Holiday Traditions

What’s your favorite thing to do during the holidays? Mine is visiting with family and friends. I absolutely love spending time with others! And the holidays often present that opportunity more than any other time in the year. Today, my dear friend, Carmen, is sharing her Top 10 Favorite things to do during the holidays! When you’ve finished reading, I hope you will share your favorite tradition or thing to do during the holidays in the comments below! 

Enjoy! 


holiday-traditionsY’all. It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

I have always stated that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. While I still stick to that, (It is the only holiday where I get to see most of my cousins) I have come to realize that, for me, it is the BEGINNING of the season. I am a person who has always accepted the “Happy Holidays” greeting. Because, for ME, “The Holidays” are all of the days that comprise the times and days between the last Thursday in November to January 2. It’s a whole season of happiness!!  (Legit dancing in my seat because I’m getting excited!)

As a kid, I learned A LOT about making the season memorable without busting tail to try too hard. My mom always says, the things we remember the most, weren’t the big things she went out of her way to do. It wasn’t the presents or having the perfect dress. It was the things we did together to make the house feel warm and festive.

(DISCLAIMER: Jesus is ABSOLUTELY the meaning behind everything we do. ABSOLUTELY. However, I feel strongly that there is something extra special about the whole season. While keeping Jesus at the forefront, we do a lot of other things to focus on love and joy instead of stress and perfection.)

Here is my top 10 favorite things we do during the holidays:

10. BAKE!!! – My favorite is to bake homemade party mix, cookies, crème de menthe brownies, peppermint bark and cinnamon roll. As a kid, my mom always baked for my teachers, and I do now for my kid’s teachers. I mean, they don’t need another mug, but another cookie…

9. MUSIC!! So. Much. Music. Fun music, Jesus music, pretty music, classical music… Some of our favorites are: Chris Tomlin, Oak Ridge Boys, Amy Grant, Kenny G., the kid’s Christmas play music, Alvin and the Chipmunks. Play it in the house, in the car, while you’re baking…PLAY IT, SING IT, DANCE WITH IT. 

8. Decorate together: True, most of the ornaments on my tree are at knee level, but the kids have so much fun. We have a Nativity in every room and I LOVE the way they perceive the Holy Family by the way they arrange them. Your house can be pretty in a few years when they’ve gone off to college.

7. Movie night, often. Everyone sits and you watch together. (Enjoy #10.)

6. Do the family stuff! The biggest cause of conflict is uncommunicated and unmet expectations. Talk to both sides of the family early in the season to establish their hopes and your schedules. The more you talk, the happier everyone is.

5. Be a team: If one member of the family is expected to do it all, there’s going to be a lot of joy lost. Wrap presents together as you get them. (And do #7, #9, and #10 while you’re at it) Stuff Christmas cards together. Make it a relational time, not a stressful time.

4. Turn the room lights off and the tree lights on. Often.

3. Spend extra time with people. Take the extra cookies to the neighbors. Give an extra hug. Make an extra phone call. Choose the right extras and do them.

2. We do Santa. (That may put me in jail for the Christian parents.) We don’t emphasize it. But, we both were raised doing Santa and still 100% believed in Jesus from a young age and were able to decipher the difference. And the wonder of Christmas and the element of surprise is so fun and something I looked forward to. We still read “The Night Before Christmas” and we sing “Rudolph”. We make Santa cookies. “Santa” brings 3 presents to emphasize the 3 presents from the Wisemen. The other presents they get are from us. As a mom, I find it exhausting to always do the “right” things especially in raising my children to love Jesus. And, for our family, we don’t feel that a little Christmas imagination thwarts that.

1. Advent wreath: Advent at church is beautiful. And meaningful. But, often the skit, or the reading is over my kids’ heads. There are tons of pretty wreaths with candles to buy to use at home. We light one candle and talk about what that means. Let them ask questions. Reteach the previous week. Because, we can never talk too much about LOVE, JOY, PEACE, HOPE, AND JESUS. We chose to do the Jesse tree with the book leading us: “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas” by Ann Voskamp. It has a daily reading taking us from the beginning of the Bible to Jesus and what all of the signs along the way said about the coming Messiah. There are ornaments the kids can color and hang on a tree. It has been one of our greatest times together. Every night, we relight that week’s advent candle to reemphasize the characteristic of Jesus we want to embrace.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year y’all.

Now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite thing to do during the holidays? Share in the comments below.

CarmenCarmen Boso is a pastor’s wife who is a teacher on the side. She is married to Lee and together they have a daughter, Nina, and a son, Brooks. They also have a Lab and a Golden Retriever. They share a love for cooking and traveling and eating copious amounts of junk food. To learn more about Carmen visit: www.babyboso.blogspot.com

 

 

How to Plant Hope in the Hearts of Your Children During the Holidays

Hello Friends, 

I am absolutely delighted to bring you this message from my good friend, Lori Schumaker. As a momma, I want nothing more at Christmas than to plant the love and hope of Jesus in the heart of my little boy. But, I confess sometimes this seems challenging. Today, Lori is sharing how we can turn our everyday activities into “hope” lessons.  

Welcome to our series, Lori! 


how-to-plant-hopeChristmas.

Hope.

They really are supposed to go hand-in-hand, aren’t they?

After all Hope was born, not only in the darkness of night, but amidst the darkness of a torn and hopeless world.

In humbleness, He was born in a manger bringing light and hope to the world. And hope to us today.

It’s a hope I want to share at Christmastime with my children. I want to make sure they know hope at the core of who they are. Praying they have the ability to keep it front and center as they walk through this life merely one moment away from a situation bearing the potential of hopelessness.

As parents, hope is a precious gift we all desire to plant within the hearts of our children.

But how? How do we plant the seeds and fully share hope with our children during the Christmas season? How do we make hope shine brighter than the rushing and the to-do lists?

Hope isn’t an isolated lesson. It isn’t something we abandon at other times of the year; it is something shared in the everyday moments. The planting, watering, and cultivating takes place every single day.

But during Christmas, we have the opportunity to wrap all our everyday lessons and our heartfelt moments together into a beautiful gift of hope.

And, from one Mama to another… It doesn’t have to be another addition to your to-do list!

It’s simply about the intentional conversations we have with our children during the activities we are probably already doing! And, it’s about the way we live our lives as their observant little eyes take note.

When picking out or making that perfect present for a very special loved one, a door is opened to discuss the depth of God’s love for us. He created and called us wonderful and marvelous. Because of His love, He gave us the best gift ever on Christmas! His precious Son! Just like Him, we can give gifts out of our great big love.

As we buy even the “obligatory” gifts we can talk about the joy found in blessing another. We can pray the receiver’s heart fills with the love and hope of Christ as they receive the gift. God uses us as His hands and feet in giving presents that can share His hope.

While participating in an Angel Tree or other outreach opportunity, we can talk about the difficult situation in which the family or child may be living. It’s a great place to explain the truth of our hope. It’s not about life being fair because it isn’t. God’s Word tells us that it won’t be easy. He tells us we will have troubles. But He promises He is with us every step of the way. Immanuel means “God with us”.

Make gratitude a priority. I love keeping a Gratitude Jar on the counter. I cut up note-sized pieces of paper putting them in a drawer near the jar with pens and pencils. As the kids are standing around the kitchen, I remind them to write out at least one unique thing they are thankful for today (not the same thing every day). It doesn’t have to be a jar. It can be a journal, a daily conversation, or anything that keeps us actively noticing good! Gratitude is a powerful weapon protecting both our joy and our hope.

During dinner or drive-time, sharing a hope-filled scriptlori-schumaker-christmasure is a great way to teach our children how the Word of God is filled with truth and hope that impacts our daily life. One child reads the verse followed by a discussion as to what this verse means to our family. How does it apply to each of us today? This week? This year? In life? You can download and print my favorite hope-filled Bible verse cards just by signing up to join Searching for Moments and Raising an Arrow! Click here to go to Lori’s site where you will find more details!”

When our children say, “I hope I get _______ for Christmas”, we get to smile and share their excitement alongside them. An extension of that moment is stepping into conversation about a greater hope! We hope for these fun things right now, but we have something even bigger we get to hope for because of Jesus. Reminisce the times God showed His faithfulness to us and our families. Maybe share a story from childhood. My children love to hear those “long ago” stories! Because of His hope, we need not fear whatever we face. Our hope in Him says Jesus is fighting for us. It says He is with us and He is making a way.

Let our children witness our hope in Christ. Sharing our (age appropriate) struggles allows them to see us leaning into that hope. We communicate the reasons behind our thoughts and actions. Explaining financial responsibility of a budget and how it honors God. Explain that even in the struggles we know God will hold our family tight and Christmas will have treasured moments. Let our children see us give our worries to Him.

This list is only a beginning! Now that your mind is spinning in the direction of intentional conversations, what would you add? I’d love if you would share your thoughts in the comments below! Your idea may be just the one another Mama needs!

And friends, may your Christmas holiday be filled with hope. The hope that was born that night!

“You can download and print these hope-filled Bible verse cards just by signing up to join Searching for Moments and Raising an Arrow! Click here to go to Lori’s site where you will find more details!”

lori-schumakerAs a wife, mom, teacher, friend, and writer, Lori seeks to encourage others to embrace hope. Pointing others to Jesus brings her joy. Writing about the hope of Jesus is her focus. It’s because of this that she is excited to welcome you as a friend as you struggle through brokenness, celebrate life’s joys, and grow to know Jesus more and more. Find her blog, Searching for Moments, at www.lorischumaker.com or visit her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagam.

 

 

Remembering the Reason for the Season

As we continue our Home for the Holidays series, I am delighted to introduce  you to my friend, Lauren Gaskill. Lauren is an author, speaker and podcaster who spreads the joy of Jesus in everyday life. Lauren is sharing one of her family’s Christmas traditions with us today.


lauren-gaskill-postI could hear my sister and my cousin plotting as we ran up the stairs to get ready for our annual Christmas Eve play.

“Hey! You guys always get to be Mary … but I want to be Mary this year!” I yelled as I followed closely behind them.

My sister turned around just in time to catch a glimpse of my puppy dog eyes.

“Oh fine,” she replied. “I’ll be the shepherd.”

We spent the next 10 minutes dividing the remaining roles and preparing for our big curtain call. Then it was lights, camera, action. Time for the grandkids to act out the story of the birth of Jesus for the whole family to see. And for a grand finale, my gramma would bring out the “Happy Birthday Jesus” cake, thoughtfully topped with one candle to signify our one and only Savior’s birth.

Before any talk of presents. Before the hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies. Before the caroling music. Before anything else, Christmas was and forever will be about Jesus in my family. And although traditions have changed somewhat since we were kids (we don’t do the play anymore, we just read the Bible instead) some traditions stay the same, like our treasured Jesus cake.

When I was growing up, it was pretty common for teachers to ask students to share their holiday traditions with the class. And while I used to be embarrassed to talk about the Jesus cake, today I’m proud of the unique tradition. In fact, it’s become one of my most favorite things about Christmas.jesus-christmas-cake

Last year, my husband and I couldn’t make it to my gramma’s Christmas Eve celebration, so I asked her to send me a picture of the cake in my absence. There’s something about preparing a cake for and singing to my Savior that brings me so much joy.

There are so many reasons not to choose joy during the holiday season, and if we don’t keep our focus on the reason for the season, we end up focusing on the wrong things — things that fill us with sadness and sorrow. 

Things like not having enough money to buy everyone the presents you wanted to buy them. Things like not having the prettiest outfit to show off to all your family members. Things like not feeling beautiful enough to be in family photos. Things like that diagnosis you just received. Things like that boy who just broke your heart and left you dateless. Things like that friend that just stopped calling.

But when we fix our eyes on the reason for the season, we are filled with joy.

No matter what’s going on in our lives during the holidays, we can delight in the birth of our Savior. We can shut the noise out by focusing on giving praise and thanks to our great Father, who loved us so much that He sent His son to come live among us and die for our sins.

Each new year brings a different Christmas experience for me and my family, but one thing remains the same: Jesus is always at the center of our celebrations. He is our Home for the holidays, no matter where we are or what we are going through.

He is our refuge and our fortress, our God, in whom we can trust. {Psalm 91:2}

We can choose joy at Christmastime because love came down to set us free.

 

lauren-gaskillLauren Gaskill is an author, speaker and host of the Finding Joy podcast. She is in the process of publishing her first non-fiction inspirational book. When she’s not writing, Lauren loves to cook, bake and go on hikes with her husband and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who is affectionately named Reese after Lauren’s favorite candy — peanut butter cups.

 

 

 

Holiday Devastation or Delight?

The holidays are a time full of activity – from decorating and dinners to baking and buying gifts, there is no shortage on the things one can do. Which means stress can also mount and make us frazzled before we know it. Today, my wonderful friend, Tiffany Parry, is sharing three questions we can pray through when the momentum of the holiday season gets the best of us.

Thank you for joining us, Tiffany!


holidays-dont-have-to-be-perfectLighting the Christmas tree was my job [only mine]. With careful attention to the most minute detail, I would unwind endless strands of crystalline white [only white] lights across the branches of our Noble [only a Noble] fir tree.

This job required talent, folks. One must be born—created even—to light a tree with this kind of precision. Bulb and cord must be perfectly positioned and tucked so that every ornament and sparkly what-not reflects light just so.

It’s enough to drive a girl mad. And that’s exactly what it did.

By the end of the tree lighting ordeal, I was full of the polar opposite of Christmas spirit. Family members fled, fearing even the mention of an unlit branch would send pine needles flying. My goal was to create memories, but not the kind that would require counseling.

To my credit, my intentions were good. I wanted our tree to be a beautiful place for our family to gather and celebrate one of my favorite times of year. From the front window of our home, I longed for warmth and welcome to radiate to the neighborhood beyond.

Rather than fixing my heart on the gathering, welcome, and the faith that fueled them, I focused on making it flawless.

The holidays are full of emotion and ideal, many of which can place undue pressure and emphasis on the wrong places. Whether it’s facing not-so-functional family, feeding the masses, or simply managing more-to-do when you’ve had more-than-enough, this season can be a devastation rather than delight.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above.”
James 1:17

The holidays don’t have to be perfect and neither do we. Perfection is an illusion any day of the year, but paired with holiday expectation, it can become a heavy burden that steals our joy.

Jesus is perfect.

  • Our perfect supply of strength.
  • Our perfect measure of love.
  • Our perfect source of wisdom.

We don’t have to manufacture those things. They are given to us from above, a gift from a good Father who delights in us, as imperfect as we are.

There is freedom and rest in releasing perfection and clinging to Jesus.

Now, I’m not suggesting you chuck the turkey and tree, slam the door on your family, and spend the holidays alone with Jesus. Sounds kind of awesome, but not realistic…or kind. Just saying.

However, we can ask Jesus to give us a renewed and right perspective about the holidays—about every day—and proceed through them in His wisdom and strength.

Here are a few questions we can pray through when the momentum of the holiday season begins to get the best of us:

  1. Is it essential? 

There are needs and then there are wants. It’s fair to say our lives our full of non-essentials. So, simplify. If you don’t buy it, do it, or make it, would it greatly impact your life or those of your loved ones? If not, perhaps you could ease some pressure by passing on it.

  1. Is it worth the cost?
    Honestly count the cost of your time and resources—emotional, financial, physical and spiritual. The holidays can cause us to spend more than we have in all these areas. Wisdom says we are to be good stewards of ALL that God has given us. For me, a pre-lit Christmas tree was worth every penny! 
  1. If ______, then what?
    With the heightened emotions of the holidays, molehills can quickly become mountains. Take a step back, measure the consequences, and then proceed. If you burned the cookies, then what? If you said no to one more invite, then what? Sometimes things aren’t as crucial or critical as we think. And if you can’t answer that question clearly, then choose someone you trust to filter through it with you.

The holidays can be a minefield, but they can also be marvelous if we remember we don’t navigate them alone. Our purpose for thanksgiving, our reason for celebrating new life—our Jesus—is real and true. Let’s purpose to celebrate this season WITH and FOR Him. Let’s simplify so that we can savor every minute and truly embrace joy.

tiffany-parryTiffany is marveled by the endless grace and relentless love of her Savior in this life that can be so messy, too busy, and entirely imperfect. Her heart is to share God’s precious promises of grace and love with others and invite them into honest and authentic conversations about faith and life. Tiffany welcomes you to join the journey at her blog, Simply for One, or on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Holiday Traditions that Leave Legacies

Welcome friends!

Today, my dear friend, Alisa Nicaud from Flourishing Today is joining us to talk about our holiday traditions, celebrating the season and leaving a legacy for our children’s children. Her words are insightful, inspiring and full of goodness! She’s also included two links with printable freebies for you and your family to enjoy!

Thank you for joining us, Alisa!


The countdown is on!

There are 8 days until Thanksgiving and less than 6 weeks until Christmas. The holidays are the busiest season in our household, but also provide the most opportunity to celebrate together as a family. Our holidays consist of a plethora of food and a large gathering of family and friends. Yet there is something else that truly makes our holidays memorable.

Traditions.

As I’ve grown into an adult with my own kids, I seek to recreate the memories I had as a child—to bring what my husband and I grew up with into the lives of our children. We want to have traditions. It’s our heritage. When we are old and grey and our kids are grown, we want to hear them sit around and tell their children about the fun things we did as a family every year. Traditions are more than just fun memories, but can become part of the legacy we are passing on.

Traditions allow a part of one generation to carry forward into the next, leaving a dynamic legacy for our children’s children.

Holiday traditions not only bring a uniquely tailored experience to celebration, but help us to stay focused on why we are celebrating. With all the excitement we can easily be distracted from the One who has given us a reason to celebrate. This year we are starting a few new traditions that are bringing us closer as a family and allowing us to truly enjoy the individual holidays that are approaching.

Holiday Traditions that Leave Legacies

legacy

Thanksgiving Traditions

When we think of holiday traditions, many times we only include Christmas. Yet many of us have Thanksgiving traditions that we follow every year. One of our favorite traditions has been sitting around a large food filled table with family, telling what we have to be thankful for from the year. Although we love this tradition, we found that many of the things we shared had little or no thought behind them. This year we wanted to begin cultivating a heart of gratitude before Thanksgiving Day arrived. We decided to do a Thanksgiving Journal. For the 2 weeks leading up to Thanksgiving we are writing down the things we have to be thankful for and share them with each other during family time. Perhaps you would like to start this tradition as well? If so, I’m happy to share the Thanksgiving Journal I created for my family.

I’m realizing something very important along this journey of thanksgiving: Gratitude has the ability to kill the attitude of complaining. And in my house, there has been a lot of grumbling and complaining lately (and not just by the kids!). When we are intentionally focusing on what we do have, we are less concerned with what we don’t have. Gratitude is reminding God of what He’s done for us. When we sit down and think about all that we have to be grateful for, we become filled with the overwhelming goodness of God.

I found a beautiful statement from Abraham Lincoln that expresses this perfectly:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. Abraham Lincoln, Thanksgiving Proclamation

Christmas Traditions

As a child I remember waiting all year for Christmas to come. The anticipation. The excitement. The Snow. (Obviously I didn’t grow up in Louisiana!) I loved Christmas time. From the parties at school to the family get togethers, there was always a certain joy in the air. My mom would have presents wrapped under the tree ahead of time to usher in the excitement. I remember sneaking over to the tree and peeling back sides of gifts to sneak a peak of the goodies inside. Our house was filled with hot chocolate and The Christmas Story playing in the background. Sharing these memories with my kids has been one of my favorite traditions we’ve started. They keep reminding me each year, “Mom, remember when you used to sneak open your gifts?” I have to kindly remind them, “Don’t even think about it!”

Last year my husband and I decided we didn’t just want to share what we did, but actually incorporate some of the traditions we had growing up. We wrote down our top few and decided to begin doing those with our children.

That’s how traditions get started, making memories on purpose.

The fun ones we keep, the not so fun ones…. well we learn from those.

What do your traditions look like? Are you ready to begin some new ones? Here’s one you may want to try!

The M&M Tree

One of the traditions my husband grew up with sounded really fun, so we will try it again this year. I say again, because we tried it last year and it was an epic fail! Not because it wasn’t a great idea, but because I can get distracted when I’m baking! Every Christmas, my mother in law had a cookie tree. She and the kids would bake m&m cookies, place them in bags and hang them on the tree like ornaments. Each day the kids were allowed to take one cookie off the tree and eat it. I’m a stickler about my pretty ornaments, so another tradition we started last year was the kid tree. I get to have my pretty tree in the main living area and the kid tree goes in the kitchen nook. I even let the kids decorate it themselves. It’s a win-win for everyone.

All this talk about traditions has me excited about the holidays! How about you? Regardless what your traditions are, the simple act of doing them together with family and friends for the holidays will leave a legacy your children will never forget.

Oh and by the way…. if you love the idea of traditions and celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, you can join us for Reason for the Season—a 25 day Challenge to keep Christ the Center of Christmas. You’ll receive daily recipes, scriptures, prayers and practical tips to keep Christ the Reason for the Season.

I hope you’ll enjoy your holiday season this year and share with us some of your favorite family traditions! I’m always up for trying new things!

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Alisa-Nicaud-Bio

Alisa Nicaud currently lives just north of New Orleans, LA with her husband Philip Nicaud, their five children and their dog, Roux. She owns a boutique coaching practice and is the founder of the blog, Flourishing Today. Through her own tragedies, Alisa is intimately familiar with the struggles of anxiety, fear, insecurity and depression. Alisa’s willingness to be transparent gives her a unique advantage in relating to women from all walks of life and leadership. She freely shares helpful hints and practical encouragement rooted in Biblical truth in her posts and resources. Her passion is to equip women to overcome any limitations preventing them from leading a flourishing life. You can learn more by visiting her blog at www.flourishingtoday.com. You can also connect with her on social media here:

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