30 Ways to Keep Christ in Christmas

Our world makes it challenging to keep Christ in Christmas.

Anyone else notice that?

Don’t get me wrong: I love this season. The lights and festivities. I’m a Christmas baby and I find this time of year magical. I love experiencing it with my kids…the excuse to wear Christmas pajamas days on end, reading holiday books, sipping hot chocolate and eating cookies for lunch

But more than anything, I want to make it meaningful. I want Jesus to be the focus. I want my kids to know what the day and all the celebrating is really about. They won’t hear it at school or see it in the sales advertisements. They will know because we will show them.

Here are some ways we make Christmas meaningful (and a few ideas we plan to implement):

  • Set up a Nativity and make it a focus in your home. [We put ours front and center on the entry table in our home].
  • Hide baby Jesus and “seek” Him Christmas morning before opening gifts. [I did this first thing last year. Here’s how I found it half an hour later. Turns out Mary had a little Snowman. I love little kids].

  • (or) Gift wrap baby Jesus in your nativity and let this be your first unwrapped gift Christmas morning.
  • Take a cue from the Magi and limit the gifts and reminding kids it’s not their birthday, it’s His.
  • Have a daily family devotion that unwraps Christmas, here’s ours for this year; Advent Tabletop Devotional. [This is perfect for families. It offers a verse for each day and a question or two that will hopefully lead to a meaningful discussion.]
  • Participate in Advent. Last year, we did the Jesse Tree Advent. And I love this 25 day free printable Advent idea!
  • Light an Advent wreath each day leading up to Christmas.
  • Have a birthday cake for Jesus or go all out and make it a birthday party!
  • Watch DVDS like Why Do We Call It Christmas? that help you tell the real story of Christmas.
  • Give your kids the gift of giving: Have them shop with purpose. This year we are giving our kids money to shop from the Compassion gift catalog.
  • Or buy something that blesses twice and changes lives (Mercy Shop).
  • Don’t stress about things that really don’t matter this Season. I have been a Christmas hoarder in the past. Last year, I had two newlywed couples come and dig thru my decorations. I saved two boxes of things I value most and gave the rest away. It’s simple this year and I like it.
  • Make the Nativity interactive with tools like What God Wants for Christmas. It’s from the creators of Resurrection Eggs.
  • Do something for someone else on Christmas Day. This will be our fifth year to visit the NICU (with treats) that saved our daughter’s life five Christmas’ ago.
  • Talk with your kids about giving God a gift. What does He want from us?
  • Hang a stocking for Christ. Fill it with notes just for Him.
  • Invite someone to share Christmas dinner with your family.
  • Shop for single mom. This year playing secret santa and dropping off gifts for a single mom!
  • Don’t participate in the excessive commercialism. Enough said.
  • Watch The Nativity Story together as a family. We started this tradition two years ago. I think this PG movie tells the greatest story ever told very well.
  • Help your kids shop for their siblings.
  • Talk about the symbols of Christmas.
  • Be generous as a family at Christmas-baking, giving, doing.
  • Hold a Yule log party: it’s an old European custom to bring in an enormous log on Christmas Eve and it in the fireplace (or fire pit) and say prayers. Today, Yule log cakes and eggnog are served. You can sing carols, read Scripture, tell stories, pray for the new year, and have good fellowship.
  • Bake, make or buy a special gift for your Pastor. We did Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls year before last. What a gift!
  • Cherish traditions with your family. Start a new one! Like the next one:
  • When preparing your Christmas meal, set a literal place for Jesus, your honored guest.
  • Attend church on Christmas Eve.
  • Read Luke 2 together on Christmas Eve or morning. We’ve been doing this since before we had kids.
  • Leave a Nativity out all year long. I did this last year and it was really special.
How do you keep Christ in Christmas?
[edited repost]

The Laundry Mantle

Did I ever tell y’all I was in a long distance relationship with my husband-to-be? So, here’s how that happened: We went to college together and became best friends. He graduated and moved across the country to work on his Masters while I finished my degree. After I graduated I flew to see my awesome friend. We “accidentally” kissed (overcome with missing each other??) and started an unplanned relationship that weekend. I returned home to my first (and only year) as a teacher and we got engaged about a month later.


About a month before we got married, my husband-to-be moved in with my parents (I lived in an apartment about 30 minutes away). It was an awesome whirlwind, whiplash season! To this day, it still cracks me up when my husband talks about the time he lived with my parents. He always says the same thing: your mom was serious about the laundry. He said he would take a shower and before he was dressed, she would have his dirty clothes laundered, folded and ready to put away.

I grew up with this and it’s a lot of pressure.

Because clearly, if you soil your clothes in my house, you better not expect to see them back in your closet for a week.

Growing up, my mother set some high laundry standards. She washed every day (and still does!) Her laundry room looks like a washer and dryer advertisement. She’s passed on the Laundry Mantle to an unworthy recipient.

I’m not going to lie, my Maytag Bravos XL make me want to be a better launderer. The cool options (I didn’t even know existed since my last set were duct taped together) make me want to pursue laundry greatness. I love the capacity of my washer and how it uses small amounts of water, but still cleans so well. I love the allergen cold water cycle, especially since my kiddos wash their clothes in cold water in an attempt not to fade clothes.

My mom’s Maytag of old, was sturdy and a workhorse. She owned the same pair my entire childhood. But they had nothing on the Maytag duo purring in my laundry room right now. It’s been a blessing to receive the Maytag Bravos pair and I highly recommend them for your laundry needs.

Excuse me, the Mantle, it is calling.

Now, if I could just get my dog to fold the clothes, I’d be all set.

I’m wrapping up a series of post about the amazing washer and dryer Maytag gave me. Make sure you check out the Maytag PageMaytag Facebook, and Maytag Twitter

Disclaimer: I wrote this post as a #MayTagMoms Dependable Laundry Ambassador through mom Central Consulting on behalf of Maytag. I was provided with the Maytag washer and dryer set to facilitate my post.

WFMW: Advent Roundup

I love this time of year! I’m trying to use this extra week after Thanksgiving, before December starts to catch up, so I can slow down. Dinner time is our time to connect as a family. We also do our Advent during this time. There are so many great options out there. I hope you enjoy a peaceful, meaningful Advent season too.

99 ideas to “fill” your days (and calendars) leading up to Advent

Special thanks to Dayspring for our beautiful Nativity.

The Kitchen iPad Rack {Heck of a Giveaway}

UPDATE: Comment #1035 was randomly selected as the lucky winner of this giveaway. Congratulations Hillary S. – an email has been sent your way.

[Hint: You’ll want to read this post to the very end!]

Our kitchen is the busiest place in our home. And by busy I really mean dirty.

Eating. Homeworking. Snacking. Cooking. Drawing. Cleaning. And now Googling.


I bought my hubby an iPad for his 40th birthday a couple of years ago. Now that’s a gift. He loves it and uses it daily. It’s really become a family iPad. He shares well with others. It’s such a portable resource and is handy in every room of the house. The kids use it for researching their science project, I use it for recipes and my hubby watches the Texans stomp all over other teams.

And now, a new little tool has taken the iPad limits to the max. It’s been called the missing link to making the most of your iPad in the kitchen. I give you:

When my new advertiser sent us The Kitchen iPad Rack, we quickly and easily mounted the plexi glass shelf to make cooking with the iPad easier.

Or watching football while you’re supposed to be setting the table. Ahem.

Product Description: Super-easy to use, it stores away in the cabinet when not in use and pops into place when you’re ready to cook.

The Original Kitchen iPad Rack is constructed of solid acrylic with a beauty to match any kitchen.

And get this, with every order this holiday season, $5 goes to Mercy House. Awesome, huh?

Some of you may be thinking, well, Kristen, this is fantastic, for people who own an iPad. Well, in celebration of such a handy kitchen tool (makes a great Christmas gift!), this generous company is giving away an iPad rack and an iPad2 to one very lucky reader today!!!! Yes, you read that correctly!

Please, hop over and check it out: (The specs on the shelf, extra mounts for easy iPad use all over the house, and some great Amazon reviews!)

Entry requirements: Visit the Original Kitchen iPad Rack store and then come back and leave a comment on this post.

For extra entries:

  • stumble, tweet, pin and/or facebook this post
  • leave a comment for each that you do

[details on iPad: ipad2 16GB (winner has option to upgrade)]

This giveaway ends on Friday. May the odds forever be in your favor.

‘Tis the [Hunting] Season

For Thanksgiving, we traipsed thru the woods to Grandma’s farm (a poetic way of saying we drove 8 hours in crazy traffic in a minivan that smelled like tween feet and oranges). I love fall and winter at the farm. It’s cold and crisp on the outside and cozy on the inside with food that brings back memories of childhood.

Plus, it’s just plain beautiful:

I’m a city girl, but I love a dab of farm life. I love picking pecans from under enormous trees with my family (my husband comes from a long line of gatherers), cracking them for snacks and fresh pecan pies. I love that while vaccinating the bull in the pasture, my father-in-law catches my kids up on their shots.

Ha. Totally kidding about that. We just keep them in here for fun.

My husband and I got up with the sun Thanksgiving morning and hiked down to one of his parent’s ponds. We spooked a flock of Canadian geese and they skid across the still water and made their V formation in the sky above us. We walked to another pond and saw a gorgeous bald eagle swoop and scatter a flock of mallards.

“You know I’m going to have to bring him down here to hunt,” my husband said of our 10-year-old son.

We talked about our boy’s Christmas list. There are 3 things on it:
1. A pocketknife
2. A rifle
3. A compound bow

And we laughed again at our son’s statement: “Dad, I just want to kill something.”

I’ve never been or had a 10 year-old-boy before and I’m a little afraid. This is normal right? He’s sort of got a one-track mind right now.

Duck Dynasty marathons are not helping.

So, the boys headed down to the pond and did whatever hunters do. They came back chilled to the bone and empty-handed.

But not if you asked my son…..”Mom, I got so close to killing a duck today!”

His dad gave me a knowing smile across the room and I said, “Why because you had a gun in your hand and there were birds in the air?”

“Yes,” he said, starry-eyed.

He’s got it bad.

My husband grew up hunting and can’t wait to give his son his first rifle. I’ve been saying he’s not old enough yet.

Then he found this photo of his daddy (my husband) at Grandma’s house:

I need a new excuse.

Guess who’s enrolled in Hunter Safety Classes this weekend?

The neighborhood deer don’t stand a chance. ‘Tis the [hunting] season.

How was your Thanksgiving? 

Don’t forget about this.

Cyber Monday Mercy Shop Sale

Mercy Shop‘s biggest sale of the year is just a few hours away! It’s a one day sale (starting tonight at midnight, ending Monday, Nov. 26 at 11:59 pm). And here is a sneak peek at the super special deals while supplies last:

Plus, FREE SHIPPING on your entire order with code: CYBERMON

First 50 orders get a free one-of-a-kind handmade bracelet from our girls in Kenya!

WFMW: Sweet & Tangy Broccoli Salad

Last week when the flu slammed our home, I worried about not being able to travel to the grandparent’s farm for Thanksgiving. I was concerned about my kids missing a fun time with cousins, saying hola to the cows and visiting with extended family. And of course, being thankful for all of the above. But let’s be real, my stomach was also fearful of missing the feast my mother-in-law is famous for.

She serves the amazing traditional spread, but adds in dishes like homemade Summer Sausage and Mississippi Mud Pie. One of my favorites, introduced a few years ago is Sweet & Tangy Broccoi Salad. It’s easy and absolutely delicious!


  • 2 bunches broccoli, florets only (5 to 6 cups florets)
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 10 to 12 slices bacon, fried and crumbled


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar


Separate florets from broccoli stalks. Combine salad ingredients; top with dressing mixture. Chill and serve.
It’s delicious!
I’m taking an Internet break over the next few days. I hope y’all have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Dayspring’s Most Incredible Sale of the Year

Some friends of mine who work for Dayspring visited my home last year. After a quick tour, they said my home was a great Dayspring advertisement. I LOVED THAT. Because not only have I written for this amazing company for years, I believe in them. From the CEO to the shipping clerks, every employee I’ve met loves Jesus and their product speaks of this inspiration.

And their stuff is pretty cute.

I also love to give Dayspring items–every teacher, friend and relative on my list usually gets a little something from this company.

I’m super excited to share with you their biggest sale of the year, starting today! Get 30% off everything in the store (clearance and monthly specials included)

Super Sale- 30% off with code: 30SUPER

Plus, Dayspring has some incredible deals on many of my favorite items:

Ever Grateful Platter Reg Price: $34.99
Super Deals Price: $13.99 (60% off!)

Ever Grateful - 12

Ever Grateful Vase

Reg Price: $21.99
Super Deals Price: $7.79 (60% off!)

Ever Grateful - 10

Blessings of God Dough Bowl
Reg Price: $64.99
Super Deals Price: $25.99 (60% off!)
Blessings of God - Dough Bowl

Inspirational Message Blocks:
Reg Price: $49.99
Super Deals Price: $14.99 (70% off!)

Inspirational Message Blocks - Set of 9 Blocks

Plus, many more Super Deals- up to 70% off! I’m using Dayspring affiliate links in this post.