9 12, 2014

Family Favorite Christmas Books & Traditions

By |December 9th, 2014|Blog, Book Review, Holidays, Traditions|3 Comments|

What are your favorite family traditions during the Christmas Season?

Some of ours are as simple as reading the same books every year and looking through our Christmas scrapbooks, sharing stories about previous years memories! And who can forget listening to the reading of the story of baby Jesus and singing Silent Night?
Of course, we didn’t have all of these fabulous books right away when we had children. The collection has grown over the past 15 years. Now, as the kids get older, I dream of the day when I get to cuddle a grandchild and read them the same books I read their parents.
As the years go by, my children tend to pick one or two of the books as their favorites. Then as one of their gifts, I purchase that book to put in their keepsake/future box, so that they have a small collection for when they have children!
This idea was inspired by my parents and grandparents. As a little girl, every Christmas I received a special ornament with a gift to put in my ornaments box, so that when I got married I had a box of special ornaments with a story behind them. We are also continuing this idea of special ornaments for our children, but this way it is the gift that keeps giving through the generations…hopefully.

Here is a list of our family’s favorite Christmas books:

The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado

The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg

The Legend of the Christmas Tree

The Visit of the Wise Men by Martha Jander

The Beggar’s Blessing by Mark Hamby

Josie’s Gift by Kathleen Long Bostrom

Away in the Manager by Thomas Kinkade – teaches the song to illustration

The Story of St. Nicholas by Cheryl Odden- Voice of the Martyrs

Saint Nicholas: The […]

2 12, 2014

The Santa Controversy

By |December 2nd, 2014|Blog, Holidays, Traditions|10 Comments|

When we were young parents we struggled with the whole “Santa” controversy. Do we have Santa bring presents? Or not? Do we get a Christmas tree or not?
There are so many decisions we as parents get to {have to} make over the years, and they aren’t always easy ones.

The reality is that children will most likely believe in what the media influences them to believe or what other children they know believe, unless we, their parents teach them differently. Santa, for example, is the prevalent Christmas icon in the stores and in most family traditions. For the Christian, we deeply desire to make Christ our focus, but with so many other fun traditions to be experienced and our deep desire to be good parents, we simply want to do it all, right? But in doing it all, the Christian faces a different challenge. The challenge to truly make the focus of Christmas be about the birth of the Savior of our souls.
Are you struggling with this conflict, is the Holy Spirit convicting your heart to be more protective of what your family is truly celebrating and reflecting on?
As a parent, we deeply desire to raise our children to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. We don’t want them to be tempted to make idols for themselves, yet in some way, we in our desire to be the cool parent, who makes fun memories, we justify doing things without realizing the competition there is in the heavenly realm for our children’s heart, soul, and mind.
The enemy disguises himself in beautiful ways. For example, giving of gifts is good, sharing a gift tells someone you are thinking of them and that you love […]

29 11, 2014

Gift Ideas & Gratitude Giveaway

By |November 29th, 2014|Blog, Giveaways|16 Comments|

Every year we are inspired to think about what we are most thankful for. And the people we love are one of the obvious thoughts that come to mind. I’m certain that people who have the primary love language of gift giving/receiving had to have been the ones who started the traditions of giving gifts during the holidays.
Gift giving is not my primary love language, however, I do feel valued and loved when someone took the time to find a gift that speaks, “I know you and love you for who you are.”  Don’t we all feel this way?
Regardless if your love language is giving gifts or not, choosing to love another and appreciate them the way they would feel most appreciated {not the way you would} is the best gift you can give. But that takes knowing someone. I mean really knowing someone.
But sometimes when I am out shopping, I draw a blank on what gift would be the perfect one for them. Does that every happen to you?
So I decided to make a little list of some of my {and our families} favorite things and just for fun, I am going throw in a little giveaway of some of them as well! What I love best is hearing from others what gifts they have appreciated over the years, so as you take some of our favorite ideas, please leave yours in the comments! :)
I’m going to call it the…

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So let’s share with one another!
What are the best gifts you have gotten or given?
What  are your favorite things? What products, books, or games does your family just LOVE that would be good ideas to share with others?
Please share in the comments below or connect with us […]

17 11, 2014
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    Show “Perfect Courtesy” to Everyone, Including Your Family

Show “Perfect Courtesy” to Everyone, Including Your Family

By |November 17th, 2014|Blog, Faith, Marriage, Motherhood, Parenting, Reflections|2 Comments|

Do you struggle with being kind and courteous to your spouse? How about being respectful and kind to your children? There is no pretty way to make this sound any better than it really is. So I am just going to confess it, yes, this is a struggle for me. The weird thing, is that it didn’t used to be. When life was so much simpler {before kids}, I wasn’t stretched or challenged to be nice when I didn’t feel like it.
Courteous: the showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behavior toward others; specifically a polite speech or action, supplied free of charge 
I love my husband. And I love my children. I am so thankful for them. They are my biggest blessing in life. BUT, until I had them, needing things from me, I wasn’t ever challenged to really examine my heart from a place of self-less-ness, not truly. Not in the way that a wife and mother does. It’s a 24 hour job. One you can’t understand, not even close, until you are in it. And though I love my family to pieces, and we have amazing times together, rich conversations, and so on. The reality is, I was totally convicted this morning and even now, more and more as I write, how truly selfish I can be at times. How I don’t try to be that sweet girl my husband fell in love with often enough. Because it takes effort. I can be kind when others are being respectful of me, when I feel valued and loved, anyone can, but what about when you feel taken for granted? Or when you are simply tired from serving children through the night… now try 2-3 years […]

14 11, 2014
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    Leaving a Legacy of Self-Forgetfulness Instead of Selfishness

Leaving a Legacy of Self-Forgetfulness Instead of Selfishness

By |November 14th, 2014|Blog, Faith, Family Discipleship, Leaving A Legacy, Parenting, Reflections|2 Comments|

If you are anything like me, you are aware of your own selfish sin, and see it played out in the little mini-me running around your home everyday?
And the more children you have, the more you see it right?
I recently read a fantastic book. One that is worth reading for your own personal edification and spiritual growth, but also from the perspective of how do we train our children up to be aware of their selfishness and their attempts at preserving their “ego” as well.
Here is a short video on really engaging the content you come in contact with via books, sermons, iPod casts, blogs, etc as a student for personal growth and then turning around and asking yourself the question, how could this impact my child?

Execution of what we learn is the hardest part, but if we are teaching it to our children, we ourselves are held to an even higher accountability to practice what we preach, and the simple act of teaching what we learn further impresses upon us the execution factor.
One of the most stimulating activities Isaac and I do together is visioneer together. We love it. Probably more than most. When we have scheduled a date night, we often choose to sit over a good meal, dream, discuss, evaluate and plan out our current mission. We evaluate where we are at as a couple, our family, where each of the kids are and what we would like to see more of happening in our family {serving, character qualities, whatever}. But I love when we get the time to talk about specific legacies and how we are going to be proactive about leaving them.

We all leave a legacy, whether we are […]

10 10, 2014

Redeeming Halloween Resources

By |October 10th, 2014|Blog, Core Christian Parenting Fundamentals, Family Discipleship, Holidays|1 Comment|

Do we participate in the annual halloween festivities that our culture pushes? 
This is the age old question I believe all parents for generations have struggled with. Don’t you?
 
Regardless of how different things are today than they were when our parents were raising us, the reality is, this question still haunts parents today. I have often talked with other moms about the challenge we have as first generation parents who are not only trying to learn and model wise technology/social media habits ourselves, but we also have to parent to the struggles and temptations that those devices/tools CAN bring into the hearts of our children. Parenting is hard, Amen?! 
But this struggle is not a new one to parenting. Our culture has always had temptations, whether they look the same or not. I believe how we engage cultural holidays is one such issue for parents. But because it may not seem so “in your face” every day, and because we grew up ourselves celebrating many of these holidays without asking the hard questions like, “Am I really bringing Christ glory doing this?” We often don’t see them as the same kind of struggle. Conformity without pretense.

I know that one of the things I have struggled with as a mom, has been the ugly thought that I am bringing God shame by being looked at as an intolerant grouch just because we don’t trick or treat or participate in other “halloween” traditions. Giving children candy isn’t inherently bad {well a nutritionist might disagree}, but you get the point. So where is the line? And why can’t it be easy?
We need to support one another, recognizing that none of us have all the answers. I struggle as a […]

19 06, 2014

The Great Church Search: Prayerfully Seeking vs. Selfishly Shopping

By |June 19th, 2014|Blog, Community, Faith, Family Discipleship|2 Comments|

“Church shopping.” It sounds like such a consumerist mentality to finding a new church home. Yet, I myself have been guilty of casually referring to this season of church visiting as such. What other term is there to eloquently describe the season where one {or a family} is intentionally looking for a church to call their home?

We’ve been looking for a new home as we are preparing to relocate our family. When house shopping, we Americans tend to look at all the pros and cons, weigh them out against our preferences list. Often times, we come to an immediate opinion about a home based on how it looks or seems on the outside surface. As we prepare our hearts and relationships for this transition of moving, I am also preparing my heart and mind for a season of church visiting. I don’t like calling it “church shopping,” simply because of the consumerist mentality it seems to represent. Most don’t enjoy this season– feeling displaced, out of one’s comfort zone, the fact that building new relationships can be hard; but it’s all in your perspective. I actually find it refreshing to catch a glimpse of how the Holy Spirit is moving among many churches, God’s churches, simultaneously. It’s a beautiful thing to see similar visions, making impact in the communities they have been given jurisdiction. And generally speaking if you are friendly to people, they will be friendly back. After all, we are all family right? It’s like going to a pre-heaven reunion.
So, as I prepare my heart and the hearts of my family for this anticipated season of seeking where God would have us, I have written out reminders from the lessons we have learned over the years–lessons […]

5 05, 2014

Mother’s Day Giveaway!

By |May 5th, 2014|Blog, Giveaways|2 Comments|

Motherhood. It’s a personal journey. A sanctifying one at that, isn’t it? In so many ways, the older I get, and the more “experienced” I get, the more I realize I have so much to learn; and this is especially true of motherhood.
We all love our children equally in passion, commitment and hopes– we all want “the best” for each of our own children. But the hardest part about motherhood, is often the pressure we put on ourselves. Isn’t that right?

I think we would all agree that we have all searched for that one book, that one manual, yearned to have a mentor tell us exactly what the magic formula is, for being a good mom… no… the best mom. Haven’t we. Our intentions may be honorable, we just simply love our children and want the best for them, even to be the best we can be for them.  But sometimes, in the midst of these hopes, we can find ourselves weighed down by the pressure of not measuring up to our own standards. We can focus so much on “our performance” as a mom and fall into the comparing trap, that we loose sight of what matters most– simply delighting in our children.

So in honor of all those mother’s that work so hard, because you all do, Happy Mother’s Day.

I pray that you {and I} succeed at letting go of worldly expectations of ourselves.

Mom, In our race, the most important thing we can do is let our children know we love them.  In all of other attempts we make in this life, attempts to teach, to train, to lead, to cultivate, to inspire, to model, and even to provide and protect… nothing is more important […]

1 05, 2014

Lessons from the Vineyard on Brokenness

By |May 1st, 2014|All About Jesus, Blog, Faith, Gardening|2 Comments|

Just a short few weeks ago we began our intentional studies and remembrance traditions leading up to the crucifixion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Coincidentally, these past few weeks have been unusually warm for the Pacific Northwest, inspiring new growth that the awakening of Spring brings. And when there is growth, I am beckoned outside to tend my garden and vineyard. Yes there is weeding to do, grass to mow, but the very impatient need to prune our vineyard takes precedence. I am very enthusiastic about sharing more about the lessons we have learned here on our vineyard and I hope you will join me as I share more these next few weeks.

What does brokenness, our Savior’s death & resurrection, and the pruning of a vineyard have in common?
Refinement and then a fruit that shines His glory.

You see, as I share in this post about brokenness, that God calls us to be broken, like His Son.
As Christians, we don’t shine our lights brightest when we seem to have everything together and look all perfect on the outside. Instead, God is most glorified when we are willing to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and share with others when life isn’t perfect and we can still praise Him. When those hard trials, times of suffering or pain meet us, or when sin hurts us or others, those stories of healing, strength, forgiveness, and mercy are the ones that SHINE brightest for Him.

A viticulturist understands and knows his vineyard. He prunes off even what looks good, to focus the energy and nutrients into making what is on the vine even better.
I could talk to you until I am blue in the face about the lessons we […]

30 04, 2014

Illuminate Through Brokenness

By |April 30th, 2014|Blog, Faith|0 Comments|

About a month ago I was offered the opportunity to write on letting God’s light shine through brokenness. And just as any other time when I speak on a topic, the Lord allows me to recall and deepen my understanding of my own experiences and those I am impacted by in this life. This past month there has been much to ponder.
Have you ever felt broken?
Unfixable items often go into the trash in our culture. And often so do jobs, relationships, ideas, and even beliefs–at times. In those broken, questioning, unclear times how do you cope?
Come on over and visit me at Illuminate Wednesday on Adelle Gabrielson’s website.

And then come back over tomorrow as I share on …

Just a short few weeks ago we began our intentional studies and remembrance traditions leading up to the crucifixion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Coincidentally, these past few weeks have been unusually warm for the Pacific Northwest, inspiring new growth that the awakening of Spring brings. And when there is growth, I am beckoned outside to tend my garden and vineyard. Yes there is weeding to do, grass to mow, but the very impatient need to prune our vineyard takes precedence.
Join me tomorrow as we dig even deeper into this topic of brokenness and lessons from the vineyard.
Until Then,
Sister Angie