Watching for Sunrise

The kids and husband have gone to bed and the house is quiet and still. I tiptoe from room to room, tidying up what is left of the day’s messes. I creep up and down the basement stairs with laundry piles and basketfuls to be folded. I make a cup of tea and rest for a few minutes on the couch. Sometimes it’s a short date with the DVR; sometimes it’s a chance to write. Tonight, it was an opportunity to slowly peruse the latest Anthro magazine in dimly-lit peace.

I glance at the clock nearby – 1:20 in the morning. I should go to bed, but I don’t want to. The sound of little footsteps jars my thoughts and spares me from the truth for a few minutes more. I help her with a potty break, a drink of water and lead her back to bed.

As I head back down to the living room, I think to myself, “It’s good that I’m still awake. Doing all of that would’ve been much harder had I been woken up from sleep…”

I sit back down and glance at my phone. A friend’s Facebook post raptures my attention. It’s about a mother, around my age, who also has all daughters. “I have no words…,” the post starts – her eldest, just sixteen, is in the arms of Jesus tonight…

I lose myself in a sea of images – picture after picture of a mother and her daughters…her babies…they adore Jesus…and just like that, on “just another Saturday,” one is gone suddenly and too soon.

I’m undone, and as I feel lost in the fears that seem to swallow me whole, He reveals why I seem to wait night after night for sunrise…

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I’m afraid of what tomorrow holds.

God knows, but I don’t, and I’m afraid of the not-knowing. Today, my husband has a great job. Today, my four daughters are healthy. Today I am alive. Today we have each other. But what will still be there tomorrow?

So I sit and I stare the clock down. I dare it to tick without my knowing. I busy my mind so I don’t think about my worries. I busy my heart so I escape fear for one more hour. And I busy my hands so I can deny surrendering to the end of another day of making it.

How wonderful would it be to rest a weary head each night with assurance that tomorrow would be equally as good and safe, if not more so than it was today?

What sweet relief would come from a promise of lifelong health for all whom you hold dear?

What freedom would be felt – to relinquish control and simply place your life and all of its details at the feet of Jesus? How amazing it would be to really trust them there…

Somehow watching for the dawn, riding the wave of the night, guarantees me safe passage into tomorrow.

Midnight? What’s midnight? They say that, “Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed,” so I deny today’s end, regardless of what the clock reads.

There is such great risk in loving. Each night, I live as though my hand is laid out on the table. The Lord knows the cards and that loving deeply sometimes feels like life’s greatest gamble.

But I feel Him asking me, “Why are you playing the game? Why are you living in constant fear of losing what you’ve already gained for all time?”

Oh, that we could wrap our minds around eternity. Tomorrow could very well hurt. There will be wins and losses, ups and downs, but it’s not a gamble – it’s an investment. A down payment on eternity.

So, as afraid as I may feel some nights, I will give it to Him and love hard tomorrow. God does not promise us an easy life, but a full one. He doesn’t promise us riches, but eternal rewards. He doesn’t promise us a life without roadblocks and pitfalls, but prayer that wields great power.

He doesn’t promise me and my loved ones a smooth ride, but He does say He’ll never forsake us. He’ll never leave us. He doesn’t leave. Someone who loves you does not leave. He loves us. And because He loves us and is perfect, it makes sense that He is Perfect Love. His Word reveals that Perfect Love casts out fear. And because He literally casts out fear as He walks alongside us constantly, then I know we can face tomorrow with confident faith.

A season is coming – a season in which many Believers will be fasting and sacrificing in preparation for Resurrection Sunday. During this season, I am fasting my fears. While the rest of my people go off to bed, instead of indulging in the silence and standing watch in the night, overwhelmed by fear, I am going to take a few minutes (or twenty) alone to starve my anxiety and lay it all down before my King.

I lay down the fear so I have room to carry trust, faith, peace, confidence and joy.

He declares through His Word that He gives rest to those He loves and that joy comes in the morning… So I will not fear tomorrow, because joy comes with the sunrise and Jesus waits for me on the horizon.

xo,

Kristi

 

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::

Simply Noel: December 21 – The Man in Red

Simply Noel:

December 21 – The Man in Red

Santa Claus. St. Nick. The Man in Red.

When we became parents seven Christmases ago, I remember asking my husband for his thoughts on Santa Claus. As Christians, should we be upholding all-things-Santa? All of a sudden, I was so nervous to dive into the realm of fantasy with my children, and I couldn’t remember when I stopped believing as a child myself, or how I even felt about it all. I recall posting my questions on Facebook, and I remember the assurance I received from a multitude of other Christ-loving, God-honoring parents – Yes, we “do Santa,” and the “magic of Christmas” and the “spirit of Christmas” go hand and hand.

We take our girls to see Santa (or one of his secret helpers – we never know 😉 ) around this time each year, and fortunately, we have yet to receive any hard questions. Who knows what this year will hold. Our girls constantly surprise us. But, as I was thinking about Santa and the harder questions that could arise, I started thinking about his character and his attributes.

Thinking back to St. Nicholas, who it is said, gave to the poor out of the compassion and generosity of his own heart, it is easy to see how the love of God and the compassion of Christ reigning in his heart drove him to be such a generous and compassionate man.

Who is Santa Claus?

The giver of good gifts.

The man who can stop time itself to deliver gifts to children who believe all over the world.

A master observer and lover of children.

A jolly man, who sees you when you’re sleeping, awake, and knows if you’ve been naughty or nice.

A kind man.

A generous man.

A compassionate man.

A joyful man.

A man whose legacy has no end.

A man who gives gifts to the rich and poor alike.

A man in red.

I know another man who fits every, single one of these attributes – a different man in red. A man whose blood shed on the Cross, gave us everything we would ever need in this life. A man whose stripes and brokenness gave us every opportunity to have a life of wholeness. I know a man who gives good gifts…perfect gifts…every gift… I know a man who is joy and love personified. I know a man who knows my coming and my going. He knows when I rest and when I rise. I know a man whose conviction and mercy provoke me to kindness. I know a man whose existence is timeless. I know a man who loves us all the same. I know a man who is unrestrained by time and knows every detail of our lives, down to the number of hairs on our heads. I know the ultimate master and observer of children. I know this man in red.

And when I am asked the hard questions someday, I will be sure to tell my children that, “Yes. Santa Claus is very real. I just know Him by a different name.”

xo,

Kristi

red

Klover House Christmas:

Tomorrow we will be taking the girls to see Santa Claus. My hope is to help them rewrite their lists for the 10th time, and honestly, clean up our home! lol My messages have been encouraging you to take it easy this month and focus on what matters, and I hope that you’ve been able to do that a little more intentionally. I also realize that clutter and chaos add unnecessary stress to what is meant to be a simple and relaxing season. So, with that, I will use the help of my little elves tomorrow to straighten up our house before the big day. My goal is peaceful not perfect. We are going to work room-to-room, until our home feels peaceful. I’m not deep-cleaning anything. We are going to tidy up, take lots of little breaks (aka eat the chocolate from our missed Advent calendar days), and keep our moods upbeat in preparation for our evening with the Man in Red. 😉 I hope you enjoy your day today, too, and remember – keep it simple! xo

 

::December 20::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 22::

Simply Noel: December 20 – Out to Sea

Simply Noel:

December 20 – Out to Sea

Last night, I sat down to watch a movie after everyone else went to bed, and something kind of odd happened. A Christmas commercial flashed across the screen, and I had this brief vision of myself floating out to sea in a sturdy, little boat. The song, “Oceans” came to mind immediately, and I knew what this moment meant in my spirit. In a sense, it reflects what is and has been taking place over the course of this month, while working on this devotional. As I have been more intentional about what Christmas means to me and to our family, I have, in a sense, drifted out to sea in the process.

I have been drawn away from the “norm” – the commercialism, the rituals, the status quo, and I have found myself floating in the deep of Christmas. I long for something more than mistletoe and gingerbread. I require a relationship more than words in a bulletin. I feel desperate for the divine, and I feel like I’m watching the familiar fade into the distance as I drift into the deep.

As you can imagine, it feels strange at times, and it puts me in this awkward but wonderful place. When I look at the world, I see the things that I think I should be doing…things I think I should be caring about…things I should be striving for… Then, I look into my spirit, and I see that none of those things even compare to the true meaning of Christmas, and none of them are worthy of taking attention away from the purpose of this season.

As the commercial played, depicting children in complete exhilaration over material possessions, and I saw myself drifting into the sea… I knew that in that flicker of a vision that it was confirmation that the Holy Spirit was calling our family’s focus away from what the world was trying to emphasize as important and inviting us to stay in pursuit of Him this Christmas.

So, as you approach the wonderful day, Christmas, if you feel yourself being pulled further into Christ, embrace the peace that comes with the drifting. It may feel unfamiliar, and you may be tempted to paddle back – there’s so much to do, still stuff to buy, so much to strive for in just five days, but don’t. Don’t paddle back because it’s what you know and it seems predictable. Keep drifting into the mysteries of Jesus and the depth of God. Keep seeking a relationship that reforms Christmas for you and your family.

xo,

Kristi

sea

Klover House Christmas:

Tonight, we took our kids to see Christmas lights. We had an early dinner, baths, and donned pajamas, all before 6 PM. Then, we packed up our Christmas cookies (these really easy Chocolate Crinkles – made with coconut oil) and hot chocolate and headed out. Christmas can be hectic enough without extra bells and whistles. My hope is to keep these next few days as easy and simple as possible, so we can focus on the “feels” and not the “stuff.”

 

::December 19::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 21::

 

Simply Noel: December 19 – The Guest of Honor

Simply Noel:

December 19 – The Guest of Honor

Ever plan a birthday party for someone? A spouse maybe? A son or daughter?

We recently had our family over for my oldest daughter’s birthday. We asked her about her “theme” preference this year. “Princess Elena,” she said. So, I started planning our typical pizza party fiesta-style. I’m not exactly as Pinterest-savvy as I’d like to be, so that basically meant I ordered primary colored banners off of Amazon and had Princess Elena printed onto a store-bought birthday cake.

After tackling the decorations, we moved onto the guest list, aka our family members, aka our loved ones. And after that, we knew how many favors to buy and what kind of food to serve. The kids like cheese pizza, the hubster loves bacon and banana peppers, the safe and obvious choice is pepperoni, so we order a few extra of those. I also prepare a salad for the adults, and it’s usually my Caesar or my mother-in-law’s dressing recipe that is served, because, even though I personally love the balsamic dill the best, the other two are the crowd-pleasers, and we want our guests to leave with happy bellies.

The day comes and the guests arrive and they are greeted with smiles and hugs and a, “Thank you so much for coming!” We eat, chat, laugh, sing to our special birthday person, lavish him/her with gifts, indulge in cake and ice cream, and then our guests leave in the same manner as they arrived – smiles, hugs, and a, “Thank you so much for coming!”

As I have been preparing for Christmas with my children, I have been intentional about reminding them that we celebrate Christmas because it is Jesus’ birthday. We exchange gifts because it’s representative of His gift of eternal life to us…the Wise Men bringing gifts to Him…and basically because you exchange gifts on birthdays, right?

One of my pastors recently said something so profound. I can’t offer a direct quote, because I heard it through the grapevine, but essentially it was something like this: Jesus isn’t the reason for the season, you are.

As I thought about my role as a parent throwing their child a party, I saw something pretty remarkable. While my child is the one we are celebrating, my focus and attention is actually on the guests.

When you are invited to a birthday celebration, why is that? I would gather that it is because you are loved. You are family. You are someone that is treasured, valued, and included on purpose. You are honored. It is an honor to host you in our home, and we do our best to make you aware of our gratitude. We prepare a table for you. We set the stage to fellowship with you, and we welcome you into our intimate space – our home.

And this is the Father’s heart on December 25th.

His beautiful, perfect, blameless Son was born, and every year on Christmas we celebrate His life – His birth. The Father says, “Come. Come to His party. I have prepared a table for you. We invite you in to this sacred place in order to fellowship with you. You are loved. You are our honored guest. You are family. Welcome.”

So, on December 25th, as you exchange gifts with the ones you love, and you receive gifts in return, yes, remember His great gift. As you sit at a table and break bread with your people, remember His table, prepared for you. And as you focus on the Lord this week and you make your preparations for His “party” – find joy in the fact that more than anything you could possibly have to offer Him, the Father is just so pleased that He has invited you and knows that you have every intention of attending.

xo,

Kristi

birthday

Klover House Christmas:

We are so blessed that our children attend a school in which they can celebrate Jesus openly, as well. Part of the Kindergarten celebration has been to sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus during their school party.  That is also one of the traditions that we have adopted here in our home. We bake a cake or brownie pan, whatever works out best for that year, in honor of Jesus’ birthday. Even if it’s just a candle in a Christmas cookie, it is a simple and meaningful way to remind the children the reason behind our celebration. We also have a Heaven Baby, and I love that we have made it a habit to acknowledge our Heaven Family (Jesus being in that family) on their birthdays. We celebrate Him just as deeply as we celebrate our child.

Do you celebrate Jesus’s birthday in any literal ways in your homes? Or do you have a certain treat recipe for this purpose? I’d love to hear from you in the comments, if so!

 

::December 18::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 20::

Simply Noel: December 18 – The Ordinary Days

Simply Noel:

December 18 – The Ordinary Days

Sometimes I find myself reading the “On This Day” in Wikipedia, and I enjoy apps like TimeHop and checking out my Facebook memories daily. Not all of our days seem special, but in hindsight, isn’t interesting that all of these “ordinary” days are actually quite special? Maybe it was something funny that one of my daughters said at dinner or a flashback to a sweet date night with my husband before we became a family of six. Maybe it’s an image of a little one’s birthday party or a scene from a family hiking trip.

At the time, while we are living these days, they seem so ordinary, so mundane, but all of these mundane moments and ordinary days become our lives, and our lives are so short and precious that it would be such a shame to race through these days, tossing them off as “ordinary,” unimportant days.

As I mentioned in a previous post, it is so important to slow down and live each day like it matters, and not just see them as the “filler” between each holiday event. And to race through each week is almost second-nature. It takes intention and determination to grab the reigns and slow the pace of life for ourselves.

I read Wikipedia today, December 18th, and to me, it was just a no-big-deal, ordinary day, but history tells a different story… I looked at the important events that had taken place over the course of generations, and the births of people that would change the face of humanity – for better and for worse. For us, each day may be just another, boring day, but in another place, in another’s life…it has the potential to be the most remarkable day in history.

I often read the book of Ecclesiastes, and it perplexes me. It makes me think. For the longest time, I have tried to understand how and why I was supposed to adopt this “everything is meaningless” kind of mentality. Why would God have me do such a thing, especially when it seems like He would want me to live as though the opposite is true? Every thing, every person, and every day is full of meaning and purpose, right? Otherwise, everything really is pointless. Maybe that’s actually one of the points of the book? Maybe He allows us to see irony and the fruitlessness that would result from living as though nothing matters and we’re just taking up space and time?

And from a different perspective, when compared to the glory of Heaven and the expanse of living eternally with our Creator… everything really is meaningless. Can we live as though both are true? Is this another beautiful contrast of God’s word? We’re to live in the truth that everything pales in comparison to the reality of Heaven, while simultaneously living moment-by-moment for His honor and glory…

I hold dear to David’s prayer in the Psalms:

So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

– Psalm 90:12

Yes, Lord. Teach us to number our days, so that we may live these precious days wisely. Thank you for these ordinary days and mundane moments, and thank you for giving your all so that we could abundantly live in each one of them.

days

Klover House Christmas:

Last night, my husband and I made plans for the rest of this week. We don’t want to miss out on opportunities to fulfill our Christmas wishlist, as far as things we hope to do as a family before Christmas Day. You won’t find events or parties on this list. Instead, you’ll find items, such as:

  • Make a gingerbread house
  • See the Christmas lights
  • Make sugar cookies
  • Visit Santa at the mall
  • Attend Church services
  • Read the Christmas story

We checked “Watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” off the other night, and, despite neither of us feeling well, it felt so good to belly-laugh together.

What is on your list this week? What is going to make you smile, laugh, and feel thankful to be alive? It’s these little moments that make our holidays (and our lives) extraordinary.

 

::December 17::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 19::

Simply Noel: December 17 – A Season of Self-Care

Simply Noel:

December 17 – A Season of Self-Care

Last night, I shut my computer down just before midnight. We returned home late, after an early Christmas celebration with my husband’s side of the family. I bathed the littlest ones, we put the kids to bed, and I opened my laptop to write this post with heavy eyelids. As I typed the title that was on my heart all day, I realized that the most important thing about this devotional project wasn’t the deadline each day or being able to choose the most eloquent words…it is its authenticity. Am I practicing what I am preaching? Am I taking each day’s message and honestly applying it to myself first, before I expect anyone else to follow suit?

Self-Care.

Sleep.

I made the better choice, and went to bed.

Isn’t it true for so many of us that the holiday season is the one in which we usually practice self-care the least? We are running around, finishing errands, attending parties and events, stressing over tasks and purchases, taking care of sick babies and overexerting ourselves physically to decorate the house, staying up too late baking and cleaning… Christmas, at least for me, has been a time of great sacrifice in regards to my own health, sanity, and needs.

Do you remember a certain set of sisters in Luke, chapter 10, that had to choose between busyness and rest?

Martha and Mary

38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Martha – “worried and bothered about so many things…”

Mary – “seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word…”

One chose work; one chose rest. And just one of those choices was the necessary one.

You see, there are times in our lives and in our days in which it is necessary to choose between what we think we should do and what we should actually be doing.

God in the flesh was sitting in her home – Martha should have chosen to sit with Him.

Worried and Bothered about So Many Things?

There are times to clean and cook and work, and there are times to rest, relax, and sleep. There are times to run errands, and there are times to say, “No, that can wait,” or, “That’s really not a necessity.” There are times to visit and attend gatherings, and there are times in which you should give yourself permission to stay home and focus on yourself and your family.

It’s ok to respond to all of those e-mails on Monday and enjoy your kids instead on the weekends. It’s ok to put the kids to bed 30 minutes earlier and take a long bath. It’s ok to let the dishes wait until morning, so you can turn in early.

Especially if you are under the weather right now, which so many of us are, self-care couldn’t be more important. How can you be your best you and enjoy this season if you continue to ruin your mind and body in the process?

Choose time with Him. Choose time for your family. Choose time to take care of YOU. The rest can wait and can be taken in stride.

Your family doesn’t need a perfect home. It needs your love.

Your friends don’t need lavish gifts and parties. They need your laughter.

The world doesn’t need a rundown mind and body walking around. It needs your smile.

And it’s hard to smile, laugh, and love well, when you’re deprived and just wishing for a long winter’s nap, right?

So, take care of you – your mind, body, and soul, and sit at His feet first and foremost this season. Handle the rest after you’re rested.

xo,

Kristi

care

Klover House Christmas:

Eight sleeps (counting last night, since I’m late posting this), until Christmas morning. If you are like me, can you do me a favor? Commit with me to go to bed early each night leading up to Christmas. My normal bedtime is 2AM. Seriously. It’s terrible. My husband’s bedtime is 10PM. Much more sane, right? So, this week, I am committing to my husband’s bedtime and no later than 11PM, if he stays up a little longer to watch a movie, etc. This is a very practical way that I can take care of myself this week.

What is a practical way that you can take care of yourself this week? Can you say “no” to extra plans and just rest a little more? Can you say “no” to extra errands, and just be ok with what you have already? Can you say “no” to scrubbing a floor and sit down with Jesus for 20 minutes instead?

Let’s take practical, intentional steps this week to make the choices that matter, that are necessary, and the ones that have results that “cannot be taken away” from us. Time spent cannot be taken away. Let’s spend that time well.

Lord, please touch those of us sick in body today. Father, I pray for my friends’ healing and peace this Christmas. May their homes become sanctuaries for themselves and their loved ones. May they feel Your presence there. God, we love you and we want your peace to reign in our homes. Be near to us today and always, Holy Spirit. Guide our hearts and minds to make the best choices today, tomorrow, and each day to come. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

::December 16::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 18::