HAPPY HOLIDAYS – 5 Things My Family Must Do During The Holidays (Specifically Christmas)

dog-candle-fireplace-fir-tree-room-wreath-christmas-new-year-christmas-fireplace-holidaysIt’s nearing the end of September, which means the holidays are right around the corner. I love the holidays and having four little children makes it even more exciting! I decided to start with Christmas, and although it is still quite far away, it will be Christmas before you know it!

This series is intended for all of you who LOVE the Holidays as much as I do! If you enjoy the warm fuzzy feelings the holidays bring, this series is just for you! Now, lets get to the five things my family must do during the holidays. We’ll begin with the Christmas Season!

1. OH CHRISTMAS TREE!

The day after Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year! We get out the Christmas Tree, ornaments, stockings, and other decor. Next we put on some Christmas music, specifically The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole, which sets the mood, and follow up with some Christmas classics, such as the songs you hear on Home Alone, and of course, Mariah Carey’s Christmas Albums (specifically for myself, lol). We make some hot chocolate, filled with the marshmallows and sip it as we sing and put the ornaments on the tree. We talk about all of the fun times we have during the holidays as the spirit of Christmas is ringing in.

2. CHRISTMAS CHAIN!

Do you remember in elementary school when you would make the green and red Christmas chain? It was where the green and red strips were interlocked and you would rip off one and the chain got shorter each night. Well, ever since then I made the same chain every year growing up and as I had my own family. Now whenever I make it, instead of just plain green and red links, I write on each link a verse or set of Bible verses from the Bible of Jesus’ birth. Each night we take off one of the links and read the verses and discuss the true meaning of Christmas to us. Yes “Jesus is the reason for the season!” I’m sure you’ve heard that before! Here’s a link to learn how to make the Christmas Chain, but don’t forget to put the Bible verses you want or you can simply put the numbers for the countdown!

3. CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!

How many times have you been driving at night and see almost every house lit up with Christmas lights? Every year, we see some amazing houses with Christmas decorations. We love to take a tour all over Las Vegas during the season, but not for the Vegas lights, lol! Here is a video of one of our kid’s favorite houses that we drive by almost every day! Every year they have more lights! It’s fascinating!

4. BAKE AND WATCH!

One of mine and the kid’s favorite things to do is bake Christmas cookies! I found a simple recipe several years back that takes little time to do I also shared the recipe in a previous post titled Christmas Sugar Cookies Recipe. Of course we bake other things as well when we have the time, but these are simple and you can make many in little time! They’re simply Sugar Cookies. Here’s a link to the Sugar Cookies recipe and the recipe is also listed below. This is sort of a two in one because we also LOVE to watch Christmas movies! Yes, I let my kids believe in Santa Claus, but I have always taught them the true meaning of Christmas and teach them to give as well. So of course we have a list of our favorites. We watch and like other movies, but Christmas without these would not be Christmas at all. These are some of our favorites: Home Alone 1 and 2, Tim Allen’s The Santa Clause (1, 2, and 3), Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (animated TV Special 1970), Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), Santa Claus the Movie (with Dudley Moore, John Lithgow, 1985), Elf (Will Ferrel and obviously we don’t watch this with the kids, lol), It’s A Wonderful Life (a classic! 1947), Last Holiday (2006), Perfect Holiday (2007), and of course A Christmas Story (1983).

***The recipe listed below is the original recipe that was posted on the website in the link above. I do modify the recipe to my family’s liking, so I do not make the cookies EXACTLY as they are in the recipe below, so feel free to do the same!***

A simple sugar cookie recipe with a tender, flaky texture and a buttery taste. Yum!

Makes about 24

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder

Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, mix until just combined. Add flour and baking powder in intervals. Dough will seem as if doesn’t have enough moisture but continue to mix with mixer until combined (it will come together when chilled). Divide the dough into four equal parts, shape into four disks, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate about an hour or until firm. Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper, about 1/4 inch thick for crispier cookies and 1/3 inch thick for softer cookies. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and place on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until edges just start to turn a golden color. For softer cookies, do not allow the cookies to take on color. Remove from oven, let cool for one minute and then transfer to wire rack. Allow cookie sheet to cool thoroughly before placing uncooked dough on it. Decorate cookies with Royal Icing or Buttercream Frosting and sprinkles.

Can be stored in freezer undecorated for 2 months. Dough also freezes well.

Note: Yield varies greatly depending on how thin you roll out the dough and how large your cookie cutters are, but an overall guideline is 24 cookies.

5. CHRISTMAS EVE

Christmas Eve is no doubt my kid’s favorite! They absolutely love it because they know Santa will be on his way and we get to set out a plate of cookies with some milk. Christmas Eve is usually spent at one family’s house (whichever family member decides to have it at their home) and we all gather around for food and exchange gifts. After that, we usually go home, put on another Christmas movie, then get ready for bed. We always let the kids open one gift for Christmas. We usually do the “From Mommy and Daddy” gifts and save the “From Santa” gifts for Christmas morning. Most times it’s something they can sleep in (my kids love comfy pajamas) or something they can use immediately…it’s more fun that way. Then we get the cookies and milk together for Santa and send the kids off to bed. They are so excited and so are we! The next morning everyone is up before the sun! We say a prayer together thanking God that Jesus was born to save us from our sins, sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and then open presents! By then we are all exhausted and fall back to sleep (well, the adults do at least), until it’s time to get ready to visit more family!

What are some of the things your family MUST do during the holidays? I would love for you to share with me some of those things, ideas, traditions, etc. that you do for the holidays! Stay tuned for more posts about the holidays. Thanksgiving and Halloween will be incorporated into some of these posts as well. Happy Holidays!

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I’m Promising to Stand!

Life, it’s tough. All walks of life, all people go through difficult times. It’s especially hard when you don’t have all the answers. Nobody does. This is why we have so many different religions, people, backgrounds, ethnicities, etc. Lately I have been sharing my faith, hoping that my experiences with different things will help others to be able to deal with similar situations without so much hurt and pain or without giving up. At first it hurt me to see that so many people are not too fond of the Christian faith. I must admit, it’s something I have struggled with in the past because within Christianity, there are so many people who aren’t, well, how people think Christians are supposed to be. Now, I’m not a Theologian or have not studied the Bible in it’s entirety so I can’t give you all the answers. In fact, no matter who you are, you can never study the Bible and completely know everything. Why is that? Because if God is who He says He is, He knows everything, and if we could know everything like He does and why He allows good and bad things to happen, then we would be just as smart as Him and would do any and everything ourselves.

I may have lost some of you at this point, but all I’m saying is that as a Christian, I have come across good and bad in the church. This is with any religion. There are good and bad within religion and without. Does that make it okay? No. But no one is perfect. As a Christian, you have to uphold what you believe, just like with any religion. You must stand firm in what you believe, or you will be called a hypocrite. I find it to be the same with an Atheist. If they don’t believe in any deity, they must stand firm in it. If you see them praying, thanking God, going to church, or even saying “be blessed”, you would find it odd and probably would call them a hypocrite. With anything, you must stand firm in your own belief or non belief. Don’t be so hard on a Christian because you saw someone else in the Christian faith being hypocritical or judgmental. Same goes for any other religion or non religion. You have a right to your beliefs as anyone else does.

Believe what you believe, stand firm in it. Just don’t bring about hatred because someone is different from you. Don’t be so judgmental. When you do, you will get it back 10 times harder. It’s just the way it happens, all religion aside. In what you believe, you be the example someone else would want to follow. Be the person that people can say was strong in their faith without being judgmental or hateful. I am not perfect and do not believe that I have been a perfect example, but I want to live my life knowing that I did at least help others come to know something greater than myself and lived with love…and God is love! We will all find out who was right/wrong in the end…so do you, while I do me! However, I’m promising to stand!

Britt Nicole – STAND Acoustic Version
Lyrics below video, scroll to see them

I wake up to another day
I don’t know if I can face
All the fears (that are) staring me down
Yeah, I’m trying to be brave
But I’m a thread, about to fray
I wanna stand but I don’t know how

I look up and all I see is Your love holding me
When I feel like giving up
When my heart is hurt too much
Feels like I’ve reached the end
No, I won’t turn and run
This battle will be won
When I’ve done all I can
I stand stand stand
I stand stand stand

Some days I lose my place
It’s a fight to keep my faith
But You are with me, I am not alone, no
But all around my world gives way
Toss like an ocean wave
You are my rock when storm clouds blow

I look up and all I see is Your love holding me
When I feel like giving up
When my heart is hurt too much
Feels like I’ve reached the end
No, I won’t turn and run
This battle will be won
When I’ve done all I can
I stand stand stand
I stand stand stand

On Your promise, I will stand
All other ground is sinking sand
On Your promise, I will stand
All other ground is sinking sand
Sinking sand oh who woooh
It’s sinking sinking, yea yeah

When I feel like giving up
When my heart is hurt too much
Feels like I’ve reached the end
No, I won’t turn and run
This battle will be won, yea yeah
So I’ll stand stand stand
I stand stand
I’ll stand stand stand

Online Resources for the Christian Walk Part 2

photo(2)Good morning, afternoon, evening! I just felt the need to share with you some of the online resources I use in my daily walk. If you have any you would like to share, feel free to do so!

I have shared some of these resources before, but for those of you who have not been following my blog since the very beginning or forgot to jot them down the first time, I just want to share them again.

The first two are my absolute favorite. Two pastors who you may or may not have heard of who have daily broadcasts. Their teaching is always helpful and always helps me to stay connected to God. It’s amazing that we can have pastors at church and also listen to other pastors who can confirm God’s message to us. The first is Dr. Tony Evans and you can listen to him here at www.oneplace.com/ministries/the-alternative. The second one Dr. Charles Stanley and you can listen to him here at www.intouch.org/broadcast/today-on-radio.

Another resource I shared before was Our Daily Bread. It’s the same as those little booklets you receive at church that has about 3 months worth of the daily word in them, but you can listen to it online as well. The site is www.odb.org.

Something that I wish was still around a lot more are stories on the radio. Although it was before my time (I’m 30), I used to LOVE hearing about families gathered around the radio to hear the different stories. My favorite thing to listen to now is called Unshackled. It’s a radio broadcast of stories about people who gave their life to God. You can listen to the broadcasts here at www.unshackled.org.

My kids also love listening to stories on the radio. They just love stories in general. So, I had to throw one in here for the kids as well. It was something I listened to as a kid and I loved hearing every week. It’s called Adventures in Odyssey. These stories are awesome and all have a great message. Click on the link to listen to Adventures in Odyssey.

One last resource that I use, mainly by going into the stores, but you can use them online, is the Family Christian Stores. I go there about 2 times or more a month because my kids love the VeggieTales movies, the different Bibles and the different resources we can find and use as a family. It’s an awesome store and I love it! They have something for everyone and I love their home decor also. You can visit their site here at www.familychristian.com. And if you want to get some awesome deals, sign up for their rewards here and get emails with awesome coupons. Another bonus at the stores I see here in Las Vegas, when you are a member, they have a Members Only $6 table. Everything on that table is $6, from DVD’s, to books, to devotionals, to CD’s, coffee mugs, etc. So many awesome deals!

I hope this list will help you as much as it helps me! Being a Christian isn’t easy, but with God anything is possible!

It Breaks My Heart…

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It breaks my heart…
When I see these dying men

It breaks my heart…
To see these women kill ’em

It breaks my heart…
To see these hurting children

It breaks my heart…
To see what we teach ’em

It breaks my heart…
To see us women broken

It breaks my heart…
With no men here to fix ’em

It breaks my heart…
To see our children still repeating

It breaks my heart…
To see ourselves we keep defeating

It breaks my heart…
To see us fighting one another

It breaks my heart…
To know we just wont love each other

It breaks my heart…
To know we have the power to change

It breaks my heart…
That instead of change, some of you will remain the same

It breaks my heart…

Written by Emeteria Scott