What Happens When a Mom Takes a Step Back

Well, honestly, sometimes when this mama takes a step back (literally), I fall over (actually). I’m just not as spry or coordinated as I used to be, and also sometimes the reason I’m falling is because I have tripped over the groceries my kids didn’t put away after I asked them twice.

Which leads me to a big point of this post.

It is rare that my kids will do exactly as I ask, immediately after I ask. I often have to say things twice or twelve times. They hardly ever come right when I call. Sometimes I say, “Put all your shoes away before you head up for the night” but then I find all the shoes exactly where they shouldn’t be in the morning. We can be sure that if I didn’t tell them to pick up their sweatshirts, all of the hoodies in the world would stay on the floor forever.

One of my kids always forgets to rinse his dishes even though that’s been our practice after every single meal for every single day of his entire life. Getting my kids out of bed in the mornings requires much more than a cute wake-up song, and I often hear about all the parts of life that aren’t fair.

This is what I do all day. I am Mom. I am blessed to be with my kids all day, but the thing is that I AM WITH MY KIDS ALL DAY.

It is my responsibility to educate and train them in everything ranging from geography to kindness to algebra to selflessness. I’m intentional about preparing them to be godly husbands, leaders, servants, employees, people. So every time one of their weaknesses flares or their response to an assignment, chore, brother, friend, or parent is less than ideal – I am on it! I instruct, reprimand, encourage, cry, offer suggestions, pray, and yep, sometimes even yell.

I see their weaknesses; no doubt they see mine.

What I sometimes fail to see is their strengths. Their gifts, talents, leadership abilities, Christ-like hearts, tenderness, humor, care, compassion – those are all there in my kids too, in abundance. But I all too often forget to notice the greatness through all the crusty socks that never made it upstairs to the basket.

It’s when I take a step back that I see the good that’s been there all along. It’s there in spite of me and even a little bit because of me. Mostly it’s there because God is at work in my kids and He wants their good even more than I.

When I step back I see…

  • My oldest, almost 20 now, being loved by so many on the college campus, taking a lead he doesn’t even know he’s taking, just because people are drawn to him. He rocks at videography, already utilizing his skills professionally. When he talks about his special girl, his voice is gentle and sweet. He loves the Lord and continues to learn what it means to live for Him.


Photo cred goes to the man himself

When I step back I see…

  • My 17-year old being a leader on the basketball court, encouraging his younger teammates, motivating his youth group peers to join him in a service project, teaching younger kids how to play soccer, talking sweetly to an elderly lady. I hear the music he creates and I am blown away that my kid has ability like this. I hear his poetry, the words of which tell me of his talent and of his heart for God.


When I step back I see…

  • My 15-year old coming out of his shell, making people laugh, talking to me about the sweet girl he likes, getting the door for people coming in behind him, and spoon feeding our disabled friend. I see him cheerfully making trips back and forth from apartment to truck as he helps another disabled friend load heavy furniture. I hear him confidently singing a solo on stage for the first time, fulfilling roles we never could have dreamed he’d be willing to step into. I hear him pray at night, amazed at his growing relationship with God.


When I step back I see…

  • My 12-year old being the “big kid” that the little kids at church flock to. I see him confidently teasing adults and making them laugh. I see him hugging the man whose wife is dying, making the gentleman smile through his tears. I watch him on stage, acting as if he was born to be in character. I see him excited to finally have a chance to go on a mission trip this summer with his older brothers, and I see him with tears in his eyes as he says, “Mom and Dad, I am ready to be baptized.”


When I take a step back, I see all of this, and I don’t even have to look hard. This is all there because at their very core, this is who my children are.

In the thick of parenting, instructing, teaching, planning, dreaming, longing, and probably not sleeping quite enough – too often parents are only able see to the tip of the arguments and to the end of the unmade bed. Stepping back, we see the entire picture – the one that is beautifully painted with caring children, strengths that shine through the weaknesses, and a God who is at work to bring out His purposes for these darlings who are dearest to us.

To all who are in very middle of this parenting adventure: Take a step back. What are your children doing well? Where do they shine? In what ways have they grown? Bring it all to mind. Sit there for a while, and bask in the sweetness. It’s peaceful there and it is very real.

It is in this place, the place of stepping back, that we can remember our purpose and joy as parents. We remember that good shines brighter than bad, and that God is powerfully at work in both our children and in us.

Then hopefully, next time we trip over the backpack that got dropped right in the middle of the floor, we can recall to mind the heart of the child that left it there, even as we holler once again for said child to come put the backpack where it goes before we throw it into the fireplace.

What Happens When a Mom Takes a Step Back

Please take a turn! I got to share about each of my sons. Will you please take a minute, step back to see the good in each of your kids, and leave a comment to share that good with us?

Just Because I Can, Doesn’t Mean I Always Do

I can make mozzarella cheese. I can make Gatorade. I can make bread, pie, bagels, and pizza.

Homemade Gatorade

I share all of these ideas and recipes with people here. It’s so much fun! I talk about ways to save time and ways to save money. I’ve figured out ways to put nutritious meals on the table in less than 20 minutes, letting people know that none of us ever has to rely on take-out.

But just because I know these things, teach these things, and have experienced so much good because of all these things doesn’t mean I always do all these things.

Does this mean I’m a hypocrite? No. This means I’m human.

How about you? Human much?

I bet you know a lot of great tricks for saving money and time. But if you’re like me, sometimes there simply isn’t time to execute the time saving strategies (does this even make sense?). Sometimes the extra few dollars we need to pay for convenience is worth it so that we avoid stress and overthinking.

Check out what I did a few weeks before Christmas:


I bought four packages of bagels (without reading the ingredient labels, if you can possibly imagine). I bought four bags of different varieties of granola. I bought a box of instant oatmeal pouches. I put them all in a big basket in the kitchen and told my kids, “This is breakfast for the next few days. Make eggs if you want. Always eat fruit. Beyond this, I won’t be making anything for breakfast because I have too much to do before we leave for California and I’m trying very hard not to be a crazy mom.”

I felt no guilt over the extra expense and the extra sugar and white flour. (Okay fine, I did cringe just a little bit, but only for half a second until I remembered my purpose.)

Nothing is worth anxiety and stress – not even the occasional ingredient label I can’t pronounce. Not even the extra few bucks I could have saved making it all myself.

Do I know how to make bagels? Granola? Instant oatmeal packets? Yes, yes, and yes. It’s fantastic to have such great money-saving recipes in my hip pocket. It’s wonderful knowing I’ve done all I can to put the best of the best on the table for my family.

But it’s more important to be able to love my family with a peaceful heart. It’s crucial for my mental and spiritual health that I spend as much time as possible each morning in prayer and reading the Word. And just before Christmas, the priority of enjoying the season with my family meant much more to me than flipping whole wheat pancakes and serving them with homemade blueberry syrup.

Just because I can, doesn’t mean I always do. Just because it sometimes works, doesn’t mean it always works. Just because I could, doesn’t mean I should. Just because change is hard, doesn’t mean change is bad. Just because I’m doing it now, doesn’t mean I always will.


Our family is home now after over 57 hours on the road and two weeks away from home. Things are starting to settle back down (sort of, if they ever actually do). I don’t plan to make bagels anytime soon. But I bet I’ll find time to make a batch or two of granola.

No matter what, I’ll seek to make the most important things in life the highest priority, remembering that just because I can do something, doesn’t mean I always should.

How about you? What are some things you (should) give up during times of additional stress and extra full schedules?


The Difference Between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day

Have you noticed a difference in Mother’s Day vs. Father’s Day? In my experience, Mother’s Day seems to have us all focused on bowing down to mothers and spoiling them -recognizing all their hard work and amazing influence in the lives of their families. Not that I mind this too much. Yay for all mothers, everywhere. We are awesome!

Then comes Father’s Day. It seems like we somehow switch gears, letting Father’s Day become an opportunity to lecture men on how they should be better leaders and good role models.

I’m all about empowering men to lead and grow. But if all the sermons on Mother’s Day were about how I should step it up and be a better mom, I sure wouldn’t feel very honored. Not that I need accolades. That’s not my point. My point is this:

My man works hard. Most men work hard. Most men are incredibly good to their families and they all deserve to be honored just as much as the women.

Do you agree?

The Difference Between Mother's Day and Father's Day

I’m guilty too. I’m guilty of expecting to be spoiled on Mother’s Day then barely throwing together a small token of celebration for Matt once Father’s Day rolls around. Sure, maybe this is because I cook for him almost every day of the year and do all I can to take care of him all day, every day. But this year I’m struck by how much I need to honor him for all he does for our family. Truly, what would I do without him? He is a rock star in our home, an incredibly hard worker, and I’m quite sure I don’t tell him this often enough.

While my love language is “acts of service”, my husband’s love language is “physical touch.” If I stood behind him all day, every day, giving him a scalp rub – he would not mind even a little bit (so what if there was no dinner on the table that night?). So while I’ll be making him his favorite peach cobbler and other favorite meals for Father’s Day, I’ll do my best to spoil him with physical touch so he knows without a doubt how much he means to me. If we can squeeze it in between camp sessions for the boys, we’ll probably play a family game of Settlers of Catan since I know he’ll love that too. (You can be sure though that just because it’s Father’s Day, we will not have mercy and let him win. Whatever though because he almost wins anyway.)

Perfect for Spoiling Your Husband on Father’s Day

Matt and I got the MELT Massage for Couples video series about a year and a half ago. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving – and one that is a perfect way to speak Matt’s love language. We have loved learning more about giving great massages and you better believe I’ll be using these in my efforts to spoil Matt this Father’s Day.

A nice bonus right now is that the MELT folks are giving away their Foot Massage Videos for free with each MELT purchase! Plus they have some great free printables you can cut out and hide throughout the house to give little hints as to what is to come! :)

Weirded out by the idea of watching someone give a massage just so you can learn to give a massage? Don’t be. These videos are completely appropriate and modest. We continue to reference them and learn. I’m excited that the Foot Massage option comes free with purchase this time. Great bonus!

You can check it all out here and learn the specifics. I think it’s a great Father’s Day gift because it’s a win-win for both you and your man!

What has been your Mother’s Day/Father’s Day experience? Maybe I’m the only one who has noticed a difference in how we honor men and women. How are you planning to honor the men in your life this Father’s Day?

This post is sponsored by MELT Massage for Couples.

What If Change Can Be a Good Thing?

A few weeks ago I did a phone interview for an upcoming online Christian Homeschool Summit. I wasn’t very sure of myself going into it and questioned why I had actually said “yes” to the invitation. Sure I’ve been homeschooling for over 14 years. But all that’s really taught me is that I have a lot to learn. Share my knowledge with others? What knowledge??

Therefore, I decided I needed to pray before starting this interview (because I hear that works sometimes). I asked God to let the Spirit work and for my words to be from Him.

What happened is that one of the questions I answered ended up being exactly what I needed to hear – and I realized immediately that the Spirit was indeed at work. After all, I was sharing words of truth that I had not clearly recognized before. It was this:

Always be open to change. Just because it has worked well for your family in the past doesn’t mean it will continue to work well now. Seasons change. Family needs change. Kids get older. Commitments and ministries and obligations and activities evolve through the years. If something that has been working for you suddenly is not working – that doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing something wrong. It might simply mean that it’s time to switch things up to make them work differently. To make them work better.

I very much needed to hear those words. It’s crazy how that prayer thing works.

What if change can be a good thing?

I’ve needed to embrace this truth as our kids have gotten older. My current parenting and teaching teenagers while working from home full time stage is different from my parenting and teaching little boys stage. Sometimes it feels harder. But what if it isn’t? What if it means that I’m trying to work with a system that used to work but no longer works? What if it means I need to make some adjustments?

Change can be hard. But what if some of the adjustments are slight and not even as hard as I think they’ll be?

And what if change doesn’t have to be hard? What if change is good? What if change brings peace?

If we are truly listening to the Spirit and letting God guide us with His perfect wisdom, what do we even have to fear? Anxiety and peace cannot coexist. Do we trust God or are we relying on self?

I love God so much. I love how gentle He is about drawing me back every time I slip back into worry and anxiety mode. I get so frustrated with myself because “I’ve done it again.” But God. He’s not even shaking His head at me. He’s just gently loving me as I once again surrender to seek Him better and to find confidence in His guidance.

I’m taking time this summer to pray and seek God’s guidance toward any changes I need to make in how I manage my time and energy. After all, I hear that prayer thing works sometimes.

Something fun for you

Not that caterpillars aren’t adorable (and fuzzy and squishy) and a wonderful part of God’s creation, but my preference is to enjoy these creatures once they’ve made their transformation into a butterfly. What if?? What if change for you and me can be like that? What if we’re fine(ish) as we are, but God has more for us? What if He wants to transform us, leading us through changes that make our lives into something more beautiful?

Cheesy illustration? Sure. But I like butterflies and the transformation they represent. I like how butterflies prove that change can be good!

Free printable butterfly coloring pages

I recently discovered that I enjoy Grown-Up Coloring Pages. I created these butterfly-themed pages, complete with Scripture Truth about how we can completely trust God through any changes and transformations He walks us through.

Help yourself! Consider these scriptures and the truth they represent about how we can and should trust our loving Father.

Download the Butterfly Truth Coloring Pages here

Leave a comment to share about a time you experienced a good change.

Take Time to Pray (and Color) This Weekend

I’ve seen all the “Adult Coloring Books” making their way into the world and two things have come to mind:

1) When you put the word “adult” in front of other words, it makes it sound kind of sketchy. But it’s not. It’s a coloring book for goodness sake.
2) Who has time to color?

I didn’t get the hype. I figure if I don’t have time to do dishes, I probably don’t have time to color.

coloring pages2

Color me corrected.

Monday evening I had precisely 45 minutes to myself. Matt and the three younger boys had left for a soccer game. I was missing this one so I could go to our oldest son’s choir performance, but I didn’t have to leave quite yet. In my very, very quiet and peaceful house, I spent my minutes working more on my new Organization Binder. I’m not sure if I mentioned this, but those minutes were so very peaceful and quiet.

Until Asa texted to let me know that he was supposed to be on the risers for choir five minutes ago and he’d lent his dress shoes to someone so he was very sorry but could I please find Justus’ shoes and run them up to the performance building…

So I guess I just got about 37 minutes of quiet.

Whatever though. And how nice is it to have three teenage boys who can share clothes and shoes?

But back to my quiet time.

In my effort to help myself actually like my binder (because remember – organizing isn’t my thing), I was like, “I’m gonna do something fun with this cover.” I looked into a few options before I remembered that the Homemaking Bundle comes with several fun printable coloring books. (You’ll find them in the Self-Care section.) I picked my favorite (nothing like feeling like a kid again!) and there I sat, in my quiet house, coloring a picture.


I had no idea it would be so relaxing.

I was so surprised by how it fed me. I guess I would say it filled me with peace? I don’t know. It was just nice.

What I especially loved is that while I was absentmindedly coloring, my mind was able to focus and cut out distractions. I was able to talk to God for minutes and minutes without also zooming out to think about what was for dinner or what still needed to be done before the end of the day.

It was so cool.

coloring pages3

The next day I colored another picture while our family was hanging out in the living room before bed. Justus, our 16-year old, was playing his guitar next to me. It felt like I was chillin’ at a coffee shop, only there I was, in the living room with my family.

I’m not sure why others are jumping on board the adult coloring thing. But obviously it’s meeting a need for people and after just one page, I am hooked.

How strange that paper and design and pretty markers bring calm to a mother’s busy mind and heart. I can’t explain it. It’s just what it does for me.

So if you’re like me, and you find yourself with way too long a to-do list and struggle to create the down-time you need to keep yourself healthy, I’m going to suggest this:

Take time to color and pray.

I know. What an interesting idea. I’m just saying that it is refreshing and chill. Colors and prayer can all go together to help you learn what you need to learn during a focused time with the Lord. It’s quite amazing actually. Try it and see if you agree.

It made me want to print out all the coloring pages from the bundle, put them all together in another binder, get all my markers and colored pencils, and put together a coloring/prayer basket for myself.

coloring pages5

Well, would you look at that? It seems that organizational bug really did bite. I suppose I should look into reorganizing those closets now.

Do you like to color? Have you found that you’re able to focus and pray during color time? 

The links in this post are my affiliate links.

Time Sensitive!

Psst! The Homemaking Bundle where you’ll find three fantastic coloring books (among 90+ other really great homemaking resources) packaged together for a super low price is available through June 2 only. Hurry to get it. I’m super pleased with all that is included for only $30!

On Thursday I Killed the Chicken (so I took pictures)


Of course I got excited when I found antibiotic-free, hormone-free, happy-happy chicken marked down for quick sale on Wednesday. I bought a sack full and planned to throw it on the grill to have with salads at lunch the next day. It would be easy, delicious, and nourishing. It was bone-in, so I could cook the chicken slow and low while still getting little bits of work done around the house. Yep. I had it all planned out.

Around 11:45 I fired up the grill. The chicken soon started to sizzled happily. I went back into the house for a few minutes. After all, the chicken didn’t need a babysitter.

Except that apparently it did.

When I went back outside after “letting the chicken cook low and slow” for several minutes, I noticed that the outside of the grill looked slightly discolored. Weird. I also noticed that the air didn’t smell like yummy chicken. It smelled…burned. Weird.

I opened the grill. WHAT????? Noooooooo!

Check it out. I killed the chicken.

burned chicken

I don’t know what actually took place in the few minutes between placing the chicken on the grill and going back to check on it, but judging from the looks of things, I’m thinking the entire interior of the grill caught fire. (I guess the fat from the skin of the chicken was just too drippy?)

Score none for Mom. (I mean, I didn’t burn down the entire house, so I guess I’ll take a half a point for that.)

I immediately got mad at the burned chicken. I got mad at the grill. Mad at myself. Mad at the kids (because when I apologized to them and told them what happened, a couple of them came back at me with attitude about “having to eat leftovers again.” Then I got mad at myself again for raising children who would actually complain about leftovers.

It was my finest hour.

I even went so far as to decide not to take any stupid pictures or write a stupid post about it. (As you can see, I’ve chilled out since Thursday.)

Sometimes I can burn chicken and laugh about it. Thursday was not one of those days. I had too much to do, not enough time, and I needed lunch to cook itself. When it didn’t – I snapped.

I know life isn’t perfect and I’ll never arrive at perfect homemaker, perfect mom, perfect wife, perfect chicken cooker. I know this. But I guess I still want the status of practically perfect. Why is that? Why is it that I ruin lunch and get mad? Why is it that after running around for three days this weekend serving people, loving people, and being with my family – I look at my filthy kitchen and get frustrated that I can’t do it all?

I guess where I land is that I constantly need truth checks. What is truth? Am I failing or not doing enough? Most importantly:

What does God ask of me?

Truth tells me that my dirty kitchen and burned chicken are a tiny piece of my daily puzzle and that other pieces are bigger and carry more weight. Truth tells me that many of my daily puzzle pieces fit together perfectly, even without me trying. Truth tells me that I don’t have to do all and be all because Jesus already is. Truth tells me that I’m rocking this job even when I don’t – because Christ’s power is made perfect in my weaknesses.

These thoughts are brought to you today by completely blackened chicken and a sink full of crusty pots and pans with a side of crumbs and sticky counter-tops.

I had to pray over my mess, and these are the truths that rose to the top. I guess it’s a good thing I decided to take a picture of that chicken.

Provide and Protect ~ a Prayer For My Children

Provide and Protect - a Prayer For My Children

It used to be me. Or so I thought.

When they were little, I was the one who provided everything they needed and protected them from anything that might hurt them. I set up their routines and walked them away from situations that were too much for their young hearts to handle. I set the boundaries, set the stage, set out the activities. I said yes, said no, said too much, said too little, said things wrong, said things right, and said it will all be okay. I was in charge. I was in control. I was the one.

Or so I thought.

They’re big now. They are amazing and skilled and smart and fun, and one by one, they are launching. Their steps are becoming their own; their thoughts and behaviors are less and less a result of my commands and instruction and more and more a brave leap of their own long-legged independence.

My prayer is no longer crafted out of the ideas on my own heart. Recognition of truth has left me with very few words. I know little about tomorrow. You are the One who knows your Kingdom plans for my kids. I’m simply the one whose heart longs for their good and for their walk to be on the path you’ve carved for them.

I’m not who I once thought I was.

I’m not their provider. I’m not their protector. I’m a huge part of their life on this earth, but I’m only their mother. I’m the one God gave them to show them love and guidance. But you, God. You are the One who knows what they need and how to provide.

This is what I ask of you:


Protect them, Lord. Protect them from people who do not have their best interests in mind, from people who are self-seeking and heartless, from people who will hurt them.

Protect them from apathy. Protect them from becoming self-centered, self-seeking, self-deprecating, and self-motivated. Provide them the heart to lay aside self in order to seek You.


Provide for them, Lord. Provide people to encourage and hold them accountable, to build them up and make them stronger, to inspire and challenge them to be more like Christ. It takes a village. Build it strong and high and full.

Provide my children with confidence and skill, tools and words to get themselves out of any situation that would be harmful to them in any way. Provide them with the confidence to do right and strength to flee from wrong.

Provide everything they need, because You are the One who knows precisely what that means.

Do what I cannot do. I trust you with my children.

Thank you for the blessing and honor of being Mom to my sons. How cool of you to give me my four favorites. How wise of you to grow me along with them. How gentle of you to hold us so gracefully. How perfect of you to love us so consistently.

To my boys:

“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19


Never (Forget to) Look Back


The sound of a crunching leaf under my foot turns me into a pre-teen walking down the lane at church camp. Catching a whiff of Icy Hot gives me immediate shin splints and a nervous stomach as if I am once again a high school sophomore who must now get on the starting line of the track to run a half-mile race. Walking into a hospital makes my uterus contract (don’t make me explain this). So it shouldn’t have surprised me that seeing the pretty lighted snowflakes hung on our city’s downtown light poles this holiday season would bring up emotions from a few years ago at this time.

I remember loving the sight of the snowflakes that year, but feeling quite discouraged and therefore unable to be fully at peace in the moment. All was well overall in our lives, but there were a few uncertainties and decisions to be made. I remember being consumed by heavy thoughts that overshadowed my normally excited feelings about Christmas and threatened to steal away my joy of the season.

When I saw the lighted snowflakes this year, my mind was immediately taken back to that time. But just as quickly as those memories came back, God filled me with visions of all He’s done in our lives since that year. I saw all the ways God answered our prayers, showed us His power, and offered His constant provision. Boom. Take that, painful memories. We went through something hard. We not only survived, we came out stronger. God did His work in us.

The world tells us to leave the past behind. Never look back. Move forward. There’s a lot of good in this. After all, the Bible says in Philippians 3, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Indeed. Should we look back to dwell on a past full of regrets, pain, struggle? No, thank you. Let’s instead press on toward what God has already prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

But can I tell you something great about the beauty of taking time to look back in reflection of past struggles and difficult times? That’s when we can see all the ways God took care of us during that time and has met our needs since that time. Looking back helps us consider all the specifics of how His promises of provision and care have been fulfilled. Remembering His absolute faithfulness in the past helps us remember that we can trust His faithfulness in the future.

Never Forget to Look Back

So never forget to look back. Look back with joy as you reflect on what God has brought you through up until now. Those hard times? You made it through! God did His work! His promises are faithful and we can trust Him!

As we look ahead toward a new year, we can be excited. I guarantee that a few years from now when we look back at this very time, we will have a new story to tell of God’s goodness and care. Now that’s something to look forward to.

12 Days of Christmas ~ Seeking Jesus Countdown Printable (How My Family Will Be Celebrating Jesus this Christmas)

12 days of Christmas3

Christmastime brings out the “kid” in my kids. I guess in some ways it brings out the kid in all of us. I get overwhelmingly giddy about all the Christmas fun, and I’m…not a kid.

This year, my boys suggested that I should make them some sort of advent calendar – you know – the kind that included 25 days worth of candy or presents or money? No biggie. On second thought, knowing how busy I am, my boys were thoughtful enough to suggest that I could just buy one. They are so considerate of my needs. (Just don’t forget the candy, Mom.)

I knew they were (mostly) kidding, but still the idea of creating some sort of special Christmas countdown for them sounded like a lot of fun. I especially wanted to do it because after we had our conversation, they pretty much thought I would forget about it and not do anything. Ha! I’ll show them. It’s fun to be rebellious toward my teenagers. 

Fast-forward to later that day when I saw my sister-in-law’s Facebook post asking people to share what Advent meant to each one. One of her friends mentioned the story “of Simeon and Anna as they wait on the promise of seeing Christ, who would take away the sorrows of Israel…both old, filled with the Holy Spirit…and now ready to die because they had seen the salvation of the Lord.” (Luke 2:25-32)

After I read this, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I mostly focus on the birth of Jesus during the Christmas season. How lovely to think about how Simeon and Anna eagerly sought to meet Jesus on earth after his birth! I opened my Bible and searched for more instances where people sought after Jesus. So many people from so many different situations recognized their need for Jesus. Their stories are beautiful – so filled with faith.

THIS is why Jesus came!! To heal! To cleanse! To bring salvation. To be truth. To meet the needs of each one who seeks Him. To bring peace. To be joy.

During my study that day, an idea for a Christmas count-down began to form. In my excitement, I could think of little else. I wrote down 12 situations in the Bible where people saw their need for Jesus, sought Him out, and encountered His fullness. I decided that our family could read one each day for 12 days, beginning December 13 – counting down the days until Christmas.

One idea led to another as I thought of ways to make this more memorable and meaningful for our family. I turned the scriptures into decorative cards. I attached the cards to 12 lunch-sized sacks. Beginning December 13, we will open one sack each day after we read and discuss the scripture. Inside each sack, I have included an item that relates to the day’s reading. Some will be treats for us to enjoy, some will be something we can share with others, some will simply be symbolic. I’ve written the details below in case you’d like to do something similar with your family.

12 Days of Christmas ~ Seeking Jesus Countdown Cards 3

Download the 12 Days of Christmas ~ Seeking Jesus Countdown Cards

I keep getting choked up and teary eyed as I anticipate sharing this with my family. I have such a desire to make Jesus a bigger part of our Christmas celebrations, and I can’t think of a better way than to celebrate with 12 Biblical examples of people who came eagerly seeking Him during his time on earth. May we also be inspired to eagerly seek Jesus daily for our comfort, healing, peace, and joy!

Here are the scriptures I chose, as well as details about what I included in each sack.

12 Days of Christmas ~ Seeking Jesus

1. Luke 2:25-35

The story of Simeon seeking Jesus in the temple. I added a Christmas-y candle to the bag. We’ll light it as a reminder that Jesus is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

2. Luke 2:36-40

The story of Anna seeking Jesus in the temple. The bag contains a 2016 mini-calendar. This will represent how Anna worshiped in the Temple night and day for years and years. It will remind us that our daily lives are also to be worship.

3. Luke 2:41-52

The story of Jesus’ parents looking for Jesus and finding him in the temple. This sack is empty! Once the boys discover this, they will have to do a search through the living room to find a treat I’ve hidden. This represents Jesus’ parents searching for him on their journey.

4. Luke 5:12-16

The story of Jesus healing a leper. This bag contains a new snowman soap dispenser. This represents “cleansing” as described in the story. Other ideas include fun bars of soap or cute washrags.

5. Luke 5:17-26

The story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man on the mat. I found a fun Christmas place-mat and folded it up (carefully!) into the sack. I also included a small treat we can eat after we put the new mat on our table.

6. Luke 7:1-10

The story of the Centurion seeking Jesus to heal his servant. Because Jesus healed the man’s servant, I’ve included a service opportunity in this sack. I put two muffin mixes along with some Christmas paper liners for the boys to make and deliver to someone.

7. Luke 7:36-50

The story of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and poured perfume on them. I put two bottles of essential oils in the sack for us to use in our diffuser. All day the smell of the oils will remind of us of this story of forgiveness.

8. Luke 8:40-56

The story of Jairus seeking Jesus to heal his 12-year old daughter, and Jesus healing the woman who had been sick for 12 years. I added 12 chocolate candies in the sack to share as the number 12 is a significant number in this reading. Plus, there was much to celebrate with these two healings! Chocolate seemed appropriate.

9. Luke 9:37-43

The story of Jesus healing the demon possessed boy. This one is a little bit silly, but my big boys appreciate being silly quite frequently. Picturing the joy of the boy who was healed by Jesus, I put some goofy toys in the sack for our boys. Straws with mustaches? Why not?

10. Luke 19:1-10

The story of Zacchaeus climbing a tree to see Jesus. Since Zacchaeus was a tax collector who turned his life around, I put some cash in the sack. Our family will decide together how we would like to donate this money.

11. John 3:1-21

The story of Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night to learn from him. I got a new string of Christmas lights for our boys to hang in their room as a reminder of Jesus words, “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” Other ideas include glow lights or bracelets.

12. Matthew 2:1-12

The story of the Magi following the star to find Jesus. I found a new star-shaped ornament for our tree. This will be the final bag we open on December 24!

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Christmas Countdown Notes

~ Reading chronologically is nice, but I’m actually mixing up the scriptures and stories and doing them with our family in a different order than listed above.

~ In deciding the order, be sure to start with 12 and work your way down to 1. I know that is obvious in a Christmas Countdown, but my brain had to think through that more than once as I was organizing the best order for our scripture cards and sacks. :)

~ I purchased almost all of these items at our dollar store or used what I already had on hand. I wanted to make this special while keeping the cost down. Win-win.

~ The free download includes number cards if you’d like to use them too. I simply folded over the sacks and stapled on the number card along with a little curly ribbon.

Download Free 12 Days of Christmas ~ Seeking Jesus ~ Scripture Countdown Cards

I’d love to hear about any special advent traditions your family has! At this point, our countdown sacks are under our tree, just waiting for December 13 so we can begin. The sacks look pretty intriguing, so I think we need a special countdown for our countdown. :)

What Most People Don’t Know About Me

I’m known for my love of cooking and baking. I’m the mom of four boys. I’m Matt’s wife. I’m that lady who likes eating natural food. I’m the mom who lives at the soccer field every spring and fall. I’m the one who writes a blog and a column in our local newspaper. I love jars. I love butter. This is what people know about me.

What people are always surprised to hear is this:

personality quiz

I am a hard core introvert.

Surely not!

(Did you just call me Shirley? You don’t even know me at all.)

My name is Laura (pronounced like this) and oh yes. I am very much an introvert.

The confusion comes when people don’t know the true definition of introvert. (Introverts are hermits, they hate people, they’re always super shy, and they can’t handle having conversations. Oh my goodness. This is so not it.) Or when people do know the true definition, but they see me flitting around all the people having lively conversations – this is when they are surprised to hear that I am introverted. Understandable.

So then, what is an introvert? There are many definitions and explanations, but here’s the most basic way I understand it and explain it to people:

An introvert can very much enjoy being with people, but will become drained after a time, and finds rest and refreshment after some time alone. An extrovert, on the other hand, is drained by alone time and instead craves and is completely rejuvenated by people time.

Oh how I crave and need alone time. 

Because of this, I have too often viewed my introverted nature as a weakness. Sometimes I’m even angry with God for making me an introvert. Why, God? Why have you made me love so many people and put so many, many people in my life – but then made it so exhausting for me to be with all the people all the time?

Check it out: Introvert has a pity party, inviting only herself to the party, because well…introvert! Clearly it’s best that no one else was invited to that party anyway.

So is being an introvert a weakness?

Even as it feels that way to me at times, I know that it definitely is not. As my husband likes to point out to me: If I were extroverted, I would likely never have started this website. I would never have stayed home long enough, sat in a chair long enough, sought quiet writing time enough. That’s just one example of ways God uses my introverted nature in ministry. Spending hours in my kitchen, alone with pots and pans and mixing bowls, whipping and stirring and simmering and having all sorts of fun with food that blesses so many – I find so much refreshment in this! Extroverts can also blog and love cooking, no doubt! It’s just that those are two ways my variety of introvertedness shines through in ministry.

There are struggles and blessings with being an introvert just like there are struggles and blessings with being an extrovert. One is not better or worse than the other. One isn’t the preferred personality trait. God uses both – introverts and extroverts for His purposes.

How do I find rest?

My biggest struggle with being an introvert is that I am so rarely alone. There are a lot of people in my life that I love and want to spend time with. There are many needs – starting with my husband and kids and ending with…well – there is no end to the people to love. God is teaching me that it is not my job to be all things to all people and that taking care of myself is a must if I actually want to love the people He puts in my path to serve. I’ve found that I must have alone time or I feel an actual physical and mental ache.

  • I’ve learned to schedule very little activity outside my home or with people on Mondays and Thursdays if possible. (Sundays and Wednesdays are very people-filled. I’m usually extra tired on Mon. and Thurs. as a result, which is my nice way of saying that those are the days I can’t finish sentences.)
  • I get up earlier than my family almost every day so that I can sit in the quiet for an extended period of time – just God and me.
  • I say “no” more than I say “yes” to outside requests. I’ve learned that this is God-approved. No guilt. 
  • I enlist the help of my husband to provide me some much needed alone time. (Elias has practice tonight? Don’t you think Justus and Malachi should go too? You know, for the fresh air and exercise? And also because then I could be all alone all by myself with no one talking or breathing near me?)
  • I practice a weekly Sabbath rest, almost every week if possible, usually on Tuesdays. I promise to write more about this sometime.
  • I have had to learn the introvert/extrovert nature of my children and teach them mine so that we can make this work. (This, as in, the living together thing.)

What About My Husband and Children?

Matt is also an introvert. He rarely feels the people exhaustion I experience, though. I believe this is because his line of work lends itself to quite a bit of alone time each day, so he achieves a nice balance of people time/alone time quite naturally. (Either that or he tips the scales a little closer to the extroverted side, if in fact there is a sliding scale.)

Two out of four of our boys are absolute extroverts – our oldest and our youngest – the bookends. They love leaving and doing and being with all the people as much as possible! Some day I’ll write a post about what I’ve learned about homeschooling extroverted kids. But for today, I will say that helping us all understand our people vs. alone time needs has been very necessary and good. I want my kids to understand that when Mom needs alone time it isn’t because I don’t like being with them. I simply need some quiet time so that I’ll be healthy.

Introvert or Extrovert?

So what about you? Do you get your energy from people or from alone time? Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs personality test to help determine this? I have found it so helpful in understanding myself and others. No more guilt for needing alone time! (Usually. Mostly. NO! Being an introvert is not a weakness!)

Here’s the test I took most recently if you’d like to take a few minutes to see for yourself. I don’t believe these types of things are the be all and end all, but I do find them interesting (even if some of the questions I’d really have to give an I have no idea answer).

Share with us here! Introvert or Extrovert? Ambivert? That’s a real thing too.

P.S. My introvertism is why I likely won’t join Periscope and some other social media outlets. In an effort to stay sane, I just can’t do it. But I love you all the same. :)