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Women Living Well Blog: December 2009

Women Living Well Blog

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: How to Make a 2009 Time Capsule

Are you looking for a way to make this New Year's Eve meaningful and memorable? Here is a cheap and easy way to bring the family together for a time of reflection on 2009. Every year on New Year's Eve our extended family gets together for sauerkraut, cabbage rolls, games and the making of a time capsule! Then we toast in the New Year with sparkling grape juice! This is our family tradition!

Here's how to make a time capsule:

First get a container - mine is simply a Quaker Oats can cleaned out. Then we decorate the outside of the can by covering it with white paper and allowing the children to draw pictures. Then we mark the can clearly with the date.

Before the party, I remind everyone to bring something for the time capsule. Every child from newborn up through the oldest grandparent comes prepared. Then we sit in a circle and we simply pass the can around and put something inside that represents what God did in the year 2009.

Over the years I have put in ultrasound photos, a Binky my daughter had just given up, a ruler representing growth in my life, verses and many more things. Some others have put in poems, verses, letters to the family, the deed to their house that was paid off that year, photos of children they were ministering to, a rubber ball representing the ups and downs of the year and countless business cards have gone in. The children have put in footballs, awards, school photos and sports photos.

As the capsule is going around, I write down what each person puts into the capsule and what it meant - so we do not forget the significance when we open it someday. Then I seal it with packaging tape and store it in a bin in the attic.

This year after we seal the 2009 time capsule we will open 2003's capsule. I can't wait to remember the great joys of the past and the faithfulness of God as he brought us through past trials. This is always a meaningful moment of sharing and thus far I have not done this without tears! Every year my soul is touched!

So if you want to start a meaningful tradition with your family, try a time capsule as a way to remember God's hand in your life and to draw your family closer together.

Walk with the King into a Happy New Year!

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Evaluating 2009

It can be hard to find a quiet time to sit and reflect over the past year. So let me assist you in doing that right now where you are at. Feel free to get out a pen and paper and write your answers when you have a minute but for now - let's mentally evaluate 2009 and make some plans.

1. Your Walk with God - How was your walk with God this past year?
Did you talk and listen to him each day in Bible reading and prayer?
How can you improve your walk with God in 2010?
Suggestion: Ponder your schedule and then write down a set time for a quiet time each day. Mine is 6:30am every morning. For some tips read where, when and why to have a quiet time.

2. Your Marriage - What is one word you'd use to describe your marriage in 2009? Easy, frustrating, growing, romantic, hard, strong, amazing.
What is one thing you know your husband wishes you'd change in your life?
Suggestion: Write down the steps you can take to change that area in your life. Ie. being more organized, cooking healthier, being more flexible, being more respectful. Watch this video on becoming the woman of your husband's dreams.

3. Children - What was a high point and a low point for each of your children in 2009?
What is one thing that each of your children need from you in 2010?
Suggestion: Write down the steps you can take toward giving your children what they need. Ie. manners training, reading to them more, one on one time, my undivided attention, memorizing God's word together. Read this post on how to get your children to listen to you.

4. Health - What healthy habits did I maintain in 2009?
What unhealthy habits did I create in 2009 that I need to change going into 2010?
Suggestion: Write down some goals for 2010 in this area. Write out a plan for how you will reach them. Start a Fitness Notebook.

5. Ministry - What were ways that I used my talents for God in 2009?

Pray about what God would have you do in 2010.
Suggestion: Surrender your life to God. Be willing to be used for his purposes - remember that each season of life brings different priorities and opportunities. Pray over this.

Do not be discouraged by this reflective time. We can all beat ourselves up over our failures OR we can determine to pray and ask God to give us the grace and strength to do the right things.

My life verse is Galatians 6:9 and I think it's appropriate here as we evaluate 2009. It says "Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due season you will reap a harvest IF you do not give up."

In 2010, do not grow weary, do not give up!
Walk with the King!

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Tasty Tuesday: How to Make Cabbage Rolls

In my 34 years of life, I have never celebrated New Year's Eve without sauerkraut and cabbage rolls! Since I was born, my extended Hungarian family has gathered on New Years Eve and eaten what we call "Pigs In the Blanket". About 7 years ago, I inherited the holiday as mine. So it's been my task to make cabbage rolls for the entire extended family.

Here is my Great Aunt Maggie's Hungarian Pigs In The Blanket recipe:

1 pound hamburg
1/2 onion cut fine
1 cup rice
salt and pepper
dash of sugar
1 tablespoon of water

1 head of cabbage
1 Jar of sauerkraut 32oz.

Mix all of the above ingredients except the cabbage and sauerkraut in a bowl.

Put a pan of water on to boil. Cut and core the cabbage. Place the cabbage in the boiling water, core face down, and let the leaves come off one at a time.

Take a large pot and put a layer of sauerkraut along the bottom. Then roll a small amount of filling in a leaf. Make a layer of cabbage rolls and then layer it with sauerkraut and then a second layer of cabbage rolls. And top it with sauerkraut.

Fill the pan with water - sprinkle the top with pepper and let it come to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer until the rice is done and the meat is cooked through (around 3 hours). Enjoy!

When I make my pigs I triple this recipe and get around 26 cabbage rolls.

Thank you Aimee for sharing your recipe with us! I am participating in Tempt Your Tummy Tuesday, Dining With Debbie , Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Tuesdays at the Table recipe exchanges. For more blogger recipes go to these links.

Walk with the King!


Something New and Exciting Has Arrived

I have been waiting to unveil Women Living Well's newest addition until after Christmas. The time has come.

Drum Roll please...

Here's 6 Reasons for Using the Message Board:

1. For Gaining Wisdom - I have lurked for years on other message boards. I have learned a lot of practical tips about marriage, parenting and homemaking simply by lurking. On many of the boards, I never "chatted". So whether you are a chatter or a lurker there is a lot to be learned off of a message board.

2. For Giving Wisdom - I believe that many of you have a lot to offer. We each have different areas where we shine. Some of you may be crafty, great cooks or excellent organizers! You could help another woman out by leaving your tips, answering questions or leaving your blog address.

3. For Posting "Mailbag Questions" - My email inbox has been packed with questions about a plethora of things. To get you a more timely response, I would love for you to post your questions on the message board. I invite others to chime in with your wisdom. I know that some of you have experience dealing with special situations and could answer from your own life experiences and help a sister out.

4. A Place for the Good Morning Girls Groups to Gather - Starting January 1st, the sign-ups for the Good Morning Girls will take place over on the message board. I've created a special spot just for the Good Morning Girls. I will leave messages there for the groups. It will be easier than emailing and make it so the leaders do not have to forward my "messages" to the groups.

5. For Getting Healthy in 2010 - Starting January 1st, Clare will be leading the Health section of the board and helping Women Living Well Readers "get healthy" in 2010! You will find accountability, instructions, ideas and encouragement from a Certified Fitness Instructor. So look for more details about that this Friday!

6. To Deepen Your Walk With God - I want to use any method I can to help women Walk with the King! I recognize that the younger generation is using technology to"chat"and "connect". I have read on many secular message boards where the advice was leading women astray. This board will be a safe place where you can find information that is Biblical and connect with other women who are striving to walk with the King also. I will monitor the board and to the best of my ability keep it encouraging. No debating or insulting will be accepted.

So you have two choices: 1.) Hop on over to take a peek and see what it's all about. Feel free to "lurk" and never join the discussion - that's been me for over 7 years on many boards. Or 2.) Hop on over and create a login (you can use a "codename" to stay anonymous) and ask a question, share a tip, or or answer someone else's question. I am praying that this will be a God glorifying board.

Come see what it's all about!

Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."

Walk with the King!


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Post-Christmas Pictures

My Favorite Gifts: A Boojiboo Apron from Angela (for all that Tasty Tuesday cooking!), some new running shoes (for some 5K'sI'll be running in the new year) from my husband AND

SNUGGIES from my mom (these are my older sisters - Kristen in the pink and Jennifer in the blue - I'm the baby!)!

I pray you had a very Merry Christmas. I know all of you worked so hard to create a special day for your families. If your Christmas was less than dreamy, it serves as a reminder that all this world offers is empty.
I am so blessed to have received these presents - but if I place my hope in them, I will always be chasing the next rainbow, the next high, the next good thing, rather than chasing my Savior. Nothing this world offers can satisfy our souls like knowing and walking with the King! So as the Christmas lights fade, I pray that the light of Jesus in your heart would shine brightly.
Walk with the King!

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

From our family to yours...

Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Last Minute Gifts That Are Priceless

Here's some last minute gift ideas that are priceless:

Husband - Give him the gift of a respectful wife. Care for his home as you would care for the Lord's home. Teach his children to love Jesus. Use words to build him up and to show your appreciation. Forgive him of all his shortcomings. Smile at him. Be intimate with him.

Children - Do not treat them as burdens but as blessings. Listen when they talk, answer their questions, look them in the eye, hug them, kiss them, tickle them and pray with them. Teach them God's word. Discipline them and disciple them. Read to them, play games with them, know them. Speak to them in a spirit of kindness and gentleness and role model for them defiant joy in your own life. Most of all - love and respect their daddy and give them a secure home.

God - Commit your life to him. Give him your time, your treasures and your talents to be used for his glory. Obey God's word and respect your husband, love your children, be busy at home and walk in his Spirit and display love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Spend time in the Bible and prayer Walking with Your King!

The price tag on these gifts - Priceless. They cannot be bought at the store, they cannot be wrapped in a box, and they cannot be replaced by anyone else. And I am certain they will not be returned!

Walk with the King!

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Do You Know Christ?

Do you journey to the grand canyon for the souvenir T-shirt or snow globe with the snowflakes that fall when you shake it? No. The reward of the Grand Canyon IS the Grand Canyon. The wide-eyed realization that you are a part of something ancient, splendid, powerful, and greater than you.

The cache of Christianity is Christ. Not money in the bank or a car in the garage or a healthy body or a better self-image. Secondary and tertiary fruits perhaps. But the Fort Knox of faith is Christ. Fellowshipping with Him. Walking with Him. Pondering Him. Exploring Him. The heart stopping realization that in him you are a part of something ancient, endless, unstoppable and unfathomable. And that He, who can dig the Grand Canyon with his pinkie, thinks you're worth his death on Roman timber. Christ is the reward of Christianity. Why else would Paul make Him his supreme desire? "I want to know Christ." (Phil. 3:10) - Max Lucado, Next Door Savior

Do you know Christ? Have you placed your faith in Jesus, not in your good works, but solely in Jesus' work on the cross and his resurrection? Have you told Him, "Jesus I believe and I am sorry for the sins I have done"? Then you know Christ as your personal Savior.

But that's only the beginning. There is so much more! Open the Bible and read for yourself. Jesus is amazing (that's an understatement!). I am reading through the book of Matthew right now in my morning quiet time. I am amazed that though I've read it numerous times, I continue to learn new things about Jesus and new things about myself!

It's Christmas Eve, a day of remembrance. The Christ child, "Immanuel, God with us" was born so that the God, who carved the Grand Canyon with his pinkie, could know you personally. God went to great lengths to know it so hard to open our Bibles for just 15 minutes a day to know him? It shouldn't be, but I'll be the first to admit that it is.

Do you know Christ? I know President Obama but not personally. I know a lot about him, what he thinks and how he acts. But I can't call him up for a chat on the phone. But then there's my husband. I know all his ways, his likes and dislikes. I know him intimately and we share in a deep and meaningful relationship. Do you know Christ personally? (If you do not and you have questions pertaining to your salvation, please email me at or talk to your pastor.)

We are about to begin a new year. I love a clean slate! In the new year resolve to know Christ more deeply than you ever have. Resolve to allow Jesus to touch your marriage, parenting and home and transform it. He can do a new thing in your home in the new year! Join me in the journey as we Walk with the King!

Merry CHRISTmas!

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Time - There's Not Much Left!

TIME - it's a weird thing to explain. Sometimes it can be dreadfully long - like in the middle of the night with a sick baby. Sometimes it's too short - like time spent with good friends. Sometimes it's hard to manage - and there's just not enough of it. And sometimes you see others doing so much with their time that you wonder where all of yours has gone? Sometimes it flies when you realize your baby is now entering kindergarten and sometimes it is gone - when you lose a loved one.

TIME. Luke 2 says "And while they were there the TIME came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn."

Beth Moore says "The time. The time toward which all "time" had been ticking since the kingdom clock struck one. All of Scripture unfolds from the words, "In the beginning, God created..." Since eternity has no beginning, to what did the beginning refer if not to "time."? The words in Luke 2:6 refer to the most important segment of time since the first tick of the clock.

The second hand circled tens of thousands of times for thousands of years, then finally, miraculously, majestically - the time came. God's voice broke through the barrier of the natural realm through the cries of an infant, startled by life on the outside. The Son of God had come to earth, wrapped in a tiny cloak of human flesh."

In 2 days, we will celebrate the time coming and the birth of our Savior who changed all of time forever. There is no one in history who has shaped time more than he has - the calendar revolves around his birth.

It's time today, that we took the time, to spend time, with the one who created time and who entered time to save our souls. But you say "I don't have the time today - my to do list is so long." Remember what Jesus said two chapters later in Luke 4:4 - "Man does not live by bread alone." You may think you don't need him - but he would not have sent his son if you did not NEED him! You need time with Jesus today - don't miss it!

Walk with the King!

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Tasty Tuesday: Beautiful Florentine Cookies

I will admit I am not much of a baker...but my friend Aimee is! She makes homemade wheat bread daily mmmmmm... I love her bread! So this is her recipe and photos of her beautiful Florentine Cookies!

Florentine Cookies (or Lacey Chocolate cookies)
2/3 cup butter
2 cups oats (quick or old fashion are fine)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Filling: 2 cups chocolate chips
topping: optional -- crushed candy canes

Preheat oven to 375.
Melt butter (on stove or in microwave).
Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients (except for chocolate and candy canes). Mix well.
Drop by level measuring teaspoonfuls, about 3 inches apart -- they will spread out -- on foil-lined cookie sheets.
Spread thin with rubber spatula.
Bake 5-7 minutes. They should be golden brown.
Cool. Peel foil away from cookies.

Melt chocolate chips (in double boiler on stove or in microwave -- if using microwave check and stir every 15-20 seconds).
Stir chocolate until smooth.
Spread chocolate on the bottoms of half the cookies.
Top with remaining cookies.
Sprinkle cookies with crush candy cane if desired.
Makes 3 1/2 to 4 dozen sandwich cookies.

Thank you Aimee for sharing your recipe with us! I am participating in Tempt Your Tummy Tuesday, Dining With Debbie , Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Tuesdays at the Table recipe exchanges. For more blogger recipes go to these links.

Walk with the King!


The Christmas Version of I Corinthians 13

I came across this Christmas poem about I Corinthians 13 - the Love Passage. For me, the week of Christmas can be the busiest week of my entire year. And though I am trying to make it special and meaningful for the family, I often feel like a failure when my patience is short or things don't go as I envisioned. This poem reminds me of what really matters and what really lasts...Love.

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen,baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime: but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.

If I work at a soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity; but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angelsand crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love does not envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love does not yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love does not give only to those who are able to give in return; but rejoices in giving to those who cannot.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Love never fails.

Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust; but giving the gift of love will endure.
---Sharon Jaynes, Celebrating a Christ Centered Christmas

Take some time to meditate on I Corinthians 13 today. If we all would simply apply this passage of scripture - our homes would be a happier place and we would shine like bright stars in a dark world. "They will know we are Christians by our Love." John 13:35

Walk with the King!

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Video Blog: Learning to Submit

Walk with the King!

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

3 Ways to Put "Merry" in "Merry Christmas"

The word “merry” means cheerful, joyous, and lighthearted. We all want to create a “Merry” Christmas for our families – but is our family experiencing a wife and mommy who is “merry”? Are you smiling at home? Who you are at home, is who you really are. You can smile at church, smile at your neighbors, smile at strangers in the grocery store – but if you aren’t smiling at home – then that’s who you really are.

For the past 12 years of marriage, Christmas has been the season where being "merry" in the midst of the stress from my huge to do list has been a struggle. There’s cookies to bake, parties to attend, presents to wrap and messes from the kids to stay on top of! How can we honor God and not let our stress steal the word “merry” from our Christmas?

1. Tend to your Spiritual needs - Do NOT neglect your time in the word and prayer. If all you can do is read one verse – write it out on a post-it note and carry it with you all day long. Squeeze all the nourishment you can from that one verse through out the day!

I recommend meditating on Galatians 5:22 & 23 which says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” We must be walking in the spirit to have a merry heart!

2. Tend to your Emotional needs - Light a candle and put on classical music (or Christmas music) – it will have a calming effect on the entire family! If you are not able to smile in the midst of your busyness…your inner soul is not at peace.

The Proverbs 31 woman – smiled. Peace comes through prayer. The way to worry about nothing is to pray about everything.

3. Tend to your Physical needs – Get your rest. Studies show that we need at least 7 hours of sleep at night. It is difficult to be pleasant to our husbands and children when we are exhausted. Take a 15 minute bubble bath as soon as all the kids are in bed. The relaxation benefits will far exceed watching television! Extend the bath to 30 minutes and read a good book! Get a little exercise. Studies show even 10 minutes a day up your energy and mood.

Only you can take care of your deep spiritual, emotional and physical needs. No one else can do the list above for you. Use these as tools to help you accomplish all that is piled on your plate this Christmas. May this Christmas be your merriest Christmas ever.

Walk with the King!

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Farewell Good Morning Girls!

Yesterday, the Fall "Good Morning Girls" session came to an end. (If you haven't been around my blog for a while, the definition of a "Good Morning Girls" group is: a group of girls who email each other every morning to say "Good Morning" - and report what they read during their quiet time in God's word. It's a tech accountability group.)

Over 150 women were involved in over 26 groups from over 10 states and 3 countries! What a pleasure it was to hear about all that God did in these groups this fall!

If you want to know more about what a Good Morning Girls group is - click here! If you are wanting to start your own Good Morning Girls group - stay tuned in January - sign ups will run from January 2nd through January 15th and I'll give you lots more details then. I have some new things planned for you all!

Here's a final report from 2 of the groups.

Front Row L to R: Regina, Amy, Christine, Hope
Back Row: Colleen, Melanie, Clarissa and Melissa

This is a pic of our first get together, where I can say I had a WONDERFUL time. It was great to be with women who love the lord and want to know Him more, and in the process of that, knit our hearts together! Thank you so much!!! - Hope

I had a great time, also, and hope to be able to do this more often! As I don't often get out to socialize, it's wonderful to have been able to spend this time together and get to know each other more. Thanks to Courtney for caring enough about others to spend her time blogging, teaching and encouraging, and thanks to Hope for including me in the group. Thanks to all ladies for the opportunity to share together each day what's on our hearts and what we've learned from God's Word! This group was truly an answer to prayer for me! -Christine

I am forever thankful for every one of you!!!! I can feel such a strong bond between all of us. Praise the Lord!!! Hope, thanks for saying something to me about starting a group. I know that the Lord had plans for all of us to do this. - Regina

Kimi, Kristen, Kara

The Good Morning girls group has been great accountability for me but its also been so great to hear what they are learning as well. So almost everyday I have at least 3 new truths from the word to focus on. Our group is small but we are all busy with two working full time, so emails get sent at all times of the day but I am encouraged at how we all are so devoted to this group and each other!- Kimi

Wow! What could I say our Good Morning Girls is great! We have such faith in our Lord, he is amazing! Since I have been apart of the Good Morning Girls my walk with the Lord as been amazing, the relationship that I have with him is strong. Every morning I wake up at 5:40 and have my QT time. Some days I don't feel like waking up, but then I think how I need to give God my first fruits and I get up and I love every minute of my QT time with my Lord. I love him so much and I can't image my life without him.

As you can see by the testimonies, God is doing a mighty work through these Good Morning Girls groups and I hope you will join us in January when we start back up for our second session. The groups will run from January 15th through April 15th! So start praying now about who God might want you to ask to form a group.

Walk with the King!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tasty Tuesday: Easy Reindeer Cookies

Look how fun this will be to present to your children and grandchildren?

I found this recipe over at the Family Corner. And I just had to share them with you all!!!
What You Need:
1 roll of pre-made sugar cookie dough
small pretzel rings
M & Ms
1 bell shaped cookie cutter
baking sheet

What You Do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Open cookie dough and mix in about 1/4 cup of flour to make the dough a stiffer consistency. Lightly flour the table, then roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness.
Using the bell cookie cutter, cut out 12 bell cookies - this will vary depending on how thick you roll out the cookies.
Lay the cookies, all the same way with bell facing you, onto the cookie sheet. Now, turn the cookie sheet around so that the bells are upside down. This is your reindeer face! Place a red M&M in his nose and one pretzel on each side of his head for the ears. (See photo)

Bake for 10 minutes or until very lightly browned around edges. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 1-2 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

I am participating in Tempt Your Tummy Tuesday, Dining With Debbie , Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Tuesdays at the Table recipe exchanges. For more blogger recipes go to these links.

Walk with the King!


Monday, December 14, 2009

Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

For some, you will experience your first Christmas without a loved one. Whether through death, divorce or distance you are dealing with loss. I want you to know that you are not alone.

I am reminded of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who on Christmas day, 1864, received word that his son, a soldier in the Civil War, had been wounded. Just two years before, Henry had lost his wife in a fire. As this devout Christian man sat alone with his grief, on the most joyful of Holy Days, he penned words of hope to challenge his own despair. He called his composition Christmas Bells. Little did he know that those words would someday be set to music and become a blessing to millions of people around the world.

If you are struggling to find peace in the midst of the holidays this song below and my dear friend Kelly's story may comfort you.

Kelly lost her father at the tender age of 10. Following his loss she went through a long journey of pain, sadness and depression. None of us are immune from life's tragedies and Kelly's story of hope and strength in God - is a source of inspiration to me. Read it here!

Walk with the King!

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Winner of the Mixing Bowls is...

(True Random Number Generator Result: 19 Powered by RANDOM.ORG)

The winner according to Random Number Generator is...Krisha!!!

Congratulations! Please email me your home address so I can get the mixing bowls to you right away!!!

Walk with the King!


Friday, December 11, 2009

Mailbag Question: My Husband Wants Me to Lose Weight!

I received a difficult mailbag question... It reads:
"My husband wants me to lose weight? Should I submit to him and do this?"
Here's my video response. I wonder, what are your thoughts or feelings on this issue? How would you answer this question?

(For more on this topic, read a blog post from back in May. I shared a little of my own struggles with weight issues here.)

Walk with the King!

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

7 Ideas for Creating Christmas Traditions

Warmth, memories and meaning are created through family traditions. Traditions are something we do year in and year out. What makes them meaningful is the anticipation and the certainty that they will take place! If you are in search of a new tradition here are 7 ideas for creating Christmas traditions.

1. Read the Christmas story before opening presents. Every year on Christmas day we get together with my extended family. Before the presents are opened, we read the story of Baby Jesus to the children. Each year we try to be creative. One year we used a birthday cake. Another year we used a poster and stickers to tell the story. Last year we did a skit. Though we did not use costumes, each child had a role and even some of the adults were innkeepers turning away Mary and Joseph.
Here are our little actors getting warmed up!

Another tradition is for the paparizzi to show up!
Count them...that's 5 cameras capturing this moment! lol!

2. Spread the love of Jesus while driving around looking at Christmas lights. Every year before we leave the house to go look at Christmas lights, I have the children color 5-10 pictures of baby Jesus. (click here for coloring pages to print) Then as we drive we search for homes that are displaying the nativity. Each time we find one we clap and cheer. Then we roll down the back window and allow the children to take turns putting their picture in the mail box. I write on each picture "Thank you for displaying the reason for the season." We hope it blesses them as they have blessed us!

3. A Jesus Stocking. A long time friend of mine from Jr. High, Erin, hangs an extra stocking for Jesus and each time someone in the family does something for Jesus they write it down on a slip of paper and place it in the stocking. On Christmas Eve they read them all together! I LOVE this idea!

4. Put the baby in the manger on Christmas Eve. Another idea came from Heather. She sets up her nativity without baby Jesus and on Christmas Eve they have a special moment as they place baby Jesus in the manger.

5. Cookies for the shepherds. Dorothy leaves cookies out for the Shepherds on Christmas Eve - along with her cookies for Santa!

6. Some traditions come in the form of foods. Growing up we always had pizza and shrimp cocktail at my grandma's house on Christmas Eve. My pastor's wife used to let her kids have sugar cookies for breakfast on Christmas morning (my kids sure would like it if I adopted this tradition!). I read of another who always has Fondue on Christmas and another has orange sherbet! Whatever the special food item is - if you have it year in and year out it will create a tradition and fond memories!

7. Special story books. One of my dearest friends from high school, Holly (a missionary to the Ukraine) says: "We read the book “One Wintry Night” by Ruth Bell Graham. It is 11 chapters, so we read a chapter a day, starting 11 days before Christmas so that chapter 11 falls on Christmas. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a beautifully illustrated picture book which tells the story of Christmas from creation to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each chapter is very short with breathtaking pictures. We usually read it right before bed and then read the last part on Christmas day. It’s powerful!

I hope these ideas inspire you. I'd love to hear what traditions you do with your family. Please share them in the comments section!!!

Walk with the King!

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