Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Year In Review

New Year's Eve is a time for looking ahead at the new year to come, but also looking back at what has happened in the past 365 days. So, I thought I would share some highlights with you here.

We finally moved after having a house on the market for a year.

We became debt free, except for our mortgage for the first time in our 17 year marriage!

We wrote a book on marriage and money. (Comes out in March 0f 09)

I wrote/edited a book for Christian speakers. (Comes out in July of 09)

I broke my foot and a few months later, my daughter broke hers!

Went to Disney World with a bunch of mom bloggers.

Went to North Carolina Home Educators conference with my husband.

Went to the International Christian Retail Show with my husband.

Spent ten days at my uncle's beach house, half of that with my friend Karen Ehman and her kiddos!

Spoke at a bunch of different places and met some great people.

Attended the She Speaks conference with my teenage daughter, and roomed with Shari Braendel.

Two of my kids got their braces off, and one got braces on for the second time!

My oldest son got the lead male role in Annie (as Oliver Warbucks) at our town's community theater, and even sang some solos. He was also in Footloose this summer.

I had my first gardening experience when we participated in a co-op garden this summer.

My kids swam on our neighborhood swim team, going undefeated for the third year in a row!

Of course I only included the big stuff-- and mostly the good stuff, with very little bad. I left out the million and one little things that happened every day-- the people we saw, the conversations we had, the ins and outs and ups and downs that all go towards making life interesting. All in all, 08 was a good year. Here's to a great 09!
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Verse For The Year

What is your verse for the year in 09? Do you have one yet? Have you even thought about claiming one? (Because it's okay if you haven't-- I mean it's certainly not a requirement by any stretch. I just enjoy doing it. I also enjoy making lists and crossing things off those lists. I also enjoy reading books about organization and writing out menu plans... are you catching the theme here? If this hits home with you, you might want to read on. If not, be free of any guilt or condemnation you might have inadvertently felt when I mentioned claiming a verse for the year.) Anyhoo, here is a post I wrote for Heart Of The Matter Online where I share my verse for the year, and some of the ones I have claimed in the past. Please share yours if you already know it-- leave me a comment as I am nosy that way and want to hear! You never know when your verse might inspire someone else!
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Monday, December 29, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Ok, so I'm a bit late with this, but with the way this week's going, I feel good to have a meal plan at all!

Monday) My Version of Chicken and Pasta (like you get at restaurants!)
(How I did this: marinate chicken breasts in Italian dressing all day-- I am using a basil vinaigrette I had-- slice breasts into strips and cook in a bit of vegetable oil. Meanwhile, cook pasta-- I am using the twirl kind (16 oz. rotini). Remove cooked chicken breasts from pot, put in chicken broth (1 cup), EVOO (1/4 cup), Italian seasoning (2 tsp.), minced garlic (2 tsp.), diced tomatoes (2.5 cups) and simmer for two minutes. Then throw your chicken and pasta into the pot with the simple sauce you've made and toss to coat with the sauce. Sprinkle with some sea salt and coarse ground pepper. This is delicious, easy, and a favorite at our house! I double it and it usually makes enough for another meal or lunch the next day.)

Tuesday) Take out Chinese

Wednesday) Garlic Lime Chicken over Rice, Side Salad

Thursday) Traditional Southern New Year's Menu: pork roast, cornbread dressing, greens (none of us like this, so I am making green beans instead), black-eyed peas. I will make a selection of desserts on Wednesday to have with it (the things I didn't feel like making b/c I got sick right before Christmas, so I already have all the ingredients and might as well): candy cane puffs, pumpkin cookies with white chocolate chips, chocolate mint cookies.

Friday) leftovers (mom and dad's date night!)

Saturday) Tortilla Soup, Crescent Rolls

Sunday) Homemade Chicken Pot Pie, Cooked Apples

Monday) Beef Burgundy over egg noodles, Peas

Tuesday) Chicken Nuggets, Frozen French Fries, Canned Fruit Cocktail

I also plan to do some baking next weekend, as my supplies I had built up in the freezer have been depleted while I was busy writing! I hope to make pumpkin bread, eggnog bread (my husband's favorite, so I want to make some while it's still on the shelves!), and Raisin Bran Muffins.

(For more Menu Plan Monday Ideas, go to
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Planning For A New Week... And New Year

This is going to be an odd week with my husband working Monday through Wednesday, home Thursday, then back to work on Friday. I am planning to try to go ahead with business as usual-- even if I am carless at the present time. Being homebound is helping me to stay put and tackle the looming project I like to call "taking the Christmas decorations down." You might be avoiding the very same thing.

In addition to that project is the continuing work on finishing the speaker book. A big thank you to my friend Erica for spending three hours with me yesterday going through Bible references and checking them for accuracy. We spent a comfortable afternoon at her very quiet house yesterday and got a lot of work done. She said that all those Bible sword drills of her childhood paid off! I feel really good about the amount of work I got done over this weekend-- even if I did have to leave my family for two large blocks of time to do it. I am thankful to a husband who supports me doing that and holds down the fort as well as he does in my absence. The book is getting closer and closer to being officially "done" and I might just be able to turn it in close to the deadline-- hooray!

Today I am making some plans for school since we begin a new semester next Monday-- which seems odd at this present time for that to be looming so close. I will post our plans just as soon as I get them finalized. I am making some changes and our winter/spring semester hardly looks anything like our fall semester. I love the fresh start that Christmas break brings us and have been anticipating the differences that will surely come. For one, I will NOT be writing any books this semester, which I hope will leave me with ample amounts of time to invest in our schooling adventures. A distracted mom/teacher is not a very good one, I am afraid. And that's just the truth.

I am also going to be spending time this week writing down goals for our year-- both homeschool and personal. This week is a great time to revamp, recreate, reassess. There are parts of my life that are working, and parts that need an overhaul. I will post some updates on that as well in due time.

Most of all, I am grateful for time to pray and ponder, to make decisions and deletions as I prepare for a new year. I love fresh starts and fresh perspectives! I plan to use these posts as starting points as I reflect and plan:

Eight in 08

Looking Back at 08

How To Set Out Into A New Year

Enjoy! And let me know if you write a new year's post, as I love to glean from the plans and ponderings of others! Be sure to check back with me, as I am keeping track of all my plans and will be sharing them here in the days to come.
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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Where I Am

At any given moment these days, I can be found doing one of the following things:

  • Nursing sick children and trying to get over the "not interested in eating. at. all." feeling I have had since I got sick two days before Christmas.
  • Trying in vain to find a place for the abundance of stuff that has found its way into my home in the past several days.
  • Resisting the urge to hit the after Christmas sales.
  • Focusing instead on the looming book deadline I have... note to self: never, ever commit to a January 1 deadline again. Must remember that before January 1 comes December 25th-- and those two are dangerously close to each other.
  • Keeping up with the laundry, the need for food, and the dishes that continually seem to get dirty no matter what else needs to get done.
  • Ferrying my oldest back and forth to his practices for the New Year's Eve Murder Mystery play he is doing at our local community theater.
  • Getting my Suburban repaired, because apparently it didn't get the memo that its availability was quite necessary at this time of year or that we pretty much spent all the money we have on Christmas, so car repairs weren't really on the radar right now... nope, totally didn't get that memo!
  • Occasionally glancing at the pile of papers and stuff I know I need to deal with-- and desperately hoping that none of those things need to be done right away.

All of this adds up to not a lot of blog reading or posting time... I fully expect things to turn rightside up again in that department once I have finished the book. In the meantime, I hope your Christmas was awesome and that your family time between now and New Years is memorable.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

While visions of sugarplums danced through their heads...
Merry Christmas From Our Home To Yours!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Year, New Bible Study

In just a few days it will be Christmas, yes. But in just a few more days after that, it will be the new year. And with a new year come new commitments. New resolutions. New whispered promises between you and God, you and hubby, you and yourself.

Is one of your promises this year to spend more time with God?

I was there just a few years ago-- inundated with life and wondering how in the world to make time with God a priority... yet knowing that I needed to desperately. And so, I prayed and asked God to show me how. And I didn't have to wait long to hear my answer. He responded back, "You don't seem to need guidance in how to make time for that computer."

Ouch! And boy, was He right. My computer is my lifeline-- my writing, most of my communication, and my hobby (reading blogs and writing my own) are all tied up in this one machine. So I go to it often. And I don't struggle with finding the time to do so, either.

And so, I made God a promise. I wouldn't get on the computer unless I have spent time with Him first. Since then I have spent a year reading "The Daily Message Bible," finally fulfilling my desire to read through the entire Bible. And this year I have spent time going through "Streams In The Desert," a devotion I kept seeing quoted everywhere. And now I know why. It was rich, and deep, and perfect for me this year.

And so, I am looking towards this coming year, praying through what I will read. Many, many women have signed up to go through the Daily Chronological Bible with Wendy Pope at Proverbs 31. We were overwhelmed by the response! Perhaps that's something you want to sign up to do. You can order your Bible from P31 for just $20 (ask for it for Christmas from your husband or mom or sister or friend).

I am taking a risk this year and instead of going through a planned daily reading type book, I am going to read some books that have been sitting on my shelf for awhile, waiting patiently for their turn. Books that I bought intending to study, but never got around to it. Books that are too heavy for my "I'm-too-tired-at-night-for-heavy-reading-I-just-need-something-light" self. Books that begged to be read, yet I can't find the time (here we go again!). And so, I am going to use them for my morning time with God, hopefully reading through a chapter each morning. Most of these have some sort of study questions and an opportunity to dig deeper into God's word, which is what I am looking for.

And so, I am going to share with you a list I have made so far, in no certain order:

  • Self Talk, Soul Talk: What To Say When You Talk To Yourself by Jennifer Rothschild
  • Holy Habits: A Woman's Guide To Intentional Living by Mimi Wilson and Shelly Cook Volkhardt
  • Facedown by Matt Redman (Worship is something I want to learn more about.)
  • Contentment: A Godly Woman's Adornment by Lydia Brownback
  • Pray With Purpose, Live With Passion: How Praising God A to Z Will Transform Your Life by Debbie Williams (Prayer is something I want to learn more about.)
  • Meet Me At The Well: Take A Month To Water Your Soul by Virelle Kidder
  • Strong Women, Soft Hearts: A Woman's Guide to Cultivating a Wise Heart and a Passionate Life by Paula Rinehart
  • The Power of a Positive Mom by Karol Ladd (I know, I have never read it!)
  • Beginning With The End In Mind: Simplifying Life With God's Supreme Priorities by Lori Lane
  • The Ministry Of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson

I would love for you all to leave a comment with any others you think I should add! Though admittedly, this list alone might take me alllll year!
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Monday, December 22, 2008

One Day (A Guest Post)

This post was written by Melissa, who also contributed the post about the pillowcase party. She is a gifted writer and when she sent me this, I asked her to guest post here on my blog today, and she graciously agreed. Be sure to leave her a comment and thank her for sharing with us today!

Life can change in One Day!!!

We as humans live our lives in twenty four hour segments whether we like it or not. We can plan, dream, and even live for tomorrow but all we really have is the moment, the day we are in. Life for our family has been jolted by that reality twice this year. I know yours probably has as well. Life is hard! Is anyone else ready to go home, our eternal home in heaven? I wake every morning wondering what might be next. I know our pain is no different than everyone else’s and others have it harder than us but I feel compelled to write what God has been showing me through this journey of loss.

My Father and my Father-in-law were both diagnosed with terminal diseases over a year ago. On September 23rd we received the call that my Father-in-law had passed away in the hospital. Then on November 28th at 7:30 am I received the call that my Father was in the hospital and that he had been placed on a ventilator. On December 2nd he passed away. One week to the day that I received the call that he was in the hospital I found myself at his funeral. One day can change your life. The culmination of all the “one days” over the course of a lifetime becomes the story of your life. The power in those one day moments can alter our lives forever. The outcome of how they alter us is up to our choices and responses to the events.

We are in the season of our Savior's birth and my mind moved to thoughts of Mary and Joseph. Mary was a young Jewish girl who had just become betrothed to Joseph. Their laws and customs required that the betrothed couple live a year preparing for the marriage and purifying themselves. One Day the Angel of the Lord visited Mary and told her of God’s plan and her life was forever changed. Her response was one of trust and belief in her God but the reality of this plan affected her, Joseph and her family. Everyday she must have wondered if she could do what He asked, could she live with the responses of her community. She had plans and dreams for her life and then one day changed it all. I had plans; plans for Christmas with my dad and then one day changed that forever. We all have plans and dreams but do we trust and believe God when His plan turns our world upside down or do we become offended and turn away from Him. Do I have the courage to say as Mary did “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).

Mary’s response to her one day opened the door for all of humanity to have the opportunity to experience the three most important "one day" events in all history.

The first one day was the one we are all about to celebrate, which is Christ’s Birthday, Christmas. He was called Emmanuel, which means God with us. Our creator God left it all to be with us; to be with us in every one of our one day moments. So no matter what one day moments you have had over the past year, God has been with you. You may not have recognized that He was there or you may be angry and offended with Him because of the event but He will not leave you. His purpose was to come to be with you, walk with you through that one day and all the days after it. My responses to my father’s passing have flowed from heartbreak to feeling abandoned again. My parents divorced when I was six and this little girl sure needed her daddy. Feelings of abandonment and loss have seemed to define my life choices. We had experienced restoration over the years and loved each other but the childhood years can not be restored and so who I am is defined or at least outlined by that lost relationship. God has been there and I see a little more everyday how He has been there throughout my life. Truly Emmanuel has been a part of my life. Emmanuel has come to be with all of us, do not reject Him for He alone can heal and restore. Emmanuel is a name that reminds me that I am not abandoned or even fatherless for He is Abba, our father as well. Joseph experienced his one day when the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and he decided to marry Mary and be a father to Jesus. He chose to overcome the offense of her pregnancy and the fear of what others thought. He is an encouragement to men to stand firm and be the best father you can be through Christ. His one day made him the man who would raise the Savior of the world.

The second one day would be the day of the crucifixion. Emmanuel came to be with us but He also was called Jesus which means He will save his people from their sins. I can not imagine being Mary as she witnessed her child being beaten, tried and hung on a cross. In Luke 2:19 we are told that Mary treasured all the things that were happening in her life and pondering them in her heart. I believe that as that cruel one day played out she remembered every event, every precious memory of their life together. I believe that was one thing that got her through that moment. I know that memories are already playing a part in my grieving but I wish that I had done a better job just spending time with my dad. We get so tied up in this world when relationships should be our focus. The name Echad is a name for God that means “oneness in plurality”. God has always been in relationship and He enjoys it so much that is why He created us. He places us in families, communities, churches and relationships so that we can enjoy fellowship as well. The glory of our relationships is God in us flowing out to others. Scripture tells us that the world will know God exists by our love for each other. So maybe this year would be a good time to simplify the holidays. Decorate, cook and give just what is truly from the heart that will involve all of your senses and give texture to your memories. Focus on the people in your life because in one day they can be gone. They can be gone for many reasons such as a move, a job, a quarrel, a marriage or unfortunately even death. Christ died so that we could live eternally with Him. Who is in your life that needs to know the Savior? Make it a goal this year to build that relationship, make some memories and pray for their salvation. Take some time over the holidays to ponder and treasure the memories of this past year. I want to spend more time with the people He has entrusted to me so there are no regrets.

The third one day would be the Resurrection Day. Mary would have lived a lifetime of pain and grieving in that day. She saw the miracle child that she bore beaten, tried and crucified. Even though He told them that He would rise on the third day I believe they doubted. She was a simple Jewish girl that was chosen by God to fulfill His plan to save His people. Her one day changed the course of her life and the course of history. The task of raising the Son of God had to be overwhelming but her trust, love and belief in God gave her strength everyday to move forward. Our Redeemer lives! He rose from the dead to give us hope, salvation and eternity. He alone knows every one day that we will each encounter in our lifetimes. Through the blessing of Christmas we as believers have everything we need to get through each one victoriously. He is Emmanuel our God who has come to be with us and in us. He is our Savior who not only saves us from our sins but from our selves. He is our redeemer! Christ alone can redeem not only our one day but all of our days. When we have made bad choices or have regrets He can redeem and restore them. To redeem something means to purchase it back and to restore it to its original design. What needs to be restored in your life? Even though my dad has gone home to be with the Lord I am blessed with memories of restoration and look forward to how God will continue to restore in ways only He can.

So each day in 2009 I along with you will have choices to make each day. I can choose to believe He loves me and that I can trust Him. I can choose to have the heart and attitude of Mary when those one day events happen. I can choose to remember those three crucial one day events in the life of Christ which showed His love for me and you. I can choose to see what God is trying to teach me through the one day things that come in my life or become offended. Unfortunately when we become offended we do not learn or even escape the pain we just continue to live in the event. God never intended for us to live in the one day but to search for Him in it so that we could grow through it. There is resurrection and life on the other side, outside of His tomb. Don’t put it off, let God move and spend the next year watching for all the one day events with Mary’s attitude. No matter what your one day has been this past year or even your lifetime find hope in Emmanuel, Jesus, and Our Redeemer! When life begins to push you to be busy remember where the first Christmas took place. Mary had just given birth in a stinky stable not a HGTV decorator home. Christ was placed in a feeding trough not a Pottery Barn nursery. They ate meager scraps not Food Network menus. The first guests arrived soon after the birth and they were dirty stinky shepherds not fancy dressed guest. These things are not bad goals but too often they become the focus which leads to stress and not precious memories. Simplify your life by making relationships and memories your goal. Truly love the ones God has entrusted you with, serve them and spend time with them because you never know when they will exit your life.

The Word became flesh, and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14
Merry Christmas
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Prayers Appreciated

I have two friends who are both pregnant with little boys-- who are also, coincidentally, the mothers of all boys (bless them!). My one friend Ariel had her little boy on Friday. He was smaller than her other boys, and the doctors were concerned about him during the latter part of the pregnancy. He was born with a hole in his lung that has now healed, but the doctors have now discovered that he has some spots in his lungs that they are treating with antibiotics. Ariel will be coming home probably today, but little Colby might have to stay in.

My other friend Whitney is a fellow speaker team member. She went into the hospital in active premature labor on Friday and was advised to take drugs and go on bedrest to try to eke out a few more weeks for his lungs to develop. So this family could use your prayers to for her little one to stay put!

I know there are some of you out there who will feel burdened to pray so I felt led to share these two needs. I know they would appreciate knowing you are praying for them if you'd like to visit their blogs and leave a comment!
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Memory Making

It's getting closer... the big day... the day we've all been waiting for.

Are you ready?

I can't even believe that I really only have three days to finish getting ready. Curt and I need to mobilize, strategize, and synchronize. We still have quite a bit of shopping to do-- but we tend to always leave it til the last few days, so this is nothing new or surprising. He has promised to do quite a bit on his lunch hour on Monday and Tuesday-- he said all he needs is my list and he will get it knocked out. One can hope... but I have a feeling there will be at least one more Target run in my future.

We spent the day today with Zoe, this time making yummy butter mints. It took us several hours but we made a bunch in that time. I will post some photos later and Zoe has promised to post the recipe, which comes from Erica. We have decided that these marathon baking sessions will definitely be part of our future Christmas traditions, as it's always nicer to talk (and laugh) while you work.

After we finished up at Zoe's, we went to lunch, then headed home. It was a rainy afternoon and we all curled up and watched Miracle On 34th Street. It was so nice and I was so tired I wasn't capable of much else after being out late several nights in a row. (A party animal, I am not.) Thankfully, we had spaghetti and meatballs in the crockpot, so all we had to do was make the noodles and we were good to go for dinner. Apart from that, my family would have been eating cold cereal or sandwiches.

Tomorrow I am hoping to make eggnog bread, and peppermint marshmallows. I promised my daughter we could make some chocolate dipped candy canes and package them with one of our homemade marshmallows and a package of hot chocolate for some of her neighborhood friends. (She's been begging to give them all something and what mom can resist a child who is asking to give and not get at this time of year?) So after church I imagine I will be making yet another run to the grocery to get any ingredients we need, then spend the rest of the day in the kitchen. With a little rest, I will be ready to do just that.

I am even toying with the idea of surprising my girls by making up some of this and giving each other foot treatments at some point. It might be fun and it will definitely be memorable! We also might get together with Erica and her kids tomorrow night to watch Christmas Vacation. I hope we will work that out, as I know the kids will love it, and of course their mothers won't hate it either!

In the meantime, I am thankful for a slow afternoon with time to rest and recharge, time to gear up for a busy flurry of activity in the coming days. Christmas is about so much more than just one day-- it is about a season of memories, a season of special moments etched on our hearts to treasure all through the year. Today was one of those times, and for that I am grateful.
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Gift Giving Without The Clutter

I really enjoyed reading through this list of clutter free gift ideas from Fly Lady. I thought that perhaps you would too! Scroll down to find the lists, arranged according to men's gifts, ladies' gifts, etc. If you are struggling with what to buy someone, and don't want to merely add more clutter with what you give, then this has some great suggestions
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Friday, December 19, 2008

The Final Christmas Post: My Favorite Christmas Music

Not that you asked, because you didn't, but because I am kind of running out of holiday-ish things to write about in this series of Christmas posts, I decided to link to some of my favorite versions of Christmas songs:

"River" by Robert Downey Jr. (Amy, this one's for you!) Goofy truth: I save this song to play the first time each season when I am all alone in the car. It's my little gift to myself in the midst of all the busyness and stress. (Sorry for the cheesy video, it's all I could find. If you are interested in this song, it comes from this cd.)

"Wintersong" by Sarah McLachlan

"Silent Night" by Stevie Nicks (can only be appreciated by a child of the 80's such as myself)

"What Child Is This" by Mercy Me (any song where Bart Millard belts out Hallelujah is worth listening to, imho-- oddly enough I don't much care for this song sung by anyone else.)

"In The Bleak Midwinter" by Paul Colman (again, don't like this song unless it's this version)

"Carol Of The Bells" from the Home Alone Soundtrack

And while we are on the subject, the theme from Home Alone is just sweet to listen to. Did you know it's called "Somewhere In My Memory?" I didn't til today!

"Joy" and "Thanksgiving" by George Winston

A new favorite for this year: A Baby Changes Everything. Again, I just love hearing Faith belt out Hallelujah at the end. (Pretty much I love to hear a great singer belt out that word anytime, anywhere.) If you've never heard this song, go listen to it.

I love to listen to this song anytime of year, but it gets a lot of play at Christmas. I still get sad whenever I remember that Dan's not with us anymore.

And my all-time, never-get-sick-of-hearing-him-hit-those-notes-at-the-end favorite Christmas song:
"O Holy Night" by Josh Groban

Someday I intend to actually download all these songs and make a cd for my car... someday. Not this year, certainly, but someday.

*** This will be my last "official" Christmas post... I am planning to spend lots of time with my family in the next few days, but will still pop in here from time to time!
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Thursday, December 18, 2008


Lately my life has been characterized by this song.

Anyone else sympathize?

Last night we hosted a little Christmas get-together for our small group. It was fun and I was so glad we did it-- but just hours before our guests arrived, that song was the soundtrack to my life as I ran to the grocery store again, cleaned up messes again, and dealt with children who were determined to make messes instead of clean them up... again. Why do I do this to myself? I kept asking as the frantic-ness of my day simmered just under the surface, threatening to boil over at any moment.

After everyone left, I smiled at my family and was so glad I exerted the effort it took to make it happen. I want my kids to remember people in the house, good food laid out in the kitchen, music and laughter and memories being brewed like the apple cider that simmered in my crockpot.

But I don't want them to remember a mom seized by pressure, cracking under it, and being ruled by it. How to make peace with these two sides-- the desire to create these memorable moments with the unavoidable extra stress these things bring about? Because, try as I might, I can't seem to ever be organized enough, prepared enough, or peaceful enough... pressure seems to find a crack to slip through with that missing ingredient that must be bought, that extra need, that unforeseen mess.

Last night just an hour before our guests were due, one of my children (who shall remain nameless) decided to cook some microwave macaroni and cheese. I never buy these things and bought them as a special treat since I knew I would be busy around dinner and figured these would be good "easy" dinners they could make themselves. (The best laid plans, and all that.) This child popped the noodles into the microwave without adding the water. I walked into the kitchen and smelled a horrible (and when I say horrible I mean horrible in the truest sense of the word) stench. You just haven't smelled horrible until you have smelled dry noodles that have been microwaved for several minutes. The clincher was several of my children were standing in the kitchen, seemingly oblivious to the stench that was permeating the room.

By the time I retrieved the container from the microwave, the plastic container was literally melting in on itself and smoking. I had to carry it outside as quickly as possible and then I reeked of burning plastic and noodles for the rest of the night-- and so did my house. Oh we lit candles and opened windows and doors and sprayed Febreze, but I couldn't get rid of the smell entirely. So we explained it to our guests and they laughed and understood because they have kids too.

But still. It was a wrench thrown in the works-- a kink in my plans. Something I could never have planned for that created extra work and extra pressure.

Perhaps one day I will have a peaceful, beatific outlook on life. Things like that won't trip me up or make me feel stressed. I will learn to smile and sweetly say, "Now we will just work together to get this little mess cleaned right up!" I won't worry that my house reeks or that the offending child kept laughing about it-- even though it was most decidedly not funny. I will know that, in the grand scheme of things, little glitches are part of life and not cause for alarm. My stress level won't rise based on my circumstances. I will appreciate things from an eternal perspective instead of a temporal one. I will say with joy, "this too shall pass" because I will grasp just how quickly it does. That's what I am working towards at least.

The thing is, most mornings when I am in the shower, I listen to this song as I start my day.
And I try to concentrate on this truth: Wherever you are, wherever you've been He's been there.
And this truth: It's so wonderful, to be here now.

Because it is wonderful to be here now-- wherever here is. God ordained it, so we must find the joy in it. It might take some digging, but it's there. Because He's there. And when I look at life from that perspective, pressure dissipates. The challenge is to choose to see things that way in the heat of the moment. As the song says, I can not handle pressure. But day by day, with effort and intention, I am learning to.
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Christmas Post Day 18: Have A Gingerbread Theme Party

In my ebook A Recipe For Christmas JOY, I wrote all about the Peppermint Tea my friend Cindy and I threw for moms and daughters. Well, having a gingerbread tea would also be an excellent idea! Here are just a few activities you could do:

(Note: These ideas were all shared on a moms' group I am on, and I just compiled them.)

In past years we have decorated gingerbread men...with frosting and raisineyes, red hots for buttons down the front. I give my kids a ziplock bag with the pieces they will need and another sandwich bag filled with icing and I cut the corner of the bag so they can squeeze out the frosting and decorate.

Have a Gingerbread man Hunt. After we have decorated the gingerbread men, we distract the kids and the gingerbread men run off, (like in the book) and we have clues to lead them to different places to look for their men, when we find them we eat them.

Make a Scented Gingerbread Man Ornament Using Sandpaper

This was a cute gingerbread matching game you could let the kids play.

Here's an idea for making those cute little gingerbread men chains using a brown paper grocery bag.

And last but not least, check out this video produced by Disney about making gingerbread houses starring Michelle, who played hostess to us on the Disney Mom Blogger trip! Very cute and so interesting! My girls enjoyed watching this, so call the kids in!

(Want a list of great gingerbread books to read? Check out this other post I wrote!)
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008


One of my regular readers let me know that I have clearly dropped the ball on posting winners. I did post the winner to the Jeremy Camp cd giveaway on the actual post. If you are ever checking on winners and don't see a specific post, I encourage you to go back to my original giveaway post, as I will often post the winners right there. I like doing that so I don't devote a whole post to announcing winners.

I also ALWAYS email the person or people who won directly so that you don't have to feel compelled to keep checking back. If I don't have an email or a blog address for you, I go on to someone else-- so that I can let people know. I learned this the hard way as I realized that people sometimes enter but forget to check back so the prize goes unclaimed.

The winner of the necklace from Fine Art Cross has been notified.

The winner of the Jeremy Camp cd has been notified and should be receiving hers soon!

And now we get to the winner of the candles, as well as the winner of the trees:

The winner of the set of three scented candles is Sweet Pea.

The winner of the set of fun decorative trees is Darla Leatherman.

I will also be emailing the winners or leaving a comment on their blogs to let them know that they won!

Congrats to the winners!!

I am done with giveaways for awhile... they are fun but following up is tough in the midst of Christmas craziness! Grace, grace, grace... that's what we at P31 always say! I know I depend on lots of grace all the time.
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Christmas Post Day 17: More Ideas For Making Gifts

Need to make a gift for someone?

This would make a great gift for a sister or friend or a particularly good neighbor. Scroll down for her tutorial on how to make stamped linen napkins. Beautiful.

Here's another idea along the same lines, this time with coasters.

Both these ideas were submitted by Alyce Bass. Alyce wanted everyone to know that you must use StazOn ink for this to work. Thanks Alyce!

Thanks to the commenter who alerted me that the linen napkin link was not working! It should work now!!
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Post Day 16: A Pillowcase Party

This idea was sent to me by Melissa, who coordinated the retreat I led in early November and is an awesome homeschooling mom and ministry leader. I loved getting to know her and I am so excited that their church invited me back to speak next year for a Christmas conference! Here is her idea-- I can't wait to try it with some of my friends! Melissa writes:

We call it a pillowcase party. It started out years ago with just me, my sister and a dear friend but has since grown to include almost every woman at church at some point. We gather together and have a nice lunch with our fine china and have hot tea and coffee. When we have finished with our time of fellowship we move onto the pillowcases.

Everyone brings enough white pillowcases for each child that they have. White works best because more colors can be used. (But one year someone used a navy blue and painted silver and white snowflakes on it and it was beautiful.) You cut a piece of cardboard to fit inside of each pillowcase so the paint won't run through to the other side. We use fabric paints and those shaped pressed foam stamps from the craft store. They come in all types of designs and words. We have added to our collection over the years so we have lots to choose from now.

Then each mom designs a pillowcase for each of her children that reflects favorite colors, themes or accomplishments from the past year. We use the writable fabric to write the child's name and the year. We have seen camouflage, princesses, Star Wars, Santa, snowmen, nativities and Christmas trees. The possibilities are endless.

When the pillowcase is dry, the kids sleep on it Christmas Eve Night. Someone took them after their kids were grown and made a quilt out of them. It's a lot of fun and the kids look forward to it every year. Thought you might enjoy it.

Thanks Melissa-- now I am not the only one who will enjoy this wonderful idea!! It was too good not to share!!
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Menu Plan Monday (Just a Tad Late)

So, ahem, I didn't post my menu plan Monday post today because, well, I was so caught up in BooMama's Christmas Tour of Homes that I just didn't get around to it. That and I was gone most of the day today.

So, here it is, fwiw. Not terribly exciting this week, but you know, some weeks are like that!

Tuesday) Bacon and Egg Sandwiches, Hashbrowns, and Baked Apples

Wednesday) Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, Colonial Brown Bread, Fruit

Thursday) Spaghetti and Homemade Meatballs, Crescent Rolls

Friday) Leftovers (the parents are going OUT)

Saturday) Baked Italian Chicken, Pasta Salad, Corn

Last week was my week for baking and y'all I have to tell you that I did bake everything I had down on my list from last week-- except for the Rosemary Peasant Bread. I was a baking fool.

This week I am planning to make a plethora of goodies. I will give some away to neighbors and of course my crowd will consume a large amount all on their own. I do love any excuse to make sweets-- and my kids love any excuse to eat sweets, so it's a good trade!
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An Extra Christmas Post: A Tour Of My Home

Welcome! If you've stopped by from BooMama's Tour Of Homes, I am glad to have you here! I love this time of year, and I love getting to "visit" all these gorgeous homes. I am honored to have you as my guest. My door is always open...

My mom made us this gorgeous wreath-- isn't it beautiful?

The view when you walk in.

A little corner of my kitchen, with my favorite Christmas candle lit-- the "Mistletoe" one from Yankee Candle. It smells just like a real tree for those of you who, like me, have resorted to a fake tree.

Our nativity scene perched atop a bookshelf in our living room.

This decoration sits on my kitchen island. You might remember this same candlestick from the fall when I had an orange candle on the candlestick and put it in a wreath of fall leaves. I love versatile decorations!

Our kitchen table-- remember the wreaths my kids made? We hung them in the windows and they look so cute! I love how cheery the whole corner turned out!

This is the new centerpiece I used this year. I used to have this sitting somewhere else in my other house, but I moved it to the dining room table this year and I just love it there.

Here's another view so you can see how the balls hanging from the chandelier match the balls that are filling up the hurricane.

Our tree, which is a nice unobtrusive narrow one-- perfect for this corner in our new living room.

Our mantle all ready for the stockings to be filled.

And last but not least, a cute little decoration on my coffee table. I got these trees a few days ago and just thought they were too cute! They look like they belong in this house to me.
In honor of BooMama's Christmas Tour Of Homes, I am giving a set of these away to one lucky winner. Just leave a comment for your chance to win and make sure that you leave a way for me to get in touch with you (either your email address or your blog is fine).
I will be choosing the winner of the candle giveaway and the winner of the trees on Wednesday. There's still time to enter the candle giveaway if you haven't yet!!
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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Post Day 15: Making New Traditions

Sometimes Christmas traditions are so old no one knows when they began, or how. But sometimes they are born out of a random comment, an interest that is sparked, a one-time event that becomes something... more. That's how our new tradition of baking baklava with my friend (and fellow speaker team member) Zoe was born-- me offhandedly commenting that I loved baklava and would love to learn how to make it. Since Zoe makes lots to give away at Christmas, we decided last year to get together so she could teach my mom and me. Well, this year my girls wanted to learn as well, so we got together again. Dare I say a Christmas tradition has been born? We had such a great time making baklava this past Saturday-- and my friend Erica even joined us for the fun!
Zoe instructing us all on the fine art of baklava baking.

Me painting the fillo dough with LOTS of butter... and yes, I was talking when Erica snapped the photo

My 14yo studding the pieces of baklava with cloves.

My 8 yo with the finished product-- so proud!

Me and my friend Erica... we decided we are greek now!
Zoe, thanks for letting us crash your baklava making party-- and for your patience with our non-Greek selves. Can't wait til this coming Saturday when we are getting together again... this time to make mints... and maybe some other goodies too!

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Post Day 14: Another Giveaway!

Two Fridays ago, I joined with Lori Catlin Garcia to give away a Fine Art Cross. That was cool.

Last Friday, I reviewed the new cd from Jeremy Camp and gave away one, thanks to the folks at Overture Media company. (I will be posting the winner's name on Monday!)

And this Friday, I am giving away three candles from Connie, who is selling candles to raise money to bring their newest child home from China. So, if you are looking for a great gift and a way to help out a family, this is perfect!

Here's what Connie had to say about what one lucky winner will receive:

12 oz. hand poured...triple scented. All are a milky white color...any scent will match anyone's home. 9 scents to choose from representing each Fruit of the Spirit. Different Bible verses on each one to go along with each fruit of the spirit. Poured in a square jar with extra cute packaging...great for a Christmas or Birthday gift. All scents have been tested in our own homes. We've been making candles for over 10 years. The winner will choose their 3 favorite scents from the right-hand margin of Connie’s blog

Who doesn't love candles?? And I love her idea of combining the scents with the fruits of the spirit! Since you win three, that means that you could keep one and give two away, or package them all together as a beautiful, impressive gift for someone in your life.

Please visit Connie's blog, then leave me a comment telling me which one you like best for your chance to win this most excellent prize! Thanks Connie for doing this giveaway. You have all of our prayers as you seek to bring another child into your wonderful home through the miracle of adoption.
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Post Day 13: The Holiday Letter

You've still got just enough time to dash off a holiday letter and get it into the mail to 100 of your closest friends and family. Need some inspiration and/or encouragement? Here's a great article written by my friend Bonita! (This is from her weekly encouraging email for writers. Information on how to subscribe is below.)

The Holiday Letter
By Bonita Lillie
Copyright 2008
(Encouraging Words for Writers #93)

Have you ever received one of those holiday letters that was so depressing that you felt guilty for celebrating? It reads something like this: I gained 300 pounds. The house burned down. Everyone lost their jobs. Everyone died. Happy Holidays! It makes you wonder if they are really writing to wish you a happy holiday or if they are soliciting pity and prayers.

When it comes to holiday letters a few simple guidelines will make your letter the one everyone can’t wait to read.

Keep it short. People are busy during the holidays. Keep it to one page, maybe two pages if you have a large family or an extraordinary year.

Hit the highlights. If your letter is multiple pages of miniscule type, it’s too long. No one leads a life so interesting that it requires a book to report on a single year. Touch on the main events. If someone wants to know more details they will contact you and let you know.

Be creative. I always look forward to a particular friend’s letter because her kids actually make a newspaper, one side front and back. It includes pictures and “headline” stories from their life.

Think outside the box when creating your letter, or at the very least print it on cute paper. Don’t forget other options like sending it by email or posting it on your blog.

Add some humor. You don’t have to be a slapstick comedian, but keep the letter lighthearted. Who doesn’t need a little chuckle during the holiday season?

Stay positive. Even if you’ve had the year from down under, find the redeeming qualities, the lessons learned, or comment on your hopes for the future. Heed the message in Luke 2:10: …I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Regardless of what you’ve personally endured, you can still share the good news of the gospel. Remember the reason for the season.

Send it on time. After Christmas the umph goes out and it’s not nearly so exciting to receive a holiday letter after the holiday. If you can’t get it together for Christmas, consider writing a New Year’s letter. If you’re an early bird, make it a Thanksgiving letter. If the whole holiday season leaves you gasping for air, opt for a less busy time. It’s okay to send an annual fourth of July letter or an Easter letter instead.

Write it. Regardless of what you write in the letter, take the time to write one at least once a year. People are treasures and it’s so important to keep in touch, especially with loved ones. Write that letter!

** If you know someone who would benefit from these emails, please have the person contact me at and I’d be happy to add another writer to the list. If you no longer wish to receive Encouraging Words for Writers please send an email to the above address with the word “unsubscribe” in the text.**
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Post Day 12: An Easy Craft

This was a great activity for a day at home. We used things we already had around the house and it occupied my kids for a good, long while. I love doing crafts and I especially love them when they are as easy as this one! I got this idea from Kelli, but adapted it using what we already had around the house. She has step by step instructions on her blog so go there to see how to do it.
Cut up some tissue paper into squares. I just used some already used paper from a gift bag and it worked fine!

Cut out the center of a paper plate. I had to use a knife to start it off.

Then I just used scissors to cut out a hole in the center of the plate.

It looked like this when I was done. Totally not perfect but it didn't matter!

Then I turned the kids loose. Once I knew that they knew what they were doing, I went and took a shower. By the time I got out, they had run out of green tissue paper and needed me to cut more. (We used two sheets of green and half a sheet of red and made three small wreaths.)

This one said he absolutely didn't want to make one when I called him in to get started. See that happy, proud smile on his face? He totally loved doing it and has his hung up in his room.

This one is always game for any sort of craft so this was right up her alley.

And this one? Well I thought she did very well and you can see how happy she was to make something just like her older siblings!

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Christmas Post Day 11: Centerpieces

At the tea we attended on Saturday, there were nearly 100 decorated tables-- and each one was gorgeous. I went around and snapped some of our favorites, trying to capture a decent sampling of everything from the dramatic and elegant to the whimsical and sweet. Perhaps some of these ideas will inspire you to create a beautiful centerpiece for your table. I changed mine this year for the first time in many years, using something I already had but had never used as a centerpiece before. I love the result and will share it in a future post. In the meantime, enjoy this selection of beautiful centerpieces, each one unique and beautiful in its own way!

I just love these feather trees-- need to get me one of these! I loved her use of the blue and silver. Who says Christmas has to be confined to red and green!

I have seen these goblet-style candleholders in stores, but never would have thought to fill them with tiny ornaments. I plan to do something like this in my home in the future now that I have seen this idea!

I loved this dramatic collection using earth tones. I loved the feathers creating an arc-- it really caught your eye.

Speaking of dramatic, it was hard to miss this beautiful table. This one wasn't really about the centerpiece, but the whole table. Loved the combination here of blue and gold.

This one was simpler, yet still so pretty. I love how she included the ornaments scattered around the gold trees.

This was my girls' favorite. They thought it was silly that I was taking pictures of the tables (they roll their eyes at my blogging exploits)-- yet when they saw this one, they said I simply had to include it. So, here it is!

Last but not least, I just loved this one. If you look closely, you will see that the packages all say to "Everyone" from "Jesus" and each package has things He has promised us-- Abundance, Rest, Peace, etc. Clever and beautiful, too! I loved her use of the pastel colors-- again, a departure from traditional colors yet still so "Christmasy."

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Menu Plans and Other Plans

I thought I would share both my menu plans and my plans for this week all in one post as I have been doing in the past. I like doing this because it holds me accountable to actually do what I say I am going to do. Not that you guys would hunt me down if I didn't do these things... but it just feels good to post my goals for the week and know that it's out there.

So, here is my menu for this week: (you might recognize a few meals from last week that were holdovers due to changes in plans-- it happens)

Monday) Vegetable Beef Noodle Soup, Garlic Toast

Tuesday) Margarita Chicken over yellow rice, side salad

Wednesday) Chicken and Potatoes, Glazed Baby Carrots

Thursday) "Fake Chick Fil A" (This is what my family calls those Tyson frozen breast patties on buns), frozen french fries, fruit

Friday) Roast, green beans, mashed potatoes, colonial brown bread

Saturday) Spaghetti with homemade meatballs, crescent rolls

Sunday) Eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, cinnamon bread

(For more menu plans, visit

And here are my goals for this week: (We have a week that, other than CBS on Thursday, is pretty light so I am planning lots of things to get done at home!)

  • Get started on my baking. I want to bake a loaf of some kind of bread for each of my three children's CBS teachers. (Thursday is our last day til after Christmas.) That means six loaves! Thankfully, I have a recipe for pumpkin bread that is in my ebook that makes three loaves at a time. In just two batches, I will have enough. I would also like to make Colonial Brown Bread (without raisins), Cinnamon Bread, Peach Muffins, Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, and Rosemary Peasant Bread. I won't make all these in one week, but would like to tackle at least one kind per day. I love to bake!

  • Get the tree up and do our Advent devotion that we couldn't do last night because the whole family wasn't together.

  • Make crafts with the kids. I have a list of supplies and need to get to Michael's or somewhere like that to pick up what we will need. I used this book from the library to plan out what we are going to do. There are also a number of resources on the internet if you start looking around.

  • Write one devotion a day for my book that is due January 1. I have 14 more devotions to write, plus editing and formatting all the submissions. Think I can do it?? I hope so!!

  • Watch Cranberry Christmas with the kids tonight on ABC Family and use this link to do some educational activities during the week as a follow-up. I love the Cranberry series, so it was a treat to find out that they had made a new special based on this book this year! I have the book on hold at the library so we can read it, too.

  • Read our Christmas books throughout the week. I have a list in my ebook of books we have loved and read every year.

  • Think about making gifts. Thinking about it is about as far as I will probably go. But isn't it the thought that counts? I do want to let the kids decorate some brown paper bags with buttons. Ammy did this with a plain brown lunch sack at the Elevation homeschool moms' party I hosted last week and it turned out super cute! She simply glued red and green buttons onto the bag in the shape of a tree, then folded over the top, punched holes in it and strung a red ribbon through it. Seriously cute!!

To order my ebook filled with recipes and inspiration for busy moms like you, go to this link:

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Christmas Post Day 10: A Time To Treasure

Treasure the holiday. Treasure the moments. Treasure one another.

When I read this quote on Cay Gibson's blog, it resonated with me. Shouldn't that be the goal for all of us this holiday season?

This weekend, I was able to spend some time treasuring all three things in one special event. We were invited by my mother in law to join her at her church's Christmas tea. This annual event draws lots of women, and it takes place in the church I grew up and got married in. So, it is very special for me to go there and take part in this time. The place where the event is held is where I had my reception, as a matter of fact! I can hardly stand in that room without memories coming back to me. I have to laugh at myself just a bit... it's so hard not to when I think of who I was then versus who I am now. Praise God I'm not who I was.

But I digress, as I often do.

I am so glad for memories made with my girls. They are growing up and all too soon will be gone, living their own lives apart from me. Better to take advantage of the time I have been given now, capturing these moments and these memories... treasuring them.

Will you carve out some time to treasure with your children this season? Schedule a day to bake and decorate cookies. Pile them into the car for an impromptu trip to Krispy Kreme (if you are fortunate enough to live near one) to get donuts and hot chocolate for no reason at all. Invite just one child to go shopping with you and let them help you choose gifts for loved ones. It doesn't matter what you do-- it only matters that you do it. I know I need to do more of it!

Christmas is a time to treasure, but I know I have to be held accountable for what I am treasuring, lest I put too much time and energy in all the wrong things and miss the precious moments I have been given.

(I will post some photos from the tea tomorrow!)

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Homeschooling At Christmas

This is a great link for homeschoolers to create lessons in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Even if you have kids in school, take a look for some wonderful ideas of things you can do during those days they are home from school!

Be sure and print out these pages, as this link will expire in Feb. 2009!
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Friday, December 05, 2008

Christmas Post Day 9: Jeremy Camp New Cd Giveaway

Two years since his last release, Jeremy Camp is releasing a new cd. Some of the changes he has experienced since his last cd "really got started in my heart," he said. "I got on my face, and that's where everything starts. You get distracted building your own kingdom."

I love this quote! It really convicted me as I thought about kingdoms I have tried to build-- my family kingdom, my writing kingdom, my speaking kingdom, my homeschooling kingdom. It is true what he says, while your kingdom might be noble and your intentions honorable, in the building you can still get distracted from the One who rules over all kingdoms, past, present and future.

We have loved Jeremy since his first cd was released, and wore it out on a car ride to Florida that summer. Imagine our surprise when we found him walking around at ICRS when we got there! (We were at the International Christian Retail Show so Christian writers and musicians are expected-- we just didn't expect to see him.) He was incognito at that point, as most people didn't even know who he was (yet). Curt saw him and stopped him to tell him how much we loved his cd and we even got our picture made with him. That was a highlight of our trip that we still laugh about! We have bought every single one of his cd's since then and have never been disappointed.

I handed this one directly to Curt when it arrived, as he is our resident music critic and is (to be honest) quite hard on most cd's. So when he came back and told me "That new cd of Jeremy's is really good," I knew we had a winner. He declared "There Will Be A Day" as the quintessential perfect song start to finish and has played it over and over again.

If you are looking for a great gift for a music lover you know, definitely keep this cd in mind. And I am even going to give one away to one lucky winner! Leave a comment and share your favorite Jeremy Camp song to win. I will announce the winner next Wednesday.

What's my favorite Jeremy Camp song? Well, these aren't new ones (they are actually from that first cd), but they stand out as my favorites still:
Stay and Breaking My Fall
Oh, and My Desire. How can you really pick just one??

Want to see a video preview of the cd? Go here!

ETA: Journey To A Gracious Woman won! My son randomly chose the number of her post. Congrats!!
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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Christmas Post Day 8: A "Sweet" Activity At Christmas

For a fun activity this Christmas, check out some of these titles at the library, then read aloud to your kids while they nibble on gingerbread cookies and drink hot chocolate. If you are feeling energetic you can make gingerbread men together first. But if you don't have time, the Pepperidge Farm kind will work just fine!

“The Gingerbread Boy” by Paul Galdone (old classic)

“Gingerbread Baby” by Jan Brett

“The Gingerbread Cowboy” by Janet Squires

“The Gingerbread Man – An Old English Folktale” by John A. Rowe

“The Gingerbread Girl” by Lisa Campbell Ernst

“The Gingerbread Boy” by Richard Egielski

“The Runaway Tortilla” by Eric A. Kimmel

“The Gingerbread Man in Signed English” by Michelle A. Herx

“The Gingerbread Rabbit” by Randall Jarrell

(List from Julie Druck's email newsletter "A Heart For Home," December 08 edition. To subscribe, send an email to

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Christmas Post Day 7: Free And Fun Activities

Christmas is the time of year for families to spend quality time together, creating memories. Too often I think it's easy to disregard opportunities because we equate time together with costing money. To create memories, you don't have to spend a lot of money. Some of our best Christmas memories have centered around decorating the tree with Christmas music playing and hot chocolate simmering on the stove, or gathering to watch our annual screening of Home Alone with big bowls of dad's homemade popcorn balanced on our laps!

This year as you seek out time with your family, you don't have to think in terms of expensive dinners out or taking everyone to see the latest blockbuster. Oh, those things are great if you can afford it, but they aren't the only option. You can skimp on spending without skimping on fun! Look for churches hosting free music concerts, then stop for $1 sundaes at McDonald's afterwards. Many churches host live nativities or "Walk Through Bethlehem" events. Some neighborhoods have a luminary night and everyone decorates their homes. It doesn't matter what the event is-- what matters is the time spent together!

Here is just an example of something that is going on in our area that is totally free. If you live in Charlotte, check it out!

From Dec. 1 - 23, the Billy Graham Library will be open until 9:00pm for some very special Christmas events including a live Nativity (6-9pm), horse-drawn carriage rides (6-9pm), Christmas stories read in Ruth's Attic Bookstore, caroling, special exhibits featuring Graham family Christmas memorabilia, a gingerbread replica of the Library and Graham Family Homeplace, and you may drop off a book that will be donated to Charlotte Reads.
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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Christmas Post Day 6: Create A Christmas Notebook

This year I decided to make a Christmas notebook that I can add to throughout the season, then pull out next year in November to start planning. In a way, my Christmas ebook is the culmination of years of collected notes, so this is my way of starting all over again with all new ideas, thoughts and inspirations. The photo above is the notebook I made, a work in progress which currently holds recipes, the printed off copy of the advent guide from Veritas (link in Sunday's post), and a few other things. But what else should I include? I did some internet research and was delighted to discover that I am not the only woman out there who is keeping a Christmas notebook.
Here is a great article I found on making a Christmas notebook.
I was amazed at the number of links that were out there-- who knew so many people keep Christmas notebooks?

This is a whole site devoted to Christmas notebooks.

Christmas Notebook Organizes Season

Christmas Planning Notebooks (Training Tons of Sons)

Organize Christmas

Holiday Planning: A Christmas Notebook

Christmas Kitchen: A Christmas Notebook
Do you keep a Christmas notebook? Has this post inspired you to start one? A great thing to slip into yours is my ebook (print it out on both sides of the paper and punch holes in it)-- don't forget to order yours in time to put it to use this season!
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Monday, December 01, 2008

The 12 Days Of Christmas Starts Today

My friend and fellow speaker team member, Karen Ehman is beginning her "12 Days Of Christmas" giveaway today. Each day for the next 12 days, she is profiling a different speaker team member and offering a giveaway to go along with it. Today she is featuring my friend and Greek-pastry-baking-guru Zoe Elmore! Check it out and leave a comment to win a wonderful book.

And don't forget to enter in the necklace giveaway that Fine Art Cross is doing for my blog readers!! Go here to enter.
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Christmas Post Day 5: Making Gifts?

With the holidays falling during some of the worst economic times our country has experienced ever, the concept of making gifts appeals to me. But what? How? Can it be done if someone is not really crafty, can't sew, and once burned herself with a hot glue gun so badly that she had to sleep that night with her hand thrust in a glass of cold water just to stop the throbbing?

Or am I a lost cause?

I like to think not, and yet I am in desperate need of ideas for the craft challenged.

I found this link for making candles in the crockpot, and that was my first glimpse of hope. (ETA: She's done it again! This time she made soap in the crockpot!!)

This is a great site on handmade holidays to check out.

And here's another one.

And I like her collection of ten elegant, inexpensive handmade holiday gifts.

So, what are you planning to make as gifts this year?
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Menu Plan Monday

Here is my menu for this week:

Monday) Scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, blueberry muffins

Tuesday) Chicken and dumplings, black eyed peas

Wednesday) Crockpot broccoli beef over rice

Thursday) Pizza

Friday) Margarita Chicken over yellow rice, side salad

Saturday) Hamburgers on the grill, french fries

Sunday) Vegetable Beef Soup, Homemade Breadsticks

What's cookin at your house?

For more menus, head on over to Organizing Junkie, who hosts Menu Plan Monday.
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