Tag Archives: Joy

A Touch and Feel Christmas

When I was a little girl, my mom and I would spend a week putting up Christmas in our home. It is a highlight in my childhood. We removed everything from table tops and hearth and brought in boxes of nativities, lights and garlands. We played carols and sipped on hot cocoa and apple cider the whole week. We reminisced about ornaments and even decked out the ceiling fan!! It was magical in every sense of the word for me. In the evenings, I would curl up with a blanket in the far corner of the room and bask in the glow of the lights from the tree; I dreamed grand dreams there. It still is one of my dearest places tucked within my heart.

Lean in, Linger, Listen to God’s voice. Let your Loved Ones Touch and Feel Christmas…it Touches Their Lives Forever.

 

We have these 5 Senses… and the Christmas season is a wonderful opportunity to play up every single one of those beautiful gifts! It is vital to all of us; young and old, to engage with one another. There are traditions, memories, and new starts all tangled together. There are candle smells, crackling fire sounds, warmth of familiar blankets, and tastes of yummy baking all swirled together in our memory banks. There are joys and sorrows interspersed too… they’re captured in the promise of Redemptive Peace during this month! 

So let the children decorate the tree.  Give them a step stool so they can stretch on tippy toes to hang their ornament high.  Pile books near so that you have the fun of catching them sprawled out by the tree reading in the glow of the twinkle lights.  Set up an Advent Box and let the finishing touch of each evening end with something nourishing for the soul and a sweet treat for the taste buds!

Leave space on a table for a puzzle or crafts to be dreamed up. Decorate a Gingerbread House or Cookies and make a HUGE mess!! (And don’t stress about it in the process; let your loved ones AND you enjoy and play.)

As I grew up surrounded by cousins, we annually created a play to perform on Christmas Eve together.  We dreamed up the story, wrote out the lines, created scenery even!  When the big night arrived, we passed out programs and felt the excitement mount… All our senses were engaged.  It was equally as fun preparing those plays  to opening the presents. We lingered longer with one another and had so much fun. 

As I write and reflect.  I feel very blessed to have had so many Touch and Feel Christmases in my life so far. It’s become such a part of me, that I pass that on to my kids from my heart. Whether you share the same experiences or not, it is never ever too late to engage those around you in the same feelings.  You can go whole hog, or simply linger in more intentional time with someone; both result from the same desire. 

Joy to the World!

Attitude Adjustment

                                                                                                                  Every morning we have the option to choose JOY and be THANKFUL in the midst of our circumstances. That is easier said than done on any given day. There is a real enemy of our hearts that’s primary focus is to snatch our joy at every opportunity he can.

So I’m confident that this is what happened to my morning as I opened the curtains and saw an amazing sunrise and paused to be thankful… only to then turn and take my boys to school and immediately back my car into my husband truck. You can imagine how my joy quickly dissolved.  (Gratefully, I have an amazing gem of a husband.)

Many years ago I tore out an article from a Family Magazine that I have read over and over for 20 years  now. It talks about being thankful in ALL circumstances and looking at the positive even when the situation may seem bleak.

When you have mountains of laundry in front of you…instead of grumbling, it said to be thankful for those loads because it means your family has plenty of warm, clean clothes to wear daily.

When it is time to prepare a meal AGAIN, be thankful that your pantry is well-stocked and your home has many mouths to feed.

It went on to talk about being thankful in washing dishes, yard work, and all the menial tasks that are easy to grumble about when you are in the midst of them. Some of these tasks are a forced “slow down” for us. This can bring its own agitation to the table in a society that travels at a fast-paced sprint. But I have seen a lot of growth in my own life when I take the time to slow down in my days and feel the full impact of the chores I’m steeped in.

Sometimes the slowing down brings am immediate reflection of Joy that I can see. And sometime the slow down is an excruciatingly long test of patience in a lesson that I may need to learn, or it is to stop me and safe-guard my heart until it is clear for me to move on.

The chores of life are daily, but so is the abundance of Joy that the Lord has for us. My prayer for you is that the Lord teach you the secret of being content in every situation, through Him who gives you strength. (Philippians 4:12-13)

Practicing this in my own life, has brought comfort to my heart in hard seasons, respite to my spirit in exhausting seasons, and Joy unspeakable in the details of Love that God showers on us in all seasons. I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart! Psalm 9:1

Random Acts of Kindness

What’s a Random Act of Kindness?  Many times it’s a small or large  action done for a person to bring them joy. The beautiful by-product of doing a Random Act of Kindness is that it usually   blesses the giver too. 

Last week my family took out on a 1 week adventure to a Family Camp. It was the 5th year for us to go; we look forward to the play and relax time we have as a family each year in this place.  We pick many excursions throughout the week that puts our focus on fun together. But this year we stretched beyond our comfort zone and chose to spend a day serving in a camp nearby that has many sponsors helping to make it happen. We knew very little about Kids Across America when we drove there at lunch time. Our kids had agreed to trade a day of play for a day of work without hesitation, but we all felt the weight of the unknown as we got there. 

I can say without a doubt that the afternoon turned into one of our favorite parts of that week! There were things in that experience that were familiar, but there was much that seemed foreign to us. It was good for all of us to break out of our molds and work hard and learn new things and meet new people. It turned out to be  a wonderful day of planned Kindness.

The week before Camp, we had stopped at a Sonic for cold drinks during some errands. While ordering,  I got 2 extra Cherry Limeades for women we would see on our outing. When we got to the office, they had left for the day, but my boys were concerned on what to do with the extra drinks...in a random act of Kindness we began looking for the first 2 people we could find to share the drinks with. The 2 we found were so happy to receive an unexpected drink! There was joy and surprise and laughter and conversation all over a cherry limeade!! We got back in the car and marveled at how that situation had turned out; it was so random, but really blessed our day. 

A woman I met just the other day spoke some wise words to me in the brief time I had with her…she paused in our conversation and told me to ponder the word Growth. And so I am; and it is such rich word with many layers. There is room for growth in each day; Random Acts of Kindness will follow.  I encourage others to tuck that word into your hearts this season. 

On our Bucket List of Fun for the Summer, we have decided to add many more Random Acts of Kindness to our weeks. Both big and small endeavors reap large rewards for all involved. I hope many others will invest in these Acts; they refresh ones Spirit in huge dividends of growth!!

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

 

Hello!  Every day we use things that make our lives easier or bring a smile to our face.  I encourage you to take a look at your daily routines and see what those things are.  It was fun for me to dig a bit and see a few of my “favorites”  all together! Check out Loved One’s Favorites too… you’ll get great gift ideas. Here we go!!
KITCHEN TONGS:   I am seriously addicted to these little gems. I have a bunch of them because they only cost a couple dollars. They are so handy to pick up anything and everything! I even have some spares in our chip containers so that I don’t get “cheeto fingers.”.
MINI CROCKPOT : My favorite scent is ANYTHING Christmas. I used to put a pot on the stove with simmering spices and fruit so that the whole house smelled yummy…but then I found mini crockpots! They are fabulous!!  This is a wonderful gift during the holiday season to give with a recipe and ingredients for simmering. Lemons, cinnamon sticks, clove,and oranges are a good place to begin.
FELT TIP PENS:  These beauties are a little pricey, but there are sales and coupons out there to get them a bit lower. I love how bold the ink is.  I love that it doesn’t smear and drys quickly. I love to use these on to-do lists to perk up the mundane chores, and I love to journal and write pretty much everything with them. 

 

 

RAINBOW INSULATED CUPS WITH STRAWS:  Oh happiness! It’s simple I know, but I get more water drank in my day with a different colored cup each morning! I have the whole rainbow at my fingertips, and since they come with lids…they travel from home to car easily.

 

 

FLAMELESS CANDLES: With a house full of boys, it is in our Homes best interest to not light many actual candles with real flames.  This set is lovely and it comes with a remote and timers! I have some in our kitchen, and I have some programmed in the living and bedrooms. As bedtime routines begin, it is nice to enter those dark spaces with the glow of a flickering candle. I love my flameless candles! 
POM POM COASTERS: Are these not the cutest little splashes of fuzzy color?!  
The kids made these with cork and glue and pom poms one Christmas for family gifts, and I snagged a set for our Drink Station. Each morning this cheerfulness greets me at the coffee maker. (I had just as much fun making these as the kids.)

 

NERF WALL: This saved my sanity with all the Nerf wars that happen daily in our home.  
If you have darts and kids in your life, I recommend that you review our Nerf Wars post on how to make one of these stations. The kids helped design and paint the walls; and hanging it all up in the garage was fun for all of us!  Now the tag has been moved outside. When it’s over, I have yet to ask a boy to put their Nerf stuff away. They rush to the Nerf Wall to get the best hangers!! (Such a Win for us all.)

 

 TAILGATE TABLES: These medium-sized rectangle, collapsible tables will rock your world! I have never actually used them for their intended purpose…but I have used them for pretty much everything else. They fold and are lightweight.  I have these tucked all over the house. The make a quick puzzle, Lego, you-name-it project off the floor. They wipe down and have two adjustable heights. And the bonus feature is that if you find them during football season, then you have local color options depending on nearby teams! If you want a certain color, look at the teams. 
CANDY CATCHERS: When you are between 2 candy-laced holidays, the thought occurs of what to do with the abundance of sweets (?)…  Since there are multiple boys in our home, and boys are a tad competitive in everything, we had to find a solution to storing any excess of overflow.  The number of kids you have, is the number of compartments needed for the Candy Catcher. Personalize it so there is no confusion. No Sharing is an unspoken for this little kitchen tool. This container usually stays out of reach, so that a parent monitors consumption. I pull from its resources for school lunches and snacks mixed with healthier choices. This has gone with us on road trips with each persons snacks divided so they can eat them at differing paces. This is a fun Favorite for me!
PORTABLE HAMMOCKS: My most recent Favorite! I love these soooooooo much.  Each child received one for a gift. We learned how to “stack” them in trees from college students. It looked as if there were a herd of nomads in my back yard the first 3 days!! The kids stayed outside for hours trying out different trees. They took books, water bottles, snacks, journals, DS’s, and even a Ukulele!!  I confess that I also enjoy gently swinging and cloud-gazing; especially snuggled with one of my Cuties’.

 

Well there you go! Hope you got an idea or two to add to your Favorites. Take a mental break from this week’s mundane and enjoy mulling over some of your own Favorites; you have more than you realize! 
You, Lord God, have done many wonderful things, and You have planned marvelous things for us.  Psalm 40:5

Giving Joy & Gentleness

Christmas conversation promptsOur family has a Christmas activity we weave into our mealtime hubbub: answering questions from a tin of Christmas-focused conversation prompts. Even though we’ve been through these questions several times over the years, the answers vary as children get older and more introspective.

JoyOne of the recent questions was about the reason behind gift-giving during this season. The discussion included the gifts of the wise men and our gift of a Savior, then narrowed down to the mere joy of giving to others.

Probably one of the main stressors of the busy holiday season revolves around gift-giving: the generation of ideas, the investment of time and money, last-minute shopping, and eventually the late-night wrapping.

teacher giftsWhen we find something “just right” for a special person on our list and see genuine delight spread across her face as she opens her gift, we experience the joy of giving.

It’s in this moment of giving that we turn toward each other, share eye contact, and feel a closer connection to one another…we share a mutual tug on our hearts.

Imagine how much love God had for each of us as He gave His One True Gift to us by sending us Jesus. Through Christ we are pulled closer to God and may dwell in His Presence.post office drop

As I trudge through these last days before Christmas, grocery shopping and dropping cards into the mail,  I’m trying to hold onto this image of the Ultimate Giver offering His most precious gift.

This helps me let the details of the hustle-bustle fade a bit and focus on the interactions around me.hot cocoa

Being gentle with those around us and being mindful that this holiday’s joy may be smudged by loss or pain is an extension of God’s love toward others.

silver conesWhen our expectations of the holidays don’t come packaged with a jaunty red bow…

When disappointment piles up like crumpled balls of wrapping paper on Christmas morning…

When loss and grief drop around us  like pine needles fall constantly off the Christmas tree…

When rough spots in our relationships are highlighted during family gatherings…

God is with us in these tender moments, offering hope.
70s childhood ornament

boy in tuxAs as we share coffee cake with neighbors on a cold wintry night…

As we gaze at each other in the warm glow during Christmas Eve candlelight service…

As we watch eager children tear into their presents Christmas morning…

As we observe grandparents smile in remembrances of the past…

God is with us in these joyous moments, embracing us in love.candlelight communion
When stress begins to creep in again, I try to remind myself:

empty gift box

It’s not what is under the tree.

It’s who is gathered around it. 

 

It’s not what is in the box,

but WHO fills our hearts.

God is with us through it all, however this season unfolds for our families this year. Blessings to you and yours this Christmas!


“Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace…

-Luke 2:14



 

Nerf wars

When you hear the phrase “Nerf war” do you envision hoardes of kids running through your house and yard shooting orange darts all over creation?

Or…do you imagine all the times you’ve been frustrated by the growing piles of dart guns scattered all over your house and have the urge to declare war on all things Nerf?

(I once found a dart in my ice maker…Whaaaat? “Somebody” had to have the freezer door hanging wide open while another “somebody” blasted him with darts?!?)

pile of dart guns

boy with nerf dartsWe have a little bit of both going on over here. With some inspiration from an old Pinterest post, we put our heads together to create some neutral territory.

Step 1: Claim some unused pegboard and attach it to the back of closet door in the garage (thanks to my hubby for some carpentry assist)

Step 2: Gather all the Nerf dart paraphernalia, relish in all their glory (btw: one of us partook of this step more robustly than the other)

Step 3: Scavenger hunt all over the garage for pegboard hooks of various sizes (sorry, broom: your resting place is now on the floor)

Step 4: Puzzle through all the different dart gun shapes and hang them within easy reach of active boysboy with dart pegboardStep 5  – Kids: Call your buddies over to launch a Nerf war! Parents: bask in the fact that all the Nerf stuff is OUT of your house. Woohoo!

*Optional steps if you want to up your game:

  • Visit your local hardware store and get some dart-orange paint (Valspar 2010-2 “Island Orange” was our choice. We got a sample can for $3.)

  • Use painter’s tape to mark off a pattern

  • Let your kiddo paint away! Let paint dry and then do a second coat.

    boy painting pegboard

  • After paint is thoroughly dry, carefully pull off painter’s tape to reveal your kid’s design.

    Orange pegboard for nerf guns

  • Load up the pegboard with Nerf guns (and maybe a light saber or two)

Gear up:

Nerf gun pegboard

Get READY…

boys talking dart strategy

+++++ AIM +++++

geared up

boys and Nerf guns

Fire away! —————–>>>

boys geared up with Nerf guns

…and, good luck finding all the darts before the lawnmower gets them first! 🙂