Wednesday, December 16, 2015

December Dreams + Children's Votive Craft

Good morning, all!  I know I haven’t been posting much lately, but I really haven’t forgotten about you!  Making this blog sure is fun, and I love that it doesn’t have to be something that’s set in stone.  Because the painful truth is that I am not one who does well with rigorous scheduling.  Which is why most of this month has been dedicated to finishing up Christmas presents at the last minute.  You might go so far as to call it procrastination.  Or over-ambition at some point thinking I could make all these gifts for everyone!  I do love to make gifts for people if I can though, but only if it’s something I really think they would want or need.  I love being able to tailor it to their interests and pray for them as I create.  It’s like being able to send a blessing along with a gift! 
This is as close as we get to a nice photo in front of the tree!

How has your holiday season been so far?  Since my daughter’s birthday is in the first weeks of the month, we’ve decided to try to hold back the majority of the Christmas shenanigans until after we have had a chance to celebrate her life.  Although it may seem like an even later start, I kind of like reigning in the chaos even a little more.  I don’t know about you, but I feel like there is a ton of really good, fun stuff going on this year and I just feel like I need to cram it all in!  I love our advent calendar, but I know I could get really carried away with it, too. 

I glimpsed over an article last week that I haven’t been able to find again, but now I can’t get it out of my  mind.  The idea was basically “things you do NOT have to do this Christmas.”  In essence, it was releasing Moms from the pressure to “do stuff” to fill up the month of December with Christmas-ness.  Please don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and I love a lot of the activities that go with it, but I know for me it’s just so easy to get swept away and lose priorities.  And on top of it being so draining for me, I think it can get overwhelming and exhausting for the little ones as well!  I really appreciated the reminder that it’s okay.  It’s okay if we don’t make an elaborate gingerbread house, or see the Nutcracker, or get the perfect Christmas tree or do ALL the Christmas stuff!

I see all of you, my friends, and I am so inspired!  So many of you are working, be it part-time or full-time, have lost a loved one, or have medical issues you’re dealing with, especially with little ones.  Some of you are grandparents or parents of older children and you’ve taught me how the concern and worry for them doesn’t go away, it just changes.  It can be really hard!  And you do so much!  I see you always wrestling with issues concerning your families and fighting for what’s best for them.  I can see how your children adore you, they do (or will) know the effort you put forth, your Christmastime isn’t any less special, and the love is just so evident in your families.  And I feel like, that’s it!  Maybe it’s better to keep life more balanced this month while still putting the emphasis where it ought to be.  I believe traditions are important and wonderful, but I’m realizing for myself that I don’t have to do ALL the traditions, as delightful as they may be.  And even if one of our special ones has to be skipped one year, it’s okay.  It doesn’t mean I’ve ruined all their Christmases forever or even this year. 
THIS is the important stuff: gingerbread with friends
And THIS: exploring with family


So much out there is telling us we need to be a certain way (love-hate relationship with Pinterest) but it's just not true. I love how our family is right now, but I just really want this blog to be a place of encouragement. We all have different situations and I guess I just want to reiterate that it's okay.  I know the Christmas holiday's origins were not all about Jesus, but that is what we choose to celebrate now. And He knows our paths, struggles and joys. He loves us right where we are. Sometimes I think He must find it silly the lengths we go to, the unrelated things we do, in the name of His birth. 

So all that to say, take a deep breath, consider letting go of a little bit of holiday fluff and choose to love well!

I want to give you one more thing before Christmas, but my printer is still on the fritz and I'm having trouble scanning so I'm going to have to take my own advice and let go of my plan to post printable gift tags. But I will share an idea for a quick craft we did in Sunday School this week.  

We are part of a small but growing church plant here, so we never have more than a dozen kids from ages 1-12.  They all seemed to enjoy this one (though some needed more help than others!)  In trying to keep the activities appropriate for that range, I again decided to revise my original idea of a more intricate votive craft to this rather quick and simple one. And it ended up going even better with our lesson of the three wise men!  

Instructions: Roll a golf ball sized lump of salt dough smooth.  Gently press a tea light almost all the way down from the top.  Smooth out the dough as needed.  Gently press strands or individual beads into the dough.  Allow to dry and enjoy the light!

The idea of light lends to a couple themes in the story: the wise men followed the star in the sky to find young Jesus, the Light of the World.  The jewels remind us of the treasures the wise men brought to Jesus, that they themselves were earthly kings, and that Jesus is the King of kings.  And finally the theme of a gift.  The wise men brought Jesus gifts and Jesus is God’s gift to US!  I’ll let you decide how you want to work those connections in as you direct the craft!

I wish I could give you more, but I do wish you the most blessed and peaceful of Christmases!

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