A Wife Loved Like The Church

Posts Tagged ‘Christmas

I’m starting to think that perhaps the most divisive issues among Christians aren’t theological issues but holidays. Celebrate Halloween? “Shameful! Pharisee!” Tell your children about Santa or that dreaded Elf? “You should tie a stone about your neck! Jesus is the reason for the season!”

Listen, I’m not knocking celebrating Christ’s birth. If Jesus wasn’t born all hope would be lost. We would be in utter darkness. In him was life, and the life was the light of men (John 1:4). Without the pivotal moment of Christ’s birth, everything would be for nothing.

Here’s what I am saying – lighten up. Celebrating Christmas isn’t a command. Nowhere does God tell us to celebrate Jesus’s birth with a holiday. Nowhere does God say that Jesus is the reason for the season. Actually, if we want to become pedantic, Jesus is the reason for ALL seasons. Perhaps {and this is a super radical thought} rather than harping about celebrating Jesus at Christmas, we could, I don’t know, celebrate Him all the time? Whoa. Mind-blown.

Honestly, our family doesn’t do Santa. Or that elf {which I harbor really negative feelings toward. But that’s a whole other post. Ha!}. While we decorate, things are kept low key. Our kids get just a few presents. We use December as one more chance to talk a lot about Advent. But, we also blare secular Christmas songs, watch Elf and Charlie Brown’s Christmas, bake dozens of cookies and bask in the beauty that is this time of year.

Ultimately, Christmas is just one more chance to talk about Jesus. It shouldn’t be seen as the only time we celebrate Christ’s birth. It’s just one more chance to celebrate it. Putting Christ in Christmas is ridiculous, because Christ is already in Christmas. Just like He is in Memorial Day or Grandparents Day. He’s there because He is always there, in everything. Because in Him and through Him all things have been made. We don’t need Christmas time to celebrate Jesus. We celebrate Jesus all the time because He is worthy of our praise.

This Christmas let’s make a truce. Let’s not shoot arrows at one another for our personal Christmas celebrations. Let’s not grumble when a parent lavishes their children with gifts {“spoiled brats!”} or roll our eyes when someone doesn’t “do Santa” {“ohh… so high and mighty! Pish.”}. Instead, let’s realize that Christmas is one more chance to talk about Jesus, not the only chance to talk about Him.

I’ve admitted before that I am not great at capturing pictures. I’m trying to get better, but don’t hold your breath {I’m certainly not}. Now, couple my lack of picturing taking with needing to send said picture out to 100+ people. Yeah, not gonna happen. Don’t get me wrong, I want to send Christmas cards, and have in the past, but this year I cannot wrap my head around it. I’m using the just-had-a-baby excuse. *Please note, I will most like be using that excuse when all our babies aren’t babies anymore.*

I did manage to get all three kids into cute outfits and snap a quick iPhone photo

Joseph has fit right into our family. He’s a chill baby {thank you Jesus!} who seems to actually enjoy the ultra loud noise level in our home. He’s getting better about sleeping – typically waking up twice a night. We’re currently co-sleeping and are enjoying these fleeting days of snuggling with him. Before we know it, he’ll be much too big to cradle.

Hannah is our little fire ball. She’s feisty, talkative and knows what she wants. She is most certainly a little mamacita. You can’t tell Hannah “no” without a fight. And while it can be frustrating at times, I’m trusting that once she’s older, she will not be won over by peer pressure – she’ll not do something unless she wants to. Her new favorite is putting together puzzles. She will spend hours working on one of our floor puzzles, each time with more and more enthusiasm. And in very like-mama fashion, she is pretty smitten with all things Christmas, especially the story How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which she requests us to read almost hourly.

Julia is a genius. Seriously. I looked it up in the dictionary. She is constantly challenging us with her four year old logic, which can be pretty convincing at times. She’s writing most all of her letters now and can read some of her sight books. Recently, after much pray and consideration, we made a decision about her future schooling. We have an interview set up with a university model school next month and plan to enroll Julia for next fall. She’d only go two days a week and continue homeschooling the other three days. The school is pre-K through 12th, so as for now, this will be our schooling plan. We are certain Julia will flourish in this learning environment.

Jonathan has been hard at work as the Senior Manager of Interactive Marketing & Demand Generation for the HP Cloud Services. He made the switch to HP at the beginning of October. While it’s been quite an increase in his work load demand, it has been a really great opportunity for him. Aside from work, Jonathan just completed his first semester in the Men’s Development Program at the Austin Stone {our church}. He spent an entire semester learning about systematic theology and bonding with other men. He has really been grown and stretched during that time.

As for me, I just keep on keeping on. This fall I started BSF {Bible Study Fellowship}. While the last few weeks haven’t proven to be spiritually life changing, I see the fruit the children’s program is producing in the girls and it’s wonderful. In just a few more days, my official half marathon training starts. I had started running a couple of weeks back, but my hips reacted really poorly to it, so I decided to actually take my full 6 weeks of post-delivery recover.  I’m having to really learn what it means to slow down and allow things to slide by that aren’t priorities. That’s pretty hard for me to do – but I’m taking baby steps.

From buying our new house, to Julia starting school, Jonathan starting a new job and taking a church leader’s class, and Joseph being born, this year has been a big year for our family. I am continually amazed by God’s faithfulness at every new turn and the ways that He is growing us to be more like Christ.

To all of you, my sweet friends and family, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

Christmas is less than two weeks away. It’s bittersweet, because I wish this time of year lasted longer than 4 weeks. But even without a calendar, I know it’s Christmas because ::

1. My house smells like a Christmas tree farm – Hmmm, mistletoe scented candles.

2. I have carols playing all day, every day – If the girls had their way, Jingle Bells and 12 Days of Christmas would be on repeat.

3. I made fudge at 2 in the afternoon, just because – Seriously you have to try Amy’s no fail peanut butter cocoa fudge.

4. I let mykids watch tv every night, because I want to watch all the Christmas cartoon classics – I’m a sucker for the Grinch.

5. My to-do list includes making 3 different types of desserts – I will not eat all of them, I will not eat all of them…

6. I find myself secretly wishing our family participated in Elf on the Shelf – while I think the elf is slightly creepy, I’ve seen some pretty awesome creativity on Facebook from my elfy friends.

7. My daughter promptly announces “Santa is dead” to a group of kids – yeah, we’re still working on the whole Santa is no longer alive but people still play Santa thing.

8. I spend extra time driving around at night just to look at lights.

9. I gain 10 pounds – thankfully this isn’t happening to me this year, a Christmas first.

10. I go shopping just because – I love be in the hussle and bussle of Christmas shopping when I don’t* have shopping to do. And these year, I don’t. Love it.

What makes it feel like Christmas to you?

Visit Amanda at Oh Amanda for more Top Ten Tuesday.

Yesterday marked the first day of Advent. The girls and I started on our candle ornament from Truth in the Tinsel : An Advent Experience for Little Hands. We read through Isaiah 9, about Jesus coming to bring light into a dark world. We talked about how our hearts are dark from sin, and that only Christ can give us light. I even went so far as to have them stand in my closet, door closed, and lit a match to “bring light” into the darkness. {Thankfully, the house did not burn down.}

Truthfully, taking the above picture was ten times harder than the craft making.

I was a bit under prepared for the first craft. Hannah used up all our glue on purpose {bonus points if you get that reference} and all I was left with was about two inches of Scotch tape. But we made it work! Though, a trip to the store has happened so we are ready for the rest of the month.

I can’t wait to spent the next three weeks talking about Christ, His birth and our redemption.

What’s your Friday joy?

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Last year, I was convicted about how our family celebrates Christmas. While we talked about Christ, our focus during the holiday was never fully on Christ. Rather, it was the presents, the decorations and the tinsel of it all. This year we are implementing new traditions, one of which is celebrating Advent.

I had the great pleasure of reviewing Oh Amanda‘s new ebook, Truth in the Tinsel : An Advent Experience for Little Hands.

Amanda provides 24 days of awesome Advent crafts to do with your children. Each craft is an ornament that your child could hang on the tree or, like we are doing, on their own little craft board.

From a candle ornament to cute little sheep, Amanda has provided fun, easy ways to teach your children about Christ’s birth and the real reason for celebrating Christmas. Each day there is a Bible verse to read that correlates with that day’s craft. In addition, Amanda has provided wonderful simple truths to share with your children while you’re making your ornament.

I’ll be honest, the idea of crafting with a 2 and 4 year old every day seems overwhelming with a newborn. But after seeing how easy these ornaments are, if I can do it, anyone can. While Amanda’s versions are simple, your ornaments don’t even need to be anything more than construction paper and crayons {as I am sure many of ours will be}. The biggest thing is spending time each day with your children talking about Christ and shifting the Christmas focus to Him.

On December 1, Amanda is issuing a “challenge” on the Truth in the Tinsel Facebook page to go through the book with your children and post pictures of the crafts you’ve made. It will be a great way to see what others have done and to encourage one another.

If you buy the book today, Black Friday {November 25, 2011}, you will get it for the sale price of $2.99 {regularly $4.99}. The ebook includes daily Bible verses, instructions on how to make the ornaments {along with printables}, and truths to talk about with your children.

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to help teach your children about Christ’s birth and the reason for the Christmas season.

Buy Truth in the Tinsel today!

Disclosure : This post contains affiliate links.

{Be sure to enter my giveaway for a copy of The Help}

I’m a planner. If I thought that it was at all reasonable, I’d have the next 5 years of my life planned out. I’ve tried that before. Trust me, it doesn’t work. But, I can plan out certain projects that I want to get done before the end of summer.

1. Paint Baby Boy’s Changing Table – We have the same changing table we used with the girls. It’s a little brown, three tier table. It’s nice, but because of Baby Boy’s new-to-us white crib, the table doesn’t match his room. So I’m setting out to paint the table white. Maybe, just maybe, I might add some blues and greens to it. Maybe.

2. Get a Purse Hook – My purse ends up either on the floor or kitchen counter. Neither place is very good, because it’s either in danger of little hands or taking up space. I’d love to find one like this at a repurpose store ::

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3. Add Art/Color to the House – Thanks to pinterest, I’ve got a lot of wonderful ideas. However, I don’t have tons of time or money to see them all through. But, this is one idea that I really love

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4. Finish Julia’s Dress – I’m in the process of making a dress for Julia {as part of my 30 before 30}. I’ve stepped away from it for the last several weeks, but I think it’s time to come back to it.

5. Paint Baby Boy’s Room – Currently, one of the walls in Baby Boy’s room is hunter green. And the window valence is a green/red/khaki combo. Not my favorite, as it looks super office-y. We are planning to tone down the green and get new curtains.

6. Plan Julia’s 4th Birthday Party – In my I’m-a-planner nature, I realize that I’m most likely not going to be up for planning Julia’s 4th birthday weeks after Baby Boy makes his arrival. Slowly I’ve been setting aside ideas for her party {going with a princess and knight theme}, so that when the time comes everything is ready to go.

7. Take a mini-vacation – Our family is in need of a little vacation. Nothing major, just a few days away. We are currently looking at visit South Padre at the end of August. Fingers crossed all goes well and we can enjoy beach time together.

8. Plan Julia and Hannah’s Spring School Schedule – We started preschool yesterday. Nothing major, just learning numbers, basic math, ABC’s and introduction to writing/reading. {I do need to brag for a second. Julia totally wrote her own name yesterday!} We started school so early, because I plan to take off November and December. But, before Baby Boy arrives, I want to have the spring planned out, as to not have any excuses for not finishing the school year off strong.

9. Start Christmas/St. Nick Shopping – After last year, we decided to go forward with not exchanging gifts on Christmas. We are celebrating St. Nicholas Day and using that as our gift giving holiday. I am planning to make gifts for our neighbors and have some pretty great ideas going. This one I thought was really cute ::

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10. Read More – That seems a bit vague, but I’m really wanting to read a few more good books as the summer ends and fall begins. I’ve gone through two in the last month, so I’m hoping to going through two or three more. Just a little mama time when the girls sleep.

Do you have an end of summer to do list? If so, what’s on it?

Visit Amanda at Oh Amanda for more Top Ten Tuesday.

Top Ten {Tuesday} I’m still in shock that Christmas is over. Every year, after the food has been consumed, presents opened, friends or family have left, and the stillness of post-Christmas life set in, I’m always a little sad and shocked that things happened so quickly. This year was no exceptions. It was a busy, fun {with some drama} filled weekend. Here are my holiday highlights:

1. No sleep – I knew going into the weekend none of us would sleep. And I was all too correct. Between family arriving late at night, festivities being delayed, and general funness to be had, there wasn’t much time for sleep. Thankfully, the girls made up for it by sleeping in the first day we were home.

2. Food – So. Much. Food. And someone brought cake balls, which I had never had, which were so incredibly amazing. I stepped on the scale yesterday. Hmmm… let’s just say I started back running this morning.

3. The presents – Or lack thereof. We didn’t give the girls, or anyone, anything for Christmas. The girls did, unexpectedly, get some gifts from other people, but there was such a peace at not feeling obligated to purchase anything for anyone.

4. Food – Did I mention there was a lot of food? Well there was. Cake balls and reindeer cupcakes. Tamales and sweet bread. Turkey and my mom’s dressing. Poached eggs with Bearnaise sauce. Hmmm….

5. Movie watching – Our family loves A Christmas Story and has to watch it at least once during the holidays. I watched it with my two younger {cause I can no longer say little} brothers. An absolute favorite.

6. Cousins galore – My girls have been on a cousin high for days. All Julia can talk about is “My cousins this”, “My cousins that”. It’s sweet as can be.

7. Grandparents are the better version of parents – Julia thinks her Grandpa hung the moon. In the weeks leading up to seeing my parents, Julia talked non stop about them. “My Dampa got this for me”, “My Omi lives in Tennessee and wants to see me”. I could quote her for days. This girls loves her some Dampa and Omi.

8. Drama – Ok, every holiday has to have some drama, right? Or is that just me? Literally, it was me. Sad to say, I had a few not-so-great moments this weekend. I even have a post to tell you all about it.

9. Far off friends – I got to visit with Emily, my friend who I met once in Iowa, before she moved back to Texas and then on to Scotland. We’ve formed a friendship over our blogs and we had the best time spending an afternoon with her and her two kiddos.

10. Food – Ok, now I know I’ve mentioned the bounty of food we had. But did I mention I skipped making dinner on Christmas {because we had so many leftovers} and ate Nutella on French bread instead? Yeah, well I did. And it was awesome.

How was your Christmas? What are some of your favorite highlights?

Visit Oh Amanda for more Top Ten Tuesday.

I love Christmas carols. And I love flash mobs. I mean, who doesn’t like random out bursts of song and dance? Then put Christmas carols with flash mobs. It’s like you had me at hello.

And I shared this video last year, but had to pass it along again.

Top Ten {Tuesday} It’s been 7 years since I was in Texas for Christmas. Since 2004 I have celebrated Christmas in colder climate areas. So it’s been a transition to go from 30 degree weather to 70+ degree weather during the holidays. But there have been some great holiday highlights over the past several weeks:

1. Random Christmas trees on the highway – For the last couple of decades, “mysterious” Austinites have crept out at night to decorate cedar trees along a major highway. Nothing feels more festive than driving down the street and seeing 100’s of trees decorated.

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2. Outdoor Shopping – Outdoor shopping centers are popular in Texas, since it never gets too cold to deter shoppers. We visited the newest center, The Domain, this last weekend. It was so much fun walking the strip, looking at all the beautiful displays and ending it with a huge Christmas tree.

3. Food Selection – This has more to do with being in a bigger city in general, but I can’t get over all the wonderful options for food that we have. And while that doesn’t seem very Christmas-y, it is when you’re preparing to cook for your whole family.

4. Zilker Park – A huge park just south of downtown, Zilker Park {home of Austin City Limits Festival} does a wonderful Christmas tree “poll”. It’s a poll that is shaped like a tree, with the shape outlined in lights. It’s a sight to behold.

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5. Trail of Lights – The area in and around Zilker Park is decorated with lights, as a trail leading to and through the park. I’ve seen it in the past and it’s beautiful. Sadly, this year the city decided to cancel the trail of lights to conserve money.

6. Being outside. A lot – Since the weather isn’t cold, the girls and I have had some great chances to be outside during the day. I could get use to spending the entire holiday season playing at the park {just get back to me come July!}.

7. Holiday parties – I went to a cookie baking/exchange party on Saturday with a group of women I met from church. We have two holiday events we have been invited to this week. That’s good ol’ Texas hospitality at work!

8. Jonathan’s work schedule – Jonathan is working just three days this week. And then only two days next week. His company has an unwritten rule that employees take plenty of time off during Christmas to spend time with family. It’s awesome.

9. Reindeer cars – Maybe this is popular elsewhere, I know I’ve seen it just a few times before in Iowa. But, people here have gone crazy with dressing their cars up like reindeer. And it’s hilarious.

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10. The weather – This, actually, is the only thing I haven’t been loving about Texas at Christmastime. I know the snow gets old {just as hot weather gets, well, hot}, but it hasn’t felt quite like Christmas without seeing white covering the ground.

What are some of your favorite city holiday highlights?

Visit Oh Amanda for more Top Ten Tuesday.

Our family will no longer be celebrating Christmas.

That seems hard to grasp, since without question, Christmas is my favorite holiday. But it’s true. Our family will no longer be celebrating Christmas in the American style. Our daughters will not open Christmas presents, there will be no exchange. We will not be checking our gift list and wondering who we missed. Instead, we will be turning our focus towards Christ.

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I have to admit, we are still navigating what we think “no gifts at Christmas” needs to look like. How to be sensitive to others while following {and better understanding} our own convictions. It’s awkward, because I love giving gifts. Just little things, but something that shows my love for another. Jonathan suggested that we start focusing on gift-giving throughout the year. Spread the love to not just give in December, but feel free to give year round as we have people on our hearts.

So far, giving up gifts has been amazing. I’m not focused on myself or stressed about making sure Aunt Carol’s babysitter’s neighbor has her gift. I’m able to talk with the girls about Jesus, telling them how exciting it is to be leading up to His birthday. We are taking the money we normally spend on our family gifts and meeting the true needs of others with it. I have had a renewed love of traditional Christmas carols, singing of the coming of Christ, the longing for our Savior. Time after time, I have stood in awe of God’s amazing love for us. And that’s what Christmas is: celebrating Christ’s arrival and the end of our  separation from God.

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