Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best Christmas Ever

Today is New Year's Eve, so I thought I'd better share about our Christmas before 2012 is officially over!
The weeks leading up to Christmas were a little up and down.  I tried to be very intentional about putting Jesus at the center of the season for our family, but it was kind of hard when my 2 and 4 year old were surrounded by santa, elves, reindeer, candy and presents, and they heard "you'd better be good for Santa" at least once every day!
We did a few things to focus on Jesus, like a Jesse Tree, reading Bible verses and doing a few Advent activities, and we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus on Christmas day, but the kids didn't think those things were quite as fun as making treats for Santa, or counting down to Christmas to see what Santa would bring.
I understand that.  Those secular Christmas activities really are fun!  And who doesn't like getting presents?  Looking back, I feel pretty good about my efforts in making Christmas fun while focusing on Jesus.  And I'm not saying Jesus can't be fun, but I learned that there may not be such a thing as truly balancing secular Christmas activities and Jesus.  All the secular acitivties seem to do is take away from the importance of His birth. 
I will, however, continue to try.  After all, my kids are very young and can't even come close to grasping the ramifications of Jesus birth yet!  So we'll start small.  And hopefully they're internalizing what I teach them about the Gospel, even if it'll take them a while to truly understand it.  I'm creating a foundation.  I can already see it in my son.  Praise God!
Although I can't be sure how important Jesus' birth is to my children yet, I do know they had a great Christmas this year filled with friends, family, and love.  My son made me sure of this a few days ago when he said, "Mommy, this has been the best Christmas ever!"  It melted my heart to see the look of joy on his face as he said it!  And the feeling of joy I've felt this year is greater than any other time in my life, because it's from Christ!  I pray he and my daughter feel that same joy someday too.
I really do think this was the best Christmas ever!  I hope it was for you too.
Here are some pictures from the season:

 My sweet kids by the tree!
Fun with Santa!                                           Little one favored Mrs. Claus!

I love this one!  My husband and I and our son are on the left, my sister and my niece are in the middle, and my sister's fiance and my daughter are on the right.  Great family photo!
The kids and my nephew.  Those are some super cute kids, don't ya think?!
Making cinnamon ornaments - they loved using the rolling pin!  And the little one liked sampling the non-edible dough...
Opening presents!

Fun in the snow!                                     ....or not...
Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year, New Plan

My husband is a goal-setter.  If I were to make a list of words describing his character, "goal-setter" would make the top 5.  Maybe even the top 2.  And he's even better with his follow-through!  I've always found this quality admirable and it's one of the things I love the most about my husband.
Probably because I'm nothing like him in this way.  "Goal-setter" would not be found on my list!  I stink at setting goals.  I stink at achieving goals too.  It's funny, because I love to make plans and come up with new ideas.  But I guess I never get to that end point where I can specify a goal and outline steps to achieve it.  Or when I do actually set a goal, I stop short of reaching it more times than not.  I am a pro at leaving projects unfinished! 
I'm kind of in this neverending state of doing something or planning something without finishing anything.  I read a devotion from Proverbs 31 Ministries last week that pretty much summed it all up.  The writer, Rachel Olson, wrote "the crux of my problem was waiting for everything to be perfect before I moved forward. If I didn't feel I could do something 'right,' I often didn't do it at all. If I couldn't control each move, or the outcome, I waited rather than began. And that meant a lot of things sat either un-started or unfinished."
Do you know what happens when a lot of things sit unstarted or unfinished?  You get overwhelmed.  You get discouraged.  You give up...leaving even more things on your to-do list unstarted or unfinished.  And how can anything be accomplished if it's never started?  "Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap." (Ecclesiastes 11:4)
Well, next year I'm going to break this cycle.  I'm going to start making goals.  More importantly, I'm going to achieve those goals.  But I'm not going to wait around anymore for "ideal conditions."  I will continue to plan things, because I believe having a game plan can be helpful, smart, and sometimes necessary.  However, I'm not going to waste half my days planning instead of doing.  And I'm not going let making and following plans keep me from enjoying things that aren't a part of the plan.  We all know that life doesn't always go according to plan!
I think I need to remind myself here of the old saying, "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans."  Proverbs 16:9 provides us a Biblical reminder of this:  "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps."
(Click here to read another great Proverbs 31 Ministries article about the dangers of overplanning.)
So here's my plan for 2013:
~Set goals.
~Follow through on said goals.
~Be flexible when things don't go as planned.
~Be okay with imperfect progress*.
And most importantly:
~Ask God to reveal what personal goals He wants me to set and for the tools to achieve them.
I'm so excited for my new plan for the new year!  What are your plans for the new year?  Are you making goals?  Resolutions?  Maybe a bucket list of things/activities to check off?  Or even just one thing you've always wanted to do?  I'd love to hear about it!
*The phrase 'imperfect progress' is from Lysa TerKeurst's most recent book, Unglued.  It means making a change (or achieving a goal) takes time, and there may be setbacks, but any progress is good.

Monday, December 24, 2012

'Twas the Day Before Christmas

Tomorrow's the big day.  And tonight's the big night for little ones anxious for a visit from Santa!  I don't know about you and your house, but my house is stirring with excitement!  I woke up today to two little faces peeking in my doorway flashing ornery chocolate-covered smiles, quickly followed by "Can I tear the 2 off?  Can I tear the 2 off? (referring to our Christmas countdown chain)!"
For me, today will be filled with finishing last minute details.  Cooking, cleaning, wrapping, assembling, and more are all in the order of the day.  I'm even making a sure-to-be hectic trip to Walmart before they close this evening - something I don't think I've ever done.  (Wish me luck!)
But this Christmas season has been very different for me this year.  I have never anticipated Christmas day like I am this year, except for maybe as a young child.  But it's not the same kind of anticipation.  Yes, I am excited to see my babies' faces full of joy over their excessive perfectly appropriate amount of presents.  Yes, I'm excited for wrapping paper covered floors, a too-full belly, and a cup of eggnog.  And I'm excited to participate in my in-laws' Christmas traditions for the first time since my husband and I have been married.  (This will be our 5th Christmas as a married couple!)  But that's still not it.
This year I have read, reread, and studied the Christmas story from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke like never before.  I also participated in an Advent Bible Study which was all about staying focused on Jesus.  I truly feel like I am about to witness a miracle tomorrow and see the Christmas story unfold first hand even though it happened so long ago.  I have never felt so close to the story and experienced the joy and hope it offers like I do now.
This is what it's about.
I've always known the reason for the season is Jesus Christ, but now I feel it.  I pray you feel it too!  If you're not quite feeling the joy and excitement you want to feel this Christmas, I urge you to read the Christmas story.  Really read it.  Find a quiet place, light some candles, and pray for your heart to be opened and that God will make each word you read come to life.
Read Luke 1:26-56, Matthew 1: 18-24, Luke 2:1-21, and Matthew 2:1-12.  I promise you will be blessed if you do!
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Run for Joy

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
-Hebrews 12:1-2
This was last Friday's Scripture for Good Morning Girls' Advent Study.  As I was "" it (writing out scripture, observations, and applications, then praying), I found myself writing a lot more than I usually do.  It stirred up a lot of thought and emotion, so feeling limited by the space on my sheet of paper, I hopped on the computer to write more here.
First of all, last week's theme for the Advent Study was joy.  Looking at Hebrews 12, we see the word "joy" in verse 2.  But we'll get there later.
Let's talk about sin.  We all do it.  Sometimes we don't mean to, sometimes we don't even know we've sinned, and sometimes we choose to sin, even when we know better.  No matter how or why we sin, we can be sure there'll be consequences.  (Understatement of the year!)  Sin opens up a great big can of worms in our lives.  It leads to more sin.  It traps us.  It entangles us, as we see in Hebrews 12:1. 
Haven't we all been there before?  One sin leads to another, then another, and another...before we know it, we're entangled in sins and can't figure out how we got there.  Sometimes it only takes one sin to entangle us, and we can't move anymore.  We become immobile.
Now look at the next part of the passage:  "And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."  How are we supposed to run a race when we're immobile?  And it's not just any race.  It's THE race.  It's God's will for us.  He has it all marked out for us, and all we have to do is run.  Hard.  With perseverance.  God knows it's not always going to be easy, but He tells us how to do it:  don't let ourselves become entangled in sin, and keep our eyes on Jesus.
Jesus, "the pioneer and perfecter of faith," showed us how to keep our eye on the prize.  He had great faith and you guessed it, JOY.  Joy in the promise of eternal life with God in heaven, and joy in saving us sinners so that we might recieve the same promise.  "For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down and the right hand of the throne of God."  Joy was his prize, and Jesus, who brings us true joy, is ours.  And that joy let him not just persevere, but even scorn the obstacles in his path.  What great obstacles they were!  And he scorned them.  He was able to ignore them because he knew better.  And so do we.
We know that God doesn't give us anything we can't handle.  And we know that true joy only comes from accepting Jesus.  And if we choose to follow, our race is already marked out for us.  We just have to run.  Hard.  For joy.  And don't look back!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

God is the Solution

Last week something terrible happened in our nation.  Innocent lives were lost.  Young lives were lost.  Lives that had barely begun.
I was in my car on the way to get my kids when I first heard the news of the Sandy Hook shooting on the radio, and I can't begin to express the sadness I felt.  At first the news was awful to hear but seemed somewhat distant.  Then I heard the number of children lost and exactly how young they were and I was overwhelmed with grief for all those affected by that horrifying incident.
I couldn't wait to pick up my sweet babies and hug them long and hard.  Their Daddy called me right before I walked in the door and told me to do the same for him.  I can't begin to imagine how it must feel to lose a child of any age, but losing a young child must feel so unfair, especially in this manner.
Then the media started chiming in and running stories asking "Where was God in all of this?"  I can assure you God was there, waiting for those children with open arms.  I can also assure you that God wanted to be there in a bigger way, but our nation has pushed Him out.
During my Sunday School class a couple mornings ago someone said, "What do you expect when God is pushed out of the schools?"  Another person said they'd seen a comment about how Bibles were banned in school but pushed in prisons.  Now that seems a little backwards, doesn't it?
I came across this speech delivered by Darrell Scott after his daughter's life was lost in the Columbine shooting.  Unfortunately, this speech wasn't widely circulated as it was found offensive by the listening parties.  Scott's words are so powerful and honest, and more than anything, they're true.  I think they need to be shared:
"Since the dawn of creation there has been both good & evil in the hearts of men and women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers."

"The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used.. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain's heart."

"In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA - because I don't believe that they are responsible for my daughter's death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel's murder I would be their strongest opponent."

"I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy, it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best."

Your laws ignore our deepest needs,
Your words are empty air.
You've stripped away our heritage,
You've outlawed simple prayer.
Now gunshots fill our classrooms,
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere,
And ask the question "Why?"
You regulate restrictive laws,
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand,
That God is what we need!

"Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, mind, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual presences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation's history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine's tragedy occurs -- politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties. We do not need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts."

"As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes, he did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right! I challenge every young person in America , and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School prayer was brought back to our schools. Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God-given right to communicate with Him. To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA -- I give to you a sincere challenge.. Dare to examine your own heart before casting the first stone! My daughter's death will not be in vain! The young people of this country will not allow that to happen!"

- Darrell Scott

Please say a prayer for those affected by this tragedy, pray that our nation can begin to see the need for God in our society and recognize Him as the solution, and hold your loved ones a little tighter today.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mommy Moment Monday: Happy Birthday to my Sweet Girl

Today my baby girl turns 2.
I know every Mommy gets sentimental on her kid's birthday, and we all say the same things, like "they're getting so big!" and "they grow up so fast!" and "I remember when they were this big!" (as we hold our hands about 20 inches apart).
Well, I don't care if every other Mommy says the same things.  I'm going to say them too!
My little girl is getting so big!  And over the last few months, I can't believe how much she's changed.  And I do remember the day she was born like it was yesterday.  Such a precious moment!  I was so proud of her then, and I'm so proud of everything the she is today!
Okay, sentimental Mommy gush over.
We had our daughter's birthday party over the weekend and I wanted to share some photos with you.
Here's my favorite picture of the night:
The Birthday girl in her Minnie ears!
As you can tell, the theme was Minnie Mouse! 
Here some other pictures:
The centerpiece.
Birthday treats.
The gift table.
Minnie door hanger.
Opening presents.
Showing off her pretty necklace!
                          Not so sure about us singing to her...                       Blowing out the candles!

 Tastes good!
Now it's time for a Minnie Mouse lollipop!
She had a lot of fun at her party, and I did too!  It was a great time spent with family celebrating my daughter.
Happy birthday baby girl!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mommy Moment Monday: My Kids and Christmas

I don't know if I'm having writer's block or what, but I have totally been slacking on this blog!
I guess with both my daughter's birthday party and Christmas fast approaching, my mind is consumed with recipes, favors, decorations, presents, Advent activities, and a million other things besides blogging.  It's unfortunate, because blogging has been such a great release and just a great experience for me so far.  Hopefully I'll get more consistent again as all the birthday and Christmas details come together.
Despite the holiday busyness, my sanity has been ensured by the attention my kids and I have given to keeping Jesus' birth at the top of the importance list this Christmas season.  I cannot say enough how amazing the Good Morning Girls' Avent Bible Study has been in keeping my heart focused on Jesus.  I have been so blessed by the daily readings and family activities!
This week's family activities deals with the Nativity scene.  Each day I'm supposed to wrap a character from the Nativity scene (I'm using a felt sticker set from Hobby Lobby), then have my kids unwrap it and discuss it with them.  Today they unwrapped the three wisemen.  It makes learning fun for them and my son has been excited all day for tomorrow's "present."  On Friday we'll take all the characters we unwrapped throughout the week and put the whole scene together.
Last week was about loving others, and loving others at Christmastime usually means giving.  I helped the kids write thank you notes to give to a few people, we made it a point to do something nice for someone else each day, and our big activity was visiting the bell-ringers at Walmart.  The kids loved it!  The bell-ringers that night happened to be a couple ladies from our church who let the kids ring the bells and took pictures of them putting money in the bucket.  It was such a fun experience for them!  And me too!  ...Even if my daughter then proceeded to throw a fit, scream, and yell while I picked up a few things inside...Life with a toddler!
Speaking of life with a todder, my toddler was boucing off the walls today!  I was looking at my to-do list for this week and feeling quite productive, and then I took my daughter to gymnastics.  She yelled in the car most of the way there.  She wasn't upset, she just wanted to yell for fun.  Then when we got there she decided to run around in circles rather than participate in her class.  I chased her around the entire 30 minutes and I don't think she's ever laughed harder.  She was hilarious!  But oh so exhausting.  On the way home she screamed "Lights!" every time she'd see Christmas lights.  It was cute, but a Momma can only take so much screaming!  My productivity kind of went away by the time we got home.  Anyway...
We've also been keeping up with our Jesse Tree.  Both the kids really like coloring the ornaments and putting them on the tree.  Today, however, my daughter had a major meltdown when I told her it wasn't her turn!  We started out strong in reading the scripture listed for each day (for about the first 2 days), then the kids started getting bored and I got frustrated, so now we compromise.  We talk about each picture and I read a little from the Bible, but instead of reading verbatim I try to put it in story form.  The kids respond much better to this!
We've all enjoyed our fun Christmas activities and have been able to include Daddy in some of them.  We do our Advent activities during the day while he's at work, but we try to do our fun activities with him in the evenings, like playing Merry Christmas Bingo, making Jelly Bean bracelets, and having a movie and popcorn night.  Next on the list is making cinnamon ornaments and maybe some fun fingerpainting projects!
So things may be a little crazy right now, but I am having the best Christmas season I think I've ever had and I'm confident my kids are learning about the importance of Jesus' birth.  I am so proud of my son and the things he's learning about Christmas.  He is so smart and I pray our activities are building the foundation for a Jesus-focused heart and life.  If nothing else, I hope my kids are learning to associate Jesus with Christmas, even if we're still a few years away from them truly understanding the significance.
I hope your Christmas season has been great so far and I hope you can embrace the busyness while remaining focused on Jesus.  It's possible and it's wonderful!  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Be the Church

Recently I came across this question someone had posted on Facebook:
"Do we (in the church) sometimes confuse relationship with the church and relationship with Christ?"
Good question, isn't it?!
Then I saw someone share this image in response to the question:
Photo: i grabbed this pic just b4 reading your post about relationships...
This really got me thinking, and it made me realize that I've been struggling with this for a while now.  I realized that I found so much of my identity in my church back in Illinois as well as the people in it.  All of our friends were from that church: mine, my husband's and our kids'.  We saw those people at church related activities 3 times a week and saw some of them more often than that.  Before we moved we were getting to know more fellow members and were trying to get more involved.  We had a great relationship with our church.  And I think I really did equate that with a relationship with God.

I do think a relationship with a church can be associated and somewhat telling of a relationship with God, but they are not equal nor interchangeable.
When we moved, I thought my life would make perfect sense again when we found a new church.  I knew we probably wouldn't find something as special as what we had before, but I thought we'd find something that felt right.
Well, it didn't happen right away.   And I'm not sure that it has, although we've been regularly attending a church for a handful of months now.  I even call it "our church" when I talk about it, but I don't feel any deep ties to it yet.
However, I do like it.  I want to be there Sunday mornings.  My kids like it.  And I have met a lot of wonderful people, many of whom I think will be lifelong friends.  But the church doesn't offer many of the things we'd like - many of the things we had before.
Over the last few months I've found myself thinking we'll always go to church, but we'll never have a church.  I've felt very discouraged and wondered if we'd ever find a place for our family - a place where we "belong".
Have you noticed yet how self-centered all of this sounds? 
"I thought." 
"Our church." 
"I want." 
"We'd like."
So again, "Do we (in the church) sometimes confuse relationship with the church and relationship with Christ?"  My answer to the question is "yes!"  Not everyone confuses them, but I have.  I've got it backwards.
Since the church we're attending doesn't offer all the same things we used to have, I've been trying to make up for it on my own a little bit.  I've started this blog, which requires me do some Bible study and some soul searching.  I've been following online Bible studies.  I've read a couple Christian books that were really great.  (Ask me if you want to know which ones!)  And I've actually learned a lot!
But I've been holding back.  I've been waiting to find the "right" church before I felt like everything was right with me and God.  Like my faith depended on finding the right church.  And that's just not true.
Jesus is the truth.  And he is the way and the life.  There is no other way to God and eternal life than through Jesus (John 14:6), no matter where I go to church.
I will continue to make ties in church.  I will continue to be involved.  I will continue to worship with fellow believers.  And someday I hope to find a church to place our membership in again.  Maybe it'll be the church we're attending now.  I don't know.  But these things are important to me and I believe these are things I should do.
But now I understand that none of this necessarily means I have a good relationship with God.  It may be a good indicator, but it means absolutely nothing if I'm not right with God first.
Matthew 7: 21-23 says, "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?'  Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!'"
Does this scare you?  I does me!  I don't want to be a false disciple like in this passage.  And I definitely don't want to be turned away by Jesus.
So how do we ensure our priorities are right?  The answer's simple:  Love God.  Study His word.  Share His word.  Pray continually.  Live for Him.  Love others.
Then everything you do will be the Lord's will!  And you won't just go to church; you'll truly be His church!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mommy Moment Monday: Let the Countdown Begin!

Twenty-two days.
That's it.
That's all there is, and then it's Christmas!
I'm sure many of you are sharing this sentiment, but where did the time go?!  I can't believe Christmas is just around the corner!
And I have this countdown chain (however cute it may be) hanging in our living room, relentlessly reminding me of the quickly approaching holiday!
We made this from construction paper and this cute printable from Confession of a Homeschooler.
It never fails that I spend days, weeks, and even months planning for Christmas, then one day I wake up in a panic that I'm about to run out of time!  You'd think with all that planning I'd be perfectly calm and prepared, but no.  It never works out that way.  Today was that day for me.  Maybe the fact that not only is Christmas quickly approaching, but my daughter's birthday party is in less than 2 weeks, aggravated the matter just a little.
But that's okay.  Everything always works out in the end.  And this year I'm trying hard to focus my attention as well as my kids' on Jesus rather than "stuff," so I have to keep reminding myself that all the "stuff" that goes along with preparing for Christmas and the "stuff" that end does and doesn't end up under the Christmas tree isn't really all that important.
However, it's really hard to keep the kids' focus on Jesus when we're lighting candles and reading Scripture one minute, and writing an "I want" letter to Santa the next. 
(Any tips on having fun with Santa while making sure your preschoolers know the importance of Jesus' birth would be very welcomed!)
I will say my husband and I seem to be more "in the spirit" than the last few years.  I think seeing our kids' excitement brings out the kid inside and make us a little more excited!  My husband took the kids out earlier tonight and had them "help" put up our icicle lights.  They had a lot of fun, and it was adorable hearing my 4 year old sing 'Christmas Lights' (his made-up song) to the tune of Jingle Bells.  And we went to a drive-through lights display last week and had so much fun we've decided we want to go every week until Christmas!

The most exciting thing about this year so far is that I've seen my son learn a lot about Jesus and his birth.  He's learned from Sunday school as well as our Jesse Tree and the Advent study I'm doing.  Half of the time I feel frustrated because he doesn't seem to be paying any attention, but then I ask him a question and he tells me everything I said.  I am so unbelievably proud of him!  Last year we made sure he knew Christmas was Jesus' birthday, but this year he's actually learning the details of the story.
So really, among all the hustle and bustle, I think we're counting down to what's going to be our best Christmas yet.  My hope is that each year gets better and better.  I pray that as my kids get older they can appreciate what Christmas is really about - that they can fully grasp what Jesus' birth meant so long ago, what it means for them now, and what it means for their future.
I know my kids are young and it'll still be a while before they reach that point, but until then, I hope we can make it a fun-filled, Jesus-centered holiday for them!