The Best Gifts

December 21, 2016

I love CHRISTmas. I am grateful that God choose to come to earth as a man. Sometime that love gets lost in the buying, wrapping, cooking, decorating, hosting, cleaning, driving and every-other-thing-ing.

This year, I didn’t feel like putting up decorations when I typically do it. But I heard God say in my heart, “you like it when people celebrate your birthday. I like it when you celebrate My half-birthday.” (Jesus was likely born in the spring.) I laughed, because He is right. My birthday is on Halloween and I always say that everything that happens – is happening – for me. So this season, I tried to remember that everything I did was for Him.

I put wreaths in the dining room, garland on the stairs, and fresh evergreens in vases. We put up two trees. The small one is in our family room. It’s pretty and delicate, but had no gifts under it. One morning while sitting near it, I came across a Bible passage that noted how God gives us grace and peace and boy do I need grace and peace.

It dawned on me that the very best gifts I have are not things at all, but salvation, hope and love.

So I decorated empty boxes with oversized tags that remind me of the gifts God gave me in sending His son, and placed them under that tree.

I encourage you to strategically place a few “labeled” boxes in your home to remind yourself of His great love. I know you will be blessed for it.

Wishing you a Merry CHRISTmas & Joyous New Year




It’s the last few days to prepare for CHRISTmas 2012. For many of us, the road to this point has been rocky, as communities mourn over numerous tragedies, and particularly the recent events in Newtown, Connecticut.

Three Wreaths on our front door. They are connected with weatherproof scarves.

Three Wreaths on our front door. They are connected with weatherproof scarves.

I was torn whether to Blog  – and then I was reminded that the reason for this whole CHRISTmas affair – is the only hope for those who mourn.

So I am writing to remind others and myself that in the midst of senseless tragedy, God is the only One who can ease the fear, who can diminish the pain, who can bring peace – when there is no human reason for peace. The One True God is the Father of Jesus, and He is the reason for this season.

As you continue your preparations – the shopping and cooking, the eating and cleaning, the visiting others and hosting visitors, the crying and laughing… please remember that this huge celebration is a half-birthday* party, for the Son of God. We give gifts to each other to remember His gift to each of us.

Jesus gives people the way to be reconciled to God. His gift helps us to enjoy the knowledge of good and by His grace to ultimately overcome the knowledge of evil. If we receive Him, we will become the sons and daughters of God – and there is no better gift than that.

So practically speaking here are some ideas to try

Have cake with candles before or after you open your CHRISTmas gifts. (We eat the birthday cake with our breakfast on CHRISTmas morning.)

Open your home to people with the motive to provide a place of emotional “rest” for those who are weary and who carry heavy burdens.

Don’t sweat so many of the detail this year. Eat what you already have. Clean what is really dirty, but ask folks to show grace for the small things. They probably won’t notice.

Play games that create opportunities to talk.

Blow up balloons. Scatter them around the tree or in the dining room. I think birthday parties are better with balloons.Blog Balloon CHRISTmas

Be mindful that we might be allowing loved ones to partake in violence as they interact with video games, movies, and television, etc.  Becoming desensitized to violence is a dangerous thing. Instead let’s make every effort to focus on things that are good, peaceful, kind, funny, thoughtful, and godly.

Eat some healthy foods along with the not so healthy fare.


Wishing you a joyous celebrate of His birth…

Home-ista Kelly

* Many Bible scholars believe that Jesus was born in the springtime. The winter CHRISTmas celebration is six months later, and in a sense, a half birthday.

For many people around the world, the week leading up to Easter is a time of reflection and great meaning. Last year, I felt of bit of conviction that I didn’t have any noticeable displays to herald the season, like I typically do for CHRISTmas.

Hmmm… didn’t the birth that we celebrate at CHRISTmas happen specifically to enable the Resurrection commemorated at Easter?

I almost felt a sense of lament that I did nothing to acknowledge Easter.

And then God gave me a simple idea that gave me peace and joy. A few days before Good Friday, I bought several yards of tulle netting. I arranged it along our staircase like garland the Thursday night before Good Friday. I choose red to symbolize the sacrifice that Jesus had made on cross. It was a reminder of His love and His obedience, even unto death.

It was simple, inexpensive, and easy to do. Yet, it was immensely important to me. My kids asked why I did it and I explained that I just wanted to acknowledge Christ and His meaning our lives. They said they liked it.

So at the risk of sounding like I have it all together, because you and I both know that I DON’T – I am praying to start a revolution of people who do “Holy Week” decorating for their homes and businesses.

“Dear Lord, we praise You because You are gracious and kind and merciful. We are thankful for countless blessings. We are most grateful for the incredible gift of salvation. During this upcoming week, may the hearts of your people be more closely knitted to Yours and may we glorify You in all we do, even in decorating our homes to celebrate this season. In the Name of the Risen Christ we pray. Amen.

May you feel the gravity and joy of this season…

Home-ista Kelly

P.S. Bunny rabbits of any kind are NOT what I’m talking about.

P.S.P.S. You could use white tulle, to represent the purity believers have because of Christ’s work on the cross, or purple silk on a door wreath to show allegiance to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Reader Becky Keating shared how she adorned her dining area for Passion week. Thanks for sharing.

Becky’s Adornment for Easter

It’s a week before CHRISTmas Eve and I have a lot to do. It seems like time goes at warp speed from the moment we dump our Halloween candy from the pillowcases we collected it in, to the count down of the crystal ball drop in Time Square, NY. I always wish I had more time to do what I want and need to do.

That said, to me, this season is a true celebration of Christ’s coming to Earth to fulfill God‘s redemption plan. Because of this, I try to do things that remind me of the love He has shown during the year and I try to show love to others hoping they will see Him in my actions. (Of course, I have my moments when I quote Fred Flintstone and say “rattin, smattin, rattin…” regarding traffic at malls, tape dispensers that keep getting lost, or gifts I bought but misplaced when I tried to hide them from our kids. Still, it is my desire to truly honor the Baby, who is now the King.)

Here are a few that have worked fairly well:

CHRISTmas DECORATING – Instead of having one big tree, I put up a few smaller alpine trees in different rooms. (I got mine at Hobby Lobby.) The small alpine trees are super easy to erect, take fewer ornaments and give me a chance to savor the thoughts of CHRISTmas in more rooms. This year the ornaments on one tree are earth-toned and I love how the tortoise glass orbs reflect the light – which remind me that He is the light of the world. Small aluminum ornaments are stamped with peace, love, joy, or faith. One tree has a glass cross near the top rather than a star. The smaller trees make me feel like it is a little less about the gifts.

Alpine Tree, from Hobby Lobby

On the stairs, I love the way garland looks. I top mine with fabric ties. I bought a few yards of paisley fabric and stitched them into scarves. Just cut across the width of the fabric and then sew around the three sides to finish the edges. They last forever and are a unique way to connect your decorating to your home décor.

Fabric Scarves on Newel Posts

Babbles in pretty bowls look very festive. I just add a little reminder of the season to enhance the items I already have. Greeting cards can be corralled in small baskets too.

Since my trees are not “real” I cut a few branches from a pine tree in our backyard and placed them on the mantle in a glass vase. The aroma is nice and they remind of the wonder of God’s creation. Can you imagine entering the world that You created? Amazing….

Vase with Pine Branches from the Backyard

Take-out Containers from Meijers

GIFT-GIVING – CHRISTmas is a great time to say “thank you.” Most years I make homemade fudge to give to our kid’s teachers and coaches, my girlfriends, hair stylist, mail carrier, etc. This year, I saw the cutest paper “takeout” containers. They are the perfect size for three or four pieces and look even better when placed inside of a cellophane gift baggie. (Plus the bag keeps the fudge fresh longer.) If you don’t bake – buy a yummy treat and package it up with love and a hand written note of affirmation and encouragement.

CHRISTmas MORNING – One of our traditions came from an article I saw in Women’s Day magazine many years ago. The author said that her mom didn’t have very much money when she was growing up and to make the small number of CHRISTmas gifts seem like more, Mom would blow up a dozen or so “party” balloons and toss them on the floor with the presents. The author went on to say that she continued this tradition with her family and for her, CHRISTmas doesn’t seem like CHRISTmas unless there are balloons. And… our kids agree. So my husband and I blow up 15-20 red balloons and we scatter them on the floor amongst the presents. Ironically, the kids almost always play with the balloons as much, if not more than the other items. What a cool reminder that we are celebrating a birthday.

Balloons remind that CHRISTmas is a Birthday Celebration (2010)

To continue the birthday theme – we have birthday cake with our CHRISTmas breakfast or brunch. Yep… we sing Happy Birthday and just eat the cake right along side the scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, toast and hominy grits in homage to my Southern born parents. Sometimes I buy a sheet cake from a local bakery. Other years I bake one myself. And I suspect that this is a tradition that our kids will take with them to their families in the future.

I hope one of these simple ideas will enhance your celebration.

Home-ista Kelly