Simply Noel: January 4 – Work

Simply Noel:

January 4 – Work

Do you ever get to a place in your week, your day, your life, that feels like pure work? These times can be so trying and even lonely. I had a moment of what felt like utter hopelessness this past week. It happened last year about this same time, so I know it must not be a coincidence. We come barreling into Christmas like “ready-or-not” and we’re meeting deadlines, and planning all the things, and buying all the things, and we’re fa-la-la-la-ing our little hearts out… Then, we hit New Year’s like “Hello! I comin’ for ya!” And something just pops your balloon. Yep, only two days into the new year, and my balloon was popped.

The house is forever trashed and still covered in toys. I pick them up and they breed again. The cookies are stale, so I can’t retreat into sugar bliss. The kids are whiny from lack of sleep and said post sugar bliss. They are fighting over their new toys, and you’re ready for a tap-out, except you are the mom and ain’t no one coming to the rescue here. It’s cold and dreary and even scheduling a playdate feels like work, so you accept your fate as a January shut-in who clearly needs to perk up and get their act together…

Work.

And suddenly, your whole life just turned into one big to-do list and everything and everyone just looks like a whole lotta work.

That was me.

I’m still coming out of that fog, but I feel like God showed me something today, and I’d love to share it with you.

What if your purpose is simply lost in translation?

I almost always read Scripture in my ESV Journaling Bible. It’s a great translation and pretty accurate from what I can tell. My husband is really into translations and their authenticity to the original Hebrew and Greek, and he also likes the NASB (New American Standard Bible). When we really want to get literal and don’t have a concordance handy, he recommends turning to the YLT (Young’s Literal Translation). Sometimes, the passages don’t flow as poetically, because the purpose is to literally translate the original to English, and there just aren’t always English words for what the Hebrew is conveying. It’s actually literal. So after reading this Scripture I’m about to reference in the ESV (English Standard Version), I decided to take a gander at the YLT, and, boy, am I glad that I did.

I’m sure you’ll see why.

Genesis 2:15 reads:

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Seems pretty straightforward, right? Kind of what I was expecting, too. God put Adam in the garden and said it’s yours, take care of it.

That’s kind of how I feel with my life, my home, and my people most days. God put me here and I need to work (clean up, cook, manage the household, the schedules, schooling, etc.) and take care (tend to, love, bathe, feed, listen, meet needs, fix boo boos, etc.) of them. This is my role, my job, and God put me here to do it. Suck it up, Buttercup, and put your game face on! Right?!

Maybe yes, but not like that…

What if understanding my call and seeing it through a different lens could change everything?

Check out the literal translation:

And Jehovah God taketh the man, and causeth him to rest in the garden of Eden, to serve it, and to keep it.

Some of you may be thinking, “What’s the big deal?” But for some of you, I hope light bulbs are going off – especially if you’re struggling lately, too.

There’s such a difference between “put” and “taketh” and “causeth”. Imagine someone putting you in a job. There’s not a lot of say in that, right? The boss put you there, and you are expected to perform your tasks. But now imagine your boss leading you to a place, created just for you, and influencing you in such a way that it causes you to act. God has created this life for us, and He has led us to this place with the hope and expectation that when He moves on our hearts, we will move and act from a place of free will and desire.

Now, let’s compare the remaining parts of that Scripture.

In the ESV, and in most translations, we are told that He puts the man there to “work”, “cultivate”, “dress.” All of these words, when you consider their meaning, seem completely fine! I mean, why wouldn’t God want Adam to prepare and develop and care for the garden? He was the caretaker. But when we read the literal translation, the imagery shifts entirely.

“…causeth him to rest in the garden of Eden, to serve it, and to keep it.”

Rest in the garden.

Are you resting in your garden? I know I’m not. I want to, but I have let the busyness of life and my own expectations of myself and my household drag me to a place of total unrest. First and foremost, God has led us to our places to rest. And then what? To serve it…

What would it be like if you went to a restaurant and your server treated you the way we sometimes treat our spouses or our children? “If I have to pick up that fork you dropped one. more. time!” Or how about this one… “My gosh! You are the messiest group of people! I don’t get paid enough to clean up after you!” You would think that was the worst service, and you’d be right. But, we turn around and treat our loved ones as though caring for them is such hard work. You know what, it is! But, if the attitude of our hearts are right, then we will serve them from a place of rest and see the act of serving as a privilege and not a chore.

We GET to love these people!

We GET to clean these dirty floors!

We GET to wake up and breathe and laugh and hug!

And we are NEEDED! If you are annoyed and find yourself thinking someone under 5 ft. tall is obnoxious at least once a day, that’s probably a good sign that you are needed. lol

All of this stuff – this messy garden – it’s ours to keep. It’s a gift and a treasure.

And when life gets you down or you feel like you’re drowning in your responsibilities, take a minute, close your eyes, and see the garden for what it is: lots of dirt and mess, endless weed-pulling, planting seeds, watering, pruning, etc…

At face value it sounds like work.

Now, close your eyes and imagine tending to that same garden, but you’re not alone. The Lord is pulling weeds in the row next to you. He’s passing the watering can. He’s blessing and throwing seeds into the dirt you just prepared. He’s taking your hand and pulling you over to see your first bud – proof that life is coming from your hours spent serving that place in the earth. Serving. We are serving with Him. We are serving for Him. We are serving through Him.

And this mess is a good place. It’s a restful place. It’s a life-giving place. It’s your place. Keep it.

xo,

Kristi

 

Klover House Christmas:

There are multiple studies out there showing us that there is a correlation between stress and clutter. You’ve probably seen articles suggesting that and have probably read posts divulging life hacks and cleaning hacks and “what-to-throw-away-when-your-kids-aren’t-looking” hacks… Right?! We probably all have areas of clutter in our homes and even minds! Mind-clutter can be worse than paper piles!

One thing I committed to a couple of years ago was minimalism. I found myself yelling at my little kids all of the time to clean up, but then I’d buy them a new toy for filling up a chore chart! What the what?! Totally bonkers. I was rewarding them with stuff that was going to get them into trouble and have them failing in my eyes the next day!

Even though I realized this was an issue in our home, I had a hard time starting with the toys. So, I started with my closet. I took the KonMari Method to heart and donated every single thing that no longer brought me joy. If the fit was wonky, if it was a $5 tee that I bought because it was $5, if I hadn’t worn it in more than two years…I donated it! And guess what? That was about 75% of my clothing! Surprisingly, I was happier, because I realized that I loved what I had left, and I felt good wearing it. I kept a cardigan that I treated myself to for a ridiculous amount of money and a cardigan that is ridiculously riddled with holes (and not the intentional, distressed kind, but the real deal kind). It didn’t matter! If I loved it, and it made me feel good, it stayed.

Once I found that freedom with my stuff, it was much easier to take a good, honest look at my kids’ stuff and even our household stuff. I sold our entire set of dishes for less than $20! All of those wedding gifts…gone. I told myself that they served us well for eight years, and I actually did not need a sixteen piece dinnerware set for our family of six. I went to TJ Maxx and bought eight white dinner plates and eight white salad plates and called it a day. I still can’t believe the amount of empty space in my kitchen! Less dishes = less washing= happier lady. And I have noticed the magic of having less makes you care for your things with intention and appreciation!

All that to say, it’s that time of year again in which we are all purging excess in an attempt to free up our space and our minds. I say, do it! You will be so glad that you did! And now that I have, I have found that I buy less “junk”, and I have the energy to organize what we do have. There’s less to deal with, so everything truly can have a place.

Some people and accounts I follow and love are:

Allie (hardcore minimalist who will motivate you like no other, often offers free web courses) Allie’s IG: @allie_thatsme

Erin of Cotton Stem (beautiful home and minimalist/capsule wardrobe) Erin’s IG: @cottonstem

Clean Mama (doable cleaning routines, printables, products, and motivation) Clean Mama’s IG: @cleanmama

Tricia of Clean House with Kids (mom of 5, minimalist, WAHM, homeschooling) Tricia’s IG: @cleanhousewithkids

Abby of Just a Girl and Her Blog and Abby Organizes (organizes ALL. THE. THINGS., smart space-planning, hacks, and genius ideas) Abby’s IG: @abbyorganizes

Crystal of Money Saving Mom (always so wise with her time and money) Crystal’s IG: @themoneysavingmom

(My Meal Planning post is actually on her site as well if you could use some pointers! Just click here: Klover House Meal Planning)

FlyLady (great resource if you feel like you’re living in chaos) The FlyLady IG: @the_flylady

 

::January 3::    ::Back to the Top::    ::January 5::

Simply Noel: January 3 – A Life Adorned

Simply Noel:

January 3 – A Life Adorned

“He adorned the house with settings of precious stones. The gold was gold of Parvaim.” – 2 Chronicles 3:6

Adorn –

transitive verb

1:  to enhance the appearance of especially with beautiful objects

2:  to enliven or decorate as if with ornaments

As I knelt down to help my young daughter in the bathroom the other day, I found myself gazing at the little shelf at the base of the sink vanity. Admiring the cinnamon-scented pine cones piled neatly in the center of a white, porcelain tray immediately left me thinking, “I wonder if anyone even notices these.”

The thought stopped me in my tracks.

Did they need to notice? Afterall, I have little things here and there all over the house that have simply become the background of our home. The books on the hutch, strategically placed so that it looks unintentionally pleasing to the eye… The framed pictures on the tables, shelves and walls… The old violin-shaped plant hanger, that I painted yellow last night, hanging on the play room wall… The throw pillows that I contemplated, for what seemed like years, strewn about the couches and chairs…

All of it – intentional.

All of it – for them, for us.

I adorn our home so that it feels like home to them. I have set out to create spaces that feel full of love and warmth. I want them to grow up in an environment that feels safe and clean while having the freedom to live and breathe. I’m building a sanctuary for them, not a museum.

And just as we adorn our homes for ourselves and our families, it occurred to me that God does the same for His beloveds…us.

As I sat there on the floor, waiting for my three year old to finish in the bathroom, I heard my very thoughts repeated to me as if it was the Father – “I wonder if they even notice?” And even if we never do notice the little details that God has intentionally taken care of in our lives, as our parent, our Creator…He understands. He doesn’t provide for us and adorn our lives with good things for recognition. He does it because he loves us. And in our spiritual immaturity, as children of God, maybe details will go unnoticed for years, but that doesn’t make them any less real.

How has the Lord adorned your life? Answered prayers? Financial blessing? The gift of friendship? A warm and beautiful home? A family? A gift? A compliment from a random stranger? A wonderful church? A trusted mentor?

God appreciates details. Know today that He does, and He is a faithful, loving parent who enjoys enriching each corner of your life. Your life is adorned with His goodness, because you are adored by Him.

xo,

Kristi

adorned

Klover House Christmas:

As I begin to tuck away our Christmas decor this week, I look forward to adorning our home with other beautiful things. Even if my family never notices them, I will not let that cause resentment, because I understand why I put forth the effort to create a sanctuary for them. They may not remember the pine cones, the wreaths, the pictures on the wall, or the random bouquets scattered around, but they will remember the way that they felt here and they will know that they were loved and cared for to the best of my abilities. As I set up my new vignettes and rearrange the pillows for the tenth time…I will take a moment to pray for each space and each room. I will bless the places where they rest and play and eat. I will even bless the bathrooms – a space where self-awareness and self-care is fostered. I will pray as I remove the dirty laundry and set out the fresh towels that they grow to love the person that God made each of them to be, and that they will always care more about inward beauty than outward appearance. I will pray that their reflections will always reveal joy-filled eyes and glad hearts. I will bless their physical, mental, and emotional health, too. And as I go from room to room, adorning and praying, I will be content and humbled by all of the things and people God has given me that have made my life more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

 

::January 2::    ::Back to the Top::    ::January 4::

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

Simply Noel:

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

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

And you know what?

We were made for this.

To keep going.

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

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

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

We are a resilient people.

Resilient.

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

– Job 17:9

Resilient.

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year, friends!

xo,

Kristi

Klover House Christmas:

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

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

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

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

And you know what, He sees you, too.

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

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

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

 

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

Simply Noel: December 26 – A Good Life

Simply Noel:

December 26 – A Good Life

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

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

I still have a good life.

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 31: 19-24

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

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

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

xo,

Kristi

life

Klover House Christmas:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Simply Noel: December 23 – Adequate in Christ

Simply Noel:

December 23 – Adequate in Christ

On this day two years ago, 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 crafting abilities. Couples are posting pictures of events and dinners, and I am lucky to say four sentences to my husband over 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 an unwelcome 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.

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. 

What are some of your favorite holiday cookie recipes? Anyone have THE BEST Sugar Cookie recipe? I feel like they are the most classic of cookies but the hardest to perfect.

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.

A few years ago, I remember taking our small clan to see “The Man in Red”, and for the first time ever, all of the children smiled. When you’re a parent, I imagine that’s kind of a memorable experience – when you go from screaming to smiling. 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 didn’t die, and apparently he thrives on several ounces of really expensive tree-shaped chocolate. Now, our Christmas stash remains hidden in the basement until Christmas morning.

As I swung into Hallmark that night 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 aloud, “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 arrived home 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 downright 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 today 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, 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 your loved ones 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 allow the girls a chance to build gingerbread houses. 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 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:

Honestly, my hope over the next few days before Christmas is to 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 the celebration of Jesus’ birth. 😉 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 reflecting 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. You may even “catch flack” from others whose expectations are not in alignment with this mentality, but keep drifting. 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:

The other night, we took our kids to see “the Christmas lights.” We live near an area known to locals as the “City of Lights” and we enjoy our annual trek. 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.” So, lets do that – all the feels. xo

 

::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 for the year, she answers, and I started planning our typical pizza party fiesta- or luau- or whatever-thing-she-loves-at-the-moment-style. I’m not exactly as Pinterest-savvy as I’d like to be, so that basically means I order suitable banners off of Amazon and have said theme printed onto a store-bought birthday cake.

After tackling the decorations, we move onto the guest list, aka our loved ones. And after that, we know 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? Just tonight, my second-born commented on how generous it is for Jesus to give everyone presents on His own birthday.

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, if so! And if you don’t, perhaps this could be the year you start a brand-new tradition that will help keep the focus on Christ this Christmas Day.

 

::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 them, 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. 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, not squandering the precious time we have here…

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 fleeting 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
  • Watch Christmas movies
  • Finish wrapping gifts

Maybe we’ll check “Watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” off tomorrow night, and, despite neither of us feeling well, it will feel 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::