How Do We Connect Santa to the Savior? {with Giveaway}

Wonderful friends,

I am so glad you are back for another post in the Home for the Holidays series. Today, Jennifer Moye is with us talking about a topic that’s dear to many parents – “how do we connect Santa to the Savior?” I’m excited for you to read what Jennifer is going to share and when you get to the end, be sure to register for her FREE giveaway!


Around this same time a couple years ago, our boys were sitting in the living room floor creating their Christmas lists to send to Santa. The lists consisted mostly of cut out pictures from the Toys-r-Us catalog pasted sloppily with glue sticks on poster paper. They jumped up and down with excitement with every page turn as they found a new must-have toy. In all the fun of that day, I noticed that our oldest boy had only 3 things listed on his paper. An IPad, a phone like mommy’s, and crutches.

Crutches?

Yep, that’s right. Those were his must-haves of that Christmas.

As Christmas morning rolled around, the boys ran downstairs with all the excitement that kids should ha-gospel-christmasave on Christmas day. They ripped open packages and slung presents around, eagerly ready to move to the next item.

The younger two boys seemed quite content with their loot for the day. But the oldest sat on the floor with his arms crossed and a sour look on his face. In his lap set a box for a brand new iPad mini still in the wrapper.

Let me just pause right here. I do not even have an iPad. Just sayin’.

When asked what was wrong, he proceeded to through a fit about how he didn’t get a phone like mommy’s or any crutches. He was furious!

I could not believe how ungrateful he was being. Didn’t he realize how awesome the gifts he had received were? How did we get to the point of demanding what we should receive and then being mad if we didn’t get it exactly as expected? Didn’t he understand he couldn’t have everything? Didn’t he know that Christmas is about more than receiving everything on your wish list?

As I sat there in the floor with my wonderful little boys, I instantly felt like a failure.

Clearly I had missed the mark in explaining to him what Christmas is all about. Why else would he act so ungrateful?

Now before you say it, I know . . . he is 5 years old. And kids are kids. I get that. But it just didn’t sit right in my soul. We had talked about the reason we celebrate Christmas. We read the Bible stories. We went to the Christmas play at church. We even gave gifts from the angel trees and donated spare change to the guy outside Walmart. We had talked about this.

I wanted my children to understand at their very core, that Christmas simply wasn’t about them. It was about Jesus. I wanted them to realize that our gifts should be a reflection of the gifts God gave to us in His Son Jesus. I wanted them to have the fun and excitement that Santa, and the Elf on the Shelf, and Christmas parties at school bring – but they needed to know in their hearts that all of it was because of the birth of our King. Even though they knew these things in their heads, I don’t think they really felt it in their innermost being. And that really bothered me.

The following year was a big year for us as we decided to homeschool, made another move, and various other life changes. One scripture passage remained in my mind throughout that time.

Deuteronomy 6: 5-9  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

As the holiday season approached I knew we needed to do something different this year. We needed something that would create an impression of the hearts of our boys and our family. It needed to be in our home, on our doorframes and at our gates. It needed to be intentional and purposeful.

I had no idea that the months to follow would lead me to writing a book and sharing with others the things God was revealing to me and convicting me of in my own life. This month marks the launch of the book A Gospel Christmas and it is straight from my heart to yours.

A Gospel Christmas, is our journey through the month of December 2016. We found a way to connect Santa and his naughty little elf to our greatest gift of all. It is personal and transparent. It is messy at times and most importantly it is real. It is our story of how God lead us to Himself and made a huge impression not just on the hearts of our children, but on my heart as well.  Through the 25 days in December we walked through the life of Jesus in a very practical, easy, and kid friendly way.  We read scripture together, we did crafts, we talked, we gave to others, we cried, and we laughed. It was the most beautiful thing to see the gospel of Jesus come alive in our children’s’ hearts. To see their eyes light up with excitement and their minds begin to understand who Jesus is to them is something that a parent couldn’t be more proud of.

As the Christmas season is approaching us quicker than we all can handle, I would like to challenge you to pray over how your family will celebrate the birth of our King this year. Do your children truly understand what this season is about? Is your family focused on Jesus this year, or distracted by parties, the latest gadgets, and hosting friends? Are you searching for a way to connect all the fun of the holiday with the true meaning of Christmas?

I would love to hear your thoughts and I would love to be on this journey with you! Head on over to my website and receive the first two chapters of A Gospel Christmas for FREE! You will also be included in our Christmas newsletter which provides tons of ideas and inspirations on different ways to connect your family to Jesus throughout the season. And because you are one of the first to know about A Gospel Christmas, I will also send you some insider tips on how to incorporate Santa, the Elf, school parties and more with our Savior’s birth!

A Gospel Christmas is available in digital copy and paperback just about everywhere! It can be ordered online or ordered through your local bookstore. Bulk orders are available for churches or other organizations as well. I would be truly honored for you to share this book and post with those you love. What better gift to give at Christmas than one that could lead someone to Jesus? You never know who’s life can be touched by a simple share.

BONUS!!! Just because you guys are awesome and you are supporting my friend by reading her awesome blog I want to give you a chance to win a signed copy of A Gospel Christmas for FREE! Click here to enter the giveaway.  

jennifer-moyeJennifer is wife to an Airman and mom to three rambunctious little boys. With excitement on a daily basis and grace around every corner, she believes we are meant to live this life in community with others and with the mercy to mess up and try again….and again.  Being a mom is hard, but it is also a divine calling we can have in this life. Her ministry to women is relevant and heartfelt with her core passion being that we learn to glorify our God in our parenting, our marriage, and in our everyday lives. Join Jennifer’s community online at her website, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

When Christmas Wears You Out

 

Hello friends,

Today, we kick off our “Home for the Holidays” series. Over the next few weeks I’m excited to bring you a plethora of inspiration for your holidays from some of my favorite bloggers. From recipes to family traditions to finding hope this holiday season, my blogging friends have put together a fabulous series just for you!

For some, the holiday season unleashes a sense of dread. The pressure to “do it all” squeezes the joy right out of the season. For others, Christmas can’t come fast enough. Whether you are excited for or dreading the season, I hope you’ll stick with us. We aren’t going to tell you how to create the perfect Christmas, but we are hoping to ignite the spirit of Christmas in your heart and help you center your celebration around the birth of our Savior.

For our first bit of inspiration we have the fabulous Mitzi Neely joining us. I met Mitzi this past summer at a writer’s conference. Mitzi exudes generosity. Her spirit is gentle and her heart is full.  Mitzi’s desire is to help other’s lighten their load, while conveying the message that nobody’s perfect.  Welcome to our series, Mitzi!


I love the holiday seaswhen-christmas-wears-you-outon. I’m reminded that gratitude, thankfulness, joy, peace, and love should be embedded in my thoughts and prayers as I start each new day. When I do this, the burden of hectic schedules, a frantic pace, and the stress and strain of a mile-long to-do list fades into the background and what’s most important rises to the top.

The holiday season is a particularly busy time and over the years, I like many women, have tried to balance working a full-time job, spending time with family, maintaining traditions at home, fulfilling outside commitments, attending family dinners, buying gifts, and completing my writing commitments. It’s easy to be exhausted. I hadn’t realized how out of hand things had gotten during the months of October, November and December.

When I started to seriously evaluate the busyness in my life, I realized that much of the list above was because of me. My family is good with whatever décor, because they live by the mantra, ‘less is more.’  My husband does minimal shopping, and he and my daughter are both very skilled at saying ‘NO,’ and that leaves me as the one who is stretched and quietly frazzled at all ends.

So, a year ago I decided I would try something different. I focused on how I could streamline all of the busyness and still be happy with my efforts. For the first time in my 35 years of married life I did not put up the big tree with all the trimmings, and I did not drag out box after box of decorations. Instead, I made choices.

We weren’t entertaining at our home over the holidays so no one would see it. In other words, we were doing the traveling to family events. So I opted for a small tabletop tree that was pretty, yet understated, and from there I strategically targeted two other areas (the mantel and the entry way) that I wanted to decorate, and just focused on those.

With that decision made, I was free to pursue other interests. I love spending time in the kitchen, so I baked more than I had baked in years. I simplified my shopping list, planned and wrote my blogs ahead for the month of December, participated in a couple of church events, celebrated Christmas with family, and then took some time off to rest and relax.mitzi-quote

Of course it took preparation and planning to make this schedule work, but what I came to realize was everything I had been doing all of these years was created by me. I simply had to cut out the busyness and be intentional about my focus and my time. And it worked.

Why had I waited so long to make these changes? I believe three reasons are to account:

  • First, it was partly because of the ‘I’ve always done it that way’ mentality.
  • Second, I had become so skilled at ‘burning the candles’ on all ends.
  • Third, I believed I would let my family down.

Turns out, that was my own faulty thinking and unrealistic expectations. But through all of this I realized it was perfectly okay to do something other than what was expected–I could revert to Plan B and be just as content.

All along God had wanted me to plan with purpose and pare down my to-do list. I could hear him saying, “Mitzi, honor your commitment to be intentional with your time.” I’m so thankful when He nudges me to pay attention.

I knew I had to make this change, but I had to give up being in control of my time. I also needed to remember that my time was HIS time. Ephesians 5:16 clearly reminds us to ‘Redeem the time.’ And when I do that, I honor God.

Honoring Him with my time, attitude, actions, and thoughts sure makes for a brighter and more meaningful holiday season.

Blessings & Hugs!

Mitzi

As a treat, Mitzi has graciously included one of her favorite holiday recipes for you and I to enjoy.

Poppy Seed Bread

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour                                              1 ½ cups milk

1 ½ tsp. baking powder                                               1 ½ cups oil

1 ½ tsp. salt                                                                 1 ½ T. poppy seeds

2 ¼ cups sugar                                                            2 tsp. vanilla

3 eggs                                                                          2 tsp. butter flavoring

Mix together all ingredients. Beat two minutes. Pour into 5 or 6 greased/floured mini-loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Glaze for Poppy Seed Bread  

¾ cup sugar                                                                 1 ½ tsp. Vanilla

¼ cup orange juice                                                      ½ tsp. butter flavoring

Mix together and pour over hot bread. Let stand 30 minutes. Remove from bread pan and package/wrap for gifts.

mitzi-neelyMitzi Neely is an inspiring motivational speaker who encourages women of all ages through her experiences and shortcomings. She has been blessed with a passion and love for people that stretches across the generations. Her heart is to lighten your load, while conveying her message that nobody’s perfect. So often God places certain people in your life at just the right moment; whether the reason is to help teach you, help you grow in your walk with Him, or to simply love and lift up others. Whatever your struggle or need, you will find encouragement through her words as she refreshes your heart and renews your joy.

Follow Mitzi at www.peacefullyimperfect.net because the joy of the journey is learning in His word together.

 

 

Back-to-School Prayer {with FREEBIE}

BACK-TO-SCHOO

Does the new school year have your momma heart in knots? Releasing our babies from the security of our homes and into a world where crazy seems to abound is not easy, but thankfully, Jesus makes it possible. Below is a prayer for our children based on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10) . Whether your child is starting school for the first time, leaving for college or schooling from home may the Lord be near each one and cover your momma heart with peace.

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”

Heavenly Father, please bless ____ with the revelation that his/her greatest need is for you. When the temptation to follow the world is great, please increase his/her remembrance of you and give him/her an insatiable desire to honor you regardless of the cost.

“God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

                Heavenly Father, when ____ makes a wrong choice may he/she quickly recognize his/her sin and turn to you in repentance. Help him/her receive your forgiveness and learn from the mistake.

 “God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.”

                Heavenly Father, the world teaches us to settle for nothing less than first place. But you say, humility is honorable. May ____ value humility when pride tempts his/her way. May he/she never see humility as a weakness, but rather as a choice to honor You.

 “God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice (righteousness), for they will be satisfied.”

                Heavenly Father, may ____’s life reflect an earnest desire to honor you. May he/she know that righteousness is found only through Jesus. May his/her choices be guided by the wisdom that comes from following hard after Jesus. And, may his/her soul only find satisfaction in a personal and intimate relationship with you.

 “God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

                Heavenly Father, may ____ always consider the mercy you have shown him/her, and in turn offer it to others. When hurt comes, may forgiveness and kindness well-up inside his/her soul and compel him/her to offer love instead of hate.

 “God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.”

                Heavenly Father, as ____ grows please protect him/her from any force that would seek to contaminate his mind, body and soul. Please bless him/her with a desire for purity in every area of his/her life.  May Jesus always be the strong foundation for every choice he/she makes.

 “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.”

                Heavenly Father, may ____ take delight in peace. May he/she always do his/her part to maintain peace wherever he/she goes and in all he/she does.  May he/she help others find peace and value it in their lives as well.

 “God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs”

Heavenly Father, may ____’s desire to be accepted never be greater than his/her desire to honor you. Please protect ____, but also strengthen him/her for the tough times. May a spirit of perseverance rise up in his/her heart when the path before him/her is not easy.

For a FREE printable copy of this prayer, click here.

 

You Make Me Smile {Giveaway}

Hi Friends!

I am excited to be back with you on the blog!

July brought a bit of an unexpected break from blogging. Our family’s schedule ended up being filled with vacations, a conference and a host of commitments, some of which were spur of the moment. It was a fun and exciting month, but I must say, I missed you!

Being away taught me something though. You gals (and guys) are a significant source of encouragement for me! When you visit the blog, I smile. When you leave a comment or share a post, I smile! When you tell me a post blessed you, I smile! Basically, you keep me smiling!

So, as we gather back together I have an exciting announcement!

I’m hosting my first giveaway!

That’s right! I want to bless you for the many blessings you bring into my life. Because, I may have been away, but you were still on my mind.

One of the stops I made during my break was to tour Richwood Creations, a non-profit company offering high-end wood products and rustic home décor. Their products are absolutely beautiful, but here’s the best part. The company was created to support Young Life Ministries in central Appalachia. A portion of the income from every purchase goes towards making ministry to teenagers possible.Richwood Creations 2

In keeping with their heart to give back, Richwood Creations is sponsoring our first giveaway: a set of four hand-crafted drink coasters. Each coaster is engraved with a scripture from God’s Word.

You can enter the giveaway by completing any of the following:

Subscribe to this blog – 2 entries (If you’re already a subscriber, comment below with, “I already subscribe” and you will still receive this credit.)

Share this post on Facebook (tag Raising An Arrow for credit) – 1 entry

Leave a comment below – 1 entry

The more options you complete; the more entries you’ll receive!

Have a blessed week, my friends!

CONGRATULATIONS to AMANDA BROWNING! You are the winner of the 4-piece coaster set. 

 

When Motherhood is Challenging

SAHM

Before we said, “I do,” my husband and I made a decision to wait five years before we started adding a lad or two to our family. We joked and called it our “Five Year Plan,” but when five years had passed, we still weren’t ready, and so five years became ten.

During those ten years we came and went as we wanted, established routines and slept! I laugh and say slept, because it was nothing for me to come home from a day of teaching, sleep three hours, wake up, eat and go back to sleep.

Then we had our first child and life changed. The changes weren’t negative; they just weren’t anything we were anticipating. No longer could we jump in the car and run down the road or kick up in the evening with a cup of coffee and a book. And sleep? What was that? I’m still trying to figure out if we slept the first year of our sweet boy’s life. Through every change though, we fell in love with our little boy, established new routines and laughed at our parenting mishaps along the way.

Then our son turned three and life changed again. I left teaching and became a stay-at-home mom. I expected to transition into my new “job” with ease and elation, but I didn’t. Quickly, I began longing for connection with others. When I taught I would crave a day at home, now I was rarely leaving home. As a teacher I was used to seeing achievement of the goals I had set, now the only thing I seemed to be achieving was changing from pajamas to clothes by day’s end. While I knew choosing to stay home was an investment in my son’s life, an overwhelming sense of purposeless consumed me.

In a world where we are called to make a difference, being a stay-at-home-mom doesn’t always feel world-changing; in fact, it can feel confining.

My new role as a stay-at-home mom allowed me to be more involved in our son’s teaching, disciplining and training, but it also made me wonder if I was doing enough for him. I began placing unreasonable expectations on myself and questioned every decision I made. Should I have set him in timeout? Did I raise my voice too much? Am I doing enough craft projects? Am I taking away his independence? Endless self-questioning began zapping the joy out of being a mom. Nightly, I would fall into bed feeling like a failure.

Days of questioning led me to a place of pouring my heart out before God. I reassured Him I wanted to be home with my baby, but I also told Him how I felt like my purpose had been lost. I told him I felt inadequate at being a stay-at-home mom. Shortly, after our conversation He placed this Scripture in front of me and my heart rejoiced.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 NIV

The words, “Let us not become weary” fell like fresh oil on my soul. God knew what I had yet to discover. He had called me to stay at home, but I was making myself weary with questions and self-induced pressure. His Word was the agent that transformed my thoughts. Before I knew it, the pressure lifted and staying at home became a part of my purpose and joy. My son and I began attending play dates with friends and story time at our local library. Together we pressed through the hard times and discovered joy in the midst of our daily routine.

If an area of parenting has you discouraged, may I encourage you to join me in remembering Galatians 6:9? Let’s choose joy over weariness and trust God to take our efforts and use them to develop our children and impact the world. We may not see it today, but through our love and discipline our children are becoming world-changers one day at a time.

Mommas, let’s not give up! Together we are making a difference!