Simply Noel: December 9 – What You Do Well…

Simply Noel:

December 9 – What You Do Well…

Every single year, I come up with about four new cookie recipes I’d like to try for Christmas. I dream of perfecting the Peanut Butter Blossoms, attempting a biscotti recipe, and creating a from-scratch masterpiece that no one else has yet to bring to the table.

And every year, my Peanut Butter Blossoms are so-so, I never get around to the biscotti, and every new thing I try is pretty much a flop.

We celebrate Christmas early with my husband’s family, and so, we are heading there next weekend. In years past, I have tried to wow and pleasantly surprise our family with something yummy, but it never fails – I run around like a crazy lady, trying to whip up these “easy” new treats that I spotted in a trendy magazine, something goes miserably wrong, and we show up with a subpar tray that no one even touches.

My sister-in-law, on the other hand, has cornered the market on Peanut Butter Blossoms, and her cookie trays look like they belong in Christmas shop. Always a gorgeous array of festive colors…no bakes…truffles…cute ones that are cleanly decorated…and they all taste amazing to boot!

Bottom line…she is the baker. This lady (me) is not.

My Salted Caramel Oreo Truffles are pretty much the only “cookie” recipe that I have ever pulled off with ease and happy results. Everything else has sort of been a disappointment.

Breads and muffins…those are my jam. Cookies, cupcakes, cheesecakes, etc…not so much.

This year, I feel this tug in my spirit urging me to set the baking bar loooooow. Set it real low, sister. What you do well…do that.

What you do WELL…do that.

I’m not saying that I won’t still try new things, but as far as stressing myself out in order to be somebody that I am not (at least not yet), it’s time to cut that stuff out.

You know what I’m good at? Cooking meals from scratch and using my instincts and senses to do so. I’m also crafty. I love decorating average sugar cookies with my creative and funny kids. I love making homemade rosemary focaccia. I can whip up some pretty stellar brownies. I created this incredibly delicious stuff that my hubby and I call, “Peanut Butter Spoon Fudge.” I can make beautiful and sometimes unique floral arrangements for myself and others, saving us hundreds of dollars a year. I can make stories come alive for my kids when I read to them. I design and sew dresses. I can serve others with joy. I take very good care of my children.

I can’t bake a decent pie or make beautiful cookies, but I can do those other things, and I can do them well.

God created you to do certain things well, too. It’s not that we can’t grow, evolve, and learn new things, because we can. But I believe that there are also times in which we need to put the other 99 hats on the shelf and just wear one or two for a season.

That person that you are…be her/him well. Love well. What you put your hands to, do that well. What you love…love well.

Spare yourself the extra worry this Christmas. I’m sure you have plenty to do already. Do those things well, and let others do their things well, too.

I am a parent who already sees certain strengths and talents emerging in each of my daughters. I would never want them to feel frazzled, less-than, or not good enough. I would never want them to waste their time striving and trying to be someone that they were not meant to be. It would break my heart to see them trying to squeeze into a mold that doesn’t belong to them, forsaking the beautiful one that bears their name alone.

That’s us. The Father’s children.

Next weekend, I am going to leave the cookies at home, and show up with the few things I can make well and appreciate the gifts and talents that I see in the others around me.

When we stop trying to be everything for everyone, we can actually be who we are meant to be. I’m guessing that if we’re honest, the one person we’re really trying to constantly “show up” is actually ourselves. Time to give yourself a break. Take a moment to realize who you are, what you love, and how beautiful your personal giftings are. Take the same awe that you would give to others and give it to yourself. You are enough. What you can do right now in this season is enough. Know that today, and carry that truth into tomorrow.

xo,

Kristi

gifts

Klover House Christmas:

You know those one cookies I said that I can do well? It’s true! They are so good! If you love caramel and chocolate and you own a food processor, then this is a treat for you! The trick is in freezing them long enough so that they are simple to roll in chocolate. This year, I want to use my new Pampered Chef drizzler thingy, ¬†that my sister-in-law gifted me with, to decorate them again with caramel and then, I plan on sprinkling some raw sugar on top to give them that holiday sparkle. Simply click the link below to find you way to this decadent recipe. Enjoy! And if you can make biscotti…come see me. ūüėČ

Salted Caramel Oreo Truffles

Simply Noel: December 8 – Chasing Rabbits

Simply Noel:

December 8 – Chasing Rabbits

I woke up with several goals today. The first, after seeing our oldest child off to school, was to simply do the dishes. Seems like a no-brainer, right? I also wanted to straighten up our living room and finish this devotional entry. I thought that I could easily accomplish those few tasks with little brain power and minimal kid interruptions, especially since the remaining three children were either still sleeping or vegging on the couch, thanks to feeling icky.

As I tackled the quick clean up and dishes, I notice a reminder in my inbox. A webinar that I had signed up for days ago was starting soon, and I had forgotten all about it. Although it wasn’t on my list, I still wanted to listen in. I figured it would take at least an hour from start to finish, and, because I have a hard time mentally multi-tasking when I write, it was inevitable that writing would be pushed further down the list.

Just as I suspected, the webinar lasted for over an hour, and was full of wonderful, helpful information. I failed to take notes, because I was completing more chores and taking care of the kids as I listened, but one of the many points I remembered from the chat is forever seared into my mind.

A man who chases two rabbits catches neither.

Goodness. That is me pretty much all of the time! I often scurry around the house doing a little of this and a little of that. I’ll start to tackle something only to be called for by a kiddo in the next room. I’ll remember to make a phone call while I’m in the middle of making lunch or writing an e-mail. I’ll pull out my calendar and jot down randomness when I should be praying, etc. I am constantly chasing two rabbits. Gosh, I’m chasing a whole slew of bunnies simultaneously all day, every day.

That simple sentence really impacted the rest of my day. For the first time in months, maybe even years, I committed to a single task as the day progressed. I saw it through and continued on. I even took a break to sit on the couch and watch my kids play in front of the Christmas tree. Actually, they mostly argued over Fisher-Price Little People and I refereed, but still…

I didn’t accomplish writing, but I was able to sort several mountains of laundry, clean up my kitchen, hang out with my mom, who had stopped in for a visit, and take a much-needed breather.

When we commit to tackling one thing at a time, it often sounds great in theory, but it’s the follow-through that tends to bite us, right? Just repeating that phrase to myself continually through the day helped remind me to chase one rabbit – to focus on one thing and one thing only until it was done.

Christmas often creates an environment of chasing, not just one, two, or even three rabbits but rather, what seems like a hundred rabbits at once. We have to-lists that seem a mile long, and we have responsibilities and activities coming out of our ears. Repeat after me tonight, “Only chase one rabbit.”

One rabbit.

Catch it. Box him up, and finish him off with a pretty little bow. Then lock eyes on the next one.

And just as Jesus reminded Martha in Luke, chapter 10, “you are anxious and troubled about many things,¬†but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her,” it’s vital that our first rabbit every day is the one representing time spent with God.¬†

Our time with Him doesn’t have to be ritualistic. It mustn’t resemble a chore to be crossed off the list. It is simply a, “Good morning, Father. I love you. What are we going to do today?” Allow the conversation to go from there. Tell Him your thoughts and praise Him for that grace and mercy you hold in each breath, each step, each heartbeat. Thank Him for another day…another Christmas…

And thank Him for the stamina and wisdom to best catch those rabbits.

xo,

Kristi

rabbits

Klover House Christmas:

Today, we had a slow and steady kind of day. Often, Christmas coincides with sneezing and wheezing around here. As much as we love our supplements and healthy diets…sometimes, you just find your house has succumbed to the “Kindergarten Crud.” We are in one of those weeks. So, we’re wearing our pajamas a little longer, eating a ton of soup, and just cleaning, snuggling, and repeating…

Today, I’d like to do something a little differently and offer you one of our favorite soup recipes. It’s an oldie, but goodie, and you can find it by clicking the link below:

Chicken Noodle Soup

One of my favorite things to do is make a hearty bone broth. I just throw the leftover chicken bones into my roaster overnight at 250 degrees along with enough veggie stock or water to cover it, and I add all of the vegetables and herbs I can find – usually carrots, onions, celery, rosemary, thyme, and sage. Then, on the morning of the following day, I add enough water to fill it to the top once more and toss in garlic cloves and a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. I’ll let it simmer until dinnertime, cool, and freeze in cup-size portions. This technique usually makes me about nine cups of beautiful, healthy, golden bone broth.

Simply Noel: December 7 – Humble Pie

Simply Noel:

December 7 – Humble Pie

Last week, I found myself in an interesting situation.

One of my four children participates in speech therapy for a delay. When we first started, she was testing a year behind her age group. After just nine months of therapy, she had grown tremendously, testing just months shy of her goals.

When we first began the visits, our therapist promptly told us about what they call the “Medical Loophole.” Children receiving services can qualify for financial assistance, regardless of their caretakers’ salaries. We were also under the impression that our copay for each visit was just $15. Being the stubborn person that I am, I shrugged off the advice to seek aid, and thought, “We can handle that.” I didn’t want to “take from the system” if we could manage. Meanwhile, we are a family of six (one in diapers), living paycheck to paycheck on a single income. It can be so stressful for my husband at times. Any little help, in hindsight, would have been a relief for him.

Six months into her visits, with momentum building and our therapist encouraging us to add a pre-school readiness class to our itinerary, we received a letter. The letter was actually a bill for a mind-blowing amount of money. Apparently, our copayment was not the $15 that I had been faithfully paying each week, but rather, it was a whopping $50 per visit. So, in my ignorance, I had been accumulating a substantial debt for our family at an exponential rate.

All that to say, all of a sudden, the Loophole wasn’t just a “help,” it was a necessity. After forgetting for weeks, I applied online and was directed to submit some additional paperwork in person at the local Welfare Department. I put it off and put it off. Why was I dragging my feet? The answer was simple – my procrastination was pride.

Finally, on the very last day of the deadline, I picked up my older two daughters at school, while my mother watched the younger ones, and I headed reluctantly into town.

I had never been there before, so at first, I went to the wrong side of town, paid for a parking meter that I didn’t need, and walked the street with my kids in the frigid air. After realizing my mistake, we got back in the car and found the right location. Flustered and cold (because none of us were wearing our coats, even though it was freezing), we entered the office and took a number. We were quickly attended to, but there was a problem – it was the final day of the deadline, and our application was already denied. Probably aware of my distress, the woman behind the counter told us to take a seat, and she left the room.

I’m a germophobe, so the three of us huddled in the corner instead. As we waited, a straight-faced security guard looked at me and said sternly, “Don’t go anywhere when you’re finished.” I nodded and said, “Ok,” completely confused by his directive.

After only a few minutes, the woman returned and said that our caseworker agreed to look at our forms, and she handed me a card with some contact information written on it. I thanked her as genuinely as I could, and looked over at the guard. He motioned with his finger to follow him, and we did. He led us into a back room with tables lined in boxes.

“What sizes are your girls?”

“Sizes?”

“For coats. What sizes do they wear? I’ve got coats for them.”

My brain went into a tailspin. Coats? We weren’t wearing any. All of us had on cardigans on this cold afternoon.

I wanted to tell him that the girls’ coats were in the car. I wanted him to know that we weren’t in need. I wanted to tell him that I was able to give them a coat and to save them for someone else.

And I couldn’t.

I couldn’t say any of it.

The Lord, in that moment, handed me a warm slice of Humble Pie.

All of these months, I had been denying help, and here we were, standing in the Welfare Office, receiving coats from “Operation Warm.” It was as low as my prideful self could go – to be seen as a mother who couldn’t afford to clothe her babies appropriately for the winter… And to think, there are so many parents out there who, because of circumstances beyond their control, can’t clothe themselves or their children appropriately. How it must break their hearts. How it must eat at their souls. One of our deepest desires as parents is to care for our babies, and care for them well.

So, I took my slice of Humble Pie, and I gulped it down. I smiled at the man, thanked him as genuinely as I could, and I left him with a, “God bless you, sir.”

“We take care of our kids,” he replied.

My daughter wore her new coat to school the next day, and I so badly did not want her to. I was quickly reminded of that pie. Did I need another serving?

No, Lord, I understand.

Father, thank you for the blessings in our lives. Thank you for the men and women out there who are clothing families in need. Thank you for bold and unexpected reminders to live with thankful hearts.

What’s your Humble Pie?

We all struggle with some area in our lives. There’s a place in each of us, I’m sure, that has become an, “I’ve got this, but thanks” spot. Maybe it’s keeping up with a task at work? Maybe you’re desperately treading water at home? Maybe you’re juggling schooling, and parenting, and a job? Maybe it’s a secret issue – a sin issue – and you’re too afraid to confide in someone? Maybe you need help financially, but you feel ashamed admitting it? Maybe it’s as simple as thinking, “Cooking for Christmas Eve overwhelms me, and I wish I could lighten the load.” Big or small, I believe that we all have a slice of pie set aside for us on Heaven’s pantry shelf.

Keep your eyes open and your spirit listening this holiday season. It’s a beautiful thing to give, but if you need to be the one on the receiving end, that’s a good thing, too. Remember, where there is a receiver, there is a giver, and when we receive – be it money, a gift, a coat, or even grace – the Giver is blessed, just as we are, if not more so.

xo,

Kristi

humble

 

Klover House Christmas:

A friend in my daughter’s class is participating in a local coat drive. Since we have been blessed with coats this year, today, I will gather our extra coats and coats that the children have outgrown to give to her tomorrow.

If you have a Model Cleaners in your area, please consider taking your old coats to them this week. The company has launched a “Coats for Kids” Coat Drive, and you can give them your coats in as-is condition. They will take them off of your hands and dry-clean the coats at no cost to you. Then, they handle delivering the coats to the Salvation Army. The deadline this year is December 9th, but if you miss the deadline, please consider dropping your coats off at the Salvation Army, as well.

Also, if your child or a child you know is in need of a warm coat this winter, please consider laying your pride aside, if it is holding you back, and visit your local Welfare Office. These are kind, caring people, and I am an example of someone who is not “in the system,” and yet, a compassionate soul saw a need and took action to meet it. There are coats there for your children. Don’t let shame hold you back from a Christmas blessing.

God bless you, friends. Love you all! xo

Simply Noel: December 6 – A Clutter-Free Christmas

Simply Noel:

December 6 –¬†A Clutter-Free Christmas

Part of why I decided to start this devotional was simply because the “muchness” of Christmas had gotten to be too much. Between the pressures of normal life and the added stress of the holiday to-do lists, I was mentally bursting at the seams before Thanksgiving even came to pass. I knew in my soul that it was all too much. So, I sat down one night and the words just came to me:

A holiday devotional for the heart that longs for less, so it can be more.

Isn’t that something we could all use? Less? Less of the stress, the constant running, the feelings of inadequacy, the countless distractions… Our lives are usually full and crowded and then we are suddenly drowning in packages, bills, lists, and obligations. Add in normal housework, schedules, and responsibilities to that, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for contempt, guilt, and regret come December 26th.

Awhile back, I began following a funny and honest mom, Allie Casazza, on Instagram. I fell for her delivery of truth so quickly that I soon became a subscriber to her blog. I looked forward to her advice to find its way to my inbox. I then started signing up for her free webinars and would occasionally catch her on Periscope. You wanna know know what she told me? I have enough time – I own time, not the other way around, and that letting go of all the clutter in my home would actually make me a better mother and wife. I’m paraphrasing, of course, but you know what? She was right, and I’m only halfway through our home.

So much of my stress comes from the house and its contents. How much of your day is consumed by the needs around you in the form of housework or meal prepping/making and other mundane tasks? Wouldn’t you love to love on your kids more often than you nag them to clean up those seven piles of toys? Wouldn’t it be nice to save those extra ten minutes wasted looking for that elusive piece of mail, because you have a simple system in place? Wouldn’t it be nothing short of a miracle to be caught up on laundry?

Maybe your trouble areas have nothing to do with the ones that I mentioned, but I bet we all have clutter somewhere in some form. It’s time to let it go and bless it as it travels out the door…

Whittle it down, friend. We don’t need all of this stuff, only so that we can pile more stuff on top of it in two weeks. Less is more. Less gives us room for more and to be more. Less gives us more time, and especially at Christmas, more time is more precious than gold.

Give freely and enrich your life. Bring blessing and be refreshed by His Spirit. Trust in Him, value what Heaven values and watch your life flourish.

xo,

Kristi

picmonkey-image

Klover House Christmas:

Tomorrow, our schedule is pretty free, and I already have several bags and large items waiting in the basement, so I am going to make a final trip to our local mission, and then, I want to walk around the house and do a quick sweep. If you haven’t even started de-cluttering, don’t become overwhelmed. Simply, take a box or bag and walk around, room by room, and remove any items that catch your eye. Mail piles? Just pitch them. Are you really going to use all of those coupons? Be honest with yourself. Are you really going to order something from those sixteen magazines? No? Pitch ’em.

God tells us that earthly possessions pass away. Our treasures are stored in heaven. You won’t be able to take a single thing with you, so let it go. Bless others with your earthly treasures, and commit to a life of less. Less stuff translates to more money and more time to spend on that which is far more valuable.

Simply Noel: December 5 – Keeping a Christmas Perspective

Simply Noel:

Day 5 – Keeping a Christmas Perspective

As I was looking over our holiday calendar today, feeling overwhelmed, I caught myself doing something so predictable, and I realized just how important perspective is at Christmastime.

Last week, I was consumed with my firstborn’s birthday activities. This week, we have the girls’ school program and the Christmas Shoppe at school. Next week, we have what seems to be a break, followed by a third week packed with a field trip, school Christmas parties, and a luncheon for my daughters’ amazing teachers. Then, BAM! Christmas is upon us in all of its glorious splendor. Somewhere in there, we have church activities and Christmas parties, too, but I haven’t gotten myself that organized yet to know where they fall on the calendar.

As I was looking at each week, I found myself using certain events as milestones and had to stop myself. If I keep doing that – looking so far ahead and just focusing on the main events of each week, then the rest of the days of month will simply look like non-essential filler days. Do you do that, too? It’s like I have a dozen days that are highlighted and “special”, but it automatically makes the rest of the days look kind of gray.

God has given us twenty-four gifts a day. Twenty-four hours in which to live, not just fill up time and space, but to live! It’s time to stop living on the special days and for the special days only. If we keep seeing the rest of our days as merely days leading up to x,y,z, then, we unknowingly forfeit them. Time is precious. Even if one hour of the day is spent reading stories and snuggling, let’s make sure that we give it the same mental space as that holiday party prep. I have a feeling that when eternity knocks on my door, I will be more grateful for the cuddles than the cocktails, and I personally don’t want to have anymore regrets when it comes to feeling like my days are squandered.

Each day is a main event. It doesn’t matter if it’s a “business as usual” day, a birthday, a cookie baking day, a shopping day, a driving around in pjs to see lights day, or an ordering pizza and catching up on DVR shows day… Let’s practice having a new Christmas perspective everyday, starting today.

xo,

Kristi

perspective

Klover House Christmas:

Tonight I plan on revisiting that calendar that had me all worked up this morning. It occurred to me that I spend a little chunk of time twice a month meal-planning for my family. I then spend another chunk prepping food ahead for an easier time when dinner rolls around. I also feel more prepared and efficient when I grocery shop, because I take this time in preparation seriously. So, why not put a little extra effort into prepping ahead for a very busy month? Are there things that I can group together, like errands or meals, that will inevitably make life easier in a couple of weeks? Any days that look really good for a final shopping trip? What about a coffee date with a friend? Is there a day that looks convenient for that?

Yes, I want to have an easier and less busy month, but if I don’t prep and plan carefully and intentionally, even the least busy day can be quickly wasted.

Lord, help us to plan wisely and make the most of each day. Help us to be quick-thinking, slow-speaking, and easy-going. Father, guide us with your Spirit, so that each day is fully lived. Let even the days that seem insignificant feel like days well-spent. Help us to shift our perspectives, so that we don’t just profess that each day is a gift, but so that we truly feel and see each day as a gift – each hour as a gift. And lastly, please give us the wisdom and grace to make the most of our time, so that our families are blessed and we ourselves are less stressed and stretched this holiday season. In Jesus’ holy name we pray, Amen.

Simply Noel: December 4 – He Comes

Simply Noel:

December 4 – He Comes

Yesterday was a very busy day for our family, complete with crashing early. As I drifted to sleep last night, the words, “He is coming” rolled around in my head. He is coming. The Lord is coming.

 

Are you facing something in your life right now? Maybe a diagnosis? A loved one passing? A dream that seems to be on hold? A relationship on the rocks? A child who is suffering and your hands seem tied?

Are you hurting? Longing? Feeling lost?

Do you wish a situation was different?

Are you in a place of discontent?

He comes, for you and to you.

Did you know that the first two weeks of Advent, which we are in right now, focus on the second coming of Jesus? So, not only are we reminded this week that the Lord is coming once again for His people, but we are reminded that He comes to us daily to meet our weary souls, our troubled minds, our wounded hearts, and our broken bodies.

He’s coming, friend. He comes for His beloved, leaping over mountains, bounding over hills.

He’s coming to you, beautiful one, with a message of hope – “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.”

He calls to your heart and invites you to come to Him. Tuck yourself away in Him during your troubles, your unrest, and lean on His faithfulness. He wants you to know that you are not alone in your loneliness, and your battles are won in Him. He goes before you and fights for you.

Immanuel, “God with us” comes.

When you feel overwhelmed, discouraged, or like there’s no hope left for joy…remember the scriptures. He is the one that comes running, He is the one that comes knocking, He is the one with the invitation, He is the one with the offers, He is the one who brings hope, and joy, and life to every situation.

Rejoice in His promise to you that He has come and will always come to you.

I imagine the stillness that night He was born. The shepherds in the fields… The Magi gazing at the night sky… The world lay still in waiting for this promise to come, and then, the star appeared and angels announced His arrival. Can you imagine that moment? Those centuries of waiting, and suddenly, He came. Imagine the joy that also came with His coming. Regardless of what was taking place in their personal stories, the news of His birth overshadowed all troubles and brought hope to the world.

So, as you go about your day today, do not be troubled. He’s walking through this day right next to you. Lean on Him and find rest for your soul. Let Him revive your spirit and renew your hope. No matter what you face, He’s here.

xo,

Kristi

 

comes

Klover House Christmas:

Today, we are going to set up our nativity and talk about the coming of Christ. Reading from Matthew chapters 1 and 2, I will share the story of Jesus’s birth and the significance of each character included in our nativity scene. We currently use this kid-friendly Fisher-Price nativity¬†(aff.). Something I would like to incorporate into our Christmas traditions is this “Good Deeds Manger”¬†(aff.) that friends of our’s use. I’m sure you could easily create your own, as well.

As someone who wishes to keep Christmas centered upon Jesus, I believe that setting up the nativity together as a family and discussing it, using the Word of God, can be really helpful in building a firm foundation for our little ones. Even if you have older children, you can set up a more sophisticated nativity scene and tailor the conversation to an older audience. After all, the nativity was originally introduced by¬†St. Francis of Assisi in 1223 to help people of all ages better understand and relate to the birth story of our savior. Let’s never assume that the nativity is only effective in moving the spirits of the young.

Simply Noel: December 3 – The Heart of Giving

Just a few days into December and we’re already halfway finished with our Christmas shopping. Usually, we are part of the Christmas-Eve-Scramble crowd, but I decided that this year, we were going to keep it simple and knock it out early.

As I was chatting on the phone with my sister-in-law about gifts the other day, something struck me. We were talking about going in on a gift for our grandmother, and the ideas came so effortlessly. It didn’t matter that one of the things we had decided to buy her costs less than ten dollars on Amazon. We knew what she needed and what she liked, because we know her. Like really know.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but, I only know my grandparents’ likes and dislikes so well, because of how much time we spent together growing up, not because I’m a stellar grandchild now. Before social media and cell phones, when we had this magical thing called “free time,” we sat and hung out at their houses for hours, multiple times a week. We talked about life and family and current events. I know what kind of lotion my grandmother used, because I saw it faithfully in her bathroom and smelled it with each hug. I know the brand of coffee my other grandmother preferred, because I would sit and sip it with her as we played cards together. I know all of their favorite TV shows, where they like to shop, and what kind of music they enjoy. I know them. And even though I talk with other family members daily on Facebook and see them at every family function, I can hardly say I know them as well. Like really know.

So, my heart this year is to give gifts that attempt to say, “I know you.” In the past, I was so concerned with dollar amounts and allowing them to translate to value. The value of the item correlated to the value of the person, so by December 25th, we were miserably broke and somewhat still dissatisfied with our gifts. This year, however, I know that my grandmother loves Elvis, so it doesn’t matter that his gospel CD is just around five dollars on Amazon. I know my one nephew loves tractors. It doesn’t matter that he probably already owns twenty, and the one we liked for him wasn’t the most expensive in the store… This year, dollar signs aren’t going to determine value for us – we are going to show our loved ones their value, by getting to know them better and letting our gifts reflect that more intentionally.

Imagine that you walk into a room full of gifts, none of them have price tags… what would you give? Maybe the best gift in the room is the priceless one we call “time.” For that sibling, to whom you always give a Starbucks card – what if you randomly showed up at their house with their favorite drink in hand? That grandparent that loves puzzles – could you spare an hour to sit and do one together?

As God is working on my heart and mind in regards to gift-giving, I started thinking about His gift to us. It cost him no amount of silver or gold, but it was everything – His Son. The creator of the universe could have given his children all of the riches and material possessions the world had to offer. He could have given us unimaginable treasures, but instead, He gave us a baby in a manger – a small, innocent child, who would grow up to lay down his own life for our’s.

No amount of money can say, “I love you.” The best gifts have no price tag. The best gifts say, “I know you.”

gift

Klover House Christmas:

I realize that the greatest gift I can give my children is my undivided attention. As a mom of four, I feel like there isn’t enough of me to go around. My hope today is to spend an extra chunk of time with each of my girls – time to sit, talk, listen and observe. Time to get to know them better. Is her favorite color still orange? What’s her favorite book? Are those flecks of green or gold in her eyes?

How often do you give yourself a chance to just sit and get to know someone these days? I’m with these people all day, every day, serving them and loving them. Time to put the to-do lists aside and give priority to knowing them.

 

Simply Noel: December 2 – Know and Be Known

Simply Noel

December 2 – Know and Be Known

I literally opened this screen with the intention of writing on a completely different topic, and my heart tugged, “Not yet.” And the sentence came to mind, “Know your triggers.”

Know your triggers?

As I sat to ponder this statement, I remembered the bit that I shared yesterday about the tree-trimming fiasco. So many triggers. So many mistakes. So many emotions.

Looking back, I can see where I had made a beautiful moment far more difficult for myself and my sweet kids.

We had put the tree up several days earlier and had made a choice to leave it barren. Decorating has always been a family affair. We throw a Christmas movie or music on in the background, and we get to work.

In previous years, the kids were so small, and, believe it or not, actually more helpful in a sense. No one had an opinion. No small person had a plan. They toddled and flitted about, just happy to be surrounded by magical items and loving parents. They sported jolly Santa hats and elf ears and smiles as wide as the moon. In hindsight, it was giddy and glorious.

But things have changed. Now, we have two school-aged children, who are quite opinionated and headstrong (imagine mini Martha Stewarts in thought, Amelia Bedelias in deed). Our smaller two are comparable to wrecking balls…endearing, but still. Life has shifted, and I, apparently, resisted shifting with it – all in the name of tradition.

As I sat and reflected on the disaster, I could easily pinpoint specific “triggers” that had caused my unraveling. I just had to take the time to realize them – to know. And not just know, but be patient enough to take those few moments of reflection and visualize my place in, not the ideal scenario but rather, the reality.

As much as I have loved the idea of the whole start-to-finish decorating tradition, it just isn’t the best choice during these wrecking ball years. So, I made the decision that, until the children are older and we’ve crossed into a calmer chaos of sorts, I will simply put the lights and garland on the tree the night before. The girls really love the ornaments most anyway and barely give the other stuff a glance. Trying to explain to them why we had to dress the tree in layers only confused them and frustrated me. It’s a trigger that I can very easily eliminate. Changing my course of action doesn’t tear apart our tradition, and it still grants them the joy of ogling every shiny, dangly, blingy thing. Next year, I will breathe a deep sigh of OCD relief, knowing that I can just go along with the fun and leave the incessant arguing and complaining in the past.

Knowing myself, knowing my children, knowing our family dynamic, along with each of our limits, allows me to navigate these Christmas waters much easier. By eliminating stress-triggers, I can encourage, and even cultivate, joy-triggers. A small, practical, and even simple adjustment can make a huge impact on any experience. By impacting the experience, you can’t help but impact the memories, too.

Are your routines or traditions in need of any adjustments this Christmas? It’s okay if your reality doesn’t line up with your expectations. Maybe it’s not your tree trimming; it’s the feast, or the Christmas card, or *enter your stressor here*. God knows your hopes, and he also knows your limits. He knows your shortcomings and your strengths. If what you’re doing isn’t full of joy…love…that’s not Jesus. Wanting something magical…dreaming of peaceful, beautiful outcomes…God is in those hopes, but the forcing part – that’s all us.

He knows you. Let Him show you how well. Quiet yourself today – or any day that you find yourself faced with discouragement or disappointment – and ask Him, “Lord, what do you see? How can this be different? Be better? How can this honor my family and glorify You?”

I believe that, sometimes, He will show you a solution, an easy fix, an adjustment… Other times, He may give your heart the green light to just eliminate it altogether…

And that is okay, friend.

Today and every day, let’s build our homes, not tear them down. Know your triggers, and then ask Jesus what it is He wants you to do with them.

xo,

Kristi

know

Klover House Christmas:

I love making lists. I’m kind of old-fashioned that way. So today, as they come to me, I am going to jot down those holiday family traditions that I love and look forward to year after year. As I go about my tasks today, I will let my wandering thoughts find purpose, and I will wander there – to that list. What can I adjust? What can I eliminate? Even if it’s just for a season, what just isn’t working for us right now? Is there something that I have been wanting to implement, but just never took the time to actually consider it? Our schedules don’t have to be packed to be impactful. Our days don’t have to be full of doing, but they can be full of being. So, today, I am going to be¬†and not¬†do. Today, I am going to ask my husband and my kids what they love most about our usual Christmas activities and really take their responses to heart. Many of you have Bucket Lists, I’m sure. I’ve been wanting to jump on that train for years! But, the more I think about it now, the more I know that my Holiday Bucket List wouldn’t need to be 25 days long… My Bucket List would most-likely be a five-liner, and that is nothing to feel pitiful over. Knowing what you want is great, but more importantly, let Him reveal what it is that you need.

Simply Noel: December 1 – Put on Hope

 

Welcome, Friend!

Since today is our first day together, I’d like to take a moment to explain the format of the entries you’ll find each day (December 1 – January 6). The devotion will be at the beginning, and then, you will see an image with a scripture that correlates¬†with the message. Beneath the image, you will find the section I will be calling “Klover House Christmas”. This is where I will share something tangible for us to take away from the message that I believe God has placed on my heart. It may be a recipe, an activity, or it may be a simple prayer. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining in. I’m so glad to have you along on this special journey.

Simply Noel: A Holiday Devotional

December 1st – Put on Hope

As I prayed to God today, “Where do I start Lord? What do I even say?,” I felt a light bulb go off in my spirit. And not the “Ah-Ha!” kind, but rather, the soft, small kind of light bulb, like the ones you see in every other window at Christmastime. Those little candlelights. I love the way they sit there – so simply, their light so gentle and steady, yet noninvasive to our gaze… Peaceful. I had a peaceful light bulb moment delivered in a single word:

Hope.

Hope is what is going to get us through, friends. It may surprise you that I would say such a thing on the very first day of this devotional, but it’s true. No matter our holiday plans, be they spontaneous or perfectly plotted out, no matter our intentions…if the Spirit is not in Christmas, our labor will be in vain, our activities will feel empty, and our hearts will become quickly exhausted. The flame inside of us may smolder before it’s even been given a chance to shine.

As we decorated our tree this year, all of my perfect plans dangled in front of me in complete disarray. Broken glass… busted ornaments… bickering children…whiny toddlers… mess after mess after mess…

At one point I broke down and asked myself out loud, “What are we doing wrong?! Why can’t we even have fun doing the fun stuff?!” And that answer came quickly to my heart.

It doesn’t matter what you do. If the Spirit is not in it… If the Spirit is not in YOU… even the most enjoyable thing will lack the joy due to it.

I could’ve thrown in the towel. Said things to myself like, “Christmas is over before it even stood a chance! I blew it. This didn’t go how it was supposed to go…”

But I have Hope.

So here’s what we are going to do, friend. We are going to put on Hope today and everyday this holiday season. Like an apron, we are going to gently drape it around our necks. We are going to tie it snugly around our waists. We are going to tuck our plans and desires deep into its pockets, and we are going to let it catch the mess that bubbles up and splatters on us out of nowhere. We are going to pull this wonderful time called Christmas off with some amazing gifts called Faith, Hope, and Love. And today – everyday – we’re going to start with Hope.

Do me a favor. Place your hand over your heart. This is your faith in action, friend. No matter what you are going through, no matter what today has in store, take a moment with me and place your hand on your heart. Do you feel that heartbeat? You have a big, beating, loving heart. I know that, because you’re here, wanting to grow it and make the most of this season. I think that speaks volumes about you. So with your hand over your heart, say these three simple words: “I have Hope.”

Put on your Hope today, friend. It only gets better from here.

xoxo,

Kristi

hope

Klover House Christmas:

Today, let’s keep life simple. Wish your loved ones a happy first day of December. A new month, like each new morning, is a fresh start. If you have little ones, I’m sure they’ve been waiting eagerly for this month to come. Break out the Advent Calendars, if you have/do them, and just take a few minutes talking with the people you love most. ¬†Reflect on last year. ¬†Maybe you’re missing someone, and you’re feeling a pang of sadness. Maybe things were messy and disappointing far too often, and you can’t seem to remember a peaceful moment from this time a year ago. Maybe you are just as giddy as a child, and you can’t wait to repeat the joyful festivities… Whatever you’re remembering – whatever emotions are evoked…remember your Hope, and share that with someone today. For me it may look like this, “Kids, I’m so excited for Christmastime. I love the joy that it brings to you and to our home. My hope for this year is that we spend each day loving each other well. What are some things that you are hoping?” And it may be a Santa Wishlist that you get in return, but hey, at least you are sharing about hope, and you are putting your own hopes out into the atmosphere, and that is a powerful thing. God’s word doesn’t return void, and I believe that when you speak life-giving, hope-giving words they won’t return void, either. xo

Klover House Christmas: A Holiday Devotional

Good morning, friends! Tomorrow is a BIG day! Not only is my firstborn turning 7 (cue the tears!), but I’m kicking off something I have been dreaming of for a long time…

The first Klover House Christmas Holiday Devotional!

 

Christmas

Overwhelmed? Tired? Distracted?

Are you tired of running yourself ragged each holiday season, only to have it come and go before you even blink?!

Are you tired of rushing around, never getting a chance to really enjoy the most wonderful time of the year in all of its beauty?

Do you long to love and honor Christ during this precious season that is centered on His very existence, but find yourself distracted by and drowning in the pressures of commercialism?

Do you hope more than anything that the people you love will know and feel your love, but not because of what you can buy, but because of what you can GIVE of your HEART?

Do you want to leave a Christmas legacy that stands for generations and shapes the seasons for many years to come?

Me too!

Do you think it sounds impossible?
It’s not.

We can do this together, friends. We can transform these holiest of days, and we can reform and reshape our families’ expectations and, most importantly, our own. We can widdle Christmas down to “Simply Noel.”

Please, join me on this special journey.

All you need to do is subscribe by placing your e-mail in the box found on the right sidebar that reads “Connect with Klover House!” It’s that simple!

And as a bonus gift to my subscribers, I will offer the complete devotional in e-book form to you at zero cost. You will have each entry, along with all of the recipes, activities, anything and everything I share in one, easy-to-find place, so that you can use it for years to come.

I love and appreciate you, friends. I have high hopes for our holiday, and I have BIG faith that God is going to meet us each morning and carry us tenderly through each day. See you here tomorrow!

xoxo,
Kristi