Saturday, December 31, 2011

All Year Resolutions


"I think in terms of the day's resolutions, not the year's.  ~Henry Moore

It's that time of year again when we reflect on last year and make our New Year's resolutions.  I started in 1997 writing down important events/dates that happened in the previous year and then making my resolutions for the upcoming year.  Then the next year I'd put a check or minus as to whether I'd kept the resolution and do it all again.

I did that up until about the last 2-3 years when I realized I had alot of minuses and the same resolutions!  You know the ones - grow closer to God, be a better friend/wife, get in shape, etc.

At that time I started making specific All Year Resolutions!  I'd write down a resolution for each month.  Then at the beginning of every month I'd review them and start fresh.  So, yes, I still had some that I didn't keep but I found I kept more this way than making them all at the first of the year then forgetting them by the second week!

So this year, I've looked at my priorities and made most of my resolutions.  (When doing AYR it's also OK to change/add to them as you go throughout the year!)  For example, here's my January ones:

  1. Host a couples' Bible study at our home - My husband and I have been talking about this for about a month now.  Nothing fancy - just a few couples, Bible study, and maybe some coffee. :)
  2. Spend less time online - I'm doing this by totally staying off of Facebook for the first couple of weeks of January.  There's really no reason for me to be back on until our Good Morning Girls starts back on January 15.   This will be a TOUGH one for me!!  I depend on Facebook for WAY too much!  Looking forward to the time it will free up to do other things though!
  3.   Potty Train "Miss Priss"  - enough said :)

So there's my resolutions/goals for January.  I have 3 this month but it may not necessarily be that way every month.  However, they are specific goals not just general ideas which help me actually accomplish them! 

So will you be making New Year's Resolutions?  How about All Year Resolutions?


Happy New Year Everyone!!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Highlights from Our (Mostly) Peaceful Christmas


I hope everyone enjoyed Christmas as much as we did!  Things are starting to get back to "normal" around our house.  Well, at least I think they will after one more Christmas party tonight, then New Year's with family tomorrow night!  Anyway, overall we did have a simpler, more peaceful Christmas which was my original goal. 

Although I must confess it almost wasn't that way!  How is it the devil knows exactly how and when to push your buttons?  I'd spent an hour Christmas Eve making sure everything was already loaded in the car-food, presents, change of clothes, Bibles - everything we needed so that we were totally prepared and wouldn't be rushed Christmas morning.  So here we were after a relaxed Christmas morning, in the car headed to church.  I went to grab my Sunday School lesson I was supposed to teach to look back over it when I realized a crucial part of the craft was missing!  I KNEW I'd put it in the bag!  I became a LITTLE panicky, digging through our bags of gifts, food, change of clothes, and said

Why do we have all this STUFF in the car anyway!  This is ridiculous and not what Christmas is about!  SO glad I spent all that time last night organzing everything!  What am I going to do with all those little kids in Sunday school?  It's Christmas I have to have something fun for them to do!
  After my searching, ranting and raving for a couple of minutes, my husband very calmly replied, "I have an idea.  Read them Luke 2."  I'd already planned on this too but it was then I realized that reading from the Bible was enough!  So I closed my eyes said a quick prayer thanking God once again for reminding me of what was really important and that if He wanted me to do that craft then let me find it. If not then I'd read from the Bible and leave it in His hands!  As we were getting out of the car, I turned back around to grab "Miss Priss'" bag and there was the rest of the craft wedged between the seat.  I'm thankful that even when the devil pushes our buttons God has ways of reminding and keeping us focused on what's really important!

We went on in church and had a wonderful service and Sunday School lesson!!  The rest of our day was filled with family, friends, presents and good food!  Thought I'd share a few of my favorite moments/pics from our Christmas:


Making a "Happy Birthday Jesus" cake with GiGi.  Let's just say after feet in the cake and them licking fingers and eating as they go - not much was actually eaten of the cake!

Opening presents Christmas Eve at PaPa and GiGi's

My favorite present a toy box/bookshelf that PaPa made!

"Miss Priss" with several of her cousins on Christmas Eve

Reading Jesus' birth with PaPa first thing Christmas morning

After our church service Christmas morning with our Pastor and his family

Christmas at Pop and Nina's

Opening presents with Daddy at Pop and Nina's house

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry CHRISTmas!!!

            The shopping is done, the presents are wrapped, cards are sent out, groceries are bought, and the house is at least semi-clean!  Woo Hoo!!!  OK, so I didn't exactly meet my goal of finishing by the 1st of December but I'm happy with the two weeks that I still have left in the year to do nothing but enjoy the season!!  I give alot of credit to my Untangling Christmas planner which has been a life saver!  I've loved having everything right there at my fingertips! 


            I've also learned to say no and that it's alright if we don't do EVERYTHING - not only is it alright but it's actually more enjoyable and peaceful!!  We've manged to do what's important to us as a family and I've really enjoyed this Christmas so far!!  Here's a few pics of what we have enjoyed:


Decrorating Christmas Cookies with some friends
Angels getting ready for the church Christmas play


In front of some of her ornaments we made in celebration of Advent
Looking at lights at Homestead Hollow


     I've thought alot about Bethlehem at the time Jesus was born and how busy the town was.  I can just imagine all the people rushing around trying to pay their taxes, find food and a place to stay.  Many that probably had been in the temple and synagogues even earlier in the week hearing about the coming of the Messiah.  Yet they were so busy with their own lives they may have walked right passed the manger where Christ was being born!  I don't want to be so wrapped up in everything else that I miss the simple blessings right before me!  It's made me so sad this year when I hear others say they are just ready for Christmas to be over!  I've realized that we only feel that way because of what all WE put on OURSELVES!!


              It's my Christmas wish that you too will be able to slow down and enjoy the peace and joy that CHRISTmas is really all about!   This will be my last post this year as I will be enjoying the next two weeks with family and friends!  I'll leave you with my favorite Christmas song!




Wednesday, December 14, 2011

End of 1 John - Ephesians Next!!


            Last week ended our Good Morning Girls study on 1 John.  I now have two books of the Bible completely written out with notes!  Have I mentioned how much I LOVE the SOAP method!  I've learned a lot in the last few months as we've walked through 1 John-mostly about love.

            To me the main point of 1 John was because Christ dwells within us we should DEMONSTATE his love. We are to love like Christ loved us-in deed and truth.  I realized how very little I actually DO for Christ to show his love and how different the world could be if we as Christians truly started living like Christ and making sacrifices to show his love!         

            I've mentioned reading Kisses from Katie and in her book Katie gives an eye-opening statistic:

         The truth is that the 143 million orphaned children and the 11 million who starve to death or die from preventable diseases and the 8.5 million who work as child slaves, prostitutes or under other horrific conditions and the 2.3 million who live with HIV add up to 164.8 million needy children.  And though at first glance that looks like a big number 2.1 billion people on this earth proclaim to be Christians.
          The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for one more child, there would not be any statistics left...
           ...The truth is that he loves these children just as much as He loves me and now that I know, I am responsible."
   
      That's only one statistic with children.   Could you imagine what kind of world it would be if everyone who claimed to be a Christian really started living like one??!!  This is what I have forever been changed by after studying 1 John- the depth, sacrifice, and power of true love.

    GMG will be taking a break from now until January 15.  Then the winter session will be from January 15-April 15.  We will be studying Ephesians!  Enrollment for groups starts tomorrow so if you're looking for a great online accountability bible study then get a group of girls together and go for it!  I guarantee you will be blessed!  For more info on GMG and the winter session click here.



It'll be a great way to start out the new year!  I can't wait!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Christmas Foods

   
  What is it about Christmas that makes you want to stay in the kitchen? There’s nothing like baking at Christmas.  Here are a few of my favorite things …

        I mentioned Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house in an earlier blog.   She always had ham on the table.  We all ate at different times.  Some would come in and just have a ham sandwich and others would make a whole meal out of it – ham, potato salad, baked beans, whatever else was there.   She’d have regular baked ham and then she had ham with her special glaze which was actually just brown sugar and mustard and it was AWESOME!  I still love to bake ham, especially around Christmas, take it out of the oven mix up some mustard and brown sugar, brush it on top, then bake it just a little more.   Delicious!  My Mom also still makes it on Christmas Eve.

        You can’t have Christmas without decorating some sugar cookies. Here’s my favorite recipe which to me is almost like a combination between a sugar cookie and tea cake.


Sugar Cookies

1 cup margarine softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
3 ½ cups flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond

Cream butter.  Add sugar and beat until fluffy.  Add egg and flavorings.  Mix together flour, soda, and baking powder.  Add to creamed mixture.  Chill dough for 1 hour.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Top with melted almond bark and sprinkles!

"Miss Priss" enjoying some sugar cookies last year.

One of my favorite recipes to take to Christmas parties or to give as gifts is "White Trash."  SUPER easy to make!

White Trash

2 cups each -              Gold Graham Cereal
                                        Pretzels
                                        Cheerios
                                        M & Ms
                                        Raisins
                                        Honey Roasted Peanuts

Melt 1 whole block of almond bark.  Pour over all ingredients and then spread on wax paper.  Then break apart when hardened.  It only involves the microwave and stirring so it's kid-friendly too!  Yummy!!


There’s also a couple new recipes I have on my list to try out from Add a Pinch.  Such as Snow Cookies and Cookie Dough Dip Recipe.   For even more great recipes and other Christmas ideas check out the 12 Ways of Christmas! 

This wraps up my week of Christmas!  I must say I admire anyone who blogs everyday!  I’m ready to go back to my once or twice a week!  I’d love to read about any of your CHRISTmas ideas- ways of including Christ, ideas on Advent, gifts, decorating, recipes, anything!  Please leave a comment or you can send me pics via e-mail at aatkinson5680@gmail.com.  I’d love to share your ideas on here too!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bringing Christmas Into Your Home


Oh there's no place like home
For the holidays, ‘cause no matter
How far away you roam
If you want
To be happy in a million ways
For the holidays, you can’t beat
Home, sweet home
                       

Robert Allen - Al Stillman



                Let me begin by saying I’m not by any means an interior decorator as you will soon see!  Actually, I don’t even have all my decorating done and started to hold off on this blog.  However, I’ve said it before this blog is about what’s REALLY going on in my life not just a bunch of words.  So there you have my confession(s)…I’m not a decorator and I don’t even have all my decorating finished according to my “schedule” but I’m close! 

                To me the way you decorate your house is one of the things that make it home.  I actually don’t want my home to look like an Ethan Allen showroom.  I want it to reflect us and look “lived in”.   Most of the things in my home are things that have been given to me, passed down by grandparents/relatives, and/or handmade and I LOVE it that way!  I love looking around my home and being reminded of the people and things that are important to me and I want it to be that way at Christmas too!  Of course, I also want to keep my decorating simple …so in addition to my nativities in every room that I’ve already mentioned - here’s a few ways/tips that I have used in decorating my home:
               
1.        Bring the Outside In (Did you know you have decorations lying out in your yard and they’re free?!!):

a.       Pine Branches – The first year we moved into our home I’d never really had a mantle to decorate so I didn’t have any garland or the money to buy any.  Instead, I went outside and cut some pine branches and covered my mantle in those.  Lord, knows we have plenty of pine trees around!  I loved not only the way it looked but the smell!  I did the same thing again this year.



b.      Gum Drop Trees – This was something we always did when I was little.  We would go outside and find a “thorny little tree” (This tree may have an actual name but I don’t know it!) and then stick gumdrops on the little “thorns”.  It made a cute decoration and is a lot of fun for kids (just watch the thorns!).

c.       Painted Branches – Even if all you have are dead branches in your yard, you can spray paint some of them, put them in a vase, and decorate as you want.

d.      Pinecones – I’ve also gathered pinecones from outside and put them in a pretty basket.

2.       Frame It

a.       Child’s Artwork – I always display “Miss Priss’” artwork on the refrigerator but I saw this picture on Kelly Prickett’s facebook page and LOVED it!  If you look in the frames, she took her daughter’s footprints and son’s handprints and made these precious Christmas trees.  I love the way she displayed them and how great will it be to pull these out every year and remember those tiny hands and feet!  I am SO stealing this idea next year! 


b.      Old Christmas Cards – Have a special Christmas card from a special someone?  Frame it!

c.       Favorite pictures of past Christmases – I have a picture collage on our mantle that says “Blessings” and I plan on changing out all the pics in the frame to Christmas pictures-some old and some new! 

3.       Use What You Already Have or Make it!   (Just to name a few..)

a.       Heirlooms- Just to name a few of mine . . .The star on top of our tree is the one my grandmother always used.  I have ornaments on my tree from her and from my parents’ first set of ornaments they received when they were married.  The quilt on our bed is more spring/summery so I take it off and put on a white chenille bedspread during the winter.  Then throw on a rose afghan my great-grandmother made on the end of the bed and use pillowcases with roses made by another grandmother.

b.      Reindeer –I have these cute little reindeer on either side of our front door that my Daddy made out of logs/sticks.  I don’t think I could make them but I don’t think they’d be too hard to make!


c.       Samplers/Cross-Stitching – I love signs/quotes/and sayings and a great way to display them is to stitch them out and frame them.  I have a couple that are specifically Christmas I’ve done. 

4.       Outside – Here’s a final picture of the outside of our home (still like putting the wreaths on the dormers).  I’m more of a wreath and candle in the window kind of girl (as opposed to lights) but whatever you prefer – decorate the outside!   I love pulling up and seeing all the wreaths and candles-automatically puts me in the Christmas spirit!


My only other tip about bringing Christmas into your home is light a candle (or in my case burn your Scentsy-Christmas Cottage is awesome) and put on some Christmas music!  One thing I’ve started doing when “Miss Priss” or I start getting cranky is taking 5 minutes, turning on some music (Our favorites are ‘Rockin Around the Christmas Tree” or “Let it Snow”)  and just dance and be silly! It’s a great 5 minute “picker-upper” and then we can go back to whatever we are doing in a much better mood!     Have you decorated yet?  What’s your favorite things around your home?


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas With Friends: Get-Togethers and Gifts

“If we think of our heart rather than our purse, as the reservoir of our giving, we shall find it full all the time!” David Dunn
              

               Get-togethers and gifts are what I get most stressed out about.  I’m not sure why I get so caught up in it.  I should just enjoy spending time with friends and not stress about the gifts because the perfect one has already been given!  However, for me that’s much easier said than done!
                As far as I know the only get-together we are hosting at our home this year is some friends of “Miss Priss” are coming over to decorate cookies.  It’s only going to be a couple other girls –very low key so I’m excited about it! I’m sure before the season is over we’ll have at least a couple more small get-togethers.  Here are a few tips I’ve learned when hosting a party:
1.        Keep it simple- the food, entertainment, games, everything!  Especially when you have a big group – simpler is better!
2.       Don’t stress so much about a clean house.  Sure you want it to be presentable but I can promise when everyone leaves you’ll HAVE to clean again. 
3.       Let your guests help.  If they offer to bring something then let them! I usually prepare the main food/course; however, if someone offers to bring a dessert, side or finger food I’m great with that!  First of all, it’s less I have to prepare.  Secondly, when I go to someone’s house I always feel better bringing something. It’s a win-win situation.
         Now to gifts …I’ve really re-thought my gift-giving this year. I heard someone say the other day that when considering a present for someone think about what’s important to that person and give a gift based on that.  I actually am buying very few presents and the ones I am buying are not that expensive and mostly for “Miss Priss”.  This year I’m more excited about giving small gifts  to those who may least expect it: some cookies and a Coke left in the mailbox or some bread delivered to a neighbor I rarely visit.  Here are some of my gift-giving ideas this year:

1.        Homemade Gifts:
a.       Sewn/Embroidered:  We have a sewing and embroidery machine so several of our gifts will be made using those. Some of the kids on our list will be getting shirts/outfits.  Adults will be receiving personalized towels, pillows, etc. 


b.      Even if you don’t have a sewing machine you can still make something similar.  Just cut out a pattern from scrap fabric and attach with heat and bond.  Then you can embelish with hand stitching, buttons, ribbon, whatever you like!  Very easy J

c.      Take whatever you enjoy doing, think of the person you are giving to and create based on that!  For more homemade gift ideas check out The Happy Housewife’s 100 Days to Homemade Gifts. All kinds of ideas! 

2.       Gifts That Keep on Giving:

a.       Gifts to support a charity or organization:  One thing I am planning on giving this year (possibly to myself) is a necklace from Amazima Ministries.  If you read my blog, you know I’ve been reading Kisses from Katie.   Katie has organized a group of women to make these beaded necklaces.  The proceeds go directly to these families living in extreme poverty.  There are several other worthy organizations out there or you could even give a donation to a charity in someone’s honor.



b.      Encourage-Mint jars: I’ve given these as gifts in the past to nursing homes and passed them out to homes as we have gone caroling.  You simply decorate a jar, fill it up with mints and then fold up pieces of paper with scriptures, quotes, and words of encouragement.


3.       Gifts of Food:  I’ve given several gifts of food but my 3 favorites to give are:

a.       Amish Friendship Bread:  I’ll be giving some of these to family this year perhaps in a bread basket or with a personalized kitchen towel.



b.      Caramel Corn:  I love going to the dollar stores and buying those cute Christmas tins and boxes and filling them with caramel corn and giving as gifts. Here’s my aunt’s recipe that I use:
2 sticks margarine
1 box dark brown sugar
½ cup light Karo syrup
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 quarts of popcorn

        Melt butter.  Stir in syrup, sugar and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Stir and cook 3-5minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir in soda and vanilla.  Pour all over popcorn and mix well.  Put in 2 large pans.  Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 12 minutes. Cool completely then break apart.  Store in an airtight container.

I’ve also personally tasted the caramel corn by Abby at Trusting in Him and it is awesome!!
c.       Homemade Jellies/Jams:  These also are a favorite of mine to give.  Perhaps two or three in a small gift basket.  My personal favorites are apple butter, seedless blackberry and peach.

d.      Another great food gift for someone that loves to cook is to purchase a cookbook and then make them something in the cookbook to give together as the gift.

4.       Photo Gifts:   To me these are the perfect gifts for grandparents that already have everything!

a.       Photo Calendars for the upcoming year full of family pics.
b.      Photo books from events that have happened the past year.
c.       Coasters - order or make some homemade ones
While you are finding/creating all those wonderful gifts don't forget the most important one on the list:  Jesus!  What will you be getting Him this year? 

What can I give him,

Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd,

I would bring a lamb;

If I were a wise man,

I would do my part;

Yet what I can I give him—

Give my heart.


           Christina G. Rossetti 
    

     Nothing materialistic we can give.  He simply wants us - our hearts, our time, and our service.  Any gifts that you especially like to give?






Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Family Christmas Traditions


“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” Burton Hillis

                In Untangling Christmas, the first thing the authors ask you to do is a "Re-Thinking Christmas Survey”.  One of the questions asks for you to share your favorite holiday memory growing up and to notice if it had more to do with money/getting or people/doing.  My husband and I sat down and did this together (after a little whining from him).  My answer was Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house and his answer was Christmas breakfast at his grandmother’s house.  Coincidence?  I think not, Christmas is first about Christ and secondly about spending time with our family.

                Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house was the epitome of a “happy family all wrapped up in each other.”  She had 10 kids, they were all married, and all but one of them had kids themselves with families of their own, and then there’s usually be a few neighbors or extended family to come.  So there was usually about 60-70 people all crammed into a fairly small house.  There was always plenty of food on the table, a huge Christmas tree and presents galore!  
                We all arrived at different times to eat but around 8 or 9 o’clock everyone gathered around the tree in the living room (some in the bedrooms off to the side) and Maw Maw passed out the presents one by one.  Everyone always had one from her and usually a couple of others.  Wrapping paper would be flying across the room trying to ring one of the giant boxes set up for trash and laughter would be filling the room.  Honestly, I can’t tell you very many presents that I actually received during all those years at her house, but I do remember the warmth of family, anticipation, squeals of joy, and hugs that were all around.


Maw Maw passing out presents on Christmas Eve- late 80s
You can see my cousin (on the left) with his ball of wrapping paper ready to throw!


                I wouldn’t bring my grandmother back to earth for anything for I know she’s in a much better place but if God did allow her to come back for a day I’d want it to be Christmas Eve.  I’d love for “Miss Priss” to experience that kind of joyous Christmas!  However, even though it may not be in the exact same ways, I’m still determined to create lasting memories and traditions for her.  For example …
1.        Our biggest family tradition has always been the Christmas tree.  Since Curt and I have been married we’ve always spent an afternoon putting it up and decorating it together.  Sometimes we visit a Christmas tree farm for a real tree and other years (like this year) we’ve put up our artificial one.  One thing we also started this year which was A LOT of fun was after the tree was up letting “Miss Priss” open up a present.  She got a pair of Christmas PJs and a giant coloring book.  Then the 3 of us spent the rest of the night in our PJs, drinking hot chocolate and coloring!  I’m thinking next year we’ll do the same thing and then all spend the night in the living room with the tree!


"Miss Priss" and I coloring after the tree is up :)



2.      I mentioned in my post yesterday we also read Jesus’ birth from the Bible on Christmas Eve.

3.       We spend Christmas Eve with my side of the family.  Then Christmas Day, Santa comes (then this year we’ll go to church) and then visit with Curt’s side of the family.
That’s really the only true “traditions” we have with our little family so far.  However, there are several other things we’ll be doing to celebrate Christmas even though we may not do it in the same way every year:

1.       Visiting Santa’s Wonderland at the Bass Pro Shop
2.       Looking at Christmas Lights – this year either at Homestead Hollow or Stone Mountain
3.       Decorating cookies
4.       Christmas Parade

What were your favorite childhood Christmas traditions?  Did you carry those over to
your children or create new ones?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Keeping Christ in CHRISTmas

“Let’s approach Christmas with an expectant hush rather than a last minute rush.”  Unknown
                Can you imagine the town of Bethlehem the night Christ was born?  So many people there were no available rooms in the inn.  Everyone was rushing about taking care of their taxes missing what was really important happening in a stable nearby . . . a prophesy being fulfilled, a King being born!  They’d heard about it for years, some even believed it but they were so caught up in their daily task they missed it!  I wonder how many of us will miss the true spirit of CHRISTmas-peace, goodwill, joy-because we get too caught up in our frivolous daily tasks!
                I’m truly convinced that what Christ wants, especially in today’s world, (outside of ourselves/hearts) is our time!  To truly keep Christ as the center of our CHRISTmas we must daily spend time focused and searching for Him!  No matter how you plan on spending your time with/for Him I encourage you to do something every day!  Don’t leave Him out!!  Here are a few ways I plan on doing that this year:
1.       Daily devotions/prayer time -   Even when you I am used to having a daily “quiet” time with God, it’s easy for it to get pushed to the side during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.  A little ironic that we I skip it to cook or run get a last minute present for HIS birthday – but it’s true.  So let’s pick a time and make it a priority – no matter when it is.  Write it in your schedule if you have to!  (Guilty)

2.       Celebrate Advent –This will be our first year to celebrate the Advent.  I still don’t know a lot about it but I love what I’m learning mainly from other blogs!  For those who may not know much about it, the word advent simply means “coming” or “arrival”.  Advent starts the fourth Sunday before Christmas (yesterday) and ends Christmas Eve.  It is a time set aside in anticipation of the birth of Jesus and then his return to Earth.  Advent is celebrated in many different ways.  You can do an internet search and find tons of activities to celebrate Advent. 
What I’m drawing from it this year is that it is a time of intentionally setting my heart and mind towards Jesus!   I’ll be doing my morning devotions and prayer time.   I wanted something to do with “Miss Priss” also.  At first I thought about a Jesse Tree (there's LOTS of information in cyberspace on this one), but then I decided she was still too young for that (she just turned 2).  I also bought the book The Truth in the Tinsel by Amanda White and I love it!  However, I feel a passage and making an ornament a day is still a little much for her.  We may take a few things from the book this year, but will do most of it next year.   This year we will be doing What God Wants for Christmas.  No matter what you choose to celebrate include your whole family!

3.       What God Wants for Christmas-  “Miss Priss” knows Christmas is Jesus’ birthday but that’s really all she knows.  So I felt this year we should just really focus on the nativity.  I love the way this book is very kid-friendly and has the anticipation of the gifts.  It’s meant to be done in a week but we’re going to take it slow and add in some more activities/crafts so that it lasts from today until Christmas Eve.  We’ll be spending about four days on each “gift”which is basically the "characters" in the nativity with the last gift being what God really wants - you!  We’ll probably be doing this during our Tot School time so I’ll keep you posted :)

4.       Service to Others- There’s really nothing God wants for Christmas except us and our service to Him.  Of course we can serve Him by serving others.  There are SO many ways to help serve others during this time of year:  delivering fruit baskets, taking gifts to the nursing home, visiting/donating to a Children’s home, taking dinner to a family,  “adopting” a child for Christmas, etc.  The list could go on and on! Pray that God will show you someone to help and I know He will!

5.       Decorations – Each year I try to let the nativity be the first thing I put out.  We also have a nativity in every room as a visual reminder.  You can include Christ in many of your decorations.  I actually read of someone doing a “Nativitree” in which all their ornaments and tree decorations were centered around the nativity. 

6.       Music-  I’ve been listening to Christmas music for a month now! There are so many Christmas songs I love I wanted to listen to them for more than just a month!  Playing Christmas music either in the car or in the house while working also helps me to stay calm and peaceful and remember the true reason for the season!

7.       Reading of the Christmas Story: This has always been a family tradition at our house.  Growing up my Daddy always read it to us on Christmas Eve and now that we have our own family my husband reads it to “Miss Priss” on Christmas Eve!  Whenever you do it, take some time out as a family to read from the Bible and talk about it.  It’s such a blessing!

Curt reading Jesus' birth to "Miss Priss" from her Bible 


8.       Church Activities:  Being involved in church activities are also a great way to keep Christ in Christmas.  Our church does not have a regular Christmas Eve service or candlelight as some do so I LOVE that Christmas is on Sunday this year!  That means we will be in church on Christmas morning!  We also have a Christmas play at our church, and do a float for the local Christmas parade.  Most years we also go caroling-although that hasn’t been planned for this year.  All of these are ways of spreading and remembering the true meaning of Christmas!
              So how does your family keep Christ in CHRISTmas?  Do you celebrate Advent?  A special service project you do every year? I’d love to know!