Sunday, December 12, 2010

Keeping Christ in Christmas

This is something that I'm sure many of us start out every Christmas season thinking "this year, I'm going to do a better job of incorporating the real meaning of Christmas into the daily lives of myself, my spouse, and my kids".  But, in the hustle and bustle of shopping, sending cards, throwing parties, and planning matching outfits for our kids, our good intentions slip by the wayside, and we wake up on December 26th wishing we would have done a better job.

 I stumbled upon a good article on, a website for at-home Christian moms, about family traditions that do a great job of incorporating the magic and splendor of Christmas, with the birth of Jesus.  Enjoy!


Family Traditions that Keep Christ at the Center of Christmas

by Emily McClements on December 10, 10

Singing Christmas carols, lighting the Christmas Tree, putting out the Christmas decorations, lighting the Advent candles, giving and receiving gifts, rejoicing in the birth of our Lord and Savior.  Christmas is such a special and magical time of year; filled with family traditions and warm memories.  But, it is also a busy and full time, where we can easily get swept up by all that we "have" to do, and miss out on truly celebrating the Reason that we celebrate at all.
Since adding children to our family, my hubby and I have become more aware of the importance of creating and keeping family traditions that are meaningful and point us toward Christ during the Christmas season.  I was so blessed to grow up in a wonderful Christian family where my parents helped my sisters and me to keep our focus on Jesus at Christmas time. They created traditions that I am looking forward to passing on to my children, as well as incorporating our own new traditions.

Family Traditions That Point Toward Christ

The Nativity

My family had a nativity scene growing up that was not the most beautiful thing you've ever seen, but I have such fond memories of it.  The paint was chipped on the figures, and the stable was cardboard with hay glued to the roof that would become thinner and thinner with each passing year; it was obvious it was well loved.  Our nativity was not a "just look but don't touch" kind of nativity.  My sisters and I loved to play the Christmas story by acting out with the figures.  We would take turns playing with the different characters, and instead of just being a decoration, the nativity was a special toy for us to play with.  I want my children to have the same experience, to be able to play and interact with our nativity scene so that it can become real to them, and not just something that just sits up on a shelf or the mantel.  We celebrate Christmas because Jesus came to us, to be where we are, to interact with people on a close and intimate level, and I want the figures that represent His birth to symbolize that  for my children.

Lighting the Christmas Tree

"Come on, ring those bells, Light the Christmas tree, Jesus is the king, Born for you and me. Come on, ring those bells, Everybody say, Jesus, we remember, This your birthday." This is the song that we played on our record player (yes, record player) every year as we would decorate our family's Christmas Tree.  It was a reminder to us that Christmas is about celebrating Jesus' birthday.  Now with my children, when we light our Christmas tree, I also want to talk about how Jesus came to earth to be the light of the world (John 1:9).  One of my favorite things to do at Christmas time is to sit in the dark and look at the beautifully decorated Christmas tree.  I want to teach my children that the same Light that we celebrate at Christmas shines through their lives as they live for Jesus.

Christmas Carols

Who doesn't love singing Christmas carols?  I love to hear the words about Jesus' arrival on earth playing on the radio and in stores where otherwise His name would never be mentioned.  Children love music, and songs are a great way to teach them truths about God, the Bible, and the true meaning of Christmas. Too often, though, I think the words of the most beloved Christmas carols are so familar that we sing them and miss the true meaning of the words.  On Christmas morning my sisters and I were allowed to wake up my parents at a specified time by playing Christmas carols on the piano.  We would practice for weeks ahead of time, and then begin Christmas morning by playing songs that declared the arrival of Christ.  It was a great way to begin our Christmas celebration focusing on Him.  Teach Christmas carols about Jesus' birth to your children and take the time to explain to them the words and what they mean.  Taking your children Christmas caroling is also an opportunity to share the good news about the birth of Jesus with others. My parents began a tradition of caroling on Christmas Eve after I had moved away to college, but I know that it is something that they look forward to every year.

The Christmas Story

Before we could open presents on Christmas morning, my family would always read the account of Jesus' birth from the Bible;  and not just read it, but also act it out. It was usually just the five of us, my parents, my two sisters and I, but we would all get involved in the retelling of the story.  We would even get dressed up - we had a white sheet and a halo made of pipe cleaners for the angel Gabriel, towels on our head tied on with string transformed us into Mary and Joseph, and my mom's purple robe became the outfit of one of the wise men. My dad played the part of honor as the donkey who Mary would ride to Bethlemham on, until we got to big to sit on his back any longer, of course.  It wasn't always the most peaceful performance as my sisters and I would often argue over who got to be the angel or Mary, our favorite roles.  But, I treasure those memories almost more than any other Christmas tradition.  Of all of our traditions, I think that this one was the most important; reading and being involved in the Biblical account of Christ's birth helped to keep us focused on Him. Even when I entered my teenage years and thought I was too "cool" to act out the story with my sisters and would roll my eyes and sit on the couch pretending I didn't care, it was still my favorite part of Christmas day, because I knew that if Jesus had not come to earth as a baby, we would not be celebrating at all.

Giving Gifts

Giving and receiving gifts at Christmas is the major focus of our society today, so I believe that it is very important to keep Christ at the center of gift giving, and guard against getting swept up in the materialism and consumerism of our culture.  Another song that we played on our record player when I was growing up was "The Gift Goes On" by Sandi Patti as we handed out presents on Christmas morning.  The words, "And the gift goes on, The Father gave the Son, and the gift goes on, The Son gave the Spirit, and the gift goes on, The Spirit gives us life, and the gift goes on and on and on..." reminded us how God gave us the greatest gift in His Son.  This year, our family is implementing the three gifts idea, based on the gifts that Jesus received from the Magi.  We are looking forward to simplifying our gift giving, guarding against over-consumption, as well as teaching our children another aspect of the Christmas story in this way.

Birthday Cake for Jesus

Another new tradition that we are going to start with our family this year is making a birthday cake for Jesus.  My three year old daughter loves birthdays.  As we just celebrated birthdays for three of us this fall, and this was the first year that she could really remember and understand, birthdays are fresh on her mind. I read about this idea after Christmas last year, and thought it was such a great way to teach children that we celebrate Jesus' birthday at Christmas that I knew it was a tradition I wanted to add to our family's celebration.
Ultimately, as a family, we want to glorify God in all that we say and do, and this is just as true at Christmas time.  We want to keep and incorporate our family traditions that focus on Christ as the reason for Christmas, and create our own traditions that will add to our children's experience of Christmas as Jesus' birthday.

What traditions keep your family focused on Christ during the Christmas season?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Corn & Pickles, sadly, that is not the latest pregnancy craving craze!  Those two vegetables, are in fact, the only two (besides green beans) that my kiddo will eat!  Lucky me!  Because of this, I spend a good amount of time trying to hide veggies in his other food (primarily pancakes).  If you have the same problem (like I suspect a few of you do), here is a good recipe to sneak in some pumpkin, some fruit (if you sub applesauce for the oil), and a whole bunch of fiber!  I make these a lot, and they get gobbled up in no time! Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins
(Recipe from Rogue River Rendezvous, 1992)

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup vegetable oil (or sub 1/2 cup with applesauce)
1 cup bran cereal or 1 1/2 cups bran flakes
6 ounces chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour and the next 8 ingredients (through sugar), and set aside.
-In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs until foamy; add pumpkin, oil, and cereal, mix well.  Add to sifted flour mixture, stirring only until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips & nuts.  Spoon evenly into greased muffin tins.
-Bake for 30-40 minutes; cool completely before removing.

Not Just A Mom...

Such a great story! Enjoy!

A woman named Emily renewing her driver's license at the county clerk's office was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation.  She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.   "What I mean is," explained the recorder, "do you have a job, or are you just a... "Of course I have a job," snapped Emily. "I'm a mother."
"We don't list 'mother' as an occupation... 'housewife' covers it," said the recorder emphatically.
I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall. The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like, "Official Interrogator" or "Town Registrar." "What is your occupation?" she probed. What made me say it, I do not know... The words simply popped out. "I'm a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations."
The clerk paused, ballpoint pen frozen in midair, and looked up as though she had not heard right.
I repeated the title slowly, emphasizing the most significant words. Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.
"Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what you do in your field?"
Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, "I have a continuing program of research, (what mother doesn't), in the laboratory and in the field, (normally I would have said indoors and out). I'm working for my Masters, (the whole darned family), and already have four credits, (all daughters). Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities, (any mother care to disagree?) and I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it). But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money."
There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.
As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants - ages 13, 7, and 3. Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model, (a 6 month old baby), in the child-development program, testing out a new vocal pattern.
I felt triumphant! I had scored a beat on bureaucracy! And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than "just another mother."
Motherhood...What a glorious career! Especially when there's a title on the door. Does this make grandmothers "Senior Research Associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations" and great grandmothers "Executive Senior Research Associates"? I think so!!! I also think it makes Aunts "Associate Research Assistants".

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Welcome Fall!

Thank you to all of you to helped kick off our 2010-2011 season of MOPS last Friday!  It was so nice to see everyone again, to share some yummy breakfast, and great conversation and fellowship!  I was so caught up in the excitement that I completely forgot to take any pictures...I promise to be better at the next meeting! **Remember to mark your calendars for October 15th!**

I'm not sure about you, when fall officially starts, anything and everything pumpkin enters my mind, but usually the first and most prominent is any type of edible pumpkin treat!  Here is a recipe I found for Pumpkin Pie Pudding, that is actually healthy, and that kids (well, at least mine) love! Oh, and extra bonus, your kiddos get some veggies and they don't even know it! Yahoo!

Pumpkin Pie Pudding


  • 2  cups  2% reduced-fat milk
  • 3/4  cup  dark brown sugar
  • 1/4  cup  cornstarch
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1  cup  canned pumpkin
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  pumpkin-pie spice


Whisk milk, sugar, and cornstarch in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Boil 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Beat eggs with a whisk in a large bowl. Gradually add half the hot milk mixture to the beaten eggs. Return milk-egg mixture to pan. Cook over medium heat 3 minutes, or until thick, whisking constantly. Remove from heat; stir in pumpkin, salt, and pumpkin-pie spice. Spoon evenly into 6 (6-ounce) custard cups. Let cool, and chill for about 30 minutes, or until pudding is set.

Calories: 168
Fat: 3g
Cholesterol: 77mg
Protein: 5g

Carbohydrate: 30g

Fiber: 1g

Iron: 1mg

Sodium: 214mg

Calcium: 134mg

Tracey Seaman, Health, NOVEMBER 2003

Enjoy! -Liz 

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Hello Mamas! Few reminders and announcements to get to our last month rolling. Hope everyone is doing well so far and can’t wait to see you all at our LAST meeting...just sad but looking forward for summer!

***Friends Church/Silverton Christian School is having a Plant Sales since yesterday and will be today as well Sat. starting at 9AM. I’ve seen those plants and they are sure beautiful and bountiful! I can’t wait to get a couple of hanging baskets! Time to dress up our porch/outside and make it cheery considering all the greys and rain. So come on out and boost your mood ;) You help benefit the school!
***Sara our awesome book review mom wants to send a reminder to please bring back books that have been checked out for a while. We will truly appreciate it. Since we missed her last month, we may have our last book review for the year.

***Spring Cleaning Time...pls. don’t forget to donate your stuff for our Annual MOPS Garage Sale to help fund for next year’s MOPS “) And Sign-up to volunteer to set up or help during our Garage Sale.

***Don’t forget to bring your check for our last meeting so you can have that discount rate of a $35.00 rate. Last til’ end of May. Register early!

***We had only 14 surveys filled out. Please make sure to fill one out at our next mtg. I can probably scan our survey and you can have it here on FB and you can mail it to myself, Gina or any other Steering Team (preferably Julie or Lesley).

***Next meeting, come “COMFY”...bring out the Yoga pants! I love em’! Anything comfy is loved.

HUGE THANKS FOR OUR MOPPETS DONATIONS!!! We will do a thank-you luncheon for them along with thank-you gifts. All you moms help make this happen as they make it happen for us by watching our wonderful kids.

THANK YOU & See you all soon! We are excited as always :) GOD bless you all in all you do! All of you are wonderful moms :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010


A young wife sat on a sofa on a hot humid day,
drinking iced tea and visiting with her Mother.
As they talked about life, about marriage, about the
responsibilities of life and the obligations of
adulthood, the mother clinked the ice cubes in her
glass thoughtfully and turned a clear, sober glance
upon her daughter.

'Don't forget your Sisters,' she advised, swirling
the tea leaves to the bottom of her glass. 'They'll
be more important as you get older. No matter how
much you love your husband, no matter how much you
love the children you may have, you are still going
to need Sisters. Remember to go places with them now
and then; do things with them.'

'Remember that 'Sisters' can mean other women as well...
your girlfriends, your daughters, and all your other
women relatives too. 'You'll need other women. Women  always do.'

What a funny piece of advice!' the young woman
thought. Haven't I just gotten married?
Haven't I just joined the couple-world? I'm now a
married woman, for goodness sake! A grownup! Surely
my husband and the family we may start will be all I
need to make my life worthwhile!'

But she listened to her Mother. She kept contact
with her Sisters and made more women friends each
year. As the years tumbled by, one after another,
she gradually came to understand that her Mom really
knew what she was talking about. As time and nature
work their changes and their mysteries upon a woman,
Sisters are the mainstays of her life.

Time passes.
Life happens.
Distance separates.
Children grow up.
Jobs come and go.
Love waxes and wanes.
Men don't do what they're supposed to do.
Hearts break.
Parents die.
Colleagues forget favors.
Careers end.

Sisters are there, no matter how much time and how
many miles are between you. A girl friend is never too far away.

When you have to walk that lonesome valley and you
have to walk it by yourself, the women in your life
will be on the valley's rim, cheering you on,
praying for you, pulling for you, intervening on
your behalf, and waiting with open arms at the
valley's end. Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk
beside you...Or come in and carry you out.

Girlfriends, daughters, granddaughters,
daughters-in-law, sisters, sisters-in-law, Mothers,
Grandmothers, aunties, nieces, cousins, and extended
family, all bless our life!

The world wouldn't be the same without women, and
neither would I. When we began this adventure called
womanhood (MOTHERHOOD), we had no idea of the incredible joys or
sorrows that lay ahead. Nor did we know how much we
would need each other.

Every day, we need each other still.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mom's Night Out!

Check out the photos on facebook from our last Mom's Night Out! Thanks to Annabeth who planned this fun, game night!!/album.php?aid=371834&id=230861230267&ref=mf