Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Under the Weather and Overwhelmed

As we approach New Year's Eve, we are in week two of Christmas vacation. Only 5 more days until back to school. The kids are getting restless and to make it even more challenging we have 3 out of 5 family members sick. So, there is no going anywhere that takes lots of walking. Although we are out of sorts, we'll all be very soon back into our routines. The ordinary everyday schedule will return. I won't lie, I love time with my family but I am looking forward to getting back into the groove of things.

I was thinking about this Holiday season today while accomplishing a few small goals and something dawned on me. The timing of our celebration of the birth of Christ and when we ring in the New Year is quite fitting, although centuries apart in their establishments. We spend about four weeks in preparation for the birth of our savior. We anticipate a great joyous occasion. We recall why we need a savior and the promises God proclaimed for the coming messiah. We recognize we humans needed a new start with our creator.

Then how appropriate that we spend the next week after celebrating this new birth thinking about the new beginning of the upcoming year. We reflect on all the good and bad of the past year and resolve to make the next one even better. So, this is what happens after all the advent preparations for Jesus' birth are over and fulfilled. We start anew!

Even though I'm looking forward to getting back into the groove of normal life, I am excited to start something new. I look forward to a new year filled with new experiences, lessons and memories. Given the opportunity to start new is not something to take lightly. Looking forward to something new is what gives us hope in those day to day routines. God gave us the greatest hope of all. We continue to hope because He will come again.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Handmade Inspirational Christmas Gifts

If you want to have some fun with your kids and make gifts at the same time, here are some ideas.

Kids love to color, draw and write. These gifts are inexpensive and personal and easy to make.

1. Uplifting Ornaments

Simply pick up some fancy looking gift tags from a local craft store. These work perfectly because they are already beautifully decorated and have strings attached to hang on a tree. For the back, you can either print out your favorite bible verses or quotes and glue them to the back, or you can cut plain white paper to fit and have your young ones write out verses or draw pictures of the nativity to glue to the back.

2. Faithful Photos

With the same idea of bible verses, quotes or drawings, fill an inexpensive album or ornament frames. The album pictured above fits wallet or business card size 2 x 3. Again, you can either print from the computer or hand draw. If you have old business cards you aren't using, consider gluing to those for some weight. The ornament frames are easy to get the right size for the insert. Just trace the paper that is already inside it. The ornament frames can either be used as tree decorations or hung in special places to see easily, like with a suction cup hook to the bathroom mirror. The small travel size album could be carried anywhere with the gift receiver.

3. Buckets of Love

Print out, color, draw, write things that have to do with God's great love and your love for the person receiving the gift. They can place their bucket anywhere in their home and pluck out a paper every time they need a pick me up. You can use any cute container from the craft store and dress it up with some ribbon. Tell them to set it next to their coffee maker and have it be a positive way to start their day or have them place it on their night stand to close their day with love.

These are great gifts for anyone, especially for grandparents or even your own children young or old.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Random Acts of Advent Kindness

Have you ever played the game, “If I had a million dollars”? Not just a popular song in the 90s by a band called BNL. But instead, an opportunity to practice generous thinking. Well, at least that is how my husband and I played it back when we were very poor seminary students. We used to name people, churches and organizations we would give to. Of course, there would be some real estate purchases and a few vehicles but there were those people and ministries that were near and dear to our hearts. We did give of what we could but to do more was a dream.

I think I developed a sense of generosity from my parents, especially my mother. She was always wanting to buy gifts for people. And during those slim times in seminary she gave to us and our children. I too, LOVE to give gifts. Some of it is the thrill of the hunt and some knowing what that perfect sentiment is. My family growing up has always had this secret competition or shall we say competence in great gift giving. It does not have to be expensive and it is never over the top but it is personal and unique to the receiver.

I pray that my own children develop a generous life. And a kind life. So, to help foster a generous and kind mindset, we have set out to do a few things this Advent season.

First we developed an Advent Calendar we call Random Acts of Advent Kindness. When I was searching Pinterest for Advent ideas, I found something from The site listed different ideas for everyday to show kindness. After brainstorming some ideas and finding inspiration from the site, we developed our own. Our children are thrilled with it, even the 14 year old likes finding out what each day is. All we did was cut playing cards vertically, clued paper to the back to write the acts on and then embellished. I found the tin holder at Michael’s Craft Store. So far, we have written cards to the military, thank you notes, mailed hugs, took cookies to the fire house and smiled a lot.

Other ways we are working to foster generosity and kindness is through the Angel Giving Tree at church and donations to their favorite charities. We pick from the Angel Tree one tag for each of our kids a child similar to their age and then go as a family to pick out a toy. I think if they are of the same age and interests, it makes the experience more personal and relate-able.

So far, so good. I think my kids get it. If you are able, give back. If you can’t do it with money and physical gifts, then there are many acts of kindness that may cost little to no money but have a big impact. Have them compliment their teachers, write thank yous to important people in their lives, smile at their friends. There is also volunteering of your time. There are many churches and organizations that need the extra helping hands, especially this time of year.

The willingness to serve, give and be kind is the type of force our world needs to make it a better place.

Monday, December 14, 2015

What I'm learning in Advent

This year Advent has been all about grace and acceptance for me. We all know we are each imperfect. We fail, we get lazy, we just plain screw up sometimes. The kind of grace I’m talking about is the kind you give to yourself. God’s great and amazing grace comes to us through the sacrifice of His son. We have it. It’s in us. His spirit flows in us whether we choose to recognize it or not. Well, if you have said, “OK, OK, I’ll start listening. What are all these fabulous things you promise?” Something strange starts to happen.

God works. He works in your heart and mind. He starts to change how you see the world, other people and yourself.

Humanity is both beautiful and ugly at the same time. This contradiction has not stopped God from loving us. He promises life everlasting and His creation restored. He then takes these promises and uses them in your life to give you hope. And through this grace He transforms the way we think about ourselves.

This Advent, I have had to ‘let go’ in a sense and be ‘graceful’ towards myself. I put these words in quotes because I think they can mean different things and they get used a lot. Let me explain in the best way I can:

I ‘let go’ of being mean to myself. I’m currently doing a coloring Advent calendar. It is very relaxing and meditative. I love praying and reflecting while watching that black and white pattern become a wash of beautiful color. I read the quote or verse on the left hand page and then get a sense of what colors I want to use on the right hand side. There is a magnificent flow to the process. I’m using The Advent Coloring Calendar by Paraclete Press.  

BUT, just like I had feared at the start, I have not been able to complete each page every day. For various reasons from a full schedule to a migraine, in which, my eyes did not like the pattern of that day. Like everything else new, I started with gusto and completed the first several days. Then life happened.

Through those incomplete pages, God has said it is OK. I sat with Him, I talked to Him, I listened and reflected. In those intricate patterns I allowed fear to be replaced with grace for myself. I knew what grace from my heavenly father meant but I did not know how very much grace from myself meant. I believe it is much easier for us to be hard on ourselves than to say, “I’m doing a good job and it is enough.”

So, wherever you fall on the behavior scale, don’t let your own grace be so offensive. Forgive yourself, give yourself absolution and move on. So, however you need to ‘let go,’ don’t let your fear trap you. Be kind to yourself, accept yourself. And then, continue to enjoy this process called life. Be free knowing that the promises of God will come to hope filled fruition.

I tell myself that even if this is all I get done today, it is OK.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Finding Stuff

As this blog is developed and under construction, the best way to see some of the projects I've done is to search Instagram with the hashtag


Follow the Instagram link to the right and you'll land on my account. Click a photo and if it has the above hashtag on it then click that and all the photos with that tag will show up. You may also log onto Facebook and type the above hashtag in the search bar.

Happy Hashtagging!

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Explore the tabs above to find out what this is all about.