How We Keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas

Today I would like to share a few things that our family does to help keep the focus on the reason for the season – Jesus.  Since before we had children this has always been a big deal to us.  I mean after all the holiday wouldn’t even exist if Jesus CHRIST hadn’t been born – hence the name CHRISTmas – I mean really people it’s not a question of if you believe or not this time.  But, almost everyone celebrates Christmas right, whether they believe in Jesus or not.  Everyone likes getting giving gifts, getting together with friends and family, and the festive decorations.  How sad it is that they really don’t fully appreciate the spirit of the season.  Commercialism, materialism, all of that have all but ruined the holiday in my opinion.  But…not at our house.  “…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:15.

 

So, how do we do it?
1)  I love Nativity sets, I have several and I like to spread them out around the house.  They are a wonderful reminder of the scene that night when Jesus was born, and a peak into how we should adore Him.

 

 

They didn’t have these cute sets when our kids were little, but they are awesome.  Even the littlest of ones can touch and play with Baby Jesus! 🙂  Fisher Price makes a great set, but there are lots of nativities sold now that are child safe – a must have in my opinion Jesus should not be off limits!!
This year my little boys were going around and comparing – “this one has two shepherds, this one has one, this one has a cow and a sheep, this one only has two sheep”.  As they got older I got braver about putting them in places where hands can reach, and yes pieces have been broken – but super glue is fabulous kinda like the healing power of our Savior… {forgive me Lord for that corny metaphor…or is it a simile??}
3)    On Christmas Eve, with several thousand other folks, we attend Christmas Eve service at our church.  Again, a good time of reflection, remembering, and rejoicing.
4)  Christmas morning is wonderful.  We do not run to the tree Christmas morning at 6am to open presents.  First, because I am not a morning person and second, because other things come first.
Christmas morning we have birthday pancakes for Jesus – complete with candle.
We all gather around the piano, in our Christmas PJ’s, and sing Christmas hymns together.  It’s extra fun now that my daughter plays violin, and the little boys are getting good enough at the piano to play a few of the songs.
Then we all sit down and read the story of Christ’s birth from the Bible.  (This pic is from a couple of years ago, but I couldn’t resist those sweet little faces that look so different now.)  In the beginning of course it was my husband who read.  I have many sweet pictures of his lap full of children intent as he read.  But now, they fight for the honor to read.  Sometimes we let them take turns, sometimes we choose one, and sometimes daddy reads.  When we are finished we pray and thank God for the most precious gift of all.
And then….come the presents.  Again, we don’t go crazy with the gifts.  They have so much and need so little nothing {thank you Lord}.  We buy each child one gift, and they draw names amongst themselves.  So everyone gets two gifts.  Obviously they get more from grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles, and again they need nothing.  Another thing is we take our time.  Each person opens one gift at a time, it is not a free for all where everyone is opening at the same time – that makes me crazy!!
5)  Later after dinner we have “Happy Birthday Jesus” birthday cake.
Let me say we are by no means experts, but we are pleased with the spirit that is in this home at Christmas time.  Each year we may add one or two more elements because in my heart we can never do enough to honor the birth of Our Savior.
This year I spotted something for Advent on Pinterest that I fell in love with and put my own spin on it a bit.  This was the inspiration
source
And here is ours.
I asked my husband to make his own list of 25 names of Jesus and he did – in about 2 or 3 minutes I might add, love – then I used this web page to find corresponding scripture references.  It was November 30th and I didn’t have time to craft cute ornaments with the kids, so I just took some extra ornaments I bought and with a gold paint pen and a black sharpie I went to work.  I wrote the name on one side and the scripture verse on the other {because I didn’t want to have a separate sheet or something to look at to find the verse}.  Then I took some gingham ribbon from my stash and tied loops on the ornaments.
Then I tucked a small tree next to our fireplace, wrapped the base in leftover burlap {swaddling clothes :)}, found a crown {won by hubby at a father-daughter event} for the tree topper – perfect King of Kings – and a basket to hold the ornaments.
Each night we have one of the kids choose an ornament to put on the tree.  They read the name of Jesus and then they tell us what that name means to them – which by the way is my favorite part, I love to see The Holy Spirit work in their hearts – and then we read the scripture, and hang the ornament.  Can I just say I.  LOVE.  THIS.  The kids love it too!!  So simple, but so honoring.
We are also looking at ways to focus on giving instead of receiving.  Do you notice that as kids get older their lists may get shorter but way more pricey??  Anyway, taking my cue from several of my favorite bloggers.  One being Ann Voskamp.  Read this post to learn more.
What are your CHRISTmas traditions??  How do you honor Jesus??

 

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Christmas Mantel 2012

Well, after running around like a crazy person on Saturday, I finally got my home decorated for Christmas!!  I love it!!  Today I would like to share with you our mantel decor.

At Christmas time I clear off everything and start fresh.  The family portrait of course stays because I love it :).  Everything you see are things I already had in my stash except for the JOY which I showed you how I made here.
It never looks exactly the same from year to year.  Probably only a couple of elements are constant – the greenery and the star garland – which I actually made last year to hold my Christmas cards.  You see there is one lonely little card up there so far – but soon (hopefully) it will be covered with cards and pictures of friends near and far.
I’m pretty traditional when it comes to Christmas decorating – I like red and green, and a little sparkle here and there.  Most important to me is spreading out my nativity collection – the snow globe and the little handmade one next to it.  CHRISTmas is about the birth of Jesus and I want people to be reminded of that when they are in my home at this time of year.
I’m loving our advent activity for this year and so are the kids.  You can see a peak of it in the corner of this pic.  I will share more with you about that and other ways we keep Christ in Christmas on a later post.
Have a blessed day!!

 Linking up with these linky parties

 

 

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*JOY* Crafting

I just couldn’t wait any longer, couldn’t allow myself to be distracted any longer.  I had.to.get.crafty!!
I love the word “JOY” all year long, but especially at Christmas, and I have been loving the decorated letters I have been seeing around the blog world.  So, I decided to give it my own spin.  I started with MDF letters from HL, some jute, scrapbook paper, spray adhesive, mod podge, and of course some hot glue.
First the J.  I figured this would be the easiest to cover with the jute.

 

So, I hot glued the end on the back and started wrapping. It was a little tricky in spots – where the curves and corners were – so I just put a dab of hot glue wherever necessary to cover the board underneath. I didn’t worry about the back since it wouldn’t show.
And voila!! Love how it came out.
Next the Y.  (I’ll come back to the O)  I found some paisley printed scrapbook paper that I liked.

 

I put a light coat of spray adhesive on the top of the letter, then pressed the whole piece of paper on top. I allowed it to dry for about 30 seconds and then I used a utility knife to cut away the extra paper. {An exacto knife would have been easier for that task, but I couldn’t find mine in my not-so-organized craft closet – project coming in January.} The edges were a little frayed so I used a tip from Thrifty Decor Chick and filed the edges. Then, a thin coat of mod podge just to make sure it was stuck and for a protected finish. I decided it needed a little something – so I pulled out my brown stamp pad and ‘aged’ the edges.
Done 🙂
Last the O.  I simply used a berry garland that I already had for the O.
I curled it up in a circle that was the right size for the J and the Y. Then I took some ribbon and tied it together with a bow.
 Perfect!!

 

Here it is all together.

 

 

And here it is in it’s place.

 

 

Love it when a project comes out just like you imagined it!!  This cost me less than $5 total since I already had the adhesives and the garland.  Awesome!! You can see how it looks on my mantle here (you may notice I changed out the greenery for some ribbon – I had to have something to hid the blocks of wood the JOY was sitting on but the greenery covered too much ;))

 

“For You are our glory and joy.”  1Thessalonians 2:20

Linking up with some fun linky parties – be sure to click over and check them out for some Christmas crafting inspiration!!

holiday home link parties

 

countdown to winter 200
A Bowl Full of Lemons
Christmas LinkUp

 

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December 2012 Bucket List

 

I am excited that the Christmas season is here!!  I Love Christmas time, but really who doesn’t??  I am working on getting the decorating done and hope to show you some of that in the next few days.  But, I have been thinking about all the fun I hope to have this month so I thought I would share with you my December Bucket List.

 

Of course I kinda cheated with that last one because that encompasses a lot of our family activities for the month 🙂
I hope that you take time and make a plan of action for the month to spend time together as a family.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the business, the hustle and bustle and forget to take a minute to enjoy the beauty and the spirit of the season.  We started this last year – making some intentional plans – and it was wonderful!!
Have a blessed day!!
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Being Thankful

What a wonderful time of year!!  I’ve shared with you guys before how much I enjoy counting my blessings.  Looking back through the past and recounting my steps and God’s hand.  But, until recently I’ve never really been what I would call a grateful person.  I complain a lot (about nothing).  I whine (about a lot of things).  Why do I do this?  Disposition? {Possibly}  Circumstances? {No – I know better}  Habit?  {I think so}  How sad is it that my habit is to be grumpy.
A couple of weeks ago I started reading a book called “One Thousands Gifts” by Ann Voskamp{because I saw it in a post by The Nester whom I adore :)}  A friend challenged Ann, the author,  to make an actual written list of one thousand things she was thankful for.  She took the challenge and began journaling.  Just reading about the way her senses seemed to be heightened to even the “little” God moments that surrounded her throughout the day has inspired me.  I find myself noticing the positive side of even the most inconvenient moments.  And man oh man has it changed my attitude.  Isn’t it amazing the effect gratitude has on our hearts?  I am working on making thankfulness my habit, because truthfully I have more things to be thankful for than I have things to complain about.
Today I am most thankful for a Savior who takes me just as I am.  Who chooses to use me in my imperfection.  Who hears me when I call.  May I always be mindful of You.
I showed you at the beginning of the month our bare Thankful Tree.  Here is an update

 

Isn’t it beautiful!?!  Look at all those leaves!!  There are all sorts of things that we have been thankful for this month and it has been great fun to document some of them in writing.  We actually used all the leaves!!  Next year I may have to make twice as many leaves because we are truly blessed, blessed, blessed!!
Wishing you and your family a blessing-filled Thanksgiving!!  Turkey and family fun to be had!!

 

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