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?

 

 

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.

 

 

Simply Noel: December 11 – The Way, The Truth, and The Life

Simply Noel:

December 11 – The Way, The Truth, and The Life

You know, God is so amazing. The way His purposes and plans are so divinely woven through all time – from the first word spoken at Creation to the words yet to be spoken in eternity, His words and work never cease to amaze. For generations, God foretold the coming of the Christ child through prophets, psalms and angelic visitations.

As I was reading the story of Jesus’ birth again last week, I saw a beautiful thing, and I was reminded of what Jesus said, as recorded in John 14:6.

And Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me…”

The way. The truth. The life.

And then it hit me.

The star. The angel. The birth.

A star to lead the way… An angel to announce the truth… The Son of God bringing life to a fallen world through His birth…

Even as Jesus’ beginnings as the Savior unfolded, the mysteries of Heaven were being revealed.

The Way:

The wise men in the field – the dreamers, philosophers, those watching in anticipation and expectation, observed the night sky and saw the sign pointing the way.

After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

– Matthew 2:9-10

The Truth:

The shepherds tending their flocks received the word of truth from God’s messenger:

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us. 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

– Luke 2:15-20

The Life:

The birth of Jesus brought life to a dying world – a world lost in and bound to sin. His very delivery beat all odds – birthed in a manger, hunted by a jealous king…

21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.

– Matthew 1:21

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

His life brought life. His life beat death from the start.

I live because He lives.

You live because He lives.

Enjoy the amazing and sweet parallel between the story of His birth and John 14:6 today. Share the miracles of His story with your friends and loved ones, and don’t be afraid to read your Bible with expectation. When the Word of God comes alive and amazing revelations start to knock at your spirit, embrace them. God is speaking to you, to me, and He tells the best stories, so let’s always be listening.

xo,

Kristi

 

truth

Klover House Christmas:

Today, I’d like to pray with you and for you, friend.

Father, thank you for revealing yourself to us daily. I was amazed by the way Jesus’ coming unfolded, and I see now that the accounts that you left for us to read weren’t just stories or fairy tales, but rather details that you planned specifically. Through them we see who Jesus was, before He even spoke the words – the way, the truth, and the life for all.

Thank you for caring about details. Often, we wonder why things happen. One minute, we think that you are orchestrating each step, and the next minute, we wonder if you are seeing us at all. Your word says that you know us, you formed us, and that you have made good plans for us. We are each here for a purpose. Help us to trust in those truths today, Father. Let our hearts be thankful for mercy and grace, and let our minds be fixed on your goodness and heart for us.

Thank you for sending Jesus to the world, Father. Thank you for being the kind of Father that would make a way for us to be with you, even when it meant breaking your own heart in the process. Thank you for caring so much about us and the details of our lives that you would give us dreams, visions, angelic visitations, and divine appointments.

For those around us hurting this Christmas and for those that are seeing your story only at surface level year after year, our hope is that you would wrap them in your love this season. Reveal yourself to them in a deep, new way.

Thank you for the reminders found in this story – to be looking for your signs and wonders, to be listening for your truth, and to be sharing the gift of eternal life with those that still don’t know Him.

Thank you for Jesus, and in His holy name we pray. Amen.

Simply Noel: December 10 – Jesus, the Evergreen

Simply Noel:

December 10 – Jesus, the Evergreen

I know that the Christmas tree can be a controversial element in the Christian home. Maybe not as much these days as in some other generations, or maybe more so. To tell you the truth, I don’t really know. What I do know is that when I started looking at my relationship with Christ more seriously, more personally and intimately, I started questioning the traditions and rituals often overlooked at Christmas. I began looking into the “whys” of Christmas.

“Why do we put up a tree?” and “Is it okay, or is God displeased with this tradition?” were two questions that I had.

Maybe it’s the parent in me, but I felt the need to know the reasons behind the traditions and be able to explain them to my children.

What I realized in my studying was that many of traditions do in fact have non-Christian roots, but, as you probably already know, many of the traditions are also in place, as the result of sincere, God-loving, God-fearing Christians trying to point a lost world to the birth of Jesus.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining, til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

Some may conclude that perhaps I’m not taking my Christendom seriously enough, and others could argue that it’s all done with good intentions and even worrying about such things is silly, but here is where my heart has found rest on such matters…

God requires that we do not make idols of anything – people, objects, decorations…

God sent His beloved Son to our dark world as a gift, and one that we did not deserve, at that, and Christmas is not about presents and trees or beautiful songs; it is about that gift.

Our focus during this season, during all of life’s seasons, should be love, generosity, and pointing others to Jesus.

So, with this understanding, I have resolved to let every aspect of Christmas, each piece, each element, speak something to our family about Christ.

Jesus Christ is my evergreen.

He is the life that grows even in the dead of winter. He is the covering that falls upon my heart, drowning out the threat of weeds, bringing warmth and protection to the tender saplings of truth deposited in my spirit. He is the vibrant green against the sea of white and brown, reminding me that, even when my surroundings seem cold and quiet, even when my dreams are dormant and I feel lost in hibernation, there is still growth happening in my midst. He is strong and mighty, and He can weather the storm. He is a shelter and a place to rest.

Jesus Christ is my evergreen, and that beautiful tree that stands with gladness in the corner of our living room is reminding me daily that He is here. He is here in our home and in my heart, and when I look upon the tree, I will think of Him and be thankful.

xo,

Kristi

tree

Klover House Christmas:

My children are still very young. I can’t wait to ask them why they think we put up a tree at Christmastime and hear their responses. A great and easy way to have a fun, imaginative chat with the kids about anything is to break out the crayons and scrap paper and just allow them time to talk while they create. I like to make them a cup of decaffeinated, flavored tea with a little honey, offer them a sweet, little snack or treat, and, while gathered at the kitchen island, we talk and draw.

A conversation about holiday customs and their origins would most likely soar over their sweet heads. They are all about the magic of Christmas, the mystery of Santa, and the joy that comes with celebrating their beloved Jesus’ birthday. I love, love, love that they already understand, even during these early years of their lives, that Jesus’ birth is our reason for the season. Spiritual conversations are so commonplace around here, which I also love. I am thankful that my children talk about God all day, every day, as if He is right here in the room with us. And we actually believe that He is! He is present with us always, and since every good thing is from Him, we are aware that every wonderful thing around us is pointing back at Him. So, rather than get caught up in “silly myths,” why not apply our spiritual life to our holiday routines and rituals?

While this is our third year using an artificial tree, I know that my older two understand that real or fake, the tree is part of His magnificent creation. Strong, colorful, fragrant, and cheerful to the eye, I can easily talk to my children about how we can often find “clues” about who God is and who we are meant to be by looking at the beauty of the world He created. My adult mind can comprehend how Christ is the “evergreen” in my life, while their childish minds can understand how the characteristics of the tree can be translated to who God wants us to be – strong, withstanding drought and circumstance, bright and cheerful, carriers of light, and a home for His good gifts…

As you gaze upon your tree tonight, all lit and cozy, reflect on Jesus Christ, the eternal evergreen. He is unchanging, sturdy, strong, and very much alive and thriving during the coldest, darkest seasons of our lives.

 

Simply Noel: December 7 – Humble Pie

Simply Noel:

December 7 – Humble Pie

Last week, I found myself in an interesting situation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What sizes are your girls?”

“Sizes?”

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

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

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

And I couldn’t.

I couldn’t say any of it.

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

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

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

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

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

No, Lord, I understand.

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

What’s your Humble Pie?

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

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

xo,

Kristi

humble

 

Klover House Christmas:

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

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

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

God bless you, friends. Love you all! xo

Simply Noel: December 5 – Keeping a Christmas Perspective

Simply Noel:

Day 5 – Keeping a Christmas Perspective

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

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

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

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

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

xo,

Kristi

perspective

Klover House Christmas:

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

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

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

Simply Noel: December 4 – He Comes

Simply Noel:

December 4 – He Comes

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

 

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

Are you hurting? Longing? Feeling lost?

Do you wish a situation was different?

Are you in a place of discontent?

He comes, for you and to you.

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

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

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

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

Immanuel, “God with us” comes.

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

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

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

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

xo,

Kristi

 

comes

Klover House Christmas:

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

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

Simply Noel: December 3 – The Heart of Giving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

gift

Klover House Christmas:

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

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

 

Simply Noel: December 1 – Put on Hope

 

Welcome, Friend!

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

Simply Noel: A Holiday Devotional

December 1st – Put on Hope

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

Hope.

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

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

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

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

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

But I have Hope.

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

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

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

xoxo,

Kristi

hope

Klover House Christmas:

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