Thursday, December 11, 2008

And Now For the Stuffing Part

The stockings are hung. (Not by the chimney though, we don't have one.) They're hung you say? Aren't you supposed to hang them Christmas Eve? Okay, so that was the way we did it growing up. We'd set out the milk and cookies and then hang the stockings and then read the Christmas Story out of Luke.

Around here, we don't do Santa, so the stockings are hung as soon as the tree goes up! It gives me joy just to look at them for the entire Advent season! Now, the stuffing part, that comes on Christmas morning!

Our "stuffers" as a child were filled with fruit and candy and small gifts. Occasionally there would be a really big gift in them, like a certificate saying that we were going on a trip to DisneyWorld. Okay, so that only happened once, but it is still remembered as THE BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER!

I really enjoyed the stocking stuffers. In fact, I always found it to be more fun than the presents. Now that I'm the one stuffing them, I find that I am a much more practical stuffer than my mother was. Stocking stuffers around here tend to be things that the kids need rather than want. Don't get me wrong, we throw in a few fun things too, just cheap fun things!

Here are some ideas for practical stocking stuffers. We're only spending $10 per stocking this year, so they won't all have every one of the following. Keep in mind our oldest is 5, so the "shock" factor hasn't set in yet. Accompanied with the fact that we have always done practical stockings, they have come to expect practical and they get just as excited as if they were filled with toys!

1. Toothbrushes. I typically buy the cheapest I can, but for stuffers I look for CVS or Walgreens bargains and get a character toothbrush for them.

2. Socks or underwear. Seriously, they always need these!

3. Hair accessories. Where do all the pink ones go? Did you see that episode of Jon and Kate Plus 8? So true.

4. Pencils or crayons or any other school supplies needed. We homeschool so I always know what they could use! When I was little, my mother gave us personalized pencils with our names on them one year and I still remember them!

5. Shampoo, conditioner, bath soap. They're girls, they ooh and aah over the smells and then we put them in the bathroom for later use. Probably not a good idea for boys.

6. Highlights magazines or a Fun Book or other magazine.

7. Gloves or mittens if needed.

8. Chapstick or nail polish. Again, ooh and aah, then off to the closet for later use.

9. Instead of candy, I tend to do 100 calorie pack snacks and fruit that they snack on until brunch is ready.

10. An age-appropriate book or reader.

When we were teens, Mom would put things like razors, hairspray, makeup, nail files, etc. in our stockings. Oh, and pantyhose. I loved getting pantyhose! :)

So, does your family do stockings? Are you a practical stuffer or a just-for-fun stuffer? Do you have any more practical ideas?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Motivate Me Monday and Memory Monday: The Restoration of Joy

MamaHenClucks wrote about the 5:16 Club last Monday over at her Hen house. I immediately knew that I wanted to be a member. It's a group of women who are committed to rising early every morning in order to start their days' with God to be intentional about spending time with Him each and every morning.

I will tell you that the times in my life when I have been most consistent and successful at spending time with God each and every day, are the times that I have committed to getting up before everyone else in the family and doing it first thing! Even when I had newborns! (I was up anyway with the 5 am feeding right?)

Anyway, I'll admit that over the last 6 weeks or so, I have become rather slack on this. Okay, not even slack, just not getting up! I've been rolling out of bed when my kids do and my entire day is thrown off because of it. I've been planning to get back into the 5 o'clock wake up routine again, so now that we're home from our Thanksgiving trip, I'm joining the club. I'll be setting my alarm clock for 5:16 and rising early to spend time with God before the rest of the family awakens.

I'm looking forward to meeting and enjoying some encouraging bloggy-fellowship with the rest of the 5:16 Club. Just check out the other posts over at Like a Warm Cup of Coffee.

In addition, I've decided to join Memory Monday over at The Simple Wife to help motivate me to memorize a scripture a week. I love what these two ladies are doing with their blogs and bringing women together to study and encourage each other. Way to go ladies!

Now that you know what my new Monday posts will be about, let me give you my encouragement for this week. I chose to memorize 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."

See, I've been working on some posts for my testimony blog Healing Hope this week. I know so many dear friends and family who are spending this Thanksgiving and Christmas season in a season of grief. They have lost precious family members this year and their hearts are broken and having a difficult time finding joy in this holiday season.

This particular scripture is one that God has been "writing" on my heart for several years, yet I've never memorized it word-for-word. He's brought me back around to it again in the process of writing these posts.

First of all, I want to encourage any of you who are currently in a season of grief. Joy will return. It may not be this month. It may not be this year. But it will come.

Psalm 16:9-11 states, "Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."

It's easy for those who trust God to believe what He says and believe that we will have joy again, but for those who have experienced such pain that doubt has become more of a friend than trust has, these words are hard to believe.

It personally took me several years of "wrestling" with God to come to a point of believing Him again, believing that His Word is true. There are still times when I have unbelief, but they are much less frequent now. One of the examples in the Bible of someone who has an incredible amount of belief that wows me with delight is Mary the Mother of Jesus in her response to being told that she was carrying The Christ Child. She says in Luke 1:45, "Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"

My prayer for all you who are in a season of grief and possibly unbelief this Christmas is that you will spend precious time with the Father each day and be overwhelmed with belief in all that He will accomplish, including the restoration of your joy! May you have a spirit of belief like that of Mary as we celebrate Jesus Christ this month.

To those of you who know someone who is going through a season of grief, may I encourage you to take 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 and put it into practice this Christmas. Visit with or send an encouragement to the friend or family member who is grieving. Through your visit or message, they may be comforted by The God of all comfort!

May His Joy fill you throughout this Christmas season (and especially when you are waking before everyone else in the house and awaiting your first cup of coffee!)