Faith Spilling Over… Into Everyday Life


Best Ever Family Tradition That Rescues Christmas

Advent Christmas Rescue

When I was growing up, Christmas was all about Santa Claus. I still remember the year I discovered Santa wasn’t real. I was in 3rd grade, and I’d heard unbelievable rumors from bigger kids at school. Before the crack of dawn on Christmas morning, I raced with my brothers to the tree and saw the doll I’d found hidden in Mom’s closet the week before. The gift tag on the doll said: “From Santa.” I was horrified. The big kids at school were right.

When I had children of my own, I chose not to go the Santa route, but gifts remain a central focus of the Christmas season. Many of us expend more energy buying, wrapping, and giving gifts than we do on any other activity in December.

Gifts are fun, but I what I really want to pass on to my kids is the marvel of the Christmas miracle.

We Celebrate Advent, Christ’s Awaited Coming.

At our house, celebrating advent rescues Christmas from the gift goblins and turns it into a special opportunity to encourage our children’s faith. When the kids were little, we started lighting a wreath every evening in December. We read a brief scripture, sang a carol, and blew out the candle. Some nights we had a special treat like a cookie, hot chocolate, or apple cider.

Gathering around an advent wreath builds family togetherness and adds a bit of wonder to Christmas. Singing a familiar carol brings a peaceful pause to hurried days of holiday preparation.

Let go of perfect.

You may have rosy pictures of your family gathered around a candle lit wreath, like in a Christmas Hallmark movie. Your kids’ angelic faces are rapt with attention. They sing “Away in the Manger” and adore Jesus.

Ain’t gonna happen that way every night, folks.

Real life advent time is like this. Your kids fight over who gets to light the candle and who gets to blow it out. (Smart parents devise a system of taking turns, which works only sometimes.) While everyone sings “Away in the Manger,” one kid hits his brother. The other kid sticks a pencil into the candle flame to see how fast it will burn.

Relax and do what you can.

Remember that even your most feeble efforts to point to Jesus as the center of the Christmas celebration will encourage your kids’ faith. If your children are small, keep it short and sweet. If your kids are busy high schoolers with evening activities, aim for 3 or 4 nights a week and call it good. Our family did it in the MORNING last year! Candle light was not quite the same at 8:00 a.m., but we let go of perfect in favor of what works.

At our house, celebrating advent rescues Christmas from the gift goblins and turns it into a special opportunity to encourage our children’s faith.

Here are some helpful resources:

Countdown to Christmas: A 15-Day Advent Nativity Activity: My friend Lisa Apello has written this new guide. You can use it in conjunction with a nativity set, putting out one piece each day and reading a corresponding scripture and devotional.

We Light the Candles : An old fashioned guide with simple readings for young children.

Good Morning Girls Advent Study: Bible study for you and activities for your kids.

Focus on the Family’s Advent Readings (Scroll to bottom of the page for the reading plan.)

The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

Maybe you haven’t had the time or energy to think about advent. It starts this Sunday, November 29th. If you don’t have a wreath or a reading plan yet, light a candle, sing a carol, and pray with your kids. Keep it simple. If you don’t have kids, you can still light candles and read scripture as a special ending to each day in December.

Now it’s your turn? What’s your favorite Christmas tradition?

Linking up with Grace and Truth,  Dance with Jesus, and Faith ‘n Friends. Check out these communities for more encouragement.

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How to Cultivate a More Positive Attitude

everyday thanksgiving

Have you had a case of the grumbles lately? Sometimes a negative attitude can hit you out of nowhere, can’t it?

Life is an amazing gift from God that should inspire gratitude. Yet some mornings we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and the day goes downhill from there. We grumble and complain. This may or may not have happened to me the week our garage door opener broke and my daughter’s computer crashed.

Our lives are a crazy mix of blessings and misfortunes, beautiful and hard woven together. Even on our best days, we don’t have to go far to find difficulty, but I don’t want to travel the road of life complaining about it. That ruins the ride for all the other passengers in my car, like my husband and kids.

Complaining zaps the contentment right out of my heart. So I want to get serious about waging war on the grumbles.

Today I’m guest posting for Sweet to the Soul. Follow me over there to read about waging war against the grumbles with 3 weapons.  And while you’re there, take a look around. My friend Jana Kennedy Spicer is an amazing graphic artist with a heart changed by God’s Word. You can also follow Sweet to the Soul on Facebook.

everyday thanksgiving blog series

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Join the Faith Spilling Over Facebook Community for 30 Days of Thanks and Praise.  Look for a daily word of encouragement.

Linking up with Holly Barrett’s Testimony TuesdayRaRaLinkup, Jennifer Dukes Lee’s Tell His Story,  Holley Gerth’s Coffee for your Heart, and Grace and Truth. Check out these communities for more encouragement.



How to Shine More Brightly Over the Holidays

How to Shine More Brightly

Jesus called us the light of the world, but sometimes I’m too busy or wrapped up in myself to think much about shining. I was definitely not thinking about it last Friday night while I set my alarm to get up early the following morning to go deliver Thanksgiving meals to needy families.

Whose idea was it to sign up for this? Saturday is my only day to sleep in. I haven’t had a free Saturday in weeks.” My thoughts were spiraling downward when I sensed the Holy Spirit persuading me to pray instead:

“Lord, please help me have the right attitude in the morning. My time is yours, so help me to give it willingly.” Continue reading


The Most Important Thing for Family Togetherness

Most Important Family Togetherness

Around my house food is always on everyone’s mind. While both kids were at home, the most frequent question I heard was “What’s for dinner?” They asked this approximately 10 minutes after lunch. Every. Single. Day. Sometimes it drove me crazy because I didn’t have a plan.

But it was good to know the kids were looking forward to dinner.

Family dinner makes memories.

Continue reading


Hope for When You Can’t Control Your Tongue

Hope for when you can't control your tongue

There’s a Salt Water Woman lurking inside of me, and she comes out at the darnedest times. Like last Saturday afternoon when we were driving around White Rock Lake looking for T.P. Hill. For an hour. Friends invited us to a picnic, but my husband, heaven help him, left the directions at home. The GPS went haywire, and we didn’t have the host’s phone number.

Salt Water Woman whined:  “It would have been great to get a phone number.” She used sarcasm: “Hopefully we’ll make it there by nightfall.”

I immediately regretted my words. You see, I don’t want to be a Salt Water Woman. I want to be a Fresh Water Woman. Continue reading


The Most Important Thing to Do with Your Kids

The Most Important Thing to Do with Your Kids

My Guitar Man made his way into the delivery room kicking and screaming, a real extrovert in every sense of the word. At 20 months, he charmed us by strumming a cheap toy guitar and lisping his favorite praise song. Except for his guitar, that boy never went in for toys. He preferred to follow me around and talk. Chef Girl made a gentler entrance into the world. Introverted and quiet, she played with the toys while Guitar Man talked. And talked.

“The days are long, but the years are short.”

Gretchen Rubin said it, but I didn’t believe it. While those two kids stayed busy filling our house with chaos, I followed behind mopping up the messes. My days never ended. But now, before I could catch my breath, Guitar Man is gone. Off to college. Continue reading


One Easy Way to Pray on the Go

One Easy Way to Pray on the Go

I give up on being a prayer warrior. I’m a prayer wimp. Can I just say that? During my morning times with God, I love reading and thinking about scripture. I journal and keep a gratitude list. When it comes to prayer, maybe I’m an ADD girl because I pray best when my legs are moving. I go on a morning walk with God. But even on that walk my mind often goes AWOL from the Holy of Holies and takes a hike to La La Land instead. Continue reading


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