Category Archives: Christmas

The War on Christmas is Not a Thing

Every year around this time I consider writing this blog post. Every year I see, read, or hear Christians get upset about Christmas, and how this nation is not acknowleding CHRISTmas to the fullest extent. I see people get upset over seeing “Merry Xmas” who then yell, “Leave Christ in Christmas!” The media responds with terms like “The War on Christmas,” or “Why Conservatives are Upset over Starbucks.”

This past week Starbucks brought out its red cups, which they do every holiday season. I saw the plain red cups and I guess I liked them. They are simplistic…and honestly that’s all I thought about it because the purpose of the cup is to get the coffee from the urn to my mouth.

As you probably know, the internet lost it’s mind, as it does. How dare Starbucks leave Christmas off their cups? Last year they had reindeer, and Christmas ornaments, and we all know that’s what Christmas is about, and this year their plain red cups are clearly meant as a slap in the face toward Christians everywhere.

Really, people?

Shame on us.

Now, my theory is, that there were a few upset people, and the media has gotten ahold of this and blown it way out of proportion (shocking, right?). Some of my facebook friends have passed around different ways to “trick” Starbucks into writing Merry Christmas on their cups.

Really, people?

I am here to tell you: the War on Christmas is not a thing. Stop trying to make it a thing. I realize this might be hard for some of you to hear, but this is not a Christian nation. This is a nation made up of just about every culture, religion, and ethnicity. Shame on us if we are trying to force others to say “Merry Christmas!”

Every year I see at least one person brag on social media about how their cashier/waiter/neighbor told them “Happy Holidays!” and they rudely responded with something like, “Well, MERRY CHRISTMAS!! to you!”

Really, people?

Could it be that the cashier is not allowed to say “Merry Christmas,” and she just wants to brighten your day and you responded rudely? After you left the store, she shook her head and thought, that must have been a Christian.

Shame on us.

While we moan and complain about red cups, our brothers and sisters in Christ are being literally killed for what they believe. While we get upset about people writing Xmas instead of CHRISTmas, the rest of the world is experiencing the biggest refugee crisis it’s ever seen.

Shame on us for being so self-focused in the name of the Christ we claim to celebrate.

Shame on us for treating people with pettiness for not believing exactly like we do instead of loving them as Christ does.

Shame on us for thinking that really, truly celebrating the birth of the man, Jesus, who was God, and would change the world forever, and has the power to change our hearts, comes down to what we do or don’t see on a Starbucks cup.

The War on Christmas is not a thing. Just stop it.


Let’s Not Forget This Happened

We spent Christmas at my parents house in Iowa last month. My whole family except for one brother (the Marines had priority over where he got to spend the holidays) were together. I have six siblings, that’s a lot of people. We had a blast.

My parents live in a tiny town in the middle of farm country and so we have to make our own fun when we’re there.

G and Sadie

This includes a new puppy for my Mama. Air soft battles, Lego-building, family games…

Also, this happened.

on dad's back

girls reading with dad

whole family

Many thanks to my new sister-in-law, who is marrying my brother in the middle of the Grand Canyon this month, for her photography skills. You can check out more of her work here, she is ah-MAZ-ing!

Family, you guys are the best.

The Time I Became George Bailey, and My New Health Obsession

Remember on “It’s A Wonderful Life” when George Bailey’s daughter keeps practicing her song on the piano over and over again? He was in the midst of a crisis and yet life was still happening around him and she kept playing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”

I felt a little bit like that throughout the entire Christmas season. Not that I was in the midst of a crisis, but that my kids were making me listen to “Angels We Have Heard on High” over and over and over… So many times. It’s their favorite song. The other day, I’m not even exaggerating, we listened to it 23 times in a row. I know this because I counted it all up on Spotify when the madness finally ended.

I’m so thankful for Spotify, you guys. Because I entered the song and hit play and therefore got to listen to a different artist every time, which made the song marathon a little easier to bear. Sufjan Stevens, yes. Pentatonix, of course! Brian McKnight, no thanks. Christina Aguilera…meh.

We’re back after spending the week in Iowa with my crazy/fun/huge family. Lots of laughter, food, some whacky pictures, air soft gun wars, and one adorable new puppy.

puppy picture

Look at that face!

How did you spend your Christmas?

I also wanted to tell you about something that I’m really excited about: Juice Plus. If you’re not familiar with Juice Plus, check out this link. I first heard about Juice Plus at a school fair last year and have been researching it for a year. A year of research. I don’t jump into anything without fully researching it first.

Juice Plus puts all your vegetables and fruit servings into a capsule or gummy. Brilliant! I’ve been giving my boys a multivitamin for years but I haven’t been satisfied with it because nothing I’ve been researching about vitamins gives me any confidence that the vitamins are actually getting into their systems. I once read that the most common substance that is found in city waste-water is multivitamins. Our bodies are just passing it on through!

This is why I love Juice Plus. It isn’t vitamins, it’s food. It’s digested immediately by our stomach because it’s all natural. Again, brilliant! Now of course, this is no substitute for healthy eating, for myself or my boys. But it is nice to know that even on the days when Little Guy only eats toast and cucumber slices he is still getting the full spectrum of nutrients.

I love Juice Plus so much that I not only take it and give it to my boys, but I also became a distributor. Because I want to pass it on to you! I’m really excited about this product, but I don’t want to flood my blog posts with Juice Plus, so I created a Juice Plus page at the top of my blog for you to see all my information about it. So please check it out!

If you’re interested in learning more, please email me.
I seriously would love to get you started on your health journey.

I’m running a special right now. If you sign up to receive Juice Plus for yourself, or your kids, sometime in the month of January, I will enter your name in a drawing to win a free bag of Juice Plus Complete shake mix. Not a bad way to start out the new year, eh?
juice plus

I’m fairly new to the Juice Plus family so I haven’t even tried the shake mix yet. But I keep hearing good things about it and I’m excited about trying it soon! So take advantage of this offer, visit my webpage at or contact me personally and I’ll get you set up.

I’m excited about a new year. This is going to be a year of rebuilding for us. A year of healing. I’ll talk more about that in tomorrow’s blog, so come back!

Happy New Year to you all! I appreciate your loyalty in reading my blog, I would do this anyway, but it’s nice to know people are reading and relating. It makes it worth it.

I leave you with these two cuties.


This is Grandma’s new puppy, Sadie.


Homemade Christmas Ornaments (Or, The Time I Let My Children Throw Paint Across the Living Room)

I took up watercolor and acrylic painting a few years ago as a way to deal with stress. It’s something I really enjoy, when I’m by myself. When my kids want to paint with me, it actually has the opposite result. Stress. So I try to find ways to have stress-free painting sessions. I want to share this one with you so you can perhaps try it with your own kids.
Or husband. Or dog?

I started with these, a 20-pack of iridescent glass ball ornaments. I chose 35mm size (really small) because little Christmas balls are adorable.

I then let the boys pick out 3-5 paint colors and added a bit to the inside of a ball.



And of course, what is a craft without glitter?


We found that the big glitter flakes were no good at all, they simply became coated with paint and disappeared. The small glitter, however, stuck around, as it usually does.
I’m still finding glitter around our kitchen.

My original plan was to loop a string to the top of the ornament and swing it in circles.


This worked for a few of them. But then an enthusiastic twirler swung the string too fast and the top came off the ornament. There was a moment of silent horror as we all watched a paint-filled glass ornament sail through the air across the living room and into the kitchen. It landed on the stove…and somehow didn’t explode paint everywhere. Phew, that was a close call, but I made the decision to put an end to the string method.

Plan B
I gave them the ball to hold, and they started shaking.



This then led to them throwing the balls across the carpeted floor (if you know my children at all, this really isn’t surprising). I unclenched my fists and let it happen, and found that this worked surprisingly well. The paint was mixed in really beautiful ways and I got to hear those beloved giggles that come from my boys having fun.




It was a fun day. And we’ve been having fun giving away the ornaments too.
Sharing the joy.


Do you have a favorite Christmas craft?



5 Reasons Why We Don’t Do Santa Claus

I’ve been writing this post in my head for weeks. Trying to figure out the best way to get my words on paper, er, computer screen. This morning I woke up with an icy cold nose which told me the temperature had dropped. It’s snowing! I said to myself as I hopped out of my warm blankets and looked out the window expectantly. And sure enough, it was. wpid-2014-12-14-09.49.08.jpg.jpeg

And you know how we love snow days. Today is the day I need to write, I thought as I prepared breakfast for my hungry crew. It’s going to look like Christmas outside, so it’s time to write about Christmas.

Now before you read this, notice the title is NOT “Why We Don’t Do Santa Claus and So Shouldn’t You,” because first of all, that’s a grammatical mess. Second, I don’t want to convince you of anything. I just want to let you know what we do and why, because I’ve found myself having this conversation in person several times over the last couple weeks, which is always an indicator to me that I should write.

So here we go, 5 reasons we don’t do Santa:

1. I really don’t like Santa. I never have. Even as a kid I loathed being forced to sit on his lap so that adults could coo and snap pictures. I knew he wasn’t real and it seriously creeped me out that I had to sit on a costumed stranger’s lap. Obviously, this isn’t the only reason my kids don’t believe in Santa, but to be honest, it is a reason. The Oatmeal has a great comic illustrating my feelings toward the jolly guy.

2. Big Brother is extremely literal. He believes exactly what you tell him. It’s really hard to sneak anything by him. So I left it up to him to figure out Santa. I never told him anything for or against the story of Santa and the reindeer. I knew he would ask eventually, because he always does. And when he did ask (this year, and last year, and the year before) I asked him what he thought. I could see the wheels turning in his head. He knows that nothing about Santa Claus lined up with what he knows is truth, “he’s not real, right?”

“Right,” I replied, “he’s just a fun game we like to pretend about at Christmas time.”

“Like Batman!?” Little Brother chimed in.

“Yep, like Batman.” Satisfied that they had gotten to the bottom of it, they ran off to play.

3. I can’t lie to my children. This really belongs with reason number 2, but it’s so important I’m giving it its own paragraph. My children learn about the world primarily through me, because they’re with me most of the time. This is a big responsibility, and I can’t take it lightly. I’m not saying here that if your children believe in Santa that you are lying to them. But if they come right out and ask you if Santa is real and you say yes…by definition…that’s a lie. Let’s just call it what it is. I never want my boys to doubt what I say. When we read a book they always ask if we’re reading truth. Sometimes we are, sometimes we aren’t, but we always let them know. The ability to discern truth in this world is a skill that is so desperately needed. Again, I’m not saying that your kids shouldn’t believe in Santa, because myth definitely has its place in life too, but I want my kids to know that I will always give them a truthful answer. And no matter how hard I try, I can’t fit Santa into this, for our family.

4. Christmas is freakin’ awesome without Santa! Seriously, guys. If you’re a follower of Jesus this is a pretty important time in the history of our faith. It’s a time of Advent, of anxiously awaiting the Savior who was born and who will come again. These are incredible truths that really put the big red guy to shame. Our Creator God wanted so badly to make a way for us to come back to himself that he sent his Son, an extension of himself, to our filthy, wicked earth as a helpless baby to dwell among us. How does this not blow our minds? If I’m going to waste energy telling my kids a story that seems too incredible to be true I’m going to pick this one, because it’s true!

5. One of the great joys in my life is loving people by giving them gifts. I love my friends and family, and I want to communicate that love by giving them a gift that I picked out just for them. When my boys open their presents at Christmas I don’t want to give the credit to a stranger who broke into our house last night. This is probably selfish of me, but oh well. I want the credit. I’m the mom!

The point of this is not to make you feel judged for what you do with your kiddos. Instead I hope this has caused you to think. Tim and I often say we want to live intentionally, or live on purpose. We want to think about the reasons we do things for ourselves and our boys. We’ve thought this through, and our actions follow. My desire is that you would stop and think about your family traditions, and if you do and still do Santa at your house, then awesome! Do it!

Furthermore, I don’t hate Christmas. At least not all the time, and my favorite Christmas movie is Elf (Home Alone is second). May you and yours have a very merry Christmas. wpid-2014-12-14-09.48.31.jpg.jpeg Do your children believe in Santa? Why or why not?

Between Two Advents

I’ve never been good at waiting. In my college psychology class we learned about an experiment dealing with children and delayed gratification. Children were given a marshmallow and told that they could eat it right away or if they waited 15 minutes they could have 3 marshmallows. Let me tell you, I would’ve eaten my marshmallow before they finished giving the instructions. Then I would have eaten everyone else’s marshmallows too. Yeah, no good at waiting.

Yesterday marked the first Sunday of Advent. If you don’t know what that means, it’s basically the first season of the Christian liturgical calendar. It’s a time of waiting. We observe the time as we await Christmas, which as you probably know, is a celebration of the coming of the Messiah, Jesus.

This season we look forward not only to his birth (the past) but to the event of his coming again (the future). We are between advents. The first season of advent ended when a baby boy was born in a stable over 2,000 years ago. The Jewish people had been waiting for his coming since Adam and Eve were thrown out of the garden in Genesis. The whole Old Testament portion of our Bible was written looking forward to a savior who would put an end to the reign of evil in our hearts that overtook humanity so long ago.

And, when it seemed as if things could not get worse, a baby came. A savior. God in the flesh. The wait was over! He came! So this season, we focus on that. On the fact that our God came to be with us as a man in order to bring peace to our hearts. So beautiful. So unexpected.

The second advent is the one we’re in now. When Jesus left this earth he promised to come back. And so we wait. And when he comes back he promises to make all things new. No more suffering. No more pain.

And that’s the basics of our Christian faith, isn’t it? The fact that our savior came and made a way for us to be at peace with God through his death. He didn’t stay dead, but became alive again and has promised to come back. That’s it. I believe that. It’s so simple and yet so profound.

And so we wait.

When I was 9 months pregnant with Little Guy I watched as my due date came and went. I was roughly the size of a whale and had been having contractions for 2 weeks. 2 weeks of contractions. The thing about waiting on a baby to come is that you really can’t do anything but wait. No matter how much I pleaded with the life inside my stretched-out belly, he was going to come on his time, not mine. But even though I could barely walk/sit/eat/breathe, I still wasn’t wondering, “if he was coming…”, but rather “when he was coming…” I knew that there was an end. I knew that eventually I would be holding my boy and I would forget the suffering it took to get there.

And so we wait.

But we wait with hope, like the hope of waiting for a baby. I know that my Redeemer lives and will come back. I wait expectantly, knowing that in the end the suffering and pain of this life will be worth it.

Advent. Waiting.

How do you celebrate the waiting?

Fighting Back at Entitlement

This family loves this time of year. I could take it or leave it, but the rest of my household loves Christmastime. We have our traditions, our fun holiday activities, and vacation time. One of the many perks of being married to a schoolteacher (it’s not all awesome, he works loooong hours sometimes) is getting lots of holiday vacation time. We visit family and enjoy being together.

But there are some things that I just despise about November and December. And they come in the mail. I’m talking about toy catalogs. Those thick, colorful booklets filled with plastic stuff. Somehow my kids always get to them before I do and I keep hearing, “I want… I want…” In the words of Charlie Brown, “I just can’t stand it.”

Everywhere you look this time of year you see consumerism. My facebook page is filled with Black Friday this and that. It’s hard not to get caught up in it and feel like I need to buy buy buy. And can I just say how disgusted I am that the very day after, or even the night of, Thanksgiving (the day devoted to being thankful for what we have, remember?) we trample people and get in fights all over buying more stuff?

This year we are fighting back by focusing on being thankful. I don’t like what I see in myself and in my children: ungratefulness. It’s ugly. It’s selfish. And it’s ungodly. I will talk about our Christmas plan when it’s closer, but one thing we are doing is writing down what we’re thankful for.


We’re trying to remember to do this every day, or at least several times a week. You can see when we started that certain little boys were a little focused on machinery, but that’s okay. The point is to have a reminder that we have so many wonderful things in our life to thank God for. We keep the list on the wall in the kitchen, where we can see it every day and read it as it grows.


Homeschool central


Let’s start a new thing, where we’re not focused on what we want, but on what we already have. And when we’re thankful for the wonderful things God has given us, then we are free to give them away. We talk as a family about how we are not attached to anything material enough that we would not ever be able give it away. We collect relationships, not things.

I’m curious, do you have a thankfulness plan in your family? How does it work?