The Best Gift You Can Give To Yourself This Year

I begin the Christmas season and the month of December excited for the slow unwrapping of Advent. The anticipation builds as I day by day, unwrap and reveal a new piece of the Christmas story.

December gives birth to slow, reflective thoughtfulness. Or crazy, insane, and frantic. Seems there is little in between. I tend to slow during December. In December I say no in order to say yes to what matters most.

We ponder. We anticipate. We expect. We focus.

Maybe we need to allow ourselves to unwrap and hold onto the gift of December.

I like December because I stop focusing on me so much. Daily I seek Jesus. I’m overwhelmed with how a familiar story can continue to dive deeper in my soul.

The unexpected gift of December is a month where I think of others above my own self. I think of Jesus. I think of humanity. I think of buying gifts for my family. I think of serving those who need. I think of who I can show hospitality to. To think of others is a surprise gift of freedom to our souls.

I’m finding I want to hold onto December. I want a year of Decembers.

In December people are nicer, decorations are cheerier, givers are more generous. In December homes are open. Parties are hosted. Invites are extended. Hospitality prevails.

In December we give ourselves permission to slow. We’ve allowed ourself a guilt free pass to stop running pace with the rest of the world. We’ve mercifully tended to our soul in the downshifting of life.

In December we become intentional. We carefully plan activities, moments, and memories with our children. In fact, some of us plan something every day.

In December we have fun. We hide elves, make gingerbread houses, watch cheesy movies, and bundle up to sing carols door to door.

In December we are together.

December is the month that brings the year to an end, yet it’s the month that gives birth to the hope we cling to.

December is remembering. We remember a baby that was born to die for us. We remember the stories from old. And we remember our own lives over the past year.

We begin to look back. Amazing how much can change in a year. Or a day. Or even one minute.

For some of us looking back over the year brings sorrow and grief. We’ve had to let go of hands we wanted to hold forever. We’ve had to accept a diagnosis and learn a new vocabulary. We’ve moved, leaving behind what was known to discover new work, new people, new places. We’ve released dreams unfulfilled. We’ve grieved the ending of a season we will never have again, accepting the new season and learning new rhythms of life.

Despite the pain, grief, and sorrow, for the one held in Christ, December whispers birth and hope. Hope never dies because our Savior lives. We cling to the hope that one day He will wipe away every tear. We will dance and run. We will sing forever.

So December, you are an interesting month. A month of reflection. A month of review. A month of renewal. A month of remembering. A month of rebirth.

Remembering the birth of my Savior, I cling to the birth that happens in my own soul. He is the picture of hope. He is joy. He is love. He is forever and unending.

How quickly I’m able to turn a page though.  The day is over. The month closes. We box it up, flip the calendar. Pack away the advent to countdown His arrival, toss the year’s calendar, and we move on.

We match pace with the world. Our inbox  and newsfeed fills with images telling us we need a new ‘us’.

We begin the purge. The focus on a New Year. New goals. New body. We get back to focusing on our life. And for the next 11 months, that is how it goes.

This year maybe I will treat each month like it’s December.

When it’s January, may I think of how I can love others well rather than simply how I can make my body more pleasing to my own eyes.

When it’s February, may I intentionally create activities, moments, and memories with the ones I love. May February hold a small gift each day of time we spend together.

When it’s March, may I open my home and invite others in. May I release the pressure to have it perfectly decorated or spotlessly cleaned. May I stop looking at the Instagram pictures of how others do it and simply do it the best I can with what I have.  May I let the love pour out of us into the ones who come through these doors.

When it’s April, may I tenderly care for my soul by allowing myself to rest. May I allow myself to produce less, accomplish less, and be in Him more. It’s in this place He will renew me so I can do far more than I envisioned.

When it’s May, may I keep unwrapping Him slowly. Day by day. May I find myself surprised that something I’ve read 100 times times revealed a new hidden treasure.

When it’s June, July, and August, may I have fun. The kind of fun that brings a smile back, a reminder to laugh. It’s good for my soul, but it’s better for the ones who do life with me.

When it’s September, October, and November, may I generously give. May my gifts bear fruit in someone’s life. May I give out of my little or my abundance because what I have isn’t mine to begin with. I’ve only been entrusted to manage it well. It’s easy to be a generous giver when it’s not mine to begin with. And it’s not.

And when it’s December again, may I begin again to remember. May I remember who God is. May I remember that though a year has passed again, a year full of joy mingled with sorrow, He never left my side. May I remember that December brings the calendar to a close, but it gave birth to a calendar that will never end.


9 Screen Free Non Toy Gift Ideas for Teens and Kids Of All Ages

I think we all want to give gifts that matter and last beyond Christmas morning.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about this topic. I wrote a post a few years ago, 15 Non-Toy Gift Ideas To Give Kids At Christmas.  It’s worth revisiting. Especially in light of all we now know about the screen addictions and dangers our children our facing.

Maybe it’s time we become intentional in the protection of our kids in the area of screens by giving them gifts of a different nature.


Our lives and homes are filled with stuff, clutter, and noise. Toy closets and playrooms have to be purged prior to the holidays to make room for all the new toys arriving in the younger years. In the older years we begin to see clutter of a new kind. The digital clutter that infects the soul.

The easy gift is anything with a screen. This is the gift sure to delight our child who thinks in the short term. However, is a screen gift the best gift?

Do our kids really need more games, more toys, another doll?

How much is enough?

For many parents the temptation is to buy according to peer pressure. All of our kids’ friends will receive the latest iPhone, tablet, etc. The keeping up with the Jones’ passes down the generational lines.

I hear this cry from parents. Why can’t Christmas be simpler? Why can’t we focus on what really matters?

Well, one reason is because we spend the majority of our season shopping and pondering what to buy. Maybe it starts with us and has little to do with our kids.

Some parents believe in giving enormous amounts of gifts. Other parents believe in giving only a handful of small gifts. To each their own, neither is right or wrong, simply family values and convictions. Whichever camp you reside in with your gift giving, this list will provide you a few thoughtful ideas.


 Screen Free Non Toy Gift Ideas:

  1. Investment Account– Before you breeze by this one, consider your teen or tween who is interested in learning about the stock market. Open a custodial account with someone like E Trade.  Purchase a few small stocks. They will love watching their money rise and fall and learning about the investment world.
  2. Business Start Up – Help your budding entrepreneur. Does your teen have an interest in business, an entrepreneurial spirit? Buy gifts to help their venture. Our boys have a snow shoveling business in the winter and lawn business in the summer. Equipment is expensive, and they are required to buy their own. This would be a great opportunity to purchase equipment they need or supplies to help them in their efforts to become more efficient in their craft.
  3. Collection of gift cards – Pick 5-10 of their favorite restaurants or shops and purchase small denomination gift cards. Kids love to have their own money to spend when the time arises.
  4. Concert tickets – Look at the year ahead. Is there a favorite band coming to town? Buy tickets now and gift at Christmas.
  5. Trip – Is your family planning to take a trip next year? Make it part of the Christmas surprise. Give gifts to go along with the trip. Last year we knew we planned to take our family on a cruise. We decided that this would be our Christmas gift to the kids. The gifts they unwrapped held the clues about the big gift. Swim trunks, sunblock, new shorts and tops, etc. The grandparents gifted along as well and provided excursions for the trip. This allowed us to take the trip of a lifetime without double spending.
  6. Audio Books or Dramatizations – So many options here! Christian Heroes Then and Now and Adventures in Odyssey are some of our favorites that make the gift list every single holiday. We use them on road trips to alleviate screen time in the car and to enrich our lives at the same time. Chronicles of Narnia Radio Theater by Focus on the Family is amazing.
  7. Memberships and Season Passes – Zoo, science museums, children’s theater, amusement parks. There are so many places in your town.
  8. Tickets  – Sky Zone, Defy Gravity, Skating, Bowling, Ice Skating. These are all places our family likes to go but are too expensive to do frequently. Groupon often has incredible deals to your favorite places.
  9. Hobby/Skill  – Grow an interest in a hobby or a skill set your see in your kids. Sewing, woodworking, painting, music lessons, art lessons, camps, photography equipment. Hobbies are expensive. My kids have lots of interests but we are unable to fund everything they would like to do. If your kids have been begging to take drum lessons, maybe this is the time to invest. A year of lessons or the equipment.

For additional ideas (especially for younger kids), read my post on 15 Non Toy Gifts to Give Kids At Christmas. Also you might find it helpful to read this post if you have a child who struggles at Christmas when surrounded by kids who receive the latest and greatest of everything. Dear Boys, When You Compare What You Get To What Everyone Else Gets  .

For a Christmas that matters, one which focuses on the true meaning of Christmas, while providing your family thoughtful, intentional ideas for creating memories, experiences, and traditions centered on Christ, check out Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning of Christmas. 


The “Best of” Christmas Posts – Tips to simplify, celebrate, serve, cherish, and give


I thought it would be helpful to compile a list of my most popular or favorite posts from the past Christmas seasons. Enjoy these over several days. I’ll be sharing new posts soon. Currently we are wrapping up our first semester of homeschooling. I have much to share with you on what the Lord has been working in my heart.

I pray your Christmas season is off to a beautiful start!!

18 Ways Your Family Can Serve Others At Christmas

The Christmas season seems to blow in like a blizzard and bury us with piles of to-do’s. The key for me is to plan ahead just a little. To determine before life gets too hectic what our family will do.

Give the Gift They Don’t Know To Ask For

“I have come to realize that my boys only retain a small portion of what I speak to them. My words are granted only a few seconds to slip in before the door of opportunity slams. Written words aren’t blocked by doors, they slide under the crack of the door. There they remain and can be taken in slowly over time and multiple times.

A letter from a parent to a child is a tool that plants words deep into the soil of the soul. Those words remain with them for life. When the words are most needed, they are waiting to be unearthed. Resurrected to life in the heart of the child.”

My Favorite Christmas TraditionA Father’s Blessing ( For single mothers and widows, a mother’s blessing is equally as powerful and life-giving)

It’s a gift slipped into the Christmas tree. A letter. Words. To be opened with care and treasured for life. A gift that won’t be quickly forgotten. A gift that might not hold the wow factor, but a gift that will give more than we ever actually realize.

When You Are Weighed Down By Getting it Right at Christmas

Christmas can be simpler than we make it. There is freedom in walking in simple ways. In our home some things we do every year, and some things change each year. A tradition is a gift when it is enjoyed, but when it ties you down, it’s no longer a gift. This post shares a few books and activities we enjoyed one Christmas.

How To Not Miss Christmas

“We’ve all had that kind of Christmas. The one that seems to rush by only for you to look back and feel you missed it all. The one that you feel you are on the Christmas treadmill, checking off the list, racing from obligation to obligation, panting for air.

Then you wonder, did you miss Christmas? Did you show your kids what Christmas really means?

Here’s the secret to not missing Christmas. The absolute certain way that you will not miss it.”

Fighting the Christmas Pressure to Impress

“When we fall to the pressure of our culture in our gift giving, it becomes about us.  The attention is taken from the gift recipient and placed back on us. We might earn favor or impress, but we lost our humility. Christmas is the greatest picture of humility the world has ever seen.

If we want to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, it starts with modeling humility.”

When Your Christmas Season Doesn’t Go As Planned

Sometimes when our Christmas looks nothing like we planned, we experience Him like we never imagined. Isn’t that the real gift of Christmas?

15 Non-Toy Gifts To Give At Christmas – a most popular post!! The title says it all.

When It’s Time To Break Tradition -Why The Wish List Needs To Go Away

“He came to do. He doesn’t need our to-do’s.

Instead of filling our to-do’s with finding the perfect gifts for our kids, planning magical surprises to delight, scouring social media for the latest, newest, creative expression of Christmas magic, turn it over to him. Let go of the pressure to create magic. The magic is here. Waiting to be found. Hunt for it rather than burden yourself with creating it.”

25 Advent Calendar Days of Memories and Experiences

I’ve found a secret to fighting this type of Christmas stress.


With our advent calendar, we have simplified our Christmas, while making our season more meaningful and intentional. It only takes a little extra planning the first year, then each year that follows, you will thank yourself for making your holiday less stressful and more memorable.

Gifts for the True Gift of Christmas

Room in the Inn of Our Hearts

Dear Boys, When You Compare What You Get For Christmas With What Someone Else Gets

“Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise.”CS Lewis, Mere Christianity



When My Tradition is at the Expense of Another’s Family


My sister told me a story that I can’t get out of my head. She was paying for her groceries at Wal-Mart. She began asking the woman scanning her groceries about her Thanksgiving plans, her work schedule, and the frenzy of shopping around the corner that would take place at Wal-Mart.

The woman began to share about her personal family situation- divorce, split families, a 44-year-old single mom. Because of the volume of business at Wal-Mart, she would be required to work over the Thanksgiving holidays. She would be working Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Her 14 year-old will sit at home by himself while she works Thanksgiving Day from 10-7. She has no other place for him to go. She requested off, she’s worked there 21 years. The answer was no. Mandatory for all.

I’m not upset at Wal-Mart, or any store for that matter. They didn’t create this. We did. Our materialism. Our focus on gifts. Our clinging to traditions. That is what has created a scenario for the stores that places them in a position to capitalize on the opportunity.

In my mind, I’ve created a picture of this woman and her son. I see her 14-year-old like I picture my Jacob and my heart breaks. God won’t let me shake this image I’ve painted. For this particular woman, maybe I’m off. Maybe I’ve romanticized her story in my heart. Maybe not. Regardless of this one story, I think God won’t let me shake it because our world is full of stories like this we fail to see.

I tend to live in my own little bubble at times. Thankful for my little world, focusing on the blessings that abound in my home. But there is a larger world outside my little bubble that breaks my heart when I allow myself to go there. It’s easier to live blind to the hurting world around us. I’m certain that is not the way of Jesus.

Right now I’m sitting in a cozy guest room at my mom’s house in Georgia. I’ve enjoyed days of lounging, laughing, and feasting, surrounded by the love of family. It’s easy for me to focus right here. To thank God for these blessings. But He keeps bringing back the picture of this woman and her son. He loves them as He loves me.

Thanksgiving Day on social media we will see feeds filled with beautiful family photos. The captions will say “Thankful” “Blessed” “Family”. I will love scrolling and seeing these beautiful pictures filling my feed. But there are others all around us who don’t have the picture perfect looking family. Many will feel thankful still. Many will not. Many will feel blessed minus the Rockwell portrait, many will not.

I was reading in Matthew this morning as I reflected on how thankful I am today. Thankful for my family near and far. I read this and then God brought to mind the lady I’ve never met from Wal-Mart.

Matthew 12:46-50

46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers[a] stood outside, asking to speak to him.[b] 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

I don’t know if this woman is a believer or not. I don’t know anything about her. But I know that she has captured my heart.

Until 4 years ago, one of my favorite days of the entire year was Black Friday. Every year as long as I can remember I shopped on Black Friday. Either with my mom, sister, or friends. I rarely missed one. Thanksgiving night we’d scour the sale ads, make our strategic mapping of the course, then spend an entire day shopping.

Three years ago Seeking Christmas was published. I thought I was writing Seeking Christmas to help families discover the true magic of Christmas by giving tools to create traditions that focused on what Christmas really means. Today I look back and see that Seeking Christmas changed me. It was a pivotal turning point. The changing process wasn’t overnight. It’s been over years.

Part of why I wrote Seeking Christmas was to counter the commercialism and materialism of our culture. It creeps into our families in an effort to entangle us. While I’m a huge proponent of traditions, I also am a fan of breaking traditions and creating new ones. Sometimes we cling to something because we believe we can’t break tradition. It’s what we’ve done forever, so we must continue on. When we stay in that place, we miss out on creating more meaningful moments. The clinging to tradition can be stifling. It can choke out what might have been.

The year Seeking Christmas was published I attempted the traditional Black Friday shopping, but my spirit was unsettled. Each store I went into I saw all that is wrong with Christmas. The carts filled to overflowing with gifts, the maxed out credit cards, the pushing and shoving to make sure you get the item you came for with no thoughts to the others wanting the same item, the honked horns at stolen parking spaces. For the first year in my shopping life, I left Black Friday without buying a single thing. And I felt sad. I was sad at what had always been that I’d not clearly seen. I was sad that I spent my morning out supporting the very thing I hoped to change within families.

The year after Seeking Christmas was published, I broke my Black Friday tradition for the first time ever. The reason is that it didn’t coincide with the heart of my message. How could I write about celebrating what Christmas is truly about and then spend a day shopping and feeding the very thing that is wrong with Christmas? That year we created a new tradition instead of going out shopping, we would stay in creating. We crafted and made handmade gifts. Each year since has been a little different.

I thought I would grieve the giving up of Black Friday. I thought I would feel I was missing out. The opposite happened. It freed me. Over the past several years, we’ve focused less and less on material gifts. Yes, we give our kids plenty of gifts, but we give more experiences than toys. We give them gifts of opportunities, memories, and trips. These usually aren’t bought in the store.

Five years ago you never would’ve convinced me I would ever give up Black Friday shopping. Like many things, when we feel the prick of God in our spirit and we act on it, He blesses us.

I’m not saying Black Friday shopping is wrong. But there are times God will poke us and He is calling us to something that will cause us to walk against the current we are living in. That is what He did in my life and continues to do.

God continues to poke me at things that others freely enjoy and He gives me the option of listening to Him or following what others seem free to do. I’ve found that my soul rests still when I listen to the poke of God. When I resist the poke and go along with everyone else, the gratification is temporary. And the poke comes back.

This Thanksgiving would you consider the lady in Wal-Mart who is required to work because the demand for store hours is such that she will work 3 straight mandatory days? If there is any way you can not shop on Thursday or Friday, would you kindly consider it? Our dollars send the loudest message of all to stores. When we spend, we tell them we like what they are doing. When we don’t spend, we tell them we want to see change.

Family is the heart of civilization. Family is the beautiful gift our Creator gave us. What is most important is family. And according to Jesus, our “family” isn’t only by blood or marriage relations, it’s by those who follow the will of the Father.

To honor family, we must honor all families. To cherish our own at the sake of another seems selfish. To spend our money on a day or days that others are forced to work when they should be home loving on their own family seems unfair.

If God has poked your spirit over Black Friday shopping, may this be the year you follow the poke? It’s only two days of prolonging the purchase. Waiting until Saturday. Delaying our desires for the sake of another. It seems small and insignificant. Like our few dollars make any difference. But they do. I believe God multiplies our offering of restraint to bless the families at work on these days from our spending.

Here’s a radical idea. Maybe a new tradition is going out on Black Friday, but not spending a dime. And all we do is go to the people, the ones working, and bless them in some way. Pray with them or over them. Hand them a gift, take them a plate of food, give them a gift card. If you love being out on Black Friday, but you have felt a poke, maybe it’s time to create a new tradition.



Give the gift they don’t know to ask for


I unzipped his backpack to begin the process of tossing out papers, stacking up papers, and looking at homework for the week when I found a gift bag in his backpack.

“Andrew, what is this?”

He tossed his tennis racket on the driveway and raced towards me.

“Oh, mommy, it’s from Mrs. Furrow. Read it to me. All of it!”

“Reliable. Hardworking. Steadfast.” My voice cracked, the tears welled up.

“Faithful. Capable. Charming. Loyal. Determined.”

“You forgot this one.” He pointed to the bottom of the picture of words.

“Funny. Yes, you are very funny.”

He lifted his chin, flashing his proudest expression. “Tell me what all those words mean. What is steadfast?”

“Unwavering as to resolution, faith, etc. It’s fixed in direction, firm in purpose.”

The weight of the words pressed hard in my heart.

He is that. He is all the words she selected to describe him. The words she blessed him with. The words that will dig trenches in his soul.

The gift of words. A blessing.

In a world that can be cruel to a kid. In a world of comparisons. In a world of striving. When temptation is great to let our identity take a wrong turn, words can be the blessing our kids need most.

Words are important. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. Lie. Words can damage severely. But words can build, heal, restore, shape, and mold as well.

Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb: sweet to the taste and health to the body

A few years ago I wrote this post about a favorite Christmas tradition. A father’s blessing. A letter my husband writes to our children every Christmas Eve. They find their handwritten letter hiding in the tree on Christmas morning.

The words are for their eyes only. The words speak to their character, their heart, their faith, and the year. It’s life giving words. It’s what he sees in them that they may not see. What God impresses on his heart to share with his boys. It’s the most special gift we give them each Christmas. It costs nothing but it is treasured above all gifts under the tree.

For each of the boys’ birthdays this year, I wrote them a birthday blessing. In this letter, I pulled prayers and scripture out of my prayer journal that had been prayed for them. I listed the date and the exact words I’d prayed. Each letter contained about 10 prayers or verses that were given uniquely for them.

These are the kind of gifts they may not jump up and down over. There is no “wow” factor. But they can actually change their life.

I periodically write letters to my boys. Sometimes when they are facing a challenge. Sometimes for no reason at all. Sometimes as an intentional blessing. Always to give the gift of my words to build them up and point them to their Savior.

These types of words are what they crave. Our culture offers superficial building up. Telling kids they are great, awesome, and excellent. Deep down, they know they aren’t awesome all the time. They aren’t great a lot of times. These words don’t speak to their hearts. They want to know what about me is so great. Give me concrete examples of why I’m great in your eyes.

What they want to hear is, “The way you never gave up on math all year was awesome. The grades might not have been straight A’s, but you worked with all your heart, giving it all you had. That type of dedication is awesome.”

What they want to hear is, “The way you slipped a piece of candy to the one everyone else forgot, that is pretty awesome. I love your heart that cares about other’s feelings.”

Blanket statements of goodness are not blessings. They can do more harm than good.

This generation doesn’t need to hear they are amazing. They need to be looked at in the eyes. They need to be loved unconditionally. They need to know they are known and loved. They need to know they matter, not because they are awesome, but because they are made in the image of God.

One of the greatest gift we can give our kids under the tree this year, is the gift of our words. Words given to bless their lives. Words that will speak deep into their souls, reminding them they were created for more than this world.

I have come to realize that my boys only retain a small portion of what I speak to them. My words are granted only a few seconds to slip in before the door of opportunity slams. Written words aren’t blocked by doors, they slide under the crack of the door. There they remain and can be taken in slowly over time and multiple times.

When I speak, my words can be tuned out. When I leave my words in writing, they can read them when they most need them and as often as they wish.

A letter from a parent to a child is a tool that plants words deep into the soil of the soul. Those words remain with them for life. When the words are most needed, they are waiting to be unearthed. Resurrected to life in the heart of the child.

When a child needs reminding, your words are there. When a child transitions through life or needs comfort, your words are there. When your child needs affirmation or understanding, your words are there. Words hold power to guide, heal, touch, correct, love, inspire, and encourage. They shape our thoughts, direct our minds, and impact our hearts.

Words from a parent to a child are an invaluable gift. It’s a legacy passed down. A passing of your transparent heart to theirs. As parents, we compete with a busy world for the attention of our children. We have so much to share and a short time to make an impact. Let’s become intentional even with our words.

Let’s bless our children this Christmas. It will be the gift they didn’t ask for, but the gift that will continue to give back over the years to come.

If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. Blog subscribers will receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.

Are We Striving for the Favor of Man or God


“Oh, he would LOVE this one!” My son held the gift close to his chest. He raced from display to display to find the perfect gift.

“I want to get him this too. And this.”

“Well, it’s not in your budget, so choose just one.”

The assistant stocking the shelves glanced over her shoulder with a smile at his exuberance.

The experience was similar with each child. They darted around the store to find the gift they knew their brothers would love. They raced home to wrap and place it under the tree. They talked about how they can’t wait to see the look on their faces when they give their gifts.

Loving the giving spirit I saw, I took it a step further.

The first brother down for breakfast opened the advent door and read the note hidden inside. Another brother read it and tossed it aside moving about his morning routine. Another brother arrived to discover the advent activity read, “Do something kind or give something in secret for someone else.”

The lack of enthusiasm echoed loud around the kitchen table. Where was the exuberance I saw only days ago? Who stole their excitement?

Join me at Lift Up Your Day for the rest of today’s post

If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. Blog subscribers will receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.

When You Are Weighed Down by “Getting It Right” At Christmas



I ran upstairs to get dressed “real quick”. Fifteen minutes later, I had a pile of clothes on my closet floor I’d tried that didn’t work. I ran through scenarios in my head. The temps would start out cold, then get warmer. I kept saying to myself, “I have nothing to wear.” This was a lie. The bigger issue is that I had too much to choose from. I just didn’t like much of what I chose from and spent too much time trying to make the perfect choice. I was weighed down by the pressure of making the perfect outfit selection.

I was meeting a friend for breakfast. Other than that, I’d be home working. Grab the kids from school, play outside hopefully, possibly see another human being other than my kids. So why in the world did it take me 15 minutes to find something to wear?

It didn’t stop there. I then had to hang up all the clothes I’d thrown on the floor, then wash my face and put on makeup. Forget the shower, I’d run out of time.

My “run upstairs to get dressed real quick” ended up taking 30 minutes- what should have taken 5 minutes. Too many choices and my desire to make the best choice tilted my morning routine.

At this point, I am now rushing, which makes me snippy with my boys. All because I had too many choices and couldn’t make a simple decision.

Christmas isn’t only complicated because of what the world does to Christmas, it’s become complicated because what we have done to it as well.

We have more choices than we can manage for how to have an intentional Christmas. Get on Pinterest, type in some key words, and you will spend hours trying to determine which one is the very best.

Stop in the Christian bookstore, and you will find no shortage of advent books and activities. Talk to a few friends to find out what they do. People become pretty passionate about what they do with their family and are convinced it is the very best choice. And it very well may be. For them.

Here’s the thing. Too many choices, too much clutter, and we freeze. We have a hard time just grabbing something and going with it. We have a hard time blocking out the noise of what everyone else is doing and finding joy in what we are doing. 

What makes Christmas special in each home will look drastically different from home to home. Sometimes it is the simplest acts, the smallest of traditions that make the biggest imprint in the heart of a family.

In our home, there are a few traditions we do every year, but we have learned to change as our children have grown. Traditions are vital to a family, but traditions can still be a tradition and change shape at the same time.



Seeking Christmas has been a tradition for the last 6 years. It is one that I’ve loved for its simplicity and flexibility. It doesn’t add so much that we become bogged down in choices and activity. In the simplest of ways, we celebrate the Savior, who offered the simplest, yet most elaborate gift the world has ever seen.

Our boys are getting older, Seeking Christmas gives us room to go deeper now and build on the foundation we’ve been laying. This year, I stumbled upon something we are adding to Seeking Christmas that adds no more stress, no more activity, no more clutter. It adds another layer to understanding the gift of our Savior. And it works in perfect harmony with our Seeking Christmas tradition.

I’m sharing not to overwhelm you in more choices when you already have plenty to pull from. I’m sharing because for our family who seeks simplicity so we can enjoy what truly matters, this has been a gift.


Seeking Christmas began in our home when our boys were little. We had 7 ornaments that told the Christmas story. Each night we’d hide an ornament and send them on a hide and seek adventure. Their faces would light up when they found the ornament, and we would read the devotion together. As they’ve grown, they still race to find the hidden ornament. As they’ve grown, they take greater part in the advent activity. Now they read to the family. Now they answer questions with enthusiasm, now they write in the journal as well so we have a record of the years.

This year I discovered Ever Thine Home. I wasn’t looking for anything to add to advent or to our Christmas tradition list. But when I stumbled upon it, it was clear that this is something that would bless our family.

I love everything about their purpose and their products. They have something that goes along with Seeking Christmas so beautifully, so I’m excited to add to our tradition list this year. Simply.


7 Savior Names ornaments. And a tiny little booklet to accompany.


They also have 7 Christmas Names ornaments, which are gorgeous as well.

For our family, we are already hiding and finding an ornament with Seeking Christmas. Now we can hide and find 2 ornaments. The reading is so brief that it adds only a minute or two to the time. It adds no more complication, only another layer of the beauty of His story.

This year I’ve been having my own secret tradition. In the quiet morning hours, I’m Seeking Christmas alone. I’m studying His names alone. All these years, I’ve reserved these readings for times only with my family, but this year I’m enjoying this private time of devotion as well.

And here is one more resource your family may love. It’s one of our favorite books. One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham.


This book tells the Christmas story from the beginning of time. How God was always putting into motion a plan to save us. The story is told in such a way that the kids are drawn in and held by her words and the illustration. It’s beautiful.

Again, this isn’t one more thing to try to squeeze in. It’s just a simple way to emphasize the true meaning of Christmas. It’s a long book, so we enjoy reading it over several day. I read it while the boys are eating breakfast in the morning.

By now, you know that for me, simplicity is key. I’m drawn to simple ways to communicate truth. Simple ways of doing life. I feel that the less clutter we add, the more the gifts of life shine through.

This is true at Christmas as well. Sometimes it’s the simpler traditions, the simpler activities, that shine the brightest in our season.

Sometimes it helps when we just make our choice and go with it. Even if it’s not the “perfect” choice. We prevent ourselves from getting weighed down in a sea of too much to choose from in an effort to make the perfect selection.

It’s Jesus. And it’s the heart of your family that will make any tradition you choose beautiful. It won’t look like anyone else’s. But it was never intended to.

If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. Blog subscribers will receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.