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My Messy Christmas {Three Word Wednesday}

December 18, 2013
Hometour

Hometour

*Disclaimer:  This post is not intended to put myself down or to make you feel sorry for me.  This is my reality and I don’t care to hide it any longer.  I’ve been wallowing in all sorts of “why not me” and coveting the beauty of others that I’ve decided being real with my life, messy and all, speaks more of the beauty of Christmas, at least for me.

I had started a post entitled, “Awaiting His Arrival” and thought I would write about Mary,  how she pondered in her heart the arrival of the Son of God.  What were the questions she had of God about His son?  What did God share with her about Him?

But then it all sort of dissolved into nothing. You see, that is the post I wanted to write.  I wanted my voice to be heard for Advent.  My heart wanted to be taken down this path, to chime in with my thoughts on this beautiful season, to “fit in” with the rest for what the blogging world has been doing over the last couple of weeks.  God didn’t allow it.

Honestly, I’ve been all sorts of overwhelmed lately, for a couple of months now.  I can’t really blame it on the book, although getting a book published and getting a launch team together with reviews & giveaways can be exhausting.  Somewhere along the way I lost my voice, or so it seems. I long for the deeper revelation of God’s heart.  I’ve sat, prayed, cried, tried in my own strength.  But I’m not hearing.  At least nothing that I can put together in pretty little paragraphs for you all to read.

I’ve been a little down over the beautiful pictures I’ve been seeing on Facebook, Instagram and blogs over the Christmas grandeur of others.  Pretty packages, white Christmas, beautifully decked halls.  A  beautiful home is something I’ve always wanted.  But then I am reminded that any home can be beautiful, because it’s about the people who live there, not about the stuff. If I’m not careful I can find myself being sucked into the woes of “why not me”.  It’s not a place I want to linger for too long.

So, I thought I’d be real tonight and share my Messy Christmas Home Tour.  Because it really doesn’t have to be beautiful.  Jesus is here, in the mess, the dust, the chaos, and He loves me all the same.  I think it will free my heart from a place I’ve been sitting far too long.

In the spirit of The Nester, I give you my reality.  And if you haven’t checked out the Christmas Tour of Homes at the Nester’s, you really should. I am too embarrassed to link up even though I believe her when she says it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Here is my 2013 Messy Christmas Home Tour, or a peak into my beautiful chaos!

The Tree

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At first glance, it doesn’t look too bad.  My presents are wrapped in traditional wrapping paper, unlike the brown paper packages tied up with all sorts of lovely like some of my friends.  Pay particular attention to the dog toy, wires and unvacuumed carpet.  And did you see I forgot to remove the family photos from behind the tree so that they would not be photographed.

The Nativity

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This is real life, my friends.  Our nativity shares space with the DVDs the children forget to put away. Gasp! Jesus and The Lord of the Rings in the same place.  And my lovely daughter’s wedding photo.  What does that have to do with Christmas and why on earth is it there?

The other Nativity

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This one is in the den, where youngest son spends time with Nintendo DS and Legos.  And rocks!

The Mantle

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Father Christmas surrounded by Joy and Noel, together with battery operated candles share space with books, kleenex, nail clippers and other random items that I was too lazy to remove from said mantle, not to mention the fact that I do not have much Christmas decor to display so said shelves would have been empty if everything was removed. Wow, that was a long sentence!

The Centerpiece

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The beautiful scent of cinnamon in my lovely Mary and Martha pillar, surrounded by salt and pepper shakers and homeschool bookcase in the background.  I don’t think I even own a table cloth.

The Kitchen Counter

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We try to have some sort of Christmas decor in our living room, den and kitchen.  This poor fellow is surrounded by all sorts of nonsense.  Although, I will say the dark chocolate sea salt caramels are amazing!

The Stockings

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Our stockings are not hung by the chimney with care.  We have a fireplace, but we never use it and it’s been taken over by the tv and other audio visual things.  So, we hang our stockings on the stair case, with messy wiring and a pile of teenage daughter’s clothes which have been there for a month which I refuse to pick up for her. The life of a mom.

Well friends, there you have it. My messy Christmas home tour!  And again, this is not meant to put myself down or to make you have pity on me.  I am taking a step to be even more real with my life.  I refuse to post only prefect photos.  Most of  my photos are stock photos anyways. Please don’t judge.  I have no eye for photography.  I pay to make my blog look beautiful. I’m such a fraud!

Now, let’s hope and pray I can get this place cleaned up before 16 family members embark here for Christmas dinner!

Linking up with my dear friend Beth for Three Word Wednesday, on a Thursday, because sometimes life gets in the way.  Also linking up with Crystal for Behind The Scenes where we share the real story behind the photos.

family

Embracing the Simple Joy of Family

December 3, 2013

Red polka dots cup on wooden table over wallpaper with snowflakes

Embracing the simple Joy of FAMILY

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. Burton Hillis

I tell my kids ever year, “Christmas is about family.  It’s about being together.  It doesn’t matter what is or isn’t underneath the tree.  What matters most is that we, as a family are all together — healthy, happy and loving Jesus.”

Over the last four years, I’ve said that more often than I am sure my children would like to hear. It’s hard to keep a balance between wanting to give your children the desires of their heart at least once a year, and knowing that all of that doesn’t really matter.  My children are older now (adults, teens and preteens) so it does make it easier.  We were never extravagant in our giving with our children, but years of unemployment have set us back so far that sometimes the offerings are smaller than I’d like them to be.  But someone, we always manage to have something under the tree, smiling faces, laughter and happy hearts.

As my family comes together to focus on the simple joys of Christmas, there are many things we enjoy doing that bring us closer to each other as we build lasting memories.

Annual Tree Hunting

And it is a hunt!  We drive about an hour south to the tree farm and go on a hunt for the perfect tree. We all have an opinion as to what we feel is the perfect one, but in the end, we manage to come into agreement as we cut it down and bring it home.

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Tree decorating, Christmas Movies & Cookies

Every year we decorate our tree while eating freshly baked cookies and watching such Christmas movie as Rudolph the Red Nosed Raindeer, Frosty the Snowman, The Santa Clause and The Grinch.  Over the last couple of years I’ve gotten to sit back and watch my children take charge of the tree, which I love.  I’ve come a long way from the days where everything had to be perfect on the tree. My children do a wonderful job and you won’t find me rearranging anything!

tree

Christmas Sing-A-Long

On Thanksgiving Day, my daughters and I were driving in the car listening to one of our favorite Christmas CDs by Michalel Buble.  There is something magic that happens with Christmas music.  My heart comes alive, and is filled with joy at not only the lyrics and what they mean, but just the nostalgia surrounding the season.  It’s around this same time that my husband and oldest son sit on the couch side-by-side with their guitars participating in their own, home-made Christmas sing along.

Christmas Shopping

Yes, I did say Christmas shopping.  Oh, it can be stressful at times, but just the joy of going out and purchasing gifts for others (friends, co-workers, my kids for each other) brings me so much joy.  Times are tight and we have had to be creative in our gift giving.  Each year our shopping season starts on Black Friday with a trip to Starbucks and then off to the mall.  Thankfully this year, since the sales started on Thanksgiving eve (which I was not a fan of), there was no one shopping.  No crowds and lots of parking!

Christmas baking

I am not a natural baker, but once a year my youngest daughter, my sister and my mother get together to bake cookies.  We spend an entire day in the kitchen, each taking home 4-5 containers of cookies.  Some of our favorites are:

Hershey’s ROLO Pretzel Delights

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Sandies

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Chocolate-Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies (which as a child I affectionately called “candy cookies”)

Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-No-Bake-Cookies-Its-a-Keeper Snickerdoodles

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Traditional Christmas Sugar Cookies

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Nothing brings me more joy than partaking in the consumption of these edible creations.

These are just a few of the simple things my family enjoys doing together at Christmas that bring us joy.  I do miss the times when my children were little and we all participated in Advent devotionals.  With older children, who run on their own schedules, it’s hard to open the Word together. So I make it a point to drop in a “whatcha been reading lately” to spark conversation.

How about you?  What Christmas activities do you do with your family that bring you joy?  I would love for you to share in the comments below.

Come back next Tuesday as I share more on the simple joys Christmas!

Linking up with Emily for Tuesdays Unwrapped.

Tuesdays-Unwrapped-2013

family

Life Through The Lens: Celebrating 25 years!

August 27, 2013

On Tuesday, August 20th, my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary!

wedding

We didn’t have any big plans, like those we’ve dreamed about, as money is still very tight. (Thankfully, hubby is working now!). But God put it on someone’s heart to bless us financially so that we could go out and have a nice dinner.  A really nice dinner!  So that is what we did on Sunday night.

We went to the Shadowbrook Restaurant in Capitola.

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You can take a garden path down many stairs to the restaurant or opt for the cable car, which is what we do when we visit.

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(photo credit)

It’s a place we visited while we were dating, and the food is very good!  I took advantage and indulged, just a little!

Calamari appetizer

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Filet Mignon with au gratin potatoes (also had steamed veggies on the side)

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And in honor of our anniversary, two small but powerful chocolate truffles for dessert.

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After dinner we drove into downtown Capitola to visit the coffee house we liked to hang out at while we were dating.  Matter of fact, just shortly after we got engaged, we came here, and a violinist serenaded us.  We found out last night that this same violinist still plays on Friday nights, and has been there for 26 years!

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I opted for the iced coconut mocha, and my hubby the caramel milkshake

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On the way home, we drove to Kohls to look at a temporary replacement wedding ring for myself, but they were closed.  Perhaps I’ll share the story of why I am looking for something temporary one of these days.

These last 25 years have seen much joy and some heartache, but I wouldn’t trade it.  God has brought us through some difficult times and we are fully committed to allowing Him to see us through the next 25, and beyond!

Thanks for allowing me to share our date night with you!