living on pb & j

Ordinary moms living on Prayer, the Bible, and Jesus!

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Keep The Lights On

Against the outline of a dark house, Christmas lights shine brightly.

Ladies, there is just something so cheery and comforting about a drive through the neighborhood lit up for Christmas, during the cold Christmas season.

…and so (as tradition in our household has it) we put up our outdoor lights the day after Thanksgiving.

This year, we put up white icicle lights on our new TN home and put out our lighted outlined nativity. They looked so pretty. I just love to drive home at night and see our house so bright. 


One day, however, I noticed that our nativity was not lit up. We had had construction workers at our house and I thought maybe they used our extension cord. When I went to investigate, the extension cord was plugged into the same outlet as the freezer.  They were both still plugged in, so I figured that something else was wrong.

I let the matter go for a few days, thinking in my head that I would “get to it”. On Saturday of that week, I made a bunch of freezer meals. When I was finished, I carried them down to the freezer, where I found out that my freezer was off and had been turned off for as long as had my nativity.

I was sick to my stomach. All of the fresh peaches that I had frozen were ruined. The extra meat that I had stored was spoiled.

I realized quickly that when our construction workers had turned off our electricity, the outlet had to be reset, but it was not. Therefore, the freezer and the nativity were shut off.

I grabbed a large trash bag, filled it up and dumped everything in the garbage can.

Then it hit me…

If I had cared more about the nativity being lit, I would have figured out that this freezer had been shut off.  If I had been more concerned about Jesus being lit up this season, my food would have still been frozen.

I lost out, because I wasn’t concerned with what was really important.

What are you losing out on, because Jesus is not lit?

Peace? Security? Love? Relationships?

This was such a great reminder to me, to keep the important things “lit”. I hope you have a great Christmas season and remember to let Jesus shine the brightest.



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A Season of Giving

The holidays are upon us!

I’m sure that you have already been looking around, wondering what to purchase this year.  It is not even Thanksgiving yet and the stores are bursting with Christmas.  My Facebook feed is filled with pictures of friends who have already decorated their homes and with stories of kids telling their mamas what they want for Christmas.  I totally get it.  I LOVE me some Christmas, but I also have to pace myself.

You see, if we zoom past Thanksgiving we miss important lessons on gratefulness….and this seems to be what our commercial “friends” down at the mall want us to think:  “Focus on what you WANT, not on what you HAVE!”  (Let alone being grateful for those things.)

Now before you start to think I’m “The Grinch”, let me tell you that I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmas.

I love the true meaning of the season.

I love the decorations.

I love the songs.

I love the smells.

I love the adorable Christmas plays.

I love almost everything about Christmas.

BUT, I don’t love the “GIMME” side of Christmas.

The Bible says  “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” – Acts 20:35

….and so what I have tried to do in our home and hope to convey to our kids is that Christmas is a season of giving. I often bring up the fact that God gave us the best Present, Jesus,  and this is the basis for our giving.

Some of the ways we “do” Christmas:

  1.   Feeding the hungry
    1. My son figured out that the Salvation Army bell ringers collect money to feed other little boys and girls. We can not go in OR out of the stores without giving them money.
    2. We have also invited friends over that do not have a place to go during the holidays. We try to be ONE BIG family to them.
  2.   Gifting
    1. Neighbors: Every year we make or buy a gift for all of our neighbors. This is just our way of sharing God’s love with them.  Avs loves to go and help me deliver them. This is a highlight of our Christmas
    2. Teachers and Friends:  We also make little gifts and presents for our kids’ teachers as well as close friends.  We LOVE to gift.
    3. Extended Family:  This year “A” and “T” took their own money from their piggy banks and went to the dollar store and bought each of their cousins a gift.  We gave them a few tips, but mostly the gifts were their own ideas.  This was a sacrifice on their part but they LOVED it. Then when we got home, they helped me wrap those gifts.  “A” wrote the names and “T” put a bow on each package.
    4. Close Family:  We take the kids out and let them buy a nicer gift for each other as well as their parents.  We help them with the selections and use some of our money so they can do this. They love being a part of the gifting process.
  3.   Christmas Day
    1. On Christmas Day, we begin the day by reading the Christmas story. Then we let the kids GIVE their gifts.  We make a big deal out of this and they get a lot of enjoyment from it.  Presents are opened up one person at a time.  This helps us all to fully enjoy the gift-giving process and is much more meaningful.  This is all our kids have known and they love it.

My children know the story of baby Jesus and they are starting to realize what a sacrifice He made.  We are trying to teach them that it’s not about being good and getting BUT about sacrifice, gratitude and giving.

It is sooooo much fun to give!!!!   Let’s pass this on to our children.

How much fun would it be this Christmas if your child’s BIGGEST smile came from giving someone else a present RATHER than getting a toy that he will only use for a short time! – Rejoicing in the Present


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Making Christ the Center of Christmas

Even before I found out that we were going to have our first baby, I had always a strong desire to teach my children that Christmas is a celebration about Christ. This blog post is not about whether you should incorporate Santa into your holiday or decorate a Christmas tree. It is simply about keeping Christ the center of your holiday. I recently asked some mom-friends how they kept Christ the center. Here are some great responses:

“Every Christmas Eve we read Luke 2, it is a sweet tradition in my family.” – JW

“Christmas morning while eating breakfast, we read the Christmas story from our Bibles. My children and I bake Jesus a “birthday cake” as well.” – JD

“We always watch “The Nativity Story” as a family on Christmas Eve. There are a few parts that might be a tiny bit scary for small kids, such as Herod sending out soldiers to kill all baby boys. We just explained it and hide their eyes if they can’t handle it. It brings my husband and I to tears every year, and makes the Christmas story come alive.” – KR

“Dec 1-25 we read OT prophesy and portions of the Christmas story every night in our devotion time, and the story again on Christmas morning. We try to encourage giving by making gifts for teachers and other special people in our life. We have a “little people” nativity they play with–makes it more alive. Several other nativities they can’t touch and just talk about it… all the time. My mom did that, and I hated it, as a kid. but I am eternally thankful for that influence on my young mind now.” – TP

“We use the whole Christmas time to teach lessons from the Bible. i.e. The gifts they get– some are what they ask for, some are not and they don’t get everything on their list. This teaches them that the answers to our prayers are yes, no, and wait and we point that out to them. Then, they must be thankful for everything, even stuff they don’t want. If they are unthankful for even one gift the rest of their gifts will all be given to other people by them. And yes, we have done that one year with our daughter. We teach them that God brings all things into our life, good and bad, and things we want and things we don’t want and we need to be thankful early on for each of those things.”- PJ

“We talk about it a lot!! Seems lame, but it’s amazing to me how the kiddos just love to talk if I will listen!!!” – BH

“We’re doing the Christmas Adventure Box this year, and LOVE it! It started on Dec. 1, and we have missed several nights. It goes through the Nativity in detail, and some of the other nights are like going to look at Christmas lights – Jesus came here to be our Light, and we are the light of the world. An object lesson with the candy cane, etc. Just a sweet biblical lesson each night. I’m so happy with it. You can find it by going to.” – J.B.

A cute idea that was given to me this year by a friend, D.S: Take the Joseph and Mary from your manger scene and hide them around your house (similar to the Elf on a Shelf). The kids can find them each day and you can talk to them about what their journey must have been like. On Christmas Eve morning they should be in the nativity, and on Christmas day add the baby Jesus to your nativity. – S.G.

I hope these comments give you some ideas. We have also been intentional about CHRISTmas. Here are some things that we do…

For us, we try to make Christmas a season of giving. 

We discuss with our son how Jesus gave us the biggest and best present and that we like to give gifts for that reason. He loves to give, so this is exciting for him.

We have gotten to the point where we can’t walk past the Salvation Army bell-ringers without giving money. He knows that when he gives money it goes to feed other boys and girls. He will even remind me of this fact, so I am always prepared to dig into my purse for money whenever we go shopping. I know he is going to want to give and I never want to dampen that desire.

Also, we have an amount of money budgeted for Christmas presents. He gets to use some of it to buy everyone a gift in his immediate family. We talk about getting presents that the person would like and he has done pretty well so far.

We also make Christmas a relaxing day to celebrate. He doesn’t get to rush downstairs and open presents. We enjoy our breakfast, then we read the Christmas Story, sing happy birthday to Jesus and, finally, open presents.

He is such a giver and I hope and pray that he always has this desire.

One of the families in our church doesn’t do much for Christmas. Everyone gets a few small gifts but they wait until each kid’s birthday and make that a HUGE deal. I love this thinking, because, in truth, this season is all about Jesus. It’s His birthday.

I hope this encourages you to be intentional this year about celebrating Jesus.