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Have you ever noticed the irony of this time of year? The season of "peace on earth" ends up being the MOST stressful time of the year. In our family, the first two weeks of December are the most packed with evening activities, the latest bedtimes, the shortest on sleep, and the craziest time of the whole year. But even in the frenzy, you can find peace. Here are five things that have worked for me.
Focusing on the Advent season more than Christmas Day.
We light an Advent wreath every Sunday at the church where my husband pastors. We have Advent devotionals as a family. We have an Advent calendar (that we're behind on) that focuses on the Nativity. I share Advent Sunday devotionals for our Naomi's Circle ministry. We copy Christmas carols and do Advent activities in our home school activities. I very much enjoy the Advent Season that precedes Christmas, and it helps to settle my heart down as a result, especially in moments when I am missing loved ones.
Focusing on experiences more than expectations.
The experience of cutting down our own Christmas tree at the Christmas tree farm. The experience of seeing our favorite living Nativity. The experience of putting up the Christmas lights as a family. The experience of surprising our children by taking them to see "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" at a local church. The experience of seeing the lights in our neighborhood and enjoying being with friends and family. The experience of reading the story of Jesus' birth to my children. In the past, my expectations of myself and of what Christmas "should" be have overshadowed my enjoyment of those moments or even prevented them in favor of getting my list done. Lists have their place, to be certain, but try to see the moments for the treasures that they are.
Focusing on Jesus more than Santa.
This is something that we decided years ago as a family. We don't ignore the jolly old elf entirely, but he is no more a part of our days than our children's other favorite characters, like Tigger or the pups from Paw Patrol. Our focus has been on Jesus...but we try to focus on Him the rest of the year as well. So in some ways, it is not that different from our other days when my children will ask me in the car on the way home from activities, "Mama, tell me a Bible story!"
Focusing on miracles more than magic.
So much is made of the "magic" of Christmas, in the lights and decorations and fantasy and stories. I love that as much as anyone, and to all of my friends who have decorated their homes and allowed me to enjoy that magic - thank you! But this year, I've been less concerned about recreating that magic in our own home and more focused on the miracles of the first Christmas, as well as the miracles that God has done in my own life - salvation, the gift of my husband, the privilege of being a mother to little ones both on earth and in Heaven, and especially the miracle of peace and joy after the losses of our babies so many years ago.
Focusing on God's presence more than presents.
My husband's good habit of buying gifts for family and friends throughout the year has rubbed off on me, so that helps immensely since our "shopping" usually is done well before Thanksgiving. But we are also trying to very much reduce the focus on gifts. We are trying to help our children focus on how to bless others during this time more than making a list of things they want. Sometimes we have opened gifts on Christmas Eve, allowing us to focus Christmas Day fully on worship and celebration. We limit the number of gifts we are buying and the extravagance of them. Instead, we are trying to focus more on the gift of "God with us" that Jesus' birth was, and also how to be God's presence in others' lives, whether that means giving to others or doing something for others that communicates God's love to them.
It is barely two weeks until Christmas, and my thoughts turn to Heaven, where most of my children are. Naomi, Kyria, Jordan, Hope, and Christmas are the babes who went to be with the Lord at different points of my pregnancies with them. Each has a name, and each has a story.
This will be my tenth Christmas with a child in Heaven. How can that be? And while I would have given anything to keep my children with me, I know that if I truly understood the glories of Heaven, I would not deny them the glory of Paradise for even another day with me on this troubled earth.
This poem was written out of that paradox, of wanting my babies with me and yet rejoicing that they were with Jesus, especially at Christmas. I hope it blesses you, especially if this is your first Christmas apart from a dearly loved child. In the words of O, Holy Night, may you know that inexplicable "thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices...."
A blessed Christmas to you all.
I hear that on the Earth below
This is a special season
With lights and songs and gifts and such,
And Jesus is the reason!
In the place I would have lived
Are strings of light that blink and shine,
But you should see the light up here
That glows from Jesus all the time!
In the place I would have lived
Carols play, and special songs,
But you should hear the music that
The angels sing here all day long!
In the place I would have lived,
Gifts are shared on Christmas Day,
But you should feel the joy we feel
Because God’s gift is here to stay!
In the place I would have lived,
Tears have flowed because I’m gone.
My family wishes I were there
To see and hear and feel it all.
But in this place where I now live,
It’s Christmas all day, all year long,
And the sights and sounds I’d see with them
Are pure, unblemished by all wrong.
So on this day that would have been
My first Christmas on the Earth,
Mama, Daddy, you need to know
I’m celebrating Jesus’ birth!
When you sing songs to worship Him,
I’m singing with the angels, too.
I’m never closer than when we all
Praise Him for our life anew.
I know that Life began for me
Sooner than you thought it would.
I know your hearts are hurting now,
And you would change things if you could.
But in this place, where you’ll come, too,
We’ll be together, forever.
And there will be no more good-byes
When we celebrate Christmas in heaven – together!
by Kristi Bothur, mother of seven - two on earth and five in Heaven
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Black Friday sales are pretty amazing, aren’t they? Deep savings on popular products. They can also be pretty stressful because often there are limited time deals, or savings at this percent until this time and then you have a lower percent off so shop fast! Whether online or in a store, that stresses me out.
So I’m really glad that the company I work with, Lilla Rose, doesn’t do that. They are having a FIVE-DAY Black Friday sale with the same amazing deals the whole time. Read below to see what the deals are and a couple of tips to make your shopping easy, whether for yourself or as a gift (because these make great stocking stuffers!).
Here are the deals, short and sweet.
Know your size! Flexi Clips come in seven sizes. Use the chart below to find your ponytail size. Then depending on your hair length, go up one or two sizes for an updo and down a size for a half-up.
Buying a gift? If you don’t know the size, get an XS or Small, which work for nearly everyone. The good news is Lilla Rose has a size guarantee and will exchange clips for 90 days on their dime for the shipping.
What works for everyone. Items that are one-size-fits-all include u-pins (for updos, not for short hair), hairbands (beaded ones double as a necklace with an extra chain), and bobbies. Also, Flexis can double as scarf clips!
Styling videos available!
My Lilla Rose website has amazing videos demonstrating different hair styles and how to get them easily with Lilla Rose products! Check them out and see what is on sale at the same time! Questions? Contact me! I’ll help! Happy shopping!
Welcome! My name is Kristi. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a teacher, a writer, a musician... but most of all a child and worshiper of God discovering that even in life's messes, God is still good. Learn more about me and my journey here!
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