Better Late Than Never

This isn't a tutorial post.
Or one with a delectable recipe.
And you won't find any coupon tips today.
No deep thoughts on motherhood.

Just a brief reflection ...

Last night we pulled out the last of our Christmas decorations to put up.
Lo and behold ... last year, I had picked out fabric, bought it,
even cut it out - and still the pieces for Reuben's stocking were
quietly folded away in a plastic bag.

At first I was dismayed at myself. How could this be? = )
And then I began to think back ...
My youngest was a whole 9 months old last December.
Still nursing like bananas while refusing to crawl or scoot himself
I loved (and still do!) him to pieces,
but that sweet child was DEMANDING!
I remember so many feelings washing over me as I cared for him:
Overwhelmed. Tired. Guilty for feeling Overwhelmed and Tired.
And so I sat the fabric aside ... reminded myself that a 9 month old
really has no idea of what stockings are about or should be filled with ...
and took something off my "to-do" list for the holidays.
And it felt GREAT!

One year later, it was no problem to stitch it quickly up last night
and allow it to join the other three.
And although my first thought was somewhat of glee
"my life is a bit more 'free' feeling this year!"
I realize that is extremely selfish and self focused.

So, after asking for fogiveness for that first sinful thought,
I believe that I was reminded (as Jeni posted earlier)
that maybe "doing" should be put aside for more important things.
Last year I was forced to do that in order to care for my family ...
And this year hopefully instead of being forced,
or feeling forced to set things aside -
May I enter into the season excited to grow relationships;
to spend time with Jesus;
to teach my children why Christmas comes each year;
to serve others and give out the love of Christ,
and let the "doing" lay aside.


One idea for simplifying the gifting process and keeping Christ central in Christmas

I read this idea for Christmas gift-giving last year (You can read the whole blogpost here) and have been thinking about it ever since. The parents decided that they would give their children three gifts, representing the gifts brought to the newborn King by the three wisemen: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

"Frankincense was used as incense in the temple of the Israelites" so this gift is something that will help your children grow deeper in their faith and spiritual walk.

"Myrrh had various medicinal uses" so this gift is something for their physical well-being/body. "The category is wide here--especially for girls. The last few years we've given them clothes, but we've also given bubble bath, lip gloss, nail polish, etc."

Gold is precious, so this is your opportunity to give them something they've really wanted.

I don't know for sure whether we'll do it this year, but I do like the way it simplifies and organizes the gifting process; it narrows down the field without making it too narrow. But what I liked most is how it provides a constant reference point back to the story of Christ's birth, which is why we celebrate Christmas in the first place!


J.O.Y for the Holidays

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has noticed, but the holiday season is upon us!  Stores are stocked with lights and decorations, everyday a new catalog comes in the mail reminding me that there are only X number of shopping days left.  Even the blogs I read are full of wonderful recipes, schedules and ideas for making this the best Thanksgiving/Christmas ever!

And I am feeling.......overwhelmed.

It's my fault, I admit it.  I, all too easily, get sucked into the utter madness that takes over people this time of year.  The madness of trying to do too much in too short of time, the madness of being the "perfect" hostess, the madness of finding the "perfect" gift for everyone on my list, and even the ridiculous family madness.  I find that in a season that is supposed to be all about Joy and Peace, I struggle to find any.

As I was pondering this the other day (a.k.a - wallowing in self pity that I couldn't stop the holidays from coming) I remembered our, one and only, house rule.  In everything we do, we are to have J.O.Y.  You may have heard this before, but it stands for Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.  I began to think about all the things that stress me out during the holidays and realized, though they may be packaged to look like they are giving and self sacrificing they are mostly just my selfish pride.  I want to be the perfect hostess so people will say "Oh look how nice her house looks, Oh my, this turkey is divine!"  I want to find the perfect gift because I want to be seen as clever and resourceful.  (Me, me, me, pride, pride, pride.)

So now as Thanksgiving and Christmas draw nearer and nearer I have armed myself with these verses.

Jesus 1st:  Galatians 1:10 - For do I now persuade men, or God?  Or do I seek to please men?  For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

Others 2nd:  Galatians 6:10 - Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Yourself last:  Matthew 6:33 - But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

If I am seeking His approval and His righteousness every day, everything else just seems terribly unimportant.

So bring it on, unnecessary holiday nonsense, this year I will truly be CELEBRATING the birth of my King and thanking Him everyday for His gift of Himself to me!  Oh, and I may have a little turkey too, I've heard it's divine.


Handmade Gift Exchange

I was skipping around blogland today and ended up at Craftoholics Anonymous reading about burlap. I decided to check out her recent posts and I found one titled "UNITED STATES Handmade Gift Exchange." This looks like such a great idea and so much fun! Check out the details here, but you have to hurry because you only have until November 10th to sign up!


Dark, Leafy Green - Part 1 ???

As mentioned in my previous post, I have been inspired to get more veggies on the table, in more creative ways. This, week, I decided to put Kale on the menu. Now, as far as I can remember, I have NEVER served kale since being married to Eli! One, I have been a little nervous tackling "greens" that I'm not very familiar with. Two, Eli has continually professed a dislike for most dark greens ... his experience with them has not been good, and he used to feed them to his pet iguana - that's what he believes greens are good for! So, it was with a bit of trepidation that I informed him we were going to have a kale salad when our friends came over for dinner Monday night - AND, that the salad had butternut squash in it. Two strikes again me.

But, he agreed to give it a whirl. So, why not?

According to Wikipedia , kale has strong antioxidant properties, and is very high in beta-carotene, vitamin K, and vitamin C. Closer to the cruciferous family (think broccoli), kale is also believed to stop the growth of some cancerous cells.

And this website lists the nutrition facts for one cup of chopped, raw kale as being 33 calories (4 from fat), with 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of protein. Pretty good if you ask me! The recipe I used came from a magazine article I had clipped asking three chefs to create a dish with peanut butter. I love all things with peanut butter ... so figured this might be a worthwhile first try!

Roasted Squash and Kale Salad

Peel, seed, and cut 1 butternut squash in 1 inch chunks. Toss with 2 T. olive oil, 3 T. brown sugar, 1/2 tsp. sale, and 1/2 tsp. pepper; bake for 25 min. Cool. Toss with 1 lbs. thinly sliced kale and 1/4 c. thinly sliced red onion. In a blender, puree 2 tsp. soy sauce, 1 T. fresh lime juice, 2 tsp. sesame oil, 1 tsp. sugar, 2 T. peanut butter, 2 T. minced ginger, and 1 T. water. (I used my mini food processor). Drizzle salad with dressing and serve.

Overall, we really liked the salad. I mixed in some cut up lettuce - because kale is pretty bitter and I wanted our first try to be the best it could be! Also, the grocery store I shop at was out of butternut squash, so I substituted a sweet potato. I would eat it again! And our guests and Eli all claimed they enjoyed it! So, give it a try!

Now I might find another one to try next week ...