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Free Yourself from all the Christmas Expectations this Year

Do you need to free yourself from all the Christmas expectations this year? Reclaim joy before December rushes by in a miserable haze of disappointment.

Do you need to free yourself from all the Christmas expectations this year? Are you starting to feel like December slides into January in a miserable haze of rushing around and the “not enough” voices echoing in your head?

Where does all this pressure come from?

I know the media does its fair share of applying the pressure to create a magical holiday for our families.

The problem is that even those perfect holiday movies aren’t perfect. Just watch one of the military themed ones with my husband, he’ll tell you all about it!

(this site uses Referral links-purchases support our ministry through a small referral fee that never affects your cost.)

After the media, the commercialism of the holidays is a major factor.

America starts celebrating Christmas earlier and earlier each fall. At this rate, I’m pretty sure the decorations will hit the shelves the weekend after Labor Day next year. Santa Claus was sitting next to Jack o’Lanterns as it was!

via GIPHY

Then, we see the decorations and subconsciously begin to craft the perfect holiday in our hearts and heads. Our imaginations conjure a Christmas that would put June Cleaver to shame.

And we set ourselves up for failure, robbing our family and selves of so much joy.

Too many of my friends and family are feeling the weight of Christmas expectations already. We’re only five days into December, but the pressure is so high to make the entire month spectacular, to fill each day with magic and meaningful moments.

Even amongst Christians, we succumb the idea that we’re supposed to be celebrating advent, volunteering, giving, learning more about Jesus in some super serious, dedicated manner. And we’re heaping tasks on ourselves that Jesus never meant us to have.



Set yourself FREE of those Christmas Expectations right now!

One, manage your own expectations. Be realistic with what you can do while having peace and joy.

I guarantee you that your family will enjoy your peaceful, joyous heart more than a million seasonal activities.

Have a kid fighting cancer? Christmas magic isn’t the priority this year. Give yourself a break.

Even if you are just having a normal year, in 24 hours, you sleep 8 (I’m being optimistic – go with it), meals take about 4-5 hours a day between prep, eating, and clean-up (longer with toddlers or nursing), subtract at least 3 more for hygiene and parenting (double that for each kid under five), which leaves 8 hours or less for work, housework, grocery shopping, bill paying, etc.

That doesn’t leave you much time to make Christmas magic.

Choose your battles!

You can’t do everything. What are the most important parts of the holidays for you that are manageable? Hot chocolate, candy canes, and Christmas movies are pretty magical with very little effort. Add some whipped cream to that cocoa and you are super mom, I promise.

Decorations don’t have to be HGTV worthy the day after Thanksgiving (or ever). We’ve tackled one task a day for the last week. My tree was half-lit for 24 hours. I had a sinus infection and thought I was dying. Trying to stand long enough to decorate the tree wasn’t going well. We finally finished today. And it’s not perfect, but I have my twinkle lights and candles which are my two favorites.

The year my husband was deployed, I was on my own with a colicky infant and working full-time.  I put up a two foot high, slightly tacky Walgreen’s tree from a box. And it was enough. My daughter’s first Christmas was magical because of family, not because my house looked like Martha Stewart was my decorator.

That pesky elf might be really important to your child, but everyday doesn’t have to be a huge deal. Make it harder to find instead of an elaborate production each day. My daughter has the most fun when she can’t find hers and has to really search.

Play your favorite Christmas music as often as possible. Everything is more magical to an amazing sound track. Even if life is hard, Josh Groban singing Ave Maria takes my breath away and reminds me why we celebrate at all.

Manage your expectations for your children.

When you do summon energy to plan and organize something special, the kids will often not cooperate. They’ll be too young for your favorite holiday movie or hate the music you cherish.

They will miss naps and have too much sugar. Company throws everything out the window.

Expect your kids to be the tiny maladjusted tyrants they are when their schedules get disrupted.

via GIPHY

It’s okay.

Take time to recognize the magical moments that happen naturally, like laying on the floor coloring our advent color calendar together listening to Christmas music.

Your children didn’t get the memo this is supposed to be fun/amazing/magical.

Consider their attention span, energy level, and interests in your planning. My daughter REALLY wants to see the Nutcracker but the production at our local theater is three hours plus an intermission. There is no way I’m spending $100 to take her to that for her to spend three hours fidgeting in her best dress and trying to jump out of her seat. But her friend is in a shorter dance company version, and we can still enjoy the holiday classic and support her sweet friend.



Embrace JOY

Celebrating this season means recognizing the grace that heaven sent to walk among us. Grace that we lose touch with when we heap faulty and impractical expectations on ourselves, our family, and on the holiday.

At the end of the day, Christmas wasn’t the day Jesus was born, not really, and the hype is over in less than an hour of torn paper, gleeful screeches, and disappointed “socks” groans.

Having joy in Christ should last all year long. Do the things this Christmas that leads your heart closer to His.

You don’t have to spend an hour a day journaling or mapping each verse to have quiet time that counts. Even if your Bible time is listening to the audio version on your phone, having the right heart is all that matters.

We are reading a Character-Filled Christmas by Megan Ann Scheibner together, learning about having a heart for giving, service. We’re learning that giving matters most when it costs us a little something. (Check back later this week for our next post!) We add to our list of Christlike character each day after reading a Christmas themed book and opening the door on our advent calendar.

Release yourself from the trap of Christmas expectations this year. Let yourself embrace the joy in this messy, beautiful life without worrying about the perfect tree, daily magical excursions, or any of the craziness we are led to believe everyone else is doing. 

The only expectation that really matters is the expectation of Christ’s coming and just resting in His love is always exactly enough.

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My Cyber Monday Gift Guide

Cyber Monday is HERE!!! You can keep all the craziness of Black Friday! Give me my laptop and credit card. Here are my choices for online shopping today!

Cyber Monday is here!

I don’t know about you, but this is MY shopping day! You can keep Black Friday and all the bickering and busyness.

I want to shop from my couch in my jammies and have Christmas delivered to my house!

Whether you’re a homeschooler, grandparent, spouse, or just want a few things for yourself, this list covers it all.

(This site uses Affiliate links-purchases support our ministry through a small referral fee that never affects your cost.)

Some of these are not my referral links but are great deals that I have found for my own shopping use today!

Mindware is one of my favorite shops for Christmas gifts. Their products are always creative or educational. We keep the toys coming into our home focused on either using her mind or creativity, and Mindware has lots of great toys that do both. Last year, we got Twangled which is a really fun team building game. No one loses and everyone wins with the crazy twists and knots everyone get into.

This year she really wants to paint her own stepping stones for our garden and the Family Charades sounds like a fun family game we can enjoy for a long time to come. Since coloring is one of her favorite things, I also want to get her a map she can color of the USA for American history this year.

Mindware’s Cyber Monday Deal is Free Shipping on orders over $50 and $20 off an order over $100 or $10 off orders over $50.

If educational gifts are your priority as well, I love subscription box services like Kiwi crate. They have so many choices for all ages and interest levels!

60% off first month of any KiwiCo line

One of my go to sites for ALL my shopping is always Christianbook.com ,and their Cyber sale is ALL WEEK LONG!! Free shipping on orders over $35, just use BOXOFJOY17 at checkout!

I use ChristianBook.com for everything from homeschool resources to the Baptism gift I got my daughter yesterday. She LOVES her new ICB Glitter Wings Compact Bible!

 

311194: ICB Glitter Wings Compact Bible for Girls ICB Glitter Wings Compact Bible for Girls

Specially for little girls, our shimmery ICB Bible closes with butterfly wing design and features clear beaded handle with floral accent trim. In coolshades of lavender/blue/pink, with sparkle detail, this contains the entire text of the International Children’s Bible and comes in window gift box; with presentation page; 7″ x 5″ x 1.25″ not including handle; pink satin ribbon page marker.

I love the Women of Faith Mixing Bowl. It matches my kitchen perfectly and would make a perfect gift for the chefs in your life.

 

566640: Woman of Faith, Mixing Bowl - Teal Woman of Faith, Mixing Bowl – Teal

Women of Faith mixing bowl with Scripture trim; features handle and convenient pouring spout, safe for microwave, and dishwasher. Oven-safe ceramic; eight cup capacity, for batters, mixes, salads and more.

Blessed is a woman of seasoned prayer, generous spirit, and overflowing love..for she shall be called a Woman of Faith.

Around the rim with floral trim: Pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.2 Timothy 2:22. Boxed.

Honestly, I could probably spend WAY too much money on this site. I love their family plaques with lots of Bible verses to know and center our lives around. I love the prayer shawls and coffee cups of course. The magnetic bookmarks are ones I use all the time.

Christianbook.com is having their BEST SALE of the year – up to 87% off! thru 12/4 coupon code BOXOFJOY17

If you’re planning ahead for Advent, they have all sorts of resources for you and your family.

Dayspring is having a HUGE sale today!

One Day Only! Take 35% off sitewide in DaySpring’s Cyber Monday Sitewide Sale. Use code MONDAY17.

Of course, I’ll be shopping Amazon today. I have a list of great ideas that I’ll be picking up. But this Cyber Monday deal is a steal!! Under $100 for a product normally $219. And any home with pets or kids (or husbands) must have a good carpet cleaner. It has saved my sanity more times than I can count.

Buying gifts for my young adult boys is really tough this year, but I have a few ideas that seem perfect for my on the go guys!

My oldest stepson loves fishing and country music, but keeping headphones in his ears while fishing can be a challenge, this hat serves a dual purpose in keeping his head warm and music close by while he fishes.

In fact, this might be a good gift for all my guys! If I buy 2, I get an extra 10% off! I know my husband would use this while he rides his new dirt bike, fishes, or hunts!

If you’re shopping for the family or yourself, these are some of my favorite finds on Amazon today. The baby monitor is over 50% off and most nursery items are a minimum of 30% off today. The instant pot is 38% off! If you do a lot of cooking, this product is the hottest thing to save time!

Also, this herb garden is 50% off and a great idea for the chefs in your life. Who doesn’t prefer fresh herbs to dried?

And Lego builder sets are on sale 30% off. Have you seen the price of Lego lately? These classic builder bundles are on sale. Lastly, my daughter has caught the rock painting bug sweeping the nation. The Crayola set is on sale today under $20!

I have so much shopping to do!

Another of my favorite sites is Hammacher Schlemmer. They have some of the neatest gifts. And I love their 100% Lifetime guarantee, seriously no hassle! They are offering free shipping today on orders over $100. I order at least one thing from them every Christmas. The battle tanks and compact binoculars were huge hits last year!

We all know that the real meaning of Christmas has nothing to do with the gifts under the tree, but if you shop, I encourage you to be a wise steward of the money God has provided your family.

Happy Cyber Monday, let Christmas season commence!

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Are you looking for cute Thanksgiving Decorations?

Looking for cute Thanksgiving Decorations, but not finding much left on the shelves? Don't Stress - Here are some of my favorite ideas & where to find them! 

Looking for cute Thanksgiving Decorations, but not finding much left on the shelves? Don’t Stress – Here are some of my favorite ideas!

(this site uses Affiliate links-purchases support our ministry through a small referral fee that never affects your cost.)

Today, I went shopping for Thanksgiving decorations. I had a coupon for the local home decor store, and I was so excited. All week, I’d been looking forward to this shopping trip.

Walking in, I was prepared to spend a decent amount of money I’ve been saving since my birthday. But wasn’t prepared for the explosion of snow, holly, and evergreen.

Looking for cute Thanksgiving Decorations, but not finding much left on the shelves? Don't Stress - Here are some of my favorite ideas & where to find them! 

Apparently I missed the memo that even though Halloween hasn’t happened yet, it’s already Christmas.

I was so frustrated. 

My family is coming to visit for Thanksgiving. I’ve never hosted the family for Thanksgiving, and I just wanted to add a few touches of warmth to my home.

I picked up a couple of items at Kirkland’s.

Are you looking for cute Thanksgiving decorations last minute? Here are some really cute ones I found!

But I really wanted bright vibrate foliage and flowers. No such luck! I’m going to have to turn to Amazon and Hobby Lobby!

Being Sunday, Hobby Lobby will have to wait until tomorrow, but Amazon . . . my sweet Amazon is always open!

Here are some adorable shelf sitters or table decor. I love the bowls that would be great for leftover Halloween candy (if yours survives the weekend!)

We don’t get a lot of fall color where we live, so adding some in touches at the doorway brings the sense of fall, even if I can’t count on the weather to feel like fall.

I love the light up trees and pretty leaf garland for the entry way.

I’m trying to decide if we’re going to go formal with my china for the main meal or use fancier paper plates. I might get some decorative paper plates for hors d’oeuvres and leftovers for the days following Thanksgiving.

Using my nice china and glassware is fun and fancy, but when my family is visiting, the last thing I want to do is spend an hour at the sink instead of spending time with them.

Growing up I always felt like my mom missed the best parts of the after-meal story telling around the living room. Cheeks flushed with the warmth of too much sugar and turkey, we would laugh and tell story after story.

While we would help her clear the table and load the dishwasher, she still spent so much time cleaning up. I don’t want to miss the stories. My husband always pulls out a new story for company, and I hate to miss them. He is just the best storyteller!

Using disposable plates is one way to keep the clean up a little simpler! Especially if you’re going to be having family staying with you for the days surrounding the holiday. I usually use some cheap foil pans for baking and cooking as well. They can go from freezer to fridge to oven to trash.


Let Earth Be Filled with His Glory – Throw Pillow

from: DaySpring Cards Inc

Since, we’ll be using our spare bedrooms for family, I’m also trying to decide if I should add a few pops of color to the guest room. Maybe some harvest or fall themed throw pillows for the guest beds.

Of course, the harvest theme is HUGE right now thanks to Fixer Upper.

I love the farm theme especially for Thanksgiving decorations!

Celebrating the harvest season reminds me to be thankful for God’s wonderful provision in my life. When I only wanted to be a mother, God answered that prayer. When we needed food on our table, God answered.

Can I just say that it’s totally unfair that my two favorite holidays are so close together! I would totally decorate for Thanksgiving and leave it up way longer if Christmas season didn’t start so soon afterward!

Well, my birthday money won’t quite stretch far enough for all these things, but I certainly found some adorable deals. And I’ll start baking any minute . . .

Can you smell the pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls yet? I hope you love these cute Thanksgiving decorations as much as I do! And find that they warm your home this Thanksgiving season!

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My Father’s Day Gift Guide for Budget Minded Mamas

Sharing my Father's Day Gift Guide! I want him to know I see the hard work he does without fanfare or thanks & budget minded mamas, these are $25 or less!

I’m sharing my Father’s day gift guide. Really, I was just shopping but found some great things, so I wanted to share!

My husband has been so great to me during this difficult year. I really want him to know I see him: the hours, the hard work, the little things he does without fanfare or expecting thanks. Yet, I need to be frugal while showing my husband I appreciate him. So, all these gifts are $25 or less!

(this site uses Affiliate links-purchases support our ministry through a small referral fee that never affects your cost.)

One way I show my appreciation is by paying attention to little things he needs. On a regular basis, I replace his socks, toothpaste, and favorite hot sauce. But for a Father’s Day gift, I want him to know how much we appreciate him by making his day to day life easier.

Sharing my Father's Day Gift Guide! I want him to know I see the hard work he does without fanfare or thanks & budget minded mamas, these are $25 or less!

Just this week, he was scrounging through the garage looking for the right size drill bit for some project. I could hear his grumbling from the garage. I can’t always be physically helpful, but this universal drill and screw tool might save him so much frustration.

My husband LOVES to grill and BBQ. You know you live in the South when these are two entirely separate activities!  He has a gas grill, a charcoal grill that he uses for slow barbecuing, and a smoker.

Sharing my Father's Day Gift Guide for Budget Minded Mamas! All gifts under $25 - 5 FREE ideas! Click To Tweet

Grill accessories are always a great Father’s Day gift!

Maintaining the proper temperature is important when you invest 12-24 hours into dinner! This one has a timer for up to 24 hours and free lifetime replacement of the probes. I’m already looking forward to our next hog roast!

And having the right tools for the job is paramount – plus it keeps him from using my good kitchen utensils at the grill! 😉 This set has the tools he needs without taking up too much storage space, & is on SALE!

My husband is a talented amateur chef. In fact, he could be a professional, so we’ve bought some high quality chef knives. However, they are TOUGH to keep sharp because the blades are such hard steel.

Is your husband or father a talented chef?

He is always complaining that his sharpeners aren’t enough to keep the edges on the blades crisp.  Just Friday night at our fish fry, he was complaining about using our cheap knives because they sharpen more easily.  He was especially frustrated by the filet knife that he wishes he could use. But getting to a professional sharpener isn’t always possible, so I looked for one that would be harder than his knives.

This knife sharpener has a diamond coated sharpening wheel that should keep even our serrated knives sharp. With a 100% no questions asked, money back guarantee, for under $20, this is an easy Father’s Day gift. I really want him to enjoy those quality knives.

Gifts aren't the most important ways to say I love you, but just the right thing is fun. Click To Tweet

Of course, REALLY sharp knives have led to a few trips to the ER in our house. He uses sharp knives to filet fish and butcher deer. He needs them to be extra sharp, but also needs all his fingers. I got him a pair of these for his birthday earlier this year.

He LOVES them. He hasn’t cut himself once wearing them. And can use them while working with other sharp objects as well. These have saved his fingers several times already.

Maybe your husband needs some new t-shirts and likes to wear his faith! Christian Strong has some great styles (and cute things for you, too).

Or he might be an intellectual and enjoy books that deepen his faith. There are many to choose from, but one that I really would suggest to any husband or father is The End Of Me by Kyle Idleman. You can read my entire review, but I LOVED this book. I really had to decide what kind of Christ follower I am and be willing to see past me.

We don’t usually spend a lot of money on gifts. We prefer to save for things together. And sometimes living on one salary means we make sacrifices.

When nothing store bought will do . . . .

5 FREE Father’s Day Gift ideas for your father or husband:

  • Cook his favorite meal and dessert for Father’s Day.
  • Ask him for his to-do list and surprise him by doing it so he gets a weekend off!
  • Write him a letter or several notes telling him what you appreciate about him extra points if you hide them where he will be surprised by notes all day.
  • Spend the day actively doing his favorite things. Go fishing. Watch golf. Etc.
  • DEAL with him. That means Drop Everything And Listen. Give him your best attention as often as humanly possible.

Loving each other everyday is more important than things we buy, but small, thoughtful gifts can also be treasures.

I hope you have a husband or father in your life you can celebrate this Father’s Day. While not everyone does, if you are blessed enough to have a father, step-father, or husband in your life, take a few minutes to celebrate them however will honor them the most.

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We Gather Together – Thanksgiving and Fellowship

After years of tremendous division, we need Thanksgiving more than ever & the simple words of the hymn We Gather Together remind us why it's important.

After another year of tremendous division and fear in our country, we need Thanksgiving more than ever. As I thought about giving thanks today, I couldn’t stop singing the classic hymn We Gather Together.

(this site uses Affiliate links-purchases support our ministry through a small referral fee that never affects your cost.)

The lyrics seem extra poignant. Maybe, I’ve never really paid attention to them before, but they drew me in today.

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing;
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Not only is gathering important as friends and family, but especially as Christians for fellowship. Living separate from the world but in it, can be lonely. We gather together to encourage and be encouraged, reminded that we need not fear because we belong to the Lord.

Hebrews 10:25 (NASB) 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
We gather together for fellowship and encouragement, remembering to Whom we belong. #Thankful Click To Tweet

I love how the hymn discusses a body of believers gathering to seek His blessing, His chastening.

Chastening is God’s correction of the sin in our lives. And it is a blessing, He corrects our steps, sets us right. I’m not always grateful for the correction in the moment, but I’m learning to see it correctly.

God promises us He reproves whom He loves.

Discipline isn’t punishment, it’s guidance. When I punish my daughter, it’s never vindictive. I want her to learn, grow, mature so that she’ll be prepared for obstacles to come.

God chastens & reproves those He loves. It is part of His blessings for us. Click To Tweet
Revelation 3:19 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

In the hard times, I’ve learned to seek His face. When I hit a wall in a friendship, my marriage, or parenting, I’ve learned to search out God’s will, even if it means I must change.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

After a year of tremendous division, we need Thanksgiving more than ever & the simple words of the hymn We Gather Together create such a beautiful picture.

I think about all the small ways God ordained my every step this year. The devotionals I read that challenged and convicted me at just the right moment, the lessons I learned at exactly the time I needed them.

I’ve faced some heartbreaking moments this year. But God orchestrated my paths to and through them. He stood by my side through it all. His picture is an eternal one.
I am especially grateful for the way His word is always relevant for me, everyday.
Today’s daily passage was Revelation 3 which reflects the hymn I had already been singing and writing about.
Revelation 3:10 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be;
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

We lift up His name in praises today, seeing His leadership and dominion, asking for Him to defend us against the tribulations of the world.

What tremendous safety we have in Him.

And much like the company that shared our feast today, God promises His great desire for communion with us.

Revelation 3:20 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

I imagined the Lord sharing my table today, seeing Him through the blessings of friends who joined our celebration because of providential happenings, and know God is present in our thanksgiving as we gather together.

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