Simply Noel: January 5 – Everyone Has a Word

Simply Noel:

January 5 – Everyone Has a Word

That’s a thing, right? A word. The word for the year…

I’m seeing it everywhere and love hearing which words people are adopting for the new year. Words can be encouraging. Words can breathe life into a soul, a situation, a home. Words have power. God tells us so in His Word, but even the secular realm acknowledges the power of what we speak into existence.

We also have tangible words all over the place. They serve as reminders of who we are, who we want to become, and perspectives that are valuable to us.

In our own bedroom, we have words displayed about love and commitment. In our kitchen, we have words about family and kindness. In our living room, we have words about our faith and values. In our girls’ spaces, we have words about their worth and God’s great love for them. We even have words in our bathrooms and tucked away on cupboard doors. We have words everywhere.

For the past few years, I have chosen a word to guide me through the year. Whether you decide to choose a word or not, I strongly believe that years seem to have themes and can directly affect the desires and expectations we set in place for ourselves and our families.

2017: Joy

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The year 2016 was somewhat a struggle for me as a mom to four. Our fourth was born in 2015, and 2016 felt like a ton of diapers, potty-training, tantrums, cold coffee and bad hair days. My oldest two were in public school at the time, and I spent my days missing them so much and overwhelmed at home at the same time. It was an emotional year for me as a mother. As 2017 arrived and I kept hearing people talk about their word, I couldn’t help but feel the word “joy” come up in my spirit over and over again. I needed joy so badly. We need joy always, but I really, really, really craved it. It became my word, and I honestly saw it popping up everywhere throughout that year.

Funny thing though – when I chose “joy” as my word, I found myself acutely aware of how hard I had to fight for it. But, you know what? It became that much more real to me. I sought it with intention. And now, thanks to that year of intention, intentionally seeking it is forever on my radar.

Psalm 94:19

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

2018: Favor

Psalm 5:12

For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord,
You surround him with favor as with a shield.

Although I was intentionally contending for joy, 2017 came with struggles all its own. These struggles weren’t found on the home-front, however. My husband and I had let certain influences into our lives that in the long-run did not have our best interests in mind. Everything that we had built our lives around became a battle. We were used to being surrounded by people that saw our hearts and caught our visions, and all of a sudden we found ourselves knocking at proverbial doors that didn’t want to budge – doors that were locked from the inside. We would look at each other and just shake our heads. We opened our home, we volunteered every chance we got as parents to multiple young children, and continued to work towards goals we had established as a couple. It felt so futile and exhausting. Ministry had been such a passion for us and we found ourselves feeling stuck and tired. On top of that disappointment, my husband was coming home worried about his job far too often.

As we headed into 2018 overflowing with uncertainty and frustration, the word “favor” was heavy on my heart. We needed favor. I begged for favor. I prayed for favor over our lives every single day. I prayed for favor over my husband’s career every single day. I prayed for favor over my children. I prayed for favor in our relationships.

And, you know what, God answered those prayers. Never in our ten years of marriage did my husband ever have multiple job offers at one time. In past years, we’ve had times of hoping for just one opportunity. At the end of 2018, my husband had his choice of the best fit, and it was a welcomed change that honestly blew our minds.

Psalm 90:17

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.

2019: Redemption

John 10:10

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

As seems to be the trend, experiences in 2018 led to my word for 2019: Redemption.

The thief came in 2018.

On September 10th, the woman I loved most, my grandmother, left this earth. Only a handful of people truly know what she meant to me. Growing up she was my constant companion. She was my angel, and her passing left a huge hole in my heart that probably won’t be filled this side of Heaven.

The thief also reared his ugly head in our marriage. I don’t know that a Christmas devotional is the appropriate place to reveal our struggles, but “redemption” is definitely my word for 2019 for good reason.

I believe that God is a Good Father who hears the cries of His children. I believe His heart is softened towards His broken ones and He answers prayers. The answers may not always look like we imagined, but they are answered in His time and in His way. I have faith that in 2019 He will redeem the empty places. Already, He has strengthened relationships with other women in my life and is helping me to love my family as my grandmother loved me. I will not get her back, but I can honor her and feel her close to me as I try to fill her shoes. Her passing has reshaped our family in some new and positive ways. That is redemption at work.

My marriage will never look the same, but I am confident that it will be even better, because every low point chisels and refines if you let it. And as I walk through this year of redemptive experiences, a new word will surely begin to surface for 2020.

Lamentations 3:57-58

57You drew near when I called on You;
You said, “Do not fear!”
58 O Lord, You have pleaded my soul’s cause;
You have redeemed my life.

Your Word:

So, what’s your word for this year? I bet if you’d take a moment to search your heart, it’s there, as plain as day. There’s an aching in each spirit – a longing. God knows what you need, when you need it, and I think that our spirits know what He’s highlighting in our lives. This passage in Isaiah really hit home for me. No matter what it is we are longing for this year, I believe this scripture provides the direction needed to see the goodness unfold in every area imaginable.

Isaiah 58:9-12 (MSG)

If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.

“I will always show you where to go.”

That’s God’s word every year…

Always.

I love that. Don’t you?

xo,

Kristi

word

Klover House Christmas:

With it being January 5th, does it still feel like Christmas to you? Our Western culture has definitely made the “12 Days of Christmas” nearly obsolete; don’t you think? We are inundated with ads and jingles from November 1st to Black Friday. Then, we are bombarded with Christmas movies, radio tunes, and Santa-sightings until December 24th. By the time the first day of Christmas comes along, we are Christmas-kaput and dragging trees to the curb. New Year’s approaches and we speed on to our resolutions and clearing greenery for “fresh starts”. Oh, how I wish it wasn’t so. How I long for a Thanksgiving that focuses on families and feasts, and Decembers that glide along like chocolate glaze on hot cookies. I wish we spent those first 24 days preparing our hearts and homes for the King of Kings, and then, when Christmas morning rolls in, I wish it felt like a beautiful dawn breaking over an eternal night. I wish that feeling of awe and wonder lasted for all twelve days.

Twelve days.

That’s how long we should be rejoicing and snuggling. Yes, I know, we have responsibilities to attend to, thanks to this busy world we live in, but wouldn’t it be nice to savor the Savior’s birth for more than a few hours?

I’m guilty of thinking ahead to the next thing. My fourth child’s birthday is about a month away, and I’m already going there in my mind. When I go there, it causes me to think about Valentine’s, too. And in a blink, I’ve forgotten Christmas, and I’m holding off putting things away for the sake of appeasing the part of my soul that really does want to observe the Lord’s celebration a little longer. I may be playing the part on the outside, but my insides are already trying to figure out how to better compartmentalize ornaments and pack garland.

So, today, I plan to make an intentional effort to sit down with my children and spouse and savor Christmas. The tree can come down later this weekend. Before it’s all swept away, I want to address its close with my little ones. Christmas isn’t just a *thing* we do from this date to that date. Christmas is holy and sacred, because Christ is holy and sacred.

Even if you’ve packed up and moved on – I mean we’re all de-cluttering and dieting already, right? – it’s not too late to talk with your people about Christmas. It’s never too late to talk about Christ and how it took the Magi many days to seek him and eventually find him.

The 11th Day of Christmas focuses on the faithful apostles. What a perfect day to talk to our kids about being faithful to Jesus over the course of the new year. We can talk to them about faith and faithfulness and how God is always faithful to us.

Christmas doesn’t have to end because the lights are down and the cookies are a distant memory. Christmas can be for today, tomorrow, and everyday after, because Christmas is simply honoring Christ.

::January 4::    ::Back to the Top::    ::January 6::

Simply Noel: January 3 – A Life Adorned

Simply Noel:

January 3 – A Life Adorned

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

Adorn –

transitive verb

1:  to enhance the appearance of especially with beautiful objects

2:  to enliven or decorate as if with ornaments

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

The thought stopped me in my tracks.

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

All of it – intentional.

All of it – for them, for us.

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

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

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

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

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

xo,

Kristi

adorned

Klover House Christmas:

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

 

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

Simply Noel: 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 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 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::

Simply Noel: December 26 – A Good Life

Simply Noel:

December 26 – A Good Life

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

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

I still have a good life.

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 31: 19-24

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

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

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

xo,

Kristi

life

Klover House Christmas:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Simply Noel: December 25 – A Gift

Simply Noel:

December 25 – A Gift

Merry Christmas!

It seems as though it would be fitting for the topic today to be Christ-related, right? I mean afterall, it is Christmas Day. But, I have a different message laying on my heart today, and I believe the timing is no coincidence.

You are a gift.

In case you needed to hear that today, you are a treasured gift. Your value is immeasurable. Your worth is greater than all the riches of the earth. And your existence…you…you were planned for and bought with a life.

You are known and unique and the Lord has shaped destiny around your very being. He loves you so much that He sent His only Son to come to this world as a baby, and that baby would grow into a man whose heart was to teach you and train you for the life that the Father had so delicately planned for you. The Son would then die for you, defeat death for you, come back to life for you, and then leave His Holy Spirit to dwell in and among you, so that you would be a champion in this place.

He thinks that you are such a gift to this world that He went to great lengths to prove it.

Several times over the course of my life, I have faced rejection by someone whose opinions mattered so much to me. I’m sure you’ve walked that road, too. I took a risk and exposed a vulnerable part of my heart only to be met with a response I had feared in the first place. The hurt struck deep, and the embarrassment was like a snag in my favorite sweater – an unexpected reminder of my shortcomings that wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

I could have replied with transparency, exposing my wounded feelings, but instead, I let it settle and I laid it at His feet. I could do this, because He showed me something about myself through the rejection…

My value, the value of my writings, the value of my mind and heart, the value of my time…they are not measured by any other humans. They are measured by the Lord of Lords. Everything I put my hand to, everything you put your hand to, is unto Him. When I started to see that, the sting faded and my confidence was restored.

During the holidays we spend a great deal of time with others, and in doing so, we obviously increase the odds that someone may hurt our hearts. Maybe it’s a snide comment, or perhaps it’s something said in jest but goes deep… Maybe it’s being made to feel “less than” or not “good enough” by the people in your life that you most want approval from… Maybe you just feel unnoticed, unappreciated or overlooked…

Regardless, you are a gift. Your life is a gift to this world, and your talents and passions are uniquely your own. Remember today, as you give and receive, He gave first and all that we are is a gift back to Him.

xo,

Kristi

gift

Klover House Christmas:

For the first half of our married life, my husband and I spent hours in the car on Christmas Day driving from place to place, visiting family. My parents divorced decades ago, so that obviously multiplied the stops. Several years ago, in order to spend a longer amount of uninterrupted time together, my husband’s parents started the tradition of having our family Christmas celebration the weekend before Christmas. Not only does that give us the wonderful extra time for Christmas fellowship, it also gives us one less stop to make on Christmas Day. Over the past few years, things have also shifted on my side of the family. Old traditions and annual gatherings have faded away with the passing of grandparents.

Now, we spend most of the day at our own home. There are a few hours of “nothing to do” and “no one to see” in our day, and so, it felt a little strange at first but wonderful. Usually, holidays feel so rushed for our family; however, we now find ourselves actually spending time with one another – imagine that!

While it was slightly awkward at first, because it was unfamiliar, I loved being able to enjoy some spontaneity with our children. Once my in-laws head on their way following our annual breakfast together, we have a decent stretch of time before my mother and step-dad arrive, so we open a few new toys and actually let the kids play!

All that to say…don’t be afraid to have downtime on Christmas. Yes, it’s important to visit with loved ones and squeeze a lot of doing and seeing into this glorious day, but if you can, carve a pocket of time out to just sit and be – reserve time for hanging out with your spouse and your kids or for sipping a cup of coffee next to your tree. And just breathe. Create a chance to take in the gift of the day.

 

::December 24::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 26::

Simply Noel: December 24 – Holy Night

Simply Noel:

December 24 – Holy Night

I stumbled upon a beautiful rendition of a classic Christmas song that I’m sure most of us know and sing several times throughout the holiday season, O Holy Night. (If you get a chance, by the way, check out how this beautiful and moving song came to be. It’s such an interesting story.) I was looking into something completely different and the words, “O Helga Natt” caught my eye on the computer screen.

I click on the link, and found myself moved to tears at the new revelation the song brought to me in those midnight moments. Christmas is for the world…

It’s so easy to get wrapped up – literally and figuratively – during the holidays. It’s not surprising to go through the month of December with tunnel vision. After all, there is just so much to do and so many things vying for our time and attention.

Yet, during those few minutes that it took to listen to that beautiful song with my heart and not my head (listening to a familiar song sung in a language that you don’t speak can do that – opera, anyone?), I found myself overwhelmed at the thought of the millions of human beings from all over the world worshipping this same Jesus. I was undone. While He loves me uniquely, and I am His beloved, isn’t it incredible that He loves billions of people with that same undying, everlasting, eternal, passionate, intentional love?

Let that sink in for a moment.

You and I are part of such a large and beautiful family. We are His sons and daughters. We are each others brothers and sisters. Even if we don’t look the same, think the same, act the same, or sound the same…we are eternally connected in spirit and in truth.

And on this night – the holiest of nights – take a moment to let the bigger picture consume and inspire you as you reflect on the fact that there is an entire world celebrating Him with you.

xo,

Kristi

night

Klover House Christmas:

Tonight, as I mentioned in a previous post, is all about Jesus and family. We are blessed with a few simple and timeless traditions – some of which have come from my side of the family and some from my husband’s. We often enjoy a delicious, seafood feast at his parents’ house with his siblings and their families, and then we usually go to church together, followed by returning home to open one gift – a new pair of festive pajamas. In years past we had gifted the children each a Christmas story, but I noticed that many of the books have gone untouched over the years. So this year, we decided to have my husband read the story of Jesus’ birth as told by one of my favorite children’s bibles – The Jesus Storybook Bible (see aff. link below). We love this Bible. It not only tells the stories in a way that appeals to young and old alike, but it also has such unique and beautiful illustrations. While I loved the idea of a new book each year, I love the idea of my girls growing up knowing the birth so well that it plays over and over for them as they drift off to sleep Christmas Eve.

 

::December 23::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 25::

Simply Noel: December 23 – Adequate in Christ

Simply Noel:

December 23 – Adequate in Christ

On this day two years ago, as I walked through the living room, turning off lights, I was hit in my heart with a word: Inadequate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sufficiency

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

– 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Abundance

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

– John 10:10

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

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

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

xo,

Kristi

adequate

Klover House Christmas:

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas!

 

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

 

Simply Noel: December 22 – He is My Peace

Simply Noel:

December 22 – He is My Peace

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

A few years ago, I remember taking our small clan to see “The Man in Red”, and for the first time ever, all of the children smiled. When you’re a parent, I imagine that’s kind of a memorable experience – when you go from screaming to smiling. It was a bit surreal, and I sort of wanted someone to “act up” so it felt a little more normal, but it didn’t happen. One by one, they took Santa’s hands and whispered their wish and then all four sat doll-like on his little couch, and I had to blink extra hard to believe my eyes.

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

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

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

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

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

I arrived home seriously exhausted. And then I read Micah 5:5:

“And he shall be their peace.”

– Micah 5:5

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

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

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

– Matthew 11:28-30

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

xo,

Kristi

peace

Klover House Christmas:

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

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

 

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