Emmanuel

Emmanuel

From the Authors

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,img_20151225_095924089_hdr and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” ~Matthew 1:23

Emmanuel; God is with us.

Matthew 1 is pretty great. I know I didn’t always have an appreciation of the genealogy of Jesus. I just really liked the end of the chapter; the name Emmanuel- the thought that God came down to be with us. I always liked that.

But the story isn’t just about that 1 night in Bethlehem. It’s not even about the next thirty some years of Jesus life. (Though without Jesus’ life, the story wouldn’t have any point at all.) But the story starts way back at the beginning before there was time. God has always always been preparing and making a way for us to be together with Him.

And His Plan to rescue little ol’ us, proves his sovereignty. Look at that genealogy in Matthew 1! Was there ever a better list of screw ups and nobodies? And God chose them to bring about Jesus’ entrance into the world. He chose them, so He could rescue us. It was His great plan. If you go back and read through the stories, you begin to really fathom the grace and love of God.

One of my favorites in all the stories is Jacob’s dream. Not so much because of the dream, as amazing as that is. Mostly I’m always interested in the beginning of the story where he lays down and puts his head on a rock? Why a rock? Wouldn’t the dirt ground be more comfortable? Then he has his amazing dream and…

Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” ~Genesis 28:16

I think that will be us towards the end of our lives. We will look back at all that God has done and finally realize He was with us the whole time. And we will say, “Surely the Lord has been with us- and we did not even know it!”

Because the Lords’ love is greater than we could ever fathom:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

So go to your Christmas Eve service, and hear the story again. And may you be blessed to find something new and fresh about who God is and what He is doing in your life!

Merry Christmas!

Lord God, help us to see you at work in our lives right now. We don’t want to be like Jacob, realizing you were with us only after the fact. Help us to stand before you open-handed and with open hearts, ready to receive all the gifts you have for us. We thank you so much for the most awesome gift you’ve given of Jesus. At this time of year we remember how good you are and rejoice. But we also know that Easter will come, and that there was a sacrifice that had to be made on our behalf. Help us to truly treasure the gift you have given- Yourself, and Your Love. Thank you, Jesus. Amen!

The Lost Art of Waiting

The Lost Art of Waiting

Inspiration

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. ~Psalm 27:14

The next morning, after decorating the tree. These two like to play musical chairs with the ornaments.
The next morning, after decorating the tree. These two like to play musical chairs with the ornaments.

We got our Christmas tree up! And as soon as the tree was up, the kids were asking every five minutes when we could decorate the tree. I explained how we had to wait. When asked why, I wasn’t really sure. I just remember Dad always saying something about letting the branches settle. My daughter watched the tree intently for a few minutes and then said, “The branches aren’t doing anything. Can we decorate the tree now??”

The next day (unable to take the pestering any longer) we decorated the tree. As soon as the tree was decorated, the kids ran to their rooms and disappeared for quite a bit- only reappearing from time to time asking for paper, a box, and some tape. My eldest was the first to emerge from his room with presents wrapped in printer paper that he’d colored on. A few minutes later and my daughter followed suit. They just couldn’t wait to put presents under the tree.

If you are a parent, you can already guess where this is going. “When can we open the presents!?” I was peppered with similar questions like a goose on waterfowl opener. I kept responding with, “We have to wait.” So of course they wanted to know why we wait, and I didn’t have a really good answer. I am just as bad, as soon as we put the presents under the tree I want to let the kids open them. I want to see those delighted little faces.

By the time my husband came home, I’m pretty sure I looked like I’d crawled through a bush backwards. The words, “Why do we have to wait?” were echoing in my head and I might have been drooling a little.

Why do we have to wait?

And maybe more importantly, why are we so terrible at waiting?

I don’t have to look far for an answer. My cell phone is sitting on the desk next to me while I type this. I don’t really think we wait anymore. Even if I’m at the DMV and need to wait for a half hour, I can email and make phone calls and get things done. I could even watch a movie or play a game. There is no waiting. No quiet time for reflection. Our society is a get-it-now, fix-it-fast society. It seems like a good idea… but…

If you want concrete proof that knowing how to wait is good, then google “The Marshmallow Test.” There was a study done in the late 60s, early 70s. Kids were given a marshmallow and told they could have that marshmallow now, but the adult would leave the room and if they waited until the adult returned, then they could have two marshmallows. Hilarity ensued. But the kids who were able to wait (“to delay gratification”) later in life did better on SATs and more. Interesting…

So partly because of these reflections, and also just because I need a little help- I’ve been making my kids wait (bwahahaha!)*. Instead of dragging them all out the door and into the car, I send them out first where they wait for me to gather the last of our supplies and then come out composed and happy (compared to the old version of yelling and frazzled). Just little things that help them work out what it is to wait for someone or something.

So, again I ask, is it important to know how to wait?

What does this look like for us, for our children? Is it important to know how to choose to be joyful instead of impatient? Is it important to know how to react kindly instead of selfishly? Is it important to know how to sit quietly instead of loudly complaining?

Because we can easily forget that we are a waiting people. Yes, Jesus already came and rescued the world, but we are waiting for his return. Our friends and neighbors are looking at us as an example of Christ. And we are walking through a world full of hurt and pain, and we are waiting for that promised future. So how do we want to show our friends and neighbors that we are a waiting and hopeful people? That we are trusting that God is who he says he is. That we believe in His Word.

How do we show that we are waiting, and full of hope and love?

Lord, this is not the season of presents and busy. This is a season for quiet reflection for what you have done. This is the season for hope and peace. The lights and noise can distract, the busy schedules can almost crush us at times. Forgive us for not having our priorities in order. And for those of us hurting through this season, who are grieving the loss of a loved one and missing those who are no longer on this earth- bring your comfort and joy afresh. Help us to seek out the only One who is going to really be able to heal and fill our hearts. I pray that our relationship with you would be like new, and we would be in awe of who you are and what you have done. In Jesus name, Amen

~Lindsay

*Yes, I laugh like that from time to time. Mostly when my parenting becomes ridiculous.**

**So pretty much daily.

 

Christmas Bagpipes

Christmas Bagpipes

Our Story

He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.” ~John 1:51

Merry Christmas!

I’ve been thinking about Grandpa again. My grandpa really wanted to be in the Von Trapp family. You know- Sound of Music? Entire family sings, dances and performs? Needless to say, we fell lamentably short of the Von Trapp Family Singers, but that didn’t stop us from trying. One of grandpa’s Christmas traditions was to hold a family-talent-show. One year, I remember spending months trying to learn a song on the guitar. Mind you, I didn’t know how to play but I could learn. That Christmas I’m sure it was as painful for my listeners as it was for my fingers.

Don't you want to squeeze the reindeer too? Or Spiderman? Or both?
Don’t you want to squeeze the reindeer too? Or Spiderman? Or both?

But then there came a year when my immediate family was going through some hard times. We didn’t really want to talk about those things at Christmas. We wanted to go, and be together, and laugh- to forget the ‘hard times’ for just a little bit. When we were in the car, en route to Grandpa’s, we realized we had not prepared for the annual (if informal) ‘Christmas Talent Show.’ I know what you’re thinking- no big deal. And it probably wasn’t. We knew that we had cousins who were gifted piano players and ballet dancers, an uncle who would read something very moving (and possibly in German- hooray for heritage), another uncle who could sing really well, and the littlest cousins were so darn cute, they couldn’t fail at anything they tried. And then there was us. We didn’t feel like we had any real talent to share at that point, but neither did we want to say so (call it German stubbornness). Which brought up the sarcastic comment, “Too bad no one here plays the bag pipes.” Well, one thing led to another, and when you have an hour long car ride, you can usually come up with something. And we did!

So that year, when Grandpa turned to our family and asked, do you have anything to share with us? We smiled really big, and said, “Yes! Human bagpipes!” Everyone looked a little confused, and then we began our performance. Basically we all made the loudest, most obnoxious sound we could think of. All at the same time, and all in different keys. While most of us continued with these odd noises, one of us would take the melody and loudly (and if it was a more nasal sound, all the better) hum and bellow the tune for Silent Night.* We didn’t even make it through the song, we were laughing so hard. We kept at it as long as we could, and everyone joined in the laughter. I think we impressed everyone in a different way that year. It wasn’t quite the piano solo of Carol of the Bells that one of my cousins did, but it was nice to have performed. Nice to escape the reality of our lives, and to have been a part of something.

But here is the great thing about Christmas. God does not ask us for a performance. He is not looking down on you, expecting you to be better, to be more than you are, to do something absolutely amazing that has never been done before. The heavy burdens we feel from striving in this world, are not from Him. He is not asking us to be perfect, nor is He pushing us away. Instead He is providing The Way. The way back to Him, the way back to where we belong, the way to peace, the way to love, and the way to simply be. He sent his son down to us, to be the way back to Him. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.** And He came so that we could live life in abundance.*** We cannot earn God’s love, nor can we lose it.**** So let that knowledge sink into your hearts this Christmas season. Let the One who created you and loves you beyond measure fill your weary hearts. Because we have been given this free and amazing gift- this gift that gives us freedom and peace. He came weak and helpless as a baby into our world, so that we could find our way back to the One who created us. So that we could be filled and whole and new again. Christmas is magical because of the expectation that God has, and is, and will continue to do great things.

Thank you God, that you provided this way back. Thank you Jesus for giving yourself freely for all of our sins. Thank you Holy Spirit for filling our hearts. I pray that this Christmas season would not pass without our hearts being touched by You. That our hearts would soften and turn towards you. That we would not be consumed by things, or by what we do or do not do. Help us to lay down the idea that we must preform to earn your love. Help us instead to pick up the peace that your son brought into this world. And give us the love we need so that we could boldly tell others of who You are, and how You love them. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*It’s really hard to explain without making the noises, I keep humming/bellowing while I’m typing trying to figure out how to better explain this atrocious musical performance?

**John 14:6

***John 10:10

****Romans 8:38

This is what happens when you take your kids to the outdoor nativity service on Christmas eve during a blizzard. They build a snowfort.
This is what happens when you take your kids to the outdoor nativity service on Christmas eve during a blizzard. They build a snowfort.

 

Under the Desk

Under the Desk

From the Authors Music Video

and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. ~Luke 2:7

We have three young children. It is a really wonderful and fun time of life. It can also really be tiring (I need a nap). However, the one thing life never is- is dull. Life is not dull with three young children. No.

Which brings me to the dilemma of Christmas present shopping. We need a babysitter to go pick out Christmas presents. And yes, we both need to go. I have proven that I have terrible taste in gifts (picking out only educational* (aka non-fun) gifts, or cheap gifts that break quickly). And maybe I could leave it all to my husband, but where is the fun in that? So we got a babysitter. I was overly optimistic that my youngest was going to do well with a babysitter. He had survived the first test run with her. We had put a movie on as soon as she arrived and returned home while the movie was still going. I don’t think he even noticed we’d left the house. So yes, I was over confident that this date was going to go well. … … Until the babysitter texted us before we’d even finished our dinner (we were making it a real date):

[The youngest] ran upstairs about 15 minutes ago. He won’t come back down. He is hiding under the computer desk with his blanket and says he won’t come out until you come home. He is okay as long as I don’t go by him. What should I do?

I saw that text, stood up, and headed for the door. My husband, slightly more sane and less impulsive than I am, slowed me down. We called the babysitter and made sure she was okay with the situation. We gave her a few ideas to ‘lure’ him out, and then I sat through the rest of dinner with the phone clutched tightly in my hand waiting for her to text or call me with more news. The genius babysitter turned on his favorite TV show, and this led to him coming to the top of the stairs, and then he sat on the stairs to watch his show, and by the time we came home he was sitting at the kitchen table playing Gone Fishing with big sister and the babysitter.

Now here’s the thing. I get my youngest. I understand two-year-olds. Because I’m still a lot like him. I don’t want to try new things. I like things the way they are. Change is scary and hard. I want to hide under the computer desk with my blankie at times too. Thankfully I have a level headed man who takes me by the hand and drags me out into society. And thankfully I have a grace filled God who relentlessly pursues me.

Relentlessly.

All throughout time you can see God pursuing His People. And foolishly we keep messing up. We turn to other gods, we think we can do it ourselves, we chose evil… we mess up! But Advent, this time of year, it’s not about presents (educational or not). It’s not even about the cookies (I do love the cookies). This time of year is the reminder that even though we are the sinners, the mess makers, the unworthy, God who is infinitely worthy and holy has chosen us. He has come into this world to redeem and reclaim us. And what has He given us? The very things we are pleading for: forgiveness, peace, rest, redemption, grace. We are filled to overflowing, when we let ourselves be filled and satisfied with Jesus Christ.

As this Christmas season is quickly advancing, I keep thinking how I need a little rest. And how perfectly this song fits into our busy Christmas schedules. If I were a part in the Christmas story, I think I would (unfortunately) be the Inn Keeper. So busy with my own little mundane tasks, that I would miss the birth of my savior, right down the street. So inwardly focused on wanting my own rest and peace, that I would not realize the Prince of Peace had arrived. I have been reflection on this a lot, as I listen to one of my favorite Christmas CDs. I hope you enjoy this song by Jason Gray:

Lord, you came! You did it! You found a way into our world, and into our hearts. Help us to be more aware of You, and all that you have done. Help our hearts to turn towards You, help our ways to be more like your ways. Help us to be more like the shepherds, willing to drop everything and run to worship you! Help us to stop looking in the wrong places for peace and rest, but to trust in You. To find our peace and rest in You. Thank you that you came! Thank you that you relentlessly pursue us- that no matter how many mistakes we make, you do not shame us or hurt us. Instead you fill us with your love and peace. Again and again, you extend peace and love to us. Thank you! In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*this year I picked out a fraction game for my eldest. Yes, a fraction game. Sounds thrilling doesn’t it? This is the kind of present my child will bring up later in life as a sort of comedic horror story for everyone. I see ‘educational’ and I think ‘great!’

Perspective

Perspective

Children From the Authors

saying, “Where is He who was born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”
Matthew 2:2 (MEV)

We are moving.

We are moving, with three small children, in the middle of winter, with snow on the ground, in the middle of the holiday season.

We have had better ideas.

But through it all I keep hearing murmurs of ‘change your perspective.’

A movie with the kids tells them to look at their problem from a different angle. A friend who moved tells me to look at moving like an adventure. My husband reminds me to choose my attitude. A song, a book, a devotional, a whisper…

And it’s not always easy to look at things in a different light; to change. But it can be beautiful.

My older son recently received two gifts, and my daughter only one. He was feeling pretty good. Until another gift appeared for my daughter. And this gift contained three small gifts. Suddenly my daughter had twice as many gifts as my son. Any parent can tell you what followed. He was pretty stuck in the circle of but-it’s-not-fair, until I said, “What if I took your presents and gave them to a little boy who hasn’t gotten any gifts yet this Christmas? I bet he would be very happy to receive two gifts.” And I was so thankful and amazed as I watched something new dawn on his little face. Something that has more to do with time, and experience than any parenting tricks. And suddenly the two gifts were ok, because they were better than none.

A new perspective.

And so as we box up our entire house and experience a Christmas season without lights or trees, no prettily wrapped packages, no manger scenes, no cookie baking (ok… limited cookie baking), and on and on. I am looking at Christmas in a new light. How do I make Christmas special for my kids (and myself) without all the bells and whistles?

A new perspective.

It’s beautiful really. When you strip away all the stuff, and there is just new fallen snow on the ground, lights in the distance, carols on the radio, you are able to focus on the warmth in your home and your heart.

I have a devotional.
It helps me remember,
I am seeking Him who set the world in to motion.
And really that’s all I need for Christmas; for every day.

wise-men-still-seek-him2

Wise men sought him 2000 years ago.

Wise men still seek him today.

May the all powerful Lord, who came as a baby in the lowest of circumstances, open your eyes to new things. To new ways of seeing others, of seeing yourself. May He bless you this Christmas season, and always! In Jesus name, Amen.

~Lindsay

Here is one of my favorite Christmas songs.
Talk about changing your perspective about Christmas!
The song is by Jason Gray, and his son sings the song.
The song is titled “Christmas for Jesus”

A Waiting People

Encouragement From the Authors

Jesus said to his disciples, “Don’t be worried! Have faith in God and have faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house. I wouldn’t tell you this, unless it was true. I am going there to prepare a place for each of you. After I have done this, I will come back and take you with me. Then we will be together. You know the way to where I am going.”
John 14:1-4

light_no_verseCHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry, about that. Didn’t mean to “yell.” I just get so excited…

We are a waiting people. A people waiting for the return of our savior. Most of the year we don’t feel it. Or at least, I don’t. I let the business of life consume me. A poor excuse. A trick of this world is the perception that all this stuff we are doing is so important. And sometimes it is, but most of the time… maybe it’s not quite as important as we think.

This is the time of year when the waiting intensifies. We realize there is more. And it is coming. We start looking for it. And we can find it in the form of a small baby, who leads all the way to a cross on a hill, and then to an empty tomb. But the story doesn’t end there!

We are part of the story. We continue that story. We share in that story.

I’m sorry if you are not someone who gets excited about Christmas. I hope you will find some peace and joy in this season. I hope you will feel the quickening, the anticipation of the coming Christ. He has come, He will come again.

Believe!

Not in Santa Claus, or consumer-driven-Christmases… but believe in the One who created you, loves you, and died for you. Believe He will come again. Believe there is better. Believe you can be better. Believe that Love is still alive. Believe in the person you were created to be. Believe in Hope, Grace, Faith…

Believe!

May the Lord increase your faith this Christmas season! May you draw near to Him, as He is surely drawing near to you. And may your eyes be opened like those of a child, to the wonder around you. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

 

The List

The List

Children From the Authors

to usFor to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 Isaiah 9:6 NIV

Dec 1 165
My older son inspecting the Christmas lights.

Last week I promised a list of Non-Toy Christmas ideas. I’m here to deliver. This is by no means a complete list and I must admit, most ideas are borrowed from friends and family. But here’s my list for meaningful gifts that are not stuff-ful.

One more comment before I get to the list: if you feel the need to give a toy then go ahead and give it! How about a small $10 Lego set, a match box car, stickers (always a favorite at our house), a small doll/figurine of a favorite character- you choose. My kids are as excited with one small gift, as they are with a large gift. I’m not saying it’s bad to give toys, but let’s stretch our horizons and consider giving something precious: memories, time, financial support…

The List

Date: Give the gift of your time. Make this as expensive (a movie, dinner at a restaurant) or inexpensive (play date with you) as you want. Introduce a child to some of your interests (how about an afternoon baking with Grandma?). And there is always the grand-poobah of date gifts: the sleepover. The point is to give the gift of your time, build memories, and relationships*.

The Choose-A-Date: Stealing this idea from a sister-in-law, she did ‘the date’ gift in grand style. The gift was a picture frame that said “Choose a date” at the top. Then there were two options for where they would go, where they would eat dinner, and where they would eat dessert. The child got to choose. And at the bottom it said they would take a picture on their date, and then the picture would go in this frame (bonus points for heartwarming cuteness).

Operation Christmas Child: This is a chance to help your kids experience the joy in giving and talk with them about children around the world who have so little. O.C.C. usually collect gifts in mid to late November, so you have to be on the ball to participate. If you haven’t heard of it, just do a web search. Operation Christmas Child is done by Samaritan’s Purse and they have plenty of material to make the event more meaningful for you and your child.

Sports/Activities: Sports fees seem to increase every year, and then you have equipment you need to buy too… But what child doesn’t benefit from participating in athletics, cooking classes, theater, or even calligraphy (my mom put me in calligraphy class as a child. I was the youngest person in the class, by… oh, about twenty years!). If you want to make it more “gift like” give a soccer ball with money for soccer lessons. Talk to the parents ahead of time, to match family need with child interests.

Memberships: A great family gift is a membership to a local zoo, museum, or other attractions. You are giving mom’s a chance to take kids somewhere educational/fun and kids a place to learn/create/explore. Again, if you want the “gift like” appearance, give a zoo membership with a big stuffed animal.

Homemade gifts: What!? Ok. Don’t go out and buy a sewing machine if you’ve never used one and try to make a ballgown for your granddaughter. BUT, if you have a talent, make something for them. Wood working? Knitting? Sewing? Cooking? These are the gifts that hold sentimental value and retain their value. My husband has a little wooden car his grandfather made for him. It has his name painted on it, and our children play with it. So much more precious than any Hotwheels car we’ve ever received. My mom can sew- she’s made everything from pillowcases (actually a big hit when they have the kids’ favorite characters on them, and this is a pretty simple sewing project) to an Elsa gown.

The Practical Gift: Oh dear! Don’t say it! But YES!!! It’s what mothers everywhere want! Give them beach towels, school supplies, backpacks, sleeping bags, shoes, goggles, and even underwear! If you think they don’t want these gifts, you are mistaken. My daughter just asked for Elsa underpants for Christmas. She didn’t care what they were, she saw them, they had her favorite character on them, she wanted them. Of course… if she were a bit older that would be an embarrassing present to open in front of everyone. So be reasonable, but also- dare to be practical!!

Sentimental gifts: A friend recently showed me a bible with writing in it. Her mother had the idea to buy a bible when her grandchildren were born, and then she would read it, pray with it, and write notes in it for years, before finally giving it to the child when they reached a certain age. Did your heart just melt a bit? Mine did. Another idea I saw someone give was an “affirmation jar.” They had decorated a mason jar to look really cute, and filled it with notes containing thoughts about that person, and prayers they’ve said for them. You are creative. Can you think of something along these lines? Would it bless someone? A child you know?

Tickets: Is this like a date? But tickets to plays or sporting events would be awesome! You could give them to the family, or you could set a date and go along. I still remember dressing up and going downtown to a special dinner and play as a young child. I don’t remember the play or the food. I just remember my grandpa, and how I felt like such a “big girl.” I also remember the time we got tickets to see a basketball game, and we were so far up in the nosebleed section that I thought we were watching ants running around! But again- there I remember all the laughter, and Grandpa.

Games: Giving a game is pretty close to a toy… but I always forget about games. Kids love games. Family games are the best. Also educational games. My son learned his consonants from Consonant Bingo! And our family still talks about some of the charades games we played at holiday get togethers.

Recipes: Give family recipes to a child. Put it in a cute cookbook. A friend gave me a recipe book for my wedding, it was in a simple photo book. She paired hand written note cards with some really ridiculous pictures of us. (Give the gift with a baking date?) Or give them a recipe + the ingredients?

Ok, this list is getting long. So now we have hit the rapid fire portion of our list:

  • Give a girl a ‘big girl date‘- manicures, and tea?
  • Have an artsy child? Project bin full of art supplies.
  • $ towards college– they will thank you later, trust me, they will!
  • Seasonal items/outdoor items– sleds, skates, snowpants, boots, umbrellas, beach towels…
  • A watch! Do you know how few kids can tell time? Also, watches are cool. Especially if they have dragons.
  • Calendar– my kids are always checking the calendar, they like to keep track of what is going on too.
  • BOOKS! BOOKS! BOOKS!
  • Subscriptions! The gift that keeps showing up every month!
  • Learning tools/objects. Kids think learning is fun, until someone tells them otherwise. Don’t be that someone!
My daughter inspecting the Christmas lights.
My daughter inspecting the Christmas lights.

And on and on the list could go… But I hope that will get you thinking. Gift giving and generosity- these are good things! At Christmas time, we are reminded of God’s generosity and His greatest gift to us – Jesus Christ!

May your Christmas season be filled with joy, love, peace, hope, and meaning**. May your Christmas not be stuff full, but heart full. And may your hearts overflow with the love of Christ as you give to others. In Jesus name, Amen!!

 ~Lindsay

*We recently gave a date as a gift to our niece, and she reminded me about it. And I do believe she was hinting that she would like to get another date this year. A sleepover.

**Do yourself a favor- get a devotional this Christmas season. If you need direction, I highly recommend The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp.

Jingle Jingle

Jingle Jingle

Children

I will praise the Lord God
    with a song
    and a thankful heart.
Psalm 69:30

This is what happens when you leave your one-year-old alone with your artsy sister and a camera around Christmas time.
This is what happens when you leave your one-year-old alone with your artsy sister and a camera around Christmas time.

I start playing Christmas music on November 1st. This is partly to humor my husband. If I had my way, I would play Christmas music all year round. But I am lucky, he can handle about four months of Christmas tunes (yes four, November through February) before he loses his cool. (And yes, I recognize, I have a thing for Christmas music)

This year’s Christmas will be a little different. We will be moving. Right now we are in the process of packing and let’s just say- stuff is everywhere. And since I’ve been packing the toys, and being (frankly) amazed at the amount of stuff we’ve accumulated, this post came about naturally.

As I look around at all the boxes, I’m reminded of a recurring conversation I have with a good friend. Each year we talk a lot about Christmas gifts. Well… we talk a lot period, but this particular conversation is about gift giving and gift receiving. What kind of gifts do we want our children to give? What kind of gifts do we want them to receive? And while we are not hipsters, we are trying to brainstorm gift ideas that aren’t… exactly… toys.

Why do we think so much about this topic? Partially because of monetary needs. Some family and friends cannot afford to purchase big ticket items. Partially the desire for our children to build stronger relationships with their relatives through rich experiences, not big presents. But mostly to focus Christmas on a baby in a manger, not a box under a tree. And then of course… if I’m completely honest, because of all the stuff. There is just so much of it!

So, if you are looking for gift ideas that aren’t for sale at the nearest store, you’ve come to the right place! I don’t have a complete list, but I hope to spark an idea or just give you something to ponder. But my list is too long for right here and right now… so you’ll just have to wait*.

Until next week!

May God bless you and keep you. May He show you that His love for you is so great that He sent the Ultimate Gift to you in Jesus Christ, who died for our sins. In Jesus name, Amen

~Lindsay

*I’m not trying to be difficult, but I want to keep the posts short and simple (my middle names). Also, I may not have finished the list quite yet…