This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every moring: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion saith my soul: therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3: 21-26

Monday, December 24, 2007

Blessed by the Best Ideas—Blessed by the Best Gift

Christmas Eve Day
To all my friends:

May Peace, Joy, Love, Mercy and Grace fill your homes. Hug your familes, enjoy your church services, eat all the wonderful goodies, listen to some uplifting music...and most of all...
Remember to rest in His love.

The "Reason for the Season" is there, just like always--waiting for you to receive your gift, the best gift of all. How are you doing to remember to focus on HIM?

So many other bloggers have blessed me so much and helped me slow down. Their posts that have brought me so much joy during these days leading up to Christmas. Take some time with a warm mug of your favorite holiday beverage & visit them. Leave them a lovely comment--because you know for bloggers, the comments are just like chocolate!

Please let me know if you have something you would like to share with everyone!! There is still plenty of time.

This post begain almost forty days ago and it started with this:

I've been thinking about what I want my family to focus on this year and thought I would share some links to bloggers that have blessed my heart with their ideas. Will you share your traditions with me? I will be keeping this post near the top (with a link at the very top) and adding as long as someone has blessings & joy to share. If you have an idea on December 24th I'd like to know. Or even on January 24th, although we might be letting the post sink to the bottom by then.

So...Do your Christmas holidays begin the day after Thanksgiving? We know in the retail world they now begin the day after Halloween! (Or sooner.) So when does the season begin at your house? Do you start on December 1st and count down the days until the 25th? Do you do the Twelve Days of Christmas? Do you include the Feast of St. Nicholas? Does Christmas last until Epiphany at your home? (Of course some of us leave the tree up until almost February--but that wasn't because of celebrations.)

Some bloggers have started preparing for and remembering Christ's birth already. For forty days prior to the holiday they are getting their hearts prepared. And the ways are wonderful.

Debbi at Deb on the Run is at the beginning of a different forty day journey to Christmas, to Christ. Only she is not filling it with goodies and baking--at least until the Feast of the Nativity. Right now the Eastern Orthodox Church is celebrating the Nativity Fast. This post also contains a link to some wonderful Scripture boxes to be used in the celebration. She shows some of the process here and also talks about some planting they are including in their preparations. I spent the beginning of last year celebrating Divine Liturgy with an Orthodox Church that I loved. The beauty & richness of their celebrations leave me grasping for words. It truly touches every sense. Updated to add: Deb is getting ready for the Feast of St. Nicholas and shows us some "coins" that her family will be using.

This year Liza at Liza's Eye View is on a forty day journey to Christmas. She is doing the John 3:16 Devotional by Max Lucado: 40 Days with the Son. I will be following this with interest. I had already picked out different book to follow. But next year??

So what book did I have planned? This year I will be using the book Preparing for Jesus by Walter Wangerin, Jr. I ran across it at the Christian bookstore that I like to shop at.

With the boys I will be reading Child of the Promise by Stormie Omartian. This is a perennial favorite of ours. I will be going into more detail on this book soon.

Some other bloggers have some wonderful children's book suggestions! Renee at 2 Peas in Pod linked to the Holidays Near and Far booklist and Leah at South Breeze Farm has some wonderful choices that journey to Bethlehem!! I know that memories that last a lifetime come from sharing a good book with a child. Be sure to visit these ladies and find these titles.

Kim at mom-musings shares with us a book, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, that sounds like something I know my family will enjoy. Take a look!

Maybe you start your holiday on December 1st. Some do a Jesse Tree. Some do Advent calendars and some do Advent Wreaths (links here and there).

Last year before I started blogging, I began reading several blogs. One of my favorites was another homeschool mom. She blessed me and without knowing gave me a nudge in the keister to improve my holidays. I am talking about Jeana at Days to Come . She shared last year about an Advent tradition involving a wreath and a box to open. It started with this post and followed with many Advent posts throughout last December. Of course, as always, her posts are filled with humor and the realities of family and fun, showing we can still have fun and be merry while making the holidays more memorable.NOTE: Jeana is doing a sequel to last year. Sure to be as memorable!

A wonderful Advent project post I was thrilled to find was from Ann at More questions than answers. The supplies are simple, and the Scriptures are wonderful. This would be so great for families where younger children are present, but the olders will enjoy and relate too. I was so glad Ann let me share this.

How do you include your family in your holiday? Maria at Free to Fly shares some holiday memories where she learned about incorporating her husband's and son's wishes for decorating. She also posted about what delights her about the holidays!! She is uplifting as always.

Barbara H of Stray Thoughts shared two beautiful posts: 1st Corinthians 13 Applied to Christmas and Ten Free Gifts for Christmas. I think these are so awesome! Thank you Barbara. Edited to add: Barbara has graciously shared some more posts, her own post with links to many lovely Christmas devotionals, this favorite of mine, a story of a goose, oh my word--some funnies that will make you laugh, some quotes--I love quotes, a poem and a hymn, and a way to bless missionaries during the holidays. I thought it might be to late for this year, but good to keep in mind and work on for 2008.

Kathleen Marie from The Open Window shares on Faith Lifts a devotional about the origins and interpretations of The Twelve Days of Christmas. You know, the boys and I have a set of ornaments that list these Scripture references and they get so excited when we put them on their tree. This gives so much more meaning to an old familiar song and is a wonderful post to check out!

Do you find that one of your ways to bless your family for the holidays is to cook fabulous food? Do you look for handmade & homemade ways to share gifts.

Jess at Sassy Pants has joined in to share a handmade memory and an idea for continuing the tradition. I really love to make gifts, visit her to read her sweet story.

Renee at Two Peas in Pod is sharing recipes and crafts and lots of links to other bloggers at her holiday blog Holiday Creations. She has holidays throughout the year listed on there. She has a lot of Thanksgiving going now. I can wait to see more of her warm and happy Christmas ideas.

Edited to add: Renee has some wonderful holiday thoughts here and a free book recommendation here, that I will be looking at right away. Thanks Renee!

Mrs. Pear, possibly the most organized homemaking blogger has a lovely post about passing on a traditional family recipe to Miss Pear. Lovely memories come from times like that!

All the way from Alaska, Michelle at Scribbit is hosting a Winter Bazaar with great ideas from other bloggers with crafty and fun ideas for the holidays. I think Alaska is sure to have a "White Christmas," don't you? Check it out.

A post of a different sort blessed my heart. Coach Jenny at A Coach for Life shares what "knowledge" without love gets one for the holidays. There is nothing new under the sun. It is just wrapped a little differently sometimes. This is a can't miss post. Edited to add: Jenny posted a "can't miss" link today. It isn't just for Christmas. It is for everyday. It reminds us what it is all about.

Something I think most of us are aware of , but don't often address, is the possibility for a holiday, any holiday to cause as much pain as it does joy. Heidi at God's Grace in Practice has a post titled "Blue Christmas" that really spoke to my heart. Her lovely commenters had some good thoughts to share too.

Sheryl at Taking the Challenge, hostess of Faith Lift Fridays shares a special post reminding us of the things I think we all have in common when we thing of sweet Christmas memories. Visit Sheryl for her Faith Lift Fridays for a lovely way to start the weekend.

Many thanks to those who have joined in so far. Other bloggers have agreed to join us and will let me know when their posts are up. I will be adding to this post as we go along.

Do you have some ideas for making the holidays a blessing, for remembering why we really do this? I know you do. Feel free to leave me a note in the comments or e-mail me. I would love to hear and it is a great way to share some holiday joy.
Looking forward to a holy holiday! May your Christmas be blessed and full of joy.

Technorati tags: A Reason for the Season,


Leah in Iowa said...

I have a great book recommendation that I'll be posting on after Thanksgiving. I'll send you the link right to that post when I have it up. Thanks, Julie!

Renee's Ramblings said...

What a great post! I'll be posting more on our family holiday traditions and some great books in December and will definitely send you the links.

Barbara H. said...

Thanks for the links! I enjoyed looking at several of these.

kim said...

Here is a link to a post I wrote about finding our focus at Christmas. Enjoy!

Jess said...

I have a recent post about one of my Christmas traditions. It here at


freetofly said...

Julie, sorry I have not been on-line. I will have you something good & festive by Monday! I love what you are doing, this is a wonderful idea! I am working on several posts right now...that is why the delay for the Christmas thing. I have to go with the precolating you know!

God bless...

btw you find the most beautiful pics! Thank you for the peace & joy in your site!

Scribbit said...

These are terrific links--they would all be good for the Winter Bazaar this week, and I love all the little days to celebrate in December and January, it can be a month-long party.

Renee's Ramblings said...

When you get a chance, please stop over at my blog. There's an award for you there.


Kathleen Marie said...

I would love to get the Omartian book for my granddaughter. Wonderful. Thank you for all the wonderful links. My Faith Lifts post for today is on the 12 Day of Christmas carol. You might find it interesting.

Excellent post! Hugs and God Bless!

annie said...

I'll check out your links.

Ann said...

Thanks for the great list of ideas and visiting my blog! You're welcome to link my advent post.

freetofly said...

OMG(osh) I am going to have to speand some time with some French Vanilla Coffee & check these out!

I did a small post today & I have more coming...

I was inspired already by some of these things I have read to try something new...I will let you know how that works!

This is such a worthwhile project, Julie! So glad you became the hub for this! What a blessing!


freetofly said...

OMG(osh) I am going to have to speand some time with some French Vanilla Coffee & check these out!

I did a small post today & I have more coming...

I was inspired already by some of these things I have read to try something new...I will let you know how that works!

This is such a worthwhile project, Julie! So glad you became the hub for this! What a blessing!


Leah in Iowa said...

I posted about my children's book recommendations for Advent yesterday! Finally!! =)

Merry Christmas,

~ Leah

DebD said...

Wow, you really are adding a lot this month.

My kids really enjoyed the coins this morning. And I really like the St. Nicholas Icon and Troparion you have on your side bar - its lovely.

Hope you've had a joyful feast-day.

Renee's Ramblings said...

This post is just getting better and better! Thanks for hosting this!

Anonymous said...

blessings to you and your boybarians sweetie :) kathleen

Heidi @ GGIP said...

Thanks for the link. I am happy that you thought my post was important enough to share. Happy Holy-days. :)

Anonymous said...

I say No. If it doesn't nurture my relationship with my family -- I don't have time for it right now.

Kelli said...

Thank you for sharing all of the wonderful links!

Barbara H. said...

Just popping in to wish you a very special Christmas.

Thanks for the links!

Barbara H. @ Stray Thoughts

Anonymous said...

hi julie,
i have new blog and email addresses. my blog totally died. had to make a new one. here is the link.

wishing you and your boybarians a ho ho ho merry Christmas. see you soon, kathleen :) xoxo

Mom Who Loves Books said...

Thanks for the recommendation. Reading is so therapeutic for me. It takes my mind away from all the stress of my day. I wish I could find more time to read. Wish you all the best.