living on pb & j

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


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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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Green Pastures and Still Waters

Lambs Suckling

Psalm 23:2-3: “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

We just resumed school this week after a week off last week for spring break. I’m so thankful my husband was able to take the week off, too, and we were able to enjoy several activities as a family.

The week was full of sweet memories such as trips to the playground, lunch at McDonald’s, a Cracker Barrel date for my husband and I, a visit to our Abeka representative who was in town so we could order next year’s school books, a first for our girls – playing miniature golf, along with several stops to get ice cream.  My daughters and I ended our week helping a precious little girl who is battling cancer celebrate her third birthday. This was an extra special treat for me because it meant a couple of hours of conversation with a dear friend who is always an encouragement to me because I can be open and real with her about “mom stuff”.

Another thing that made last week special were the revival services held at our church Sunday through Wednesday. They were very spiritually encouraging, refreshing and convicting.  They reminded me just how precious a treasure we have in God’s Word.

Last week was our planned spring break on our school calendar, but two weeks before we were off for a week because of something unplanned-me dealing with a bout of what turned out to be pneumonia!

Having to take an unplanned week off from school could be cause for frustration and complaint, but through it God showed me His green pastures and still waters.   My being sick was part of His plan. Through my illness, God showed me so many things to be thankful for – my husband being able to take off work to look after our kids, his making meals and cleaning up, snuggling with my kids on the couch watching countless episodes of Curious George and Thomas the Tank Engine, my mother-in-law coming over on a day my husband couldn’t take off work to watch the kids, her doing our laundry, taking our girls out for lunch and keeping them for three nights while I was recuperating, my mom coming over to help watch our 2-year-old son who was recovering from a double ear infection, and so many other blessings, big and small.

Some of the sweetest things that happened while I was recovering were specific answers to prayer. A couple nights after I was diagnosed with the pneumonia, my little boy wasn’t sleeping well due to his ear infection. Two nights in a row I asked the Lord to help him go back to sleep and within minutes he fell back to sleep. A third night I prayed as he was struggling to sleep and I went to check on him. This time I gave him some toys, then went to get him some medicine. By the time I returned with the medicine, he had quieted down and then fell back to sleep, not even needing the medicine.  Such a blessed answer to prayer that neither one of us lost much sleep that night!

It is so easy to want our “green pastures” and “still waters” to always be like our spring break, full of happy memories and fun times together, but God knows we also need the days (and sometimes weeks and months and even years) of trials and hard times to bring us closer to Him and remind us of all the things we should be thankful He gives us day by day!


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Enjoying the Little Blessings

Thanksgiving is coming up for those of you in America and I know, I’m getting a jump start on the”blessings” and “give thanks” posts that will undoubtedly be inundating your reader feeds and email inboxes. But as I’m sure at least one post will tell you, you can’t just be thankful one day a year. It’s an every day thing.

What I wanted to tell you is just a simple little reminder though. Don’t just count the big blessings. Count the little ones too. You know, the big blessing of a healthy family, a loving spouse, a Bible in your language, a wonderful church, your salvation, etc. Those are the ones everyone counts right off the top. And that’s great. But what about the little ones? Like, indoor plumbing. (Or is that a big one??) Or a day of homeschooling where no one cries? A front or near-to-the-front parking spot at Walmart? I tell you, if you only focus on the big blessings, you will be missing out on the little ones. I think it’s through the little blessings that we are reminded the most that God does love us and cares about everything in our lives. Even the little things.

I had a small blessing while out shopping with my Mom this week. Do you ever just feel like you’re life is in a rut? You do the same things every day. You wear a lot of the same things (admit it, most of us have that one comfy
outfit that is our go-to outfit for days we aren’t expecting to see another living soul with a judgmental eye). Things are just monotonous. That’s every day life. Sometimes though, you just need something to break the monotony don’t you. That was me. So as my Mom and I were walking through Kohl’s one day this week with a 20% off coupon burning a hole in our pocket, we hit every department’s clearance corner. Now I hardly ever find anything in the home goods department but I look anyway. Never know right?? And I saw this:

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I added the floating bear and smiley face on the sun. I wish it had that smiley face because that would be totally awesome! So I’m standing in Kohl’s looking at this end-cap of miscellaneous mugs, I spot this little guy. I think yellow just screams happy. I don’t know if you can see it, but it says “Beautiful Day” on it. It has birds and some fluffy clouds and rolling green meadows. The whole inside and handle are yellow! I picked that little guy up and flipped it upside down to see the cost and to my surprise it was on CLEARANCE! Yes! *Christian happy dance* It was only $1.99 and we had that extra 20% off! Now, I know all you practical ladies are out there shaking your heads and saying to yourselves, “Yeah but did she really NEED that mug?” Of course I didn’t! We are probably all guilty of having a bazillion mugs in our cupboards. But to be honest, it seemed just perfect for breaking up my daily routine and monotony.

I didn’t walk into the store looking for anything special. I didn’t expect God to really care that I felt things had gotten a little dry in my life. I FULLY believe He sat that little mug there just for me. He knows I love yellow. He knows I like happy looking things. And He knows I’m a near-broke mother of six, homeschooling mom who refuses to pay full price for most anything. Haha! Can I get a witness on that!?

To me, that mug was a little blessing. I don’t drink coffee but I do drink milk, tea, and hot chocolate, and this has become my go-to drink container. In fact, I just took a drink out of it after that last sentence! 🙂 It makes me smile. My husband just shakes his head at me, but I’m okay with that! I can take the judgmental head shaking!

So look around you today. Don’t wait till Thanksgiving comes. Start TODAY looking for those little things. Maybe it will be the stain treatment working on your favorite shirt, or your kids actually liking something you make for dinner. The Bible says that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights” – James 1:17a So everything GOOD. Did you see that? Good AND Perfect. So not every gift will be perfect. But it will at least be good. 🙂 And that’s all the little things too! So tell me what some of your little blessings are. I guarantee you will find some if you just take the time to pay attention! Remember to say “Thanks!” to your heavenly Father Who loves you enough to even orchestrate the seemingly little things in your life! And now I’m off to refill my happy mug! Woo!