Dec 7, 2014

Gold, Frankincense and Materialism


Have you heard of the three gifts for Christmas idea?  About a year ago now, was when I first heard about it but this is the first year we are putting it into practice.


What is this all about, you ask?


For those of you who don't know...or if you are looking for a reminder, the idea goes something like this.  For your family's gifts you stick to only three gifts under the tree.  The gifts are called gold, frankincense and myrrh....sound familiar!?!?



 
 Now, what these gift represent exactly, is up to your family, but the version we are going with is this;

Gold - a gift that the person really wants
Frankincense - a gift to encourage or build up their spiritual walk
Myrrh - a gift of something for the body (or something they need)


There is a theory that the three gifts brought to Jesus by the Magi held special symbolism or meanings, particularly to the life Jesus had come to live.  Gold represented His kingship, frankincense was a symbol of His priestly role, and myrrh a prefiguring of his death and embalming. So the gifts we receive based on these themes, sort of represent the same type of ideas.  Gold a want, often the more expensive of the gifts.  The frankincense, for our spiritual walk, correlating with Christ's priestly role and myrrh used in preparing the body for burial, thus a gift for the body. (Not as morbid as it sounds, think clothing, jewellery, skates, etc.)





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I had heard of this idea from a friend of mine and thought how wonderfully simple it could make my holiday shopping!  I thought that...until I had to put it into practice!  Because I love... like....love to shop!  I Christmas shop all year long!! Mostly because it saves me mad cash, while allowing me to get amazing gifts but also because I enjoy it!!  But this year it has been different.  This year I had to stop myself and think more about the purchases I wanted to make.  Each gift had to count more, mean more....be thought out more because it was the only one for that category!  It has been different but it has been good!




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One of my love languages is gift giving, so I found this idea of only three gifts quite challenging.  I love to give gifts!! I love to hunt out, (all year, as I said!) that "just right" gift.  The one that says, "I thought of you! That you are important to me and you matter!"  I love to dote on my kids, as they have such joy over the simplest things!  And yes, I love to receive gifts too - not necessarily gifts with monetary value but something that says, you care and thought about me!


So this year as we made the switch to three gifts under the tree, I realized some things.  First, it's freeing!  I don't have to keep shopping, I actually know when I am done now!  I've always struggled (read, didn't stick to at all!!) with a budget when it comes to buying gifts.  But this year, I found that it was much easier to make and stick to a budget (approximately! lol!!) because I only had a few gifts to keep in mind, so once those were bought, I was done!


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Secondly this idea lines up nicely with what God has been working on in my hubby and I for the last number of years.  That having less is sooo much more!!  God has been, and still is, walking us through the journey of purging, not hoarding and learning to live with more needs, less wants and just less over all!  It can still be a struggle, especially as we have added to our family a few times over but we are learning and the ways God has changed us is amazing....pretty much a miracle really! lol!!  So less coming in and 'piling' up under the tree means less to handle in the new year! 


And I think what I like most about this idea is how it goes so much against what our society tells us this season is all about.  It fights against the mentality of materialism that is so dominate in our part of the globe, especially at this time of the year!  Our culture is so much about more, more, more!  It's amazing how we are told to constantly strive to accumulate more stuff!  And the result of this is then to buy bigger homes, to hold all the stuff!  And then when we run out of space in our big homes, there are always storage units to pack our stuff into.  Storage units, that rival many third world houses, just to store all the stuff that doesn't "fit" into our houses!


And through all this emphasis to buy more, spend more and give more gifts we lose sight of the simple pleasures this season can offer!  The idea that people become stressed over shopping, purchasing and what to buy is silly!  I think it's the fact that a sweet simple gesture isn't enough...at least we are told it isn't enough....in fact, is anything ever enough in this culture?!  We are bombarded with the idea that everyone needs everything!  And if you don't have something, then you are less fortunate, lacking or unhappy.


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But it's not true, at least for those of us who's life and hope are found in the root of this season's true meaning.  That our life is found in Christ and nothing, nothing on this earth will satisfy or fulfil us apart from Him!  Now, I know that Christ wasn't actually born on December 25th, and that Christmas may have roots that aren't as Christian as I believe but the fact remains, that Christmas is a time to celebrate Christ!  A time to acknowledge and be in awe of the fact that God came down, became man, born of a virgin, a baby in this world and grew as a sinless man destined to save our souls.


When I focus on those truths this season, I realize just how easy it is to be swayed to the world's thinking.  That shopping, buying and piling up the gifts will bring joy and happiness to my family.  But it doesn't and it won't...not for any lasting time...or value.


I had forgotten, until just a few days ago, that after our car fiasco last year, we were pretty strapped for cash and so my husband and I decided that for he and myself, we were only going to give stocking presents.  We bought no gifts for each other for under the tree and when that memory came back to me, I remembered just how happy I really was that Christmas!!  Me, the "gifts is my love language" gal, felt loved and happy last Christmas!  And I was even more happy when there wasn't oodles of things to find places for in my home or stash away to be forgotten about.





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So I welcome this year's change! I have had moments of guilt or doubt but they are from external, worldly thoughts.  I know we are blessed with or without gifts and the "few" things we have for our kids and each other, will be more then enough!  And instead of shopping, shopping, shopping then wrapping wrapping, wrapping, we are partaking in more memory and tradition making.  Spending more time together as a family and really enjoying each other!


I know that this idea of three gifts is a good thing for our family and I encourage others to consider this idea too!  Not that buying gifts is wrong but maybe to look at the reasons we feel the need to buy so much!?


Three gifts....it's not a lot...but it was enough, for a King!







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Nov 30, 2014

Rambly, Fambly Fun


So December first is upon us tomorrow!  The house here is all decorated, the tree is up and we are ready for the advent season.  I have a bit of shopping left to do but I am mostly done!




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It's been very mild so far this 'winter' - right now there is green grass out my windows and it's looking more of March then November.  We did have some snow though...for a few days last week...just enough to get me inspired to decorate...so I was appreciative of that!




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Things have felt busy of late...some days it's good and other days not so much.  We have been off and on with various illnesses and this past weekend we had a touch of some sort of bug, again, in the house.  So we spent the weekend in pajamas, accompanied by movies and Lego.


Friday I helped out with Heritage day at the girls' school.  It's a day where they get to invite grandparents and grandfriends to come tour the school, hear a little song and enjoy a free lunch.  Myself and two other moms served up eight (or nine?!) crock pots of soup!  I wasn't feeling so great that day but managed to pull through and over-all it was a wonderful day! (later I learn my bff was praying for me - ain't she a keeper!  Praise God!)



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I love helping out, being in the school while my kids are there and connecting with other moms and people!  These are the moments I have immensely enjoyed since my girls' have gone to school! I love being involved with their school and being apart of their time there.  I get excited for field trips and I hope to be called upon to help with the set for this year's Christmas play....but I think they might have that covered already! 



A couple of weeks ago they had a character day at the school - and since we haven't done Halloween in the past, this was our girls' first opportunity to don costumes for school.  And so with a trip to the local Goodwill and dollar store and a night of sewing and jewel gluing we had ourselves a sweet fairy ballerina and a lovely little princess!




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Just recently our Catherine has lost her first baby tooth! (and has a very wiggly second one ready to join it!)  Her adult teeth are basically pushing out those baby ones and are moving in fast!!  This is all new territory for us as Olivia, though 20 months older, has had some...challenges...when it comes to dental. She didn't get her first baby tooth until she was two! And it was one of her two year old molars!!  So we have no idea when (or if?!?) she will lose her baby teeth...but I'm thinking it will be a couple of years yet!  But in the mean time we are all excited for our Caffers!!






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I thought I'd share this next grouping of photos...this was from my attempt earlier in the month to capture a shot of all four of my kiddos!  I wanted to get it before the snow set in, having no idea how unseasonably warm this month would turn out to be!!  I wanted to get the shot without coats on...because I'm vain like that....and I wanted them to all look at the camera! HA!!   It was the end of a day...I don't remember where we had been, but we had been out for most of it and it was COLD!!! Really cold!  And this...is a sample of what ensued...





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Proof that even a "photographer's" kids don't co-operate for photos!  They did pretty good buuut not well enough to give these as gifts for Grandma - so later in the month I did snag a real nice one! They were not tired, it was very much NOT cold and they did all look at the camera! (and yes, no coats! *wink*)  But I don't want to spoil any Christmas surprises...so you'll have to wait for a peek at our ONE successful shot!


And well, that's most of it to date....hard to believe that the Christmas season is upon us!  That the countdown is on and the new year is right around the corner.  Oh new years...they stir my soul they do!  Much more then any 'fresh starts' of the year!!  I feel the anticipation of this coming one already...and with no real reason as to why either!?!  But maybe it's just that fresh start feel and the idea that I need to get my butt self in gear...in many ways! 


So there you have my rambly, fambly post...filled full of sweet faces I adore and a whole whack of nothing really.  But isn't that how the days go sometimes!




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And so I look forward to finishing up my shopping, to Christmas movies with the kids, baking, tradition making, family, merry Christmas tunes, maybe some snow...not too much now!  And all that the season ahead brings!  Blessings to you and yours as we welcome the advent season!







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Nov 25, 2014

Pretty in Pink - A Sweet Baby Girl's Room


Well, seeing as my littlest Little just turned SIX MONTHS!!!! That's half a year people!! Crazy!  Anywaaays.....yes, I thought to "celebrate" I'd share pictures of her sweet baby room!  I did mention a while back that I would...and it seems I have finally gotten around to doing so...better late then never!


So here it is, in all it's pinkness!

 
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This room as a few stories to tell! What do I do that doesn't usually have a story...really...why do I always have stories to tell....*sigh* LOL!!!  First off, I never intended for it to be pink! Actually I had a whole Pinterest board going, "Alice's Oasis", I called it and all the rooms were basically white or soft creamy colours.  But then, one day, while at the local Big Box Home store I saw these three pinks side by side by side...and I was in love!
 
 
And from that moment on I had my colour scheme and my design in mind...and my Pinterest board, well...it got deleted!
 




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I didn't have much to use for Alice's room and we didn't really want to/have lots o'money to spend on it...so other then paint (which between the walls and floors, cost us dear enough) most things in this room are either very inexpensive or free, and most we already had on hand! (YAY!)


Oh...except for this one piece of art.  I saw it and knew it was exactly what her room needed!!  It was perfect and so I splurged, just a little, for it - coming in around $40.  Not bad...but more then I would usually spend on art for us!





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Isn't that just adorable!?!?! I LOVE it!! It's precious...just like the little lady who sleeps here!  The other piece of art by her crib was from a friend who was just going to get rid of it and as for the crib...we stole that from Joe!


Next in this pretty pink place, is the dresser corner.  This sweet antique cost us all of $15!! The lamp, the base was from one we had kicking around that we revived with some spray paint and the shade, a steal from Target (steal as in good deal...not pilfered! HAHA!) which I added the pink ribbon accent to.  The picture frame was from the grocery store and it was very ugly and plastic but a quick coat of spray paint and it looks almost like porcelain!  The basket and mirror we had around and two of the toys once belonged to my older gals and two are new for Alice.  The shelves where in the house when we bought it.  The book basket, I got for free - I bough her rug at a yard sale and the man through in the basket for free! (YAY!)




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And the other side of the room.  Another $15 yard sale find...the desk!  I didn't take a close up of the knobs but they are lion heads, it's really neat!  This desk has found many 'homes' in our house over the years and is working well for a change table at the moment.  The chair...you've seen it before but we moved it from the living room to here - it was a second hand find as well....$40!  I know!! Crazy eh!?!?  And since I haven't gotten around to picking up a laundry basket for this wee lady, we are using an old handmade basket that my step-mom gave us.



  
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The shelf, another of those come together and I love it even more pieces!!  First the back part - just the part against the wall.  That I found at this great little store that I love!! It was just there...I had no idea what it was or what I would use it for but I KNEW I needed it!!  When I brought it home I thought that it would be perfect in Alice's room...just not sure how....then my hubby said he could make it into a shelf and he even had wood that matched it...exactly!!!!
 
 
And the little piece of art there is something I made with some left over wall paper (from my wall project) and a(nother) spray painted frame.
 
 



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My mother-in-law found the perfect pillow at a silent auction for this darling space and that...in all honesty...is the delay on posting this.  I retook the chair photo with the pillow but I have been waiting for a sunny day and a day when I have been home, to take it! hahaha! I'm terrible...I know!  But I love it and it looks so cute in there!


As for the long piece of art over the chair.  That's one I made as well.  I've been working more with mixed medium lately and am loving it!  I believe my sister-in-law wants to get into it more as well but we both have wee ones, so finding the time isn't always easy!  She and I used to get together once a week for an art night but that was before she was married and I only with one babe in the house...but I'd love to try to set up some more focused time for art again!  I'll have to see if she'll join me!  This piece, I feel, needs a bit more reworking...all I know is it needs lace...somewhere, somehow!




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And so that sums up most of Alice's pretty in pink room!  A few more details, again mostly things we had or I made.  The tie back are made from paper, the nightlight was a gift from someone a looong time ago, the door knob was already on the closet door and the picture in the frame was ordered, for free, from Shutterfly.  It has Lamentations 3:22 on it.  I had mentioned before how I never did this with my older gals, I never did embrace all the pink, girly ideas for a room, so I had a LOT of fun creating this one!




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OH and the best part of it all.  That while we were busy painting the floor, we had to remove an old board that was blocking a hole.  We intended to put in a new floor grate but needed it out while painting.  Once the floor was dried, I was eager to get to the walls.  We worked away at them and then came the time to do the stripe around the room.  I was marking it out and had just finished, when I took a step and before I knew what was happening....





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..my foot (and thus my entire leg) was through that hole and sticking down into the living room below!  All I could hear was my Olivia exclaiming, "That's MOMMY!!"

Yes....go ahead and laugh.

My best friend did when I told her. 

Oh she laughed.

Hard!

And it was funny....a few weeks later when the ginormous bruise began to heal! 



And so...those are the stories that go with Alice's room, to date!  I hope you enjoyed the little tour and maybe were inspired to find inexpensive and free ways to be creative and have fun...and if that isn't your thing then that's fine and dandy!  Just put on the coffee and call me over! I'll be happy to get creative for you!!




And...really...can we have a post about Alice's room and not show at least one picture of her and all her adorableness!?!




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Six months....how fast is that!?!







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Nov 19, 2014

HCSB Women's Study Bible - A Review


I have never owned a study bible before and when I saw the opportunity to review this one, I was excited!  And what I thought was just going to be a nice addition to my collection has now become a new favourite!

Introducing - the Holman Christian Standard Bible: The Woman's Study Bible addition.
 I received this copy from B&H publishing in exchange for my unbiased review.


 

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Simply put -I love this bible!!  So where to start for my review....first, I think it's pretty! HA!! But seriously, I do and that doesn't hurt one bit!  It's full of little details, floral accents, pages softly edged in blue, silver lined edges and a lovely cover!



 

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And because this particular version is the Woman's Study Bible, they really focused on us as an audience and tailored the details just so!  It talks about and explains various issues that are of concern to us women and I find that helpful and encouraging!


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The format for this bible is excellent!  I love how it's two column, with the foot notes in the right or left margin.   It has neat study helps, including word study, doctrine explanations, hard questions answered, women of the bible notes and biblical womanhood issue sections, to name a few.
 
 
 

 

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From what I understand, this translation is not a translation of a translation but the writers of the HCSB went back to the original text and translated it into today's English.  I find that it is not as poetic as my NKJV but flows even easier in clarity, then my ESV.  I like how it speaks directly in modern English, yet does not simplify or 'dumb down' the intent or meaning of the passages.



 
 
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Over all, what I requested thinking would be a great study help has now become my 'everyday' reading bible!  If you are looking to get a fresh take on scripture or find a translation that is clear and concise - I highly recommend this one!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Nov 17, 2014

Muskoka Adventures 2014


Ah back to the Muskokas again!! And what welcomed us this year to the Muskoka Bible Centre...??





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Snow!! Lots and lots, of much to early, snow!  We couldn't believe it!!  Home was dry, cool, but very much fall! But as we neared the Muskokas things started to change.  There was a lovely dusting of snow on the trees as we drove and most of the drive felt like we were traveling through a real life Christmas card!  We arrived with nary a trouble - quite different then last years travels!  We even stopped and enjoyed a hour lunch break, since we were making such good time!


And there was MBC, waiting and ready for us!  The ladies running the event even remembered us from last year!! ...not sure if that is a good or bad thing!  *wink*  lol!!!



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We went with no real expectations - seeing as last year....well it was sorta...monumental.  And though this year was different...in just about every way, it was amazing all the same!


The staff was just as fantastic and lovely!  They had a group of these adorable German intern youth that I just wanted to bring home as my own!  Especially this one young lad, who I swear looked like a grown up version of my Joe!!  The accommodations were lovely and had electricity - a bonus! hahaha!  There were lovely ladies to meet and chat with but sadly our acquaintances from last year where no where to be seen.  And the food...ohhhh, the MBC food...it was amazing....





 
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Those cinnamon buns...ummmm...I don't have words!! Seriously!!! I don't even like cinnamon buns but these Muskoka buns....I'd eat a dozen, at least...!!! 
 
 
 
But that wasn't all the food that was amazing...because the spiritual food - was out of this world! ;)
 
 
Last year, I was hit more with a reality check.  A reminder of how awesome and mighty my saviour is and how much I need Him in my life.  But this year was more of a collection of answers to many prayers.  Answers in one way but also, after coming home and meditating on them for some time - I realized they were answers that now I have to figure out what to do with them.






The speaker was Sheila Wray Gregoire.  She is an blogger, author and speaker and I think she's quite amazing at all three!!  I guess she is well known as being the Christian sex lady but I didn't know that before and that wasn't what she spoke on while we were at Muskoka.  But I have checked out her blog and I think she writes very well and extremely biblically on the subject of sex and marriage - so if you're looking for a good resource I would highly recommend her!!


But the conference was titled, "No Strings Attached".  It focused on a lot of who God is and how that impacts us and our view of ourselves and our lives.  I came away with many points and biblical truths that have continued to sink deep within and that God is using to reshape me, my thoughts and my life.


I  could probably write a whole good spiel all that I learned there and maybe I will in subsequent posts - and as the things play out in my daily life.  But for now, I'm just going to ramble the rest of this post about the actual weekend.



So we met some nice ladies, enjoyed amazing food - yes, both physical and spiritual, drank oodles of coffee...again, had a fantastic ride there and a scary, snow storm, in the dark, craziest back roads you can think of ride home.  My Besty and I basically talked from the moment we woke until the moment our heads hit the pillows...much too late...and the entire ride there and home again.  And yes; we even made a snowman!





Sorry...a snowwoman!  Olga was her name and she came over with those sweet German interns. lol!!  Yes there was that much snow and we are still that young at heart! 


One thing that I love most about these trips is the bonding time I get with my friend.  It is such a great time of connecting!!  It's funny how people think of us as so similar when in fact we are quite different!  We do share many interests, so that is great but personality wise we are very opposite! In fact she is very much like my husband and I like hers - it's kinda weird...! But these trips, alone, together, is a wonderful time of strengthening our friendship all while surrounding ourselves in God.


I'm am so thankful for my BFF and I cherish our friendship more then words can say! 





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So two for two, Muskoka - namely our time at MBC, has hit my heart, soul and mind pretty powerfully.  I feel, so much, that this time in the 'wilderness' is essential and I encourage others to look to making time for things like this as well.  It doesn't have to be entire weekends or hours away from home - but focused time, surrounding and surrendering ones self to God!





And yes, we are already planning on next year!







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