Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Intentional Christmas by Clair Boone, mom of two

Are we late…again?” My 4 year-old asks as I bundle him and his 2 year-old brother into the car and head out with a sigh of relief that no indeed, we’re not late.

He has good reason to ask since it seems like we flit through life with such breakneck speed that we miss life along the way.  We’re always dashing out the door or hurrying to be on time; he’s realized that life can seem like one big race that nobody gets prizes for, even the early birds.
"Be intentional about sharing
the story of Jesus’ birth
at Christmas"

With my propensity to dash around, I have realized that if I’m not intentional about slowing down and simplifying life to celebrate Jesus this Christmas, I won’t be modeling what I value for my children. So I’ve opted for a few simple strategies:

Simplify Decorating
Instead of adding lots of decorations around the house, opt for a few simple ones. After all, what goes up must come down! Use items from outdoors like broken twigs and pinecones to make simple centerpieces.

Intend to Create Traditions
Traditions begin as you choose an activity to enjoy as a family. Maybe it’s caroling around your neighborhood, visiting a Christmas display or watching a Christmas movie and munching caramel popcorn; start one thing as a family that your kids will remember.

Celebrate the season with friends and family
Invite another family over for a simple dinner. Notice those who might be lonely and need a friend during this season. Keep hospitality simple so you can enjoy the company of your friends.

The True Story of Christmas
Be intentional about sharing the story of Jesus’ birth at Christmas with your children. Find space in your busy schedule to read sections of the story from Luke 2 out loud as a family.

Dear God, thank you for gift of your son who we celebrate at Christmas. Help me to slow down and teach the value of a simple Christmas to my children.

Clair Boone is Mom to Isaac (4) and Chase (2). She lives just outside Chicago with her husband, Tim, and loves helping other moms save money through her blog, See her blog for 7 make-ahead cookie recipes that you can freeze:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Upside of Worry by Caryn Rivadeneira, mom of three

Recently my husband and I both went from being self-employed to other-employed. While we considered this change in status to be a tremendous and much-needed blessing, it didn’t come without stress. What our self-employed lives hadn’t provided in terms of financial resources and dental insurance, it made up for in flexibility

Since having our first child a decade ago, we had been able to work and be with the kids – for the most part – when they got home from school, on the sidelines of baseball games, in the car as we shuffled off to tap class.

"God has gone ahead
and is preparing the
very road we travel on."

So although our new employment status now meant we wouldn’t need to stress so much about how we would pay for life with three growing children, it did restrict our flexibility. And I’d be lying if I said that this didn’t cause my heartbeat to rise as I wondered how my kids and our family life would adjust to our new work arrangements.

Most of the time, however, my worry stayed manageable. But sometimes, the worry morphed into something greater — something closer to panic.

I realized fear or worry or even panic can have an upside. I have learned to recognize these emotions as cues. Because when wonder turns to worry, it tells me I’ve forgotten God’s promises. In fact, Isaiah 45:2 says this: “I [God] will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.” That’s a promise of great strength! It is quite a comfort to know that no matter how life bends and curves, no matter the new direction it takes our families, God has gone ahead and is preparing the very road we travel on.

Dear God, thank you that I can trust you to be strong and go before my family, even when I am worried about the details of our lives.

Caryn Rivadeneira is the author of Grumble Hallelujah: Learning to Love Life Event When It Lets You Down and co-founder of Redbud Writers Guild. She lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her family.