How to Create Seeking Christmas Ornaments

My favorite element of Seeking Christmas is the ornament activity.  When you purchase Seeking Christmas, you will find instructions for using your ornaments each day as well as instructions for downloading here by signing up for email updates.

There are so many ways these ornaments can be created.  I can’t wait to see all the creations from this Christmas season.  Whether you are crafty or not, you will love creating these with your family.

When you sign up for email updates, you will receive your free download.  Ornaments can be created in sizes of 2 inch, 3 inch, or 3.5 inch.

In addition, check the Store page for all kinds of ornament info.

If you are not the crafting type, you may prefer to simply cut out the ornaments, glue the back and front sides together, tie a string and call it a day.  You can take it a step further by putting a slightly larger colored cardstock circle between the front and back pieces.  Or you can even laminate.  This is the simplest and fastest way to create these ornaments.

Some may choose to use photo insert ornaments to display the cutouts.  This involves almost no crafting.

But for the crafting lovers, we have lots of ways you can do this.  And since I’m not crafty, I am really excited for you to share with me your creations!  For now, I will share some of my materials and completed ornaments to spark some ideas for you.

Ornaments can be created with many types of materials.  Below you will see wooden circles, cork coasters, paper mache ornaments, and porcelain.  All of these items I purchased at Hobby Lobby.

For the wooden circles, just pick up a bag of eye screws (located right with the wooden circles at craft stores) and some ribbon or twine.

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After selecting your ornament material, you will print your downloads.  I suggest uploading to a copy center such as Staples, Office Depot etc.  It’s 59 cents a copy.  To me it was easier.  I selected the paper weight (I suggest 110 weight white card stock), uploaded the file, and chose pickup location and time.  Print at home if that is easier for you!

Next, cut out your circles.  The super crafty people will have tools to cut perfect circles.  I used good old fashioned scissors and worked carefully.

Here are the cut outs

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I then spray painted my ornaments.  So fast.  I like short cuts.  Another option is acrylic.  Both work just as well.

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After paint dries completely, you will glue on the ornament cut-outs.  I use Mod Podge because I simply love it.  Just a good all in one glue and sealer.

Apply a coat of Mod Podge to each ornament and place the cut-out on the glue covered surface.

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Then you seal with a coat of Mod Podge.  Simply paint it on, trying to stay in the same direction.  Let dry about 20 minutes before doing the other side.

Finished products

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When family bonds reach outside their own

Oscar

Photo courtesy of Disneynature

Watch this video:

http://video.disney.com/watch/oscar-looks-contemplative-4c7bca7e2269453ab4a09f37

In Chimpanzee by Disneynature, Oscar is a playful, adorable little chimp you fall in love with immediately.  His spunk mingled with tenderness captivates your heart.  He’s a baby, completely dependent on his mama, Isha, who patiently and lovingly guides and cares for her little chimp. She is his world.  “Day after day it takes a committed mom to teach him to make it in the jungle.”  Sound familiar, mamas?

When a rival chimpanzee group attacks, Oscar loses his mom, Isha.  In a moment Oscar finds himself an orphan.  No mama grooming him, no mama nursing him, no mama teaching him to crack nuts and gather food.  He is left alone.

Oscar tries to make it on his own within the group.  And like us all, he wants to be accepted.  His attempts to find a new mom left him feeling rejected and alone. He even found himself rejected by friends.  Completely alone in the world, yet surrounded by his own.  Hopeless.

Freddy is the powerful leader of the group.  Unapproachable.  Yet Freddy had his eyes on Oscar from afar.  Through an amazing turn of events, Freddy allowed Oscar to ride on his back, something only a mother would do.  Freddy began to groom little Oscar, the highest ranking member grooming the lowest.  Servanthood at its finest.  The movie described Freddy as the savior that no one could’ve expected.  Freddy adopted Oscar.  He became Oscar’s savior.

I know a Savior like that.  One who descended from Heaven in the form of a baby, an unlikely Savior for sure.  The most humble of births for a King.  One who came to serve, and serve the lowliest.  One who came so we could each be adopted into His kingdom.  Saving is His specialty.

Through my involvement with New Horizons for Children, I have seen hearts madly, deeply in love with Jesus, reaching out to save the orphans of the world- to show them their true Savior.  I have seen God perform miracles for the least of these that have radically transformed my relationship with Christ.

When you host an orphan in your home, or you meet an orphan hosted by another family, everything changes.  A face, a name, a life becomes a part of your heart.  They are no longer just a number, a statistic.  They are a human, hopeless and desperate, in need of a Savior.  In need of love and acceptance.  Aren’t we all?

Through the sale of Seeking Christmas, I am committed to donating 10% of my royalties to NHFC and orphan ministries that reach out to change the life of an orphan.

Seeking Christmas is an attempt to unite families through guided, tradition-building activities that center around Christ.  To help families reclaim Christmas in their home.  Families will cherish memories that will long outlive any material gift.

Orphans do not have families creating rich memories for them.  They aren’t experiencing the security of traditions.  My prayer is that Seeking Christmas will not only strengthen your own family, but that it will be used by God to give an orphan what no one is giving them.  The love of a family.

Viktors is Back

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The emotions ran high last week.  Much higher than I anticipated.  The day was approaching for Viktors to meet the family that would become his forever family.

If you are lost, let me catch you up.  Our family hosted an 11-year-old orphan from Latvia over Christmas.  His name is Viktors.  He stole my heart before I ever laid my eyes on him.  We poured our hearts into him for 4 weeks, and when he returned to Latvia in January 2013, a part of my heart returned with him forever.  I loved him like my own.

I was asked how we could do that.  Weren’t we worried about the hurt when he went back to the orphanage?  Worried we were not.  Full of faith we were.  Jesus hung on a cross for me.  Thank God he didn’t let his fear of pain stand in the way of fulfilling God’s plan.  Our decision to host an orphan  was confirmed by God 100 times over, time and time again.

Our 4 weeks were filled with joy, sorrow, trials, and triumphs.  Small victories and big victories.  Exhaustion and elation.  Deep pain that left holes just the right size for God to pour in comfort and peace that can only come from Him.

And through God’s mercy, grace, and loving-kindness, He brought the family that will one day adopt Viktors to contact me the night before he was to depart.  Within one week of Viktors returning to Latvia, this family had received confirmation that they were to be His forever family.

And so the story of Viktors didn’t end when he returned to Latvia.  It was only the beginning.

A boy forgotten in the eyes of the world has not been forgotten by God.

In the wee hours of a June morning, he arrived again.  His 3rd trip to America with New Horizons for Children.  Lord willing, this will be his last hosting.

And this new mama to him.  Well.  It’s hard to articulate.  She’s something else.  This mama who has loved him for 6 months while waiting for him.  This mama who knows he is one of hers.  This mama who must fight the insecurities that creep in wondering if he will love her like he loved his past 2 host moms (and he will no doubt).  Would you believe she brought a picture of me to the airport and showed him when she introduced him to my sister, who happened to be at the same airport picking up her host daughter.  What a picture of selflessness.  What a picture of true love.  A desire to comfort her soon to be son.  By showing him my picture, she was bringing familiarity to him.  Comfort when he was nervous and uncertain.  Oh how he will love this mama, who thinks of others before herself.

She gets it.  She gets him.  She sees the hurt buried deep inside his heart.

Eagerly, I’m checking Facebook to see what she has posted.  What they are doing.  What they are experiencing.  Questions run through my head constantly.  Are they bonding?  Is he pouting?  Does she see what I saw in him?  Yet I know.  I know.  I know the answers.  Because I know the One who orchestrated this entire scenario.  I know the One who chose the players to play the parts.  I know that it will all work out according to His good purposes.  So we trust.

As if she knows how I must be feeling, she calls.  She calls to tell me everything is going just fine.  She loves him.  They all love him.

This hosting season, I watch from the sidelines the families in the trenches.  I’m following the stories of the families.  I’m cheering on their successes.  I’m grieving in their disappointments.  And I’m praising God that He has brought forward so many families willing to open their hearts and homes to children in desperate need of some love.

Viktors Adoption Update

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It’s hard to believe that 4 months have passed since Viktors returned to Latvia.  (If you are new to Barefoot Walks, you can read about our family hosting an orphan from Latvia beginning here.)

And in a little over one month, he will return again.  This time to the family who will one day be his forever family, Lord willing.  The Sloans are beginning the adoption process even before Viktors arrives in order to lessen the time he will have to remain in Latvia after his summer hosting is over.

Please check out their amazing raffle fundraiser here.  This is one raffle you don’t want to miss!

http://www.supersloans.com/2013/05/adoption-raffle-fundraiser.html

How we miss Viktors.  Please share this!  We are praying God moves some huge mountains to make this adoption possible.  But all things are possible with God!!

Viktors’ Birthday Party

If you have followed the story of Viktors with us, you will not want to miss this.  His soon to be forever family is hosting a birthday party for him and you are invited!

Please read all about it here http://www.supersloans.com/2013/03/a-birthday-party-for-viktors.html

You don’t want to miss this!!  Be a part of caring for an orphan in a real and tangible way!

 

5 Benefits of an Electronics Fast

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For 30 days our home is electronic/screen free.

We are just a little over a week into this.  And we feel free.

It was a spur of the moment idea Steve had one weekend. “We are shutting down for 30 days.  For one month we will have no tv, no Wii, no electronics (with the exception of the computer for me to pay bills and blog and him for work).  Steve even went so far as to cancel Dish Network.

I don’t watch tv or play video games, so this isn’t as painful for me as it is the rest of the members of my household.  Honestly, I felt this would be a breeze for us anyway.  Our kids rarely watch tv during the week.  There simply is no time.  Wii is only allowed on the weekends.  A couple of 30 minute time blocks.

We started noticing some attitudes in our boys.  More bickering than we cared for.  And a constant asking to watch something or play some game.  A break was needed.

 

Top 5 positive changes from week 1:

  1. We don’t rush away from the moments.  We stay.  We linger.  We soak.  We relish.  There is nothing to rush away to.  No tv show to catch.  No video game to conquer.  Nothing but time and each other.  Dinner is slower, more relaxed.  There is no need to rush to eat so we can fit a show in before bedtime on a Saturday night.  We took a family bike ride Sunday afternoon to a favorite tree swing.  After a long time swinging, we asked if they were ready to head home.  Zachary’s immediate response, “No!!!”  One week ago he would have been begging to go home so that he could play the Wii one last time before the new week began.  
  2. We are having moments we’ve never had.  I’ve come to realize the distractions of our devices cause great anxiety and a sense of urgency.  When they are taken away, we are left with the simplicity of life.  We are left with the beauty of the ones we love waiting to be enjoyed.  When our affection and attention is taken away from our devices, it must go somewhere.  So we turn it to the ones we love.  Andrew wanted to take a bath Saturday night.  While he was playing in the tub, I heard Jacob in there talking to him.  He was just sitting on the side of the tub chatting away with his 4-year-old brother he rarely has time to simply enjoy.  Jacob began making up stories and songs.  He had Andrew captivated.  After that Andrew began to want to be with Jacob again.
  3. We are finding new activities to enjoy. I’ve found the boys putting together puzzles, setting up imaginary play scenes, making up new games, using tools to create projects.  I’ve even found them simply resting.  Yes, just lounging on the screen porch, enjoying nature, enjoying life.
  4. We are thinking.  Want to increase creativity and productivity?  Take away your devices. Your mind will slow down and focus.  We have noticed this in ourselves as well as the boys.  We all feel much more able to think clearly.
  5. We are reconnecting.  I found I had gotten in a pattern of putting a movie on while I cooked dinner.  Now, everyone is taking part in the dinner prep.  We are all together in the kitchen.  We all help clean up.  We are simply together more.  Jacob and I have had extensive conversations, which have really been lacking lately.  One of our long talks occurred while he was helping me prepare dinner and Steve was outside with the other boys.  I said, “See Jacob if you had been watching a movie, we would have missed this opportunity to have this time together.”  He just smiled and said, “I’m actually kind of liking this electronics fast now.”

When the option of electronics is completely removed, kids will become kids again.  When all the distractions are removed, we can fully enjoy our moments again.

Viktors and Marina- 2 Latvian Orphans

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When Paula Sloan and I first began discussing Viktors, we didn’t know what their role would be in Viktors’ journey.  Would it be as advocate, adoption, to come alongside us, etc.  Little by little, the Lord revealed the path, which was for the Sloans to adopt this young boy.  During the early conversations, I asked Paula what must have seemed like the oddest question.  It went something like this, “Is your husband silly and goofy?”  When I read her response, I could almost hear her laughing.  Please visit her blog to hear the answer.  http://www.supersloans.com/2013/02/best-question-e-v-e-r.html

Why did I ask Paula that question?  Well, did you watch that little video clip?  Do you remember the post of Viktors dancing in the car?  Did I mention he loved calling Steve animal names?  He is silly.  Very silly.  A silly family would be perfect for him.  Please read Paula’s post on her silly husband.  You are sure to get a good chuckle!

This post from Paula is a must read.  I promise you won’t regret the 2 minutes it will take!! http://www.supersloans.com/2013/02/the-story-of-starfish.html

The Sloans are raising money to host Viktors this summer then will be raising money for his adoption.  If you feel led to help them, you can contribute at http://www.active.com/donate/Summer2013/Viktors

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And a new journey is beginning.  With an 11 year old orphan named Marina.  Marina is super shy and has only been in the state system for a little over a month.  When I perused the photo listing from New Horizons For Children, my eyes were drawn to her bio for some reason.  Similar to the draw to Viktors.

Initially, I asked Steve if we were supposed to host her.  He must have thought I was crazy.  I’m not healed from Viktors yet.  I just started as a volunteer coordinator with NHFC.  I am committed to supporting the Sloans through their journey.  It’s too much at one time.  With gentle love, Steve reminded me of all I was dealing with right now and encouraged me to focus on healing, focus on helping families hosting orphans this summer, and focus on supporting the Sloans.

I just knew that the Lord put Marina on my heart for a reason though.  Just like he did with Viktors.  In complete jest, I sent a text to my sister that simply said “Hey I found a little orphan girl available for hosting.  You guys want to host her?”

I expected a response like, “I wish we could but…..”

Instead, I got this “Let me talk to Larry and the family”  Not much longer after that I received this “Where do we start with the hosting.  The family wants the girl you picked out for us.”

I sat in complete astonishment.  Not that my sister would do this.  Because that isn’t surprising.  My sister has a heart for God and a heart for helping others.  But I was astonished at God.  Again.  I pray I never cease to be amazed at His miraculous works.

So my heart is bursting with anticipation and excitement over the journeys of 2 families this summer.  The Sloans with Viktors.  And the Pattersons with Marina.  2 11-year-old Latvian orphans in desperate need of love and family.  2 amazing families willing to open their hearts and homes.   My heart aches at the thought of what their hearts will feel in a few months.  But so very worth every ounce of pain.  Because the pain we feel is for a purpose.  It is pain with a purpose.

If you would like to support the Patterson’s in their drive to raise money to host Marina, you can do so here https://www.active.com/donate/Summer2013/hostingMarina

All donations are tax-deductible.  Your donations are fulfilling the call of the Lord to care for orphans and widows.  Most families that host cannot fund the hosting on their own.  They rely on the generosity and compassion of others who are able to contribute.

Most importantly, pray for these families.  Pray for the Pattersons and Sloans.  Pray for Marina and Viktors.  Your prayers are coveted!