Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Celebrating at Our House ~ Part One

Holiday preparations are certainly shaping up at our home.  Presents are bought and decorating almost completely done.  I have always been one to start my decorating early...I like to enjoy the white lights as long as I possibly can.  Over the years, the ways in which we have celebrated Christmas has changed pretty dramatically.  It is a pleasant thing to see the ways in which the Lord has personally led our family to worship.  I guess I have always had a problem with the commercialism tied to Christmas.  It seems this time of year things are about anything but Christ.  Even in many of our churches, we have so many activities tied to the Christmas season, that it becomes an exhausting scramble from one party, sing, cookie exchange, ornament exchange, etc. to another.  I find it ironic that our Lord chose to be born in an out of the way fanfare, no party...just a quiet stable in Bethlehem.  Is it any wonder that He says, "Be still and know that I am God."

When my husband and I first got married, we always knew when we had children that there would be no Santa Claus done in our home.  Both of us had already come to that conclusion even before marriage...which is a really great thing...there wasn't even the temptation for an argument over the man in the red suit.  I remember finding out as a child that Santa did not exist.  It was actually pretty tough on me because I knew that I had actually been told a lie.  When I found out about Santa...all the other imaginary figures in my life crumpled at the same time.  The Easter bunny and the tooth fairy certainly couldn't be real either.  It made Christmas a downer for me.  Oh, I had always been told about Christ, but He didn't have the same "excitement" for a small child as the man who rode around in the sleigh with 8 reindeer (well, 9 if you count Rudolph) and gave out gifts to good little boys and girls.  I would stay up late at night looking out my window hoping to get a glimpse of Rudolph's red nose or to catch the sound of the jingle bells on the sleigh.  Then...public school came along and all these kids started talking about how Santa wasn't real, it was really just my Mom and Dad.  I was crushed.  Then, when I grew up and became a Christian, I made up my mind that my children would not hear of Santa in our home...they would only know him like they knew any other make-believe person.  Christmas would only and ever be about the birth of Christ.  And we would thank Him for any gift we ever got...He is the One after all that enables us to get or buy anything.  Have my children suffered for not believing in Santa?  Absolutely not.  They have thanked us many times for not telling them about him.  When we used to open gifts on Christmas Eve, my husband would first read the account of the birth of Christ from Luke, then we would pray and thank the Lord for the gifts He enabled us to get that year.  It was very special to see the children thankful unto God for their presents, rather than an imaginary Santa Claus.  Our children have never suffered from thinking there is no Santa.  Amazingly, the hardest opposition has been from well-meaning family and friends who felt we were "ruining" Christmas for our children because we did not tell them about Santa.  I never understood the logic that somehow Christmas was ruined because we focused more on Christ.  I think what is hardest for people is to question their traditions and to give those be looked at as "those" know the people you think are a little weird, but you smile at them anyway.  I thought we were radical enough with that one...but over the years the Lord has changed our view of Christmas celebrating even more...if you think we're odd for not doing Santa...stay tuned...more to follow...and to many, it makes the Santa Claus thing look pretty mild!  But oh, how it has enriched our family and how we celebrate the Savior!  Until next time...God bless!

Friday, November 26, 2010


I hope and pray that all my American blogging friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday.  I enjoyed so much reading all your wonderful comments on my last post about teaching our children to give.  You have inspired me in many other ways to further our giving as a family.  For that, I thank you.  I also wanted to say that I am thankful for each and everyone of you who faithfully visit my blog and leave your lovely comments.  The Lord has used you all so often to encourage me in the faith and to just make me smile.  We had a lovely Thanksgiving here.  It was just our family and my dear sweet mother...but the time was lovely, quiet and refreshing...Okay, maybe not too quiet with five lively children!  We had our traditional Fowler family meal with made from scratch mashed potatoes and gravy, a 13 pound free range turkey, sweet potato souffle, corn, and whole wheat rolls.  Yum!  It was once again a great opportunity to thank the Lord for all His bountiful blessings to us.  Of course, a heart of thankfulness should never be assigned to a specific day, but rather a lifestyle.  I am so very thankful for the husband he has graced me with, the five beautiful blessings of my children that make my life more meaningful, my dear mother who constantly gives of herself over and over in our lives in too many ways to name, my friends who make life sweeter, and most importantly my Savior who made this life worth living and will make the next life perfect joy!  And once again, thank you my blogging friends!  I truly am thankful for you all!   

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Teaching Our Children to Give

It seems like an odd topic, especially with the holidays right around the corner. How do we teach our children to give?  How do we instill in them what the Bible says, that it is more blessed to give than to receive?  The way most people seem to be frantically shopping for the newest and latest toy or fad that their children want, it seems like a foreign concept.  But, as Christians, it is our duty to teach Biblical principles, rather than wordly ones.  I am always amazed that people say they are worshipping the Christ-child at Christmastime, yet how many people ever give Him a gift?  How do we worship Christ and continue to amass things to ourselves?  People in stores just get more and more selfish and frustrated.  They push and shove and even fight one another to get the latest technological gadget.  How do we model a different way of giving?  First of all, I will tell you that our family does not have all the answers.  We do not have it all wrapped up.  We are simply sinners saved by grace, and nothing more.  These are some of the ways we try to teach giving to our children.  God may lead your family to approach it differently. 

1)  Giving must be taught year round.  It is not enough to give gifts to others at Christmas or should be a way of life for a Christian.  How much of your income goes to helping orphans, widows, the persecuted church, your home church?  These things are a way of life, not a one-time splurge when the mood hits.  Christian living is sacrificial living.  How about sponsoring a child from Compassion?  How about making bags of essentials for persecuted Christians who have lost everything for naming the name of Christ?  What about giving monthly to an organization that has blessed your family and needs the funds to further their ministries...Lamplighter, Vision Forum, etc.  A tenth of our tithe is the minimum requirement...what about giving more?  And that tenth should be before the government takes our money for taxes.  God comes first.  He should never get the leftovers.  We have chosen as a family to sponsor three children through Compassion International in Africa.  We allowed our children to choose the sponsored children.  They chose the ones who had been waiting the longest for a sponsor and who were in the AIDS infested areas of Africa.  My oldest daughter has freely given money given to her to help these children.  Showing our children what other children around the world are facing makes them understand their blessings, as well as their responsibilities to help others in the name of Christ.

2)  We give regularly to the persecuted church.  We pray for Christians being persecuted in other places because of their faith.  We receive the Voice of the Martyrs magazine and the children see what it means to name the name of Christ.  They realize how much we take for granted in this Western culture of ours.  It is a good reminder. 

3)  We limit what our children see by way of magazines and such.  We do not do TV, so they are not bombarded with the latest commercials for toys and such.  But, we cannot stop people from sending those free catalogs around this time  of year that is chocked full of toys.  So, most times before they enter the house, they are thrown away.  We choose the catalogs they view.  Right now those consist of Vision Forum, Lamplighter,  and Keepers of the Faith. 

These are just a few of the ways we try to instill giving in our children.  And we have begun to see fruit of those labors.  Another by product of this is that our children don't ask for expensive gifts and my problem is usually trying to think of something to get them because they do not ask for much.  My oldest daugther (14) has asked for a journal, books (such as Joyfully at Home) and a small purse.  My son (9) has asked for a $12 pop gun from Vision Forum, a police coloring book and he wants to learn how to play chess.  My daughter (7) wants some Betsy-Tacy books and a journal.  My son (6) wants deodorant (to be like Daddy), chapstick and a $12 pop gun.  And my youngest (4) wants a stuffed guinea pig, a drawing pad, a housecoat and a $12 pop gun!!!  She tells me she is going hunting with the boys!  What a blessing it is to get a list such as this! May we as mothers continue to teach our children that it is truly better to give then to receive.  The best way to do this is always by modeling.  May the Lord teach us to be givers...what better way to show the world the love of Christ today and everyday!

Monday, November 15, 2010

What's Been Happening in My Absence?

If case you were wondering what was going on over at our house in my blogging absence...I thought I would give you a little glimpse.  Although I have been a little silent lately, I assure you it is not because things have been uneventful.  We have been very busy with the day to day...and I thought maybe more pictures and fewer words would tell the story a little what have we been doing?

Taking long walks on beautiful days....

Taking advantage of the lovely springlike weather for some fresh air and play...
Playing family of our favorites...Blokus!
School continues faithfully...

Very small bits of decorating can be seen here and there...

Training children....

Music playing, singing and listening...

Colossal messes cleaned up... (and in case you are wondering...Joanna was wondering how well the bag of arrowroot powder would juggle...this picture does not do it justice...there was powder everywhere!)

Silly faces made...

More silly faces made...

Enough said about that one...

God's creation appreciated...

Smiles and love and Bible reading...and the list goes on.  Hoping your week is a great one too!  God bless!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Great Gift Idea

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge (Public Television Storytime Books)
Most of you that have followed my blog, know that I have a thing for books...children's books, cookbooks, craft books...and especially spiritually edifying books.  This is one of my all-time favorite children's books!  It would make a great gift for any child on your list.  It is the story of a little boy named Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge who lives by a nursing home.  He goes and visits the patients there, but his absolute favorite person is an elderly lady who also has four names just like he does.  She is losing her memory.  Gordon doesn't understand what a memory is so he goes and asks the other friends there in the nursing home.  They give him some sweet answers, and still not fully understanding, Gordon goes and gathers precious things he owns to take to his friend to help get her memory back.  What happens next is even sweeter...but I won't give it away because I don't want to spoil the surprise.  It made me tear up a little bit myself!  So, if you have a young one on your list that you need to buy for...or you want to add to your own home library...I highly recommend this book.  I like the fact that it promotes respect for elderly people.  That it shows a precious relationship with this boy and the residents in the nursing home.  It is very well written.
I do have one disclaimer about it though.  There is a part where one older gentleman was known for telling Gordon "scary" stories.  We personally do not condone scaring we just blacked out the word "scary" and it read that he told him stories.  If you want to preview it first, check it out from the library first.  I think you will like it. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Simple Fall Pleasures

 Fall is definitely one of my favorite times of the year.  I love to see all the beautiful colors that the Lord uses to make this season special.  The leaves turning, the crispness in the air, the feeling one gets when curling up in a warm blanket and sipping on some homemade hot chocolate.  Ah, how warm and cozy it all feels.  There's nothing like getting under a homemade afghan on a cool night with little children on either side of me and reading them their favorite books. 

Here are a few glimpses of autumn inside our home.  The older I get, the more I like praticality mixed with beauty in my decorating.  Some of the items that bring me the greatest feeling of home is seeing food beautifully displayed.  It is useable and beautiful.  The top of my buffet holds three Montana hocking jars with two types of sucanat and onewith beans.  I put simple, inexpensive coffee mugs in each to scoop out the goodies inside when I need them and to look nice when I do not.

I added a simple fall garland and small gourds, pumpkins and squash I picked up from the commissary.
Here it is from a distance flanked by lamps ridiculously cheap at a store that was going out of business and an oil painting that I paid about one-fourth of the original price by getting it on craigslist! 
I like white lights at night.  They make me smile.  So, I keep up this small fir tree year round and change out the decorations for different seasons.  These were fall picks purchased at Hobby Lobby for 50% off. The things I like the most in my home are the ones I waited to purchase frugally.  Here's wishing you a beautiful fall season!  May you grow closer to Him as you appreciate more and more the beauty He has placed all around you!