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Crazy Faith

Ohio was out.  And that was okay.  The question still remained however- where were we going to end up?

Throughout all of this change, we adopted the song “Crazy Faith” by John Waller as our theme song of sorts.  It just fit.  Life certainly felt crazy, as did our faith during this freefall time.  God specializes in those crazy faith moments, and His faithfulness shines all the brighter through them.  Not that I always kept my eyes on that light.  But we kept pushing forward and knocking on doors that God seemed to place in our path.

Some may wonder (as we did), just what was the point of the door we thought was going to open to Ohio?  I believe that God used that opportunity as a spacer, so to speak.  It timed things out perfectly for us when we found the right door.  The Ohio door is what God used to challenge us farther when Will walked away from the IT position.  It grew us.  It helped us better understand what we were looking and hoping for in a church.  I’m thankful for that door and even more thankful that it was closed to us.  Looking back with the perspective that time and experience brings, even in a relatively short period of time, it is evident that that church and position wouldn’t have been quite right for us.  God knew that and loved us enough to bar that door.

Meanwhile, one of the churches we had been praying about and applied to contacted Will for an interview, and then another, and then an invitation to come for an in-person interview.  It was scary, especially after the experience with Ohio that was still a bit raw.  Will and I agreed we would go solo on this one, leaving the kids behind with my graciously wonderful parents as their caretakers while we flew to Philadelphia.  We were going to interview in a city about 45 minutes outside of Philly.  The next stop for us was Exton, PA.

Will and I knew the position in Exton was a definite crazy faith position.  The job description fit Will really, really well, and the church seemed to be a solid, Biblically sound body of believers.  And the homeschool mom in me could definitely see the amazing opportunities for field trips living near Philly, Valley Forge, 2 hrs from DC, and about 2 1/2 hours from New York City!  However, as we explored the cost of living, some of the wind was knocked out of our sails.  Early in the interview process, I remember looking at houses on the market using Trulia or Zillow and putting in our desired price range along with our hope for 4 bedrooms for our family of 6.  Nothing came up.  I laughed a little manically and upped the price range a bit.  More manic laughter. I looked at Will and basically told him that if we are called to PA, that it would be a miracle indeed!  Either that, or we would just need to live in our van down by the river.

So, we prepared to fly to Philadelphia.  We were going to be gone for two nights, leaving Friday morning and returning Sunday evening.  Neither of us had been to the city before and I hadn’t flown since high school.  My biggest fear at that time became the thought of the plane crashing with Will and I both on it, leaving our children without their parents.  But I was also really excited to explore a new area, have some alone time with Will, and see if this could be what God had planned.

The plane ride was incredible.  It was a smaller plane, but once we were up in the clouds I couldn’t stop looking out and was enthralled by the view.  As we landed, I felt a sense of adventure and we used the next few hours to get to know the city a bit.  We first grabbed a late lunch- Philly cheesesteaks, of course.  We saw the Liberty Bell, went on a tour of Independence Hall, and then changed for our dinner date and drove through the city a bit towards the restaurant where we had reservations.  I was excited about dressing up and going out to dinner in a new city.  Unbeknownst to me, thanks to my inaccurate address input into the navigation app, we got to tour more of Philadelphia in nice clothes and impractical footwear for a ten block walk/run in hot, humid conditions to make dinner reservations in time.  When we finally arrived to the restaurant, I was kind of a literal hot mess in my retro navy polka dot dress.  I had called the restaurant around block five to let them know we were on our way but were running a bit late.  As we entered into the blessed air-conditioned space, before we could even introduce ourselves, the hostess (who also happened to be owner of the restaurant) commented, “You must be the Adairs.”  My breathless, hurried reputation derived from my phone call must have proceeded us.  Bless her, she complimented me on how nice I looked despite my beet red and rather sweaty appearance.  I had never loved ac and ice water more.  Thankfully, Will and I agreed the food was worth it.

Following dinner, we walked more leisurely back to our rental car and prepared to drive the 45 minutes or so to our hotel in Exton. I was enamored with the beauty of the area as we drove-  rock lining the roads, lush and green vegetation and trees.  I had not known how beautiful Pennsylvania was.  We arrived at the hotel, looking forward to getting uninterrupted sleep, and hopefully ready for our introduction to Grace Covenant EPC the following morning.

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Not Yet

So.  Ohio.  We had about a month before we would be taking a trip up there for the interview, and had to decide somewhat quickly whether or not we wanted to accept the offer to fly (just Will and I) or take a road trip with the kids and explore along the way.  Despite the appeal of flying and a weekend away with just my husband, we both agreed that we wanted to drive it with the kids.  It helped that my parents had been planning a trip up to Indiana to see my grandpa around the same time, and offered to drive first to Ohio to help with the kids while Will and I were with the search committee!

Ever since beginning the adventure of looking for where God would have us next, Will and I had decided to share with our kids about what God was doing along the way.  We were honest about what was happening, and kept them involved as we prayed about it together and talked about the different places we could end up.  We were able to process anxieties, fears, and other emotions along the way, which I think helped us all.  They were excited about the trip to Ohio, and we checked out books at the library to learn about the state.  I explored the real estate in the area and researched the town a bit.

Will was the first candidate that would be interviewed, and we went back and forth on whether or not that was a good or a bad thing.  Of course, ultimately we were reassured by the knowledge that God was send us where we were supposed to be.  We joked that it felt a bit like a beauty pageant minus the swimsuit competition.  Although I have to laugh as I type that, as we did end up spending time in our hotel pool with some of the leaders and their families!

Towards the end of February, we set out.  Thankfully, our kids are great with road trips (we’ll be even more thankful for this when we discover just how much we will be on the road in the near future)!  The trip was supposed to take about 9 1/2 hours.  It was around 11 hours for us, but with 4 kids ranging in age from 9 to 1 1/2, we figured that wasn’t too bad!  We were very, very happy when we rolled into our hotel parking lot that night.

The next few days were a blur- we met the pastor and took a tour of the church (with kids), Will and I met with the search committee and leadership of the church (without kids), we went out to many lunches and dinners with the pastor and his family along with other leaders and their families, and we squeezed in a visit to an Air Force museum along the way.  We were able to walk through a former Air Force One, which was really cool.  Will was responsible for working with the kids during their Sunday school time and had numerous observers, and was also videotaped so the pastor could review it later!

Overall, we felt good about our long weekend.  The people were very friendly, and many of those in leadership said outright that they felt he was the right fit for the position.  I liked that the two of the families in leadership were homeschoolers, as that provided an instant feeling of camaraderie and common ground.  As much as we did like the pastor and his family, I do remember wishing we had had a bit more time to process rather than feeling so very scheduled.  The pastor even drove around with us to show us the area and discuss possible houses- we got to know him better but I remember thinking, I just need time to think!  We drove home with the kids feeling like the position was a very strong possibility.

A few days later, and after an accidental email that wasn’t meant for Will but somehow got sent to him indicating one person’s pros and cons of each candidate (!), we got the call from the pastor that they had decided to go with the other candidate.  That was a tough call and we were rather stunned. We had been aware that it may not be where God would have us, but it sure felt like it based on our time there.  After the initial shock wore off, we came back to the truth that God would put us where He wanted us.   I couldn’t help but wonder when that would be.

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A Road Untraveled

A few weeks ago I was sitting on my couch in front of a fireplace.  It felt like 8 degrees outside, which is warm compared to the -10 it felt like when I first woke up that morning.  Like much of the rest of the country, here in Pennsylvania we were experiencing unusually cold temperatures.  Typing “Pennsylvania” still feels strange; reading it, stranger.  The last time I posted anything here, I was sitting on my couch, but not in front of a fireplace, and not in Pennsylvania.  North Carolina feels a bit far away right now, although I’m incredibly thankful for texting, FaceTime, and phone calls that shorten the distance.

It’s been exactly two months since we moved to Pennsylvania.  I have felt compelled now for awhile to share our whole story here, because the amazing ways God answered prayers during this journey needs to be shared!  He is so faithful and good (and has such a great sense of humor in how He orchestrates things).  And while I know this, sometimes it takes me time to see it, if I’m being honest.

When Will first had to say goodbye to his full-time job over two years ago due to the sadness of that wonderful non-profit having to close its doors, I didn’t know what to expect.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew it was possible we would move, but it was one of those situations where you just kind of keep a thought pushed away in the dark recesses and don’t allow it an inch of room for consideration.  Eventually, though, that thought became more and more of a possibility.  As we prayed and sought God’s will about what He would have Will do, ministry continued to be the answer.  The “where” though…that was a bit more elusive.

When it became evident that there was nothing close to home that was an option, our search expanded farther out into the rest of NC.  Especially the mountains.  I love the mountains and had myself convinced that that was were God would put us. Mine were the prayers filled with, “God, please send us where You would have us.  But please, let that be in NC.”  I didn’t want to leave behind my family and friends.  It was hard to imagine not eating dinner with my parents, brother, and his family every week.  Or watching my oldest daughter with her best friends at an American Heritage Girls meeting, or my oldest son playing tag with his friends in Trail Life.  Or running into one of my middle school teachers while out and about in a community I’ve lived in almost my whole life.  I slowly had to lessen my grip on all of that and recognize that if I was going to ask God to put us where He wants us, I needed to be truly willing to go.  I was lying to myself and to Him with all of my talk about wanting to go where God placed us but then trying to limit where that would be.  I’m still amazed (and ashamed) at how quickly I try to tell the Creator of the universe what He should do.  I remember walking into our living room and telling my husband that I was finally, truly ready to move away if that is what God had for us to do.  That was the start of the ever-widening geographical circle in our search for a new job for Will.

For those that may not know, applying for ministry positions within a church setting typically means a very long interview process, often months of waiting as you progress from the application, to phone interviews, to in-person visits/interviews, and then (hopefully) to an offer.  We looked at positions online in Ohio, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, and even Texas!  We read through some in Washington state and California.  Those that seemed to be a good fit were the ones we prayed about and to which we applied.  It was excruciating waiting for committees to convene, decisions to be made, questions to be asked and answered.  We had lost our full-time income and were certainly aware that our family of 6 couldn’t go on forever on Will’s part-time child and family pastors income.  So we waited.  A lot.   Prayed even more.  Worried though we know that isn’t what God calls us to do.  And we grew.  By God’s grace, our marriage grew stronger and so did our faith in God’s faithfulness.

Due to his IT experience, Will also looked at jobs in that field.  While we knew that God was continuing to call Will into ministry, we also knew that He may open up a secular position while we waited on the others to come to fruition.  We didn’t want to presume that His timeline matched ours.  Will applied and was hired by an IT company that contracts with the military- all he had to do was read an IT equivalent of War and Peace and pass an exam (to catch up on some newer certifications).  As the deadline loomed closer for the completion of the reading and exam, we were informed that Will was one of the top candidates for a ministry position at an Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) in the Midwest.  A week or so after this information, we received a call from his contact with the IT company- she needed to know his status on the exam.  It would have been easier to have told her that he would have it done in the next couple of days and all was good to go.  However, easier is rarely what we are called to, and we certainly felt it would be dishonest to string the company along, knowing we may very well be moving, when they needed to hire and start their new employee as soon as possible.  So Will  informed her that we may be moving in the very near future. Here we are with a solid IT position waiting on him.  The IT salary was good (higher than most in ministry positions, of course).  We wouldn’t have to move.  Yet we had consistently been praying that God would shut doors that need to be shut and open doors that need to be open.   The knowledge that God was moving us along on the ministry path made it clear that Will needed to let the IT job go and we just had to trust.  So he told the IT company that it was possible we would be moving in the next few months and that he would understand if they chose to move on to another candidate.  We knew that if God wanted Will in that IT job that they would indicate their continued interest.  He certainly could have done that.  But He didn’t.

A few hours later, we received another call from the church in the midwest.  The pastor let Will know that he was one of two top candidates for the position, and they wanted us to come for an in-person interview.

We knew he had been a top candidate but now it felt real.  This was in January; three months had passed since Will had lost his job and we had been talking with this church since November.

I felt like we had jumped off a cliff as we cut the cord to the IT position.  But even though it felt like we had just waved goodbye to our sure thing, we relied on our knowledge that Jesus is our sure thing and we clung to that even in the free-fall.  I was doing a bit of screaming though, partially due to adrenaline and partially due to fear.    Next stop…Ohio.

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The Birth of Novaleigh Joy

I’m going to ignore how long it’s been since I blogged (as in, ahem, it took me a minute to remember my blog address) and just dive back in.

It occurred to me recently that I hadn’t yet written Novie’s birth story.  She will be two years old in a few days now and it’s hard to remember life without her.  Her middle name is a true descriptor as she brings us a great deal of it and she is quite the sweet spunky monkey.  Hmmm…in fact, I’m not sure I’ve blogged about her until now due to my blogging hiatus!  Oh, how that will change!  That little one is a walking blog post.

Anyway, after Jude’s birth, which you can read about here, I was a bit apprehensive about giving birth again.  When we found out we were pregnant with Novaleigh, my emotions ran the gamut and I definitely had to work through my fears that something could go wrong.  I know that that isn’t uncommon in most pregnancies anyway, but it was more of a fear than it normally is for me.  Even though I knew God was the author of Novie’s story, from day 1 in the womb and onward, and even though I knew that He was just as present at a home birth as He would be in a hospital room, I confess that I struggled with the idea of home birth again.  I still completely believe it was partly due to being at home that Jude’s birth was a story of rejoicing rather than mourning, but that idea of being in a hospital “in case something happens” is strong in our culture and we considered our options carefully once more.

After a good deal of talking it through and a great deal of prayer, Will and I agreed once more that home birth was the way to go and prepared again to have our baby at home.  After a relatively uneventful pregnancy, we approached her due date.  Not to be outdone by her siblings, Novie too knew that the due date was just a suggestion and about a week after it had come and gone, I knew that labor was starting and called my parents who were prepared to come round up the three older siblings.  It was the middle of the day, and Will and I decided to take a walk up and down the street to get things moving along at a good pace before contacting our midwife.  After our walk, we resumed where we were in our Gilmore Girls marathon (yes, he is a good man) and I did some bouncing on the exercise ball to manage contractions.

Labor grew slowly but progressively more intense as the day went on, and we finally called Olivia, the midwife, around dinnertime to let her know that we were in labor and update her on how things were going.  She and one of my favorite birth assistants arrived around 8pm and checked to see how far along I was.  I was super excited and encouraged to hear Olivia say that she expected Novaleigh would be born within a couple of hours as I was already 6-7 cm dilated.  In fact, she said we should forego setting up the birthing tub as by the time it was filled Novaleigh would likely have arrived! I had not thought I was quite that far along!

While I totally know that a woman’s body is designed for childbirth and I had experienced it myself three times already, I found myself questioning when I was ready to push.  I was in and out of the shower like crazy, finding great comfort in the warm water while I was laboring, and I kept feeling like it was time to push.  But it wasn’t like the absolute certainty and urgency I had felt with Asher, or even the less intense but clearer indicators with the other two.  It was just a gentle but firm pressure, and I remember saying to the birth assistant that I felt like I needed to push but I wasn’t entirely sure,  because I was genuinely confused at the lack of strong intensity.  As ridiculous as it probably sounds, I think I was waiting for her to give me permission or to confirm that I was ready, but of course she was trained to take her cues from me (and I was managing contractions well and was fairly relaxed, all things considered).  So this went on for a bit- shower, out of shower, passing comment from me on thinking I could probably push, reply from birth assistant to just let my body slowly move Novie down and I’ll know when it’s time…and then me thinking, “yep, she is probably right because this doesn’t feel like the others…”.  Olivia had gone downstairs for the last 30 minutes of it to take a break and have some coffee (having come off a string of births over the past couple of days that required some additional caffeine input).

Thankfully, my incredible husband, who knows me and understood I was doubting myself, went downstairs to grab Olivia while she was getting some coffee and told her he knew I was ready and that we needed to get ready for Novie to make her entrance.  I had been listening to a playlist I had compiled of some of my favorite praise and worship songs and continued to find great comfort in the music.  Olivia came in and with her typical bold and forthright personality declared we were going to push now and so we prepared for Novie’s soon-to-be entrance. I was relieved- I think I was so exhausted from labor and trying to make sure I wasn’t trying to push prematurely that I needed someone to come in decisively at that moment.

I felt a renewed sense of purpose and that rush of adrenaline that comes with knowing that the first time you will hold your baby in your arms is imminent.  My water hadn’t yet broken (of course this explains in part why I wasn’t feeling that super strong intensity) and as we began to push, it finally broke and Novie was born within 20 minutes of pushing.  After a prolonged transition phase, I was extra thankful that pushing was quick!  We heard that beautiful cry and there she was.  A perfectly pink, 8 lb bundle of sheer preciousness.  I remember the immense feelings of joy and relief and seeing Will’s eyes bright with tears as he held her.  I remember cradling her close to me and looking down at her bright, alert little eyes.  After I held her a bit and once the cord had stopped pulsing, Will cut it and Olivia weighed her and did the usual post-birth health check.  Her APGARs were great.

God was and is so good to us, and we were and are so incredibly thankful for His faithfulness as He blessed us at 1:08 am on November 12, 2015 with Novaleigh Joy Adair.  We had always wondered if perhaps there was a little Novie in our future, just waiting for the right time to come into being, and now we have the privilege of being part of the story God will tell through her life.

 

 

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Starting Fresh

After sporadic blogging over the past couple of years, I found myself avoiding my blog altogether.  Often out of being tired enough that I wasn’t sure I could string coherent sentences together, but more so because I’ve just let life crowd out my enjoyment of writing.

So I’m starting over, kind of.  I want to breathe fresh life into this blog.  Really, it needs to be resuscitated– quite possibly with an AED as well as CPR.  So after choosing a new name and a new look, I’m ready to give writing some time again.

I hesitated in picking the word “mundane” to use as in my new title.  While my life is often somewhat repetitive and by most definitions, not super exciting, I don’t exactly consider it dull or lacking interest.  But it does fit in the sense that my life is often that of the everyday, the ordinary.   And then there is the fact that the word “mundane” is becoming more commonly used in many circles, especially it seems, in mommy/women bloggers.  So there’s that.

Oh, and the dancing.  Yeah, that’s not really my gift.  I have decent musicality, I love music and I love to move, but I do not qualify as a “dancer”.  So given all of this, titling this blog “Dancing in the Mundane” may seem a little off.  But to me, it’s perfect. Life isn’t clearly defined by set terms, at least, mine certainly isn’t.  And when this blog title popped into my head, it felt right because it wasn’t a 100% perfect description.   It traces the lines of my life without filling them in, and I find comfort in that.  My ordinary, everyday life is sometimes tedious, often repetitive, and with three children 6 and under, frequently tiresome!  I stay home with my children, which I sincerely love, and on top of that I homeschool, which I also love.  Most days.  And of course, being home with young children does allow for some mundane to creep in.  But I want to dance through it.  Crazy, goofy, sometimes graceful, aspiringly joyful dancing right through the routine diaper changes, the stereotypical-for-a-reason never-ending laundry, the shouts of both frustration and joy when learning something new, and the little arms thrown around me for a hug that can make all the hard stuff worth it.

That is the life I want.  A life that offers praise to God through every bit of it- whether dancing with arms open wide or teeth clenched tight.  And ironically, as I did look up the word mundane with the help of ever-present Google, I learned something else about it.  A secondary definition of mundane is “of or relating to this world or earth as contrasted with heaven”.  One of the first things I hope anyone will realize about me is that I’m a follower of Jesus Christ, so the idea of this world here being mundane speaks to me in a deeper way.  It’s not our ideal, it’s not our final home.  I want to dance through it in anticipation of what is to come, making the most of what CS Lewis called “the Shadowlands” and knowing there is ever more color ahead. I want to redefine a life mundane into a life extraordinary.  Not due to a change in circumstances but due to a change in perspective, in vision, in attitude.  Because, really, life is extraordinary, and those mundane moments are what define it.

Even when I have a toddler that likes to wipe his nose on my shirt.  A lot.

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My guest post on Organizing A Homeschool Space

I’ve decided it’s time to start blogging again.  I am nowhere near having this mother of three thing down yet, but I think I can safely squeeze some writing time in more frequently than once every five months or so.  I actually started back a couple of weeks ago when a friend of mine (who is also a professional organizer) asked me to do a guest post on her blog about organizing a homeschool space.  If you are interested in checking out her site and want to find out why I laughed when she first asked, here’s the link! http://getsimplespaces.com/guest-blogger-homeschool-organizing/

 

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Holiday Traditions- Part 2

I decided to blog on holiday traditions after our MOPs group came up with a wonderful list of ideas to inspire anyone looking for some traditions to throw into their holiday fun.  They are great ways to make memories and bless your family!

For anyone who is interested and missed Part 1, you can find it here.  Part 1 focused on Thanksgiving traditions- now we are moving onto Christmas!

1) Ornament exchanges.  If you do a Christmas tree, one memorable thing to do is to exchange ornaments each year.  I grew up with my parents exchanging with each other and my brother and I exchanging.  We typically did it Christmas Eve and an added benefit of this as little ones was that it always gave us one gift to open early.  An added bonus of this idea is that when we were both older and starting our own families, we already had a wonderful collection of ornaments to decorate our first “grown-up” trees with!

2) Reading Luke’s account of the birth of Christ on Christmas Eve.  There are tons of variations on this- some families tie this to setting out their nativity set (adding in a new figure as they get to that part of the story).  Another option is to set up the nativity set on Christmas morning- have family members look at the nativity set on Christmas morning before eating or opening gifts as a parent reads Christmas story in Luke. However it is done, it is a great way to keep our focus on the reason we celebrate Christmas.

3) Making Jesus a birthday cake.  We started doing this once we began having children, and it is one of my favorite traditions.  It is a terrific, concrete, and enticing way to help children grasp the reason for Christmas!

4) Speaking of sweet things, one way to bless others is to make an abundance of Christmas cookies, fudge, etc and deliver to neighbors, various local ministries, local law enforcement, and friends.  We like to make cinnamon rolls and share them with others.

5) Getting hot chocolate and riding around to look at Christmas lights.  Or a twist on this…Living by the Light, where one evening, choose to do everything by candlelight.  Talk about the verse 1 John 1:5 “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.”  Talk about what life would be like without light, and what life would be like without the light of Christ.  Then get in the car and go look at Christmas lights!

6)  Another one we personally incorporate is giving three gifts per child, to symbolize the three gifts given to Christ by the Magi.  Not only does this also relate directly to why we celebrate Christmas (even though the Magi didn’t visit Christ until he was a couple of years older), but it helps keep the craziness of commercialism down a bit!  There are also variations on this idea (you could do something like a gift to wear, a gift to read, and a gift to play with; or one family does a play off the gold/frankincense/myrrh idea- gold is something to give that is valuable, so something that the child really wants, their heart’s desire; frankincense was a spice used in the temple during prayer and fasting, so this gift could draw the child closer to God- a Bible, a Noah’s ark toy, etc.- myrrh was a fluid used upon death that covered the whole body, so perhaps something like pajamas, a sweater, jeans, etc.). Another idea with gift-giving is to give gifts to various ministries in the name of a loved one- World Vision has a great catalog that explains how you can bless families living in poverty with a goat or cow to provide milk, or hens to lay eggs.

7)  I can’t wait to start this one this year!  25 Names of Jesus for 25 days of ornaments- 1 to hang each day.  The idea is that you either take ornaments and write 25 names that are used for Christ, ie Wonderful Counselor, Alpha and Omega, Rock of Ages, etc.  You can make your own or use store-bought.  I came across this idea at http://www.iammommahearmeroar.net/2011/11/christmas-kojo-designs.html and think it is fabulous!

8) Christmas movie traditions.  This is a common one, as many people and/or families may choose to have certain movies they watch annually, like It’s a Wonderful Life, Elf, and so forth. 🙂

9) Another one I hope to start incorporating is that of Christmas Mail: sometime a few weeks before Christmas, family members write letters to each other and use stockings as mailboxes.  Family members read their letters quietly at the same time on Christmas Eve.  Obviously with really young ones this could be tricky, but pictures can be drawn or short letters can be dictated also.

10) For those that are fans of crafting or baking, one tradition that could be fun are incorporating parties with friends as you make handmade gifts.  Bring potluck and enjoy time together while preparing gifts.  Cookie swaps can fall into this category.

And as always, there are many ways to serve others with the love of Christ- mentioned above are giving gifts through groups like World Vision and making baked goods or items to serve to others.  As in the Thanksgiving post, you can invite others to share a Christmas meal with you.  You can visit nursing homes and pass out handmade cards or sing some Christmas songs.  There is such wonderful joy in giving to others, especially to glorify the One who gave all for us.  My family is trying to do a better job of remembering this and putting it into practice!

I’ll stop there to prevent this from becoming way too long! If you want more ideas, a great resource is this site, which has a list of 50 Christmas ideas (some from this site are in my list above): http://www.defrumpme.com/2011/11/50-things-to-do-at-christmas-25-days-of.html

And feel free to share any of your traditions in the comments below!