. This was in honor of the story of the true St. Nicholas and you can read about it here So I am hoping to wrap my head around how to explain Santa to Jake in a way that points to Christ. He gives us gifts despite how good or bad or deserving we are. Because He loves us and wants to serve us and glorify God. So all this rambling to say I would love any input you have and your prayers because I want Christmas to be about Christ. I will share more when I wrap my head around what I want to say. Until then, any ideas?

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Life for us is beginning to get into a rhythm. I must say that God has really done some great and unexpected things in our lives over the last month. When I look back on how God has orchestrated this move it really makes me glad that I have a DADDY who knows just what I need to know and when. He really never does give me more than I need to know for that moment. Let me fill you in....
When we left bham, I told John that I wanted us to just go to the little church here in Kennedy. I said that I didn't want to get involved in a church and that I wanted to remain members of bwood and try to semi stay involved. I felt that this was what I needed to hold on to in order to "be good" with where God was sending me. Also, I thought it would help me know for sure that this was short term.
So we get here and in a few weeks we are visiting John's family in Reform (about 20 minutes from here) and they tell us that they are getting a new pastor in there church and that we needed to meet him and his wife because they were our age and love the Lord. The more we heard about them the more John and I got excited about the possibilities of what God might be doing. Just this summer, John and I prayed (halfway) that God would raise up a pastor for this community that loved the Lord and had a vision for these people. This is such a hurting community and we have always had a heart for these people - our family. We never thought that God would be bringing us here to labor. We really thought it was just to pay off our debt but it seems that God had a much bigger plan.
Sometimes in my walk with the Lord I have seen him slowly open doors but this time I have watched them swing wide open with such great excitement it is unreal. God has laid before me and John a great opportunity to bring the gospel to this area. To help those that want to know God grow in their understanding of Him and to share the hope of God with those that don't know Him. We are so excited!!!!
A few months ago, I was trying to convince some friends of ours that live in a small town to move to bham. He said to me "Small town people need Jesus too!!!" In the last few weeks, God has really given me such a heart for these people. And the sweet thing is that he sent us a team to labor beside us. It is just another couple but it is WAY more than we thought we would have. God is sooo good!!!
I wanted to post some pics but that will be for another day. Out here in the boonies it takes FOREVER to upload with our Internet. It will have to be for a day we make it to the big city with the laptop. :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Sovereign God

Since the election I have had numerous discussions about our new president elect and why he will be the end to society as we know it. I have had an entire month to think about this election (while I was working on the house) and I want to share a few of my thoughts for anyone interested in reading them. First of all, I am thankful that God has shown me in His word that He is sovereign over all things. All of my life is filtered through this understanding and I must say that my heart can be at peace because of this. I have heard several talks about Obama's stance on abortion and I will say that it completely breaks my heart to think about what might happen to the laws regarding abortion. But as I thought about this, I felt the Lord whisper to me that legislation will not change the hearts of women (or men) - He will. God has given me the responsibility on this earth to be His hands and feet - to touch the lives of those who are hurting and to be a light into the darkness for His glory. He longs to change the hearts of people and when I make the choices to not engage the people in my life - God is not missing out I am. He can use a rock (or donkey) to proclaim His glories but He can also use me. So yes, the election may bring big changes to our nation but God can bring bigger changes in the midst of what seems like a terrible thing to many. I have been challenged to play my part as a citizen of heaven and to make myself available for God to use to change the hearts of the people around me. Throughout this election I have constantly been reminded and comforted by 1 Chronicles 29:11-12. The Living Bible translation says it great: "Everything in the heavens and earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything. Riches and honor come from you alone, and you are the Ruler of all mankind; your hand controls power and might and it is at your discretion that men are made great and given strength."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Home is where my heart really is!!!

We are finally in our new home. We still have a lot of work to do but it is now livable and i love it. There are so many things I love about this place and this upcoming time in our lives. I love that my daddy lived in this house when he was Jake and Brady's age. I love that my pawpaw built this house with his own hands and that he painstakingly tore down an old schoolhouse to have the wood to build it. THIS IS TRULY A CRAFTSMAN HOUSE AT IT'S BEST!!!! I love that this house holds lots of fond memories of my childhood - many I had forgotten until coming back here. I love watching my boys play in the same fields that I did as a child. I love, love , love that when I walk out my door into my yard that I can almost see my pawpaw sitting under the shade trees drinking a glass of sweet tea and eating a mayo biscuit. (gross I know). I love that we do not have a tv and that life is slow (well kinda but it really will be when we finish the house). I love that God is really stirring in both mine and John's heart and we are longing for him in a way we haven't in some time. I love to watch the most beautiful sunset in my back yard EVERY night. I love that our house is only 1100 square feet and that it is perfect for our family of 4. I am so amazed at what the Lord has done in my heart. I am home and so is my heart. He really has brought me here completely. I know that there will be hard days but that happens everywhere. I am really looking forward to the next 18 months and what God has in store for our family. I want to post pics of the house soon. I really love it!!!! I am back and really have much to write about. More to come soon!!!! It really feels good to be home!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Best Said!!!

I am alive and very tired. I want to write more soon but today I wanted to encourage you with perspective on the Election from John Piper. Take 4 minutes and listen.