Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Re-evaluating Christmas

Hopefully by now, most of us have started to recover from the flurry of activity from the last four weeks. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, life is a whirlwind of events, to say the least! I usually find that the time from December 25th to New Year's allows me an opportunity to catch my breath.


Re-evaluating Christmas during this week may seem unnecessary to you, and even pointless, but with the constant pressure to commercialize what was originally set aside as a day of worship and celebration, the need to regularly assess is incredible! Over the years, I've tried to be diligent to direct our activities toward the sacred, but it's amazing how quickly things can slide back to the secular. (Please note that I am aware Christmas was originally set aside by the early church on a pagan holiday, but nothing in scripture prohibits us from honoring God on any given day - Romans 14:5,6.)


Circumstances beyond our control can also throw off regular holiday patterns. Illness, travel, grief (due to a loved one's passing), and unusual life events disrupt our normal routines. God certainly allows these times in our life to serve His purposes and He uses them to refine us, but that does not mean that we shouldn't be purposeful and diligent about focusing our activities during the holiday season in order to make sure the time is mostly spent on the important and not just the urgent. 


During this week of relatively "quiet" moments, set aside some time to discuss Christmas 2011 with your spouse and family members. If you're not purposeful in handling holiday choices, you'll be thrust from event to event and end up feeling very dissatisfied spiritually... which is to miss the point of Christmas! 


Although you may not agree with how John Piper's family handles Christmas, I highly recommend that you read his article How We See Christmas Symbols. He discusses not only how they handle Santa Claus, but how they decorate during the holidays and why. At the very least, it will help you to get started thinking why you do what you do at Christmas!




How To Re-evaluate Christmas
Tips reposted from August 31, 2010: Evaluating Christmas

1. Get your spouse on board. Share your heart and be willing to compromise. It might not come as passionately to all the members of your family, especially if you have a spouse who is like a grown up kid at Christmas! Don't get frustrated, just ask that the family consider making one change this Christmas and see how everyone likes it.

2. Evaluate your Christmas values together as a family. Do not skip this step! If you do, you'll likely miss what is really important to your family. Be sure to ask questions such as:
• What is the most important thing that you want your family to do to in order to truly celebrate Christ's birth? 
• What is hindering you from celebrating?
What puts a damper on the season?
What truly gives you satisfaction at Christmas time?
When do you feel you've worshiped the most during past Christmases?
What traditions meant the most to you as a child?
What current activities do you have that your children will call traditions?
Are these the traditions you want for your family?
What is missing that you feel needs to be included?
What do you wish you could eliminate this year if you knew it wouldn't hurt anyone's  feelings?
If there is a family obligation that cannot be eliminated, how can you interject something  into the situation that would make it better for everyone?

3. Pray. Based on your evaluation, you will start to camp out on something that you know in your heart needs to be changed. It might be the most difficult thing on your list, but it's bugging you the most. Ask God if this is the thing that you need to change this year. And if it's not this, then ask Him to show you what He would have you do.

4. Form a plan. After you've spent some time in prayer, start planning how you will implement your new priority. This, too, will require prayer! Most likely, something will need to be eliminated in order to add something in. How will you handle that? How will you notify family? How can you make it sound as positive as it really is? Think this through carefully.

5. Schedule it if necessary. Put it on the calendar. If it's baking cookies, set aside a day to gather supplies and another day to do the activity. If it's building an outdoor nativity together, block off a weekend.

6. Contact those it affects. Family pow-wow. A phone call. Email. Whatever it is, don't wait until too late or you might have hard feelings. People need time to adjust to new things. This doesn't mean they are rejecting your idea, they just need time to get use to it. If it involves less gifts, it is courteous to notify family in advance, before purchases are made. And if it requires a change in family plans, this is a must!

7. Re-evaluate after Christmas. This is highly important!
Did it meet your expectations?
Did if flop?
Was it awkward?
Was it a hit?
Who loved it and who didn't? Why?
Was it just 'new' and needs to be tried again next year?
What changes would make it better?
Would you do it again?
What would you like to add next year?

8.  Write it down. I keep a Christmas notebook so that I will remember things from year to year. While you may remember the wonderful time you had, you may forget the details that made it so successful. Be sure to include notes for changes next year.

9. Follow up and thank family. Be sure to express your gratitude for those who had to be flexible. Let them know how your family was blessed by the changes and find out if they were pleased as well.

10. Begin thinking of next year. Be in prayer and open to the Holy Spirit for how you can continue to make changes each year. Your family will grow and change and your activities each year will need to adjust as well. As children grow and get married, their spouses will come with traditions of their own. Working in a spirit of love and developing communication now will lay a foundation for working with new members in years to come.

What are some changes you plan to make for Christmas 2012?




Monday, December 26, 2011

Barn Hop #42

Today is the last Barn Hop for 2011. What an amazing year! We've seen a lot of homesteads, gleaned some wonderful ideas, and best of all... gotten to know a whole host of new friends! I'd say the Homestead Community is alive and well.

Regarding the Great Holiday Barn Hop that was specifically holiday related...

I'd like to hear comments from everyone about your thoughts for future barn hops and if you would like more theme related barn hops on occasion? Perhaps monthly? Seasonally? Four times a year?


Since I like organizing (a lot!), I think it would be really great to see some posts related to this during the month of January. Somehow I get really energized during this time of year to cull the clutter and streamline life! Probably because we spend so much time in December acquiring and celebrating.

Also, I'd like to remind you to visit our fabulous sponsors from the Great Holiday Barn Hop when you can. Many of you probably didn't realize that we had a couple of sponsors add some incredible gifts at the last minute, but due to my travel schedule and food poisoning, I didn't get much posted on this. Cultures for Health donated 3 cultures and Backyard Food Productions donated one of their DVDs along with their new dental video "Alternatives to Dentists". Thank you to both of these great sponsor!


Join The Barn Hop!
and Amy @ Homestead Revival...

...invite you to link up and share your homesteading adventures!

1. Write a blog post about what's going on at your homestead or a post on something you're learning or an item of interest that will benefit the homesteading community. Be sure to add the red barn button and link back here so others can join in the fun.

2. Come back here and enter your information in the Linky. Please be sure to link to your actual post (click your title and then copy the URL above) and not your home page so those participating later in the week can find your post easily.

3. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment and tell us what's going on at your homestead!

Please Note: As hostesses of the Homestead Barn Hop, please understand that we reserve the right to remove any links that are not family friendly. While this may be subjective, we will err on the side of caution in order to keep our blogs appropriate for all readers. Thank you for your understanding!







Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wishing You

a very...



May your family and homestead experience all the joys and blessings of our King, Jesus the Christ, this Christmas season and throughout the coming year! 


Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Past

Looking through my photos this week, I came across some vintage Christmas pictures! Starting with about 1967! I thought it might be fun to open up my album and let you see a few...

Check out those cowboy boots! I loved cowboy boots. In fact, I was still wearing them (not this exact pair, of course) through my freshman year in high school when I decided it might be a better idea to look a little more feminine (the boys were not impressed with my boots at the time).


I think this was 1968. Obviously the BB gun was the gift de jour.


Hmmm... 1970? My poor mom was always trying to give me baby dolls and fixing my hair in girlish styles. I'm sorry to say I rebelled terribly, whining constantly about pulling my hair back like that. The doll? I don't remember her at all. I do remember the John Deer Tractor matchbox cars that year (see those little boxes on the floor?). Oh... note another gun on the floor. Always a good gift in our home!


Oh, the year of the Schwinn bike with the oh, so cool banana seat! I don't know when I was so happy! I ditched the pink flowers almost immediately and it didn't take much longer to do the same with the basket. Wisdom is lost on the youth. Now I see those turquoise vintage Schwinn's at the store with baskets and I swoon!


1974... this is a hotel room with the grandmothers in Crested Butte, Colorado where we cut down a little pine tree and celebrated with skiing and one gift... a sweater. I'll never forget that Christmas, seeing the skiers come down the mountain at night with lights, and snow everywhere. I was in heaven! (Don't you love that crocheted sweater I have on? Very 70's!)


 Here we are on the slopes the next day...


I think I need to scan the rest of our old photos. These were all I had of Christmases Past and there's obviously more somewhere. All I need is more time to get it done!

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and that you make some wonderful memories of your own this year!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Barn Hop #41

Welcome back! What an exciting week we had last week with the Great Holiday Barn Hop! So many wonderful holiday posts and so many winners! I am so thankful for all our wonderful sponsors who have contributed to this special Barn Hop. Thank you! You're the best!!

I apologize that this barn hop is two, no... three days late posting. Hopefully those of you wanting to link up before today went over to one of the other host blogs to do so.

Me? I was down with food poisoning. BAD, bad stuff. And not what you want while traveling or during the holidays. I missed my one opportunity to visit with some dear friends and was very sad about that, but at least my daughters got to see them. I'm better now, but it will take me a couple of days to get caught up and with Christmas coming... well, I know you're busy with what is most important as well. As you should be. As time allows, I'll be posting during the rest of December.

Many of you kept up with the winners of the Great Holiday Barn Hop via Facebook posts, with the exception of Saturday's winners, which is when things starting getting a bit crazy for me with traveling and being ill. I am hoping to post an entire list of our sponsors and who won each item just as soon as possible. I appreciate your patience!

For those of you who participate in the Preparedness Challenge, I've decided to suspend that this month since the last Saturday of the month falls on a weekend when I feel a lot of people will be spending time with their families. And honestly, the only prepping I've done for December is Christmas Prepping!


Join The Barn Hop!
and Amy @ Homestead Revival...

...invite you to link up and share your homesteading adventures!

1. Write a blog post about what's going on at your homestead or a post on something you're learning or an item of interest that will benefit the homesteading community. Be sure to add the red barn button and link back here so others can join in the fun.

2. Come back here and enter your information in the Linky. Please be sure to link to your actual post (click your title and then copy the URL above) and not your home page so those participating later in the week can find your post easily.

3. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment and tell us what's going on at your homestead!

Please Note: As hostesses of the Homestead Barn Hop, please understand that we reserve the right to remove any links that are not family friendly. While this may be subjective, we will err on the side of caution in order to keep our blogs appropriate for all readers. Thank you for your understanding!





Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Blessing

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." 
~Isaiah 7:14


Nativity Scene in Fredericksburg, Texas




"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."
~Isaiah 9:5-7



Saturday, December 17, 2011

Peppermint Stick Cocoa

It's no secret by now that I'm a huge fan of Peppermint Mocha Lattes. And when it comes to hot chocolate (which is the next best thing), I've found that I like Peppermint Stick Cocoa. (FYI: It's very chocolaty and yummy!)


It makes up into a lovely little gift with a ribbon, tag made from a slice of a thick branch, and a peppermint stick...


From the back, you can see all the pretty layers. I changed the order because in the original recipe it had the mini-chocolate chips and the peppermint at the top, but it was hidden by the ribbon. If you used a larger jar and didn't fill it up to the top, you wouldn't have that problem.


On top, I added some kraft paper stamped with a "To/From" tag to hide the metal lid.



  • Peppermint Stick Cocoa
  • Recipe from : Sunset, December 2004

  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips 
  • 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy

  • Layer powdered milk, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, chocolate chips, and peppermint candy.

  • *Note: This mix will fill a 1-quart jar (12 servings), but if your containers are different sizes, just keep the ratio of ingredients constant. On the back of the tag, write: "Mix contents in a large bowl. For each serving, place 1/3 cup cocoa mix in a mug and stir in 1 cup boiling water. Store remaining mix in airtight container."

  • Don't forget to make some for yourself!



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