The Honest Truth about my Heart this Christmas (it isn’t pretty)

I came downstairs this morning to quite a few new presents underneath the tree. Excited, of course, I poked around to see who they were for and guess what I thought was inside (so bad, I know!)

Since it’s just the two of us living in our apartment, all the new presents were for me. At first I felt excitement, but that was quickly buried by worry. Did I get him enough presents this year? Would it be awkward on Christmas if I’m opening a ton of gifts and he only has a few? Is the dollar amount equal at least???


Then I hopped on the computer to see what else I could buy for him to even the playing field. I made a mental list of what to grab later today and then settled down with a hot cup of (decaf) coffee and my She Reads Truth Advent study.

That’s when I turned to the study Jesus is the True and Better Manna.

In this season, we have a lot of changes coming up – and changes that aren’t exactly planned out. We don’t know when the baby will come, what parenting will be like, or what our lives will look like afterwards. For the planner in me, that is scary. But reading through Exodus 16 and hearing of God as Provider nearly knocked the wind out of me. Or, it at least knocked the materialism out of me. The Israelites were basically stranded in the desert and God provided everything they could ever need. Every morning they woke up to the manna (food) they needed to be physically sustained that day, and each morning God provided again and again.

But in his truest and best provision, he has given us Christ, the true bread of life. The bread who came down from heaven and gives life to the world (John 6:33).

Let’s rewind to my burst of worry this morning that I wouldn’t have enough Christmas presents for my husband (insert embarrassed face here)… can we just take a step back for one second?

That is NOT what this season is about, and it’s a slippery slope to falling back into the belief that Christmas is about us, about what we can get. But the truth is that Christmas is a celebration of what we already have – Christ our Savior has been born! He has come into this world and brought with him a new life that satisfies beyond a physical hunger.

As I scroll through my overwhelming inbox, flooded with sale advertisements, or my Instagram feed, filled to the brim with adorable holiday “must-have” outfits… I want to remember those things aren’t lasting. And they aren’t the reason for the season.

“I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again… For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:35,40


Friends, let’s fight the urge to love and worship stuff this holiday season. Draw near to your Creator – the ultimate Provider, and his Provision for us – Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen??

From Us to You

Merry Christmas!!! I hope you get to enjoy the next few days with the people you love most, remembering the One who loves us most.

This little space will be quiet for the rest of the week – I plan on taking the rest of this week to breathe in and out without my phone attached to my side. There will be lots of watching Harry Potter movies with Jacob, reading books and possibly rearranging some furniture. 🙂

Merry Christmas! For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people!

Buckeyes: My favorite holiday tradition

Happy week of Christmas, friends!!! I’m so excited to have our first Christmas in New England! We have practice for the Christmas Eve Services tomorrow night, a service at 5:30 and 11pm on Wednesday night and then it’s CHRISTMAS!!! This is going to be a really fun week.

I’m teaming up with Faith from Life with Mrs. G and the Artist to talk about our favorite holiday traditions today. Be sure to go check out her post on her yearly trip to Chicago!

I grew up with small but very meaningful traditions in my family. We would attend a Christmas Eve service at church and return home, when my brother and I would exchange gifts with each other. For the past several years, my mom’s mom would come spend the night with us that night, too, which was so nice. Christmas morning, we would wake up, open gifts and then my dad would make us a deliciously huge breakfast. We’d eat and spend most of the day in our pajamas. Jacob and I have carried most of those traditions over – the Christmas Eve service, big breakfast on Christmas day and staying in our pajamas for as long as possible. 🙂

BUT, I haven’t mentioned my favorite tradition yet….. buckeyes!! Buckeyes have always been a Christmas time treat in my family, and I learned to make them from my mom. I’ve taken them to a few Christmas parties this year and everyone always exclaims, “Buckeyes!!!” It’s so fun.

So in light of sharing my traditions with you, I’d love to share my buckeye recipe with you. The best parts: there are only 5 ingredients and they are SO easy to make!

Ingredients:

2 cups Jiffy creamy peanut butter
2 sticks butter, softened
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
12 oz chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
1/4 bar paraffin

Instructions:

1. Mix peanut butter with butter. I use a hand mixer to make sure this gets super creamy. It’s best if you leave your butter on the counter to soften for a few hours in advance.

2. Add sugar and knead. Do not use the mixer on this part – you want the batter to be fluffy.

3. Roll into bite-sized balls and freeze for 2-3 hours or overnight. This helps the batter get hard enough so you can dip it into the chocolate without losing the ball in the chocolate! I freeze them in a tupperware container with wax paper separating the layers of peanut butter balls.

4. Melt chocolate and paraffin in double boiler. Paraffin is wax in the baking aisle. If you are having trouble finding this – I use the Gulf brand. Stir chocolate while melting to keep it smooth and prevent the bottom layer from burning.

5. Stick peanut butter ball with a toothpick and dip into chocolate, set on wax paper to cool.

6. Once finished, smooth out toothpick hole with finger to give the buckeyes a “seamless” look.

Enjoy!! Once finished, I prefer to store these in the freezer so they can last until we’ve eaten them all! (Or shared them, I guess…)

Be sure to go check out my friend Faith’s post on her traditional holiday trip to Chicago. I’ve never been, but it looks like a blast!

Happy baking!!

DIY Natural Lace & Berry Wreath

I have a really fun collab for you today. Madison from The Wetherills Say I Do Blog and I decided we needed to do some serious Christmas crafting this year. So we put our heads together, sort of, and challenged each other to make some Christmas decor with lace!

Madison got all crafty and made these gorgeous ornaments from the lace on her wedding dress! What a keepsake, right?! I went down my normal route and realized I didn’t have an outdoor Christmas wreath to hang! Seeing as it’s already December 11th, it’s time to get some outdoor decor happening over here!

My wreath is super simple, which is my favorite kind. Here’s all you need:

+ Evergreen wreath
+ Fake berries
+ Extra Lace

Unwrap the berries (if yours come in packaging like mine do!) and string around the wreath. If your berries come in more stick-like form, try twisting them around, or grouping them in bunches (like THIS wreath!).

Once you secure the berries around the wreath, you can start playing with the lace! I did not glue the berries to the wreath, but depending on how you bought them, it might be helpful to use some hot glue to secure them.

I have a weird thing for simple, mostly natural-looking wreaths, so I’m kind of an easy wreath craft gal. And that means we are almost done, y’all. The final piece is tying the lace onto the top. I unrolled the entire roll of lace, then doubled it over so it was folded evenly in half.

So the loop is at the top, I pulled the lace through the middle of the wreath, behind the top and around the front. Then I slipped the ends through the loop to pull it all the way through. It’s hard to both explain and take pictures of this part, so just bear with me.


If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Madison’s post on her DIY Wedding Dress Lace Ornament.

Other wreath tutorials you may enjoy:
+ Fabric Flower Wreath
+ DIY Springy Wreath
+ The Easiest DIY You’ve Ever Seen (Now challenged by this one I’d say…)
+ Christmas Ornament Wreath

Happy crafting!

7 Steps to Surviving the Holidays as a Newlywed

I’ll be honest, this was a really fun post to think through and put together. Britt Hanson and I co-wrote this post and she is so fun to work with! She came up with most of the good stuff. 😉 Britt blogs over at My Little Sunshines Blog, and I’l tell you, it’s a perfect name for her! She’s a bottle of sunshine, for sure.
Anyway, on to the holiday steps! Take a look at our 7 tips to surviving the holidays as a newlywed. Can I get an amen?!

 

1 // Talk about your plans ahead of time.

I remember when we first got married, our families started asking us about holiday plans way before we had even discussed it. We both had our own separate holiday traditions with our families – it was tough to iron out how we wanted to spend the holidays! Sit down together and discuss what is most important to both of you, and go from there. Know that there has to be a give and a take because you’re learning to combine your two upbringings into one!

2 // Don’t be afraid to say no.

Even with just one family, the holidays can be a little crazy — now with two, it can seem downright impossible to plan anything! Just know that it’s okay to say “no” to some parties and get-togethers. You don’t need to go to great-aunt Bertha’s stocking exchange, where she will be the only person there you know. Try to focus on the times when your immediate families plan to all be together — a Sunday dinner, or a Christmas Even party. And then go from there to see what other less important activities you can fit into your schedule.

3 // Try to combine families for a holiday event.

This may not work for some of you, but for our families it does sometimes. Brittany’s mom and sister live about 45 minutes away from her in-laws. And sometimes they will join her family for family parties, or her in-laws will drive to her mom’s for dinner. That way they can spend time with both families. My family and in-laws are about a 6 hour drive apart, so it isn’t quite as easy to combine them. We have talked about it, though, and we’d love to make this happen someday!

4 // Set boundaries.

This doesn’t just have to apply to the holidays, but life as a couple in general. This really goes along with our first step – you may not be able to attend every little event your family or in-laws are doing. Likewise, you are your own family now, and as such, you are entitled to your own life. Don’t be afraid to stay home on Christmas morning with your spouse to enjoy that time together. You don’t have to rush off to your parents’ (or in-laws’) house at 6 am to make sure you can open all presents together, then rush off to the next house for Christmas breakfast/lunch/dinner, etc. Spend time together with just your husband.

5 // Make your own traditions (and don’t forget to compromise).

Going along with number 3, since you are your own family unit, now is the time to create your own family traditions! Both you and your spouse will bring different expectations and traditions into the mix. Talk about them, explain them to each other and then pick the most important ones. Don’t forget to compromise and communicate. This is also the time to incorporate some new traditions!

6 // Less is more.

We can’t ignore it – gift-giving is a part of the holiday season! And often, especially in new families, gift buying can be stressful. There are so many people to buy for, and I know I feel that pressure to give well because I love my family! Remember, though, that this season is so much more than just gift giving and receiving. It’s about spending time with your family! Less is more when it comes to gift-giving. Get creative! It doesn’t have to be the best, newest thing out there… even though that may be hard to believe when you’re the giver. Don’t let that pressure build up – the thought really does count!
 

7 // And of course, don’t forget to focus on the reason for the season.

We can get so caught up in festivities and presents and the busyness of the season that we often forget why we are celebrating. Take the time to sit down, read a book about the Savior, or even the Christmas Story in Luke, and really ponder why we celebrate this time of year. And then talk about it with your spouse. If we are able to do that, I guarantee that the planning and rushing of the Christmas season will be lessened and we will feel much more at peace, despite the busyness.
Tell us! What would you add to this list? What helped you survive the holidays as a newlywed?

Don’t throw away those Christmas cards!!

Now that Christmas season is over, what do you do with those beautiful Christmas cards??

I just couldn’t imagine throwing them away. So, last year I created a “coffee table book” with the Christmas cards we received… now we can enjoy them each year!

Throughout the Christmas season I display the Christmas cards on the fridge, that way we can look at them every day. But once I start packing away the Christmas decorations, I take the cards down and add them to this book.

All I used was a loose-leaf binder ring (about 1″), a hole punch and some pretty paper to make the yearly labels! I would suggest going up a size in the binder ring, because with just 2012-2013 ours is already pretty full.

I loved having the coffee table book out this year displaying our 2012 Christmas cards, and next year it will be fun to see this year’s again, too. I think ten years down the road, it will be hilarious to look back and see what our friends and family looked like way back when! 😉

What do you do with your Christmas cards after Christmas is over?



P.S. Have you met Fal yet?? If not, go check her out!!
P.P.S. Don’t forget to link up with us this Wednesday for TGBTL! We are sharing the most valuable advice we have ever been told. You can go here for more info.