Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Summary....

I've been resting and enjoying this Christmas vacation. Didya notice? :)

I've cleaned. My room is spotless thanks to a cleaning frenzy yesterday in which I almost missed our chiropractor appointments. Yes, I was in the Zone!

I've baked and cooked, trying new recipes, mostly from my favorite Flat Belly Diet cookbooks.

I've entertained friends. Braved the Mall of America a few short days after Christmas.

I've not stressed about blogging or sewing or school or life.

I needed that.
And that is why I am just now posting Christmas pictures. :)

Christmas was great.

Most every year, we pack up our van, drive to my parent's church, the one I grew up in, for the Christmas eve service, then head over to my childhood home for soup and (just one) present. We pretend we drove a few hundred miles more than the 15 from our home to theirs, and we stay up late, reading stories by the fire, and spend the night.

The best thing about this tradition is my mom's caramel rolls for breakfast which immediately follow
the unwrapping of the stockings loaded with treasures.

It's a good gig.

Oh look! A picture of me! On my phone! Shame!

With four daughters in the family and Grandma next door, my dad was outnumbered for years. The ratio is finally starting to even out..... 

We lolligag and do last minute prep all morning until the rest of the relatives come from no so far off lands, like Burnsville. With the exception of an aunt that recently decided to winter in Texas. But then again, that's kinda like another country. Ha! Said aunt spent the night at Grandma's right next door to my parents' house, so she got to lolligag too! Lucky her!

(Next year we will have more distant family. My little sister leaves for Mexico soon to work on Bible translation with Wycliffe. Though I guess Mexico is still not really a distant land, it being our neighbor and all. And right next to Texas at that. *ahem*)

Relatives arrive with food and mysterious packages. This year the menu was hors d'oeuvres. No last minute turkey carving or mashed potato whipping. We snack all day long on finger food.


I think my favorite part of our holiday traditions is relatively new. This is our third year to exchange white elephant gifts.

Oh, look what I got! A white elephant!

These pink flamingos are a family joke. My sister stole them from my grandma for her husband. So naturally Grandma got to pick a new present which turned out to be:

Very niiiiicccceeee, Grandma!

What do Grandmas over 90 want to get rid of & contribute to a gag gift exchange? Silver platters, of course! This platter went from one grandma to another!

Madison was thrilled with this angel tree topper. Her mother? Not so much. Our tree already touches the ceiling. Poor angel would get a crink in the neck if we put her up there. At least that's what I tell Madison!

My mother was lucky (??) enough to get the Go-Girl I contributed, and Robb snagged a lovely Fitz and Floyd vintage salad bowl. We've heard it's worth a small bit of money, and if you like that type of thing, watch for it,  it might just show up on ebay!

I missed taking pictures of the cookie jar that Grandma gave, the very one that sat on her kitchen counter when I was a child. Or the cube of shag carpet squares. Or the plastic Stitch that blows bubbles... I love seeing my Grandparents cracking up, and the puzzled expressions on my kids faces at the random stuff that is unwrapped!

Our Christmas was relaxing, peaceful, fun.

I am so grateful. This year has been full. God is faithful.

I could say so many things, and I wish it wasn't lunchtime and that my kids weren't hungry! :) I'd stay and chat awhile more.

For now ~ Happy New Year!

Sponsors/ Affiliates: Shop the DaySpring Online Store

Friday, December 24, 2010

Visions of Messy Sugar Plums {Christmas is No Time for Perfectionism}

Twas the day before Christmas, and my cluttered kitchen
filled with cookies, goodies, boots, coats and mittens.
The sugar's out on table, in red, green and white
I do not need to tell you, by end, it was quite a sight.

You've been there I'm sure, it's a messy tradition,
we set aside tendencies to decorating perfection.
Sugar is everywhere, the cookies are messy
But every last goodie tells it's own happy story.

Spoons covered in frosting and finger licking elves;
I look at it all and laugh in spite of myself.
The kids had their fun, made their own version of pretty 
To control their fun would have been really silly.

So in your holiday traditions, keep this in mind,
there is no room for perfect, I think you will find,
much peace love and joy in more "good- enoughs"
so please take perfectionism off your Christmas list of stuff.

For what fun is a mother who gripes and controls 
how the cookies appear, I would hope that she knows
that perfection is costly and everyone works gaily
when a mother lets go, and redefines beauty.


For this is the season of upside-down things
of a God come down here, in a manger a King.
For the broken and messy, a star shines through the night.
May you find Him this Christmas, He's the way, the truth, the light!

From our Family to Yours:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Burden and Birth

My emotions have been matching the seasons.

After struggling through the blinding blizzard of fear, thinking I had faith, but my actions speaking to my soul state, walking in circles, like Mary on her Advent journey, bearing a burden.

Hers was a joyous burden, though, so different than mine, taking on the pressure of providing for my family, too many things on my shoulders, when no one expected it of me but myself, the stress weighing down on me physically, and dizzy with it all swirling around, finally the sun has come out. (I know that's a pretty long run-on sentence. But that's how I was living. Running on. And.On.)

I must give my husband the credit. And my God. Together they spoke my own words back to me.

Choose joy today, Kristina. Choose it moment by moment. Day by day. Whatever you do, choose joy.

My husband has been good to me. Sitting with me in the quiet of our En-Gedi, modeling peace under the burden of providing, reminding me that God is the only one who really provides.

He has spoken promises in our hearts if we only listen and practice trust. Faith is being sure of what we hope for.

He leads and releases me of obligation, says, "Trust me." Both my man and my God speak truth. Gently, ever so tenderly, together they whisper, "Joy. Choose it."

Even in the midst of insecurity. In the middle of strife. When bearing the burden of the mundane. Choose.

Because of  Christ, and by the power and hope of the Holy Spirit, the burden is birthed to joy. And the whole world sings,

"Joy to the World, the Lord has come."

How has He brought joy to you?

May the God of hope 
fill you with all joy and peace 
as you trust in him, 
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
~Romans 15:13

Sponsors/ Affiliates: Shop the DaySpring Online Store

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Card Wreath

I have a bad habit. I have many, actually, but today I'm only telling you one.

I save stuff I think I might use someday.

Maybe that's a good habit, but not always. Now, I think I've gotten better, and I don't keep everything anymore, and certainly not anything large like bar furniture. (Ok, I admit, I have a fainting couch in storage. But that's the only large item! And..... maybe a nice headboard and footboard.)  Mostly I get rid of stuff I don't need, but certain unique shapes or items I know would cost a lot or be difficult to find, I save.

The topic of today's discussion: a large round wood ring.

On Saturday, I randomly had an idea (the way all my good ideas come,) and I searched for this round frame and almost panicked that I had trashed it. Thankfully, I only looked two places before I found it hanging on the stair rail to our basement. (I also have random storage places.)

I found a bunch of Christmas ribbon in red green and gold  - I never toss Christmas ribbon - cut it up and tied random pieces to my frame. Then I wrapped some berries I scavenged from an old wreath and paper clipped my Christmas card collection to the ribbon.

This hangs above our kitchen table now and I think I like it! And I'm so glad I didn't toss that silly wood ring!

Sponsors/ Affiliates: Shop the DaySpring Online Store
Disclosure: This post has a sponsored link.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I like snow. And this is why.

We've had a lot of snow here this year. 18 - 24 inches of white blankets the ground.

Snow is good. Lots of snow is better. Let me count the reasons why.

1. It's pretty. You can't argue that. In wind blown drifts, or soft piles of fluff. The world is beautiful covered in white.
2. You can eat it. Seriously. Make your own lemon ice.
3. It's bright, blinding even, but definitely not dreary.
4. Blizzards are exciting. You can tell by the amount of weather warnings. And the way the house shakes.

5. Blizzards are an excuse to do nothing but watch movies, read books and bake cookies

6. It's fun to play in, slide down, crunch under your feet, throw at your brother or sister or mother
7. You can't downhill ski without it. Duh.
8. It reminds me Jesus makes me whiter than snow

9. It's glittery like a million billion diamonds, and is delicate like lace.
10. It's better to have cold WITH snow, than cold without it. Don't ask me why. It just is.
11. Snow means no mosquitoes. Except the occasional one still in our house. Don't ask me how they are still here.
12. Snow is a good excuse to own a pickup.
13. Snow is better than freezing rain. And less dangerous. At least for those of us who know how to drive in it.

14. Snow brings out the neighborly. Now, that's my kind of snow blower! And the service is better than AAA!

15. Hot cocoa and rosy cheeks. Slippers and afghans. Enough said.

Counting blessings, even during another snow storm warning.:)

Sponsors/ Affiliates: Shop the DaySpring Online Store for wonderful gifts

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snow Snack

That's what my kids call it. And with 8 inches or more of white fresh fluff, it's a perfect day to scoop some up and make it a snack. When I was a kid, we used KoolAid mix, but today,

my kids just mixed up a glass of strong lemonade and ...






Sponsors/ Affiliates: Shop the DaySpring Online Store

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Barn Renovation - A Name (Part 4)

Miss the first part of the Barn Remodel saga? Catch up here: Part One. Part Two. Part Three.


Maybe we are stubborn optimists. But really, if we are filled with faith, how can we not be? God promises to work ALL things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. We do and we are and we live in trust that He guides our steps when our hearts are fully His. So though it seems crazy to be building up and finishing a project when in transition, sometimes you just have to finish what you start.  And the in-between times are the best opportunity to prepare for the next thing.

I’ve learned not to live in fear of what people think. It’s not as if we could have known the future. When we first decided to take on this project, we made the best decisions we could with the information we had. We just walk step by step. His light for our path only reaches a few steps in front and we don’t have an inkling what wonderful sort of plan He’s dreaming up for us.

We wait with expectation. We have our ideas of how God works or how He MAY work.  A big barn with an attached finished space holds a million possibilities.

For now, it is a space of quiet and counsel and relationship building, a haven to share hope and encouragement. And if that’s all it ever is that’s OK with us. Our heart is for people and healing and guiding others to walk in His steps because walking with Christ is the greatest adventure!

So we have a space in a barn that's finished, and we wait. We walk down the road to our room beside the barn and we quiet ourselves and our hearts and our lives.

A place like this needs a name.

It's been called a man cave, the men den, the barn room, the shack. But it is really none of those things.

And what do we WANT it to be?

It's not to be a place to escape reality, and it's not for men only.

It is a place of quiet. Away from dishes and mess, noise and demands. A place to think. Or to read. Or to talk.

We like to talk. To each other and to our friends. About life. About Love. About grace.

What do we call a space like that?

Picture taken from Loft. It's not furnished, or pictured.

A room that is to be an oasis in the deserts of our everyday. A place where we drink from the Living Water, and come away refreshed and renewed.

It is our En-Gedi.

So it is. So it shall be called.

 Sponsors/ Affiliates: Shop the DaySpring Online Store

The View From Here

It's a good old fashioned MN blizzard. A wedding has been canceled. A birthday party postponed. And our church has already called off services for tomorrow. The plows in my sister's county have been called off the roads and our landlady's mail was delivered by the plow.  I have friends returning from Mexico today, and the Minneapolis airport has closed.

We can barely see the forms of trees near the barn against the white of the swirling snow and only one telephone pole on our 1/4 mile driveway is visible.

The house shudders with the force of the wind, but we are warm and cozy.

We have nowhere to go.

And we're happy about it.

Sponsors/ Affiliates: Shop the DaySpring Online Store

Friday, December 3, 2010

Music Paper Chain and Christmas Links

Megan kept saying, 

"It just seems wrong to cut up this old hymn book!"

"Are you sure it's OK?" 
But cut we did, one inch strips, and then with glue stick,


made rings of music to go 'round the tree.


Don't have an old hymnbook laying around and want to get your craft on with your kids this weekend?

Here are a few links I've found:

just print, cut, and play! Cute.

print, color, cut, and play! Classic.

Ann Voskamp's free advent devotional, Jesse tree, activity book
A must read. For elementary aged kids to adults.Ann's writing consistently brings me to tears. Paper ornaments for a Jesse tree. 80 pages, free to print!

advent calendar, gift tags
 lovely projects

advent coloring pages 
 a coloring page for every day of advent, complete with a related Scripture. Great for young children.

Then there's my collection of ornament crafts:
the prettiest clay ever
crocheted snowflake
tin can lid angel

The snow is coming down here, whiting out the surrounding fields. It's cozy, being blanketed in white. Cookies are on the agenda this afternoon with a generous side of Christmas music.

What creativity are you cooking up?

Sponsors/ Affiliates: Shop the DaySpring Online Store

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

T'was the Write Before Christmas

What do you remember about Christmas past? What prompts happy memories, nostalgic feelings about this holiday season? Share a story here for a chance to win four of these {So}Sartina Christmas stockings!

Sponsors/ Affiliates: Shop the DaySpring Online Store