Simply Noel: December 14 – For the Joy Set Before Him…

Simply Noel:

December 14 – For the Joy Set Before Him

We’re almost halfway through the month. How are you holding up? Are you feeling frazzled or has it been smooth sailing so far? I sensed today I need to write about joy. Maybe it’s because I had such a crummy night with my kiddos last night? I feel a pulling towards the subject, and so, I will follow the Holy Spirit’s advice and talk about joy.

As soon as the topic was laid on my heart, Hebrews 12:2 came to my mind…

…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

How quickly, as the world seems to be whirling in preparation around us, do we forget our joy? Remember on December 1st I asked you to put on hope? Well, I feel like we also need a reminder to put on joy. “…everlasting joy will crown their heads…” (Isaiah 35:10) Put on your crown of joy today, daughter of the King.

So, where do we find this joy?

1 Peter 1:8-9 tells us that it is found in the truth that we already carry:

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Though we have not seen Jesus, we believe in Him and we love Him. That’s it, friend. That is why His joy is our strength. That is why no one can take our joy from us. If we believe in Him and love Him…we can rejoice with inexpressible, glorious joy, knowing that the outcome of our faith is an eternity spent with Him.

Things are going wrong? Plans unravelled? Relationships unsteady? Jobs uncertain? Money is tight?

We can still have joy, because our joy is not dependent on our circumstances. It is dependent on our truth, and our truth is the joy set before us – the hope we have in Jesus and the hope we have in Heaven.

For the joy set before us, we endure our circumstances, knowing they aren’t the last word.

The hope of the righteous brings joy,
    but the expectation of the wicked will perish. 

– Proverbs 10:28

For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross…

For the joy set before God the Father, He endured the pain of sending His only Son to us as a baby in a manger…

For the joy of eternity with Him, He sent His Son to die…

For the joy set before us, we celebrate Christmas.

Put on your crown of joy today, friend. It’s an early Christmas gift from your Heavenly Father.

xo,

Kristi

christmas

Klover House Christmas:

If you had to pick one thing that brought you joy at Christmas, what would it be? I tried thinking about that today, and I had a hard time settling on just one thing. I love when we drive through Oglebay in our pajamas, sipping hot chocolate and eating cookies in the car, aka the garbage mobile (and all the moms of many messy children said, “Amen.”) I love opening the cards we receive and looking at them with my kids. We then hang them in the kitchen, and I love looking at them throughout the day. I love making sugar cookies with my daughters, mom, and nieces. My sister-in-law was working last year, but I hope she can join in this year, because I love spending time with her, too. I love wrapping presents with my hubby on the living room floor, even though he can’t stand it. I love hanging out with my husband and kids by the tree on Christmas Eve. I love Christmas morning breakfast with my in-laws. There are soooo many things that I love about Christmas, but you know what they all have in common?

People.

Christmas is about people. It’s the one time of the year in which we intentionally carve out time for others. You know? So, today, I am going to keep carving out time for my people. When other things start to stress me out and try to steal my focus and my joy, I am going to remind myself that the people I love are what I most value during this time of year and that they should be my focus. And wouldn’t it be something if that intentional devotion stretched itself past December 25th and found its way into the all of the other seasons of the year?

 

::December 13::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 15::

Simply Noel: December 13 – Let There Be Light

Simply Noel:

December 13 – Let There Be Light

Have you noticed that Christmas has become a hodgepodge of traditions? When I set out to start this devotional, one of my goals was to learn the “why” behind some of the practices. Christmas comes along, and I break out the Advent calendars, the gingerbread houses, the decorations, the wreaths, the lights, the holly, the mistletoe… We bake cookies, special breads, and yule logs… We cook certain meats and seafoods… We sing specific songs and visit Santa at the mall… Those are just some of the traditions we carry on, because our culture has adopted them. I’m sure there are even more, especially when we add in the modern ones…

It can be overwhelming, can’t it? And while I have participated and incorporated many Christmas traditions into our lives here, I refuse to be bound to rituals, especially when I don’t understand them to begin with and it’s become a matter of going through the motions. Are you going through the motions, too?

One of the stories I stumbled upon is related to this day, December 13th – Saint Lucia (St. Lucy) Day, was about a young and devout Christian woman, who was martyred for her unwavering faith in Christ. I’m sure I’ll get part of her story’s details wrong (because I am neither Catholic, Lutheran, or Swedish), but basically, according to legend, in 304 A.D. she “brought food and aid to Christians hiding in the catacombs using a candle-lit wreath [worn on her head] to light her way and leave her hands free,” so on this day, St. Lucia (meaning light) is remembered/honored in certain ways, both in places of worship and also in private homes.

One of the practices I read about, in regards to this day, was the eating of a breakfast meal by candlelight. I started imagining how serene and lovely it would be – to serve my family some eggs and Lucia Buns by candlelight one winter morning. There’s something so wonderful about candlelight – so peaceful. Have you ever enjoyed a candle-lit meal on a date, perhaps, or at a wedding? I love the way the light only reaches so far and then fades into darkness. The soft, warm glow that touches each object in front of you… The way it flickers and causes the surroundings to dance… The warmth that it gives off… I simply love candlelight. It’s interesting to me how intimate it makes even the most mundane activity feel. I almost think it brings things into focus, because you have no choice but to only focus on the small area that you can actually see – the face of a loved one sitting next to you, the other end of a table, the page of a book…

I started to think about our candlelight service on Christmas Eve. We could easily flip the switch and illuminate the entire room. Let there be light! Ta-da! But, no, that’s not what happens, right? We start with a real, not artificial, single flame, and person by person, we watch it grow into a sea of the most warm and peaceful light. Furthermore, you and the light are one. It goes where you go, turns where you turn…

There is so much talk about light in the Bible. Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden… He also tells us that while He is in the world, He is the Light of the world.

“The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

– John 12:35-36

Sons of light… light of the world… carriers of light…

“…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

‘Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.'”

– Ephesians 5:8-15

Christ is the Light of the world, He shined His light on us, and now we are carriers of that light, making us the light of the world…

So, while we can honor and respect the selfless and sacrificial lives of those men and women, like St. Lucia, who have laid down their lives for the sake of the Gospel and for the love of others, we mustn’t get caught up in rituals that might distract from the reality that we are the light. We don’t necessarily need a feast to welcome the light to the darkness… We don’t need a ceremony… We need a breakthrough moment – a revelation – in which Christ cracks us wide open and His light bursts from us, like the sun. And then, as we are going about our daily lives, we embody the Holy Spirit’s flame and we ignite the spirit of each person we come in contact with. It may look like the striking of a match, or it may be the gentle and steady transfer of Heaven’s light, but either way, we are to light the world one heart at a time.

xo,

Kristi

lights

Klover House Christmas:

While we don’t celebrate St. Lucia Day, I do love baking festive breads. If you caught my recent post, What You Do Well, then you’ll remember that I’m not the best baker, but breads, I can handle. I really enjoy the process of breadmaking. I found this post for St. Lucia Buns, and they sound tasty. I’ve always wondered what saffron tastes like, so this might be a great excuse to make something with it. Let me know if you try this out, or if St. Lucia Buns are a “thing” at your house, I’d love to hear from you!

Recipe for St. Lucia Buns – click here.

Simply Noel: December 12 – Truest Treasures

Simply Noel:

December 12 – Truest Treasures

Something I have noticed, as a parent over the past seven years, is the undeniable desire to see your children become better than yourself. We want our kids to be better stewards of time and resources, better and kinder humans, harder but smarter workers, better citizens of both heaven and earth. We want our children to grow and mature into responsible, reasonable, honest and trustworthy adults, capable of making tough decisions and caring about their place in the world.

As I began an online search earlier tonight, “popular gifts for teenage girls,” I have to be honest and say that what came up disappointed me. These were items that I, as a thirtysomething, don’t even own or that I didn’t ask for until I was a thirtysomething. DSLR Cameras? A $200 watch? A smartphone… Slippers that would feed a family of four easily for a week?! Really?

I remember when I was a teenager, I was so happy to have a cool bag, some great nail polish, art supplies, and good books. Am I so antiquated that the simple things that satisfied me aren’t the “norm” anymore?

As parents is this what we want for our children? I think that God wants and requires for us to set the bar high when it comes to caring for our families, but somewhere in time, someone decided that the bars had to be gilded, doused in glitter and diamond-studded.

It occurred to me that part of my job as a mentor to small humans is to teach them about the dangerous snare that is the love of money. To be fair, we do not live as paupers, but we are living at our means. I decided when we had our first child that I would neither look to the right nor left. The Joneses could have and do whatever they pleased, and they could shower their children with as much stuff as they wanted, but I was determined to keep my eyes fixed on our path, our convictions, and our goals as a family.

That practice started to waiver once my kids entered elementary school. All of a sudden, you know what everyone is doing and what every kid wants and has. (Don’t even get me started on Hatchimals this year.) And just like some of you, our children have come home with longings in their hearts and on their little minds, and they don’t see dollar signs, they see a “want” that feels a lot like a “need,” and they turn to their earthly providers – us.

And, unlike our Heavenly Father, we start to bend our goals to meet their “needs” and we are swept away into the “more” of Christmas. We stress and sweat over the hottest toys and the nicest clothes, and we feel that pit in our stomachs when the credit card statements arrive in the mail.

And for what? What are we instilling in our children by doing Christmas like this? We could probably convince ourselves that it’s good to make sacrifices for them, but if putting yourself in debt is the outcome, it just seems to be more harmful for our families in the end.

So what can we do about this trend? How do we stop the snowball from evolving into an avalanche?

That’s what I’m working on too, friend. I wish I had the perfect advice, but I don’t – not yet. But I do know that seeing how out of control things have gotten and being willing to adjust the course is a good start.

I want my ceiling to be their floor even in the understanding that there is more to life than what you own. There is more to a person than what they wear. There is more to Christmas than what you find in a stocking or beneath a tree.

So much of life is taking your ideals and realities and allowing the Holy Spirit to weave the two together. God is a Father. He is the Father. He wants to provide for our needs and give us the desires of our hearts, just like we long to do for our own children. He understands both our desires and our limitations as earthly parents. Go to Him with your hardships this season, friend. Talk to Him, parent to parent. Not a parent? Talk to Him giver to giver, and follow the advice you feel Him pouring into your spirit.

We made a practical decision as parents several years ago that Santa would never bring our kids an expensive gift. We knew that someday, if we allowed that practice to take place, that our child would possibly be the one who went to school talking about their trip to Disney World from Santa, and Susie Nextdoor may wonder why he gifted her a doll or a book. We would rather our child come home with questions for us, as opposed to being the child who unintentionally breaks a peer’s heart. One way we know we can explain this to our children is that “moms and dads have the choice on what Santa can bring, and we want our kids to receive certain items of certain value,” and not because they aren’t worthy of more, but because, as a family, we value those heart gifts much more. “It’s better to give than receive.” Our treasures are things unseen. Don’t be afraid to have real-life talks with your kids. If I want my daughters to steer clear of materialism and greed, I have to be willing to have the hard conversations about the state of world (within reason, according to age) and those in it who are less fortunate.

So, with Christmas just a week and a half away, I plan on looking for those opportunities now. And most importantly, if I want my children to be free from a overly commercialized Christmas when they are older, I need to model those intentions now.

And as for those teenagers that inspired these thoughts – they won’t be receiving any smartphones or cameras, but they will receive something that will enhance their lives and included in that package will be a message that expresses a gift that I hope they will carry in their hearts forever – “You are loved. You matter. God has a plan for you, and you are never forgotten.”

That’s a treasure far more valuable than any earthly possession. It’s not found on a shelf, in a wallet, or hanging on a rack. Real treasures are such things as a loving heart, a compassionate soul, and a relationship with a heavenly Father. My goal this year is to fan those embers of truth in my kids’ hearts, so that they grow to long for the truest treasures.

xo,

Kristi

gift

Klover House Christmas:

 

Crafting with a Purpose

My girls are really into wrapping up items from their playroom and giving them to one another. The bad news? All of my tissue paper, tape, and tin foil are now gone. Good news? They are revelling in the joy of giving. “Playing Christmas” is what they call it.

This week, I plan on giving them each a box and heart cutouts. We are going to wrap our hearts up for Jesus and talk about how our love and devotion is all He ever wants for His birthday, and how our brotherly love is all He wants for us to give to others, as well.

Then, we will choose a non-tangible gift to give one another. An example would be (hopefully) something like, “I want to give my sister kindness,” or “I want to give my children patience.”

I hope to use this activity to further emphasize the importance of spiritual fruit over material possessions. “ For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul,” right? (Mark 8:36)

It starts at home, and it starts with us, and it can start as easily as sharing a simple craft done in honesty and love.

 

::December 11::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 13::

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

Seeking the Simple Life

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, friends.  Can you believe the New Year is just days away?

Our schedules are packed, wallets are emptied, bellies are full…  And yet, something is missing for this mama.  It became painfully obvious this morning.  All the kiddos are home from school today, and while they played in their pajamas, this mama stepped outside in her’s.  My pajamas, that is, and a big, fluffy, pink robe.  I had to throw a piece of mail into the mailbox, and I didn’t care who saw me on my quick trip to the street and back again.

simple

But as I took that first step out of our front door, I was greeted with the chimes of church bells in the distance, and the thoughts rushed in like a gust of wintry truth.  I long for simple.  For simpler times.  For crisp, clear moments, like that one.  In this season in which life-moments are fleeting, like fast-falling snowflakes, I am finding myself wanting to linger.  To catch some on my tongue.  To examine a few on my gloves.  To laugh as they rest peacefully atop my child’s head.  And I’m not talking about literal snowflakes, well, not entirely, anyway.  I mean those life moments.  They are melted and forgotten before I’ve even taken the chance to examine them in their rawness and beauty.

Where are you going, life?  Will I ever catch up to you?  Or should I be slowing down and force you to stop for a breath yourself once in a while?

With each step, a bell chimed.  It was so serene.  I couldn’t tell if it made me feel nostalgic – almost transporting me back in my mind to what I imagine a winter morning at Christmastime felt like before cell phones, and deadlines, and social media…  Before too many appointments and activities…  What would it be like?  To walk outside your door in the morning and just take a little walk, listening to the church bells chime as you delivered cookies to an elderly neighbor?  Wouldn’t that be something?  To “digress”?  To live, and breathe, and just be once in awhile.

Or maybe it made me feel lonely.  Maybe those somber, deliberate steps taken in the stillness on a quiet street reminded me of how full my life is but how empty it feels most days.  Sure, we laugh.  I play with my kids, and we enjoy afternoon movies and snuggles on the couch.  I’m not all there, though.  I’m somewhere else much of the time.  I’m making mental checklists and contemplating craft ideas and designing imaginary dresses and considering business deals and dreaming up ministry opportunities and remembering to-do lists…  I’m not there, breathing in their sweet little smell, taking in their quirky little mispronunciations, or answering their innocent questions with more than two brain cells and in a decent tone.

The comparison of the simplicity of the moment against the cluttered space that was once my life and mind left me feeling lonely.  Even though they’re right in front of me, I miss my family.  Even though it’s all around me, I miss Christmas.  I miss waking up and being present.

It’s hard, isn’t it?  I feel like the modern woman longs for superhuman abilities.  We want to cook well, work well, take care of our family and home well…because we are the ultimate homemakers.  We want solid relationships and calendars full of events and play dates…because we are the ultimate friend.  We want successful businesses and accolades…because we are the ultimate entrepreneur.  We want quiet times and Bible studies…because we are the ultimate, faithful Christian.  We want book clubs and girls’ nights and birthday parties and potlucks…because we are able to just do.it.all.   And so we try.  We try to do it all and we find ourselves lonely.

Longing for less.

Feeling like we’re aiming at all the targets, but missing all the marks.

Is it just me?

I don’t know what this next year holds for me, for our family, our plans and dreams, but I do know that change is coming.  I heard the bells ring this morning, and I can’t “unhear” them.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, dear friends.  Go, enjoy your loved ones.  Find someone or a whole bunch of someones and love them like crazy this week and every week from here, on…

xo,

Kristi

 

To read the devotional that was born from this post, please start here: Simply Noel: December 1 – Put on Hope

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Bread

Last night, as I burned the late-night oil watching Cake Wars on Food Network, I caught the #BakeItForward challenge presented at the close of the show.  I am a huge fan of the #PayItForward lifestyle, so this seemed like a lot of fun coupled with a wonderful cause – fighting child hunger. Food Network is donating $1 for each original post on social media using the hashtag #BakeItForward.

As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and sipping my morning cup of coffee, I came across the video below, featuring banana bread with a cream cheese filling.  I was all out of bananas, but I remembered that I had a can of Organic Pumpkin Puree from Trader Joe’s, so I immediately decided that a swap was in order, since I had everything else I needed to make the bread.

 

Cream Cheese-Filled Banana BreadPIN IT FOR LATER: http://bit.ly/bnnabrad

Posted by Tasty on Sunday, November 8, 2015

 

I followed the recipe shown in the video:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • pinch of salt

I used the following additions:

  • 1 tsp. Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie spice
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • HALF of a 15oz. can of TJ’s Organic Pumpkin Puree

and the following variations:

  • 1/4 c. Coconut oil (in place of butter)
  • 1/2 c. half n half (in place of sour cream)

I followed the Cream Cheese Filling recipe as given:

  • 4 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 TBSP flour

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.

So that was it!  It turned out well (I think, anyway), but I kept having to remind myself with each bite, “This is NOT a Pumpkin Roll…this is NOT a Pumpkin Roll.” LOL  Because it isn’t nearly as sweet, although it resembles one!  It DID however, make me feel a whole lot better about having three slices!  🙂  Enjoy and please jump on the #BakeItForward train!  It is such a great cause!  We are all baking during the holidays at one point or another, and the challenge is running until December 31st, so as you bake and gift your goodies to others, tag your photos with the #BakeItForward #NoKidHungry hashtags and keep the goodness going!  Tag me too, on Twitter and Instagram, if you heard about it here, because I would be so thrilled to see what you are baking and to see that the love is spreading!

Happy Baking and Giving, Friends! xoxo

bakeitforward

15-Minute Method: How to Boil the Perfect Egg…

One Good Egg

I am one of those people that has had to ask Google “how to boil eggs” probably more times than I should admit.  For whatever reason, I just couldn’t remember!  I must also confess, I would just pick a suggestion randomly, and they often didn’t even turn out well!

At last, by trial and error… I have finally achieved trial and success! These eggs are perfect!   Yes, I said it… PERFECT, and I’m happy to share the super-easy-to-remember process with you too!

egg

The “15-Minute Method”

Okay, I start out with my 2 quart pot (it’ll usually have a label on the underside or handle) – it’s like a medium sized pot.  I like to stick with 7 or 8 eggs at the most.

I cook several at a time, because my Avey-baby will gobble them up like nobody’s business.

Plus, they fit perfectly in this sized pot…

Place them in the pot filled half way with tap water before turning the burner on – for obvious reasons. If you try to place eggs into hot water, it will hurt, people! Plus, you can’t drop them in, because they’ll crack… so, unless you want poached eggs, trust me.

Then bring it to a rolling boil and set the timer immediately to 10 minutes (once it’s boiling). I usually have to turn the heat down a bit halfway through, because the roll gets a little violent, and I’ve quickly given myself a poached egg or two. Do not, I repeat, do not put a lid on it.

Once the 10 minutes is up, remove the pot from heat and let them sit in the pot for an additional 5 minutes – still uncovered.

Once the 5 minutes is up, drop them into a prepared ice bath – I like to use this large, glass measuring cup, because it’s easy… I use it to scoop up a bunch of ice, and then I just pour the water out when it’s time to stick them in the fridge.

Plus, being that it’s glass, it’s easy to see how many eggs I have left and identify them as hard-boiled…  You don’t want to stick ’em back in an egg carton and grab the wrong kind when you’re in a hurry.

These eggs have been perfect every time, and they’re a cinch to peel…

Quick Re-cap

I call it the “15-Minute Method, because it takes exactly 15 minutes to achieve perfectly hard-boiled eggs.  Lucky for me, it’s such an easy phrase to remember.

So, 10 minutes boiling and 5 minutes sitting in the hot water, removed from heat.  Ice bath, peel, DONE!

See??? Perfection!

eggs

Miss Avey would have to agree… She just downed three!

Enjoy!

 photo a9de1fdb-52d3-4604-a79d-ba7ee6db5adb_zps8f990315.jpg