Serving Joyfully in a Self Serving World – Week 1 – Serving God

But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. ~ Joshua 24:15

There is so much in the Bible that talks about serving God. We were made to serve Him (you can read more on the background behind the motivation for the study here). This is something that was laid on my heart and I thought I would share in hopes of inspiring others. Not only to view serving as a joyful thing, but how doing so pleases God. The first week of this bible study I will be discussing serving God.

His master said to him ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ ~ Matthew 25:21

To me serving God is not only about spending time with Him in His word, but by making sure we serve Him first and foremost with each and every day. I do this by carving out a specific time of the day that I can give Him all of my attention, usually right away in the morning before my kids are awake. Getting myself in the right frame of mind before my day even starts ensures I am focusing on Him throughout my day.

Serving Him also means (to me) making Him a priority in all parts of my day. Since I’m a stay at home mom for me this means listening to worship music when I make lunch, watching Veggie Tales with my kids, reading Bible stories, and having dance parties to Toby Mac in my kitchen. Serving God to me means finding ways to make sure that I put the focus back on Him throughout the day. As it says in the verse from Matthew above, I want God to look at me as I go throughout my day and say “Well done, good and faithful servant”.

Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing! ~ Psalms 100:2

As a mom of two young kids, sometimes I struggle with getting up early or staying up after a long day to read my Bible and devotionals. If I skip one day, it is so quick to snowball into a week of slacking and then I find myself more behind than if I had just kept up with my daily habit.

Reading my Bible and spending time with the Lord is a lot like laundry, I need to do it daily to keep my house in order. I might not feel like doing it at times (I actually love doing both things!), but if I decide to be lazy and avoid it, it’s just going to pile up until it’s overwhelming. When I finally do catch up, I’m left mentally exhausted and upset with myself for not keeping up. Maybe I shouldn’t have compared my devotional time to laundry, but I hope you can see the point I am trying to make with that.

It says right in this verse to serve the Lord with gladness! Thinking about all of the blessings in my life fills me with such joy. If you find yourself having a hard time serving joyfully, take a step back and think about how much you have to be thankful for. On days when I don’t feel particularly joyful, taking a minute to remind myself of all of God’s blessings helps me bring that joy in my heart to the surface.

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. ~ Mark 10:45

How humbling is it to know that God not only sent His one and only son Jesus to die on the cross for us, but to serve people on earth and give God all the glory in the process? Jesus was the ultimate servant, and there are too many examples in the Bible to list them here with how he served God with every one of his decisions throughout his limited time on earth.

Serving God is to honor Him in our daily lives. Making sure you spend time with Him throughout your day will make it easy to stay in the mindset of a serving Him. And not just serving God, but serving Him joyfully.

To wrap up the first week of this series, I thought I would encourage you to challenge yourself this week. I encourage you this week to keep in mind your attitude as you serve God throughout the day. Are you coming to God with a neutral heart, and not a lot of joy? Are you coming to God with a bitter heart, and are upset about something you aren’t ready to let go of yet? For the next week, choose joy when you spend time with God and see how that pours over into your daily life for the better. If you already feel like you are truly being joyful in your approach with God, write down some joyful inspiration that keeps you in this frame of mind so you can refer back to it on the hard days.

I truly hope you enjoyed the first week! The next week of the series will be all about Serving your Spouse.

Serving Joyfully in a Self Serving World – Introduction

It’s funny how when I’m reading the Bible certain things can stick out to me even when I’ve read that passage of scripture before. When I’m doing my devotionals I try to let my mind and heart truly open to receive whatever God wants to tell me or learn. Although things aren’t always clear, and not always immediate with what I should take away from my reading, afterward I reflect and pray on what I read.

 

Lately when I was reading a passage, the word serve stuck out to me. More than usual, which I know for certain meant that I needed to pay attention. The more I read and thought about that word (I should have written that specific passage down, not just the word!), I felt like I needed to study passages that had this word in it.

 

The more I read passages that spoke about serving, the more I felt it was speaking to my heart. Serving has such a negative connotation these days, and why wouldn’t it? In our social media world with most people have a “me” mentality and wondering what is in it for them, serving isn’t something people want to do or even talk about. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t look out for your best interests, but serving others joyfully is something I’m focusing on this year – joyfully being the key word.

 

I wanted to share what I have been studying and reflecting on these last few months in the hopes it might help someone else like it has helped me. So starting Friday 1/19/18, I will be starting a 4 week bible study course specifically about serving. What serving means from a Biblical standpoint, specific areas you can focus on serving, and how having the right mindset can make all the difference. I hope you join me as we really dive into God’s word.

How to crush your New Year’s Resolution

We are already a week into the new year! How are you coming along with your resolution(s)? I love New Year’s resolutions and make them every year, but most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned after only 3 weeks. That is crazy to me, but totally makes sense because change is hard and you can’t expect to wake up one day and change everything overnight
I know a lot of people who don’t do resolutions, and if you are a consistent goal setter who evaluates their progress regularly throughout the year why would you set a New Year’s Resolution? At the end of the day, resolutions are a good thing not only if they are achieved, but if they lead to consistent habits.
I have goals I set throughout the year, but I still do resolutions because for me it’s like a reset button. New year, new (updated) goals. The important thing is turning these resolutions, or maybe they should be called goals, into a reality and throughout the year evaluating and adapting if you aren’t progressing. If you fall off the “wagon” by the end of the month, how are you actually changing? If you want to lose 10 pounds and only lose 5, next year you are going to make the same resolution and be right back where you started.
I wanted to share some simple tips that have helped me turn my resolutions into healthy, attainable, realistic habits over the last few years. Although simple, I’m hoping it’s a gentle reminder of what you are hoping to achieve this year and help you keep pushing toward achieving your goals. Trust me, if you follow all (or even some of these) of these and put in the hard work, you’re going to crush your resolution this year!

 

Be Realistic
This is probably the hardest one for me personally. Of course you want challenging goals, that’s why you set goals. To attain something that hasn’t yet been attained. However, if you are too unrealistic about your goals, or set too big of a goal, not getting there will be a letdown. Not only that, but you can set yourself up for failure before you even get started.

 

Let’s say you want to start a blog. Great! Then your goal should be “I want to start a blog by XX/XX/18”. If your goal was “I want to start a blog and have 10,000 page views a day by 3/1/18”, again it’s something that could be done but also unrealistic. If you have a realistic goal, and you reach it, you are going to feel so much better and continue on your path versus just giving up if you don’t reach it.

 

Be Specific
Ok, let’s touch on one of the biggest resolutions made every year – weight loss. If you say “I want to lose weight”, there is nothing holding you accountable with this vague resolution. If you lose 2 pounds that is technically losing weight and you attained your goal, but what if you want to lose 30? 2 pounds would be just the beginning of that. You have to be specific.

 

You need to set measurable goals and give yourself a timeline. If you want to lose 30 pounds, make it a measurable goal so you can hold yourself accountable. Saying you’re going to lose weight isn’t enough, challenge yourself. Going back to the blog example, If you have a goal to start a blog by 7/15/18 let’s say, have a date down on paper and work toward that daily.

 

Establish your “Why”
This may seem like an obvious one, but change doesn’t happen overnight. You have to put in the work. And it’s hard to put in the work if you don’t have the motivation for it. My “why” hasn’t changed much in the last couple of years, but the drive behind all I do is for my family and giving God all the glory. Knowing why I work as hard as I do helps motivate me when I don’t feel like doing anything.

 

Maybe your why is your family, or taking a dream vacation, or feeling confident with yourself, or even being able to quit your day job to pursue your passion; whatever your why is make sure you write it down. I have pictures printed as well and last year created a dream board with all these pictures and inspiring words on it. It is so helpful on hard days to look at the board and remind myself what I am working toward. Print out a picture of your family, a beautiful beach, a dream job, something that will keep you motivated to keep going when you want to give up.

 

Set Milestones along the way
Using the example of weight loss here, let’s say you want to lose 30 pounds this year. Give yourself 10 pound milestones so you are feeling just as accomplished and proud on your way to the 30 pounds loss. Not only will you feel great when you meet your 10 pound milestones, it will no doubt keep you motivated to keep going until you have reached your ultimate goal.

 

This can apply to most things, not just weight loss. If you want to launch a blog by June, break up all the things that go along with launching a blog into milestones. Your first milestone can be deciding on a blog name and hosting site. Your second milestone can be deciding on a logo (if desired), and setting up your social media pages. You can break any big goal down into small milestones to help you along the way.

 

 

Celebrate!
Once you do hit your goal, even your milestone goals, make sure to celebrate those accomplishments. Write down a list of things you would love to do once you meet your goals. My list includes a pedicure, a few hours alone in a coffee shop (this SAHM needs that time away!), buying a new pair of workout clothes, buying a new swimsuit, etc.

 

One of my best friends (who is getting married in May! So some random wedding posts might be coming up in the next few months) recommended recently to try and make your rewards non-food related, especially if you are celebrating weight loss. She explained it’s important (and healthy!) to not reward yourself with food to break that cycle of associating food as a reward. You can do plenty of things that don’t involve money or food to celebrate! I try to focus on experiences or things like new workout gear to keep me motivated.

 

 

I hope that these tips help you meet all of your goals! Do you have any tips or advice you have learned along the way to help you reach your goals? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Winter Wonderland Faith Night In – Review

It’s hard to believe that another Christmas season has already come and gone, but here it is the third day of January! I am so excited to get back into my routine and start running toward my resolutions I made for the new year.

 

But first, I had to share my review of the Winter Wonderland Faith Night In box that I received for December. You may have read my review of the November Date Night In Box (if not, you can find it and more about the company here) by the same company Night In Boxes, so I was excited to try their Faith Night box since I loved the Date Night box so much.

 

And of course, no surprise here, I loved the December box too. I wanted to share what we got in this box and how it compared to the box we had in November. Like the last box there was an activity, something to set the mood, a fun treat, and something that made us take some time to reflect. I love that both of the boxes had these, and I am excited for the future boxes to come.

 

First, came dinner and setting the mood! Of course dinner didn’t come with the box, but we received some very wonderful balsam fir incense. Before dinner, part of our box contained name tags. This was a fun guessing game, where you were encouraged to write a name of a Christmas character on your name tag and put it on your significant other’s back. They had to guess who they were only by how you would weave clues into conversations – not just giving hints until they guessed.

 

 

After dinner, for dessert we had our hot chocolate on a spoon that was included. Not only were they really cute, but they tasted great! Super easy, just add hot milk or water and stir until it’s mixed. A lump of coal came in our box, which I loved once I realized what they represented. The coal is actually coal soap, and for the month of December the Night In Box company partnered with The Adventure Project. They help teach women in Kenya and Tanzania learn how to cook their meals over stoves, run by coal. Each stove drastically reduces toxic smoke, cooks food faster, and saves six trees from being cut down to be used as fuel as well.

 

 

I am loving that both boxes partnered with a great organization that I haven’t heard of before to help others. I am hoping that this is a continuing trend because this makes me love the boxes even more. After reading about our lumps of coal, there was another game included called Tune or Tale. One side of the card has a Christmas song to hum, while the other has a holiday movie to quote. We both enjoyed this as we love all kinds of games, especially pertaining to Christmas.

 

After our game, we read our detailed discussion guide of our Bible reading for this box. Naturally this month’s scripture reading was about the birth of Jesus, but it made us think about Jesus’ birth from the perspective of the wise men. I liked that, and I also enjoyed the questions it encouraged us to ask to dig deeper into scripture.

 

The last activity was probably my favorite part! Included in this box was a gingerbread camper, yes you read that right, not a house but a camper. I love decorating gingerbread houses with my daughter, and this year alone we did at least 3. It was fun to do the gingerbread camper just my husband and I because we normally do crafty things with our kids and not each other, so it was fun to decorate it together just us.

 

To be completely honest, this was my favorite part but also tested our patience. I loved the idea of decorating something other than a house, but when we took out the pieces to put it together it only had two little rectangles to have the two sides stick together. It also said to let it sit for several hours. We didn’t have time for that, so my hubby made it work a different way. I wish there were more pieces to stabilize it; I feel like it would have worked much better had there been more pieces. Other than that we had so much fun doing it! We both decorated one side.

 

 

After our gingerbread camper was complete we closed in prayer and reflection with prompts we found at the end of our guide.

 

Overall it was another great date and like I said previously, I am looking forward for all of the date nights in a box to come!! I love how in keeping with the season both boxes have been, and how special they have made date nights at home now for me and my spouse. If you want to order one, click here!

 

 

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New Year’s Resolution Ideas (that aren’t about weight loss!)

The holidays have come and gone. I, like most people, am looking toward 2018 and am starting to think about things I would like to accomplish in this coming year.

 

I personally love New Year’s resolutions. It makes you take the time to reflect on your past year and see what you were able to accomplish and areas you can improve upon. If you didn’t hit a goal of yours, you can always make it a goal the next year and come up with other strategies to achieve it.

 

The most popular New Year’s Resolution by far is weight loss. While I love a weight loss goal, I have my own I will be crushing this year, I feel like there are also plenty of other resolutions that would do you good in this coming year other than just a weight loss goal. So, if you are looking for some inspiration for setting your own New Year’s Resolutions I thought I would share some non-weight loss resolutions that can help you set all your goals in the New Year.

 

 

Break a Bad Habit

I can’t think of a better time to break a bad habit then at the start of a new year. For me, my bad habit I will be breaking is my daily diet pop habit. I know Diet Coke is bad for me, but I got myself into this bad habit when I was pregnant with my second child and I have been trying to break it since.

 

When you know you have a bad habit, think of all of the good it will do you to break it and write those reasons down. When you are having a hard day and want to give in, like giving up pop or smoking or emotional eating or whatever your bad habit is, going back to your list of why you are giving it up will make it easier not to give in.

 

 

Start a Healthy Habit

This goes hand in hand with the first resolution, start a healthy habit. My bad habit of getting rid of Diet Coke is a New Year’s Resolution of mine, so the healthy habit I am starting will be to drink more water. My goal is to drink anywhere from 80-100 ounces a day, but the last few months I have definitely been slacking. Drinking less Diet Coke, kicking my bad habit, will allow me to drink more water.

 

If losing weight is one of your resolutions this year, having a number in mind you want to lose is great but starting a healthy habit will help you reach that goal. So instead of “I want to lose 20 pounds”, try “I am going to cut all sweets from my meal plan and work out at least 4 days a week.” Another example could be saying “I will reward my healthy choices with XXX instead of food” if you are an emotional eater. It could be a spa day or a new pair of workout shoes instead of rewarding your healthy choices with food.

 

 

Set a Professional Goal

This may seem irrelevant considering I am a stay at home mom, but I have big goals for this little blog of mine by the end of 2018. It’s funny, I had the normal goals of promotions after awhile when I worked my 9-5 job in the corporate world but nothing like the professional dreams I have now. The biggest goal I had while working at the bank was leaving it!

 

Last year I was challenged to make a dream board. Just putting my goals and dreams to a pen and paper really helped get my goals out of my head and something that I could look at on a regular basis. One of my professional goals was to start my blog, something I had dreamed of doing for so long, and I finally did it! I am so glad I was challenged to really dream about what I want to do in life and I am taking steps toward making that happen. I encourage you to do the same and think about what you really want to do with your career this year.

 

 

Organize a Space in your Home


I think that I am a fairly ambitious person. I am also someone who thrives on organization. So when we first moved into our house a year ago all I wanted to do was buy all the organizational tools and things that existed (my favorite store is The Container Store). But I stopped myself, and although a year later I am going just a little crazy that my house isn’t as organized as I would like I’m glad I gave myself time in my space to figure out what will work best for me and my family.

 

Now that I have taken the time to figure out what we need, I won’t be spending any additional money on things we don’t need and won’t use. For my New Year’s Resolution I am only committing to organizing the biggest stress for me and my family, and that is organizing our playroom. I would focus on just one space of your home for your resolution so you feel accomplished once it’s done. Saying I am going to organize my family’s playroom versus I am going to organize our entire house sets myself up for success and I can always move on to another room in the house once that room is done.

 

 

Make Family and/or Marriage Resolutions

Resolutions are normally about self improvement. This year I decided not only am I going to focus on self improvement, which benefits everyone, I am making resolutions for my family and my marriage. By that I mean I am going to be intentionally working on my relationships with my husband and kids.

 

I am finding it more important as my kids get older the figuring out the kind of mom I want to be. This goes for my marriage too. I am setting these two main resolutions for my family, the first is doing a minimum of one date night a month with my husband. The second is being more present for my children during the day – i.e. not being on my phone as much, getting more done while they are busy or asleep. I also have a few books I will be reading to help with both of these resolutions.

 

 

 

I hope you received some inspiration for setting your own New Year’s Resolutions for 2018! Some of these might be ones you have set before, but I hope you are able to approach this new year with goals and drive. I would love to hear some of your resolutions for the coming year as well, drop me a comment below!

 

Chocolate Peppermint Protein Shake

Protein shakes are one of my favorite things ever. They are quick to make, easily customizable, and perfect for on the go. Obviously my love of protein shakes is apparent since it’s a part of my blog name!

 

I have a few go to protein shake recipes that I make a few times a week, I thought it would be fun to make one that was perfect for this time of year. I did my normal base for this protein shake – almond milk, half a frozen banana, ice – but instead of adding PB2 I added 1 drop of peppermint essential oil.

 

I was introduced to essential oils this summer, and although I am very much a beginner in that area I really have been loving them. I love diffusing different blends in my oil diffuser, especially lavender at night, and have been adding some into my water as well. I will tell you this – make sure you know that the oil you are using is OK to ingest. That is one thing I do know, you want to use your oils properly so make sure you read your label and only ingest if the label tells you it’s safe.

 

Back to the protein shake – super easy and yummy, and the little amount of essential oil just gives peppermint flavor that makes it just enough. You can always add more, so start off with just one and add more if you would like. Plus you don’t have to worry about any additional calories or unhealthy additives to give it the peppermint flavor. I hope you enjoy!

8-12 ounces almond milk, or liquid of your choice

1/2 frozen banana

5-10 ice cubes

1 drop peppermint essential oil

1 serving chocolate protein powder
Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Do you add anything seasonal to your protein shakes? I would love to hear about it!!

Our Grinch Tree

I had big plans to get our house entirely decorated for Christmas on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I also had big plans to do a fun Christmas decor house tour on the blog, with details of what I had in each room and where I got it. That all went out the window when the stomach bug hit our house the week of Thanksgiving, and between recovering from that, two Thanksgiving celebrations, doing some volunteer work at our church, and a terrible head cold that made it’s way through our family, here we are. 6 days to Christmas and I am going to do one quick Christmas decor post to share my favorite decor in our house, other than our nativity set.

 

When my husband and I first moved in together, we couldn’t afford to spend a bunch of money on Christmas decorations. We bought a $25 pre-lit Christmas tree from Wal-Mart back in 2008 and that was our Christmas tree for as long as I could remember. About 3 years ago we upgraded to a much bigger one, and this tree while old was working just fine. We thought it would be nice to keep this one too and put it in our basement in our previous home, and while deciding how to decorate it my mother-in-law suggested we make it look like a tree from the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

 

I have always liked the movie The Grinch, but when my husband and I first started dating his love for this particular story and movie made me love it more. I have gotten him plenty of Grinch themed gifts over the years since it is his favorite Christmas movie, including an awesome Grinch coffee mug, and making our second tree a Grinch themed tree seemed like a fun idea and perfect for my husband.

 

I started searching in stores for inspiration, as I had seen some pictures on Pinterest but they were too neat. And by neat, I mean they were very nice but too manicured. I wanted something that look like it legitimately came out of Whoville. Big, bold ornaments, lots of color, just a lot of personality. When I had the idea in my head I just ran with it.

 
First, I bought some large peppermint candy ornaments from Hobby Lobby. Then I bought some bigger “Grinch green” ball ornaments, as well as some red and green ornaments in the shapes of presents. I loved how everything was looking, but I only bought those the first year. The second year we had the tree I found some pom pom branches and these jeweled branches you can twist to give it some texture, in addition to some oversized gold and red ornaments. I found a red Christmas top hat as well as some multicolored bead garland and more “Grinch green” ball ornaments. After having all the decor on the tree, it was perfect!!! Exactly like I imagined, and while it took a little bit to come together I was happy I took my time.

 
If you want to do your own Grinch tree, I recommend the following:

 

Make it your own! There are so many beautiful and fun trees to look at for inspiration, but don’t be afraid to just run with your own ideas. My Grinch tree is primarily green, white, and red but also has pops of turquoise, pink, and gold.

 

The bigger the ornaments, the better – Again, this is my own personal opinion, but all of the big ornaments on my small 6.5 foot tree make it look even more like it’s straight out of Whoville. It’s also really fun to buy those big fun ornaments you might not normally buy and put them on a tree, especially the big candy ones.

 

Take your time – It took until just last year for me to finalize my Grinch tree and that is just fine with me! I took the time to find what I wanted and not spend money on something I didn’t love. Also, you can find AMAZING deals on ornaments after Christmas. That is my favorite time to buy decorations, I go to Target and other stores the day after every major holiday and buy whatever decorations I love and then just store them for next year (I also buy gift wrap and gift card holders too!).

 

 

Do you have a fun themed Christmas tree? I would love to see or hear about it in the comments below!

Easy 4 Ingredient Oreo Mint Truffles

I love baking. Every time I think of Christmas, I always think of the baking that goes along with it. I have 4 recipes that are my now perfected Christmas goody recipes that I give to my friends and family, and this is one of them. I really should make them more than once a year… or maybe it’s a good thing I only make them during Christmas time because I could eat 10 of them in one sitting.

 

They are easy to make, delicious, and are only 4 ingredients. All you need is a package of regular Oreo cookies, a block of cream cheese (brought to room temperature), some vanilla almond bark, and a package of Andes Mints.

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I am sure there are 100 different recipes for all different variations of these Oreo truffle balls, but I wanted to share how I do them. After making the truffles, I melt Andes creme de menthe and drizzle them on top. I love that it gives a chocolatey mint flavor to them without being too overwhelmingly minty. I have also seen them made with crushed candy canes on the top. And while I love candy canes, I personally don’t like chunks of hard candy on the tops of these. These are so diverse, you could really play around with the toppings. You can even do green and red candy melts and drizzle them on top for a more festive look!

 

These are definitely not healthy, but since I only make them once a year these are fun holiday treat. On that note, here is the recipe!

 

Crush an entire box of oreo cookies (make sure not to get double stuff!) in a food processor or blender until they are fine. They should be so fine they are just crumbs. Big chunks will make them harder to shape and dip, and harder to mix with the cream cheese.

Mix in the block of room temperature cream cheese with the oreo crumbs until combined. Depending on how big your blender or food processor is, you can add the cream cheese and blend that way. Or, transfer your oreo crumbs to a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix.

 

Next, scoop the mixture onto a cookie sheet. I use a cookie scoop for this, and then let them sit in the fridge for 30 minutes. After they sit for 30 minutes, I take them out and roll them in my hands to make balls. You can skip that step if you want, but I found the mixture is a little too sticky right away and if you put them in the fridge for a bit they will be easier to work with. However you choose to do it, when you are done making the balls, freeze or refrigerate them for at least an hour.

 

 

Once they have chilled, melt your vanilla almond bark. I normally do this in a microwave safe bowl versus the stove top. This is personal preference, as it’s harder to burn in the microwave and easier to reheat in the microwave. When I melt in the microwave, I do it in 30 second intervals until melted, stirring after each 30 seconds.

This step is easy, just put the ball in the almond bark and roll until it’s covered. Place the coated truffle on the cookie sheet, which you can choose to line with parchment paper or leave unlined, I have done both. The chilling step is super important, because if you don’t let them chill they will break apart very easily in the almond bark.

Once you’re done, melt the Andes mints and drizzle on top. I use a fork to drizzle it, it gives them some cool lines that look really nice but are super easy. Put in the fridge to harden and you’re done!! Once they are hardened, keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days, although I seriously doubt they will last that long.

 

These are great to give as a holiday goodie! Super easy and every time I make them everyone loves them. Would love to hear if you make these and if you made any fun additions!!

Embracing Simplicity this Christmas

I was sitting with my kids in the playroom of our house the other day, and like I do probably at least once a week I thought to myself “Wow my kids have WAY too many toys!” Then I started thinking about the toys they will be getting this Christmas from my husband and I, Santa, and all of our relatives… and like some of you I started to get overwhelmed. WARNING – real life photo ahead of our actual playroom and my kiddos.

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It’s hard for me to share pictures of my playroom in all its glory. I have been trying to break my perfectionist habits, especially when it comes to my kid’s spaces. They are supposed to be messy. They are playing and learning, but you see so many perfectly manicured images of playrooms on social media it can be hard to accept anything less than perfection. But I wanted to share this picture with you all to show you that you are not alone in your mess.

 

There are certain things that I have found as I get older that stress me out more than others. The biggest one for me is clutter, mainly disorganization in general. So as I looked around at my messy, unorganized, overflowing playroom I decided the 10 presents we already had for the kids was going to be enough. 10 presents TOTAL for 2 kids, spent around $120 so they are not big gifts, and I decided I was done. Maybe because my kids are younger I am able to do minimal Christmas gifts, but I have been actively finding ways to keep Jesus the focus of this holiday season.

 

I digress… I wanted to do something more than just the usual give a bunch of gifts and call it a day (already working on an organizing game plan for the playroom, so stay tuned for that!). So, this is what I am focusing on giving my kids this year instead of buying any additional gifts:

 

A focus on giving back – It never ceases to amaze me that God puts me exactly where he wants me to be, when he wants me to be there. The same day I was thinking about how many new toys my kids will be getting for Christmas, I was in the mall with my mom and we walked by a giving tree. It is a local organization that has gift tags on a few Christmas trees, and you pick the tag of someone you want to buy a gift for. It has all age ranges, from newborn girls and boys to special needs adults. You have to return the gift with the assigned gift tag on it the weekend before Christmas, and they have these gifts available for people to pick from. I absolutely love this, and will be having my daughter come with me to pick out the gift and help me wrap it for the age group we picked. Although she’s 3, I want to instill in her now how important it is to give back when you are able.

 

Experiences are what make the season magical – I don’t know about you, but when I think back on my favorite Christmases, none of them are about what gift I got that year. I remember decorating Christmas cookies with my 3 siblings when I was young, and the Christmas concerts at elementary school. I remember one particular Christmas when my mom drove myself and my siblings from South Dakota to Colorado to see my grandparents in blizzard conditions for half of the trip. We made it safely to Colorado, but the fun of the road trip as a kid and spending time with my grandparents are what I remember most. I decided I am going to spend the money on gingerbread houses and baking supplies, going to Christmas festivals, volunteering in our community, and driving around in the car looking at Christmas lights drinking hot cocoa. These are the things I want my kids to remember.

 

Presence over Presents – I saw this during Christmas last year on my social media and I absolutely love this simple phrase. I have found myself going back to this phrase often this year, more than just during the Christmas season. The less I am focused on finding the perfect presents, buying those presents at the perfect price and wrapping them, the more time I have with my family. This year is the least stressful Christmas I have had in the last 5 years that I can remember, and I love it. I haven’t been able to get everything done as quickly as I wanted, but I am not stressed about any of it. It will all get done, and if it doesn’t that’s OK too. I have way higher expectations of the season than my kids do. If certain things don’t get done I will be the only one who knows it.

 

 

All of this boils down to one thing that I want to share – what you are doing is enough. If you want to buy your kids a bunch of gifts, do it! I am not judging anyone who chooses to spoil their kids with a bunch of gifts this Christmas, that is not my intention. Maybe you have older kids and splurged on getting them a tablet or phone this year, or maybe you can finally afford to buy your kids everything they want this year, and that is great! Just because I am choosing not to do that this year doesn’t mean I am judging or think anything is wrong with it (who’s to say I won’t be doing it in the coming years). This year I personally have just been craving simplicity as much as possible.

 

We put so much pressure on ourselves as parents, mainly all us moms, to give our kids the perfect Christmas. Your kids will think it’s perfect no matter what you buy them. Spend some time with them, watch a Christmas movie, go look at Christmas lights, play a game while drinking hot cocoa, put together a gingerbread house, the list goes on and on. What makes this season truly special, is slowing down and spending time with those you love most.

Thoughtful (and easy!) Gift Ideas for Women

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Christmas time is here! And I couldn’t be more excited! If this is your first time here, I have already written a few times about Christmas and I can’t say enough how much I love this time of year.

I thought I would write up a gift inspiration post for those of you still looking for Christmas gift ideas for the woman in your life. I am putting together a few of my favorite things that I use personally and recommend to all of my friends. The best part about them? They are super easy to buy, but very thoughtful and will definitely be a gift anyone on your list will love!

 

Night In Boxes

If you haven’t read my review on the Date Night In Box my husband and I did in November, you are missing out (and can find it here!). Night In Boxes in a subscription date night box company that focuses on having meaningful and romantic date nights at home. I love how thoughtful everything was and it made my husband and I more intentional with our nights at home. They have Date Night In, Faith Night In (religious themed date night), and they also have Kids Night In for the kid(s) in your life. Everything is included (minus dinner!) and I couldn’t think of a more thoughtful gift to give. You can order by clicking here!

 

Fab Fit Fun Box

I haven’t been able to post a review for this box yet, but Fab Fit Fun is a seasonal subscription box filled with surprise goodies that appeal to all different women! The boxes are sent 4 times a year, and you can cancel your membership at any time. They do such a great job of having different items in their seasonal boxes. Their contents focus on health, wellness, beauty, and some fashion items as well. You can find more information here. I would love a box from them as a gift, and as a reader of my blog you can enter SAVETEN in the promo code box at checkout to save an additional $10 on your first box order (how cool is that?!?). You can see what has been in past boxes on their website as well if you are curious on past box contents. #FabFitFunPartner

 

Emily Ley

It’s no secret how much I love Emily’s products. I have posted reviews on 2 of her products so far (the Simplified Planner and her first book Grace, Not Perfection), and I am currently reading her newly released book that came out last month. Emily focuses on living simplified and being intentional each day. From her books to her planners, if someone in your life is craving simplicity and focusing on being intentional with their time you are sure to find something for her here. The planners help keep daily life simple and organized, and her books are something I read often to keep my mind and heart in the right place.

 

I wanted to write a gift inspiration post versus a guide so you can still feel like you are picking the gift yourself. These 3 ideas are sure to get you brownie points with whomever the gift is intended for! Again, so easy but so thoughtful, and ordering now you still have time for them to arrive before Christmas.

 

Do you have any go to thoughtful Christmas gift ideas, or just gift ideas in general? I would love to hear from you in the comments!