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

Simply Noel:

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

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

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

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

The way. The truth. The life.

And then it hit me.

The star. The angel. The birth.

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

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

The Way:

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

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

– Matthew 2:9-10

The Truth:

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

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

– Luke 2:15-20

The Life:

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

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

– Matthew 1:21

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

– John 10:10

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

I live because He lives.

You live because He lives.

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

xo,

Kristi

 

truth

Klover House Christmas:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

::December 10::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 12::

Simply Noel: December 10 – Jesus, the Evergreen

Simply Noel:

December 10 – Jesus, the Evergreen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus Christ is my evergreen.

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

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

xo,

Kristi

tree

Klover House Christmas:

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

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

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

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

 

::December 9::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 11::

Simply Noel: December 9 – What You Do Well…

Simply Noel:

December 9 – What You Do Well…

Every single year, I come up with about four new cookie recipes I’d like to try for Christmas. I dream of perfecting the Peanut Butter Blossoms, attempting a biscotti recipe, and creating a from-scratch masterpiece that no one else has yet to bring to the table.

And every year, my Peanut Butter Blossoms are so-so, I never get around to the biscotti, and every new thing I try is pretty much a flop.

We celebrate Christmas early with my husband’s family, and so, we are heading there next weekend. In years past, I have tried to wow and pleasantly surprise our family with something yummy, but it never fails – I run around like a crazy lady, trying to whip up these “easy” new treats that I spotted in a trendy magazine, something goes miserably wrong, and we show up with a subpar tray that no one even touches.

My sister-in-law, on the other hand, has cornered the market on Peanut Butter Blossoms, and her cookie trays look like they belong in a Christmas shop. For real. Always a gorgeous array of festive colors… no bakes… truffles… cute ones that are cleanly decorated… And they all taste amazing to boot!

Bottom line… She is the baker. This lady (me) is not.

My Salted Caramel Oreo Truffles are pretty much the only “cookie” recipe that I have ever pulled off with ease and happy results. Everything else has sort of been a disappointment.

Breads and muffins… Now, those are my jam. Cookies, cupcakes, cheesecakes, etc… not so much.

Once I came to terms with this reality, I felt this tug in my spirit urging me to set the baking bar loooooow. Set it real low, Sister. What you do well… Do that.

What you do WELL… Do that.

I’m not saying that I won’t still try new things, but as far as stressing myself out in order to be somebody that I am not (at least not yet), it’s time to cut that stuff out.

You know what I’m good at? Cooking meals from scratch and using my instincts and senses to do so. I’m also crafty. I love decorating average sugar cookies with my creative and funny kids. I love making homemade rosemary focaccia. I can whip up some pretty stellar coconut oil brownies. I created this incredibly delicious stuff that my hubby and I call, “Peanut Butter Spoon Fudge.” I can make beautiful and sometimes unique floral arrangements for myself and others, saving us hundreds of dollars a year. I can make stories come alive for my kids when I read to them. I can design and sew dresses. I can serve others with joyful hospitality. I take very good care of my children.

I can’t bake a decent pie (unless it’s pumpkin), or make beautiful cookies, but I can do those other things, and I can do them well.

God created you to do certain things well, too. It’s not that we can’t grow, evolve, and learn new things, because we can. But I believe that there are also times in which we need to put the other 99 hats on the shelf and just wear one or two for a season.

That person that you are…be her/him well. Love well. What you put your hands to, do that well. What you love…love well.

Spare yourself the extra worry this Christmas. I’m sure you have plenty to do already. Do those things well, and let others do their things well, too. The night sky is beautiful when many stars shine together.

I am a parent who already sees certain strengths and talents emerging in each of my daughters. I would never want them to feel frazzled, less-than, or not good enough. I would never want them to waste their time striving and trying to be someone that they were not meant to be. It would break my heart to see them trying to squeeze into a mold that doesn’t belong to them, forsaking the beautiful one that bears their name alone.

That’s us. The Father’s children.

Next weekend, I am going to leave my made-with-love-not-talent cookies at home, and show up with the few things I can make well instead and appreciate the gifts and talents that I see in the others around me.

When we stop trying to be everything for everyone, we can actually be who we are meant to be. I’m guessing that if we’re honest, the one person we’re really trying to constantly “show up” is actually ourselves. I’m guessing if I have extremely high expectations of myself, you might have some for yourself, too. Time to give yourself a break. Take a moment to realize who you are, what you love, and how beautiful your personal giftings are. Take the same awe that you would give to others and give it to yourself. What you can do right now in this season is enough. You are enough. You’re just right. Know that today, and carry that truth into tomorrow.

xo,

Kristi

gifts

Klover House Christmas:

You know those one “cookies” I said that I can do well? It’s true! They are so good! If you love caramel and chocolate and you own a food processor, then this is a treat for you! The trick is in freezing them long enough so that they are simple to roll in chocolate. This year, I want to use my new Pampered Chef drizzler thingy, that my sister-in-law gifted me with, to decorate them again with caramel. Then, I plan on sprinkling some raw sugar on top to give them that holiday sparkle. Simply click the link below to find your way to this decadent recipe. Enjoy! And if you can make biscotti…come and see me. 😉

Salted Caramel Oreo Truffles

 

::December 8::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 10::

Simply Noel: December 8 – Chasing Rabbits

Simply Noel:

December 8 – Chasing Rabbits

I woke up with several goals today. The first was to simply do the dishes. Seems like a no-brainer, right? I also wanted to straighten up our living room, do some writing, and take a shower. I thought that I could easily accomplish those few tasks with little brain power and minimal kid interruptions, especially since the children were either still sleeping or vegging on the couch, thanks to feeling icky.

As I tackled the quick clean up and dishes, I notice a reminder in my inbox. A webinar that I had signed up for days ago was starting soon, and I had forgotten all about it. Although it wasn’t on my list, I still wanted to listen in. I figured it would take at least an hour from start to finish, and, because I have a hard time mentally multi-tasking when I write, it was inevitable that writing would be pushed further down the list.

Just as I suspected, the webinar lasted for over an hour, and was full of wonderful, helpful information. I failed to take notes, because I was completing more chores and taking care of the kids as I listened, but one of the many points I remembered from the chat is forever seared into my mind.

A man who chases two rabbits catches neither.

Goodness. That is me pretty much all of the time! I often scurry around the house doing a little of this and a little of that. I’ll start to tackle something only to be called for by a kiddo in the next room. I’ll remember to make a phone call while I’m in the middle of making lunch or writing an e-mail. I’ll pull out my calendar and jot down randomness when I should be praying, etc. I am constantly chasing two rabbits. Gosh, I’m chasing a whole slew of bunnies simultaneously all day, every day.

That simple sentence really impacted the rest of my day. For the first time in months, maybe even years, I committed to a single task as the day progressed. I saw it through and continued on. I even took a break to sit on the couch and watch my kids play in front of the Christmas tree. Actually, they mostly argued over Fisher-Price Little People and I refereed, but still…

I didn’t accomplish writing, but I was able to sort several mountains of laundry, clean up my kitchen, hang out with my mom, who had stopped in for a visit, and take a much-needed breather.

When we commit to tackling one thing at a time, it often sounds great in theory, but it’s the follow-through that tends to bite us, right? Just repeating that phrase to myself continually through the day helped remind me to chase one rabbit – to focus on one thing and one thing only until it was done. Multitasking has earned a great deal of respect in our world, and if you can look good while multitasking (unlike like this chicken-with-her-head-cut-off here), then you will surely be seen as some kind of unicorn. At what (or whose) expense are we getting things done?

Christmas often creates an environment of chasing, not just one, two, or even three rabbits but rather, what seems like a hundred rabbits at once. We have to-lists that seem a mile long, and we have responsibilities and activities coming out of our ears. Repeat after me tonight, “Only chase one rabbit.”

One rabbit.

Catch it. Box him up, and finish him off with a pretty little bow. Then lock eyes on the next one.

And just as Jesus reminded Martha in Luke, chapter 10, “you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her,” it’s vital that our first rabbit every day is the one representing time spent with God. 

Our time with Him doesn’t have to be ritualistic. It mustn’t resemble a chore to be crossed off the list. It is simply a, “Good morning, Father. I love you. What are we going to do today?” Allow the conversation to go from there. Tell Him your thoughts and praise Him for that grace and mercy you hold in each breath, each step, each heartbeat. Thank Him for another day…another Christmas…

And thank Him for the stamina and wisdom to best catch those rabbits.

xo,

Kristi

rabbits

Klover House Christmas:

Today, we had a slow and steady kind of day. Often, Christmas coincides with sneezing and wheezing around here. As much as we love our supplements and healthy diets…sometimes, you just find your house has succumbed to the “Kindergarten Crud.” We are in one of those weeks. So, we’re wearing our pajamas a little longer, eating a ton of soup, and just cleaning, snuggling, and repeating…

Today, I’d like to do something a little differently and offer you one of our favorite soup recipes. It’s an oldie, but goodie, and you can find it by clicking the link below:

Chicken Noodle Soup

One of my favorite things to do is make a hearty bone broth. I just throw the leftover chicken bones into my roaster overnight at 250 degrees along with enough veggie stock or water to cover it, and I add all of the vegetables and herbs I can find – usually carrots, onions, celery, rosemary, thyme, and sage. Then, on the morning of the following day, I add enough water to fill it to the top once more and toss in garlic cloves and a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. I’ll let it simmer until dinnertime, cool, and freeze in cup-size portions. This technique usually makes me about nine cups of beautiful, healthy, golden bone broth.

 

::December 7::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 9::

Simply Noel: December 6 – A Clutter-Free Christmas

Simply Noel:

December 6 – A Clutter-Free Christmas

Part of why I decided to start this devotional was simply because the “muchness” of Christmas had gotten to be too much. Between the pressures of normal life and the added stress of the holiday to-do lists, I was mentally bursting at the seams before Thanksgiving even came to pass. I knew in my soul that it was all too much. So, I sat down one night and the words just came to me:

A holiday devotional for the heart that longs for less, so life can be more.

Isn’t that something we could all use? Less? Less of the stress, the constant running, the feelings of inadequacy, the countless distractions…? Our lives are usually full and crowded, and then we are suddenly drowning in packages, bills, lists, and obligations. Add in normal housework, schedules, and responsibilities to that added muchness, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for contempt, guilt, and regret come December 26th.

Awhile back, I began following a funny and honest mom, Allie Casazza, on Instagram. I fell for her delivery of truth so quickly that I soon became a subscriber to her blog. I looked forward to her advice to find its way to my inbox. I then started signing up for her free webinars and would occasionally catch her on LIVE videos. You wanna know know what she told me? I have enough time – I own time, not the other way around, and that letting go of all the clutter in my home would actually make me a better mother and wife. I’m paraphrasing, of course, but you know what? She was right, and I’m only halfway through our home.

So much of my stress comes from the house and its contents. How much of your day is consumed by the needs around you in the form of housework or meal prepping/making and other mundane tasks? Wouldn’t you love to love on your kids more often than you nag them to clean up those seven piles of toys? Wouldn’t it be nice to save those extra ten minutes wasted looking for that elusive piece of mail, because you have a simple system in place? Wouldn’t it be nothing short of a miracle to be caught up on laundry?

Maybe your trouble areas have nothing to do with the ones that I mentioned, but I bet we all have clutter somewhere in some form. It’s time to let it go and bless it as it travels out the door…

Whittle it down, friend. We don’t need all of this stuff, only so that we can pile more stuff on top of it in two weeks. Less is more. Less gives us room for more and to be more. Less gives us more time, and especially at Christmas, more time is more precious than gold.

Give freely and enrich your life. Bring blessing to others by letting go and be refreshed by His Spirit. Trust in Him, value what Heaven values and watch your life flourish.

xo,

Kristi

picmonkey-image

Klover House Christmas:

Tomorrow, our schedule is pretty free, and I already have several bags and large items waiting in the basement, so I am going to make a final trip to our local mission, and, then I’ll take a walk around the house and do a quick sweep. If you haven’t even started de-cluttering, don’t become overwhelmed. Simply, take a box or bag and walk around, room by room, and remove any items that catch your eye. Mail piles? Just pitch them. Are you really going to use all of those coupons? Be honest with yourself. Are you really going to order something from those sixteen magazines? No? Pitch ’em. If taking items to a local mission seems like an added stress to your day, due to schedules already full of errands, call or arrange a pick-up online! I did this with the local Salvation Army. There are many donation centers that will gladly bring a truck to your doorstep and load it all up for you. In some cases, you don’t even need to be home!

God tells us that earthly possessions pass away. Our treasures are stored in heaven. You won’t be able to take a single thing with you, so let it go. Bless others with your earthly treasures, and commit to a life of less. Less stuff translates to more money and more time to spend on that which is far more valuable.

 

::December 5::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 7::

Simply Noel: December 5 – Keeping a Christmas Perspective

Simply Noel:

Day 5 – Keeping a Christmas Perspective

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

Last week, I was consumed with my firstborn’s birthday activities. This week, we have the girls’ holiday programs, doctor appointments, and the Christmas Shoppe at school. Next week, we have more birthday parties, Christmas gatherings, and special events. The third week holds a spot for our annual Christmas-Before-Christmas with my husband’s side of the family. Then, BAM! Christmas-Christmas is upon us in all of its glorious splendor. Somewhere in there, we have church activities and family bucket list items to tackle, too, but I haven’t gotten myself that organized yet to know where they fall on the calendar.

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

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

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

xo,

Kristi

perspective

Klover House Christmas:

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

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

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

 

::December 4::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 6::

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: 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: December 23 – Adequate in Christ

Simply Noel:

December 23 – Adequate in Christ

Last night, as I walked through the living room, turning off lights, I was hit in my heart with a word: Inadequate.

All of a sudden, I felt such tremendous inadequacy as a mother, a wife, a child of God…

So many people out there are doing hard things. Some mothers are juggling careers and children with serious issues and illnesses, and I consider it a “win” if I’m showered and have fed my kids 2.4 meals in a day. Some women are operating businesses from their homes and supporting their families, and all I have to offer are my cooking and cleaning abilities. Couples are posting pictures of events and dinners, and I am lucky to say four sentences to my husband through the dinner noise. My Instagram feed is overflowing with clean homes and smiling children, and these people look like they have it all together. I’m over here drowning in housework, and we seem to live in a perpetual tornado of mess, despite the fact that I’m constantly donating and throwing things away.

I managed to make three cookies, and tonight I hope to hang garland and stockings. It seems like it should be so easy – so possible. But day-in and day-out, I feel like I’ve fallen short and missed all sorts of marks. My children are blessed with perfect health, my home is sturdy and comfortable enough for a family of six, I have a husband who works extra hard so I can stay home with our children, and I move through each day without stopping, but still the feelings of inadequacy follow me around like a shadow.

Many days, I can push that shadow far away, and the peace of God fills my mind. But every once in awhile, it hits me like an anvil – inadequate, and I sink into the lies of the enemy.

Sometimes, when I find myself dwelling on a word in particular, I’ll look it up. I know what “inadequate” means, but the actual definitions and even synonyms and antonyms of a word can really help to better deliver whatever message the Lord is trying to teach me.

In this case, it was the list of antonyms that were illuminated for me – sufficient and abundant.

And there’s Jesus. He showed up in a dictionary entry to remind me that when I feel inadequate in life that His grace is sufficient and He has come so that I may live abundantly.

Sufficiency

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

– 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Abundance

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

– John 10:10

“Abundant” being “beyond what we can imagine and full of meaning and purpose. Regardless of any feelings or unmet expectations, Christ in us brings abundance to our lives. We have purpose and meaning beyond our earthly accomplishments. There’s no “measuring up” in God.

Neither of those truths have anything to do with our efforts or any striving. Both have everything to do with who Christ is in us and what He is capable of, which is everything. Our job is to simply rest in Him, operate out of the grace and strength He provides, and deliver love to those with whom we come in contact.

Who you are is enough. Who I am is enough. Don’t judge your story by someone else’s cover. Where and who we are today is just a part of a grand journey with Him. We are forever adequate in Christ.

xo,

Kristi

adequate

Klover House Christmas:

We tried a new sugar cookie recipe this year, because I wanted to use my Penzey’s Orange Peel. You can never go wrong with The Pioneer Woman. Instead of the actual lemon or orange zest, I used a 1/2 tsp. of my dried orange spice.

We (the girls and I) made our own frosting using a softened stick of unsalted butter, vanilla, 1/4 cup of melted white chocolate, and enough powdered sugar to reach the texture we wanted (maybe a cup).

We also LOVE this sweet recipe by Sally’s Baking Addiction. 

Merry Christmas!

 

::December 22::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 24::

 

Simply Noel: December 22 – He is My Peace

Simply Noel:

December 22 – He is My Peace

Every Christmas season comes with its beautiful moments and its stressful ones. I think it’s inevitable, especially if you are juggling multiple responsibilities…or multiple small humans. And if you’re juggling both, well, then God bless you with an extra portion of grace.

We took our small clan to see “The Man in Red” today, and it went well – kind of.

For the first time ever, all of the children smiled. It was a bit surreal, and I sort of wanted someone to “act up” so it felt a little more normal, but it didn’t happen. One by one, they took Santa’s hands and whispered their wish and then all four sat doll-like on his little couch, and I had to blink extra hard to believe my eyes.

My husband drove separately, so I stayed behind with my *angelic* children to pick up a few last-minute gifts. I also had to buy some new chocolate, because our dog found my stash and ate the Christmas chocolate. No, he hasn’t died, and apparently he thrives on several ounces of really expensive tree-shaped chocolate.

As I swung into Hallmark in search of replacements, it started. Screaming, whining, swatting, pulling things off of every shelf we passed. I thought I was going to pass out from the cocktail of panic and embarrassment coursing through my veins. After about six haughty looks from strangers and two minutes that felt like an eternity, I abandoned my plight and thought I’d have better luck at Marshall’s (where the shelves are widely spaced enough that my minions can’t reach the items from the stroller). I forgot about the clothing racks, though. And the screaming and wailing continued. They broke about four hangers, pulled approximately seven shirts onto the floor, knocked down a picture frame and inspired three individuals to strike up pious conversations with their frazzled mama.

One woman in particular thought it a great time to chat with me condescendingly about 529 plans and another woman acknowledged my “bad one” after our joint potty break.

Point being…it was anything but glorious. My Christmas spirit was Christmas-kaput. I wanted to throw the looks right back at people, and if one more person had mentioned how full my hands were, I don’t even know what I would have done.

As we walked the length of the mall back to the exit nearest the car, I said outloud, “Man, we got about twenty dirty looks today.” As a few strangers passed at that moment, my seven year old (without missing a beat) quipped, “Better make that twenty-one.” It.Was.That.Bad.

I came home today seriously exhausted. And then I read Micah 5:5:

“And he shall be their peace.”

– Micah 5:5

Even on the hardest of days, He is our peace. My worst day with Him is always better than my best day without Him. What would I do without my Savior? Sometimes, life is just hard. Other times, it’s downright beautiful. In the joy and in the stress…He is the same. He does not change. His love for us does not change. He is our Rock, our Redeemer, our Strong Tower, our Firm Foundation, our Joy, our Guide, our Hope, and our Peace.

If you are “going through it” and you feel like you’re about to break under the pressures that Christmas can bring, lean on Him today. He is your peace, and He asks you to come to Him. He promises rest and He promises that if you lay your burdens at His feet and take His yoke upon yourself, that His load is light.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

– Matthew 11:28-30

Do not carry burdens at Christmas. He has come that you may be freed from the pressures of this world and the burdens it tries to heap upon your shoulders. He came so that we could be filled with joy and hope and walk in peace. Lets remember Him tonight and carry Him in our hearts and minds. When it feels like too much, lets take a minute to quiet ourselves and whisper, “He is My Peace.”

xo,

Kristi

peace

Klover House Christmas:

Well, friend, we have three sleeps until Christmas morning. Are you doing okay? I hope that you are! You are probably in full Christmas mode by now, but my hope for you is this: Slow Down. The 25th is coming whether you’re ready or not, whether your house is tidy or not, whether your kids are naughty or nice… Don’t sacrifice your sanity over the next few days. You’ve got this. Do you have something meaningful for under the tree? Who cares about the price tags… Do you have a tasty meal to enjoy with some people you love? Wonderful. Do you have someone to hug on Christmas Day? You’re winning. Do you have a warm bed to fall into after a day of visiting? You’re blessed. Do you know Jesus – the Savior that you are celebrating? I hope so. Nothing else matters. So, my prayer for us is that over these next few days, we keep on that perspective and lay those burdens down. Take each hour in stride. Tackle your lists with intention and give yourself grace. Shoot for peace not perfection, and love your people above all else. What good is a celebration when you’re all cranky, right?

Tomorrow, we are going to set the bar low. I’d like to accomplish laundry and a gingerbread house. That’s it! There are sooooooo many more things that could be done in the name of “getting ready for Christmas,” but when we keep it simple, anything more than those few goals will feel like a big bonus. I’d rather cross off a few bonus items and feel extra productive over making myself a list of ideals that, if I don’t get them done, leave me feeling like a failure. Christmas is about Jesus, family, and bringing the Kingdom of God to earth, and if you ask me, that looks like a whole lotta peace and a whole lotta love – everything else is just noise, and you have divine permission to turn it off. 😉

 

::December 21::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 23::