DIY Gift Giving for the Holidays

posted in: Christmas | 0

(This is a sponsored post by Walmart and @incommworldwide for the #SaveMoneyGiveBetter2017 Campaign.  My opinions are my own.  Thank you The Women Bloggers)

Even though I live in the South, and it usually only mildly cold, it is still a lovely season when I get to drink all the warm drinks.  Some of my favorites are dirty chais, caramel apple cider, chai lattes, or peppermint mochas.  Since I’m not really a “coffee” drinker, I have to improvise when I meet up with friends over the holidays at our favorite coffee shops.

So, when gift giving at the holidays, I love to gift homemade mixes that will help people enjoy sitting by the fire with a warm cup in the hands all winter long.  And these mugs at Walmart by The Pioneer Woman are oversized and perfect for wrapping up in a knitted throw and reading a book, sipping on something warm, and staying there – all.winter.long.

And I know the perfect way to gift these homemade mixes: a cute box like this one from Wal-Mart, tissue paper, a handwritten tag, a cute mug (they have so many to choose from), and your mix.  Throw in some holiday candy and you are golden.

But, wait…what would make it all the better?  A gift card of course.  I think throwing in a Vanilla Mastercard from Walmart would be the perfect pairing.  You can use these cards anywhere.  They are perfect for buying a book you’ve been wanting so you have something to read as you cozy up to the warm fire.  You can use it for a new movie that you can watch after the kids go to bed.  You can use it to order in some food so you won’t even have to cook.

I’m definitely one of those people that think giftcards are the way to go.  Unless you know I’m going to love something – the best thing is a gift card.  And Walmart has a display with a gift card for every single person on your list.

Check out these homemade mixes that you can add to your special holiday box (and don’t forget the gift card, its a great way to give better)!

What goes in chai?

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

Warm Apple Drink

Vanilla Chai Mix

What are smoe DIY gifts you like to give at the holidays?  How do you plan on gifting giftcards this year so they will be a wonderful surprise to your friends and family?

9 Characteristics of Wise Parenting

Six years ago, we were newly married, starting our journey together as husband and wife.  We weren’t even pregnant yet.  We decided we would go through the book of James together.  My husband memorized it. I prayed it daily for him, myself, us, and our future.  We entered into our marriage with difficult relationships around us.  We needed wisdom for how to navigate these relationships and for how to head into our future together.  James was a perfect book to study through as newlyweds.

Today, our boys are five and four.  And I’m going through the book of James again with a small group of women.  I need these verses and the Lord’s voice to enter in to my parenting and give me great wisdom as to how to parent these two little boys.  With the Lord’s help, not the world’s wisdom, we can parent well.

He has promised to help us.  He has promised to give wisdom to those who ask.  He has also given us His Word.  This is how the Lord defines wisdom from above.  How can we have parenting that is wise – with His wisdom.  The following is from James 3.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is pure.  It is not bought or coerced.  It is done with pure motives.  It is without error.  This is why we need Jesus in our parenting.  We are not perfect.  We will always fail in our parenting. Our boys do not ultimately need us – they need Jesus.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is peaceable.  Where we don’t raise our voices or cut off our children because we are doing something and they are interrupting.  We seek to bring peace (not fairness) to our children’s lives when they are interacting with each other.  I seek to appease and pacify, but I find it truly difficult to bring peace in our home.  That is why our sons need Jesus – He is our Prince of Peace.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is gentle.  Amazingly I find this difficult unless I’m showing affection.  I get irritable because I’m being interrupted.  I am not gentle if they are doing something wrong.  I need a Gentle Shepherd to shepherd my heart so I can in turn shepherd my children’s hearts.

(Parenting) wisdom is open to reason.  This is getting easier for me, by the grace of God.  Open to reason in parenting is (I think) being willing to hear help from others.  These tips and help may come from my husband, my friends, my pediatrician, books I’m reading, etc.  Find those moms and dads who are (generally) ahead of you in the parenting game and seek them to pour into your life as a parent.  Watch them.  Learn from them.  And that is why we need Jesus, He is all-wise and the perfect teacher.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is full of mercy.  Isn’t God so rich in mercy!  I love it.  I apply this to some discipline.  And hear me out – this does not mean never disciplining your children when they have disobeyed.  This means walking in step with the Savior who showed you great mercy and plead with them to know how to interact with your children at all times.  They may have done something wrong.  And the best way to show them Jesus in that particular moment is by talking to them about Jesus – not giving them a timeout or spanking.  Jesus is lavish in mercy to us!

(Parenting) wisdom from above is full of good fruits.  Abundantly pouring out in good fruits.  This is an opportunity for you to encourage your kids.  One saying we use in our our is “God is helping you become more…”  We don’t want to tell our kids that they are acting better to focus on their good works.  We want to help them realize that everything good in them is from God.  And to not wait for the big things they do, but be encouraging them in the times you see any kind of good fruit – even a little bud.  And Jesus helps us bear fruit if we abide in Him!

(Parenting) wisdom from above is impartial . See the pure paragraph above.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is sincere.  It is hard to be a mom.  Even those who love being a mom every moment find some moments hard.  But, let us sincerely think about Jesus has called us to.  To shape little hearts and minds.  To point them to Christ.  To grow little boys into men who will one day shape the world around them.  Jesus sincerely came to this world to save us.

(Parenting) wisdom from above will reap a harvest.  We can definitely know that God will bless efforts to shepherd our children and reward us.  It is a promise.  And he is faithful.

One tool I’ve found in helping me pass on wisdom to my children – and hope in the Gospel – is Pass it On by Champ Thornton.  It is a Bible study on Proverbs, with a great introduction to the book, commentary some, focusing on the Gospel (how Jesus fulfills wisdom).  But it is also a journal for you to fill out and pass along your thoughts to your children.  I’ve started doing this for my sons.  It could be used once a week, 30 minutes, and it would take you less than a year for each kid.  What a treasure it would be for your children.

Pass It On was given to me by Litfuse.  All thoughts are my own.

 

King Family at the Rapids

This family is a favorite.  I love this lady’s barstool, where the past three years I’ve spent many an afternoon, sitting there, talking, creating, sharing parenting secrets.  Our boys plays so well with their kiddos, like hours on end.  I’ve had to kick a door in at their rental because the door was locked with kids locked inside.  We had a few taco nights under our belt.

Because chips and salsa and fajitas cement a friendship!

This past Saturday was chili but we had great sunshine as we ventured to the Savannah Rapids Pavilion.  It was fun to show off our new town.

Total Christmas Makeover

posted in: Books | 0

I love makeover shows.  What Not To Wear, Fixer Upper, Biggest Loser, Flipping Virgins, etc.

HGTV and TLC are some good shows.

I love how you take the norm and make it into the fabulous new norm.

And what about Christmas?  I love having Christmas in my own home with my own little family: my mister and two boys.  I love the quietness of the day.  I love the phone not ringing and you can sit around all day in your pjs.  It is always hectic up until the day: church activities, retail hours, shopping, work.  But, that day is the quietest of the whole year and I love it that way.

Melissa Spoestra in Total Christmas Makeover, gives her readers some ways to make over your Christmas this year.  Christmas is more than buying gifts and giving gifts, singing in cantatas, and eating too much, and doing all the school crafts!

Christmas is more about thinking of the One who gave up everything for us – all for his glory.  These short devotionals in Melissa’s book have Scripture, gospel, prayers, applicable writing geared where you are, and activities to help you work out the truths that you’ve been reading about.  And they are short to read – you can think about it all day as you go about your day. Because we all know that the Christmas season is probably the busiest time of the year for most people.

Thanks to Litfuse for the book.  All opinions are my own.

Friday Nights In

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

One of the things I love most about my relationship with my husband is couch time.  Yup – we just like to sit together and have a drink or a snack, watch some Netflix, read a book, watch a movie, eat tacos.  Whatever we can do from the couch.

When we first got married, and even during the short time we were dating, we would go out.  We wanted to be in public places where we could protect ourselves from being alone.  We had a spots at Washington Duke Country Club, Starbucks, or friends’ homes.  We enjoyed traveling to see family, or hitting the beach on our days off.

But, now, with two kids who have early bedtimes, babysitters hard to find and expensive, we would much rather just stay home.

And the other thing we love is Popcorn. Yup – you heard me.  Popcorn.  We usually make it ourselves with cracked pepper and jerk seasoning.  Or some m&ms and/or sharp cheddar.  It makes for a light dinner or a late night snack.

And when its cozy outside, put a log on the fire, get some apple cider moscow mules, and some Skinny Pop (thanks to my friend Becky for introducing me to it).  Its easy and fresh and just open the bag – its great when there isn’t any energy left after a hard parenting day – or week – or month.  It makes for a glorious and cheap evening.  We don’t even need any babysitters.

How do you enjoy date nights with your spouse – that don’t cost a lot of money?  We are always looking for date nights.

 

Tuning Your Heart to Worship

posted in: Books, Worship | 0

Is worship easy for you?  Let me rephrase that – it worship of God easy for you?

Six years ago my life changed.  I went from being single in control of my mornings, time to myself, pick the church I want to being married (to a then worship pastor, now someone still involved in worship ministries) and a mom to two littles who don’t always let me run my mornings or my days like I would like.

And Sunday mornings – we all know what Sunday mornings are like.  They are crazy.  My mister leaves before the the rest of us to rehearse for the morning service.  Usually by the time I drop the kids off at church preschool ministries they’ve disobeyed, needed discipline, and I’m not in a “good frame of mind” to worship God.

And we’ve changed churches so much in the last 7 years.  So, community and preaching and worship styles and kids ministries and women’s ministries – they all affect my ability to worship on Sunday mornings.

And I’m still working on it. Some Sunday mornings I’m in a better worship mode than others.  Some, its just rough from the get-go!

Can any mom relate?

But, of course, worship is not a Sunday morning thing – not exclusively.  Being in the Word, singing praise songs, working, cooking dinner, playing with our kids, dating your spouse – all of these can be acts of worship.  Tuning Your Heart to Worship is a new book by Lavon Gray (New Hope Publishers) that will help you focus some time in the Psalms.  The Psalms is sort of the worship guidebook for the Bible.  The psalmists, under direct breath of God, experienced so many of the emotions and daily things that we face.  Yet they worshiped.

In this book, there are 100 passages from the Psalms.  100 days for you to spend time in the psalms, reading them, and hearing about worship songs, ministry insights, and application points.  The author encourages you to read the whole psalm not just the 1-2 verses that he highlights.  The Word of God is living and active.  The Word through the power of the Holy Spirit can and will change your heart of worship.

This is also a book full of application.  You will be encouraged to think and process as you read through the devotion each day, but you will also be encouraged to do something next.  Journal, pray, write, think, share.

I do agree with the author that this is not an academic devotional.  It is more personal and one that you might use with a more academic commentary if that is something you desire.

Thank you New Hope Publishers for the book.  All opinions are my own.

Lavish Hospitality 30

posted in: 31days, lavish hospitality | 0

Here it is.  The last day of Write31!

Thanks for joining me on this journey and I look forward to writing more about this in the coming months.

But, to end well – what kind of hospitality should I talk about?

As I’m typing this, I’m about to head into a doctor’s appointment to talk more about my newly diagnosed autoimmune disorder and how it is not cool with my body. I’m tired.  Food plays a huge part in the way I feel. I’m getting use to taking medication every day – and for the rest of my life too.

And yall, I don’t like being sick.  I’ve been super healthy until I got married.  I had a hard first pregnancy, an easy second one.  Then I had more stomach issues (which I thought was all over since I had my gallbladder out many years ago).  I had a cyst in my knee which I had to get removed.  Now, autoimmune.

It makes me think about death.  It makes me think about what is important and what isn’t important.  It makes me quote the truths of Scripture that I’ve known so many years and say them over and over to my soul.

God the Father through Christ is the most amazing example of hospitality to us.  He created us, we rebelled against him, and through Jesus, those who believe in him will spend eternity sitting at his table, eating the King’s fare.  Being wrapped in love and in his glory.

My mothering verses come from Psalm 90-91.  Here is just a portion of how hospitalilty Jesus is to us.

I hope you have enjoyed this series.  Thanks for reading!

 

Lavish Hospitality 29

posted in: 31days, lavish hospitality, marriage | 0

I’ve not been married too long.  I mean 6 years and change isn’t long for a lot of people, an dI know I have much to learn.  We have much to learn.  God is so gracious to us to teach us in every season of our marriage.

We’ve been through 7 moves, 3-4 job changes, two children, so many changes.

And I’ve learned, even in the hard times, I have been given a man who pursues Jesus, encourages me to pursue Jesus, and is the one I want to rest in.  Even in times of hurt and pain and sin and miscommunication, I often know that my safest place on this earth is with him.  And that can only come from Christ.

I’ve learned that my mister will let me down, but Christ will not.  My mister is not my Savior.  Jesus is.

And in those times that are hard, I have a responsibility to show him lavish hospitality in two ways.

  1.  To forgive him.  I need to forgive him and not hold those sins against him.  Isn’t that what Christ does for us.  We sin so much.  Just think of how many times you correct your kids over the same things.  That shows us such a glorious picture of God’s great patience and grace with us.  He just keeps loving us well.  The same thing is what I need to do for my mister.  I need to keep loving him well because Jesus has loved me well.  My mentors once told me the secret to loving in a marriage – loving well in a marriage – succeeding in a marriage – love Jesus more than your spouse.  TRUTH.
  2. Don’t make your spouse your everything.  It is suffocating to them.  When you put so much pressure on them to be all for you – you don’t allow them to thrive.  It can get stifling.  Your spouse was never meant to be your everything.  Jesus was.

Quote taken from Dave Harvey’s When Sinners Say I Do

Lavish Hospitality 28

posted in: 31days, lavish hospitality | 0

As I start to wrap up this hospitality series, maybe not in the way you thought hospitality would be talked about:

I want to share a few more ideas on how we can be hospitable to ourselves.

Showing lavish grace to ourselves.

First, what I don’t mean.  I don’t mean we get to be always lazy – never doing the hard things.  I don’t mean we can keep on sinning and doing what we want because we don’t want to do the right thing.  I don’t mean that you can wallow in self-pity.

Here’s what I do mean:

  1.  Pour out truth to yourself.  CJ Mahaney, Jerry Bridges, so many authors talk about the importance of preaching the gospel to yourself.  I’ve had friends do it for me when I’ve desperately needed it.  I receive text messages and emails and voxer messages that are filled with truths that I need to remember – even when my heart is hurting and I’m stressed to the max.
  2. Remember you are not Super Woman.  Halloween brings with it so many opportunities to dress up, be someone different than who you are.  We can put on a cape and be superheroes – but we aren’t it.  We will never save our kids. We will never have it all together.  We will never be all to everyone.  We can’t be.  If we were…we would never realize our need for Jesus.
  3. Allow ourselves to rest.  I’m not talking about being lazy.  I told my mister the other day as we sat down on a cozy afternoon watching an NCIS episode on Netflix, that I would do that all day.  Before I was married, if I had a day empty of responsibilities – I would just sit and binge on a show.  In fact, when I first moved back to Raleigh in the spring before I was married, my roommate and I would often just multitask on the couch.  I watched 6 seasons of NCIS in 4 months.  It was awesome.  We both had writing jobs and could sit on the couch, work, and memorize all the Gibbs rules.  And maybe that’s ok sometimes, or just go sit out on the beach and listen to the waves crash. God made us for rest.  But, we will never find our complete rest in anyone apart from him.

Quote from Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner

Lavish Hospitality 27

This turned in to a great family weekend.  I don’t think any of us opened a computer.  We were outside, watching netflix cozied up on the couch, etc.  It was nice.  But, now – to finish off this series on hospitality!

There are some ways to provide hospitality to your kids – that you may not even be aware of.  At least these are some ways that we can provide hospitality to our children – how we can help them feel welcome, safe, and desired.  Tehse have worked for us – even in the many MANY moves that we’ve had to make since they’ve come into our lives!

  1.  Stability.  Ok – so, we’ve had to move several times.  Our older son is 5 and since his birth we’ve moved 6 times.  But, we’ve tried to do things that help with the stability.  We’ve kept the furniture in our home the same.  We’ve tried to keep our schedules (especially their daily schedule) the same.  We’ve found this helps them be mostly calm even in the unknown.
  2. Consistency.  This may sound similar but it is different for us.  Like, we don’t keep the boys out too late because we’ve learned that they do better with life if they are in bed at a consistent time.  We’ve learned that they need to wake up at the same time.  Be around the same people.  New environments make one of our boys not feel safe.
  3. Clean.  Ok – this is probably the hardest, but thankfully I’m married to my husband.  But, in our house, we like things clean because it creates a sense of calm.  When we move, we get unpacked quickly.  We keep most things really clean.  I mean picked up.  We don’t leave clutter every where.  I wish everything was actually clean – but I don’t wipe down baseboards or sweep every day.

Those are just a few ways we help provide hospitality, security and refuge.  These are pretty practical.  What practical ways do you serve your children with to provide hospitality to them?

Quote from Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl