Thursday, November 18, 2010

Collecting Christmas Links

I know it may be a bit early for some folks, but I'm deep into planning for advent- if I don't start planning now we would be half through the season before I pulled myself together.

I have a habit of collecting seasonal links for the next year- we never get to every idea, but we do get to a few every year (last year I made these stacking Christmas trees) and I really like having the abundance of new ideas- you never know what will spark new traditions!

Here are a few we're looking at including this year:

Elizabeth Foss's HUGE list of links- reading lists, crafts, baking... seriously, you could spend hours looking through it all!

Fun and Easy Garlands to make with your kids

We are sooo trying this Peppermint Bark this year!

I love this Coffee Filter Wreath, and Ender agrees, so we added it to our craft list for next weekend.

I am also researching Jesse Tree options- this will be our first year using the Jesse Tree to structure our advent season. Ann Voskamp may have a version ready by the 27th- I'm sincerely hoping so! Her materials are amazing.


What do you do to prepare for the season? I'd love links to your family traditions, favorite Christmas books or favorite projects and crafts!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

One step

I didn't mean to tell the story I told, but when a dear friend asked if she could pray for me words tumbled out- all the words I never meant to share. It started simply enough- that the restored faith of a family member has been underwhelming to me when I thought it would be so joyous. And joyous it certainly was at first, but a bitter spirit crept in during these last weeks and I found myself pouring the ugly out too- words of jealousy and anger - the true words stuck in my heart:

"I have been faithful through everything all these years when so many people told me it was okay to turn away. And does anyone remember my obedience? My prayers? My faith?"

I suddenly realized what I'd said, what it sounded like, what it really was . . . and I cried.

There I was, the prodigal son's brother, worrying about what people thought of me when all that mattered was a soul returned to the Father.

It has only been a few months since I heard those words come out of my mouth and I felt a punch to the gut that sent our house upside down. I hadn't even fully realized that I'd been harboring those thoughts before they were born into actual words, but with that realization came a serious attitude adjustment that affected the whole family.

Learning to truly be thankful is a process, you know- a hard and dirt-revealing process. It took a full re-boot to my heartsong, the words that live in me, that I breathe in and out every day. And I know it's not complete.

Sometimes choosing to be thankful is a drop-you-to-your-knees-in-awe kind of thing, but far more often it's choosing to whisper little words of thanks as you work through the day, one simple step after the other. Thankful as you make breakfast, a few words of praise with every folded shirt, as you drive to the library, tuck littles into bed...

One step in front of the other. Obedience, faithfulness in the little things that we are called to do.

Ann Voskamp invites us to write about giving thanks today. You can visit her at A Holy Experience.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Bigger Things

Never have I been more grateful for a timely post than I was when Sarah shared yesterday in Sometimes, I Feel Like Quitting.

After watching our 3-year-old running around in circles for a full 5 minutes my husband looked at me and asked, "Are you sure you shouldn't just plan to put him in school when he's 5? He's going to be really hard to teach."

I laughed and brushed him off with a quick joke: "He has two more years to shape up."

I know my husband is just joking, but it is certainly true- Ezra is going to need some totally different teaching techniques than his older brother and I'm still trying to figure out where he gets that crazy supply of energy that wakes him up at 6:30 a.m. smiling and ready to tackle the day. And this isn't the first time someone has mentioned this particular fact to me. Ender appears to be a pretty "easy" kid because he has a laid back personality and Ezra is . . . well, three. Doesn't that say it all?

Have I worried about how to teach him? Short answer: Yes. Do I hope he'll mature a lot in the next 2-3 years? Yes. Am I planning to ship him off to school? Not a chance.

Really what I think when people bring this up to me is how much more Ezra needs to be home, particularly in the first few years of his education. He will need more room, more time outside, more of a chance to experiment and learn hands-on because he is such a physical kid. We don't homeschool because it's easy or fun or always a lovely day- we homeschool because there are more important things than the little details of education.

Sarah's words are so much more eloquent than mine:

I believe in home education because I see incredible value in the child living and learning in the context of family life. Because I want sibling relationships to be stronger than peer influence. Because I want my child to love learning, long after graduation. Because I know that my most important job is to guide these children to the doorstep of Heaven, and I'm convinced that will be a heck of a lot easier to do if I can stand by their side for a good long part of the journey.

                                                                                               ~Sarah at Amongst Lovely Things

We have far bigger things to do with our kids than learning to read, write or add- we have been implored to guide our little ones to God. As Sarah said, how much easier if we're walking with them for much of that journey!

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