Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day 23: Christmas Story

take time to read this today and reflect on the true meaning this christmas.

Matthew 1:18-2:12

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Luke 2
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day 22: Decorate Christmas Cookies

today you should decorate christmas cookies. i did. :)

i had six freshman girls over at my house to decorate a bunch of sugar cookies i made. i was nervous it was going to be disastrous but it was quite fun.

and it is simple. just get some dough. (store bought, is completely fine) + some cookie cutters + frosting + sprinkles and Wallah! you have cookies.

make some today and take over to your family for christmas eve and christmas day.

(do you like my masterpieces above?) talent.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day 21: Christmas Parties

did you attend any christmas parties this year? white elephant? ugly christmas sweater party? christmas dance party? work christmas party?

i love parties, but unfortunately didn't attend many this year. i wanted to throw one at our new house, but got too busy.

i did attend a white elephant christmas party and got a fantastic gift that i am excited to share in 2011.

any fun stories? games? memories? you would like to share?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 20: Wrap Your Christmas Gifts

i actually don't mind wrapping my christmas gifts. i find gratification in the beauty of a simple wrapped gift. strange, maybe . . . but i love it. i love giving so that just makes the wrapping part that much better.

so, if you haven't done so already, wrap your gifts. only a few more days. (eek, so excited)

can you tell which ones are joey's? (of course, the john deere christmas paper... ;) )

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day 18: Decorate a Gingerbread House

today, joseph and i decorated a gingerbread house. it was preassembled, so it made life a bit easier.

it a cheap and fun project to do with your family. we bought our kit at walmart for nine bucks.

so, go grab a gingerbread house kit and have fun! can't wait to see your masterpiece!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Day 17: Digital Story of the Nativity

how social media, web, and mobile tell the story of the nativity. christmas story told through facebook, twitter, youtube, google, wikipedia, google maps, gmail, foursquare, amazon... times change, the feeling remains the same. so true.

check it out:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 16: Donate A Toy

i am guilty of going and just getting gifts for those i love, those that are close to me. but, as i reflect during this time, i believe we need to think about those who might not get anything this christmas and give back.

can you imagine? a five-year-old running downstairs to gather around the christmas tree to find out that his parents couldn't get him anything this year? or the millions of children across the world who just need simple things?
so, during this last week of christmas find an organization or maybe just at your own church to see if there is someone less unfortunate than you and go buy a toy for that child. it will be an amazing feeling knowing that they will wake up next week with something to open and play with.

yes, you are right, the main reason behind christmas isn't about presents and santa - but God GAVE US his son, his only son who cam as a lowly baby to died for us our sins. now, that is love. and we need to show love to those who need it and if it is giving a gift, then let's pitch in and do it this christmas season.

last month my high school small group girls and i put together two packages for a boy and girl for operation christmas child. it was a ton of fun and we are thrilled we were able to give a little bit back this year.
so, how are you going to give back this christmas season?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 15: Christmas List

i find it funny that when you get married, own a house, and are a responsible adult some of your "wants" on your christmas list might not be what you really want, but more of a necessity. argh.

however, joseph and i decided that we are NOT going to make christmas a time where we get each other things that we NEED but more of things that we WANT or desire to have. more "fun" gifts.

yes, there are things i want for my house, pay off all our debt, grown up boring things but because i love to give and get gifts, we do things that we probably would never buy for ourselves.

so, what is on your christmas list this year?

what is on mine you ask? well, a leather jacket, a new warm winter jacket, clothes, and a big one: a new car. ;)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day 14: Go See Christmas Lights

i love christmas lights. well, the ones that are nicely done. not clark griswold style. sorry, that is a bit much.

but simple white lights or those light festivals, those are well done and worth looking at.

last night we all got in the suburban and went to this place called tanglewood. it was pretty spectacular. yes, i was a bit doubtful but as we drove through, wow. muy impressivo. i mean, it is sponsored by chick-fil-a!

it was a ton of fun and a good time to admire the lights, listen to christmas tunes, and enjoy some family fun together.
so, even if it is piling everyone in the car, grabbing some starbucks, and driving up and down the neighborhood roads-go enjoy some of the twinkles of christmas and a little family fun, it is worth it for some smiles.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 13: Christmas Crackers

what are christmas crackers you ask? yeah, i thought the same thing. but, as we celebrated christmas with ryan, kerry, and ethan today. we added some christmas crackers and they are actually, well, kind of fun.

christmas crackers:

christmas crackers are an integral part of christmas celebrations in the united kingdom and other places like australia, canada, new zeland, etc. it consists of a cardboard tube wrapped in a brightly decorated twist of paper, making it resemble of an over sized sweet-wrapper. the cracker is pulled by two people - kind of like a wishbone, the cracker will split unevenly. the split is accompanied with a small bang and usually a small toy, jokes, and a paper crown in the middle.

it was a lot of fun as we wore the crowns during dinner and told the silly jokes through dinner. and a plus, ethan had fun with all the little gifts.

so, if you want to do something fun and different, grab some crackers to add to the christmas festivities. :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day 12: Advent Sunday #2: Joy

okay, i know i am doing my sunday advent days way out of order, by whatevs. today, i am going to do: JOY!
remember when you were a little kid and the overwhelming "joy" you felt when you opened your presents and you got exactly what you asked "santa" for?

that feeling that filled every aspect of your body when you would frantically try to pry open that toy box to get your favorite toy out? (okay, maybe that joy turned to frustration for awhile) ;) but once you were able to get that toy free, you couldn't put it down. it was the highlight for many the next month...

but that joy was temporary. it maybe only lasted for a bit or so until you got bored and counted down the days until the next christmas or birthday came to get the new "barbie" or "gi joe."

however, during this advent season, we are given a different joy, a joy that fills our entire being when we accept the precious FREE gift that our heavenly father has given us, his SON, Jesus Christ!

i can't begin to explain the joy that the lord gives, but as long as you are his, you will always have it.

yes, advent is a wonderful time of joyful expectation. as i noted before, joy comes wrapped in many packages, but the most important joy you will receive this christmas time is to ask for the grace of God to fully appreciate the gift of the Jesus Christ, and commit yourself to serving those in need. From this, you will enter into the JOY of the Lord.

Psalm 16:11 (esv)
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day 11: Visit Family or Friends

another reason i love christmas is that it is a time when family and friends come together, especially those you haven't seen for many months or many years.

today we left for winston salem, nc to visit my brother, sister-in-law, two-year-old nephew ethan, and baby boy in the womb. ;)
i am so excited to spend the next few days with them as we celebrate our early christmas and family fun time with them.

so, who is coming to visit you this christmas that you haven't seen for awhile? or are you going anywhere for christmas to visit family and/or friends? if you aren't doing either, who would you love to go visit this year?

can't wait to update you all on our trip in nc. i have been anxiously awaiting this trip with them!

Day 10: Make a List of Things You Are Thankful For

what are you thankful for? your job? your spouse? parents? jesus?

this christmas season i am thankful for a lot. with recent events happening in my life, i think about that one worship song, blessed be your name. part of the lyrics it says, "he gives and takes away." how true. but, when he gives after he takes, how much more are we thankful, huh?

so in the spirit of thankfulness, today is simple: make a top 10 list of things you are grateful for (because we all know we can make a list of 1,000 and more but for the sake of time, we will only do 10)

1. jesus christ: who humbly came as a baby to eventually die on the cross for our sins
2. joseph
3. my parents
4. my family: ryan, kerry, candace, ben, madeline, ethan, baby 2, paul and karen snare, ben snare
5. amazing friends
6. my house
7. my church
8. a new job
9. the word
10. coffee ;)

so, what is your top 10?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Day 9: Displaying Christmas Cards

how do you display your
christmas cards every year? do you have a special way of putting them up for all to see? or do you just read and throw away?

this year, as seen in the picture, i bought a "merry christmas" sign, added the ribbon to it by gluing two approx. six feet strands to the back and then used clothes pins to attach the cards and ta da - you have a simple, easy, cheap way to display all those cards!

pretty simple. so how do you display your christmas cards? if you don't, there are many ways for you to show off all your family and friends beautiful faces. around the garland on your staircase, maybe on a piece of fabric, or maybe just taped to your wall. whatever you think of, do it today! :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Day 8: Favorite Christmas Drink

what is your favorite christmas drink?

are you one of those eggnog drinkers? or how about the yummy peppermint white mocha from starbucks? or just simple regular christmas blend coffee buyer? no, you love a simple hot chocolate from your kuerig in the quiet of your own home? or maybe like my beautiful friend, a regular coffee with vanilla soy milk and a shot of peppermint ;)?(http://cassandraeldridge.blogspot.com/)

well, whatever your choice drink may be, go splurge and enjoy life's simple pleasures, even if they make your guilty list. go to your favorite place whether it be starbucks, caribou, or even your own home and enjoy christmas in a cup.

trust me it is a relaxing moment.

so, what did you get?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 7: Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipe

what is your favorite christmas cookie recipe?

okay- mind isn't a traditional christmas cookie recipe but i usually make it around christmas time:

oatmeal scotchies.

cooking time: 10 to 12 minutes

servings: 40 cookies

preparation time: 15 to 20 minutes

1c. soft butter
2 eggs
1teas. water
3/4c. brown sugar
3/4c. granulated sugar
1 1/4c. flour
1teas. baking soda
1teas. baking powder
1teas. salt
3c. of quick cooking oats
1 pkg. butterscotch chips
1/2 teas. orange extract

beat butter, sugar, eggs, and water until creamy. combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. add to butter mixture. mix in oats, chips, and orange extract.

put on greased cookie sheets. bake at 375* for 10 to 12 minutes. makes four dozen cookies.

yum. yum. yum.

what is your favorite christmas cookie recipe? feel free to share.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day 6: Christmas Ornament

christmas ornaments are special. most of them have a special meaning and i love that. when joseph and i got married, our parents gave us our ornaments that we both accumulated over the years. from our first ornament to joseph's 20+ horse ornaments to all my music ones.

joseph and i just started a fun tradition with ornaments this year - we both are giving one another a special ornament to open on christmas morning. something that represents us or that person over the year.

this year i bought our new ornament:

so, go out and buy or hey, even MAKE a new ornament (for you crafters out there) for your tree this year that represents 2010 for you. last year, it was our first christmas together so i got this cheesy one:
what type of ornament are you going to get? did you travel somewhere and want to represent that? maybe it is your first christmas together? or a new baby? or like us, you bought a house? what was the highlight of 2010 and put an ornament on the tree that represents that. it will be great to look back in a few years to see what 2010 meant to you.

so, what kind of ornament did you get or are you getting?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day 5: 1st Sunday of Advent. Love.

this is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. this is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:9-11

reflect on this verse today. God humbly came to the earth as a baby to ultimately die for our sins. this is love.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Day Four: Christmas Decorations

okay, it is december 4th. i hope you put up your christmas decorations! if not, what the heck is taking you so long? you only have about 20 more days to enjoy the christmas festivities.

it is our first christmas in our new home, so this is my first time decorating an entire house.

just like everything "christmas" i love decorating for christmas. from the tree, to the lights, to just putting a lil' of my personal style in the way i decorate.

i just think it is fun to do something different to your home for about a month.

so what does your home look like for christmas? do you put up something special? do you have a certain style?

here are a few pictures of the snare home this christmas season:



snowflakes @ night

bay window decorations.

our new stockings and small tree downstairs

oh, christmas tree. oh, christmas tree.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Day 3: Watch your Favorite Christmas Movie

yesterday we did songs, today - movies. :)

so, what is your favorite
christmas movie? i know . . . sooo many good ones to choose from. don't worry, i have more than one favorite. anyway, today is a good day to go find your favorite one and watch it. we are suppose to get our first fairly decent snow tonight so it is a perfect moment to bring a little christmas into your life.

here are a few of my favorites:

christmas: "snow.snow.snow.snow!" i just love all the singing and dancing. nerd alert.

home alone: classic. plus, it is filmed in
chicago. one of kyle's favorites, too. "keep the change, you dirty animal"

elf: my favorite "newer"
christmas flick. "Santa! I know him!"

christmas vacation: watched this so many times growing up. why? its dano's favorite movie. "clark, i'm gonna get ya somethin' real nice."

its a wonderful life: wanna watch a tear
jerker? this ones for you. LOVE this movie, so does my mother. "every time a bell rings an angel gets it's wings."

so, grab some popcorn, or some hot
chocoate. stay in your pjs and just start the christmas season off right and watch a good 'ol christmas film.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Day 2: Christmas Music

Fa La La La La, La, La, La, La!

okay - danielle 101: i LOVE christmas music.

well, i am not the type to start listening in september, but i do enjoy turning on the festive tunes right around thanksgiving. however, joseph, uh, not so much. so, that somewhat hinders my time listening to it. good thing i love him more... ;)

not sure what it is about christmas music - lyrics, melodies, it all encompasses pure joy!

so, here it is, a few of my all time favorite christmas albums/songs:

1. silent night - classic for sure. any version. any singer.
2. mariah carey - seriously?! who doesn't love this album. all i want for christmas is you? can i get an amen on this one? ;)
3. amy grant - home for christmas. grew up on this album. breath of heaven? yes, please.
4. instrumental christmas music. no lyrics, just instruments, especially piano. smile.
5. over the rhine christmas music. what i love about them is their christmas music is sooo different, but i am soooo in love with it. check them out. it is worth your time.

what are yours? i am always up for new christmas albums in my library.

need a little christmas boost today? go to pandora and make a christmas station - my recommendation: amy grant or mariah carey. great mixes.
p.s. want to listen to the worst/funniest o holy night?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mk4woNRD7NQ

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Day 1: Christmas Traditions

do you have a christmas tradition? if so, what is it? i am curious to know! i love traditions and i love christmas so i double love christmas traditions.

my side of the family carries on many traditions - one in fact, is my favorite and i absolutely loved as a kid. simple, but here it is: we would sit on top of the stairs on christmas morning. as a surprise to many, my brothers, sisters, and i were not the kids to run downstairs, peek, and wake everyone up at 5:00 A.M. to open presents. shocking, yes. but it probably was due to the fact that we would have gotten in serious trouble or a spanking or would be threatened that we wouldn't get any of our gifts. (gasp!) Or more than likely, the fact that we would be at our grandma's house until midnight on christmas eve so sleeping in wasn't even a question as little kids.

so yes, every christmas morning, we would get up around 9:00 A.M. and with the sound of the heater and christmas music coming from the basement - the four of us would wait patiently at the top of the stairs until our parents called us down to see what "santa" brought us that christmas.

this probably seems silly to you - but we talk about it all the time. no, we no longer do this ;) but it was such a fun moment. the anticipation, the wondering, the sleepy eyes, the smells and sounds of christmas, the giddy laughter -- this moment will always have a place in my heart and goes down as probably my favorite christmas tradition.

however, since then, i started my own little family. joseph and i. and it is fun to start new traditions. my new favorite tradition with my husband is cutting down our christmas tree. i grew up with a fake tree so when i married into a real tree family. well, the real tree won.

besides the million pine needles i have to so graciously and joyously sweep or vacuum up every day, the smells and experience far outweighs the needles.

this past weekend, joseph and i ventured about an hour and half northwest to a fun christmas tree farm in rockton, il. we got on a tractor ride and took us to find our perfect tree. after searching and searching, we stumbled upon the perfect spruce tree! (well, i think it is a spruce).

we got our handy, dandy hand saw and sawed that tree down. here are some pics:

joseph did most of the work, clearly. after we paid for it and got it in the truck we ventured back home and into the house - and now it stands loud and proud in our living room all lite up and decorated. great tradition and i can't wait to keep it going year after year (hopefully with children one day!)

so, what's your favorite christmas tradition? love to hear about it!