Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Santa, Christmas cookies, Elf on the Shelf: but what do my boys know about Jesus?

Oh, Christmas time. The time of year where I threaten my children about lumps of coal in their stocking if they don't stop fighting. The time of year where hours are spent googling the best deals on toys, figuring out what to get that hard-to-buy for person, *Mr. Man* and where the seemly joyous holiday becomes a stressful, popping tums like they're candy time of year. 
I remember seeing these a few years back. This year, it seems like everyone has an Elf on the Shelf, and a few *genius* teachers have even placed them in their classrooms. I have a bone to pick with the Elf on the Shelf toy makers. Last year, my two eldest sons discovered the Santa sham. It first started when they noticed the "Made in China" tag on their classroom Elf on the Shelf. They discussed several theories in the car on the ride home from school, and then cornered me in the kitchen. "Mom, why does the elf have a made in China sticker?" The gig was up. They asked me if Santa was real. I told them, "No, he's just pretend." "So, you and Dad are really the ones that give us presents?" they asked. "Yes," I said. The six year old questioned the validity of the elf as well, but concluded while the elves are fake, Santa is still real. (There's six year old logic for you.)
Recently, I was really convicted about what my boys knew, and what I was teaching them about Christmas. Santas and toys and elves plagued our Christmas vocabulary, but what did they really know about Christ? I decided we would take a break from our weekly Bible verse memorization, and just discuss the true story of Christmas. We started with Luke 2 verse 1. At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 
I told the boys Ceaser Augustus was like the President, and he wanted a record of all of the people so he could tax them. I asked the boys, "Why do you think Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem?" Dylan answered, "To avoid paying taxes?" No. 

We also discussed why Jesus is called, "The Lamb of God." I told the boys to imagine having a sweet snuggly lamb, and then having to kill it. (Kieran was close to tears.) I told them about people having to make sacrifices to talk to God, but when Jesus shed His blood on the cross, He was the ULTIMATE sacrifice. No more lambs had to be killed.  I asked them if they would sacrifice on of their brothers for a murder? They all said, "No." We talked about how God loved us so much that He sent his precious Son for bad people. I could see them absorbing this information. Tomorrow, we'll talk more in depth about Jesus' birth and resurrection fulfilling the Old Testament prophesies. A good source for Old Testament Prophecies about Jesus.Today, we only got as far as to what "prophecy" actually means. (And no Cameron, it's not the Gypsy lady with a wart on her face staring into the ball)

I really began to realize in the midst of this, what I'd been filling my kids heads with concerning Christmas. While I was reminding them to remember the "real reason for the season" I was taking up their toy lists, threatening them with lumps of coal, and furiously decorating the house. It occurred to me that my actions were taking away the true meaning of Christmas to my children. My boys are being bombarded with Christmas things all while missing the truth of the celebration. This year, I don't want Jesus to be something we slip in on Christmas evening. I don't want to rush through the Christmas story so we can get to the "good stuff." This IS the good stuff. I want to study this. I want them to know why Jesus came, why God sacrificed His son, why Jesus was born in a stable. I want my boys to treasure these things in their hearts far above story of Santa.

 This Christmas, we'll still do matching Christmas pjs. We'll still make horribly mishapen, over sprinkled Christmas cookies. We'll still during our evening hunt for Christmas lights where one child inevitably gets carsick and ends up throwing up in an old McDonald's cup we hastily find underneath the seat. And yes, we'll still leave out cookies for Santa, and Mr. Man will nibble off little bites to make it appear as though the fat man was there, but, these are just additions. This year, these things, will be additions to our bigger picture. This year, we'll focus on Christ, His story, His message, His sacrifice, and this year, Christ will shine brighter than all of these other things.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mistakes, craft fairs, and what not to say

Remember my first wreath I made?.....Somewhere between my 15th and 20th wreath, something clicked, and really got the hang of it. Maybe I'm a slow learner, or not as naturally crafty inclined as others, but around 20 wreaths and *wait for it* around $500 later, I finally found my groove in this whole wreath thing. I know, some of you still haven't picked your jaw up from the floor, but I told you I was stubborn! Anywho, just look, and tell me these don't look better than my first batch:
 How amazing is Mr. Man? I found out the day before the craft fair that there was a cancellation and that I had a spot! For under $30, Mr. Man fashioned this little display for me.
 These are just a few of my wreaths I took to my craft fair this weekend! In my life, the Lord keeps me humbled. I made all of these wreaths with nowhere to sell. I just think it's a blessing that with a days' notice, I was able to get these wreaths together and able to sell 9. Even though I'm still in the hole, I'm honoring my promise to the Lord, and setting aside $130.00 for my beloved Zimbabwe Missionary friends. Because, this money, isn't mine really, and I think it's easy to bargain with the Lord when we need Him, and forget our promises when we feel that we don't. I trust the Lord will work everything out, and am so excited that I can add to my "Zim Fund." (Mr. Man is happy that I'm all most out of the hole.)

Moving on, my Mom begged me not to post this last bit. Did I mention she's in town? Mom arrived last Sunday, and it's been so nice having her here. She's still perpetually nags me, rearranges my house, and tells me how ugly my couch is, but I love her. I told mom I always thought we were normal, but everywhere we go, people hear us going back and forth and laugh, so maybe we're not as normal as we think? Anywho, Mom's been a big help. We call her jokingly "Nanny Granny" when she watches the kids. Wednesday was Halloween, and before I took the boys out, I had to take *FAIL* another Chem exam. (great timing, right?) I locked myself in my room, and when I came out, this is what I found:
 Mom..is crazy. She smeared lipstick all over her lips, crazied her hair up, and put some of my bugs and cobwebs on her head. She answered the door looking like this all night. Actually, the glasses are kind of funny. 

Mom has gotten some of the worst hair cuts of anyone I have ever known. I don't know if it's her hair texture or just plain bad luck, but this latest one reminds me of that actress Linda Hunt OR Edna from the Incredibles.
Actually, I think Edna's looks better. I heard Mom talking to Liam about her hair. He was asking her why it looked so bad, and Mom was telling him that she felt sorry for a blind person, and gave them money to cut her hair. (It was really an Asian woman at Hair Cuttery who spoke minimal English. Mom said she asked for something that wouldn't accentuate her ears, and got the opposite. We think the message was lost in translation...)

Anywho, back to my tip of: "Things You Should Not Say to People at a Craft Fair": 
  1. "Is it hard? How'd you do that?" Well, if I told you that, I probably would save you a lot of trouble, time, and money, and you wouldn't have to buy mine.
  2. "Where'd you get all of your stuff from? Can I look and see how you constructed that?" Again, these are my babies, and I've spent hours upon hours researching, shopping, pricing out different stores, materials, qualities, and methods that make the best wreaths. It's like asking the Colonel for the secret ingredient. (Okay, that's a huge stretch, and I'm certainly not saying my wreaths are that good, but I thought it was a good comparison!)
  3. "How much do these cost to make?" It depends on a LOT of factors! It's not a huge secret, but it's my little side business, so labor time is accounted for, but not by much. I have scanned Etsy, and lemme tell ya, the people that are getting $100-$200 for these babies are making it big! I promise you, I'm not. =)
Now, don't get me wrong! I love Southerns, and they just have a way of saying things that come to mind, but I'm not that money hungry type of girl. In fact, after my mom and I went through my product, costs, and time, my mom urged me to go higher on my prices. I like to go by the age old sayin' "Pigs get fatter, Hogs get Slaughtered." I know there's variations on that phrase, but that's what my family says. Basically, don't get greedy. If you set things at a reasonable prices, and deal fairly with others, you'll come of better than setting the prices too high. Anywho, complaints, and a little bit of hurt feelings aside, the Lord really blessed this weekend. I had so much fun, and can't wait to get into another craft fair. Oh, and just so I can totally make my plug, My ~*Neighborhood Envy*~ Store =)
 (Yes, I know, it's shameless!)