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. He comes for His beloved, leaping over mountains, bounding over hills.

He’s coming to you with a message of hope – “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.” -Song of Solomon 2:10-13

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 in the air on 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

 

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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.

 

::December 3::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 5::

Simply Noel: December 3 – The Heart of Giving

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 ours.

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.

 

::December 2::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 4::

Simply Noel: December 2 – Know and Be Known

Simply Noel:

December 2 – Know and Be Known

I literally opened this screen with the intention of writing on a completely different topic, and my heart tugged, “Not yet.” And the sentence came to mind, “Know your triggers.”

Know your triggers?

As I sat to ponder this statement, I remembered the bit that I shared yesterday about the tree-trimming fiasco. So many triggers. So many mistakes. So many emotions.

Looking back, I can see where I had made a beautiful moment far more difficult for myself and my sweet kids.

We had put the tree up several days earlier and had made a choice to leave it barren. Decorating has always been a family affair. We throw a Christmas movie or music on in the background, and we get to work.

In previous years, the kids were so small, and, believe it or not, actually more helpful in a sense. No one had an opinion. No small person had a plan. They toddled and flitted about, just happy to be surrounded by magical items and loving parents. They sported jolly Santa hats and elf ears and smiles as wide as the moon. In hindsight, it was giddy and glorious.

But things have changed. Now, we have two school-aged children, who are quite opinionated and headstrong (imagine mini Martha Stewarts in thought, Amelia Bedelias in deed). Our smaller two are comparable to wrecking balls…endearing, but still. Life has shifted, and I, apparently, resisted shifting with it – all in the name of tradition.

As I sat and reflected on the disaster, I could easily pinpoint specific “triggers” that had caused my unraveling. I just had to take the time to realize them – to know. And not just know, but be patient enough to take those few moments of reflection and visualize my place in, not the ideal scenario but rather, the reality.

As much as I have loved the idea of the whole start-to-finish decorating tradition, it just isn’t the best choice during these wrecking ball years. So, I made the decision that, until the children are older and we’ve crossed into a calmer chaos of sorts, I will simply put the lights and garland on the tree the night before. The girls really love the ornaments most anyway and barely give the other stuff a glance. Trying to explain to them why we had to dress the tree in layers only confused them and frustrated me. It’s a trigger that I can very easily eliminate. Changing my course of action doesn’t tear apart our tradition, and it still grants them the joy of ogling every shiny, dangly, blingy thing. Next year, I will breathe a deep sigh of OCD relief, knowing that I can just go along with the fun and leave the incessant arguing and complaining in the past.

Knowing myself, knowing my children, knowing our family dynamic, along with each of our limits, allows me to navigate these Christmas waters much easier. By eliminating stress-triggers, I can encourage, and even cultivate, joy-triggers. A small, practical, and even simple adjustment can make a huge impact on any experience. By impacting the experience, you can’t help but impact the memories, too.

Are your routines or traditions in need of any adjustments this Christmas? It’s okay if your reality doesn’t line up with your expectations. Maybe it’s not your tree trimming; it’s the feast, or the Christmas card, or *enter your stressor here*. God knows your hopes, and he also knows your limits. He knows your shortcomings and your strengths. If what you’re doing isn’t full of joy…love…that’s not Jesus. Wanting something magical…dreaming of peaceful, beautiful outcomes…God is in those hopes, but the forcing part – that’s all us.

He knows you. Let Him show you how well. Quiet yourself today – or any day that you find yourself faced with discouragement or disappointment – and ask Him, “Lord, what do you see? How can this be different? Be better? How can this honor my family and glorify You?”

I believe that, sometimes, He will show you a solution, an easy fix, an adjustment… Other times, He may give your heart the green light to just eliminate it altogether…

And that is okay.

Today and every day, let’s build our homes, not tear them down. Know your triggers, and then ask Jesus what it is He wants you to do with them.

xo,

Kristi

 

Klover House Christmas:

I love making lists. I’m kind of old-fashioned that way. So today, as they come to me, I am going to jot down those holiday family traditions that I love and look forward to year after year. As I go about my tasks today, I will let my wandering thoughts find purpose, and I will wander there – to that list. What can I adjust? What can I eliminate? Even if it’s just for a season, what just isn’t working for us right now? Is there something that I have been wanting to implement, but just never took the time to actually consider it? Our schedules don’t have to be packed to be impactful. Our days don’t have to be full of doing, but they can be full of being. So, today, I am going to be and not do. Today, I am going to ask my husband and my kids what they love most about our usual Christmas activities and really take their responses to heart. Many of you have Bucket Lists, I’m sure. I’ve been wanting to jump on that train for years! But, the more I think about it now, the more I know that my Holiday Bucket List wouldn’t need to be 25 days long… My Bucket List would most-likely be a five-liner, and that is nothing to feel pitiful over. Knowing what you want is great, but more importantly, let Him reveal what it is that you need.

 

::December 1::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 3::

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 the season. 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: 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. 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

 

::Seeking Simple::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 2::

Simply Noel: January 2 – Work

Simply Noel:

January 2 – 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 cupboards! 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 1::    ::Back to the Top::    ::January 3::

Simply Noel: January 1 – His Joy in the Wine

Simply Noel:

January 1 – His Joy in the Wine

His joy is in the wine…

I’m not a drinker. I confess, I have been a little envious at times of some of my devout Christian friends who enjoy a good glass of wine from time to time. I realize there are health benefits, and so I’m not opposed to sipping a fine wine with a good meal. But… I. Just. Can’t. I choke it down every time.

So, I am writing this today, not as a knowledgeable person when it comes to wine, but, rather, as a Christian who sees the miracle in the wine.

The account of Jesus’ first miracle has always intrigued me. Why a wedding? Why wine? Why does it seem as though Mary would ask him to perform a parlor trick of sorts in public? I’m sure there are very well-developed theories answering all of those questions, but I’m not a scholar. I am a busy mom to four little people, who loves Jesus and just wants to hear from Him everyday.

One Sunday, during worship, I received the most beautiful thoughts regarding the water turning into wine. I was thinking about communion and how Jesus took the cup (with the “fruit of the vine” Mark 14) and told the disciples that it was His blood, poured out for many.

I thought about the Wedding at Cana and how He most likely used water that was intended for ceremonial washing. This unclean water had miraculously turned into the best wine, out of view from the attendees and relatively in secret. His mother, disciples, and just a few servants were the only people witnessing the miracle taking place.

How fitting to show us a spiritual transformation taking place between a life-giving water that is intended to clean our physical bodies and sustain our lives to a spiritual drink that washes our soul clean and gives us eternal life? Many readers may take the Bible at face value, but I love it when imagery takes hold of my heart and He draws me closer to Him in that way.

I reread that passage over and over afterwards, and a second point caught my eye:

From John 2: 6-11 (Emphasis mine)

6Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

“So they took it.”

Yes, they were servants doing what servants do and following orders, but they were taking washing water to their boss, essentially, to present it as wine.

I believe it was an act of obedience, but maybe it was also an act of faith. They filled the washing pots themselves with water, and they knew what was in the pots. Jesus didn’t touch the water, speak to the water, or even stretch out His hands (as Moses did with the first plague when He turned the water of the Nile into blood). He simply gave the orders, and they listened.

Faith.

Doing what God tells you to do, simply because you are taking Him at His word.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

– Ephesians 2:8

Salvation is His gift to us, given out of grace, since we do not deserve it and can’t earn it. To receive it, we must believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for us and rose again. That takes faith; we receive the miracle of salvation by exercising faith. Much like the servants, we walk to the water, and draw from it, and what we have in return for that faithful obedience is wine – His blood, poured out for many. His blood, that covers a multitude of sins and washes us white as snow, can only be ours if we trust Him.

He endured the cross for the “joy set before Him”; His blood was shed for the joy set before Him…

His joy is in the wine.

Will you drink of it today?

xo,

Kristi

wine

 

Klover House Christmas:

On the eighth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, eight maids a milking…

I just love that song (it drives my hubby bonkers). The kids and I belt out “five gold rings” at the top of our lungs. It’s so much fun.

I’ve been reading about the supposed meanings behind each of the gifts in the song, and today, the eighth day, the lover presents the eight maids and they are said to represent the eight Beatitudes given by Christ on during the Sermon on the Mount.

We talk about the Fruits of the Spirit often in our home, but I don’t recall ever teaching the girls about the Beatitudes. I think it is worthwhile to study them for myself, print them out for the kids to see, and start talking with them about who the Lord calls “blessed.”

After all, when the angel Gabriel first addressed Mary in Luke, he referred to her as “highly favored” and “blessed” among women. Wouldn’t it be amazing to hear those words from God himself?

Matthew 5: 1-12

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.  

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Maybe, like me, you haven’t given much thought to sharing these in your home? I hope to *translate* them for my children in such a way that they can apply each to their lives, and, together, we will discover what it means to be “blessed.”

 

::December 31::    ::Back to the top::    ::January 2::

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

Simply Noel:

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

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

And you know what?

We were made for this.

To keep going.

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

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

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

We are a resilient people.

Resilient.

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

– Job 17:9

Resilient.

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year, friends!

xo,

Kristi

Klover House Christmas:

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

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

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

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

And you know what, He sees you, too.

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

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

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

 

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

Simply Noel: December 30 — The Stillness and God

Simply Noel:

December 30 — The Stillness and God

And the Snow

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

Isaiah 55:10

“…and the snow…”

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

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

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

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

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

The Three Gifts

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

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

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

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

Matthew 2:1-12

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

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

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

Be Still and Know…

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

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

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

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

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

 

Klover House Christmas:

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

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

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

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

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

What does that have to do with Christmas?

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

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

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

Simply Noel: December 28 – New Year, New Wardrobe

Simply Noel:

December 28 – New Year, New Wardrobe

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

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

He covers. He clothes. He provides.

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

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

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

So where do we find this supernatural closet?

At His feet, of course.

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

Fill up your cup by spending time with the Father.

Allow Him to clothe you today.

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

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

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

xo,

Kristi

 

Klover House Christmas:

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

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

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

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

So far, here is my list:

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

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

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

 

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

Simply Noel: December 27 – Come Away and Rest

Simply Noel:

December 27 -Come Away and Rest

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

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

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

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

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

And he said to them,

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

—Mark 6:31-32

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

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

Be well and rest, friend.

xo,

Krsti

 

rest

 

 

Klover House Christmas:

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

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

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

 

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