Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Jesus and Candy Canes

Legend of the Candy Cane

I love finding meaning in all the little things that symbolize Christmas to us.

Each year we read The Legend of the Candy Cane. I love the fact that my children look at candy canes and see so much more than just a stick of candy that is red and white.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I Love You Because

We made these cute little frames at Bible Study the other day. We are to put them somewhere in the house and use a dry erase marker to write a reason that we love a specific person in our home that day. I am color coding the dry erase markers so that is how my husband and kids can distinguish who the message is for.

We simply bought a frame that had a 5 x 7 opening and used scrapbook materials. Some of the girls put the saying "I am thankful for..." This is a really cute and simple Christmas gift if you are still trying to figure out what to get someone.

Of course, I see something in everything so as I have looked at this frame, I have been reminded of the Father's love for me.
His love is not conditional, but unconditional.
He doesn't love me for what I can do for Him or what color my hair is, He simply LOVES me for who I am.
He made me with a purpose and a plan in mind. He made me the way He wanted me to be made. We are His royalty.
Challenge: Are you following the purposes and plans that God has laid out before you?
Are you down on yourself? God loves you with an everlasting love and He loves you no matter what. If you are feeling distant, He is always there, we are the ones who back away from Him. I challenge you today, to find time to simply get in the Father's presence and allow Him to love on you!

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Gift to Jesus

I have been challenged this Christmas season in so many ways. I desire to celebrate Jesus in every possible way that I can. As I have been meditating on all the things that Jesus is to us,

He is ALL things!

Whatever we need, He is there.

He is there to light our path in the dark.

He is our Shepherd leading us at all times.

He is our Comforter.

Our  Counselor.

I could go on and on and on. There is no way I could ever list ALL that He is.

He is our most perfect gift.

But what gift are we giving Him?

He wants our hearts! He wants it ALL, not just part of us. Our lives should not be compartmentalized with here's my family life, my home duties, my job, my recreational activities, church, God. God should be apart of every aspect of our lives. He should not be shoved in a corner or section of our lives. We should have such a relationship with Him that our lives overflow the way He would live in each situation. He should direct each and every step we take.

He wants us to simply follow Him and keep His commandments.
(Our lives may not LOOK the way we think they would, but we are at peace knowing we are following His plan for us!)

I read a story recently that I loved. We will be doing this in our home from now on.

Each person gets a card and you write how you will show Jesus you love Him.
That's the gift--to choose something you would do to be more like Jesus.

Then, put your cards in a box and wrap the gift in gold paper.

You put the box under the tree and every time you look at the box, it is supposed to remind you of the Savior's gift to us and our gift to Him.

Then, on Christmas Eve, you open the box and everyone reads their gifts to to Jesus out loud.

How cool is that! I desire to honor Christ with my life. When I honor Him, I am leading my children to honor Him.

What things do I need to do different to lead my children to Christ and the true meaning of the season?
What things do I need to eliminate from my life because it is a distraction from God's ultimate plan?

What is my gift to Jesus this Christmas?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for our homeschool friends. We have been blessed with so many homeschooling families this year. I am super excited about homeschooling opportunities we may be able to offer in our small little town in the future.

Last year, we met other homeschoolers through our music class, but everybody lived at least 30 minutes away from us. We would drive for occasional play dates, but it was hard to always have to drive. This year God has blessed us with 2 families we see often and one family who will be starting next year. AND...I keep hearing of others in the area. I would love to meet them!

We planned a trip to a local museum for the Polar Express last week. When I booked the field trip, they ask for our homeschool name. We are kind of an unofficial group but we do need a name. Of course, we are all doing what our state requires and are apart of the necessary groups, but yet that's still 30 to 45 minutes away for us.

I am so happy that my children are surrounded by other children who are being raised up in the ways of Jesus. It's sort of neat because we are similar in our homeschool approach. I'm amazed by how God orchestrates things.

Are our children perfect? By all means, no!

Do they always obey? Oh my, NO!

Do they walk around like perfect little angels? NO

Do we have tons of fun? YES

We are not perfect by any means, but we have been called to homeschool. We may seem a little frazzled at times, since we are usually outnumbered by kids, trying to teach our kids the required subjects and maintaining some type of order at home...But we seem to hold it together (only by  God's grace are we able!).

Yesterday, we were all running in the local grocery store to get lunch for our kids while some were still in music classes. We looked pretty funny with our car buggies. I am convinced we would make a pretty good TV series. I am not sure I would want to hear what America would have to say about us! LOL

I am so thankful for these friends and how unique God made each of them. It was so fun to hear and see them dance around the room and make up their own music rhymes yesterday. We are truly blessed!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Impatience in the CTB

"Ah, Sovereign Lord, you made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arms. Nothing is too hard for you." Jeremiah 32:17

As I reflect upon the last few days, I am so glad that God is Sovereign and that nothing is too hard for Him. All I know is that I could not do life without Him working through me. The last few days have been a test in all sort of ways. I have had to rely on the Lord 100%. I am not going into detail BECAUSE my crazy day is nothing compared to the things people go through. It has just been mishaps that can make us have a really bad day IF we CHOOSE to go that route. I hate to ever say that I have had a bad day, but if I did, yesterday would have qualified.

I had a friend in college who often said, "Everyday's a good day." No matter how crazy his day, his response was the same everytime. So, when my day is not going as "I" planned, I find myself saying it's a good day. Things could be so much worse.

The last few days have required a lot of patience on my part. That does not come from within myself, but God. I couldn't do it without Him!

God's Word says,

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking nothing." James 1:2-4

Let's take a closer look:

In this passage, James does not say "IF" you face, trials but "WHENEVER" you face trials.

No matter what, we will all face trials at some point. What may be a trial for some people may not be a trial for others. But whatever it is, we will all face them. God's Word says it.

We are to consider it PURE JOY when we face trials.

There is a difference in joy and happiness. Things and situations make us happy, but Christ gives us joy. So when we face trials, we may not be "happy" with the outcome, but if we are in a solid relationship with Christ, our joy should not be effected.

When we are tested, my faith develops perseverance.

When we have faith that things will workout according to God's plan, we will have what it takes to push through and get the job done . Without faith, we will easily crumble under the pressure.

We must finish the work so that we may be mature and complete.

We must complete what God has called us to. When we complete the task, we will be more mature in Him because we persevered and trusted God with the outcome.

When we find our self in the midst of a trial, we do not need to "pretend" to be happy. That gets us nowhere. We have to choose a positive outlook in the situation and realize that God may be trying to teach us something through this situation. (What was God trying to teach me yesterday? Not sure yet, but I am sure at some point, I will know.)

We do not truly know the depth of our character until we have see how we will react or respond under pressure. It is so much easier to be kind to others when things seem to be going well, but when can we be kind when it seems that others are treating us unfairly?

No matter what, we have a Sovereign God who will see us through any situation. Nothing is too hard for Him.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

No Ordinary Tree

A friend of my Mom's gave her a tree in memory of her dad/my grandpa that passed away the week of Thanksgiving. It was the coolest gift ever.

Let me explain....

1. This tree blooms the month my grandfather passed away.

2. The roots are it's foundation. This represents the foundation of my grandfather's life. His foundation was Jesus Christ. That is why he could stand in all situations.

3. The trunk represents his life. His life was strong because of his "right foundation" in Jesus Christ.

4. The branches represent his children.

5. The leaves represent his grandchildren, their spouses and great grandchildren.

My mom planted this tree in her front yard and when she looks at it, it is to remind her of the fruitful life my grandfather lived. It is to remind her that his legacy will live on through all the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

That is super cool. Those of you that know me, know that I LOVE gifts that are packed with meaning. When you look at this tree, it is completely packed with meaning ~ No Ordinary Tree.

And of course, she had to call for help to plant the tree.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Stories at Bedtime

If you read my post on Tuesday, I failed to mention this great book. It is called Christmas Stories at Bedtime by Renae Brumbaugh.

Christmas Stories for Bedtime Gift Edition
It is on sale right now for $4 at Amazon! I found this at Sams last year before Christmas and bought it since we love to read in this house and are always looking for great bedtime books.

This book takes you through Bible stories all centered on Jesus' birth. I love how this book relates the Christmas story to our lives today.

For example,

One reading is a verse about Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem to be taxed. Then, you read a page that talks about what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph. It was a long journey and Mary was pregnant. It must have been a difficult journey for her, but she did what she was asked without fussing or complaining.

Then, the prayer at the end makes it personal to us about complaining when we have to do things we may not want to do.

This book is geared for kids 5 to 8, but it is speaking to me.

How many times do we complain about having to do something that we don't feel like doing?
We may not make it verbal, but we are thinking it and it shows in our attitudes and actions. Wow!

So, if you are looking for a good Christmas book that is focused on Jesus, this is a great one.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Today, I am thankful for so much!

We have been sick in our house since last week. It started with me and then on to the kids. We have been staying at home and missing most of our activities.

Today, I am thankful that my children are healthy. Yes, they have been sick, but they are getting better. The sickness they have is not an incurable disease. My children are playing and having fun during this sickness.

I am thankful that I get to spend quality time with them and have fun playing whatever they are pretending at the moment.

I am thankful that my house is somewhat messy right now. That means that I have children in my home, playing and enjoying themselves.

I am thankful that I have people who have been praying for us and texting, calling, etc. to check on us. We are blessed!

I am thankful that we have a warm house to be in when they are sick.

I am thankful that we have food on the table and money to buy the medicine they need.

Lord, thank You for your many blessings. We are blessed beyond measure.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Gospel

Last week in the CTB, we studied the Gospel.

The Gospel is divided into God, Man, Jesus, What Now?

When looking at these Scriptures, I'm simply in awe of my Savior. It amazes me, how each time you look in Scripture, even ones you have read often, you can still pull something from it and be in amazement of God.

God is....
A Rock: firm, strong and unchanging
(...and many other things)

Man is....
our righteous acts are compared to filthy rags
we shrivel up like a leaf
like the wind, our sins sweep us away
not righteous
no understanding
we fall short of the glory of God
death -- because of sin, this is our payment
destined to die

Jesus is....
One with the Father
while we were still sinners, He died for us
raised on the third day
trades his righteousness for our sin
tempted in every way, yet never sinned
by His wounds, we are healed

Wow! We are in need of a Savior! We cannot live a day without Him.

What Now?....
Evil men needs to forsake (turn away) from his evil ways
Turn toward God
We are freely pardoned
Repent of our wickedness
Confess with my mouth "Jesus is Lord"
Believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness

If you do not know the Lord as your personal Savior, I challenge you today to take that step of faith. If you need to talk with me privately, please email me and we will talk.

Everything listed under each heading came directly from Scripture. If you have the CTB, it is in direct order of the Scriptures that were listed. I did not list them because of this being a patented item. If you have a question about which Scripture reference something came from, feel free to message me and I will give you the reference.

If you don't have the CTB and would like it, you can go to there website to get the materials to make your own.


Today, I am linking up with Good Morning Girl.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Keeping Christ in Christmas

It is so easy to get caught up with all the Christmas spirit that the world has to offer. There's an endless amount of things that we can do to "get in the festive spirit," but Christ should be our focus as we anticipate the birth of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. That should be what drives our excitement and anticipation.

 "Whenever Christmas begins to burden, it's a sign that I've taken on something of the world and not of Christ" ~ Ann Voskamp

here are several things that we have chosen as a family to keep us focused on the true meaning of Christmas.

1. I am participating in the Good Morning Girls Advent Study. This is wonderful, not only for me, but it also has great ideas of things to do with your children. Of course, you light your candle each week.

This year I bought new votives instead of using my normal advent wreath and candles. In the past, I have had trouble with it making a mess so I bought new so I would not be frustrated in cleaning the mess each time we lit them. Last year, I did not light them as much because of the mess and I like them lit!

2. We also made a Names of Jesus Advent Chain. Click on the link and you can print out your FREE copy. We take a link off a day and read the passage of Scripture. This has been wonderful and I LOVE anything to do with the Names of God! The Names of God chain hangs on our Jesse Tree.

3. We have a Jesse Tree and we are using the Free download from A Holy Experience. I love this study. I printed out 2 sets of ornaments so that each child would have their own. I laminated them so that we could use them year after year. I love how it starts at the beginning with creation. It is a little above my children's level, but I do it first myself and then with the kids later in a kid version. She recommends putting on one ornament a day, but my 2 year old wanted to go ahead and put on some of his ornaments. I figure it doesn't matter as long as they are hearing the Word and focusing on Christ. If you have never been to Ann Voskamp's website, you will fall in love with it! This has been my inspiration for Christmas gifts this year. Most everyone I know will be getting "Gratitude Journals." I will post more about those later. LOVE LOVE her and her site!

4. We have a cutout for each child to simply color a number of the date in a countdown until Jesus' birthday. I did not do as this suggested because we are doing this for fun and it keeps them focused on the real reason for the season. You can find the printout here.

5. We also have a Advent felt calendar that has pieces you add each day until Christmas that makes the navity. This is simply for fun, but again keeps the focus on Christ.

6. We will start to use "What God Wants for Christmas" one week before Christmas. I am SOOOOOO excited about this. Each year, I have done this with my kids and in the last couple of years with my nieces and nephews, but it was a lot of wrapping, etc. I found this cute neat set all done for me! I am excited to be able to use it! I love how it ends! God simply wants our heart. Our whole heart! Wow! Love it!

I know this seems like a lot, but it is not bad. I feel that for me to help my children stay focused on Christ during this time, I must stay focused on Christ FIRST. So, part of this is just a natural flow of our day anyway. We are on break from our "normal" homeschool schedule and this takes the place of our normal Bible Time.

With a world so full of the "other stuff," we have to be intentional about helping our kids stay focused on the true meaning. We do have fun also. We love the Christmas parades (we missed the ones we had planned to go to this weekend because of sick kids.), we love looking at Christmas lights, watching Hallmark Christmas movies, and talking to Santa.

This is a few of my favorite Christmas decorations...

I got this nativity after our first Christmas on clearance. I love the verses on each figurine!

This was our nativity our first Christmas from my mom. I love it and will always have it sitting out!
I would LOVE to hear how you keep your family focused on Christ during the Christmas season. Please share!