Keeping Christ in Christmas

Tags

, , , ,

For years, I have struggled like so many Christian moms and dads to find the balance in Christmas.  Between the commercialization and honoring Christ.  I feel like Charlie Brown, “Can anybody tell me what Christmas is all about!?”  

I often read other blogs where the parents seem very negative toward the Christmases we grew up with, with packages and stockings, Santa Claus, and sugar plums.   Often, these blogs suggest a stripped down version of Christmas more befitting a humble baby in a barn.   I am usually left feeling guilty for celebrating Christmas the way we do.  

I think the idea of a humble Christmas is right and good.  I believe that some of the most meaningful Christmases happen without ribbons and tags, packages, boxes and bags,    because, yes, Christmas doesn’t come from a store.  However. . .I also know that we celebrate an exquisite gift from the King of Kings!  A king who loves us and desires to feast with us in the splendor of his love.  A glorious, beautiful, merciful King!  Not only the humble child he became. 

So here’s how our family does it…

Image

We have a Christmas tree.

It’s evergreen branches represent the everlasting life offered to us by our Heavenly Father. It’s shape points to heaven, causing us to look up and remember Him from whom all blessings flow. It’s topped with a star which reminds us of the Star that announced the birth of the Messiah. It is decorated with gold representing the his royalty, white for His purity, and red to call to mind the blood he shed for us. It also has lights, as does the outside of our home, to remind us of the Light of the World (John 1). The tree itself is also a reminder of the tree that our Savior hung upon as he died 

Our presents, which we share to as a reminder of both the gifts given to the infant Savior and the Eternal gift from our Father in Heaven, are wrapped in kingly gold with blood red ribbons. As I placed them under the tree this year, I was moved to tears as I looked at the cascading ribbons like flowing blood on the perfect, royal gold packages.

We started a tradition of reading the Luke 2 Christmas story, acting out the story with our nativity,and lighting candles with our children before they open their presents. Then we give each child three gifts, one for their body, one for their spiritual development, and one just for fun. These gifts remind us of myrrh which was used in burial preparations (for His body), frankincense which was used by the Jewish priests (his Spirit, he was the Priest of Priests), and gold which was, of course, a royally precious metal for the King of Kings.

We love to bake gingerbread men too.  And as we do so, I will say to my children, “Did you know, in ancient times, people used strong spices as part of the burial preparations.  When Jesus died, his body was covered in spices.  Jesus said that he was the Bread of Life.”  Even our special treats can point back to Him.  

Perhaps the Christmas conundrum is part of the mystery.  Perhaps the tension we feel is a reminder of the strange dichotomy of the Creator of the Universe, the Savior of all mankind, the most holy, glorious King of Kings and the heart-breaking humility of a savior born in a stable to two poor teenagers and crucified on a rough hewn cross between two thieves. How could it be so?

I hope that in teaching my children these things, along with charitable acts, that we will somehow combat the over-indulgence of “commercial christmas” and plant seeds in their hearts to understand the true spirit of Christmas. And perhaps, the abundance of grandparent gifts and even Santa, will leave an emotional memory to draw on as they realize that the gift from God is so much better than even that wonderful feeling.

Image

Merry Christmas!

 

PS Most of this info I gleaned from a favorite book of ours, The ADVENTure of Christmas by Lisa Whelchel. She shares the meanings behind many of our Christmas traditions, many which were altered from pagan celebrations as they were converted and carried traditions in to their new faith.

Define Necessity

Tags

, , , , ,

I don’t have much to say about this.

If you want to do something, consider sponsoring a child through Compassion.

Or purchase livestock for a family in need through World Vision.

At the very least, consider packing a shoe-box for Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan’s Purse.  This is a lovely way to bless children in need and get your own children involved.  Daisy has been talking about what to pack for her Christmas Child box this year, and Pearl is catching the spirit.

It couldn’t be simpler to purchase a few items, collect some toys and candy, and send a box of love to another country.  Samaritan’s Purse will even send you an email letting you know what country your box went to.  Last year ours went to Mexico.  We may include notes in English and Spanish this year on the chance they go that way again.

If you’re going to pack a box, you’d better get on it!  Next week is drop-off week.

Never discount the impact these few items can make on an impoverished child.  I have a friend who was blessed to participate in the distribution of Christmas Child boxes one year and she recounted how a little girl opened her box and exclaimed, “I’ve gotten a toothbrush!”  A toothbrush. We just threw away several worn ones.  I think we’ll pack a few.

There are several suggestions on the Samaritan’s Purse website, but my friend also mentioned that plastic shoe boxes (like Sterilite) are a good choice because they can be used to carry water when they aren’t holding treasures.

*There is some crossovers among these ministries. You can buy livestock through Compassion or sponser through World Vision, etc.  They are legitimate organizations with Christian foundations and emphasis.

A Thankful Heart

Tags

, , ,

Well, November is here and you know what that means:  Christmas music and decorations in every store.

Not what you thought of?  Good.  I love Christmas as much as the next guy (probably more) but its season is a little later.

At our house November means there are two little turkeys sitting on the mantle and a ceramic pumpkin tureen full of candy is somewhere around.

It also means my facebook feed will begin filling up with people starting a “30 days of Thankfulness” pledge.  Each day they post something they’re thankful for.  I like the idea, but it seems most people aren’t able to follow through with all 30 days.  I would probably be one of those people.

While it’s lovely to see Facebook turn into a series of thanks instead of gripes and muses, it’s certainly not the only outlet for recording one’s gratitude.

Several weeks ago, I came across this printable gratitude journal.

This is lovely, sweet, and just right to use for myself or my little women.  They love crafts and seasonal crafts are always a big hit.  If the idea appeals to you, it’s a super simple, totally free, printable.  Check it out at Motherhood Your Way.

In the past, we have created “Thankful Trees”.  The child traces her hand onto construction paper which we cut out to represent leaves.  I cut a large brown tree trunk, and we paste it onto a manilla or white paper.  Then on each leaf, she writes (or dictates to Mommy) something she is thankful for.  Daisy has requested we do this craft again this year.

It’s fun to look back on those later and see what she was thankful for.  Some of the most memorable are Pearl’s “for Mommy teaching me my letters” and 3 year old Daisy’s “for my new brother or sister”.

One of the neat things about a 30 day challenge is it pushes you to think beyond the top 5 things on your list.  Everyone is thankful for family, friends, food.  And certainly we ought to reflect with gratitude on these things.  After that, what will you put?

I’m thankful for my bed.  It’s just right for me and I always miss it when I’m away.  How blessed I am to have not only a safe place to sleep each night, but a just right, perfectly soft, not too warm, not too cold, snuggily, happy place to rest.  How blessed indeed.

Let this be a season of rejoicing and gratitude.  Write your blessings, not your wish list.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;  his love endures forever.    -1 Chronicles 16:34

Devote yourselves in prayer, being watchful and thankful.  -Colossians 4:2

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. -Colossians 3:15

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude
is happiness doubled by wonder.  ~G.K. Chesterton

Sugar

Tags

, ,

Scene:  Pearl and the Man of the House are filling a plastic black cauldron with candy to pass out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween night.

Pearl:  I’m just going to taste this one to make sure it’s good enough for the children.

______________________________________________________________________

Scene:  Family has returned home from shopping trip and a treat at Dairy Queen.  Lady and Pearl are sitting on couch.  Daisy is hyped up on sugar.

Daisy: I wish I had one of those swings with a bar like this in here and I could go like this. . .[Runs across living room holding on to imaginary swing.]  and like this. . .[runs across in other direction] and then flip like this. . .

Lady:  You mean a trapeze?

Daisy (offhand): Yeah.

_____________________________________________________________________

Scene:  Lady and Daisy are buying donuts for the family.  They are pulling out of the parking lot, headed back to the grandparents house.

Daisy:  I wish a dozen meant a hundred donuts.

_______________________________________________________________________

Scene:  It is the morning after Halloween.  Lady wakes up to hear Daisy and Pearl arguing.

Daisy:  You need to eat cereal if you’re hungry, Pearl.

Pearl (whines):  My tummy is growling for candy!!

Lady:  Come here, Pearl.  (Pearl comes.)  We don’t eat candy for breakfast, Dear.

Pearl:  But I’m not eating breakfast, I’m eating candy.

Who Are the Little Women?

The conversations my children have are such a source of amusement to me, my family, and my facebook friends. My cousin recommended I blog about them. I have consulted the girls and they have given me consent (at least the ones that can talk) to share their words with you. However, to protect their privacy, we have decided to use alternative names for them.

I call my girls “Little Women” to get their attention in public to get them to follow me or whatever. It began as a reminder to myself that I was not just caring for girls, but raising future women. They are women-in-training, so to speak. It wasn’t until I had been calling them that for a while that it occurred to me that it was the title of Louisa May Alcott’s famous book. Go figure.

My biggest little woman “Daisy”.

She chose her pseudonym herself. Daisy is our little star. She adores being the center of attention. When she was 4 years old, she finished her first year of dance class with the recital, of course. I asked her what she wanted to do now that it was summer and she was done with dance. She thought a while and proclaimed, “I want to be on stage again!” That summer she began taking acting classes at our local civic theater. She is naturally loud (a gift I lack), well-spoken, and a big help to her Mama. She is, in fact, like a daisy. Sunny, happy, bright!

Next is “Pearl”. She also goes by Moochie around here.

Moochie acquired her nickname when she was a baby. She was the sweetest, floppiest, little baby. Just so smoochie-moochie! But as Moochie is not a proper name, we’ve chosen Pearl. It suits her. Pearl is a hoot. She’s extremely sensitive, quieter and doesn’t mind playing by herself. But she’s equally happy playing with her sisters or neighborhood kids, and she can be explosively loud. She is naturally kind, but has a mean streak when she’s mad. She doesn’t pronounce her r’s which makes her speech sound baby-ish and makes her big thoughts even funnier. She is a classic middle child. She brings balance to the force.

And then there’s “Midge”.

Midge, short from Smidgen, is our tiniest blessing. She was born last and smallest. She’s still unusually small for her age which suits us just fine. I don’t want my baby growing up too fast! And yes, her doctor has tested her to make sure she’s just small and nothing else is going on. Midge is a joy, as all one year olds are. She explores the world with gusto. She reminds us of Daisy in her exuberance and Pearl in her squishy-sweetness. She adores her Mommy which I’m also fine with. Midge doesn’t say much yet, but she makes her mind known.  At this age, her most unique quality seems to be a gift with spacial reasoning, mechanical thinking, dexterity. She can stack, sort, manipulate toys that my older girls never “got”. She is most likely to take things apart and reassemble them when older.

So there they are, my Little Women.  Sugar and spice, thank heaven for ‘em, ribbons and bows, pink, pink, pink.  Girls, Girls, Girls.  Now that they’ve been properly introduced, I can start sharing my silly stories with you.   I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

The Exciting Return of The Lady at Home!

Tags

After a year and a half (or more) since my last blog post, I’ve decided to rev up the ol’ blog engine and start writing again.  Mostly because there are so many things I want to share each day.  Please bear with me as I remember my way around.

If you were a previous follower of The Lady at Home, you’ll notice some changes.  I’m going to be writing more of what’s on my mind and sharing many more of the conversations that happen around our house.  I am dropping the scrapbooking section altogether.  I still enjoy scrapbooking, but as I have less and less time for it,  I’m doing more digitally created photobooks.

An update on the “at home” family.  We are now one member more.  In December of 2009, I found out we were expecting another bundle of joy.  In January, I learned I have an auto-immune disease known as Sjogren’s Syndrome.  In February, I developed pneumonia.  In June, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.  All these things can be dangerous to the baby so it was a stressful pregnancy, but our little Smidgen arrived just fine in August 2010 and is now a growing, healthy, though tiny one year old.

Three girls.  That’s what everyone says.  Even strangers at stores.  There’s not usually a follow up comment, just a statement.  “Three girls.” I am not quite certain what this means, yet, but it usually carries a tone of sympathy.

We are still whittling away at our debt, but we have made great strides in that front and our credit cards remain off duty.

I still love cooking and will post recipes as I create them, but I’m not going to be pushing myself to invent.

We are still homeschooling.  Two are in school now, though the little one is only 4 and pretty much just easing into kindergarten.

I am constantly learning new things and hope to share those experiences with you.  Things that have been on my mind that I hope to be bringing up in the future (in no particular order):  God’s plan for women, couponing, painting furniture, vitamin/nutrition therapy, adoption, cloth diapering, photography/Adobe Lightroom, elimination communication, gardening.     Please use the “Ask Lady” tab at the top of the page to contact me with your questions and suggestions.

Another Wonderful Thing About. . .

Tags

,

Netflix.

I’m not being paid, I promise.  The Lady at Home could be swept away in an out of control balloon and Netflix wouldn’t notice.  I just really like these people.  Here’s another reason why.

So, occasionally, I’ve been known to work out using exercise videos.  I think most every woman in America has tried it at one time or another. 

But there’s one very annoying thing about workout videos.  You have to buy the dang thing before you can try it out.  So you spend twelve bucks or twenty or thirty and pop the thing in to your DVD player only to discover that the host of this show is annoyingly peppy.  Or she isn’t quite wearing enough and you can’t stand to look at her.  Or she’s doing the same moves over and over and over and over.   Or for whatever reason, it ain’t your cuppa tea.

What do you do?

Garage sale?  Ebay?  Pass it on to a friend?

You can read reviews online, but the thing about workouts is that nobody is exactly like you and everyone has different opinons.

Netflix has workout videos.

You can try it out before you buy it.  Yippee!

It’s the little things in life that make me happy.

P.S. After writing this post, I came across a website called www.collagevideo.com.  They have short video clip previews of hundreds of workout videos.   Of course, you can’t try out the workout, but if you have some idea of what you like, you can at least tell what the set, music, and instructor are like.  It’s a vast improvement over just chosing based on the video cover and others reviews.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.