Friday, 22 November 2013

Christmas Excitement

I am so excited for Christmas, I just have to say it.   

We have done nothing to start preparing for Christmas here in our house though. There are no decorations up and the only reason I am nearly done my Christmas shopping is because really I don't like Christmas shopping and I have been looking for deals and sales since before the summer. Well, its because I don't like shopping for Christmas with all of the people who have left it last minute and are frantically running through the stores.  

What is really getting me excited about Christmas is that my kids are starting to exclaim "Happy Birthday Jesus!" with every house decorated in Christmas lights. We started this fun tradition with Little A last year, she was always so excited to see the lights and we told her that they were to remind us that Jesus' Birthday was coming.   It has continued on since last year and I have actually really enjoyed the few houses that have left up their lights all year since it keeps the kids celebrating Jesus' Birthday.  The kids are also very excited about the cupcakes that we are making for Jesus' Birthday party, Little A has decided that he would probably like strawberry cupcakes with strawberry icing (this is something she made up and has never had them before). 

The second reason that I am getting more excited is that with every song about Christmas that the kids hear, they ask me questions about the story of Jesus. 

So far this week we have not only talked about Mary being Jesus' mom and that she had to have her baby in a barn not a hospital like mommy. (The look on Little A's face was pretty priceless with this one, she was shocked and slightly disgusted) 

Today I had the pleasure of discussing the Little Drummer Boy song with the kids.  Little A and E Man loved listening to this song and "pa-rum-pa-pum-pum"ming along. 
Little A was so intrigued with the whole story told through the song. I told her that it was just a story but that there was really people who brought Jesus gifts. And then we got to talk all about the wise men and their gifts. 

We also had an interesting discussion about baby Jesus and big grown up Jesus. For some reason Little A has it in her head that they are two different people.  So we talked about how Jesus grew up and how once he became bigger he started to do God's work and then died on the cross for us. 

Then, to my surprise she asked with a very serious and sad look on her face, "But why did he have to die mommy?"

She looked so sad, I felt a little like I was ruining this exciting story of Christmas and new life of a baby king.  But within an instant I was reminded that without Easter there would be no reason for Christmas. 

Without the death of the Saviour, there could be no forgiveness. 

In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Hebrews 9:22

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
Hebrews 9:14-15

I told Little A that Jesus died for our sins because without his blood we could not have been forgiven.  She nodded sternly in agreement and went on her way. 

I know that everyone has wonderful, happy things that they love about Christmas, I just feel so blessed that my family and I have something so wonderful to celebrate that means more than just presents and family time. 

This is the photo from our Christmas Card, from 3 years ago! (thats Little A in my belly)
We made those Ugly Christmas Sweaters ourselves

Thursday, 21 November 2013

A Faith that Works

Hello Dear Friends.

Life is wonderful, hectic and full of new and sometimes stressful adventures for us lately.  I was reminded the other day that there are 5 weeks until Christmas. That also means that there are only 11 weeks until baby should arrive (give or take a few days).  The next few months hold many new challenges, as I am sure the time to follow will also.

Our Moms group just completed a wonderful study of the book of James. We were blessed to have one of the volunteers, that would normally be watching our children during our study, come and bless us with some wonderful testimony and wisdom.  It was such a blessing and it renewed my spirit as I studied and read through the book of James and to hear the Lord speaking through it.

The following was not a part of what we studied, being that our sessions are short and there wasn't nearly enough time to cover it all.

My Christian brothers, what good does it do if you say you have faith but do not do things that prove you have faith? Can that kind of faith save you from the punishment of sin?  What if a Christian does not have clothes or food?  And one of you says to him, “Goodbye, keep yourself warm and eat well.” But if you do not give him what he needs, how does that help him?  A faith that does not do things is a dead faith.
Someone may say, “You have faith, and I do things. Prove to me you have faith when you are doing nothing. I will prove to you I have faith by doing things.”  You believe there is one God. That is good! But even the demons believe that, and because they do, they shake.
You foolish man! Do I have to prove to you that faith without doing things is of no use?  Was not our early father Abraham right with God by what he did? He obeyed God and put his son Isaac on the altar to die.  You see his faith working by what he did and his faith was made perfect by what he did.  It happened as the Holy Writings said it would happen. They say, “Abraham put his trust in God and he became right with God.” He was called the friend of God.  A man becomes right with God by what he does and not by faith only. 
 The same was true with Rahab, the woman who sold the use of her body. She became right with God by what she did in helping the men who had been sent to look through the country and sent them away by another road.  The body is dead when there is no spirit in it. It is the same with faith. Faith is dead when nothing is done.
James 2:14-26 (New Life Version)

You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
James 2:24 (NKJV) 

This statement that James makes could be taken by some as a contradiction of what Paul teaches, that salvation is based on faith alone. 

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
Romans 3:28

The study notes in my bible put it nicely, "A faith that knows for certain that God exists but fails to trust him or to manifest itself in a transformed life is not faith at all."
James views our works as the acts of living out a Christian love that inevitably accompany real, genuine faith. 

I love that James gives two really profoundly different examples of the kind of faith he is talking about.  Firstly, he goes to the story of Abraham, this story would be one that the Jewish followers of Christ would be able to easily understand because he is the patriarch of Judaism. 

Abraham shows his faithfulness by being willing to take his son as sacrifice to God. But he shows it even further by actually doing it. It was not enough for him to say "Okay God I'll do it" and then not go. He had to take action and live out the faith that he had. Abraham was tested in his faith and because of it his faith was strengthened. 

The second illistration is of Rahab who protected the spies of Joshua. Again, it was her actions that demonstrate her faith. She protected the spies because she believed in the power of their God, she had heard of stories of the great things that were done by God to save his people and she had faith. 

I love that James goes from the patriarch to the prostitute. I talked a while back about God's grace being sufficient and how he uses sinners to do His works, despite their sins. Find It Here  What a great show of how God's people, those that are "great" in our eyes and those that are not, He gives them each opportunity to act out their faith.

I often feel like I am not living out my faith like I should be.  I feel as if my job as a wife and mother leaves me with so few opportunities to show God's hand in my life and show that Christian love that goes with my faith.  I do not want to live out a faith that is a "dead faith".

My prayers have been full lately asking God to show me opportunities to live out my faith, to act on it, and to be more like Christ in what I say and how I act.

May you also find opportunities to do, to act and to live out a living, genuine faith.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Paper Bag Garland

Next up for my Thanksgiving Decorations, Paper Bag Garland.

I was hoping to find a fun and simple decoration that I could hang up on our piano. The kids had fun helping my with this one too.  Little A had a blast helping glue on the paper pieces and threading the hemp string through the holes.

 The pumpkin was created using the same scallop circles that I used for the Turkey Place Cards and were also done in the burnt orange color with a red distressing done to the edges.  I placed one flat onto the paper bag and then folded three more in half before hot glueing them onto the center, holding in place until the glue hardened.

The paper was a scrap pack that came with some fun Harvest colors and patterns. It made it a lot easier to put them all together nicely and made them coordinate.

Turkey Place Cards

I am a little behind with my decorating lately, technically Thanksgiving here in Canada has long passed. I am just now getting my house decorated for it.  I enjoy fall and all the tasty treats and warm colors that it brings. It seems sad to pack away all of our fall things already and bring out the Christmas decor but it is already snowing and winter white here and Hubby is already asking when we get to start our Christmas decorating.

But I have told Hubby that he has to hold off until December 1st.  We are going to be celebrating Thanksgiving for the second time this year and will be carving up a giant turkey around America's Thanksgiving.  We are having a few close friends over to celebrate and we will be doing a potluck so we can all share the burden of cooking for 15 people.

I have been working on a few fun little decorations with the kids in honour of the occasion and I thought I would share them with you.

First up is our place settings.  Cute little turkeys still don't have the names written on them yet, I am having my sister write them since her writing is much prettier than mine.

Aren't they just adorable.   The kids loved helping stick on their googly eyes and using the big cutter to cut them out. 

This is my lovely Big Shot Cutter. I love it, but have barely been able to use it lately.
The kids thought turning the crank and seeing that the paper was cut was amazing.
They couldn't get enough. 
Scallop Circles in a burnt orange and mustard yellow.  I added some extra
color to the edges by inking a sponge and distressing the edge. 
Two Brown circles for the bodies. 

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Love is... Partnership

I have a few paths that my brain is running down here and a lot that is just exploding out of my head (Sorry a tad graphic), but on top of all of that, it is almost one in the morning and my brain just will not quit.  God and I have been in conversation about this topic secretly for a while and I myself am just fully coming to a realisation of the conversation we have been having.

So, since Hubby is up sleeping peacefully and our kids are out like lights and so is the baby down in the basement, my brain wont turn off as it is finally enjoying the quiet and is working through some things. I have a few key points, hopefully they become clear.  (  This didn't get fully posted online at one in the morning, but if it makes you ignore any spelling/grammar mistakes, it totally did ;)  )

Firstly, I am going to begin all of this by saying that yes, I think love, and respect, is a partnership. Yes, it is a partnership between you and your spouse, and yes I think that God, like any good teacher would, would appoint a lead.  You know, like when you would be doing an assignment in school and you were put into groups, there was always someone that would have to take the lead or it would be chaos. Well, I believe, my Hubby has been given that huge responsibility. And thank God its not my role, that's a lot of pressure and responsibility and I would totally mess it up.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Ephesians 5:22-25

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

1 Corinthians 11:3

To the woman he said,“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
    in pain you shall bring forth children.Your desire shall be for your husband,
    and he shall rule over you.”

Genesis 3:16

I know that these verses often really bug people. And the society that we live in today is hugely at fault for how we choose to run our lives and homes.  Please bare with me, I know that there are probably a lot of women that if this were a book, would have thrown it across the room already, there is a point to this, I promise.    The way that the world treats our men, and the way that they live because of it is hugely detrimental to our homes and marriages.  This is because the world has been treating men like they are incapable of everything, that they are only useful for some things, that they can act like animals, and that really, we would be better off without them. 

Our society has also helped to turn our men into what has been so kindly referred to as Man-children.  These are men that act like children, they are immature, incompetent, and would rather just let their wife be in control and run the show.  This stereotype is all over the television and all sorts of media. The problem is that we often feed into this problem. I have too many times to count heard the joke about our husbands being just another one of our kids. (He is not and should never be referred to as such, he would likely be very hurt and upset by this reference to him)

Today was my "day off." Hubby stayed home with the kids all day so that I could go shopping in another city with a friend. It took a lot for him to do it, not because he cannot handle our kids, it was hard for him because he had to say "no" to a handful of people who asked him for his help on projects this weekend. Each time, Hubby said no, he was unavailable. I was so proud of him, I know it is hard for him not to help others ( A good problem to have if you ask me). 

There was a few times today when I wanted to call or text to check in and make sure that things were running smoothly. But I know that I married a man that was wonderful with kids, but he is even better with our children. I married a man that I knew would be fully capable of any task that was put before him, I had nothing to fear.     And yet, I have, in the past, referred to Hubby watching the kids as Hubby babysitting (Its not babysitting if you are the parent). 

When we treat our spouses like they are manchildren, or just another person that we have to take care of, we not only make them feel disrespected, but as less than and not in the role that they so desire to be in, the role they were made for.  

So, first we have the head of our partnership being the man.  But my second point is actually that God is the key to a healthy partnership.  A real, healthy working partnership will have a third member, God. And without Him, our marriages often fall apart.  

Gary L. Thomas wrote a book called Sacred Marriage ( found here)  the main question that the book asks us to consider is if marriage is about making us holy more than it is about making us happy.  

What  a challenge to think about.  Maybe marriage is not about all of those butterflies and happy feelings we had at the beginning. Maybe all of those flaws and shortcomings we have and our spouse has are about teaching us something, making us holy. 

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm,but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

This verse is often quoted at weddings, and for good reason.  But my favourite part of this is that it talks all about two being better than one, reward for their toil, lifting each other up, keeping warm, and in a fight.  But at the end of the passage it says "a threefold cord is not quickly broken".  All of those things about being a pair are wonderful, but a threefold cord is harder to pull apart, break and destroy. 

Somehow God knew we would work,
I never would have guessed it!
Our partnership with our spouse is wonderful, we benefit from it greatly and it is a blessing to have found someone to share our lives with.  But when we invite God into our marriage and he is the center of our partnership, we will not be easily broken and our lives and marriage can be a testament to the goodness and mercy of the Father. 

Lastly, God put us together to teach us more about His character.  

Often in movies we hear some version of the overly used and sentimental line, "you complete me".   I hate that line. It has always bugged me. I am whole on my own, God made me a whole person and has made me enough. But over time I have softened and I am able to take from that cheesy line and glean something that doesn't make me groan. 

We work together, we fit together. We are complete on our own but we will grow so much more because of having the other person. God has brought Hubby and I together because without him I am good but with him I am so much better. Hubby challenges me, makes me crazy, calls me on my crap, and forgives me when I mess up. He is a living breathing picture of two things, our sins and Gods love and mercy. 

Hubby's sin is so evident to me, even from the first day that we were married, his sin became more real to me. His little sins and big sins, little mistakes and mishaps, all of it and how it makes me feel shows me God.  God uses it to show me that I am not perfect either, that my sin is no better, and that it hurts loving someone so much and not being able to control them and keep them making good, right decisions. 

God's love through my Hubby is also very evident to me.  Through my sins and failures, Hubby has shown me forgiveness, just as God has shown me forgiveness.  Even through hard times and disappointments Hubby has shown me that his love, like God's, has not changed. 

God uses us and our partnership to show our spouse Himself, if we let him and don't get in the way. 

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 
1 Peter 3:1-2