Abundant Life Designs

Check out these totally AWESOME concrete home decorations that my friend Lisa has created and is selling! Here are pictures of a set of book ends and centerpiece.  You can purchase and see the rest of her products at Abundant Life Designs.


"31 Days to Clean"

I must confess that I am not a perfectionist by any means, but I do try to keep things as orderly as possible.  Once in a while, however, we all need a little "kick in the behind" to refocus and do what we really have to accomplish for the day or week.

"31 Days to Clean"  is a very beneficial series of blog posts that I wanted to share with you all.  It has really made me revisit some of my priorities as a working wife, yet trying to keep up on the daily/weekly cleaning, making meals, and blogging, while many evenings are filled with many different activities at home or away.

You can find all the details on Sarah Mae's blog: Like a Warm Cup of Coffee

Thanks Sarah Mae for the inspirational challenges and encouraging words.


Why Our Family Doesn't Celebrate Santa Claus

When I was growing up, we would always get asked, "What did you get for Christmas? or What did you get from Santa Claus this year?" to which we would answer, "We don't do gifts at Christmas." Then they would look at us funny and wonder "Why?"  My parents decided that instead of spending lots of money at once on gifts (which they didn't always have the money for) they would just spend a little more on gifts around our birthdays!

My parents also felt that they wanted to keep the true meaning of Christmas more valuable. We have a church service Christmas morning with a little program that the Sunday School kids would put on for families. After that, we would have a big lunch together and just have some family time together. Several different years, we would go caroling at a nursing home, which is always very rewarding.

Santa Claus:
1. Takes away from the real meaning of CHRISTmas and simply confuses kids.
2. Causes kids to focus more on getting, instead of giving of themselves and of Christ's gift to us.
3. We want kids to trust us. If we live the fantasy life of Santa Claus, take them to the mall to get their pictures taken with him, have them sit on his lap and tell him what they want for Christmas, and then later they find out that he really isn't real, it could danger their trust in parents or grandparents or hinder them from believing God - as if he wasn't real either.

Growing up, all knew who Santa was and were explained about him, but it was always as a fictional character. We never understood how little kids could truly believe that he would drive a sleigh of reindeer, fly around to everyone's house, and deliver presents to ever kid in town! We knew enough that there was absolutely no way he would ever be able to drive that fast, carry that much stuff, and climb down every chimney!

Many christian families still incorporate Santa Claus into their Christmas traditions, but I am not here to judge them. I am simply explaining the way I grew up and reasons why we did what we did.


A Reminder of Sin & the Cross?

Well, I thought I would venture into some topical blog posts on issues that we may face or on topics that I have always wondered about and maybe you have too!  I hope you will find them interesting or at least something worth discussing.

Have you ever wondered where the idea of a Christmas Tree originated?  I decided to do a little research and find out for myself.  Well, there were many different ideas, some of which were fictional legends, but I was able to come across some articles that really made me think.

Many believe that the Christmas tree was started by Martin Luther who brought a fir tree into his home as a sign of life.  Other sources, however, state that this idea is a pure legend.

In an article written by Dr. Richard P. Bucher, he explains his own research of the scholarly records to see where the true meaning behind the christmas tree began.  His sources have brought him to the conclusion that the original idea of the evergreen tree was used as the paradise tree in religious plays performed outdoors or in churches.  One of the most popular scenes was depicting creation with Adam & Eve, their sin and banishment from paradise, ending with the promise of Christ.  The tree would be the only prop with apples hanging from it, which Eve would take from and give to Adam.

After they discontinued the plays, people had grown so accustomed to the tree, that they started bringing them into their own homes and decorating them with apples (representing sin) and homemade wafers (representing communion and life).  It has slowly changed over the years to adding lights and decorative globes, etc.

I found this quote from him worth thinking about, even for those of us who don't necessarily carry the tradition of having a 'Christmas tree' in our homes.  "The tree reminds us of the tree in Eden by which Adam and Eve were overcome and which thrust them into sin. But more importantly, the tree reminds us of the tree by which our sin was overcome, namely the tree upon which Christ Jesus was crucified."

You can find Dr. Bucher's article here.

According to Wikipedia, the Christmas tree began in Germany and was a form Christianization of pagan tradition of winter solstice.
You can find the article here.

Whether these sources and others that I read have any validity or not, I feel that the modern day Christmas tree is most likely a blend of both fact and legend.  Where exactly it originated from, I still don't know what to think.  One thing is for sure, my research has really made me think.

Should I get a paradise/christmas tree?


Winter Traveling

I know many who absolutely hate winter traveling, but there are those who are willing to brave the weather.  Andrew and I traveled to Ontario this past weekend to see his family for Christmas.  We were supposed to drive home on Sunday evening, but when we saw what was being predicted for an oncoming storm, we decided to leave earlier to try to avoid as much of the storm as possible.  Driving on the Canadian side was pretty decent, but once we crossed the border into Michigan we started hitting heavier snow.  We carefully passed 19 cars that were either already in the ditch, spinning out in front of us, or off to the side for a fender bender.  At certain points along the way, the wind was blowing the snow quite hard, making it harder to see, but not quite a total white out yet!  As the day progressed, we understood that the weather would be getting increasingly worse, especially on the Canadian side, so we were glad we didn't have to experience any of it.

Here are a couple links of those who did, including a family from our church who tried to head back to Grand Rapids early Monday morning.

from the National Post

from the Detroit News

We thank God that we were spared from this weather, and that He spared the family from our church who were taken to a hotel to spend the night.


Are Homeschooled Kids Socialized?

I thought this was a cute video of what many people view homeschooling yet don't understand what truly goes on.  My family homeschools as well and the younger siblings are in just about every social connection possible, i.g. basketball teams, choir, band, drama, co-op groups, etc
It was well stated here.
Hope you enjoy it as well.