Simply Noel: December 31 – New Year’s Eve Wrapped Up in a Word

Simply Noel:

December 31 – New Year’s Eve Wrapped Up in a Word

It’s New Year’s Eve! We made it! Another year under our belts. Another 365 days of memory-making. We’ve walked through hard times and good times… We’ve made new friends, we’ve said painful goodbyes. We’ve taken new adventures, and we’ve stepped out of comfort zones.

And you know what?

We were made for this.

To keep going.

Each year, we find ourselves decluttering our homes and lives around this time. We’re clearing out the old to make room for the new. Many of us are intentionally stripping away the noise, simplifying our lives in preparation for better days ahead. We become more focused, more aware of our bodies, habits, lifestyles, and dreams.

We resolve to make the next year better than the last.

We make resolutions and lists. We set goals and make plans.

We are a resilient people.

Resilient.

“The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger.”

– Job 17:9

Resilient.

That’s us. We may not even realize we’re doing it, but we are a people who get back up when we’re knocked down. We’re a people who says “tomorrow will be better than today.” We are a tribe of optimists, and I know it because of New Year’s Eve. Even the worldliest of people shown on television exhibit the familiar acceptance that tomorrow, when they wake up, they will be greeted with a fresh start.

It’s woven into our DNA. Our God is the God of New Beginnings. Our God is the Redemptive force that burns inside ALL of humanity’s bones. His Spirit roams the earth breathing life and hope into dry bones.

How beautiful it has become to watch all of these people gathering around the world in the name of “new beginnings” knowing that they do so because He’s created them to crave a fresh start, a better life, and a stronger version of themselves.

Oh, that they, we, would all come to know that it is Him inside of us. It’s a characteristic of our Father that we have inherited and drives us to move forward – closer to Him – closer and closer and closer to Him.

Happy New Year, friends!

xo,

Kristi

Klover House Christmas:

Earlier this year, I attended a little seminar. I walked in and found a seat alone, far away from anyone else in the room. I knew it was going to be a time of worship and self-reflection, and I was prepared to get real with myself and maybe even shed a tear or two.

I never did cry, but at one point in the meeting, the speaker encouraged us to ask the Father in prayer for a word – a single word that He thinks of when asked, “What do You think when You think of me?”

So, I closed my eyes, wondering what it was that I would hear, if anything. I said, “God, what do you think when you think about me?” And I waited. It honestly took a millisecond. I heard the word, “Perseverance” as clear as day.

If anything brought me close to tears, it was that word. I was expecting to hear something like “beautiful” or “lovely” or “caring” – whatever. I wasn’t putting a ton of stock into hearing anything of real substance. So, when I heard perseverance, it was striking. He saw my efforts and my heart. He really saw how I felt when it seemed life had kicked me over and over, and I got back up every time only wanting to push harder and do better. He saw the faith that sometimes hung by a thread, yet I clenched to as though my life depended on it. He saw me.

And you know what, He sees you, too.

I bet that if you were to take a serious moment and ask Him the same question that he would answer you.

I pray that you try it, and it changes your life.

Happiest of New Year’s to you, and may tomorrow be the start of an amazing year for you. xo

 

::December 30::    ::Back to the Top::    ::January 1::

Simply Noel: December 30 — The Stillness and God

Simply Noel:

December 30 — The Stillness and God

And the Snow

As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

Isaiah 55:10

“…and the snow…”

The world lay washed in white and the stillness brings both peace and quiet. When life is sweet, so is the stillness of snow and tranquility it provides.

For some, however, the stillness can be an unwelcome reminder of quiet. Quiet is great until you’re looking for an answer.

“Where are you, Lord?” is a question we surely find ourselves asking at some point in our lives.

Sometimes, we are tossed into life events that bring us to our knees and we long to hear a reassuring word from our Father.

And, instead… stillness. Like freshly-fallen snow on the crisp winter day, the snowflakes, like moments ticking by, lay quietly in the stillness. No movement or rustling of life to be seen or heard – just stillness.

The Three Gifts

Today, the sixth day of Christmas, is the day in which we remember the Magi – the wisemen – who came from afar. Like an unexpected stirring in the stillness, they arrived to worship the new King Jesus.

Their arrival was no surprise to God the Father. It wasn’t immediately following the birth, and they didn’t take a direct route, having stopped at Jerusalem first, but they came.

Out of the stillness, they came to acknowledge the Promise of God in the flesh, and they didn’t come empty-handed.

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Matthew 2:1-12

Gold – a gift fit for a King. Let the gold remind us today that the Lord is King of our lives. Even when we feel like wanderers without a Guide in life, he has Lordship over our lives and He will always be our King. We will always be His royal children. Gold is also a sign of deity. He is God, and, unlike the worthless idols made of gold, we see here a picture of this most precious ore being presented to Jesus as a gift. Even the most valuable things in life pale in comparison to Jesus; they are treasures placed at His feet. Gold also withstands the fire. In fact, gold is refined by fire. In the fiery trials of life, let us become like gold and come out better, stronger, and purer for them.

Frankincense – the incense resin. Our lives are to be like incense poured out unto Him. We live each day as an act of worship and our prayers and praise are to be like incense rising to His throne. Remember when King David was losing his child? He prayed and praised. And in Psalm 141, he asks the Lord to consider his prayers as incense, his lifted hands, an evening offering. Just as David gave his prayers and praise to God in both good times and bad, we are to do the same. Frankincense, in the natural, is a healing resin. It has shown to reduce stress and anxiety, reduce inflammation, and even fight diseases, such as cancer. How fitting that our prayers and praise would be compared to the very element in God’s creation that does such things in the natural? Our prayer and praise can do those very things in the spiritual – battle anxiety, disease, areas of unrest and irritation… God knew exactly what He was doing when He inspired the Magi to bring these wise treasures. A symbol of righteousness, Frankincense reminds us that the Lord’s eyes are on the righteous, and He hears their cry. Nearly every scripture that includes the word “righteousness” or “righteous” addresses being rescued, freed, saved, inheriting Heaven, being heard, delivered, blessed…

Myrrh – the healing and embalming resin. What an odd gift to bring a newborn King, is it not? But perhaps this gift was prophetic? The Lord would go on to suffer and die for humanity’s sake. Remember the myrrh today as you remember Christ’s great sacrifice and gift to you. Death is as much a part of the birth story as Life. Christ came to die, in order to defeat death and the grave once and for all. Like myrrh in the natural, His death healed our wounds and diseases, brought restoration to our broken relationship with the Father, and made us new and alive again. His death brought complete life.

Be Still and Know…

So, as you wait in the stillness, know. Know who God is and that He is good. Know that He hears your cries and remember His gifts that came that night. The world lay still, and they came from afar, breaking into the stillness. They offered their finest gifts, and these gifts were a message to us. He is your King. He is more precious than gold, and He has made you like gold. You will go through the fires of life and come out pure and strong.

Choose righteousness. Let your prayers and praise intertwine, even on the darkest of days. Know that they rise to Heaven and catch His ear. Your prayers change things. Your praise shakes the earth. Your prayers and praise together defeat the enemy and destroy stress and anxiety. Embrace that truth today.

Remember the myrrh and that His death had the last word. Even His birth was forever attached to a symbol of healing, reminding us that from the beginning His purpose was to save us. He is our healing balm and the preserver of life. He is so good and cares deeply for us.

So, I ask you today to be still and know. Take five minutes right now to read through Psalm 46 in its entirety, and allow His steadfast love for you to break through any doubt or sadness you may be feeling. Cease striving. Stop fretting. Let Him calm your worried mind. He came that we might be free. He came that we might be saved. He came that we might discover through His life and His Word just how truly loved we are.

Don’t fear the stillness. His snow comes from Heaven to water the earth and it will not return until it has saturated those still places in your life. When you ask, “Where are you?” know He’s not silent; there’s actually something very powerful taking place beneath the quiet white…

 

Klover House Christmas:

Have you seen the movie, “War Room”? I remember after watching that, I felt so inspired to create a prayer closet. A real one. Well, I went to Hobby Lobby soon after and bought everything I thought I’d need for my prayer wall. Then, life happened, and the items were shelved. My husband and I spoke of tearing down that very wall in order to expand an itty bitty bathroom, so all previous plans were scrapped.

This post was a difficult one for me to write, because I struggled with typing what was on my heart and expressing what I thought the Lord was showing me. You see, we have situations in our lives that call us to pray hard prayers. People we love need real miracles. People we follow on social media need real miracles. Having the heart of an intercessor can feel heavy at times, and when you aren’t seeing answers to those passionate prayers in tangible ways, it can feel exhausting.

Lately, I’ve felt a pull back to creating a prayer wall of sorts. Now that our bathroom is nearly completed, I can start what I set out to start all of those months ago.

I tell you this because I think that seeing prayer requests with my eyes and watching how God answers them over the course of the next year will be life-changing for me and for our family. So often, the Lord probably answers a need in an unexpected way and it goes unnoticed.

Seeing the Lord working in our lives and having evidence of that can be transformative.

What does that have to do with Christmas?

Well, we celebrate Christmas because of Christ and who He is in our lives. Imagine how much deeper our worship would go if we saw Him through a more accurate lens. Imagine celebrating a Christ you came to know as He truly is. It would be that much easier a year from now to let the hustle and bustle fall to the wayside. Christ would be that much more special and all of the holly-jolly-spend-too-much-money-fa-la-la-la-pass-the-cookies stuff wouldn’t even matter anymore. Our adoration of our good God would naturally be front and center.

So, how about we make those prayer lists a real thing in our homes – big or small – and see how God shows up in our lives…

::December 29::     ::Back to the Top::    ::December 31::

Simply Noel: December 29 – What Are We Waiting For?

Simply Noel:

December 29 – What Are We Waiting For?

We all have plans for our lives, right? We all have dreams and hopes. Sometimes, these aspirations involve our friends, spouses, children… Sometimes, these hopes rest solely on our own shoulders.

During these last twenty plus years of being a devoted lover of Jesus, I have had the unique opportunity of having wonderful dreams birthed in my heart. Some of these plans have been confirmed by words spoken to me by both trusted friends and total strangers. Some visions of my future were first realized when I was still in my teens and the beautiful pictures of those things to come only seem to grow richer as the years pass.

But, as the days tick by, I also feel that sense of, “Why not NOW, Lord?” more and more. The suspense and waiting is almost too much to handle at times. Even though I know in my heart of hearts that right now isn’t the most ideal time for certain things to come to pass in my life, I want to see the fruit before I’ve watered the seeds.

I found myself thinking today that I’d rather be closer to my “best life” by this time next year than be sitting here feeling as though I haven’t changed one bit. We’re growing older, but, admit it with me, that may be the only difference between the you reading this now and the you 365 days from today.

As I considered this possibility, I felt a deposit of wisdom hit my spirit.

If I want to be a writer, be seen as a writer… I must BE that writer right now. I must SEE myself as that writer today. I can’t wait for a publisher to take notice. I can’t beat myself up over lack of readership or popularity. If I am that writer twenty years from now, I am that writer right now.

If I want to minister to women on a public platform years from now, I need to keep ministering to women right where I am. My daughters are the future’s women. I need to pour into them all of the great advice I think I have right now. After all, our families are some of the best testimonials of a life well-lived. I need to encourage my friends. I must be a listening ear for my family members. I need to be that person of influence in the smallest areas of my life.

If I want to own a cafe/shop with my daughters, I need to carry myself as a proud entrepreneur today. For years, the dressmaking endeavors left me feeling so inadequate. Why would anyone want a frock made at 2AM on my dining room table when they could buy Matilda Jane? I told myself that my online shop would only succeed if I had a decent financial backing to help it flourish. I was constantly my own worst critic and biggest nag. I saw myself as a “nobody” and I’m sure the lack of confidence hurt my businesses.

Whatever you feel that the Lord has called you to, don’t put off being that person until the circumstances are just right and you “look” the part. Start seeing yourself as that future you NOW.

As I wait for those cafe dreams to fully transpire, I will keep developing my hospitality skills. I’ll continue to learn new things in the kitchen. I’ll keep preparing meals for others. I’ll keep baking with my daughters. I’ll keep praying over buildings in my city. I will keep watering those seeds of faith and promise.

When I was pregnant with Miriam, who is nearly three, a Man of God came to our home church and prophesied that our youngest two children would be worshipers and encouraged us to “invest in a keyboard NOW.” Of course a then two-year-old and newborn can’t play the piano, but what did we do? We bought the piano. We planted the seeds.

Now, my eight- and six-year-old both play. It’s a great sacrifice for us, financially, and the prophetic word wasn’t even directed at them, but we will water the seed. We have taken the Lord at His word and have decided to pour into those future claims. Neither plays extremely well, but to us they are musicians, and we treat them as such.

We need to do the same for ourselves. What are we waiting for?

What do you want to see happen for yourself next year? What did the Lord lay on your heart? You wouldn’t wait until the keys are in your hands before saving for the car, right? Don’t wait until the situation looks just right before you start seeing yourself a certain way.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”

Hold your head up high, and put that on repeat.

xoxo,

Kristi

 

Klover House Christmas:

As New Year’s Day approaches, I’d love to share a few of my favorite, easy breakfast ideas. I don’t know about you, but we love breakfast around here. I’ve been kind of taking it easy lately, but I love making breakfast on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I’ve linked some posts here and I hope it helps you find a new, delicious breakfast to try! xo

Pancakes

French Toast (and Strawberry French Toast)

Banana Bread

Eggnog French Toast Casserole 

Sausage Strata

::December 28::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 30::

Simply Noel: December 28 – New Year, New Wardrobe

Simply Noel:

December 28 – New Year, New Wardrobe

Yesterday, we talked about walking in rest. Today is all about letting your Heavenly Father dress you for the day.

Sounds a little silly, right? But the Bible mentions clothing, being clothed, “putting on” and wearing a lot. Covering us is one of His many pleasures. From the time of the Fall of Adam and Eve, He has covered humanity. His blood shed covers a multitude of sins. He covers us beneath the shelter of His wings. He is a strong and mighty tower that we are told to run into. He hides us in the cleft of the rock. He cloaks us with righteousness. He provides armor to fight and defeat the enemy of our souls. His banner over us is Love.

He covers. He clothes. He provides.

Being clothed starts with knowing the truth of the Gospel and where you fit into that truth. Accepting that clothing takes living in the reality that Jesus first and foremost calls us to seek Him and spend time with Him. We’ve heard a thousand times that you can’t pour from an empty cup. Although, I’m sure many of us are doing just that nearly every day of our busy and rushed lives. That would be where supernatural grace comes in. Yes, He comes through for us and gives us the strength to make it day-by-day, but I don’t think that was His intention for His bride.

When you look at the infamous “Proverbs 31 Woman,” you see her doing amazing things. Whether she is real or just a metaphorical figure for us to learn from, we see a very real truth emphasized in her account: She has discovered the wisdom of taking care of herself so that she is a healthy, capable vessel. She meets the needs of others, is an entrepreneur as well as homemaker, and clearly walks in rest. “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future…” Anyone who can smile and laugh at the days ahead is surely clothed in peace and living from a place of rest. She knows her worth and exhibits self-respect. We don’t need to be earthly royals to live as daughters of the King; we only need know our identity as such.

You are a Child of God. He has given you a wardrobe of humility, righteousness, strength, and dignity. He says so in His Word. His salvation (the Gospel) is to be your joy and your garments are made of praise, compassion, kindness, patience, and gentleness.

So where do we find this supernatural closet?

At His feet, of course.

When I lean on Him, I find rest. When I look to Him, I find hope. When I give it all to Him, I find peace. When I take His hand, I find strength. When I listen to Him, I find truth. When I believe His truth, I find my identity. When I know who I am, I find dignity. When I am dignified, I am clothed well. When I am clothed in His fine garments of humility, compassion, kindness, joy, patience, gentleness, righteousness… I can live with boldness and confidence. When I am confident in whose I am, I can give myself fully to others, never fearing the pang of exhaustion or emptiness. And that comes back, full circle, to an actual relationship with Him.

Fill up your cup by spending time with the Father.

Allow Him to clothe you today.

Just as you select your shirt for the day, ask Him for the article you feel you need. If you are lacking peace, patience, kindness…whatever it is, ask Him for it. If you don’t know where to start, simply start with a simple and honest prayer:

“I’m looking for you, Lord. I’m here and I’m ready to know you as my Father and to feel Your peace in my life. Speak to me today in a way that You know I can understand. I will seek You until I find You. Amen.”

I know He is faithful, and His word is truth. He is a God of His promises, and His promise is that if we seek Him with all of our hearts, He will be found. His desire is to be found and to clothe you “in fine linens and purple.” You will lack no good thing and will be clothed in the most beautiful attributes, but it starts by seeking His heart.

xo,

Kristi

 

Klover House Christmas:

This morning, my eight-year-old asked if we could start collecting money for the homeless. I was pretty taken aback. Of course I said, “Yes!” It is a beautiful idea, and I want nothing more than to see my girls develop hearts of compassion. As I mentioned above, compassion is a garment from the Father and to see them already clothed in that attribute… May I never disregard those requests.

So, today, I plan on sitting down for about ten minutes and compiling a list of things I’d like to see happen in the coming year. A bucket list of sorts. Nothing too detailed or lofty. I don’t want to set us up for failure. I just need a few goals for myself and for my family as a whole that will motivate and inspire us throughout the year. Items such as “giving to the homeless in a tangible way” is something that we can all put our hearts into and that will grow us as children of God.

Something I’d like to see change in my life this year is how quickly I become frustrated with myself and my children. Many people compliment my patience, but at home, I feel the total opposite. I see the constant mess and the never-ending list of projects and I grow frustrated. The kids are at an age at which they argue nearly all of the time, and the noise level in the house could shatter any mom’s thinking cap.

I think sitting at His feet each morning and asking for that patience will help me to walk in the peace and rest I described yesterday.

So far, here is my list:

  1. Spend time with the Father each morning
  2. Play worship music downstairs daily (it plays 24/7 in the kids’ bedrooms only)
  3. Give to the Homeless in a tangible way
  4. Bless a child or children from another country
  5. Eat more family dinners at our dining room table (less at the island with mom and dad standing)
  6. Go on a date with my husband at least once a month
  7. Make exercise a priority (Isla is my accountability partner)
  8. Paint and hand letter on Sundays

What’s something you would add to your own list?

Lets share and encourage one another. Next year CAN be the best year yet.

 

::December 27::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 29::

Simply Noel: December 27 – Come Away and Rest

Simply Noel:

December 27 -Come Away and Rest

We’ve been thinking a lot about perspective this month. Take it slow. Be intentional. It’s better to give than receive. Presence over presents. Asking for help when it’s needed, accepting it when it’s freely offered. Saying “no” so you can say “yes” to what truly matters. The list goes on…

I believe there’s a distinction between taking a break and living from rest. Think about the things you take breaks from… work, exhausting activities, toxic relationships, social media…

Breaks are necessary and often healthy, but what would it be like if following this busy season of Christmas we didn’t need a break because we’ve learned to live from a place of rest?

The Lord clearly exemplifies this mindset and lifestyle. You never saw an example of a rushed, flustered, exhausted Jesus. He was needed 24/7.

But he knew the importance of rest. He commended Mary’s decision to sit at his feet. He prioritized time taken to talk privately with the Father in prayer. And He left his company of friends and fellow travelers to recharge and encouraged them to do likewise:

And he said to them,

“Come away by yourself to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.”

—Mark 6:31-32

As we close out this year, let’s take time for ourselves to rest, to go to that quiet empty place inside (and maybe that empty spot in our home) And find rest and comfort in Him. And then, as we walk into the New Year, let’s allow rest to reign in our souls.

Don’t be troubled; He’s got this (whatever “this” is) and you. Don’t rush; the days will pass with or without you stressing the minutes away. Sit at His feet more; He said Himself that time spent with Him can never be taken away from us. Don’t wait until you need a break to run to Him. He’ll welcome you with open arms when and if you do, but why not decide right now that you’d much rather live from rest? Even when the world feels like it’s crumbling around you, can you visualize Him walking through the midst of it with your hand safely tucked in His? That perspective changes your day and a changed day leads to a changed life.

Be well and rest, friend.

xo,

Krsti

 

rest

 

 

Klover House Christmas:

Today was much like yesterday, but the mood in the house was completely different. Why?

Well, I think I can take credit for that. My attitude was different today, and it was clearly contagious. This idea of living from rest took root, and I “freaked out” 100% less than I did yesterday. The mess was equally as bad and the kids still had the random spats and misbehaviors, but it didn’t break me. There’s something so powerful about walking in truth and allowing that peace to take over.

For the remainder of the day, I’m just going to continue practicing walking in rest and observing how it impacts my family. I can bet we all smile more, laugh more, and show love a little better, too.

 

::December 26::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 28::

Simply Noel: December 26 – A Good Life

Simply Noel:

December 26 – A Good Life

Last night, after an exhaustingly good day, I stood at the bathroom sink and reached for my toothbrush. The gray hairs in the reflection caught my eye. I saw my age – the tired eyes, the wrinkles around my eyes and the gray hairs framing a once-younger forehead.

Over the course of our day, we visited with family on both sides of the family. I was reminded of when I was young and Christmas was lived through the mind of a child, then a teenager, then a young woman. I had flashbacks of being my mother and father’s “child” and how it felt to be cared for as such. I’ve had a good life.

I still have a good life.

Now, I celebrate Christmas with the mind of a mother. It felt like an eternity coming, and, now, the years seem to pass in mere blinks. I’m the one ushering the children to bed before Santa arrives, stockpiling presents in secret places until that special night, cramming chocolates and trinkets into over-sized stockings… Now, I’m the one creating and fostering the magic of Christmas.

No one gives you a manual – a Christmas How-To… You become older and life shifts and you shift right along with it.

That’s how it seems to be in all areas of life. Seasons change and perspectives change. Our physical bodies change and our minds and spirits grow. Our lives move from place to place and the people in them also shift. One thing that remains constant, though, is that life is good. It truly is. It is because we have Christ and we live in and through Christ.

Life, even in its hardest times is good, because we are constantly loved by God. He meets our needs in unexpected ways. He comforts us when we can’t find comfort in any worldly thing. He fills us with joy and contentment even when, according to the world’s standards, we appear to have very little to show for our days.

My prayer for you and for myself this year is that we continue to live the good life. I pray that even when your hopes are deferred and your faith is tested that you see the good things in your life.

Psalm 31: 19-24

19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
    which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
    in the sight of the children of mankind!
20 In the cover of your presence you hide them
    from the plots of men;
you store them in your shelter
    from the strife of tongues.

21 Blessed be the Lord,
    for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
    when I was in a besieged city.
22 I had said in my alarm,[b]
    “I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
    when I cried to you for help.

23 Love the Lord, all you his saints!
    The Lord preserves the faithful
    but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
    all you who wait for the Lord!

xo,

Kristi

life

Klover House Christmas:

Today, December 26th, is my father’s birthday. He said that he always felt a little pang of sadness growing up, because his childhood friends rarely wanted to celebrate his birthday with him and parties were usually lonely. “They’d rather stay home and play with their new toys,” he’s said. Even now, we celebrate his special day on Christmas, because we’re already gathered as a family. His gifts are often “combined,” and I almost always forget to bring a separate birthday card.

As I was reading about today – the 2nd Day of Christmas – I learned that it is referred to as “Saint Stephen’s Day.” Saint Stephen was the first Christian martyred for his faith.  We are not Catholic, but my father’s middle name happens to be Stephen. I’ve never asked him or my grandparents, who are both now gone, if this is why he was given that name.

All this to say, if it wasn’t for this devotional, I may have never bothered to look up “Saint Stephen’s Day”. I would have never been inclined to ask my father about the origin of his middle name, and most importantly, I may have never associated December 26th with a man willing to lay his life down for his faith. Even now, centuries later, Christians are surrendering their last breath in the name of Jesus. This awareness is a call from complacency as a Western Christian.

My hope for you and myself today, and every day of these 12 Days of Christmas, is that we would make each day meaningful and apply it to our own lives in such a way that we would be better because of it.

Today, I plan on enjoying “Family Time” with my husband and children and spending time talking with them about “Pappy’s” birthday and Saint Stephen’s Day, so that they will grow up with knowledge I hadn’t gained until now, allowing them to appreciate being a Christian in America. In order to keep peace in America, we need to raise world-changers, peace-makers, and steadfast lovers of Jesus. Why not start that intentional mission today in honor of men and women like Saint Stephen, who, like our Savior, paid the ultimate price so that the faith we love so dearly would survive all of these years?

Some games we are playing with our children today include (aff. links):

 

::December 25::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 27::

Simply Noel: December 25 – A Gift

Simply Noel:

December 25 – A Gift

Merry Christmas!

It seems as though it would be fitting for the topic today to be Christ-related, right? I mean afterall, it is Christmas Day. But, I have a different message laying on my heart today, and I believe the timing is no coincidence.

You are a gift.

In case you needed to hear that today, you are a treasured gift. Your value is immeasurable. Your worth is greater than all the riches of the earth. And your existence…you…you were planned for and bought with a life.

You are known and unique and the Lord has shaped destiny around your very being. He loves you so much that He sent His only Son to come to this world as a baby, and that baby would grow into a man whose heart was to teach you and train you for the life that the Father had so delicately planned for you. The Son would then die for you, defeat death for you, come back to life for you, and then leave His Holy Spirit to dwell in and among you, so that you would be a champion in this place.

He thinks that you are such a gift to this world that He went to great lengths to prove it.

Recently, I faced rejection by someone whose opinions mattered so much to me. I took a risk and exposed a vulnerable part of my heart only to be met with a response I had feared in the first place. The hurt struck deep, and the embarrassment was like a snag in my favorite sweater – an unexpected reminder of my shortcomings that wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

I could have replied with transparency, exposing my wounded feelings, but instead, I let it settle and I laid it at His feet. I could do this, because He showed me something about myself through the rejection…

My value, the value of my writings, the value of my mind and heart, the value of my time…they are not measured by any other humans. They are measured by the Lord of Lords. Everything I put my hand to, everything you put your hand to, is unto Him. When I started to see that, the sting faded and my confidence was restored.

During the holidays we spend a great deal of time with others, and in doing so, we obviously increase the odds that someone may hurt our hearts. Maybe it’s a snide comment, or perhaps it’s something said in jest but goes deep… Maybe it’s being made to feel “less than” or not “good enough” by the people in your life that you most want approval from… Maybe you just feel unnoticed, unappreciated or overlooked…

Regardless, you are a gift. Your life is a gift to this world, and your talents and passions are uniquely your own. Remember today, as you give and receive, He gave first and all that we are is a gift back to Him.

xo,

Kristi

gift

Klover House Christmas:

This year was the first year that we spent most of the day at our own home. There were a few hours of “nothing to do” and “no one to see” in our day, and so, it felt a little strange but wonderful. Usually, holidays feel so rushed for our family, and in previous years, we spent a great deal of time in the car. Today, however, we found ourselves actually spending time with one another – imagine that! lol

While it was slightly awkward, because it was unfamiliar, I loved being able to enjoy some spontaneity with our children. Once my in-laws headed on their way following breakfast, I knew we had a decent stretch of time before my mother and step-dad would arrive, so we opened a few new toys and actually let the kids play! We also decorated the gingerbread houses that had been neglected earlier in the week. It was probably the most unintentional schedule we’ve ever found ourselves following on a holiday, but I think it ended up being one of my favorites because of the unexpected time we were able to spend with each other.

All that to say…don’t be afraid to have downtime on Christmas. Yes, it’s important to visit with loved ones and squeeze a lot of doing and seeing into this glorious day, but if you can, carve a pocket of time out to just sit and be – reserve time for hanging out with your spouse and your kids or for sipping a cup of coffee next to your tree. And just breathe. Create a chance to take in the gift of the day.

 

::December 24::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 26::

Simply Noel: December 24 – Holy Night

Simply Noel:

December 24 – Holy Night

Earlier in the month I stumbled upon a beautiful rendition of a classic Christmas song that I’m sure most of us know and sing several times throughout the holiday season, O Holy Night. (If you get a chance, by the way, check out how this beautiful and moving song came to be. It’s such an interesting story.) I was looking into something completely different and the words, “O Helga Natt” caught my eye on the computer screen.

I click on the link, and found myself moved to tears at the new revelation the song brought to me in those midnight moments. Christmas is for the world…

It’s so easy to get wrapped up – literally and figuratively – during the holidays. It’s not surprising to go through the month of December with tunnel vision. After all, there is just so much to do and so many things vying for our time and attention.

Yet, during those few minutes that it took to listen to that beautiful song with my heart and not my head (listening to a familiar song sung in a language that you don’t speak can do that – opera, anyone?), I found myself overwhelmed at the thought of the millions of human beings from all over the world worshipping this same Jesus. I was undone. While He loves me uniquely, and I am His beloved, isn’t it incredible that He loves billions of people with that same undying, everlasting, eternal, passionate, intentional love?

Let that sink in for a moment.

You and I are part of such a large and beautiful family. We are His sons and daughters. We are each others brothers and sisters. Even if we don’t look the same, think the same, act the same, or sound the same…we are eternally connected in spirit and in truth.

And on this night – the holiest of nights – take a moment to let the bigger picture consume and inspire you as you reflect on the fact that there is an entire world celebrating Him with you.

xo,

Kristi

night

Klover House Christmas:

Tonight, as I mentioned in a previous post, is all about Jesus and family. We are blessed with a few simple and timeless traditions – some of which have come from my side of the family and some from my husband’s. We enjoy a delicious, seafood feast at his parents’ house with his siblings and their families, and then we usually go to church together, followed by returning home to open one gift – a new pair of festive pajamas. In years past we had gifted the children each a Christmas story, but I noticed that many of the books have gone untouched over the years. So this year, we decided to have my husband read the story of Jesus’ birth as told by one of my favorite children’s bibles – The Jesus Storybook Bible (see aff. link below). We love this Bible. It not only tells the stories in a way that appeals to young and old alike, but it also has such unique and beautiful illustrations. While I loved the idea of a new book each year, I love the idea of my girls growing up knowing the birth so well that it plays over and over for them as they drift off to sleep Christmas Eve.

 

::December 23::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 25::

Simply Noel: December 23 – Adequate in Christ

Simply Noel:

December 23 – Adequate in Christ

Last night, as I walked through the living room, turning off lights, I was hit in my heart with a word: Inadequate.

All of a sudden, I felt such tremendous inadequacy as a mother, a wife, a child of God…

So many people out there are doing hard things. Some mothers are juggling careers and children with serious issues and illnesses, and I consider it a “win” if I’m showered and have fed my kids 2.4 meals in a day. Some women are operating businesses from their homes and supporting their families, and all I have to offer are my cooking and cleaning abilities. Couples are posting pictures of events and dinners, and I am lucky to say four sentences to my husband through the dinner noise. My Instagram feed is overflowing with clean homes and smiling children, and these people look like they have it all together. I’m over here drowning in housework, and we seem to live in a perpetual tornado of mess, despite the fact that I’m constantly donating and throwing things away.

I managed to make three cookies, and tonight I hope to hang garland and stockings. It seems like it should be so easy – so possible. But day-in and day-out, I feel like I’ve fallen short and missed all sorts of marks. My children are blessed with perfect health, my home is sturdy and comfortable enough for a family of six, I have a husband who works extra hard so I can stay home with our children, and I move through each day without stopping, but still the feelings of inadequacy follow me around like a shadow.

Many days, I can push that shadow far away, and the peace of God fills my mind. But every once in awhile, it hits me like an anvil – inadequate, and I sink into the lies of the enemy.

Sometimes, when I find myself dwelling on a word in particular, I’ll look it up. I know what “inadequate” means, but the actual definitions and even synonyms and antonyms of a word can really help to better deliver whatever message the Lord is trying to teach me.

In this case, it was the list of antonyms that were illuminated for me – sufficient and abundant.

And there’s Jesus. He showed up in a dictionary entry to remind me that when I feel inadequate in life that His grace is sufficient and He has come so that I may live abundantly.

Sufficiency

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

– 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Abundance

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

– John 10:10

“Abundant” being “beyond what we can imagine and full of meaning and purpose. Regardless of any feelings or unmet expectations, Christ in us brings abundance to our lives. We have purpose and meaning beyond our earthly accomplishments. There’s no “measuring up” in God.

Neither of those truths have anything to do with our efforts or any striving. Both have everything to do with who Christ is in us and what He is capable of, which is everything. Our job is to simply rest in Him, operate out of the grace and strength He provides, and deliver love to those with whom we come in contact.

Who you are is enough. Who I am is enough. Don’t judge your story by someone else’s cover. Where and who we are today is just a part of a grand journey with Him. We are forever adequate in Christ.

xo,

Kristi

adequate

Klover House Christmas:

We tried a new sugar cookie recipe this year, because I wanted to use my Penzey’s Orange Peel. You can never go wrong with The Pioneer Woman. Instead of the actual lemon or orange zest, I used a 1/2 tsp. of my dried orange spice.

We (the girls and I) made our own frosting using a softened stick of unsalted butter, vanilla, 1/4 cup of melted white chocolate, and enough powdered sugar to reach the texture we wanted (maybe a cup).

We also LOVE this sweet recipe by Sally’s Baking Addiction. 

Merry Christmas!

 

::December 22::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 24::

 

Simply Noel: December 22 – He is My Peace

Simply Noel:

December 22 – He is My Peace

Every Christmas season comes with its beautiful moments and its stressful ones. I think it’s inevitable, especially if you are juggling multiple responsibilities…or multiple small humans. And if you’re juggling both, well, then God bless you with an extra portion of grace.

We took our small clan to see “The Man in Red” today, and it went well – kind of.

For the first time ever, all of the children smiled. It was a bit surreal, and I sort of wanted someone to “act up” so it felt a little more normal, but it didn’t happen. One by one, they took Santa’s hands and whispered their wish and then all four sat doll-like on his little couch, and I had to blink extra hard to believe my eyes.

My husband drove separately, so I stayed behind with my *angelic* children to pick up a few last-minute gifts. I also had to buy some new chocolate, because our dog found my stash and ate the Christmas chocolate. No, he hasn’t died, and apparently he thrives on several ounces of really expensive tree-shaped chocolate.

As I swung into Hallmark in search of replacements, it started. Screaming, whining, swatting, pulling things off of every shelf we passed. I thought I was going to pass out from the cocktail of panic and embarrassment coursing through my veins. After about six haughty looks from strangers and two minutes that felt like an eternity, I abandoned my plight and thought I’d have better luck at Marshall’s (where the shelves are widely spaced enough that my minions can’t reach the items from the stroller). I forgot about the clothing racks, though. And the screaming and wailing continued. They broke about four hangers, pulled approximately seven shirts onto the floor, knocked down a picture frame and inspired three individuals to strike up pious conversations with their frazzled mama.

One woman in particular thought it a great time to chat with me condescendingly about 529 plans and another woman acknowledged my “bad one” after our joint potty break.

Point being…it was anything but glorious. My Christmas spirit was Christmas-kaput. I wanted to throw the looks right back at people, and if one more person had mentioned how full my hands were, I don’t even know what I would have done.

As we walked the length of the mall back to the exit nearest the car, I said outloud, “Man, we got about twenty dirty looks today.” As a few strangers passed at that moment, my seven year old (without missing a beat) quipped, “Better make that twenty-one.” It.Was.That.Bad.

I came home today seriously exhausted. And then I read Micah 5:5:

“And he shall be their peace.”

– Micah 5:5

Even on the hardest of days, He is our peace. My worst day with Him is always better than my best day without Him. What would I do without my Savior? Sometimes, life is just hard. Other times, it’s downright beautiful. In the joy and in the stress…He is the same. He does not change. His love for us does not change. He is our Rock, our Redeemer, our Strong Tower, our Firm Foundation, our Joy, our Guide, our Hope, and our Peace.

If you are “going through it” and you feel like you’re about to break under the pressures that Christmas can bring, lean on Him today. He is your peace, and He asks you to come to Him. He promises rest and He promises that if you lay your burdens at His feet and take His yoke upon yourself, that His load is light.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

– Matthew 11:28-30

Do not carry burdens at Christmas. He has come that you may be freed from the pressures of this world and the burdens it tries to heap upon your shoulders. He came so that we could be filled with joy and hope and walk in peace. Lets remember Him tonight and carry Him in our hearts and minds. When it feels like too much, lets take a minute to quiet ourselves and whisper, “He is My Peace.”

xo,

Kristi

peace

Klover House Christmas:

Well, friend, we have three sleeps until Christmas morning. Are you doing okay? I hope that you are! You are probably in full Christmas mode by now, but my hope for you is this: Slow Down. The 25th is coming whether you’re ready or not, whether your house is tidy or not, whether your kids are naughty or nice… Don’t sacrifice your sanity over the next few days. You’ve got this. Do you have something meaningful for under the tree? Who cares about the price tags… Do you have a tasty meal to enjoy with some people you love? Wonderful. Do you have someone to hug on Christmas Day? You’re winning. Do you have a warm bed to fall into after a day of visiting? You’re blessed. Do you know Jesus – the Savior that you are celebrating? I hope so. Nothing else matters. So, my prayer for us is that over these next few days, we keep on that perspective and lay those burdens down. Take each hour in stride. Tackle your lists with intention and give yourself grace. Shoot for peace not perfection, and love your people above all else. What good is a celebration when you’re all cranky, right?

Tomorrow, we are going to set the bar low. I’d like to accomplish laundry and a gingerbread house. That’s it! There are sooooooo many more things that could be done in the name of “getting ready for Christmas,” but when we keep it simple, anything more than those few goals will feel like a big bonus. I’d rather cross off a few bonus items and feel extra productive over making myself a list of ideals that, if I don’t get them done, leave me feeling like a failure. Christmas is about Jesus, family, and bringing the Kingdom of God to earth, and if you ask me, that looks like a whole lotta peace and a whole lotta love – everything else is just noise, and you have divine permission to turn it off. 😉

 

::December 21::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 23::