Can I share a personal experience with you, a story that I can’t get out of my head this week?
His only job was to install the water filter. It was a brand new system, top of the line and would do exactly what we needed to make the water drinkable for the family again.
The system was expensive, but we thought it would be worth it.
We waited for it to be shipped to us and the day it arrived we were eager to get the job done.
Eric carefully read the instruction Manuel, checked to make sure he had all the parts and then began the installation. It seemed pretty straightforward.
There was a metal container, a UV light, and a very thin fragile quartz casing that had to be inserted before the water could filter through.
There was one part where the Manuel instructed him to ‘lightly tighten and carefully turn on the water’. Okay, he was ready.
He did everything the manual said, and afterwards he ‘lightly tightened and then carefully turned on the water’ immediately we heard the crack, the expensive quartz casing was shattered.
Dissapointed he removed it and took out the spare. He had bought an extra just in case.
He followed the instructions again and again he ‘lightly tightened and carefully turned on the water, but this time even more lightly and even more carefully.
Instantly we heard the CRACK. The quartz sleeve had shattered again.
Ergh, Eric was so frustrated.
He took it out and threw it away and told me he would have to order more online. It costs hundreds of dollars and took us another 2 weeks before the next 3 filters came in.
When they came in Eric had reviewed the Manuel again and looked online to get further instruction. He was positive he would succeed this time. After all, we had built our own home and Eric was often hired to fix things for people. He was excessively well qualified to perform the task.
This time he inserted the crystal sleeve and followed the same process as before, each time being more careful than the last. All three sleeves shattered the moment he put the water on.
At this point he was pretty frustrated. We talked about scrapping the whole system which had cost us over $1,000 and giving up.
Instead we took a break from the project and put in our order for 3 more crystal sleeves.
As the days past I saw Eric returning to the utility room again and again looking at the system.
He sat on an upside down bucket staring at the system he had neatly plumbed into the existing water lines of the house.
Finally after a week of him going downstairs and looking at the system he came upstairs a grin on his face.
‘It’s not my fault!!!’ he declared. He then held up the metal canister that the uv light and quartz sleeve were supposed to be contained in. As he turned it around slowly I saw nothing noteworthy.
LOOK! He exclaimed, and then pointed to the slightest protrusion of metal on the inside of the threaded lid. The container was malformed, and every time he inserted the crystal, and tightened it, when the pressure of the water came through it cracked. It was impossible to have achieved a fit that was even.
THE MANUFACTURER HAD MADE A MISTAKE.
Eric called the company, sent a few pictures and in 2 weeks the new system came in. He took it downstairs and within 5 minutes he had it installed and working.
I have thought about this story obsessively since it happened.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is our instruction manual. It tells us exactly how to achieve happiness on this earth life and salvation in eternity.
Have you ever followed the instructions but then things didn’t work out? You failed, you messed up and everything shattered?
I have. And it’s rough. And it hurts, and I want to give up and I cry and I cry out. I get angry with myself, and impatient and disappointed when I fall short, when I’m not enough. When it feels like my family is falling apart or my marriage sucks or my parenting is horrible. (And YES all those things happen in my life)
But guess what? God isn’t angry, he has infinite patience for our shortcomings, you wanna know why? BECAUSE HE KNOWS ALL ABOUT THE MANUFACTURERS DEFECTS!
HE created us, He is okay with us making mistakes again and again and again. In fact God knows that the ONLY way that we can become like Him, is if we fail and learn, change and grow from those failures. Those mistakes, OUR mistakes are our vehicle to becoming like God!
God knows: That some of us have depression, Some of us have Anxiety, He knows some of us experienced childhood trauma, He knows some of us were born alone in the world, and some of us were handed genetics that hurt us. He knows there will be orphans and starving children, Broken marriages, Abuses, Betrayals, Addictions, Financial Devastation, Deaths.
He knows all of this, and he loves us just the way we are AND AT THE VERY SAME TIME EXPECTS US TO RISE UP TO WHERE HE IS!
My plea for you today is Don’t Give up! You are probably doing so much better than you can imagine.
A friend and I went out to dinner with our spouses. At the end of the dinner my husband and my friend both had to go the bathroom and I was left sitting with my friends spouse, Mike for a few minutes while we waited together.
Trying to make small talk I looked up and saw a gorgeous full colour painting on the wall in front of me. It was of vibrant mountain lakes with sparkly blue water and giant mountains in the background. The massive piece of art spanned the entire wall, and was covered in a glossy finish.
As I looked at the painting I said to Mike.
‘Wow that painting is really pretty.’I waited expectantly for him to agree, instead there was an awkward pause and then he said,
‘Do you really think so?’
‘Absolutely!’ I insisted.
‘It’s not the same vibe as the art in my own home, but it’s definitely beautiful!’
There was a noticeable lack of confirmation from Mike, finally he asked cautiously,
‘Well, what exactly do you like about it?’I responded passionately,
‘The colors are beautiful, the scene is peaceful and it’s so magical looking!’
Another few seconds past in silence as we both studied the art piece more critically this time.I began to feel self-conscious, as I wondered why Mike, Who hadn’t previously struck me as design savvy wouldn’t have agreed with me.
As the silence lingered uncomfortably, I shifted my gaze from the mountains scape in front of me to the man beside me. I noticed that his head was cocked to one side as he stared intently at a ugly piece of orange and red abstract art on the wall in front of him.
I suddenly realized that he and I had been gazing at two completely different pieces of art while we conversed.
I began to laugh as I pointed to the picture that I had been staring at. When he saw what I had been looking at he also started to laugh at the clear misunderstanding.
As I drove home last night I contemplated the experience. I was taught a valuable lesson on perspective, and reminded by the spirit to be a little more understanding and gentle in my relationships and with those around me.
FOR PARENTS STRUGGLING WITH COVID-19 HOMESCHOOLING…..
Friends keep asking me how I get my kids to spend 4 hours a day on school. The answer I always give is- I DON’T!! 🔥
💗If I have an ELEMENTARY aged child they are going to spend about 1 hour sitting down at a desk filling out a worksheet or learning a formal math, english, writing, science, history lesson. 1 hour altogether all day.
💗💗If I have a MIDDLE SCHOOL aged child I expect them to spend at least 2 hours all together a day doing formal learning.
💗💗💗If I have a HIGHSCHOOL aged child, they should be spending 3-8 hours doing formal learning depending on the courses they are taking, the interests they have and the direction they are taking with their education. (Are they on acceleratedted path, a slowed down path, struggling in other areas of their lives etc…)
The rest of the day for all my kids is not spent in FORMAL LEARNING. But it IS spent in learning! That means a strict: No tv No internet browsing No video games Only a few minutes of social media.
SO WHAT ARE THEY DOING THE REST OF THE TIME? They will be bored. Which is exactly where I want them to be so that they do these things instead:
📖Read Books (gotta read a couple classic books in between the candy books they love. We often add history in the form of books)
🙌Helping Clean Up
👩🍳Make a Meal for the family
👩💼Helping a Sibling do school
👨🎨Learning a New Craft
🎻Practicing Music or an instrument
🧜♂️LIstening to an audiobook while doing some of the above
🚴♂️Going for a Walk
🦆🐥Taking Care of Animals
👉Organizing a Space
🕵️♀️Experimenting with something
🙇♂️🙇♀️Writing in their journal
🕊Doing their scripture study
🤱Playing with a sibling
👵👴Doing Service for Someone else
🙋♀️Connecting with a friend or family member across the road, or via skype/phone/video
I have been homeschooling for 17 years and let me tell you it really works! The kids won’t learn anything if they are crying and you are crying and the whole family is crying because they hate school so much. Instead learning should be as fun as possible, (sometimes it isn’t fun, but since it’s for such a short time it can be endured).
BUT WHAT IF YOUR CHILD HAS TEACHERS SENDING THEM WORK? This is the deal, YOU ARE YOUR CHILDS BEST ADVOCATE. It is extremely unlikely that any child will fail a grade or class due to this extraordinary covid-19 experience!
🥰If the work the teacher is sending is causing distress, and anxiety to your child THEY CAN’T LEARN! However, the teacher themselves is also doing their very best! Respect that they are sending what they have to but be clear what your child is and is NOT able to do. Communication goes a long way!
Do whatever you need to do, to make this learning experience effective and enjoyable for your family. If you have any questions I’d be happy to answer them!
My heart pains 💔💔 to see videos of China, families separated from each other, superhighways completely deserted, streets empty and factories closed. Beautiful Italy under lockdown, Schools closed, Cathedrals closed, Universities closed, Stores closed, Tourists trapped, Locals without food or toilet paper. Cruise ships stranded unable to dock because there is disease aboard the ship. Dreams dashed to nightmares.
Thoughts of our brothers and sisters around the world are with millions, every moment as we hear hour-by-hour updates of devastations and losses.
🙋♀️YOU MIGHT CALL ME CRAZY… but I can’t stop believing that even with all this suffering, there is still something MAGNIFICENT in the world happening right now!
Isn’t it in the very threat of loss, that we have a chance to consider our most sacred priorities? Our highest missions, our most important relationships? Our deepest desires? Our loftiest goals?
Shared adversity somehow has this incredible way of entwining our lives with those we walk this path with, binding us irreversibly together.
I look at the news, I scroll my social media accounts and all I see everywhere is strangers praying together, sharing together, giving to each other, crying together, thinking about each other, sending aid to each other. Religions, languages, beliefs, and borders are no barriers for the 💗love💗 that is being poured out upon the affected countries of the 🌏 earth right now.
😷 A physical, global, disaster can be blessing for so many of us! For those who are not prepared physically, it can remind us that it is wise to have a small storage of food, water, and money for a situation such as this one.
👣 For those who are prepared physically, it can be an opportunity to give, to be generous to and serve. It can provide a chance to withhold judgement of people that aren’t prepared, and to exercise compassion for those that can’t afford to be prepared.
👴👵🏽 This can be our chance to review spiritual and emotional well being. And focus on being ready should they or someone they love die tomorrow.
👩⚕️This gives our governments and communities and hospitals a chance to get ready for times ahead that could bring greater sickness.
👩👧👦This gives families time to stay home with each other and opportunities reach out to those around us.
🙏This gives us all a chance to mourn together, to pray for each other, to celebrate together.
🌄Today I can see a lot of silver linings in this storm, and although there is uncertainty and despair in the future, I am in awe of the beauty all around me right now.
This year started out with a bang. Like an emotional bomb kind of bang. It seemed like only moments after I had envisioned the incredible relationships that I was going to build and the amazing achievements that I was going to reach, a critical personal relationship took a nose dive, like a scuba diver to a shipwreck. While trying to finish the lessons on vision board and goal setting with my kids, my insides were screaming ‘it’s too hard, give up, let it go’.
I marched forward, wiping away my tears, and determined to find a way through this surprising road block in my day. As days & weeks passed and I had more time to analyse the frustrations of the unexpected turn of events, I was reminded of a story that happened in my own family a few years ago. Many of you may even remember me talking about it.
First let me remind you that we live in a rural town in a cold Canadian province. My husband Eric and our daughter Lizzie were on an adventure together visiting some important people in Mesa Arizona. They had been gone for almost a week, and things didn’t seem to be going their way. Each time I called them to see how they were, or what they were doing they were flustered, frustrated, or late.
There were numerous appointments to keep, meetings to attend, and planes to catch, but It seemed like no matter where they need to go there was no quick route to getting there.
Remember, we live in a tiny town in rural Alberta. They were in a real city. Although they had a GPS, they were constantly getting lost or being misguided. Thinking he was just out of practice with big city driving, Eric found his way to one appointment after another going this way and that way, turning around dozens of times and never seeming to get where he wanted in a direct path. He was constantly battling tiny backroads and unexpected turns. One of the roads he was on actually ended in a dirt path and another one went right until could go no further, due to a barbed wire fence locked across it.
Confused and frustrated they bumbled their way through the week, apologising as they showed up late again. On the last day of their trip, as they were driving to the airport, they discovered something fascinating. When they had only minutes left before they would miss their plane, and with the highway within site running alongside them, they were instructed to take a different road that was much smaller and ran parallel to the highway rather than go on the highway itself. In exasperation and confusion, over the strange directions, Eric finally pulled over and took a look at his GPS. That is moment that he saw that one of the kids had changed the GPS settings to ‘avoid all major highways’.
When my husband told me this story I almost died laughing. He was crying. His ridiculous journey suddenly made sense.
As I reflected on it this year, It made me wonder about my own life. Am I allowing Jesus Christ to REALLY be the centre of my life? Am I allowing Him to REALLY direct my life? Or do I have some personal GPS setting that says ‘must do this alone’, ‘never ask for help’, or ‘your guess is as good as mine’.
What are my personal GPS settings set to? Are there ways in which I am avoiding ‘all major highways’?
2020 is a new year, it’s a time to start fresh! I want to make sure that I am headed in the right direction 🙂 I plan on resetting my GPS, and I’m going to start by asking myself honestly:
Despite it’s rough beginning, I have every anticipation that the year 2020 will be my happiest, healthiest, most exciting year yet, and I wish you the same!
May you put Jesus in the centre of your life, may you get exactly where you want to go, and may you never have to ‘avoid all major highways’ 🙂
Christmas this year was perfect. It’s always a good feeling when you think back and feel satisfied with how everything went. We really had a lot of fun together and it was good to spend this beautiful season together!
The only thing I was missing was my 17 year old daughter. Hopefully we can persuade her to join us next year!
Here’s a movie of all our adventures!
I have so many things that I love to do for christmas, to keep it focused on Jesus Christ. Here are a list of some of my favorite traditions:
Singing to people/Christmas Carolling
Reading Stories that are inspiring
Read Christmas Stories
Listen to Christmas Music
Wrap up Christmas Picture books and put it under the tree
Bake Christmas Goodies
These are just a few of my favorite things to do at Christmas Time. Please drop a line and tell me what your favorite traditions are!
It’s been winter here for months already, and it seems like all we get is plenty of wind and snow. The boys have been asking me what snowflakes are made of, how they are formed and what they look like up close, so I thought this was a perfect chance to teach them about God’s beautiful and unique creations 🙂
Snowflakes are symmetrical but they are not perfect. They are ordered but they are created in disorder. Every random branch, retells their history, that singular journey that they took to get here. Most of all they are fleeting and temporary. Even if they look unique on the outside, inside they are all different!
I don’t know about you, but when I heard this, It really touched something inside of me!
A Little Bit of History
“Wilson (Willie) Bentley (1865-1931) was born on a farm in Jericho, Vermont, … [an area with] an average annual snowfall of over 120 inches.” “At age 15 he began drawing snowflakes while looking at them through his microscope – no easy task, because most of them melted before he could complete a drawing. At age 16 he learned about a camera that could be used with a microscope. His parents saved the money and when Willie was 17 they bought him the camera. It took him over a year of failures before he finally achieved his goal – a photograph of a snowflake, the first one ever taken.” (Acts and Facts, 12/2011)
After a long time of studying, collecting and photographing snowflakes, Bentely eventually made thousands of pictures for magazines, universities and other forms of media.
“At age 66 Bentley published a large … book of his photographs titled Snow Crystals … Less than two weeks after his book was published, he walked six miles home in a snowstorm, caught pneumonia, and died two weeks later
Snowflake Bentley- Article
There Is No Explanation for the Universe Except That God Made It!
“…wonders of God’s handiwork are to be found in the tiniest details of all He has made. One powerful example of this beauty is the intricate design of a snow crystal.”
Job 38 – God responded to Job by describing different aspects of creation that prove His right to control the universe.
Verse 22 asks: “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail?”
Because we are not the creators of the universe, we have not right to control it! The stunning art, and beauty of snowflakes is just one of the many proofs that we have that God indeed, is the creator of our universe!
God Appreciates Beauty!
Bentley said: “Anyone who’s seen snowflakes under a microscope cannot help but be amazed by how beautifully complex they are.”
“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”
All around us we see beautiful things! God’s creations are everywhere, and it’s easy to see the beauty of a fresh snowfall. But for thousands of years, nobody even knew that snow was beautiful! Nobody had ever observed under a microscope the individual snowflake, but God…He saw this beauty all along!
As we appreciate God’s beauty around us, we will begin to appreciate God Himself.
Are we not more important to God than a simple snowflake?!
If God spent so much time, creating something as simple as snow to be so beautiful, than how much time and love do you think he put into creating his most prized creation- His children?
For our activities we cut out snowflakes together, as well as took the microscope outside to look at the snowflakes that we could find and try to identify their shapes! We also made snow candy to end up the day, because who doesn’t love a good treat at home?
Make Paper Snowflakes!
Here are some pretty printable patterns for snowflakes
Make Snow Candy!
Snow Candy Recipe
INSTRUCTIONS Only 2 ingredients are needed to make maple snow candy.
– I use 1 cup of maple but you can double it. Just make sure you have enough snow ready. – Fresh, clean snow. I like to use a rectangular pan with a 2-3 inch depth. Like a lasagna pan.
1.) first you fill the pan or pans with fresh Packed snow and set aside either outside or in freezer where it will stay cold.
2.) pour maple syrup into a 4 Qt. pan and heat gradually until syrup begins to boil. Make sure to adjust temp when it gets to a rolling boil so it doesn’t boil over.
3.) after a very short time on heat just low enough to keep it a rolling boil, the bubbles will begin to change both color and consistency. There is no need to stir at all but you must monitor constantly. Do not walk away and you will be rewarded!
4.) in the beginning it boils with a lot of large bubbles. It will be a light amber color.
If you use a thermometer then heat the syrup to about 234 degrees F. A higher heat will make a stiffer candy. I actually don’t use a thermometer. It’s how we did it growing up and you can too.
5.) as the hot syrup nears the candy stage, there will be fewer and fewer large bubbles and the mass will become more foamy in consistency. Very quickly after this it should become uniform in consistency and the amber mass will take on a more glassy appearance. This means it is ready to pour – you have attained liquid candy!
6.) grab your pan(s) of snow. Pour the liquid in a thin stream onto the snow. Liquid is very hot so be careful!
Try not to pour too much on top of itself as it will be too thick. The candy will cool very rapidly on the snow. The result will be a chewy, glassy looking taffy like candy.
You only need to wait 10-15 seconds as the snow will rapidly cool the candy. You can use your fingers or a fork to eat it.
7.) make sure to collect your candy out of the snow if you don’t eat it all right away. If you leave it in the snow too long it will begin to melt.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar.
Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill. Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack.
It was such a fun today! The kids used so much creativity in asking questions and making beautiful decorations for the windows. It was wonderful to be able to show that the same God who creates the million and billions of individual snowflakes is the same God that creates us! Thanks for joining us!
I remember it vividly. The 9.5ft tall Christmas tree filling up the living room with sparkly presents stacked so high around it that half of it seemed buried. At the time I was the oldest with 7 foster kids younger than me, and the 2nd youngest of my 8 biological siblings. There were a lot of us, but even at 17 years old I sat looking at the tree and wondered how many of those prettily wrapped up packages would be for me. When the much anticipated Christmas morning came I was as excited as the younger kids. My mom was the BEST present giver ever, and I couldn’t wait to see what surprises awaited me.
I remember opening gift after gift, delighted with each new one, but eager for the next. When the tree was empty I secretly looked around it searching for any lost presents with my name on them that might have been missed underneath the mess of wrapping paper, disappointment filling me when I couldn’t find any.
The first few years Eric and I were married we did what everyone else does. Got ready for Christmas by executing carefully thought out gifts for our little girls. It was fun to be the mom and to do all the shopping for Christmas, but I also remember a lot of late nights and stress over how to provide the perfect gift, not only for each other but for the kids as well. It seemed like the more Christmases that went by the less I was thinking about the baby Jesus and the more I was thinking about how to create the perfect experience for baby Proffitt’s.
On our kids 3rd or 4th Christmas together, we decided together that there must be another way to do Christmas that helped keep our little family focused on the Savior, but that would still provide a magical experience we both loved from our own childhoods. After much prayer and debate, we kindly asked our extended family not to give presents to our kids, and we also agreed not to buy anything ourselves.
That first year we decided not to give gifts, Christmas morning was a total failure. We still hung stockings and we told the kids that all of us have Christmas Angels in our lives.
The Christmas Angel is anyone that loves you.
It could be your mom, or grandma, or even a neighbour down the road.
The thing that our Christmas Angel has in common with all other Christmas Angels is that they love us and want to bring a little magic into our lives.
It was easy than to tell the kids that it was the Christmas angel that filled up their stockings that morning. But after we had opened stockings we didn’t really have anything else planned. While other families were excitedly cleaning up their houses to get it ready for present opening we were looking through the stockings, hoping we’d missed something. While other families were unwrapping, and playing with their new toys, we were sorta hanging out at home doing nothing. I had envisioned us just sitting around in a circle talking about Jesus all day, and thought that somehow that would have been exciting for the kids!
Although I was terribly disappointed, with vision vs reality, I knew there had to be a better way. I had thought it would be enough to take away presents and suddenly everyone in the family would become focused on the Savior, but I was wrong! If anything it made the focus on the Savior non-existent as the kids felt sad, lonely and really let down.
As Eric and I lay in bed that night we reflected on what we could have done better. We realised that if we were going take something as big as Christmas presents away from the kids, we needed to have something pretty fantastic to replace it with. And so over the years we began slowly creating our perfect Christmas Day, making sure it was filled with traditions that were meaningful, fun, memorable AND that helped us turn our hearts and minds to Jesus Christ. Today, 15 years later, here is a list of what we do to Celebrate Christmas starting from December 1.
At the beginning of December I always get my favorite Christmas stories and wrap them up under the Christmas tree. You might remember that I don’t give my kids presents on Christmas morning, however, I do like giving presents I just don’t want it to eclipse the real meaning of Christmas. So If there is something I really want my kids to have that will ADD to the spirit (the real spirit) of Christmas than I wrap it up early and leave a little note from the Christmas Angel under the tree. A few new picture Books about Jesus definitely qualify as adding to the spirit of Christmas.
As soon as December rolls around we are eager to find a lovely scented pine to adorn the center of our home. We usually bundle up the children and tromp through the nearby community pasture in search of the perfect tree. The snow is deep and more often than not we end up getting stuck, but it’s all worth it when we strap that beauty to the top of the car and bring it home.
Somehow the trees seems to look better in the forest than they do when we get home, but isn’t that just like me in some ways? If someone was to strip away all the surroundings of my life, my friends, my family, my lovely house and nice car, would I look as beautiful? I think not, but it is in those imperfections that we find room for Christ, He is the great Jehovah who can make up the difference. And so as I adorn my tree each year, I think of Christ and how because of Him we are made whole, perfect and eventually presentable to God.
The decorating of the Christmas tree is a special event in our home and over the years we have made a conscience effort to create a tree that reminds us of all things Christ. Here are some of the decorations I put on our tree this year and why:
STARS- To represent the Star that led the wisemen and shepherds to the Christ Child
DOVES- To represent the Peace that Jesus brings to our hearts when we let Him in
BIRDS- To represent the Freedom that Jesus will bring when He comes again
ANGELS- The scriptures are full of references to Angels spreading God’s word
BABY IN A MANGER
CROWNS- To remind us that He is king
PINECONES- Or anything nature to remind us that He was the CREATOR of all things
KEYS- To remind us that God has the Key to all power
HEARTS- To remind us why He died for us- “For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only Begotten Son that whosoever believeth shall not perish but have everlasting life”
Music has a great power to influence the feeling in a home and in a heart, which is why songs about Santa, and Snowflakes aren’t top of my list songs for a Christmas playlist. When I play Christmas music, I want it to be deliberate, extraordinary and add to the spirit in our home by delivering a powerful message about Jesus Christ. That doesn’t mean that Santa and Snowflakes don’t sneak in every so often, but by and large our Christmas playlist is comprised of songs that testify of Jesus Christ.
We have a really lovely playlist on Spotify that has lots of the old classic Christmas carols and but mostly includes beautiful songs that talk about the Savior and not Santa. Here is a list of some of our favorite Christmas Albums:
Josh Groban- Noel
Tabernacle Choir on Temple Square
Vienna Boys Choir
David Archuleta- David
Celtic Woman-A Christmas Celebration
Charlotte Church- Dream a Dream
Jackie Evancho- Dream With Me
Susan Boyle- The Gift
We spend a lot of time doing secret Santa to our friends and neighbours throughout the month of December. We wrap up packages of books, or treats, or hot chocolate and drop it off. We ring the doorbell and hide, and the kids always get caught and the chase is exciting 🙂
We fill December with Christmas Activities such as: Skating, sledding, skiing, singing, reading Christmas stories around the fire, drinking hot chocolate, & decorating gingerbread houses.
We often have a Christmas devotional each night of the month leading up to Christmas. Usually I’ll prepare a treat, like hot chocolate, and then we’ll sit around the tree and read something inspirational. The kids are allowed to invite their friends to join us for these devotionals.
I have collected my favorite stories and scriptures into a devotional packages that you can get which is filled with sweet stories, songs and easy activities 🙂
LIGHT THE WORLD
We try to do a ‘Light the World’ act of service or love each day in December and can find the calendar for these activities online HERE.
We love to sing to our neighbors, the old folks homes, and the people at the hospital. Often I give the kids electric candles and we bring them while singing. It makes it feel special.
ACTING OUT THE NATIVITY: Christmas Eve is a special night for us no matter where we are in the world. My favorite family tradition of Christmas has got to be acting out the nativity play on Christmas Eve.
We Buy a pre-recorded version of the Nativity play HERE and the kids all dress up.
It’s normally $9.99 but there is always a sale in December for $4.99
It’s usually noisy, and fun, and instantly reminds us what all this fuss is really about. It’s also something that I video tape and which gives us lasting memories 🙂
GRATITUDE CEREMONY: If we are alone, we go around in a circle, each of us holding an unlit candle. We take turns saying something that we are grateful for and as we do we light our candles one by one.
SINGING: We make sure everyone has had something to eat and then we bundle up warm and go out singing to people. We sing to our neighbors, friends stuck at home, people we miss at church, people we love, people who are in hospital and anyone that comes to mind! It’s one of our favorite things to do, and we never put a time limit on our activity. As long as the kids are still having fun we keep going.
FEASTING: Finally it’s time to go home. We either go home and have a huge feast of yummy food that I’ve prepared before hand or we go to a friend or family members house and feast with them.
HANG OUR STOCKINGS: Lastly, right before bed we hang our stockings.
After celebrating Christ every day in December, I am always the most excited about Christmas Day.
By now our family has immersed ourselves in trying to think about, become like, and follow Jesus Christ and this is the day where you really feel HIS spirit in your homes and hearts.
STOCKINGS: Christmas Day the kids wake up and we open the stockings together. Since this is the only present they will open we like to all be there.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS: After stockings we invite a family over to celebrate Jesus’s Birthday Breakfast. We have a fancy cake with birthday candles in it and Eric makes us a delicious feast that we eat together after singing Happy Birthday to Jesus.
WARTIME: After the breakfast we have a war of some kind (nerf gun war, silly string war, elastic war) This has nothing to do with Jesus, but the kids really like it!
CHRISTMAS SCAVENGER HUNT: Next we go on our Christmas Scavenger hunt- we have a pile of 25 pre-wrapped gifts and we always invite 2 or 3 families to join us. We drive around town doing the acts of service or giving out the gifts that are written on our lists.
Download the FULL printable Christmas Scavenger Hunt lists for Free HERE
LUNCH: After the Christmas scavenger hunt we come home for lunch.
VISITING: After lunch we bundle up again and go and sing and visit people. Sometimes we start visiting at 12 in the afternoon and don’t come home till 11 at night. There are no schedules or rules, we just know that It’s our time to connect with those that might be lonely or sad, or that we love.
We skip Christmas dinner, although, many times while we are visiting people they invite us in and we eat with them. This is our favorite part of Christmas. It takes some courage to knock on peoples doors and just visit, but it’s always rewarding.
Christmas night we come home, our bodies exhausted, but our hearts full.
I have found that the best way to make Christmas special is by making sure we include good food, good friends, and service into all our activities.
HOW THE KIDS FEEL
This is what some of our kids have to say about Christmas time in our home.
For Christmas growing up we would wake up at the crack of dawn to open up our stockings that the Christmas angel would fill up for us then we would have a big breakfast with my 11 cousins. The house was bursting with people, so you can imagine how loud it got! With the smells of breakfast that dad was cooking in the kitchen, and the spirit of Christmas in the air, it was a very festive place.
After we had eaten our breakfast, we’d get all bundled up and go out with this Christmas Scavenger hunt basket full of things that mom had prepared beforehand. We would drive around town giving out hot chocolate and shovel driveways and of course sing to our old friends.
As a kid I used to wish that I could have a normal Christmas where Santa would come and bring us a lots of presents, and all we did was play with our gifts all day.
Now that I’m a bit older, I have learned that the true Christmas spirit is about family and service, and even though we never got worldly gifts we were gifted with the special feeling of having family and being able to serve others. I will always remember Christmas time as a beautiful time in my family
– Lizzie 17 years old
I remember one particular year when I was sitting in circle with the other members of my class. These were boys and girls my age, most of which I still felt uncomfortable around. The teacher asked us to take turns going around and telling what we got for Christmas. I was about 13, and was still in the midst of the great struggle of growing up. The kids started telling the wonderful things they had received. One of the boys announced casually that he had been given a brand new iphone.
I was super jealous, and started feeling self conscious, wondering what I was going to say. When it finally got to be my turn, I shyly admitted that I hadn’t received anything for Christmas. It was so embarrassing. My face went red and I remember this awkward silence that came over the group as they tried to act like that was totally normal. In this moment, I just wished so badly that I could have been like everybody else. But my parents never were, like everybody else!
There were definitely times I wished we could have had presents, mostly that is until we started doing service for Christmas. It meant so much to all of us that we were in a position to do the Christmas scavenger hunt and join with other families in doing service activities for other people. It became a tradition we looked forward to year after year. I wondered at first why my mom would spend money buying gifts and gas cards to give to other people instead of just giving her own kids gifts, but eventually I figured it out.
Something happened when I was busy serving, I was no longer thinking of myself, and the presents were the last thing on my mind because they weren’t what mattered.
The true meaning of Christmas has nothing to do with the presents, and I’m although it was difficult to understand when I was younger, I’m so grateful that I’ve had the chance to realize that now.
-Analaea 19 years old
We have been doing this for 15 years, and our kids really love it. Yes they ask why we don’t do Christmas presents, and I always tell them, because Christmas is about Jesus and not us. And they get it, and even the little guys are happy. There is no financial stress around Christmas time, even with our big family, and our entire month is rich with traditions, and fun that the kids look forward to all year.
This is the day, that your heart is filled with gratitude because of the blessings and sacrifices that our Savior made for us. On this day, you know what the true meaning of Christmas really is and why it feels so good to celebrate it simply and beautifully. You don’t miss the tinsel, or the presents, because HIS presence is so strong in your home and it fills you up!
I’d love to know what your favorite Christ-Centered Family Christmas Traditions are, or if you’ve ever tried doing Christmas without presents!
I’m so excited to learn about My Amazing Brain, and what God expects me to do with it! I thought today would also be a great time to teach the kids about how taking care of their brains properly can bless their lives forever!
I started our class today with this song for the kids to get them used to the parts of the brain before we started all our other activities and studies!
Many times it may seem obvious what God wants you to do. Other times, it might not seem obvious. When it isn’t, you may find yourself immobilized by indecision because you don’t want to make a mistake. God expects you to make decisions!
God could tell you what to do moment-by-moment throughout the day. But that’s not the type of relationship he wants with you.
Although sometimes it’s clear what God would want you to do, many times he wants you to make good decisions “on your own,” guided by wisdom. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor. (Proverbs 4:7-9) Don’t be like a horse or mule
God didn’t create us to be puppets or robots. Instead, he gives each of us the capability to make decisions. As Psalm 32:9 says, he doesn’t want us to be like a horse or mule that needs to be controlled by bit and bridle. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. (Psalm 32:9)
The horse and mule described in Psalm 32:9 are controlled by bit and bridle. The bit and bridle create pressure on the horse’s or mule’s head that makes it difficult—and painful—for the animal to go anywhere except where the rider wants to go.
Notice that the horse and mule “have no understanding.” God doesn’t want us to be like that. He wants us to be guided by “understanding.”
Ask wise, mature believers for advice Sometimes we need to ask others for advice if we want to make good decisions. Be careful to choose the right people. Many of your friends might simply tell you what they think you want to hear, not what is wisest. Look for mature people who will give you honest, godly advice.
When people give you advice, ask yourself if their advice is supported by: God’s Word Your circumstances Godly wisdom Other people’s advice Your own sense of peace and direction
After learning all about the brain we discussed different ways that we can actually take care of our brains. This includes eating healthy, getting exercise, drinking lots of water and being careful what you put into your body. It also includes being careful what you listen to, watch and look at and how much time you actually spend looking at screens and devices.
Depending on the age of your kids you may want to watch one of the TED talks below.
Well today was a great success with the kids. We learned so about making decisions, our amazing brains and what God expects us to do with them, and how to take care of them! Join us next time for a fun Christian based homeschool lesson!
The glass windows were frosted over and icicles were starting to form from the roof, scattering light across the room. It wasn’t even December yet and I had no intention of decorating the small trees that sat in front of the fireplace in our living room. In fact I had just woken up from a long nap to see that the entire world was covered with a thick covering of white sparkly snow for the 8th time that season, making it feel like a winter wonderland yet again.
That must have been what they were thinking when they found the box I had tucked away.
When I got up, and saw how sweetly they were working together and how tenderly they were carrying each ornament, I didn’t have the heart to tell them to stop or put them away. Instead I sat close by, and watched quietly, as they carefully placed each ornament on the tree; My 6 year old son, my 4 year old son and the 6 year old neighbour boy. These boys had my heart and they knew it!
After a few minutes, just decorating must have got boring, because my oldest son got excited and squealed, ‘look this one’s plastic’, and then attempted to bounce the pretty, thin, glass ball on the ground.
It shattered on impact before I could even squeal a warning, and the three boys stood silently, their mouths forming o’s as they surveyed the scattered pieces of fragmented glass. Isaiah, the one who had bounced the ornament, bent down and slowly began to pick up the pieces. He brought them to me, reverently presenting them in outstretched hands and trembling lips.
At first I wanted to scold him, getting angry that he had taken the balls out without permission in the first place. Then I was mad at myself for allowing them to do it while I just sat and watched. But something quiet whispered to my heart, and instead of scolding, I asked a question. The three pairs of eyes moved from the sharp, tiny pieces, up to my face as they considered the answer. ‘Can any of us mend this broken ball?’
It was obvious that the hundreds of tiny slivers couldn’t possibly be put back together, Isaiah shook his head sadly, apologising for his mistake, still trying not to cry. But it wasn’t regret that I wanted him to understand just now, it was hope.
I reflected on my own life. My hopes and expectations for what I thought it would be like to be a mother and a wife. I clearly remembered how many times I had fallen short despite my best efforts. The times when I had shattered the beautiful gifts that I was sent with, times when I wanted to give up much more desperately than any human but myself knew. Times when I felt cracked.
The marriage I’d experienced for more than 20 years was always rewarding, but never easy. We definitely were not the couple that never fought, or whose passionate love made daily life a constant bliss. Between significant shared mental, & physical challenges, it seemed like few things had turned out the way I had expected in my family.
And then there was parenting… I had always dreamed of being an awesome mom, reading stories to the younger kids around a fireplace, chatting late into the night with the older ones, as they poured out their secret dreams and fears, exposing their hearts with me. All of this in preparation of course, for taking them on grand adventures around the world where we’d feed starving children and sleep on dirt floors and eat nothing but mud cakes and tea for dinner.
As each new child was born, they were welcomed with enthusiastic delight into our growing family. And the plan was working flawlessly. The sleepless nights and poopy diapers had never overwhelmed me much, but when those chubby cheeked angels grew up a little, and the toddler days were behind me, I was surrounded by complications that I never imagine I’d be facing.
Never-ending access to technology, friends, and the distracting messages of the world took its toll on my happy world. Kids became teenagers and it seemed like nothing was the same anymore. Suddenly our united, fun home, seemed to turn upside down as children ventured off on their own long before my mother heart felt ready to let them go. Private struggles with my oldest 2 girls, fought Goliath battles inside my heart, persuading me that I was a monumental failure, and the relationships around became strained and distressing.
I guess no mom likes it when their children leave home, and I was no exception, the only difference was, mine left when they were only 16 & 17. Still far too early to be on their own, in my opinion.
Ridiculous questions plagued my days and especially my nights:
Had I been too strict, or maybe too lenient? Maybe I never should have given them cell phones, or allowed them access to social media at all. Had I chosen the wrong diet for my kids, maybe it was GMO’s. Was it because my devotionals weren’t interesting enough, or was it because of all those mornings that I missed even teaching devotionals? The vitamins that I bought were probably the wrong kind, or when we visited Drs. They were most likely the wrong Dr’s or they must have prescribed the wrong medicine. It was the underwear, definitely the thong underwear I found secreted away in their drawers that had started it all!
Endless dark thoughts crept in whispering convincing lies and foolishly I believed.
Days past in darkness and despair, spending hours locked in my room weeping into my pillows, and begging God to take away this pain. When my daughters were doing great in the world, going to school, making friends and working, I was proud, and felt glad they were having this grand adventure without me. But when I heard word that they were alone, or afraid, or cold, or hungry, or hurt, or abandoned, or abused or sick or in bondage, I thought my heart would surely collapse. In fact one day, my heart did give way and I fell in heap onto the floor where I couldn’t breathe. I felt the beats of my heart slowing down and I wondered if this was the moment where I would leave this earth life. In all honesty, I was glad at the possibility of escaping all this pain and finally going home.
But then it came; The vision of all my other kids and my husband, my parents and my sisters and brothers. I knew I wasn’t supposed to leave just yet, and If I did, I would regret it for eternity.
I begged my heart to breathe again, I desperately wheezed in one breath and then another. It felt like my heart was being crushed and my lungs were screaming for air. I knew that I was meant to win this battle. I was going to get up and fight. I suddenly became determined to never allow this darkness to consume me again.
I was going to shine a light on the lies and the whisperings that were holding ME captive. I was going to believe that regardless of all the things I did and didn’t do, that God had chosen me to be this wife, this mother, this sister, this daughter, and somehow with His Grace, I WAS GOING TO BE ENOUGH!
My husband found me a half later on the floor shaking, covered in sweat, my breath finally having returned normally and the crushing pain subsided. He picked me up gently and carried me into the bedroom where we discussed our options. We made a plan together of how we could get through this experience, and how we could be the parents and companions that we both wanted to be.
We had a support network of amazing friends and family members that helped inspire us, and we discovered powerful mentors in the professional world that taught us things in our personal lives that were game changing.
I learned the power of meditation, affirmations, deep breathing, exercise, water, sleep, emotional stress management, and prayer.
Above all else, I learned how to share my burdens with our Savior Jesus Christ.
If you are in this situation, overwhelmed or paralyzed with fear or despair I encourage you to check out THIS POST about Emotional Stress Management and get help from friends, family or medical doctors.
As the days turned into months and the months into a couple of years, the fears and doubts that had previously seemed to rob me of my happiness at the most inconvenient times, slowly began to transform. My heartaches got tumbled inside and the jagged edges were smoothed into something that didn’t feel quite so painful.
I began to see the transformation of my own children at home and away from home, as they made mistakes, picked themselves up, and tried again. I got visits and small messages from my girls who were away from home, reminding me of how magnificent and strong they were, and how the beautiful gifts that they had possessed since birth had blessed other people.
It seemed like I could feel the muscles of my heart being torn apart and then fiber by fiber stitched painfully, slowly, back together. I was learning to turn my life over to God, to have faith in His great plan of happiness for my family. My feelings of despair, and discouragement gave way to something unexpected. I was growing a heart that was stronger, happier, and full of the expectation of joy for family and future.
Here I was two years later, staring down at my son’s outstretched hands, looking at the shattered pieces reflecting the light from outside in a million different directions. There was no way to put all my thoughts into words that this little boy would understand, but I hoped with a simple explanation he could at least grasp a little of this message.
Even with our hardest work and most focused attention WE WILL MESS UP! We will be surrounded at some point in our lives by shattered pieces of something that was once beautiful and that we cannot possibly repair alone.
But the splendid & wonderful news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that if we let Him, the Great Healer CAN repair our lives and makes us whole again!!
I am glad that my sons reminded me of this heart saving lesson. I am glad my daughters continue to test me and try me, and even though 5 more glass balls broke before the afternoon was over, I am glad that today I learned about Christmas.