The Most Important Thing a Mom Can Do (at Christmas and Every Day)

The Most Important Thing a Mom Can Do

photo courtesy: freedigitalphotos.net/salvatore Vuono

Christmas is next week.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in all the things we have going on during the holiday season: 

Parties

Family get-togethers

Gifts

Cookies and other goodies

Local holiday events

Church or school programs

All of these things are wonderful, but if we’re not careful, we can easily get so wrapped up in these that we let the most important thing slip by. 

And what is that most important thing? 

It’s seeking after Jesus and teaching our children to do the same. 

Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” In context, of course, Jesus was challenging his followers not to worry. Seek after Him instead, he says, and God will take care of  your needs. I think this verse can be applied to us today, though, too. 

As Christmas approaches, seek after Jesus first and He will take care of everything else you need to get done. 

Seek after Him, instead of worrying about the gifts you still need to buy. 

Seek after Him, instead of running from holiday event to holiday event. 

Seek after Him, instead of frantically trying to finish up everything on your to-do list. 

There is nothing more important-for  the next week and for every day after that-than to seek after Jesus and teach our kids to do the same. 

So this week, if you’re tempted to bypass your Bible in favor of shopping, remember what matters most. 

If you’re tempted to skip your child’s devotions in favor of going to bed early, remember who’s watching. 

And if you’re tempted to forget what this holiday is all about, remember why we have reason to celebrate in the first place. 

 This post is part of Lindsey Bell’s December blog tour. Her parenting devotional, Searching for Sanity, would be a great way to seek Jesus in the new year!

Enter to Win Lindsey Bell's Mega-Giveaway

To enter to win Lindsey’s MEGA-GIVEAWAY (the winner will receive 6 books!), leave a comment on any of Lindsey’s guest posts this month (including this one).

For a full list of participating blogs (and ways to enter!) visit this post on Lindsey’s blog.

 Searching for Sanity by Lindsey BellAbout Searching for Sanity:

Have you ever looked at your beloved children and wondered, what in the world am I doing? Why did God trust me—of all people—to raise them?

Motherhood is the most difficult job many of us will ever take. Searching for Sanity offers moms an opportunity to take a breath, dig into the Word, and learn from parents of the past. In short devotions designed for busy moms, this book uses the parents of the Bible—both the good and the bad—to inspire today’s mothers.

 You can pick up a copy today at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

*Photo courtesy: freedigitalphotos.net/salvatore vuono 

 

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What If…

What If

What if: You found out that by staying at home and raising your children, yet accomplishing nothing that can be seen or noted at the time, you found out that the job you did really mattered?

What if: By working your job day by day and finding it toilsome, you found out that your simple presence and hard work had greatly impacted another individual?

What if: by taking time to patiently listen to the ramblings of an older person, you found that because of that person you became a better person and even used some of the “ramblings” to springboard to new ideas and even great ones?

What if: You found out that a tiny newborn baby named Jesus was God wrapped in flesh and by believing in Him, you would have peace?

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

“And He will be their peace.” Micah 5:5

What if: You found that everything you ever heard about success and greatness was not so, that the last really would be the first…that the weak of this world really would confound the strong?

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20:16

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” 1 Corinthians 1:27

What if: The choices you made today really amounted to something good and lasting tomorrow, impacting future generations?

What if: Your words themselves prevented wars? Your ideas inspired a way to feed the poor, cure the sick and restore joy to those who have grown bitter?

What if: By forgiving someone else, you were actually setting yourself free?

What if: It really did matter what you thought about?

What if: This was your very last day to live…what would you do differently, say differently, think differently? What would you choose: television or reading to your kids? Calling an old friend or doing the laundry? Going for a walk by yourself or talking with your spouse? Spending money on yourself or giving a gift to others?

What if you took the time right this second to close your eyes and whisper a prayer to God, asking Him to direct your paths and make them straight…and it completely changed the course? Go for it. You have time!




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Do you ponder?

Do You Ponder?

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”

And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.  Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart”. – Luke 2:13-19

Mary pondered.

Ponder. The word means to weigh heavily. To consider and compare the gravity of something. When the shepherds travel to welcome the Christ babe they give Mary and Joseph the news they were sent by God. Can you imagine? I wonder if she is reminded of Gabriel’s visit to her -encouragement must be off the charts with yet another confirmation of God’s plans unfolding.

Pondering calms the heart, eases our fears and inspires our soul. It’s the place where peace and encouragement meet Him face to face.

Pondering – I’m not sure we do enough of that anymore. 

When was the last time you sat and spent time with the Lord, going over His faithfulness, His promises fulfilled, His peace during every storm this year? 

Turn off the TV. Silence your iPhone. Close your laptop. Grab a cup of coffee or choose your favorite mug of tea and sit for a while. Watch the twinkling of your Christmas tree lights and let your mind wander to His rightful place in your heart. Take time today to ponder what God has done for you in 2014- Ponder His faithfulness. Ponder His peace and trust as Mary did that His plans are unfolding before your very eyes.

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How to Mentor Your Children Through the Holidays

As we find ourselves full-steam into this holiday month, I am especially sensitive about the opportunity to intentionally mentor my children through the holidays. 

I want to help them embrace the fullness of remembering the Christ child’s birth, without heaping on extra responsibilities rooted in traditions that become a drain on their schedules and deplete their rest and joy.

The challenge, however, is that my children are in distinctly different developmental stages.

 How to Mentor Your Children Through the Holidays

Oh the Teens

My oldest, fifteen, is studying for finals while primarily being concerned with seeing her friends as much as possible before the long, family-focused break. She’s not so interested in making cookies or heading out to the Dicken’s Festival, but would rather get her projects done so she can see friends when she is finished.

Do you have a teen? What is their focus this month?

Are they feeling overwhelmed? Stressed by school work? 

What emotional needs require a bit more of your attention? What traditions might suit her best?

 

Those Transitioning Tweens

My middle daughter, who just turned 13, is still getting a grip on Middle School academics while navigating the oh-so-unpredictable hormonal changes. She’s also a “doer” by nature, whose not yet learned how to pace her schedule and commitments, making the holidays a ripe time for burnout. If she has the chance to bake, shop, wrap gifts, and decorate all in a day, she’d be thrilled, but she’d also melt down at the hint of needing to clean up her room.

What’s the state of your tween’s life? 

Is your daughter crying at the drop of a hat? Does your son feel stressed by increased homework load? 

Are they anxious about that upcoming concert?

How can this season be rich in grace and mercy in spite of all the expectations upon them?

 

Waiting in the Wings

My youngest two have their holiday mindset locked in on gift getting more than gift giving. One minute, their friends have convinced them that Santa is real, and the next moment they’re sweet talking their way into another big gift from papa. Both my son and daughter understand the real meaning of Christmas is celebrated their Savior’s birth, but they are equally excited about the traditions of Christmas, like putting up the lights, watching White Christmas, chasing down Santa touring the neighborhood on the fire truck, and sleeping in their big sister’s room on Christmas Eve.

Are your littles  enjoying the wonder of the season?

Are they caught up in the thrill of getting gifts? Is it time to teach them more about Jesus, beyond the cradle in the manager?

Could it be time to start serving alongside of you an outreach, giving away toys instead of focusing on getting them?
 

It would be so easy to simply throw up my hands and toss an apron over my head as I {emotionally} run from the responsibility of mentoring my children  during the chaos of Christmas {stress}. Do you feel that way, too? Take heart, momma!

We don’t need to do it all or do it perfectly! But we also don’t want to lose this precious opportunity to mentor the hearts and habits of our children!

 

Simple Steps for Mentoring Your Children Through the Holidays

These practical suggestions may not all be Christ-focused, but the idea is to spend time with your children providing opportunities for conversations in which you can share and teach the things of Christ, the meaning of the season, listen to their hearts, and train up their skills in the process.

Teens (13 years and up)

  • Hot Chocolate Date:  Surprise your son or daughter with a sweet cup of festive hot chocolate at home or in town and listening ear. No agenda. No lesson. Just a cup full of love as you give him/her your attention in the midst of your busy schedules.
  • Teach to Train: She’s nearly grown up, yet  her role in your family is still important, especially if she has younger siblings. Talk to her about setting aside a time to spend with the family, serving or playing, in a way that appeals to her. Maybe it is doing her sister’s nails red on Christmas Eve. Maybe it is reading a couple of bedtime Christmas stories to her siblings. Possibly it is shopping and baking with you. Let her choose the what and when, and when she does, offer her the blessing of something  special, like having her friends over for a Christmas cookie exchange or taking her out with a couple of other girls. Draw her into the family but also acknowledge she is growing up.
  • Read & Talk:  Spend 10 minute each evening reading the Bringing Back Holy Series found at elisapulliam.com or download 12 Eternal Gifts from moretobe.com. Use these resources as the basis for a discussion for what it means to keep Christ in Christmas in a culture immersed in materialism and self-serving. Sweeten up this time together with a cup of tea (decaf, of course) and maybe a Christmas cookie, too.

 

Tweens (10 – 12 years)

  • The Baking Baton Pass:  Give up the gourmet cookies this year and let your son or daughter pick the recipe. Teach them the how-tos while also setting her free to run the show.

Graham Cracker Gingerbread House
My youngest two made this in their class last year, as it is a no-bake creation perfect as a family project supervised by the older siblings. Have your tween build the house and if there are little ones around, have them help them decorate.
  • Delegate the Details:  Look for opportunities for your son/daughter to join you in conquering your list, giving over responsibilities that train them up, whether it be shopping or making gifts together, writing out cards, baking, wrapping gifts, hosting a party. Their teachable years are running out, so pick one thing in which you can teach the skills and the meaning behind it, letting go of your {possibly too high} expectations and nurturing her skill set.

 

The Littles (under 9 years)

  • Story Time: Pick out 5 or more Christmas story books, such as these, from your collection or the library to read with your children each day, either after dinner or at bedtime.
  • Christmas Countdown: With only a paper, scissors, pen, and stapler, you can make this paper ring tree to countdown to Christmas.
  • Advent Devos: Raising Arrows has put together a list here especially for children.

As you consider these options, stick with the KISS principle:  keep it simple and sweet.  You don’t have to do it all.  As a matter of fact, don’t try to do it all.  Prayerfully pick one suggestion for your daughter (and if you have lots, combine up ideas based on age and interests), seeking to mentor her heart for the Lord and train her up in experience holiday tradition with a healthy balance.  (I encourage you to use these ideas to pursue opportunities with your sons, too!).

How will you go about mentoring your children through the holidays?
If you’d like help and guidance in discovering how to mentor, consider joining in the next FREE mentoring study hosted by More to Be. 

Mentoring Study

 

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Christmas Brunch Recipes

Christmas brunch

Need some new Christmas recipes? These recipes have graced our Christmas brunch table for many years. The kids always insisted I serve these. It wasn’t Christmas without them.

I used to make the sausage and egg casserole; however, I now usually serve these with ham and scrambled eggs.

Whether you fix breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner, you might want to try these. Well, a couple of them may not be suitable for dinner. If you don’t try them for Christmas, try them sometime. If you don’t, you’ll be missing some yummy dishes. I hope you enjoy them.

What are some things you serve your family for your Christmas meal? Do you have any traditional dishes your family insists on?

Dilly Bread
Yields 1
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pkg. dry yeast (not fast acting)
  2. ¼ c. lukewarm water (around 110-115 degrees)
  3. 1 c. creamed cottage cheese, heated to lukewarm
  4. 2 T. sugar
  5. 1 T. dried minced onion
  6. 1 T. butter
  7. 1 egg
  8. 2 ¼ c. All-purpose flour
  9. 2 t. dill seed
  10. 1 t. salt
  11. ¼ t. baking soda
Instructions
  1. Dissolve yeast in water. Allow to sit while you combine all ingredients except flour in large mixing bowl. Then add yeast. Add flour gradually to form stiff dough. It is not necessary to beat this with electric mixer.
  2. Cover (I use a towel) and let rise near heat until light, about 60 min. (I turn on the oven for a couple of minutes just to warm up and then turn off.) When raised and fluffy, stir down dough with floured hands or spoon and turn into greased loaf pan or 2 qt. casserole. Let rise again near heat (again in the over), about 40 to 50 min. till risen. Bake at 350 degrees about 35 min. or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
  3. The recipe says to brush the top with butter and sprinkle with salt while still hot (but I’ve never done it). I always do this: when cooled, slice, butter, wrap in tin foil and reheat for about 10 min. or so until butter is melted and it’s hot. Enjoy!
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Cheese Grits
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Ingredients
  1. 5 c. salted boiling water (or as the box suggests)
  2. 1 c. grits
  3. 1 roll garlic cheese (unfortunately, they don’t make this anymore. Use 8 oz. Velveeta and add some garlic powder. I never measure it.)
  4. 1 stick butter
  5. 1 ½ c. half & half
  6. 2 eggs well beaten
  7. salt and pepper to taste
  8. paprika
  9. Cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Stir grits slowly into boiling water. Cover. Lower to med-low and cook for 5-7 min. (Check the package) Cook until done. Slice cheese and butter into grits. Mix half & half and eggs (so eggs don’t cook up in the hot grits). Stir until cheese and butter are melted. Pour into greased 9x13 dish or other. Sprinkle on some cheddar cheese and paprika. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min. or until not jiggly in the middle.
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 (The folloing recipe will not fit in a recipe card on the site.)

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

2 c. crushed pretzels
¼ c. sugar
1 ½ stick melted butter

Do not use the light-colored pretzel sticks. Use regular pretzels. Do not put in blender or Cuisinart to crush. Ruins it. You have to beat the pretzels or smash them.

Mix these well and place in a greased 9×13 dis. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 min. Cool. Can even put in freezer or refrigerator for a few minutes to cool faster.

1 – 8 oz. cream cheese softened
1 c. sugar
1 lg. carton Cool Whip (I’m not sure which size this is. This recipe was written before the really large container came out.)

Mix and spread over cooled pretzel mixture.

20 oz. frozen, thawed, and mashed strawberries (without sugar)
2 c. pineapple juice
1 – 6 oz. box strawberry jello

Heat pineapple juice. Mix with jello (now water). Add strawberries. Mix well. Cool. (If you don’t cool some, it melts the cream cheese.) Pour over cream cheese mixture. Place in refrigerator until firm. Doesn’t take as long as regular jello.

Enjoy!

lynnmosher.com

 

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