All I Want for Christmas Is…

All_I_Want_For_Christmas_Is

As far as I’m concerned I don’t need a single present under the tree or even a piece of coal in my stocking. While both are appreciated, my soul is set on a few other goodies. Not necessarily things to be wrapped, but much-needed gifts. Join us during the month of December as we explore several blessings we’d love to receive this Christmas.

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There is so much about this season which is wonderful. Cheerful music follows us wherever we go. Sweets and goodies are everywhere. Twinkling lights and trees are magical. Family comes together, and friends make a point of reconnecting. But, let’s face it, underneath all the glamour and sparkle lies a subtle message. You need this to be happy. You must have this to make Christmas complete. How can we call this Christmas if we aren’t participating in said activity? While none of these things are wrong, I want to be careful that my desire to have does not outweigh a heart of thanks for what is already received. This Christmas, the first item on my wish list is simply a grateful heart.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. But it’s not magical because of the multitude of reasons listed above or the many I could have overwhelmed you with. Christmas is a miracle because of why we celebrate. The birth of our Savior. If we sift through all the shimmer floating on top and get to the gem inside, there lies our reason for the season. Jesus Christ. When I put aside what I see, hear, and smell – lovely as they might be – and focus on the real value of Christmas, I cannot help but be grateful. I am so loved by the Creator of the world that He sent His Son. I am cared for, redeemed, and have a place in heaven. I have been given health, family, friends, and a home. There is much to be thankful for.

Perhaps you might be thinking, “Of course you can be content with gratefulness, Cristina. I’ve seen your Instagram posts, after all. You can’t possibly know what I’m going through.” Oh, my friend, hear me out. While I do not know the details, I truly understand. My mother struggled as the only provider and single parent for years. Some Christmases the only reason we had a tree is because one was given; our presents were cute pencils and pads of paper. Even as an adult there have been years when the Dollar Tree has been my best friend and putting a roof over our children’s heads stretched us to almost breaking. Now, not every year was that rough; true. But one thing I’ve learned, both through my incredible mother and adulthood, is that how we choose to view our circumstances is a matter of the heart. Even when it might have seemed like we had “nothing”, we had everything. We learned to be content and grateful wherever the Lord had us because we had what we needed. Jesus Christ.

This Christmas, while enjoying the beautiful sights and sounds, my fondest desire is be filled with gratefulness. My heart is for the Lord to remove anything which prevents me from seeing His beauty and provision; leaving room only for Himself. May my life be overflowing with gratefulness so I may pour out His love to the world around me, continually singing His praise.

We’d like to know… What are you most thankful for this season?

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
~ Philippians 4:11-13

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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No matter where you live, no matter where life finds you, there is always something to be thankful for.

May the Lord bless you and yours always. May He richly fill you with His presence, peace, joy, hope, and love. May He speak to you in the quiet and chaos of the day. For all His gifts, may we be truly thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!
~Cristina

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Happy New Year!

Happy_New_Year

We’re not sure what the night holds, or what God has in store for this coming season, but may we be among the first to wish you a Happy New Year.
May the Lord continue to keep us, bless us, and use us for His glory wherever this new adventure leads.
Happy New Year from our family to yours!

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'”
Jeremiah 29:11

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Merry Christmas!

Nativity

If you’re reading, may we wish you a Merry Christmas. May the true reason for today’s celebration be evident in your home, and meaningful to your heart. We pray blessings over your day and all the days to come.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Happy_Anniversary

Forgive me for keeping it especially short and sweet, but I’m too busy enjoying this special day. Today, my husband and I are celebrating our eighteenth wedding anniversary!

Wow; I don’t know where all the years have gone. It seems like just yesterday we were getting married and then having our first baby. Eighteen years later, we have four kids and have been homeschooling for over fifteen. While the journey hasn’t always been a breeze, it has been rewarding and memorable.

For all the years we have been blessed, may we be truly thankful. For all the Lord continues to do in our marriage and through our family, may we be appreciative. The Lord has been good.

Your Turn!: How many years have you been married?

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Celebrating the True Meaning of Easter!

CG_Easter_logoAside from Christmas, Easter is the most significant holiday for Christians. This is more than just an opportunity collect eggs, wear cute bunny ears, and hoard candy. Easter is amazing, redeeming grace. For our family, this is a time to put aside outside responsibilities and simply focus on the true meaning of this holy week. From this Sunday till next, we will focus on all things Easter.

It is our desire to use this week not only for encouraging our family, but to learn from yours! Join us as we focus on the true meaning of this special holiday. We hope to share some of our favorite games, activities, crafts, and recipes which all point towards Christ and His love for us.

Easter Fun: Easter Week Begins
Easter Fun: Resurrection Eggs
Easter Fun: Books
Easter Fun: Egg Decorating
Easter Fun: Resurrection Garden
Easter Fun: Resurrection Rolls

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,”
~ John 11:25

Time to Chime In! : What is your family’s favorite homeschool resource for learning the true meaning of Easter?

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The Radiance of the Glory of God

Whats_in_a_NameWhat’s in a name? A name is more than just something by which we are called; in a sense, it is our reputation. Did you know there are a multitude of names for God? 

Each name unique and powerful; the list is endless. Join us on this exciting adventure through Scripture, where we will learn some amazing verses, talk about how those verses should affect our lives, and discuss some practical ways to make these names “real”.

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“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”

~ Hebrews 1:3

What must it be like, being so holy that even looking upon your face would mean death? Being unholy creatures, the radiance of the glory of God is truly remarkable. God is beyond anything we could possibly imagine.

Devotion – In Exodus 33, Moses asked God if he could see His face. The Lord replied that He would go before His people; He would allow Moses to see his goodness, but to look upon the face of God would have meant death. Here in Hebrews, we are reminded that Christ is the radiance of the glory of God; He is the brilliant ‘light’ which reflects all that is Godly.

“There is surrounding God a glorious brilliance. The glory of God so bright that man cannot perceive it. Brilliant to see; a light unapproachable by man we are told, this shining forth of God. In heaven we’re not going to need any light of the sun or the moon, for the Lamb shall be the light. The glory, the outshining of God, through Jesus Christ will light up heaven. There’ll just be a glow about everything. Everything will just be glowing as you get there. Glowing with the presence of God, the Shekinah of God that lit the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle in the Old Testament.”

– Chuck Smith, C2000 Series on Hebrews 1-2

Activity – To better help our children understand the radiance of Christ, now would be the perfect time to do a mini-study on the sun and light! How does light work and how do objects reflect that brilliance? As Christians this would also be a good opportunity to discuss how we are to reflect the glory of God. While we are not perfect ‘mirrors’ of His love and goodness, we can shine for His glory and reflect a glimmer of His essence to the world.

For hands-on application, order Sun Paper and make imprints! (Bringing the children back to our verse in Hebrews.) Have the children pick any object which light cannot penetrate, place it on your sun paper, and watch the fun begin.

Prayer – Father in Heaven, Your glory is beyond anything we could imagine. We long to be in Your presence daily, and have Yourself made known to us. Be with us now and always. Help us to shine for You, in a world desperately in need of Light. Amen

🎄Time to Chime In: Where has the Lord asked you to shine His light this Christmas?

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King of Kings

Whats_in_a_NameWhat’s in a name? A name is more than just something by which we are called; in a sense, it is our reputation. Did you know there are a multitude of names for God? 

Each name unique and powerful; the list is endless. Join us on this exciting adventure through Scripture, where we will learn some amazing verses, talk about how those verses should affect our lives, and discuss some practical ways to make these names “real”.

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“And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.’”

~ Revelation 19:16

Humans seem to have a fascination with royalty. We like to watch them, emulate them, and own a piece of them. We get caught up in the lifestyles of those whose lives seem slightly above our own; a station we can only dream of obtaining. Here in Revelation, we are reminded Christ is King. Not only is He a King, but the King of all kings. There is no one He looks up to, admires, or emulates. He is the end all, be all, of royalty.

Devotion – As the King of all, God has power over everyone and everything. The heavens declare His glory and the world is His handiwork. He has but to speak and immediately things happen. Now, what earthly king can say the same?

What makes this even more special, is that while He has power to command, He still wants us to choose Him. He will not force Himself upon us or insist we love Him. He wishes for us to come to Him on our own; loving Him of our own free will. Wow; the King of kings wants me!

If Christ is the King of all kings, what does this mean for me? Well, if I have accepted His
awesome gift of love and believe in His redeeming grace, this makes me royalty, too! When we accept Christ as our Savior, we become a part of His family; we become His children. If He is the King of kings, then, my friend, we become princes and princesses. I guess I can keep the tiara!

Activity – As usual, we want to bring this home for our kids, so we’ll spend time talking about royalty and crowns. We’ll discuss our relationship with the King of all and how much our King loves us. Then, set about some crafting….

Apple-Cinnamon Ornaments

1 cup apple sauce
1 cup cinnamon

parchment paper
string
pencil/stick
glitter glue or other embellishments

Mix equal portions of each ingredient (use more if you plan to make more ornaments, but the amount shown will actually make quite a bit). Roll out dough onto parchment paper; using cookie cutters, make shapes with dough; using straw or pencil, poke hole for ribbon to fit through; allow ornaments to dry either overnight or in an oven on low temperature (we used 300º). Once ornaments are dry, decorate and hang!

For our ornaments, we’ll use a crown cookie cutter. It fits into our lesson and makes the event more fun. The house will smell lovely! We usually end up making more than anticipated, so we’ll give some away to family as well.

Prayer – God, our King, we give You all honor and glory. May You rule in our hearts always, and be the leader of our lives. Amen

🎄Time to Chime In: Share with us your favorite scent of Christmas!

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Angelina Ballerina’s Christmas Crafts

Whats_in_a_NameWhat’s in a name? A name is more than just something by which we are called; in a sense, it is our reputation. Did you know there are a multitude of names for God? 

Each name unique and powerful; the list is endless. Join us on this exciting adventure through Scripture, where we will learn some amazing verses, talk about how those verses should affect our lives, and discuss some practical ways to make these names “real”.

……

“Here are some ideas for holiday baking and crafts for you to do with a parent… don’t worry if yours looks different – the memory of doing something together is what makes each activity special.
~ Angelina

What’s in a name? Just saying the name “Angelina Ballerina” conjures images of little girls in tutus prancing around the dance studio and books littering our living room floors. Our girls were massive fans of the book series, the mouse herself, and all things ballet.

Our second book recommendation in the ‘What’s In a Name‘ series is Angelina Ballerina’s Christmas Crafts. If you, or your children, have enjoyed the traditional series, we know you’ll want to read this book as well. Angelina_Ballerina's_Christmas_Crafts

Twenty-five crafts and baking activities await the family. (One for each day of December ’till Christmas!) Each activity is complete with step-by-step instructions, a photo of what the finished product should look like, and adorable quotes from Angelina herself.

A few of our favorites are the Soap Snowmouse, the Snow Palace, Shining Star Ornaments, and Sweet Spice Ornaments. There are so many great activities to choose from. Following along with one activity per day is the perfect way to make sure none get missed.

Christmas might be almost upon us, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying this book. Find a copy and let the fun begin. Don’t forget! Join us each Friday during our ‘What’s In a Name’ series as we review favorite Christmas tales!

🎄Time to Chime In: Name your favorite Christmas craft!

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The Light of the World

Whats_in_a_NameWhat’s in a name? A name is more than just something by which we are called; in a sense, it is our reputation. Did you know there are a multitude of names for God? Each name unique and powerful; the list is endless.

Join us on this exciting adventure through Scripture, where we will learn some amazing verses, talk about how those verses should affect our lives, and discuss practical ways to make these names “real”.

……

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
~ John 8:12

I dislike the dark. I don’t like going into any area where I can’t see what’s in front of me. When light isn’t possible, I need someone to hold my hand and lead me to our intended destination or I’ll go running through the darkness in an attempt to find light with no clue of where I’m actually going.

I find it comforting that here, in John, we are given yet another name for Christ: the Light of the world. Christ is our Light. Before we knew Him, we were walking in darkness; not knowing the dangers which lurked around us and unable to find our way. With Christ in our lives, we are now able to see the path clearly laid before us. We are able to walk in Him, having no fear of what lies ahead.

The Light of the World

Discussion – Christmas is the perfect opportunity to share this name with our children. Lights surround us no matter where we go. In our home, we not only put lights on our tree, but in our children’s rooms as well. We surround them with warm, comforting light which brings joy to their hearts.

Activity – During Christmas, let’s make memories by visiting Christmas lights, hanging some of our own, or perhaps lighting a few candles. If we want to be really crafty, we might consider making our own!

To add flair to our candles, we can decoupage them with Christmas napkins or cover them with epsom salt! Both are very easy to do and a fun activity for the kiddos. If we have mod-lodge on hand (either made or store-bought), we ‘paint’ the candle with mod-lodge and roll the candle in epsom salt. This looks very wintry and has a beautiful affect. To decoupage, we ‘paint’ our candle with mod-lodge and then carefully place cuttings from pretty Christmas napkins onto the candle.

Prayer – Jesus, thank you for being my Light and a Light to my children. Shine in their hearts, revealing Yourself to them. Draw them to You. May we, as parents, be a shining example of Your glory and goodness in their lives. And may You use us to reach the world in Your name. Amen

Let us remember that Christ came into the world to be our Light and to lead us into a restored relationship with God. It is because of Him that we can be a light in the world, sharing the good news of His love and His desire to be their Light as well.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
~ Matthew 5:16

🎄Time to Chime In: What is your favorite scented candle?

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