Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"All I Want For Christmas"

(I am breaking my mini series on finding JOY in our kitchen to add this Christmas wish...and a link to a wonderful friends blog.)

The tree is up. The stockings are hung. The house is decorated, and each kid has a small bin in our room with their name on it. The wishing has begun. Soon traditions will fill our home as we make the treasured family cookie recipe, hang cranberry and popcorn strings on our trees outside, having a big christmas morning breakfest, and "secertly"decorating our table christmas eve night leaving a special gift for each one by their plate to open when its time to eat...

But you see this year is going to be different....a few days ago a sweet family at our church has challenged us (through her blog) to ask a simple question this holiday season..."What if..."

What if.....
~The ornaments on our trees reflect God's Grace in our family?
~We took the time to explain to the kids how they can be the light of the world whenever we see christmas lights?
~We redifined our traditons to reflect MORE of Christ and LESS of the culture?
~What if our holiday traditions and everyday life radiated the love of Christ to all who came in our home or met us as we "walked by the way?"
~What if we became radically in love with the things God loves and use our time, energy, and resources for His kingdom?

What if......

My family and I have many things on our to-do list in the next few weeks and many things on our wish list. Thinking of these questions has helped me evaluate both. There are many things I wish for my kids to focus on this holiday season....things I should focus on as well. Here are just a few from my friends blog....(These are questions I am asking myself)

(you can find the full article over at )

"What if my children love others more than things and learn to start browsing the Compassion and World Vision gift catalogs in November so they can choose what they give on Christmas morning to children in poverty?
(What if my husband and I did this also)
What if the department store catalogs made my children sad rather than greedy?
(What if I stayed away from those and was content with what I have)
What if my husband and I forgo what we would normally do for our children and instead bless others in their names?
(What if our kids were just as excited about THOSE gifts and not sad about the toy they didn't get?)
Pretty sure someone out there is yelling that I'm sucking all the fun out of Christmas. But what is Christmas? The celebration of the Greatest Gift. We've been given freedom, salvation, sonship, power, grace, mercy, justification, redemption, eternity! Our response: give as it has been given to you. "
(What if we didn't care about what others thought and decided to be "Set apart?")

All I want for Christmas this year is redefine normal....redfine my reactions to the simpliest of things like the christmas ornaments, lights, and the crowds. To the more complex things like how many presents do we give each child, what will those gifts be, what kind of gifts to give others.

This year we are starting a few new tradtions-ones that focus on the eternal and the needs of others...and not soo much on the deals, and wish lists. Again I was challenged by my friend..."How do the little and the big things we do around the holidays share our unspoken values to our children?" We are not going to take away all of our holiday traditions but refocus them on Christ. Look at them through the eyes of the Gospel and see if there needs to be any change.

Some of the new changes I am excited about are starting this year are "The Jesse Tree Devotional" which you can find over at Ann Voskamps Blog. (you can find the printables at the end of her devotional here: a And we are going to open up the World Vision Catolog and find some ways we can give. We are also going to have a prayer that we hang prayer requests on to keep our focus on others' needs this year. This tree is simple to make (using sand, a vase/container,and a few sticks in the yard) and will sit in the middle of our kitchen table. These "new" tradtions I hope to continue on throughout the year, keeping our focus on others' needs as the prayer tree will continue to stay, doing a in depth study on the lineage of Christ (as the Jesse Tree emphasis'), and keeping our eyes on Compassion and World Vision catologs so we can give throughout the year. I am hoping our tradtions will not only add to our holiday season but will continue in our home and hearts throughout the year.

All I want for Christmas this year is to fill my childrens hearts and our home with more ways we can love the things God loves.

I leave you with one more quote from My friend," The goal is not to get rid of all the traditional Christmas practices but to redeem each one in a distinctly Christ-honoring way. "

I pray as you go about your day crossing off your to-do's and looking over your wish list that you will take time to pray and see if maybe, just maybe, God wants you to redeem the season, in a small way, or a big way.

What if......

Monday, November 28, 2011

"Evaluating Tradtions"

"Finding JOY in your Kitchen"

As I search through a few more ideas on posting in this series I came across this post by a sweet friend of mine and was really moved. I know Christmas is coming very soon and we all will be in our kitchen planning all sorts of holiday foods. (I know our home will soon be filled of the smells of freshly made sugar cookies.) So I propose a challenge to you my we search to find JOY in our kitchens can we find JOY in giving others the gift of food for their own kitchens? Tomorrow my children and I will look through World Vision's magazine for the first time and I wonder what will move their hearts...they are not restricted by dollar amounts or budgets. Their hearts are so full of pure compassion. If you would like to join me and my dear friend Krista in the search to bring JOY into our homes please visit her blog post here: under "Evaluating Traditions"

Friday, November 25, 2011

"A Quiet Heart"
Today my family and I broke a 5 year tradition. A tradition of joining the excitement and choas of the Black Friday lines. As I went about my day, picking up toys, folding laundry, doing dishes and cooking meals I realized.... We are blessed...blessed beyond measure. There are so many things we have to be thankful for. So many things! Each toy out of place, each dirty dish that was once filled with food-hot and warm to our tummies. Each warm sweater I folded and clean Pjs. It seems those pile of dirty dishes and laundry are much to be thankful for. My mind thought of the recent orphans we prayed for as a family and the missionary families hanging on our refrigerator. I wonder what they would say they were thankful for today?
As the thanksgiving holiday rolls past and the Christmas holiday approaches I pray that I can focus, and teach my children how to focus, on being thankful for what we have and finding more ways to give those things in much abundance to others in need. I saw this quote over at and it really summed up my heart. May this be my prayer and yours everyday!

***A Thanksgiving Prayer***
“Lord, we give You thanks for all that You in Your mercy have given us to be and to do and to have. Deliver us, Lord, from all greed to be and to do and to have anything not in accord with Your holy purposes. Teach us to rest quietly in Your promise to supply, recognizing that if we don’t have it we don’t need it. Teach us to desire Your will – nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.”
(Elisabeth Elliot, Keep A Quiet Heart, pg. 126)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Top 10 ways to bring JOY to doing dishes"

Thanksgiving is in less than 24 hours and I am sure there will be many of you spending time over your sink washing the dishes used by your family and friends. Among the many things we can be thankful for and find joy can be those moments that we spend bent over a pile of soapy suds.
Here are my TOP TEN ways you can add JOY to washing dishes....
10. Find books on tape or conference cds to listen to as you do dishes. One of my favorites, and I have been guilty of listening to this over and over, is "Victoria Botkin's Curriculam Advice". A great place you can find good resources to listen to is

9. Consider those moments an appointment with God...a divine appointment of sorts. I know I will be in front of the sink at least three times a day maybe more. Considering this a place where God is waiting for me brings a little excitement to my day. I can use this time to praise him. For every dish I pick up I thank him for one more thing.

8. "You home is the first place your children can learn to serve God. Teach them how to service it will JOY" This I will admit is where I need work. Doing dishes is another place where you can trian your children in mastering a responsibility. This takes patience, a gentle tone, and careful instructions. Teaching your daughters (or even your sons) to serve others with joy is a priceless gift we can give our children. It is a gift they will use when they are married with their spouse and a gift they will use to train the next generations.

7. Find a old mason jar or vase or a pretty cup and splurge on a bouquet of flowers. In season you can pick these in your own garden, out of season a big bouquet of wild flowers costs about 5.00 and it usually can fill 5 mason jars. These with an asprin in the water can last up to 2 weeks! Such a great way to stop and smell the roses (or flowers)everytime you do dishes!

6. Ok so this may be one I use more than I should but it helps! Buy your favorite candy or cookie and "reward"yourself with a cup of tea or coffee and your favorite treat after a days work.

5. Use this as a picture moment...have the children help you and get your camera ready. Don't worry about the soapy suds that will be all over or the dishes that aren't quite clean but see how many pictures you can take of those little hands working hard. This is something you will look back on after many years and smile! (Don't forget to have towels on hand!)

4. Hang up a scripture or quote you are meditating on above your sink and use this time to focus on those words and how you can apply it to your day. I have a small picture frame I painted with chalkboard paint to keep my scriptures or a good quote on.

3. Just because this little area of your home is where you find one of the dirtiest jobs doesn't mean it can't be beauitiful. Try and find simple ways to add beauty to your dish area. You can hang a mini clothesline with small clothespins to hang pictures of friends and family.
You can also hang herbs you are drying out above your sink. Such a great aroma this can add to your day!

2. Find a spot close to your sink to add a fresh potted plant or grow potted herbs. Not only will this give you a chance to create something beauitiful, but by seeing this "grow" you can pray for each one of your children or grand children as they "Grow" in Christ.

1. The number one way I use to bring joy to my time of washing dishes is to use it as a prayer closet. Below is a list of "Kitchen Prayers" you can hang up in your kitchen by your sink and pray through as you doing dishes. Before you know it, you will be conversing with the Lord throughout your day and experienceing great JOY in your everyday tasks.

"Kitchen Prayers"
(As you wash the following dishes lift up certain requests to the Lord)
~Cups: Pray for God to give you a thirst everyday for his word. Pray for unsaved family and friends.
~Silverware: Pray that whoever uses these will Honor the Lord in all their hands find to do. Pray for God to show you ways to be hospitable
~Plates: Pray for the health of those you know who are sick. Ask God to give you the wisdom to make healthy chocies as you feed your family.
~Bowls: Thank God for each one of your children by name (gradchildren, etc). Pray for their needs and praise Him for their strengths. Pray for orphans.
~Baking dishes: Pray for your relatives. Pray for their needs and prasie God for the ones He has put in your life.
~Mixing Utensils: Pray for Missionaries. Pray for their needs and ask God to show you how you can be a light in the lives of those you interact with. Even if it is only the Meijer cashier!

I hope you can find a few ways that can bring JOY to your dishwashing time. I would love to hear if you try any of these!

Stay tuned in this series on "How we can bring Joy back to our Kitchens" for my next post on "How to Bless your husband in your kitchen"

Many Thanksgiving wishes from my family to yours!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Finding JOY in our Kitchens"

~25 Ways to bring Joy to Washing Dishes~
Whether you have a small house or a quiver full of many, washing dishes is one task that has to be done frequently. It is something that we CAN take great Joy in! As christians is it a high calling to serve our family. A ministry of sorts to teach our children how to serve one another with love. Unfortuantly this is one of those daily tasks that can drain us and cause us to feel overwhelmed very quickly. Here are 25 different ways you can try that might bring a little joy to those times you are over your kitchen sink...
25. Have a special apron just for doing dishes
24. Buy a special towel to hang for your hands after working hard
23. Find a special candle and light nearby while you do dishes
22. Do you seem to have too many of certain dishes? Find a way to donate them
21. Buy special tea cups & saucers for friends to take home when they come by and join you for tea.
20. Find special plates to give homemade cookies on...attach a note for the receiver to keep that plate or to pass along to someone else.
19. Save on the amount of tubberware and use Mason Jars instead to store dry goods
18. Keep just enough utensils to store in a wide mouth Mason Jar on the counter
17. Use seran wrap to cover platters & holiday dishes before putting food on need to wash those they were safe and clean under the seran wrap!
16. Use parchament paper on cookie sheets and baking pans when baking
15. Use foil under a broil pan to catch the grease when baking bacon
14. Find a good spot for a CD player, play your favorite music while doing dishes
13. Have each child have their own cup for the day and find a special spot on your counter with their name so they know exactly where to put it when meals are done
12. Use a bottle brush for washing cups
11. Buy a special lotion and have it waiting for you by the dishsoap to soften your hands after a big load

**Stay tuned for my TOP TEN ways to bring JOY to Washing Dishes**

~If you have any ideas on how to bring joy to your dish washing time feel free to leave a comment!

Blessings to you as you clean your sink fulls this week!!

"Christian Books"

"A Wish List..."
The time has come where our family gathers around the Vision Forum Catolog and excitedly circles their wish list. We find all sorts of wonderful family focused christian books, toys, and resources. If you need some more christmas ideas that are biblical based and fun for all ages check Vision Forum's website at;

Many blessings on your shopping days!
"Bringing Joy to your Kitchen"
Its a loud day already here in our home. The skys are dark and the cold rain has been falling since wee hours in the morning. My children are still in their pj's and having a blast! Soon...very soon we will start our daily schedule and move into our school work. But I can hold out for a few more minutes...hearing their giggles I know they are in the middle of making memories together. Memories that they will remember and share with eachother over the years to come. Memories of the boys being super heros and rescuing (my daughter) the maiden in distress. Memories of "the wiggle worm" chasing them and tickling the other wiggle worms out of the one they caught. Memories of seeing the homemade capes they got for christmas last year flying through the house.
One area of our home I am working on making more memories is the kitchen. A place where currently we have no kitchen table (as we are working on making one) and very few counters. This room is where, more times than most, I am rushing (due to my lack of preperation) to make a meal before it gets too late. This is the place where we find the messiest of messes and sometimes the room I need the most patience in.
Today in my kitchen I am chosing JOY! Joy is something I teach the kids often...and its easy to explain how they should put Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last. But its oh so much harder to remember that when I am in the kitchen with six little hands and six little feet (add 8 more if you count the dog and the cat chasing eachother) all wanting to take part. If I put Jesus first I should be focusing on the eternal ones around me and letting them help as we find ways to bless others with the food we make. If I put others second I shouldn't be so quick to shoo them off from under feet so I can get it done faster and with less mess. If I am putting myself last I will not be selfish when it comes to my time in the kitchen.
Joy is intentional. You have to be intentional about adding that to your recipes, and mixing it in to your meal plans. You have to make it a point to remind myself that soon those little ones will no longer be little and their footprints of flour will not fill my floor. So for the next week or so I will be posting about different ways I have found Joy in my kitchen, and I hope it challenges you to look for Joy also.
Looking for Joy,

Monday, November 21, 2011

I have found myself scratching my head after one more schedule failure. It seems it all looks so good on paper and yet seems just beyond my reach. Our school days are filled with many memories, alot of delight directed learning and no so many textbooks. We seem to live and school in everyroom of our home. Its a style of schooling I take great joy in! With a new scehdule up on our cupboard I am reminded to focus on the little things in my school days. The little things that seem to be on the fly. Those moments where you break from workbooks and make a Civil War tent over your clothesline or using a red jump rope attach to a tree limb for a bear trap like Laura Ingles did many years ago. Its those little things that I will want to remember many years from now when all the writing boards are empty and the workboxes left unfilled. Its those memories that I want to fill my kids' hearts with. Because one day those little things will be the big things to them as they look back on their school days.

"A Heart Request Part 2"

My heart request was sent out to a sweet friend of mine, Robin.

(Dated August 1,2011)
Dear Robin,
This evening I find myself sitting back and trying to breathe. A deep relaxing breathe. One that comes slow and causes me to quiet my soul and opens my eyes to the wonder of the Lord all around me. With little boys running all around, chores needing to be done and dinner needing to be made I pushed on. I prayed. Silently I prayed. As I hurried about from one thing to the next I thought of Sara Mae's latest post on her blog...and I wondered. I know I have leaned on you for prayer before in the past-and my heart has been so greatful to know you were always there for me! I have gleaned soo much wisdom from your life and have found strength in knowing there is someone else out there striving after similar biblical principles. My night is coming to a close and the house it getting quieter...except for the boy who seems to be getting wilder as bedtime inches closer. There will be peace...a few minutes of quietness...very I can breathe. As I thought more on Sara Mae's words I wondered...would you be willing to come alongside me and mentor me? Please take time and pray about this. I only want God's will. Instead of a prayer request I am asking if you lift up a heart request. I am praying that God will give me a oppurtunity to find a mentor. One that can met with me and lift me up spirtually. One that will pray for my name. And challenge me to be a Godly wife. I have found lots of strength in books, and blogs but I personally need a physical pillar to go to. A place to escape to and regain my strength. I would really appreciate your prayers in the quest to seek the Lord's will in the season of my life. Thank you already for I know you will pray.

I prayed whether to post this whole email but have been asked recently how to do I ask someone to mentor me...I hope my words will bring you closer to finding that joy the Lord can give through the wisdom of a Titus 2 women by your side.
Many Blessings
"A Heart Request Part 1"
I have recently recieved the greatest blessing in all of my mothering years. A blessing that is the foundation of my faith and one that encourages me onward toward biblical womanhood. At times I wondered why I waited so long to find this blessing, it seems such a priceless gift. And yet here I am excited to enocurage you, my readers to look for and discover the true joy, peace, and comfort that comes from this blessing.

My blessing secert....a wonderful woman of God who has agreed to come alongside me and carry my burdens of mothering to the foot of the cross, to enoucarge me in different ways on how to bless my husband, and to teach me Godly wisdom on how to care for my home. It has been a little while since my heart was burdened so. I found it hard at times to breathe and stay focused. I would get overwhelmed and feel like I am drowning in a pool of whatever seemed choas for the day. My prayers were urgent, my tears were many, and some days I felt like giving up.

Then one day I read my dear friend SarahMae's blog and begun the petiton to the Lord to bring someone into my life and lift me up. (you can view her post here:) "Calling ALL Older Women" A few days later I sent out a heart request....

*Please check out "A Heart Request part 2" in my Nov. posts*

(Today I have linked this post over at please stop on by and check out the others who posted lots of wonderful blogs too!)

It's the season of Giving Thanks...
would love to hear
what you are thankful for!