Celebrate Saint Nicholas Day

ImageSaint Nicholas Day (December 6) is not a tradition I observed growing up.  In fact, I didn’t even know about it until I was an adult and a man I worked with told me about it.  When I found out it involved shoes and presents, I was all in!  Sinterklaas arrived for several of my Dutch friends this morning, but I guess we Germans prep today.  Must be a geography thing.

One Charming Party describes shining their best Sunday shoes and leaving them out the night of the 5th for St. Nick to fill.  The first time I did this for the boy, we placed a pair of his sneakers on the porch.  When he opened the door the next morning, he gasped in wonder that his shoes were filled with goodies.  His reaction melted my heart, and I was hooked.

Over the years, we’ve left out everything from converse to cowboy boots, but the excitement is always the same.  This year we toyed with the idea of printing and making our own paper shoes, but I’m learning that just because I saw it on the internet, doesn’t mean it will translate well into our tradition.

This year, we’ll learn a bit about the man himself before our boy places his shoes by the fireplace.  We will leave a carrot or two in a napkin inside the shoe for St. Nick’s donkey.

Hopefully, no coal or salt will be found in his shoes in the morning.

Some gifts we hope to see:

anything stocking stufferish (It is so a word!)

cuties or an orange

marzipan (the kid likes it and it’s traditional)

a cookie in the shape of his initial

If you’re totally grossed out by finding food in your shoes, get over it!  It’s not like you’ll be eating spaghetti out of a slipper.

Oddly yours,

Jennifer

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Family Advent Celebrations – The 25 Days of Christmas

ImageWell before I was even dating Daddy-O, I purchased the book The 25 Days of Christmas by Rebecca Hayford Bauer (published September 1994).  It has since been updated and re-titled Just 25 Days ‘Til Christmas:  An Advent Celebration for the Entire Family.  Each day has a short devotion, a song, suggested activities, and tips for making your holidays less hectic.  The watercolor artwork is whimsical and fun.  One of our family’s favorite features is the devotions incorporating the tradition of lighting the candles of Advent Wreath.

I cannot imagine celebrating the season without this book.

Oddly yours,

Jennifer

Family Prayer Board

Sometimes I think Pinterest has actually stolen any creativity I have left.  I see all these incredible ideas beautifully executed and I feel like my measure-once-cut-twice mentality doesn’t inspire anyone, including myself.

However, I wanted to make a family prayer board.  I had seen something on which prayer requests, written on sticky notes, could be displayed to remind us of our friends’ and family’s needs.  Today, I bought an 11″ by 14″ frame at the Dollar Store.

I brought it home and tried to find the pin among the 6000 plus pins on hundreds of boards.  Guess what?  I couldn’t find it.  I didn’t even know how to search for it.  I thought, “Hey, I was creative before Pinterest.  I was creative before the Internet.”  So, using the Internet (ha!) I found a wonderful photograph , which I printed.  The picture frame’s back was black, so I flipped it over, affixed the printout, and framed it.  Voila!  It is now ready to be prominently placed in our family room and our prayer requests and scriptures added.  Too bad I don’t have a decent photo of it to share.  I may use my fancy handwriting to add James 5:16 as a border, but for now I really love the clean lines.

Oddly Yours,

Jennifer

Thoughts on An open letter to pastors {A non-mom speaks about Mother’s Day}

An open letter to pastors {A non-mom speaks about Mother’s Day}.

As a woman who struggled with infertility for years before having my son, I remember the pain all too well.  Going to church on Mother’s Day, surrounded by mothers and their quiver full of smiling children, aching to be one who was invited to stand and have the congregation acknowledge my tireless efforts.  I tried to make it about other people, recognizing my mother and all the other amazing women in my life.  My longing to have a child made each Mother’s Day unbearable.

I’m hardly alone in this.  Amy reminds us in her open letter to pastors that we can and should acknowledge mothers without alienating others.  That woman who sits while the “real mothers” stand has prayed for you, cried with you, served and praised with you.  Let us not forget to celebrate her.

“To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you

To those who experienced loss this year through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.”

Jennifer

Routine

I’ve really overdone it the last couple of days.  My sink breaking caused the dishes the back up more than usual, so I’ve been playing catch up.  Between that and Mount Washmore, carting the boy to and fro, helping with homework, trying to keep up on my own homework, and just the general stuff of life, I simply crash.  Not at the end of the day, mind you, but at 5 p.m. when I get home.  My naps are rarely less than two hours long, so I’m out of pocket during a fairly crucial time.  (What time isn’t crucial when you have a young family?)  Dinner gets pushed back, making bedtime way off.  This isn’t good for someone striving to be consistent with routines.

Routines.  I hate them.  But I need them.  And I hate that I need them.  I’ve never been consistent with anything in my life.  I’m impulsive and easily distracted, yet I have little endurance.  Even with meds.  If it were just me, I probably wouldn’t try so hard to change this.  But  with my son being so young and having special needs, though not severe, routines make life more predictable for him and give him some sense of control.

I would love to be able to push a button automatically be the person I want to be without going through the torture of routine.  What would be on my list?  I’d be tidier and more organized.  I’d take the time to read instead of vegging out in front of the TV. I’d get together with my friends. Be better at marriage and motherhood.  I’d actually do what’s on my list instead of making another list.

I would remember where I am instead of where I was.  I would tell myself I’m doing fine.  I’m doing what I can.  I’m where God has placed me.  Where He wants me right now.  Seeking Him.  Like the promise of Matthew 6:33:  “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Letting Him direct my days instead of feeling mired down my my to-dos and unrealistic expectations.  If I’m to aim my consistency at something, that would be it.  All the rest will follow.

Jennifer

A Powerful Prayer

The following has been circulating for years via email and now Facebook.  I felt it was a perfect post for today.  

Heavenly Father,

Help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry, and spend a few precious moments with her children.

Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can’t make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester.

Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day (“who really ought to get a job”) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.

Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together.
Heavenly Father, remind us each day that of all the gifts you give us Lord, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not to just those who are close to us, but to all humanity.

Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, show patience, empathy and love.

Jennifer