Gifts from God

Gifts from God

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
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As children we eagerly awaited Christmas morning, so we could tear our presents open and see the marvelous gifts that had been hidden under the tree.

As adults, do we still eagerly await our chance to open gifts?  Do we get excited to see what God has in store for us?  God is THE BEST GIFT GIVER of all he doesn’t need to wait until Christmas to bestow gifts to your soul.  He does it daily. Sometimes these gifts come wrapped in packages that we might not want to open.  Other times, we become like children at Christmas time unable to wait any longer until we can open those most wanted gifts.

Our Creating a Great Day team came together and created a special gift for you.  It’s a gift that we pray will open your hearts to the many wonderful gifts God may have in store for you or has already blessed you with.  It’s not an exhaustive list, but a wonderful way to dig into God’s Word for 5 minutes a day and refresh your mind, spirit, and soul to what the day holds.

Every day is a gift filled with amazing possibilities to grow and glorify God!  Our prayer is that you will not miss the gifts that aren’t neatly wrapped and placed under the tree but instead will openly welcome whatever gifts God is bringing your way this year.

So…we are gifting you a special 5 minute devotional Ebook that will help you focus on God’s great gifts!

gifts-from-god-ebook-graphic

In the “Gifts from God: A 5 minute devo book”, you will be encouraged with:

  • a verse
  • a short devo thought around the verse
  • a prayer
  • a place to journal your thoughts and prayers
  • a space for Bible Journaling and
  • Bible verse memory cards

Check out the devos contained within the FREE Ebook:

  • The Gift of Ambassadorship by April Everhart
  • The Gift of Being Chosen by Kristin Jesch
  • The Gift of Immanuel by Kristi Finefrock
  • The Gift of Music by Toni Dennis
  • The Gift of Newness by Melissa Williams
  • The Gift of Refuge by Kristin Jesch
  • The Gift of Self-Confidence by Laura Peoples
  • The Gift of Trials by Kristi Finefrock
  • The Gift of Waiting by Kristi Finefrock
  • The Gift of Weakness by Melissa Williams

This is a great devotional to use now so you can keep unwrapping awesome gifts even after Christmas Day is over

OR

use it to kick off your New Year!

 

Get your FREE Gifts from God ebook now!
(If you are subscribe to our Creating a Great Day Newsletter, check your inbox.  Your gift is there waiting for you!)

A Christmas Tradition (Eggnog Recipe)

A Christmas Tradition (Eggnog Recipe)

I’m Lana, a native Oklahoman. Married 17 years to the first boy I ever dated. Mama to two amazing, darling girls. I’m a coffee-drinking, book-reading, home-educating night owl! An accountant in my life B.C. (Before Children), my dream job would be getting paid to read all day.And if you’re into Meyers-Briggs personality tests, I’m an ISTJ. Most important of all, I’m a follower of Christ.

I hate eggnog.

At least, that’s what I’ve always told myself.  It had that weird, tangy whang that left a strange aftertaste in my mouth.  I didn’t understand why my husband liked the stuff, but since he enjoyed it, I dutifully bought a carton every holiday season.  And every year, I’d try the eggnog again, just to see if my tastes had changed.

My taste buds had not changed.  Eggnog was still yucky-tasting to me.

That is, until I discovered this recipe.  Suddenly, eggnog is one of the highlights of our family’s holidays.  No weird flavor here, just a wonderfully creamy drink.  No strange aftertaste, only the delicious spice of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Our whole family looks forward to having a mug of eggnog while we work on a 1,000-piece puzzle together (another of our Christmas traditions).  We’ve even discovered that this eggnog recipe is as delicious served warm as it is cold!

So whether you’re an eggnog aficionado or an eggnog avoider, add this recipe to your holiday to-do list and you just might find your family has a new Christmas tradition too!

Creamy HomemadeEggnog

Holiday Eggnog

Holiday Eggnog Printable Recipe

(Makes about 2 quarts)

4 cups whole milk, divided

1/2 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1 tsp each cinnamon and nutmeg (more to taste)

4 egg yolks

2 cups each of heavy whipping cream and whole milk

2 tsp vanilla

  • In a large saucepan, heat 3.5 cups of milk, sugar, salt, and spices until hot.
  • In a separate heatproof bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1/2 cup reserved milk.
  • Very slowly, pour the hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. You must do this in small amounts to temper the eggs.  If you add too much of the hot milk at once, it will cook your eggs!
  • Return the egg and milk mixture to the saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat.
  • Pour custard into a large serving bowl (we use a pitcher for convenience). Whisk in 2 cups cream, 2 cups milk, and 2 tsp vanilla. You may need to add more cinnamon and nutmeg at this point.
  • Chill before serving, or enjoy it while it’s still warm.  It’s delicious either way!

Does your family like eggnog?  

What recipes are on your “must-make” list for the holidays?

The Other Side of Christmas

The Other Side of Christmas

Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
Tracy Watts

I love Christmas. The tingle and bite of winter air, the rosiness that rises to your cheeks when you’re outside thrills me. I love the music, the twinkle lights, the house lights. I love that people who often don’t think of Christ have their minds bent on goodwill and giving. And yet, for some–for many more than we probably realize–Christmas is a hard season. It is a bittersweet time, full of memories of those we have lost, either to eternity or conflict or distance. The other side of Christmas can be lonely, painful, or even depressing.

And while I don’t think that should lessen our joy, I do think that we can and should be aware of those struggling and sensitive to their burden. What can we do?

Pray for them.

Pray specifically for them–for comfort, for peace, but also for courage. And let them know that you are praying for them. It is a powerful and wonderful tool that we can intercede for each other on our knees before the awesome Maker of all things.

Spend time with them.

Many gifts are overrated and underused. They are cast aside in an ever-growing pile of “stuff” which sucks us into a world enamored with materialism. But the gift of your time is not only something that can help a lonely person, it is something precious and remembered. It says, “I love you enough to give up other things to just be with you.” It may even be good for you to have some perspective shed on what the “other side” is like.

gift-of-time

Listen.

One of the most valued and least developed skills is listening. Listening–and listening well (with interest, love, and warmth)–can be an enormous gift, especially to someone with struggles. Being able to talk about a loved one who died or the particular challenges of a serious illness can help heal an aching heart. And it is something that you can do no matter what your Christmas gift budget is.

So, today, go out there and bless someone who wasn’t expecting it. In return, you will be blessed beyond measure.

 

Stress-Free Shopping Tips: Why We Don’t Buy Gifts at Christmas Time

Stress-Free Shopping Tips: Why We Don’t Buy Gifts at Christmas Time

Hello. I grew up traveling the world as a military brat. I ultimately felt God's pull to Oklahoma Christian University where I met my husband. We now have 3 beautiful children and have settled in Mustang, Oklahoma.I am a homeschooling mom and with 3 kiddos it is a full time job! I am daily encouraged by God's great patience and grace in my life. In my free time I enjoy reading and crafting.

Here’s the scenario:  

It’s the end of November and you’re just coming out of your turkey coma.  Assuming you didn’t launch into crazy shopping mode on Black Friday, you may be considering the perks of Cyber Monday.  I mean, it’s all online right?  All you have to do is log on and shop to your heart’s desire. No laying a finger on a germ-riddled shopping cart!  You don’t have to battle the crowds. And you’re going to get crazy discounts right??  I mean, yeah, your niece doesn’t particularly need another pair of headphones, but LOOK AT THE PRICE!  Before you know it, you’re distracted.  You’ve gone from the headphones to refrigerators and now you’re looking at boots in your own size…  STOP!  Let’s take a timeout here.  Put down your device and hear me out, please, because there is a better way.

Am I telling you that you should never shop Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

Nope.  If you have a good plan, a solid list, and an incredible amount of self-control and patience, you go for it sister! I am here to encourage you, not to ask you to do something totally crazy!

Here’s what I won’t be asking: I WON’T be encouraging you to withhold gifts from those you love.  I WON’T be telling you that celebrating Christmas with gifts is wrong.  I WON’T be encouraging you to do some crazy strict thing that very few people can achieve.

I WILL be discussing easy and effective ways to shop for your loved ones throughout the year so you don’t have to do that familiar Christmastime scramble.  You know, the one where you end up running to several stores looking for that perfect gift at the last minute.  The one where you are growing increasingly anxious at the time ticking away before celebration time arrives as are the 400 other people trying to squeeze into the mall parking lot.

Tips for Stress-Free Shopping

Blah.  Just writing about the Christmas shopping craziness makes me tense.  There’s no need for your gift-giving occasions to leave you scrambling, frustrated, and frazzled.  Here are a few things to think about when you’re getting started with your stress-free year-round shopping:

  • Let go of the notion that you MUST get the best deal out there.  Let your bank account dictate the best deal for you.  What’s a fair price for the gift you’re looking for?  Is your budget able to accommodate that?
  • Stick to the basics.  For our purposes, my husband and I generally buy all of our children’s gifts throughout the year.  That means that we have to stay away from fads and seasonal items and stick with basic things that our children love through different ages and stages.
  • Technology is your friend, so don’t forget to use it!  If you’re walking through the store and spot an item marked down, hop on your smart phone if you have one and check out competitor’s prices.  Chances are if it’s on sale at one store, it could be somewhere else too.  That’s an easy way to make sure you’re getting a great deal.
  • Pay attention to peak sale times.  My husband and I love to stroll through different stores when we’re out together without our kids (which is a rare occasion indeed).  One thing that we’ve noticed through the years is that we find excellent sales when we’re “window shopping” on our anniversary date.  That’s mid-July.  Why is Walmart clearancing out toys in mid-July?  I have no idea, but it’s worth noting if you’re going to be year-round shopping.  After Christmas sales are generally good as well as sales in the fall when summer type toys go on sale.

Advantages to Shopping Year-Round

By shopping year round I get to gauge my children’s consistent interests and buy things that they will appreciate well into the next Christmas.  For us that generally looks like Legos, art supplies, books, building sets, and clothes.  As a nation blessed beyond abundance, I feel responsible for keeping my children grounded.  Let’s face it, kids love the latest and greatest thing.  We do not have traditional television in our home, so my children rarely see commercials, but when they do, you’d think that these children have never received a gift in their life.  Suddenly a stuffed animal that turns into a pillow AND holds your pajamas inside is THE MOST AMAZING THING EVERRRRR.  Never mind that they have no need for something like that, or that they never touch the 5 billion stuffed animals they already have.  Luke 12:15 says this:

And he said to them, “Take care and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  

I want to ensure that my family remembers these words, especially during the Christmas season.  Along with the relaxation I gain during the holidays by shopping this way, I also gain a sense of financial stability.  There’s no saving for months in order to make Christmas “happen.”  There’s no going into debt in order to find the latest craze and pay more than normal for it at the last minute.  I waste less money on impulse buys when I know I have more time to look.  I also waste less money on junk.

This all stems from our desire to be good stewards of the money we have been blessed with.

1timothy
For me, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of knowing that I have a well-stocked closet with gifts for any occasions.  There’s no post-Thanksgiving scramble for this girl.  I can ride on into December knowing that other than a few things here and there, I’m set for Christmas and can set my focus on Christ our Savior.

How do you handle holiday shopping? 

What ways do you ensure that your family is focusing on things greater than earthly possessions?

 

5 Fun, Simple Things to do with Kids for Christmas

5 Fun, Simple Things to do with Kids for Christmas

I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
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Making Family Traditions without Making Yourself Crazy

It seems like every year there is a new “tradition” or fun thing to do with the kids to enhance Christmas for the family. I think that is GREAT and I love creating family traditions with my kids. More power to all you super-creative mamas!

However, I’ve recently been trying to scale back our holiday commitments in an effort to not over-extend or over-commit our family or stress myself out. So in an effort to accept my own challenge to keep things simple but special–and most importantly, intentional–I’ve made a list of 5 things we will do with our kids this year.

Christmas

Don’t get me wrong! If you go all out every year and have three trees and wrap up 25 Christmas books for your kids to open each day, or make everyone an advent calendar, then please know I admire you greatly and someday I might be just like you!

But this year, here are five fun, simple things we are doing:

1. Christmas Advent Calendar {or Wreath}

I bought mine to do with the kids. It has Bible verses and involves chocolate. 🙂 There are SO MANY cute ones available. We wanted to focus on one that worked itself into our family worship each evening. Advent wreaths are also my favorite!

2.  Put out the Nativity scene together.

I have two Nativities. One is my “nice” one that stays up high, but I also have one that is kid-friendly and having them help me set it up is such an easy way to keep up the discussion about Christmas.

3. Christmas movies

Our family movies have predominantly turned to Christmas movies. In our house these days, it’s mostly the ones with our much beloved truth-telling vegetables (aka Veggie Tales).  There are some great Christmas movies out there that include the real meaning of why we celebrate. But hey, there are also plenty of family-friendly classics. The point is, it’s fun to hang out on the couch for some extra family bonding over popcorn and hot cocoa this time of year.

4. Add a manger under your tree.

Whether it’s a baby bed with swaddling clothes or a small wooden crate, adding a manger under the tree is a great conversation starter for the kids. It is also a wonderful reminder for all of us when we begin to see ALL of the presents under the tree…including the manger.  On Christmas Eve, add a baby doll Jesus and do a family devotion to remind the kids who the real gift is for everyone.

5. Sing!

My kids love singing and it seems to be the best way to get through to them sometimes. Cue an adorable little preschool Tiger who sings about EVERYTHING. My daughter is a song-sponge. We’ve been making it a habit since we put the tree up to sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” ” Away in the Manger,” and “Silent Night,” as well as others. We sing them at all sorts of times during the day, usually when the kids are trying to resist the temptation of climbing the tree. They love it!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and if anyone feels a little overwhelmed or “behind-the-power curve” or already buckling under the holiday pressure for greatness, just keep it simple and keep it true.

Opening The Christmas Box

Opening The Christmas Box

Hello. I grew up traveling the world as a military brat. I ultimately felt God's pull to Oklahoma Christian University where I met my husband. We now have 3 beautiful children and have settled in Mustang, Oklahoma.I am a homeschooling mom and with 3 kiddos it is a full time job! I am daily encouraged by God's great patience and grace in my life. In my free time I enjoy reading and crafting.

I love this time of year.

The cooler weather, the music, the giving spirit that seem present in so many ways; it’s beautiful.  I also love the traditions that my family and my husband’s family have passed on through the generations.  As we began forming our own family traditions, I stumbled upon a new idea that I hadn’t heard before.  I wish I could credit a particular source, however I’ve seen it and read about it from several places. So I’m not sure who to give credit to!  I should note that I’m not the creator of this idea, but we do tweak it to make it just right for our family.

We call it the Christmas Box.

Each year in November or early December I begin working on our Christmas Box.  My goal is to fill our Christmas Box with things that will create beautiful memories for our family.  I usually include:

  • Homemade “tickets” to our local holiday light show.  It’s one of our favorite things to do each year.
  • Mugs for hot chocolate and one of our favorite Christmas movies.
  • A special treat for each person.  For the kids it’s as simple as a candy cane or piece of chocolate.  For my husband and I, I’ve been known to buy a candy bar or throw in a Starbucks gift card.
  • Glow wands for the kids to use during the drive and long wait for the light show. 
  • A new pair of pajamas for each person.  This one is subject to interpretation.  Let’s face it, my husband and I only need so many pairs of pajama pants! So some years I just fold up some old ones and throw them in the box.  However, our kids still need a new pair each year, so it’s a nice way to throw in that extra gift.
  • At least one good Christmas book that tells the story of Christ’s birth.  We also use our Bible to reinforce where the true story of Christ comes from.

Our Family’s Traditions

For our family, we choose a day that works for us since we spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with our families out of town.  I try to pick a Saturday.. That way, everyone is well-rested and we can get an early-ish start on our celebration.  We generally have a sit-down dinner a little bit early and then we open our Christmas Box.  The kids are always so thrilled to see each thing inside.  Everyone changes into their new pj’s and we begin sorting through the goodies in the box.

Our kiddos are still pretty young, so we don’t plan much for after the light show.  Generally the line is long and everyone is ready for bed shortly after we get home. After we get home, we open gifts and then put the kids in bed.  That means that we have to get to everything else in the box before we leave.  That can be a little tricky when I get overzealous and fill it to the brim!  However, there have been times where we’ve opted to save something for the following day.  I try to choose a short Christmas movie and we watch it before we leave or even save it until the next day.

Using the Christmas Box to Focus on Jesus

This new tradition is something I look forward to every year and I hope that it’s something that my children look forward to as well.  I’m excited to see how it changes as they grow older.  I love that I can use the things I put in this box to reinforce the birth of our Savior.  With Christmas becoming more commercialized every year, it can really be a struggle to keep our children focused on our Savior.  Even for those that don’t use Christmas to celebrate the birth of Christ, most parents don’t want children whining, begging, or demanding certain gifts for two months every year.

I think it’s important to help point our children’s hearts toward Christ-like behaviors.  I struggle with getting my children to focus on giving to others rather than focusing on their own desires.  The Christmas Box helps me reinforce the importance of family time and togetherness, rather than just gifts and the individual.

How do you help point your children toward Christ or Christ-like behaviors at Christmas?

What traditions, old or new, do you enjoy with your family during the holidays?

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