All I Want for Christmas…A Christmas Wishlist

All I Want for Christmas…A Christmas Wishlist

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

Christmas and Thanksgiving mark the beginning of a holiday season supposedly centered on selflessness, contentment, and service.

However, this season often does not “feel” particularly happy or religious. In fact, with Black Friday hordes, Christmas to do lists, and advertisements of perfectly primped and styled families, it all feels very pressured, backwards, and stressful. I know that’s not how I want to feel. Nor is it how I want to act. So this year, as I look forward to holidays, I am making my own wishlist with a personal agenda.

What do I want for Christmas?

Time over Gifts

When I look back over the years, I don’t think, “Wow! What a great Christmas–that was when my grandma got me these shoes that were the very latest fad!” I think back on times when my family spent time with me. Basketball games played with cousins, hymns sung as we all crowded into the living room, sharing and passing and laughing at an overcrowded table.

These are those precious moments, those things that you store up in your heart.

It is a blessing to receive and to give gifts. But one gift doesn’t cost anything and means so much–the gift of your time. This year, I want to give that gift to my family.

Less Activity

Sometimes we get the idea that just because an activity is a “good” activity, we should do it. Well, I am only one person. And I’m pregnant and a mom and a wife…the list goes on. I can only do so much. Doing fewer things and doing them well not only helps me to be less hectic (my family will thank me later for not being so snippy and grumpy!). It also helps me to actually be present and enjoy the activities we choose to do. Less truly is more: more patience, more attention, more grace.


The Strength of Will to Focus on the Godly

There are many wonderful things about Christmas. For instance, there is no other time in the year when even the lost and the worldly are thinking about Jesus! What a great opportunity, not just to share goodwill and gifts, but to share the best gift ever given: the story of the Christ, His cross, and the salvation it brought.

Yet somehow, it is easy to “fudge” our focus. To be distracted by the hubbub, the travel, the rush of the holiday season.

It’s easy to say to myself that I’m still doing good things. That what I am doing still “counts.” Dashing around to six different stores to buy presents, filling gift sacks and stuffing fruit baskets for the elderly, signing and addressing envelopes to loved ones and friends–they can all be good things.

But they may not be the necessary things. In the craziness that is our lives, I think it is especially important that we be a Mary and not a Martha. We need to realize that the “better part” is to pause and take our gaze upward: to sit and listen at the feet of Jesus. It may mean saying “no” to some things or  losing sleep some mornings. It may mean giving up on having the “perfect” house or the “perfect” schedule. But, as we gaze upwards at the cross, at the face of our Father, we will find not only peace for our hearts but wisdom for our actions.


And we will find that everything is better after looking at Him.



Be encouraged by these posts as well!

5 things to do with Kids at Christmas Christmas Grief Christmas is Here Music Christians celebrating Hanukkah

Kids’ Craft: Thankfulness Tree

Kids’ Craft: Thankfulness Tree

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.
Latest posts by Elizabeth P (see all)

My dear friend Candace wrote a great blog here about being patient and encouraging your kids in love, especially when doing crafts with your kids.

She challenged me to do fun things WITH my kids more often even if it means it might not turn out Pinterest-perfect.  That little lesson has been tugging at the back of my mind as we approach the holidays with my almost three year old. This is such a magical age of understanding and excitement. How could I not capitalize on this finite time of being little and awesome? Well, I was not really one to enjoy group projects growing up, if you know what I mean. I’m a bit of a control freak. Guys, it’s a struggle!

BUT, I’m letting go and picking my battles because God is gracious to my ridiculousness and teaches me His ways instead. Slowly but surely. HA!

So, I’ve picked some specific crafts this year to do with my daughter throughout the season to teach and play and hopefully start some family traditions. I honestly can’t wait to include the boys next year. It will be so much more messy.

My first attempt was a Thankfulness Tree. I had grand visions of a home decor-worthy tree to accent our living room with sweetness.


I knew I was going to have to let go and let her love the craft without taking over immediately.  Laying out the paper and sketching the tree got…sketchy. PLUS the construction paper pack I bought didn’t have brown (WHAT?!) so I guess we have a Birch Thankfulness Tree.

Anyway, this really is a easy craft to do, whether you keep it up for the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, use it the week prior, or even fill it up on Thanksgiving day with the whole family!

Here is what I did, but you could do this in so many different ways!

I purchased a standard poster board from the craft store along with a big pack of construction paper in various colors. You will also need a pencil, glue stick, tape, and scissors. But THAT’S IT!


First, I set out a few pieces of construction paper (in white, but if you are cooler than me, you can really play around with the colors) and taped them together in a general tree shape. Next, I sketched a tree and branches with a pencil (not too detailed) and cut it out.

I then let my daughter use the glue stick. Oh, my!


It was actually fine.


After realizing I have no skill at drawing leaf shapes, I googled leaf drawings and traced a few different varieties onto lots of different colors. TIP: Fold the paper into quarters and cut the leaf shape only once to get four. This size ended up being perfect.


My girl even helped fold the paper and draw leaf shapes too.

We had a great time.

Finally, I found a silver paint marker and wrote Psalm 107:1 on the bottom: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures forever.”

There are a TON of great thankfulness verses! I chose this one because it was short and simple enough for my daughter to memorize.


I hung it on the wall at about her height (mistake because her twin baby brothers have tried to destroy it, but it has survived.)

Now every night, we say the verse together. Then we write something she is thankful for on a leaf and tape it to the tree.

I’ve had to let go of the tree aesthetic–I let her choose where to place the leaves–but she loves it and is very proud of our craft.


It has been so fun to hear what she is thankful for each day. To date, the list includes:

Apple juice, pants, lions, trees, Dad, Mimi, noses, pillows, and cars.

I encourage you to do this or something similar with your kiddos while they are small! It was SO EASY ! Even though I made it even simpler than I may have initially planned, I loved including my daughter in our craft. I think in the best ways, it is definitely Pinterest-worthy!

TIP: My mom had the idea to laminate the tree/background part so that it lasts for a few years. Then you only have to re-do the leaves. My mom is a teacher. Also, full disclosure, she made some of my leaves and hers look legitimately awesome. She has the gift. 

thanks tree

Moist & Delicious Crock Pot Dressing

Moist & Delicious Crock Pot Dressing

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.
Latest posts by Kristi F (see all)

Excitement fills the air. Anticipation starts to grow.  It’s almost time for Thanksgiving and then Christmas is soon to follow.

For me this is a wonderful time of year filled with family, friends and lots of delicious food!  Growing up I remember sneaking into the kitchen to steal deviled eggs for my dad and I.  I’m sure my mom knew but she always acted surprised when her eggs went missing.

Sitting down to the table, I couldn’t wait for the mash potatoes and dressing to be piled high onto my plate.  Hmmmm!  Just thinking about it now has my  mouth watering.

Because I had always grown up with delicious, moist dressing, I didn’t realize it could be created any other way.  But apparently there is a dry and somewhat tasteless version that floats around out there.  My preference is definitely moist and full of flavor!

If you like moist and flavorful dressing but don’t want to spend the hours it can take creating the delicious masterpiece, then you must try this crock pot version.  My mom has used it for years upon years and gifted me the recipe she received from a friend. Since great recipes are for sharing, I’m excited to share it with you.

It’s simple and easy.  And the best part is that your oven will be available for other delicious creations.


Crock Pot Dressing Recipe


  • 8-inch pan cornbread (which is about 4 – 4 1/2 cups)
  • 1 pkg stuffing herb mix (about 4 1/2 – 5 cups)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cans/boxes cream of chicken soup
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 2 tbs. butter

Homemade Cornbread Recipe

Of course, you can use a packaged mix but homemade cornbread tastes better!


  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk – If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, no problem. Simply put 3 tablespoons of vinegar (white or apple cider) into a 2 cup measuring cup, then fill up the cup with milk.  (So you use almost 2 cups of milk.)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt (I limit the salt here because the herb stuffing will have some salt as well.)
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • Bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes

Easy Steps

1st Step – Bake Cornbread, then crumble it up.  I have found that using a hand mixer, after initially breaking the cornbread apart, helps make the crumbles finer.  Just be careful not to turn the handle wrong or cornbread will go flying!

2nd Step – Lightly grease a large crock pot with butter.

3rd Step – in a large mixing bowl mix all the ingredients well except the butter.

4th Step – Put all the mixture into the crock pot and then place the 2 tablespoons of butter on top of the mixture.

5th Step – Cover and cook on high for  2.5 – 3 hours or on low for 3 -4 hours.  Half way through, stir the mixture so it doesn’t stick to the sides and to  make sure the stuffing gets heated all the way through.

6th Step – Enjoy!

Now, isn’t that the easiest recipe you have ever seen.  May you enjoy more time with your family this Thanksgiving and Christmas season!

What are you most looking forward to this season?


Black Friday:  It’s Not Insane, It’s Tradition

Black Friday: It’s Not Insane, It’s Tradition

Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Latest posts by Toni D (see all)
Our first T-shirts (front side)

Our first T-shirts (front side)

Back side of T-shirt.

Back side of T-shirt.

BLACK FRIDAY!   Those two words either bring fear or joy to your heart.  You are either one of them or one of them.  Everyone has a strong opinion on it one way or the other.   There is no in-between.

I love Black Friday!  Some of you may think I’m crazy.   I may be, but I love it.  There is just something about getting out early and braving the weather and the lines to get that incredible deal.  I am a bargain shopper!  I also love the rush of getting in the crowds and trying to get that last box of Legos for $10.00 or that new digital camera for $50.00.  Several years ago, I got up at 3:00 a.m. to drive 30 miles to stand in line to get a dual portable DVD player for our van.  (Yes, I know I’m showing my age because nobody buys those things anymore.)  Three in the morning is nothing now.  We get going at midnight!

Well, we actually get started before midnight.   This exciting event now takes place at my sister-in-law’s house.  Thanksgiving is spent there in Tulsa, almost three hours away from where we live.  We awaken early Thanksgiving morning and travel to their house.  As all of our families have grown, it has been wonderful to have to add so many tables.  I know that is the true meaning of this holiday: to be thankful for what God has given us and to be with loved ones–but we all love Black Friday!

After our incredible meal, the “girls” all sit around the table with the newspaper.  This is a sight to behold.  I am not going to give away all of our secrets, but I will share an overview of what transpires.  Needless to say, we are very organized.  We start with the first ad, circle what we want with bright markers and initial it, then pass it around the table.  When everyone has finished, we go through and put them in order of store opening times.  Then we check for duplicate items and find the best prices and make our list.  We then make sure we have our shirts ready or make our new ones.  Yes, we print up matching shirts for all of us!  We don’t make new ones every year.  We’ve even had strangers stop us and even take pictures with us in our shirts.

Most recent T-shirts

Most recent T-shirts

Back side of T-shirt

Back side of T-shirt

We try to take a nap!  This does not always happen–most of the time it doesn’t.  Okay, that may be wishful thinking.  But, we do try to get things ready.  There have always been four of us.  This consists of my sister-in-law, niece, niece’s husband, and me.  The niece’s husband is a 300+ pound former college football linebacker (you should see him in a bright pink shirt) so he is there for “protection” – and comedy relief.  The last couple of years, we have started adding to our group.  My sister-in-law’s granddaughter (She is not my great-niece because I am not that old.  Only old people are “great” whatevers.) was allowed to go because she had turned sixteen.  And now my daughter is counting down the years until she can go.

We all have our respective jobs!  I am the “Bargain Hunter”.  I search out the the items that we did not find quickly.  I also pick up things for a friend who hates Black Friday shopping but wants some of the bargains.  She even calls to check in with me to see how things are going.  I will admit that Black Friday shopping is much easier with the invention of the cell phone.  I often wonder what the increase in usage of cell phones is on that day.

We have a great time!  We go from store to store.   We also make several pit stops.  I do not know if you have a Quik Trip where you live (I don’t), but I believe that it is the best place while Black Friday shopping.  They have giant drinks, the best hot snacks (regular or breakfast), and of course clean restrooms (women’s and men’s, and women do go to the men’s when no one is around).  I also get very “punchy” when I get tired.  Around two or three in the morning, I start laughing at everything.  This is where the nephew-in-law comes in.  He starts with all the dumb jokes to see how much he can get me laughing.  My favorite is still, “Two men walked into a bar; the third one ducked.”  Think about that one.  I also learned about YouTube from him.  My favorite is “Dumb Ways To Die”.  Apparently,  this is an actual public service announcement from Australia.  That makes it even funnier.

Sometimes we take a nap in the car!  This we actually do.  If there is a store that only one person needs something from, two go in and the rest of us take our nap.  Somehow, we make it through the night and finish up by no later than 10:00 a.m.  We then go home, take a nap, then go out for pizza.  This is as good as Thanksgiving dinner.  We go to a buffet.  Yes, Thanksgiving dinner one day followed by pizza buffet the next day!

I missed this event last year.  Our van broke down one hour from our house.  By the time we got towed back home it was late.  Our other vehicle had bad tires so it could not make the trip.  My son’s car only seated four and we are a family of five.  We were stuck at home with nothing but the desserts.  Have you ever cooked a Thanksgiving dinner in two hours?  I did, and it was actually good and completely gluten-free (my husband has a true gluten allergy).

I did take my kids shopping around 9:00 a.m. when my friend called to see how it was going.  Of course,  I got a lecture of why I did not call and tell her we were broke down and didn’t make it to Tulsa.  They would have towed us home and we could have come over for dinner, etc.  I had several of those offers and that overwhelmed me.  My niece even called and said that it was not as much fun without me.  My sister-in-law told me that they even discussed meeting me in Oklahoma City to do our shopping.   Our nephew offered to come and try to fix our van.  For Christmas,  my niece gave me one of the gifts that we would always go to the mall for.  She had picked up an extra one for me.  We were truly missed!  Of course, we did learn a lesson: when you miss Thanksgiving, they plot against you.  That is another story for another post.  I will get even with at least our nephew.

Our traditions have evolved over the years, but last year reminded me just how great my family and friends are.  We get out in all the craziness, but we enjoy being together and being there for each other.  I would not trade that part of our family for anything.

Do you have a Black Friday story to share?

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?


Pin It on Pinterest