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.




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 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.




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::

Seeking the Simple Life

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Longing for less.

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

Is it just me?

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


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




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

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Bread

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

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


Cream Cheese-Filled Banana BreadPIN IT FOR LATER:

Posted by Tasty on Sunday, November 8, 2015


I followed the recipe shown in the video:

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

I used the following additions:

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

and the following variations:

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

I followed the Cream Cheese Filling recipe as given:

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

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.

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

Happy Baking and Giving, Friends! xoxo


Easter Baskets: Keeping it Frugal and Fun!

Just a few days until Easter! Are your Easter Baskets ready? Mine aren’t assembled yet, but I do have everything purchased and ready to go. Because time is running out, I put a little video together for you showing what I have chosen to give our little girls this year (and other family members as well). I hope you find it helpful and feel free to leave your ideas and links on the comments! After all, it’s never to early to start ticking away great ideas for next year! Thanks for watching!

Find the video {here}.

simple “sweetheart” valentines

It’s nearly Valentine’s Day, and for the first time we have a student in our home! Our preschooler will be taking her little treats to school next Friday, and since her new baby sister is due just 6 days afterwards…I thought it best to get a jump on it.

 So, my goals were to keep them:

  • easy and super budget-friendly
  • tasty / attractive
  • using age-appropriate wording
  • freezer-friendly
  • easy for “Mr. Kloverhouse” to assemble should I be in the hospital with a newborn

My first thought was to order each child a book through Scholastic at just $1 a piece, but that would have been $30, so let’s see if this option kept me under that mark…


Supplies needed (non-food items):

  • treat bags (two 20 count) Target dollar section = $2
  • ties that come with the bag or ribbon (I chose ribbon b/c I had it on-hand.  Pics show ties.) = Free
  • heart stickers or cut-outs (I had a heart diecut, so I chose that option over purchasing stickers.) = Free
  • hole punch = Free
  • Washi tape (optional) Target dollar section = $1
  • Blank Valentine cards (Target dollar section) = $3
Supplies needed (food items):
  • heart-shaped strawberry/vanilla marshmallows (I bought 3 bags at $.99 each.) = $2.98
  • 1 bag of baking chocolate (I already had a bag of pink on-hand, so mine was free, but for estimating cost sake, I’ll add it in as a purchase.) = $4.99 (Price listed on Amazon)
  • Valentine sprinkles (Wilton Micro Hearts) = $4.49
  • Dove chocolate hearts = $3.49

Grand total: $21.95  (My actual total, subtracting the baking chocolate: $16.96)

So, not bad!  Definitely a little more work than the books, but the girls helped me out and we got to exercise our creativity.


  1. Place marshmallows on parchment paper (in pairs of pink and white)
  2. Melt baking chocolate and unwrap Dove chocolate hearts
  3. Using a spoon, spread baking chocolate on the marshmallows
  4. Sprinkle each white marshmallow with the sprinkles, and place a Dove heart on each pink marshmallow (b/c chocolate on a strawberry marshmallow is just the right thing to do, right?!)
  5. Repeat until all marshmallows are decorated
  6. Place in a freezer-safe container and freeze until needed

  1. In the meantime…create cards
  2. Pair cards according to color combos desired
  3. Cut cards in half (I love my Martha Stewart paper trimmer)
  4. Punch heart-shaped hole in each card or affix a heart sticker to each front
  5. Affix the cutout of another color inside the card so that it’s visible through the opening (I used “Quick Dry” Tacky Glue)
  6. Write the words: “You are a Sweet” allowing the cutout or sticker to say “heart” for you
  7. Help your little sign the inside of the card or fill it out for them

  1. Once ready to assemble, place a pair of marshmallow hearts in each treat bag
  2. Punch a hole in the corner of both the bag a card
  3. Attach the card to the bag using either the ties or strings
  4. Secure bag’s seal with a piece of decorative Washi tape (optional)
  5. Done!


(Also an option…Rice Krispie Treat hearts (using a cookie cutter).  Simply prepare the Rice Krispie Treats, adding the sprinkles in while mixing.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, spread the treats out onto the pan, cover with another sheet of parchment paper, roll flat, and refrigerate until firm.  Using the cookie cutter, cut out hearts, place in bags, tie and done!  That would be an even cheaper option, but I liked that the mini marshmallows were different and could freeze well for a few days.)



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Merry Christmas (and a tradition/recipe roundup)

Merry Christmas, friends!

I can’t even count the number of posts that I’ve written to you in my head this month, but, wow, did December just fly, or what?! Crazy to think that tomorrow is Christmas Day. New Year’s is right around the corner, and before we know it, it’ll be Valentine’s and this new baby will be here. Where does blogging even fit in?!

Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about that and I miss writing, so 2015 will come with a few changes…

Anyway, each year in the past, I’ve been able to share with you our favorite Christmas recipes and traditions. I’m sorry that I didn’t get to that again this year, but here’s a little summary of each, and hopefully next year, I will have the chance to create more in-depth posts. (I am especially looking forward to next year’s Advent calendar/activities.)

Our family’s Christmas traditions include:

  • Christmas Tree decorating
  • Trip to see Christmas lights in neighboring WV (complete with pjs worn by all and a carload of Christmas cookies.)  If you follow us on FB and Instagram, you know that this year’s trip was a major flop.
  • Cousin Cookie Baking Day – The girls had SO much fun and are STILL talking about this one.  What’s cuter than little three and five year old cousins baking?  Not much!
  • Gingerbread House making – Also a great time, and I already have some new ideas for next year’s houses!
  • Visiting Santa
  • Christmas Eve services
  • Christmas Eve dinner at Pap-pap’s and Nana’s
  • Christmas pj and books to be opened on Christmas Eve
  • Christmas breakfast with my in-laws (at our home)
  • Visiting family Christmas afternoon/evening
Traditions that I hope to improve on and add next year:
  • Delivering cookies to our neighbors (b/c I’m not brave enough to carol!)
  • Visiting the local conservatory (I hear it’s spectacular!)
  • Breakfast with Santa event  (A lot of our friends go to this each year, and it seems like a wonderful little tradition!)
  • Family movie nights (More of them, since this year we only had one.)
  • Trip into Pittsburgh to see something…anything!  (lol  That one is for the hubs.)
  • Advent Calendar (Going to improve on this year’s.  The Mom Diggity has majorly inspired me.)
  • Hosting a cookie exchange / friends’ night (We kind of did one this year, but it was actually a surprise “Sprinkle” for a dear friend.  I’d like to start hosting a real exchange in the years to come.)
Our Christmas morning menu:
Merry Christmas, everyone!  Our prayer for you is that the Prince of Peace reigns in your hearts and the favor of God rests on your lives in the coming year.  May God bless you with health, faith, and hope today and always.


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easy holiday art!

hey, friends!

ok, quick little post here.

i adore my little shelf. in our previous home (a three story townhouse), i had it hanging on our foyer wall. it didn’t get a lot of love. it was used as a coat rack and the same candles sat on it all year ’round. boring!

now, it has a permanent home in one of the busiest and coziest rooms of the house – the dining room! i love it here. it holds my favorite mugs – my anthro monogram mugs. back when we were a family of five, i had a mug with everyone’s initial displayed, but when we discovered that another bambino was on the way, i took a moment and came up with a five letter word that would take their place and make sense for our home – l.o.v.e.d. perfect!

now for the decor:

the contents on the shelf are pretty consistent, but still easily changeable. the petite glass cake stand has some sewing/crafting-related items as a nod to my hobbies and business. i’ll change out the ribbon seasonally, but that’s about it. on the opposite end, i have an inexpensive white frame from ikea that is home to whatever art i’m loving at the time. for many months, it was my ‘bless your heart’ print courtesy of  ‘happy mommy box’ (love them).

well, i felt that the display needed something to represent the holidays. i considered printing a few free printables that i found via pinterest, but knowing that the printer is still in the basement (we moved in last august…) and it is out of ink anyway, i knew i’d have to have whatever i chose printed somewhere else. that equals time and money, and this mama doesn’t like to add extra, unnecessary trips to my day with three little sidekicks in tow.

that’s where target and my martha stewart paper trimmer came to the rescue! i live in target. seriously. i am there at least twice a week. at least. and i’ve had my paper trimmer for years now and love it. it is so small and easy to store and it works like a charm.  i’ve used it for so many random projects.  totally worth the money.

anyway, it hit me while i was putting up our christmas decor on saturday…there are so many beautiful greeting cards out right now! bingo! so, i looked around while i was in target this week (fyi you will probably have the best luck in the ‘for anyone’ section; they’re not as wordy on the front), and i finally discovered a card that i thought was perfect for our space! i like that the design on the front had both texture and depth. i love the colors, and i also love that it says ‘merry christmas’ rather than ‘happy holidays’.

the card cost me $4.95, but it was worth it. i’ll keep it for many years, and i was very careful while trimming it down a bit in the event that i would like to use it as a card for someone.

today, while at the post office, we checked out their greeting cards, and they had a few beautiful ones as well, and they were even cheaper! $2.95 for a card! they were glittery, beautiful designs on quality paper too. so…keep your eye out for great designs on cards and snag them up when you spot one that you love!

i was drawn to both the ‘have yourself a merry little christmas’ chalkboard card on the top left and the simple, glittery christmas tree that caught ava’s eye too!  (great minds think alike.)  🙂

so that’s my easy christmas wall/framed art project! i hope it inspires you to try it out, and if you do, please share! enjoy your thanksgiving, friends! talk to you again soon! xo

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already dreaming of christmas and a pin-it party!

welcome to the weekly pin-it party!  

our featured pin from last week’s party:
natasha of keeping christmas alive 365‘s “modern country christmas”.  who doesn’t love a little inspiring christmas eye-candy?  i love holiday decor and this post is full of just that.  thank you for linking up, natasha!

participating in the party is so easy!
here’s what to do:

1. follow the co-hosts on pinterest (links below)

paula from beauty through imperfection

becky from your modern family

gabrielle from MamaGab

me! kristi from klover house

2. pin our “pin-it party” picture. (one of these)

3. add as many of your great pins as you want!  remember to get your pins from pinterest & not from your blog page. it will make it easier to re-pin a pin instead of a post.

4. hop around and re-pin other pins from this page- lets share the love!

5. adding your link gives us permission to use an image from the pin (or post connected to the pin) to feature on next week’s pin-it party. because of this we ask that you only link up images from your own site, and images that you have taken, created or have legal rights to.

thanks!!!! REMEMBER: when it asks for your NAME, you can put your PIN NAME or your BLOG NAME. essentially, it’s your pin’s title.

***PLEASE NOTE*** if the post that your pin leads to contains any offensive or derogatory wording (e.g. profanity), i will not be able to feature your pin, no matter how great the article or how terrific the idea. the use of those terms simply doesn’t align with my personal convictions, and what we, at klover house, aim to promote. thank you in advance for understanding!

join the klover house family on facebook, pinterest, and twitter!

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lent: giving up nothing and everything


it’s a been a time of year that has perplexed and irritated me since my youth.

i know, that was a pretty bold sentence. but it’s true.

i can remember in high school, being an unchurched ‘christian’ for the majority of my young life, hearing so many of my friends talking about what they were ‘giving up for lent.’ usually it was sugar, pop/soda, chocolate, television, etc. treats and excesses. sounded more like a new year’s resolution to me or a diet that was forced and sure to fail or cause resentment. i guess it was the disliking for the religious spirit early on that triggered these sentiments. and just to clarify, a ‘religious spirit’ is one that exudes a false sense of righteousness or holiness. rules but no relationship.

then, i accepted Jesus, and to be honest, i have never once decided to partake in lent. to me now, lent says, ‘fish fry’. i mean, that’s what people talk about and make a fuss over.  i did a little digging, b/c as usual, the Lenten feeds and headlines are starting again…people are giving up foods, social media, treats, and once again, i am left with that irritated feeling. i’m not picking on you. i promise; it’s not my intention. i think it’s great that you’re choosing to not watch television and that you are determined not to touch chocolate or tweet on twitter for six weeks. that stuff is hard!  i applaud you! 

but, i have a question.

what about the rest of it?

the prayer.

the repentence.

the almsgiving.

the preparing of our hearts for the observance of the death and resurrection of our Lord?

lent isn’t meant to be a six week challenge to observe a diet, a cleaning regimen, or an exercise routine. it’s holy. it’s sacrificial. it’s somber. it should be life-changing.

so my proposal…my choice…as a way to take back these Holy days for myself in my own life and heart is to give up absolutely nothing for the rest of these six weeks…except for myself.

i chose to focus more on my family, less on my work. more on my children, less on social media. more on my Bible, less on tv. more on sleep, less on ‘catching up.’ more on Jesus, less on ‘me’.

when i start to think ‘me-thoughts’ or start to do ‘me-things’ (like all of those little time-suckers i referenced), i will make a choice and effort to realign my agenda with the Father’s agenda for my day…my hour…my moment.

you may be thinking that what i am saying i am not doing is actually what i am doing, but it all boils down to purpose. what is my purpose? what is your purpose? is it tradition that drives you? is it the dedicated time and schedule aspect of it that helps you to rise to the occasion? is it for fun? if your answer to any of those is ‘yes’, then my hope is that you will take some time to really think about what this stretch of days is supposed to be about…who it’s supposed to be about. Jesus.

not coffee. not cheeseburgers.  not chocolate. not pinterest, twitter or the bachelor. Jesus.

and when you forgo your cup of joe in the morning or pass on the candy bar in the cafeteria…use it as an opportunity to bow your head, close your eyes, and picture the King of Kings and Lord of Lords sitting on His throne in Heaven. He’s there b/c He died for you and me. He suffered the Cross, and rose from the grave so that you, and me, and our neighbors, co-workers, children and friends could spend all of eternity by His side. 

 i think that, my friends, is worth more than chocolate any day, and should be remembered everyday.


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