A Visit With Friends!

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In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, sometimes I forget how important it is to spend time with friends.  A recent visit from friends brought this fact to the top of my awareness bubble.  It was so sweet to just sit and relax and visit.  Even though the visit felt like it ended too soon, it was such a blessing!

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I am surrounded by people every day, all day, but what I don’t do enough is just embrace special moments with those people.  I get so wrapped up in what ‘needs’ to be done that I forget what really matters. Taking the time to absorb life rather than just doing life.  There is just something about an absolutely adorable, sleeping baby that makes these realizations surface.  Isn’t he cute!

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Think of how you feel when you see a beautiful smile on a friends face.  It’s like a little ray of sunshine piercing through the window, making the whole room brighter!

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My favorite part of having friends with kids is the atmosphere.  I remember my parents being distraught when we had friends over and wholly expected to feel that way as an adult as well, but I don’t. There is so much life and humor in these kids, that I can’t imagine a life without them.  I love their laughter, excitement over tiny things, corny jokes, and silly stories.  It’s a priceless addition to living!

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Life… Drink it all in…

Proverbs 27:9
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.

True Friends Strengthen and Help Each Other 
Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (NLT)

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Here’s to visiting with friends!

~Angie~

Memorable Yet Inexpensive Gifts!

   Do you ever sit back and watch all the commercials on t.v. around the holidays and think to yourself, “One day, I will buy gifts like that for Christmas.” or “I wish I had the money to buy that perfect gift!”  Well, know that you are NOT alone.  Many times I have sat and pondered the perfect gift to show just how much I love my family member and every time I imagine their fingers trembling as they open my gift (which is wrapped perfectly, of course), peeling their eyes away just long enough to shoot me a dashing smile because they know that I know that they know I have just given them the perfect gift!  They go back to anxiously  tearing the perfect wrapping paper off the perfect gift box and open it with a gasp! “Angie! It’s absolutely wonderful!” they shout as they clutch it to their chest!

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   Then… I look at the items in my cart that have absolutely no sentimental or emotional attachment and I know, once again, I have settled for gifts that people could just as easily buy while waiting in line to purchase their toilet paper.  Sigh…

   Guess what?… I have a solution for you!

   For all you aching souls out there, trying to find a way to creatively provide a unique gift that will bring smiles and sometimes even tears (of joy, silly) to your loved one’s faces this Christmas, I have made a little list for you that has been working beautifully over the last few years for me! 

   AND… You can still pay the power bill!

For Men

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  • Gift Cards – Men love getting gift cards! If you know their favorite coffee spot, that is a good option, but otherwise, just purchase one for a store you know they frequent.  Parts store, Hardware Store, Convenience Store, etc.  
  • Coffee Mug filled with treats –  Masculine mugs are available at most stores and you can even get ones with sayings on/in them at most Christian Family and Specialty stores. Fill them with your guys favorite candy or baked goods.
  • FOOD –  The saying, “The quickest way to a man’s heart is through his belly.” Was not a joke.  Guys LOVE getting food. If your guy is watching his diet for health reasons, this would not be a good option, but for all others… this is a win win gift!  Don’t like to bake?  Go buy him some nuts or jerky or ask a friend to make up those cookies he loved at the bbq last Summer.  Think OUTSIDE of the box!
  • Deck of cards – If your guy likes to play games, he will appreciate a new set of cards.  Buy a couple and stack them up with a few printed out game rules so he can start playing right away.
  • I Owe You’s – Have fun with these by making them things he would see as a real gift such as… One day free from taking out the garbage, back massage, wear your favorite dress, go for a walk, run you a bath, wash the car, etc. Make them interesting but not things that are mood dependent so to speak.
  • Car cleaning kits – If your guy is a car guy, car cleaning kits are always a hit. You don’t have to buy the super expensive set up.  You can get a bucket and fill it with car cleaning tools for pretty cheap.  Throw in a couple air fresheners!
  • Make a blanket – The fleece tie blankets are a hit!  They are comfortable, SO simple, and there are hundreds of prints out there to choose from!  Guys AND girls can easily make these and guys AND girls both love getting them!  
  • Trees – Depending on where you live and where they live, trees have a real personal touch and are not only productive but they last.  Trees represent life and just make people happy.  Don’t forget to attach a paper offering to come help plant it!

 

For Women

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  • A photograph or painting in a nice frame –  A beautiful frame is easy to find even at places as inexpensive as the dollar stores. Especially if you have children, loved ones really enjoy getting pictures when they don’t have to find a frame!
  • Decorative Recipe Cards – For anyone who bakes or cooks even somewhat regularly, recipe cards are always handy!  Who doesn’t love jotting down recipes from their favorite magazine or show?  Don’t forget to include your favorite recipe for them to try!
  • Book Marks – Homemade or not, these are great gifts for the reader in your family!  No more ripping magazine corners or tissues to save your spot!  Besides, every time they pick up their book to read, they will think of you. 🙂
  • Plants – potted plants are a fun gift and doubling it up with a decorative pot is a great way to liven it up a bit.
  • Bird feeders – If your girl loves birds than give her something to feed them from.  You could even make one yourself.  Don’t forget to attach a paper saying you will hang it for her! And some birdseed!
  • Gift Card for a spa – Women love being pampered, even if they think it isn’t necessary and this is just the way to tell her you love her and want her around for real. If you want to get real creative, put enough on there that she can bring a friend with her.
  • Scrapbook with pictures of you together – This is great for every woman.  You don’t have to be talented or super creative, just write below each picture where you were together and a specific thing you enjoyed about that day.  Great for a spouse, mom, daughter, sister, niece, grandmother, etc.
  • Journal – In a high tech world, sometimes we forget to write down our thoughts.  Tell your loved one that their thoughts are important to keep track of.  Don’t forget to write a message of encouragement in the front!
  • Fun Water bottle or coffee mug filled with candy or sweet messages – You can even have photo mugs made super cheap at Wal-Mart!  Just upload your pics you want on the mug, chose your colors and they will mail it straight to you! Also, Christian family and Specialty stores carry them with super fun messages already printed on them.
  • Make a blanket – The fleece tie blankets are a hit!  They are comfortable, SO simple, and there are hundreds of prints out there to choose from!  Guys AND girls can easily make these and guys AND girls both love getting them!  

   It’s not about finding the perfect gift as it is, saying “I love you and I know you and I want to know that you know that I know you know, I’m thinking of you.” Something I have learned over the last few years is that making it clear to your friends and family that you can’t spend much on Christmas is totally okay! A lot of families are setting price limits on gifts to ensure there is no awkwardness.  Some families draw names which allows them to spend a little more on one gift rather than purchase several inexpensive gifts.  But the point is to have fun, be creative and be personal!  You are making memories here!!!

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   I hope this makes your gift giving experience a little more fun and a lot less stressful! Happy gift-giving!

 

Blessings!

Angie

 

What is YOUR favorite gift idea? 

 

 

Santa or no Santa

“Do you want me to tell Santa how bad you’ve been?”  should have been my first clue to the truth considering that it was usually followed by, “He knows whether you’ve been bad or good.”

As a child, I believed in Santa Claus… did you?  I know… there are a lot of really great stories out there about who he was and what he did… I am not talking about the dead Saint Nicholas and all that.  I am asking, as a child, did you believe that Santa Claus was not only alive, but lived at the North Pole, had elves and reindeer and flew in on a sleigh???

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I believed with all my heart and when I confronted my parents after learning at 7 years old… they denied that he wasn’t real and even then, couldn’t bear to tell me the truth.  What is it in a parent that makes us dread that moment of telling our kids that there really is no Santa? Guilt? Denial that our kids are so smart? Refusal to give up that special part of Christmas?

My parents did not see eye to eye about many things and neither were ever willing to accept their parts in a marriage going bad, which led to divorce when I was 5 years old.  They agreed on one thing, in my eyes, Santa.  So I asked Santa to please bring my parents back together and I just KNEW he would.

I believed everything my parents said.  I believed that picking your nose could cause brain damage and I believed that if I crossed my eyes, they would one day stick that way… And I believed that Santa was going to bring my parents back together. I believed all these little ‘white lies’ that my parents said and the reveal of the truths as I got older, made me not only see my parents as successful liars but also unreliable people to come to for truths in general. The impact was not pretty for me.  I felt deceived and hurt and suddenly, very lonely.   False hope.

Christmas was still a joyous time for me, even in that time, but it always seemed like it was missing something. There was a special something that came with the belief in Santa and it was missing.  I think it was the idea that someone out there, knew exactly what we were doing all year long, seeing the good AND the bad, and cared.  The idea that someone cared enough to think of you, every day, all year long.  Isn’t this the way we portray Santa Claus?  The all knowing?  The one who knows your name, your family, your address, whether you’ve been bad or good, even though you’ve never see him?  Sound a little like someone else we know?

Could it be possible that the revealing of Santa, allowing that creeping of doubt, could make us second guess one described oh so similar?  Then, we justify it by topping it off with lame excuses to celebrate Santa anyway because he was a ‘good soul’? Even though there are tons of  ‘good souls’ out there today and we don’t plaster their ‘self portrait’ all over our home? Are we really so naive to not see that we are creating the perfect tunnel for God to be omitted from the very holiday that was designated to his birth? So, Santa was a good Christian who brought toys to little kids with Jesus in mind.  Do we celebrate our grandma on our birthday because she loved us and did things with us in mind?  Of course not. We celebrate her on her birthday or everyday!

Think about it.  It’s a celebration of Jesus’ birth… and that is not enough? Why is Santa celebrated again?

It’s just these little things that the enemy uses to keep TRUE goodness a sweet little fairy tale. Wonderful and joyous, but with the underlining of fiction. Just almost believable.  We don’t want to face the fact that the enemy uses feel good things to deceive us every day.  Ever heard the quote, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar!”?  Well, don’t think that the enemy doesn’t know that.  He knows that you are only going to chose something if it looks good… His job is to not only show us how good it looks, but to make it feel empowering too.  We DO love power, don’t we? Even to the point of brushing off these facts as extreme or futile.

I have faced many Christian friends and family that feel I see this too seriously, yet each of them have admitted to feeling at atleast one point, convicted on this topic and how much focus they have put on anything other than Christ.  I don’t push the issue, because I totally believe we make changes as God asks us to, not man. It’s not up to me to change you, just share with you.

The Riggs Institute tells us that the widest learning opportunity is a child up to age 10 and during that time is when our minds are framed to a way of thinking.  How old were you when you learned about Santa?  How old were you when you learned he was not real? Probably all happened in that super critical time frame, right? What do you want to be cemented into your kids at this critical learning age in reference to Christmas and the point of it all?  Santa? … or Christ…

I know this is not a favored point of view and I really just try to avoid it as most of my family does not respect it anyway, but this year, I felt that I needed to say something, so I did.  I really wish, early on, someone would have told me about God on Christmas, so I could have associated Him with the warm and loving feelings that I felt when I thought Santa was watching out for me.  Jesus is real… here and forever… It took me quite a while to realize that there really was One who didn’t want to fill my heart with presents all wrapped in paper that could break and fall apart but a real gift, that would surpass any other gift and could not be taken away.

So, I would like to know what other views are on this.  Whether you are a Christian or not, I am curious as to how you view the topic of Santa or No Santa.  Please feel free to share your opinion!

Blessings!

Angie

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