Dodging icy spots, I hurried into the store for a few more things for the third time that day.  The snow, having fallen a few days before, wasn’t so pretty in the parking lot, and what sparkled in pristine white was now packed, browned from salt and pressed with the tread of so many tires.

Passing the bundled elderly woman picking her way over the treacherous piles, the tired ringer at the door, the temptation of the coffee bar, I headed toward candy canes and chocolate chips, while a longer list played through my mind.  Still need to order that gift, scrub that floor before company comes, decide whether or not a trip south is in order.

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We’ve checked a lot off my list this season.  Yet … There’s so much left to be done, Christmas now only days away.  9, if I’d read the cutesy Christmas app correctly that morning.  Only a few days to finish all the preparation, do all the things that needed to be done.  The weight of Christmas can weigh hard on a woman.

And that’s when it hit me, somewhere between the bell ringing and the carol dimly heard over the din of the grocery store …

Ready or not, here He comes!

Silly, isn’t it?  But true.

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Advent.  This season slips in like a lamb, and if we’re not careful we’re swept up in the pace of a lion as expectations and our own wants and wishes for the perfect Christmas loom large.  We must have the perfect tree, the matching paper, the perfect gift for everyone under our roof (and a few other roofs, too.)  We want to sing all the songs and light all the candles and read all the books to our children.  And it’s all beautiful–but we can let the weight of Advent become something it was certainly never meant to be.  Our preparations could become the very thing separating us from what Jesus wants to do this Advent … to come.

And yet …

Ready or not, here He comes.

That’s the thing about Advent.

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Lovely as it all can be, heart-filling and memory-making as our traditions are–

Advent is not all about me.  It’s all about Him.  And it’s not dependent upon me.  It’s dependent upon Him.  And the Lamb of God will come–has come–is coming.

Whether I wrap one more gift, bake one more cookie, sing one more song, or not–

Seven days from now (six … five … four … three … )

Jesus is coming.

I’ll keep decking the halls and scrubbing the deck and preparing my heart best I can.  But the best news about Advent is in those words right there, friends.

Ready or not, here He comes.

This is a fantastic coffee cake with fresh raspberries, sour cream, and a wonderful, crunchy, brown sugar and pecan streusel topping.

Here’s a lovely, tasty favorite around here (one that would be perfect for a Christmas breakfast, if one weren’t already addicted to Egg Scramble and Pioneer Woman Cinammon Rolls … 😉  )I give you … raspberry streusel coffee cake!

Raspberry Streusel Coffee Cake

3 ½ cups unsweetened raspberries
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 ¼ cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
BATTER:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cold butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
TOPPING:
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup chopped pecans
GLAZE:
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

raspberrycobbler

In a large saucepan, cook raspberries and water over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Add lemon juice.  Combine sugar and cornstarch; stir into fruit mixture.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Cool.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in eggs, sour cream and vanilla (batter will be stiff).  Spread half into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish.  Spread raspberry filling over batter; spoon remaining batter over filling.  Combine topping ingredients; sprinkle over top.  Bake at 350o for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.  Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over warm cake.

 

Enjoy!

A Quick Video on how to add snow to your Christmas tree--and a few favorite links!

Happy Monday! If you’ve been around here awhile, you might know how much I love snow. Here’s a quick Periscope I did when I “snowed” my bedroom tree this weekend!  You can follow me at Misty Krasawski on Twitter and Periscope (lots of fun, if you haven’t added it yet!)  Learn to make snow for your Christmas here:

 

Sometimes I like to share the fun things I’ve been finding around the internet!

Ann on housecleaning–plus the bedding I have to admitting to coveting just a teensy weensy bit …The Secret to a Clean House

The Norwegian way … How To Enjoy A Long Winter

Lessons on wintering, from Denmark: Hygge: Lessons in Winter from Denmark

Sally with an article from Joy from a couple of weeks ago, in case you missed it–plus her wonderful weekly podcast! The Gift of Inspiration: Imagining Ourselves To Be Heroes

Why Kindergarteners shouldn’t be forced into reading Early Reading Push May Be Harmful

This was a quick way to make yummy eggs for breakfast with almost no work! How to Bake Eggs in Muffin Tins!

A fabulous idea for quick Christmas light hanging –where was this *before* we did the lights?? I’m thinking it would be a great way to put them away this year; wouldn’t that be a pleasant surprise when next season rolls around? Crevier Lighting System

Have a wonderful week!

Rob and Mist at Little Women

Last night we attended Victoria’s winter concert. As usual, it was a wonderful mix of on-the-radio favorites and traditional choruses, the stage and aisles abuzz with color and movement.  I’d share a picture but honestly found myself so enthralled watching the kids present all they’d worked on that I never even thought to pull my phone out to capture it!

Turning down one cold, busy street after another, my husband and I hunted down a parking spot in downtown Denver last weekend, hoping for one not too far from the old, worn theatre where a new musical from the book Little Women was playing.  Two sweet little girls in pigtails and pinafores were chaperoned into the seats in front of us by their mama, while an elderly gentleman settled his slowly-moving wife into a seat across the aisle.  Onstage, a small cast brought characters and a beautiful story to life.

In Sally Clarkson’s wonderful book, Own Your Life, she wrote this:

When we fill our hearts with excellence and virtue, we find ourselves with a wealth of God’s goodness to offer others from the treasures we have collected. Just as Joy carefully filled her box, so we must learn to intentionally pursue activities  that will fill the treasure chest of our hearts with good things. We should look for ways to fill our hearts, minds, and spirits with goodness, truth, and beauty—the things that inspire us, cause us to worship God, and bring light to others.

(I highly recommend the whole article at Sally’s website, by the way!)

Inspired by the musical, I’ve brought out Little Women as the perfect addition to my Advent reading.  Once again, as I dive into the stories of Marmee, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, I find my treasure chest added to, as the tales of their lives illumine truths in my own.  This, I believe, is one of the greatest gifts any work of art might give us: illumination of our world; insight into what’s happening, why it’s happening, what might happen in the future if we continue on a certain path.

This busy world squeezes the spaces of our calendars dry, wringing every minute from every hour with things that *must* be done.  But as Sally reminds us, our hearts are in desperate need of filling.  If our calendars become full of activity and work, and we’ve neglected to engage with beauty, we’re likely to find our hearts shriveled and poor, empty of anything worth giving.

When was the last time you heard a clock tick?  I haven’t worn a watch in years, since my phone is usually handy for time-telling.  But I wonder what we’ve lost with the loss of the audible tick-tock of time passing.  Perhaps the methodical sound was a better reminder of what’s slipping through our fingers–our most precious resource: time.

In a time when ugliness and brokenness are rampant in our culture, embracing and entertaining ourselves with it because it's "real" isn't the answer. The answer is in surrounding ourselves with light. It's in filling our hearts with beautiful things.

I sneak from my room most mornings while it’s still pitch black outside.  The Christmas tree is lighting my morning reading during this season, and a hot cup of coffee and soft blanket accompany every day’s search for beauty early on.  What will God say this morning?  What truth is to be found in His word, in Morning Prayer, in the Advent books I’ve gathered?  Taking this time makes such a difference in my day because once everyone awakens and joins me, my heart will become everyone else’s resource.

Will I put something there they can draw on?  Something I can draw on?

I remember when I was younger and a certain television show became popular.  It was controversial because the family was … well, perhaps it’s best to label them “ugly”.  The parents were slovenly, the house a wreck, the kids rebellious and sassy.  When I expressed dismay at the show, my mother said, “Well, at least they’re real!  That’s how families are, not fake like some Donna Reed show!” Even then, I knew there was something wrong with that reasoning. Today, of course, Roseanne seems mild compared to the guide offerings.

In a time when ugliness and brokenness are rampant in our culture, embracing and entertaining ourselves with it because it’s “real” isn’t the answer.  The answer is in surrounding ourselves with light.  It’s in filling our hearts with beautiful things.

And that will take some work.  There’s a veritable siren song of social media, television, movies, music, popular books–all willing and available and pressing and clamoring to fill in  our “leisure” moments.  Not all of them are ugly and vile, of course; many more are in the category of something akin to Lucky Charms, perhaps–there to fill you up, but basically empty of any nutritive value. If we fill ourselves with what’s not really filling, of what value is that?  Perhaps our hunger is important and filling our hearts and minds with empty calories is just as detrimental as that sort of filling is to our bodies.

Alongside the sugar cereal offerings, though, there are plenty which are pure poison.  Both leave souls empty of light.

I’m not embracing this darkness, and neither should you.  I’m fighting back. With Bonhoeffer and Handel and Monet.  With Christmas carols and sugar cookies and lights from one end of the house to the other.

In a time when ugliness and brokenness are rampant in our culture, embracing and entertaining ourselves with it because it's "real" isn't the answer. The answer is in surrounding ourselves with light. It's in filling our hearts with beautiful things.

We must keep something in mind: what fills our homes and calendars fills our minds and hearts.  What fills the spaces NOT already written in, perhaps more so.

So what’s a person to do?  Choose what fills your time well.  Choose deliberately and thoughtfully and prayerfully and with an eye to becoming un-usual; a person full of light and beauty and truth in a world full of the ugly “real.”

It’s a battle, out there.

If you enjoyed this post, would you consider sharing it?  Such a blessing! Thanks! ~ Misty

I had to laugh as it happened once again this year; the still-fresh orange hydrangeas next to the silver vase and golden angel; placemats boasting snowy Christmas scenes jostling for their space in one already full of Thanksgiving. So I thought I’d share this post from last year once again. Praying your own mashup week is a beaautiful one!

The Great Thanksgiving Christmas Week Mashup

It’s arrived … the week of the Thanksgiving Christmas Mashup.

Funny, isn’t it? I love the change of seasons, and love to pull out all the fall decorations on the very first day of fall each year. When we lived in Florida, of course, we *had* to hang colorful leaves everywhere … since there weren’t any real ones, we did it in self-defense against monotonous green, I think! It served to make things feel a bit cooler, even if days were still in the 80’s and 90’s for another month or two.

Here in Colorado, of course, we have no such problem …

yellow treepretty color orchardapples in the orchardsquirrel friendWhat a lovely season!

Christmas, however, is a whole different level of love for me. Take our longing for fall and double it and that’s how we feel about snow around here. Add Christmas into the mix and … oh my! Joy to the world, indeed!

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My boys were thrilled that on the day we’d set aside to hang lights, it just happened to be 65 degrees! I’m still smiling and have to go out to the front yard every night to have another look at all their hard work. Now all we need is some lights for that big tree on the right, don’t you think?

I’ve been unpacking red and green bins for the past week now, tucking angels and lit houses and old fashioned santas into every open spot. Yesterday, while I was clearing the dining room table, I got a kick out of the tableau that greeted me …

Thanksgiving Christmas mashup

There they were … the too-fresh-to-be-throw-away Thanksgiving table flowers and unused napkins, alongside the Christmas ngel and candles. For a moment I considered putting the Thanksgiving things away, and then I thought … maybe not? Maybe the two seasons are just perfect for each other?

Maybe it’s most appropriate that we enter this season of Christmas through the door of Thanksgiving.

Right after we’ve thanked Him for all He’s already given, and before we start stressing (could we just avoid that part completely this year, anyway?) about the gift-purchasing and wrapping and mailing … while we are just beginning to turn our attention to the wondrous Gift the Father sent to all the world … Could we hold both in our hands for just a moment as we remember the angel’s wondrous announcement:

… the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” ~Luke 2:8-14

He has brought good news of great joy. How thankful I am!

There are a few orange and yellow silk leaves which didn’t make it into the fall storage boxes still lying around, and a few Thanksgiving napkins leftover from last Thursday’s celebrations, right next to the pine branches and twinkling lights. The great Thanksgiving – Christmas mashup week is here, and I like it this way just fine.

Are all your fall/Thanksgiving things neatly packed away? Or are you living in the mix, too?

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Do you stress out every Thanksgiving, trying to get it all done? We usually host Thanksgiving here, and I love it! Making the house cozy, cooking up a storm and feeding a bunch of people makes my heart very happy. But I found that waiting until Thanksgiving day to begin all the work involved was a surefire recipe for disaster.

Enter the Thanksgiving Week Prep Timeline!

I’m a list girl, and it helps me sooooooo much if I create a plan and write the plan down. That way I can check things off as I go along … and it also prevents me from becoming cranky mama when I realize we’re out of toilet paper and there are seven guests with us, or find the cranberry sauce ingredients in the cabinet when it’s too late to make, anyway!

I hope this little list will be a help to you as you do your own planning!

Thanksgivingpreplist

You can find our favorite recipes here: Our Family Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

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It’s been quite a season, hasn’t it?  Sometimes it seems the world is on fire.

Faces of grieving moms and frightened children make us hug our own close, longing to hide them from all the ugliness and crazy happenings of our day.

There’s been a lot of discussion around our house about the refugee crisis and the appropriate response for Christians.  While there are very loud voices on both sides, it seems to me that this situation has the potential to do something important: to reveal to us a lot about our own faith.  Are we making decisions based on fear (even if we couch it as “wisdom”)?  Have we researched the situation for ourselves so we know the facts and don’t just parrot the party line of our favorite loudmouth on radio or TV?  Above all, are we responding as Jesus would respond?

Lord, help us.  We are overwhelmed.

The other day I was going through my Loving God Greatly Bible study, and was reminded of a scripture paraphrase I’d read many years ago of Psalm 23.  I did a quick periscope on it, and wanted to share it with you!  What a wonder to be reminded that God is our Shepherd, and so we are never alone or without guidance!

Comforting, isn’t it?  This sheep knows she needs direction and looking after!  Thank goodness for the Shepherd.  Isaiah 40:11 reminds us …

Like a shepherd He will tend His flock,
In His arm He will gather the lambs
And carry them in His bosom;
He will gently lead the nursing ewes.

 

This made me giggle this morning.  Have you ever had a toddler throw a fit in some public spot and you’ve had to just pick him up and physically remove him to a … more appropriate place?  That’s the picture I got when I read this today.  In His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom.  Which, to me, indicates that He’s perfectly capable of scooping up our errant children and carrying them where He wants them to go, whether they like it or not.

Bless.

Since my mind keeps circling back around to the refugee crisis (sorry!) here’s another question that could probably be moved to the top of the list–What does God want YOU to do?  That, after all, is the only question most of us will get to actually answer, since we’re not in charge of national policy!  This is the thing that’s keeping me up at night, honestly.  Our foundation has partnered with The Legacy Collective and they’ve shared their intentions here–so exciting to be part of this work!

Ann Voskamp, as usual, has beautiful words and reminders for us, too.

Relevant Magazine posted this list of scriptures that can inform our decisions on how to treat refugees.

And this story, from my sweet mentor Sally Clarkson, reminds us that even in the dark, God is with us and we are never alone.

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Several years ago I had the pleasure of being introduced to Ruth Schwenk by my sweet friend Sally Clarkson, and I immediately wished we lived in the same neighborhood.  Since then we’ve attended conferences together both as listeners and speakers, I’ve interviewed her for Titus 2 University, and now she’s got a new book out with Karen Ehman entitled, Hoodwinked.  She was sweet enough to send me a lovely box of treats a few weeks ago which included the book, and while I’ve only had a chance to go through a couple of chapters, I’ve gotta say–this is a refreshing, great reminder of how sometimes we mamas can get ourselves in a tizzy over things we shouldn’t, while missing the important things!  Ruth writes about the book here …

 

“Our kids love to play a version of what we used to call hide-and-seek. The difference? They love to play it in our attic… with all the lights out! There is no skill to this game – it is pure chaos, pure chance, and pure darkness! After crawling, dodging furniture, and luckily finding one of our kids in my first try at the game, I vowed to never play again!

Let’s be honest, at times, parenting feels sort of a luck-of-the-draw, give-it-your-best-shot, cross-your-fingers-and-hope-for-the-best adventure. It can feel an awful lot like crawling through the dark. Have you found yourself believing the myth that Motherhood is just luck-of-the-draw? Maybe you’re not entirely sure what you should be doing or even how to do it.

The good news is that God has not left us moms in the dark. We don’t have to parent by chance or stumble through motherhood without guidance. God has called us to do far more than take care of our kids, feeding them, keeping them safe, and raising them into independent adults, meanwhile keeping our fingers crossed that we’re doing it right. Motherhood is not luck of the draw, where we parent by luck and chance and just pray to survive the day.

Instead, mothering is a calling to shape our children. And shaping our children requires intentional action. One of the primary ways we can do that as moms is through teaching our kids to know God and love God.

This kind of action and intentional effort we see communicated in various places in the Bible. But one of my favorites examples is the story of Eunice, Timothy’s mom. Timothy was a young pastor in the important city of Ephesus during the first century, and he was a co-laborer in the gospel and an important source of support to the apostle Paul. But before that, Timothy grew up in a divided home, with a Jewish mother and a Greek father (Acts 16:1).

Eunice was the real deal, but apparently she was also intentionally teaching her faith to her son, Timothy. We know that Timothy was learning the Scriptures from a very young age. Paul makes this observation about Timothy, but ultimately it is commentary on Eunice as a teaching and shaping mom. Notice what Paul says:

 

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:14–15)

 

Paul makes some staggering statements in these two short verses. Not only did Timothy learn from his mother’s teaching, Paul says he became “convinced.” This was not a complacent, comfortable, channel-changing faith. His faith, because of his mother’s teaching and sincere faith, became a conviction and a calling in his life and ministry. Eunice did not live aimlessly, controlled by the whims of fate or the chance of circumstance. Rather, Eunice lived faithfully, in obedience to the will of God for her life. Eunice was a mom who understood that her role wasn’t just luck of the draw and hope for the best. The thing is this….I want to be like Eunice. I really do. And many days it is hard, but hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It is a daily battle to follow God wholeheartedly and spur our children on to do the same.  If we want our children to be disciples of Jesus than we must be one first. We will pass on what we possess.

Blessings,

Ruth Schwenk”

 

If you haven’t already grabbed a copy, I encourage you to do so!  You can find one here: Hoodwinked at Amazon

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Last week, we took a vacation.

robandipuntacanaBeautiful, isn’t it?  We were in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for an awards trip with my husband’s company.  While we were there, we planned an outreach to a children’s ministry working in Santo Domingo called Kidz Alive.  It was a wonderful weekend (I’ll have to come back and chat about that more, later on.)

But while we were away, new images gripped the world’s imagination.  Aylan, a three year old boy, washed up onto the beaches of Turkey.  And suddenly, a refugee crisis dubbed the worst since WWII came into sharp focus–and became impossible to ignore.

Would you join me at For the Family today as I share some thoughts on this issue?  Because Maybe It’s Our Turn to Step Into the Water.

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Ahhh, the life of a mama!

Recently, I was blessed to attend a reunion of the MomHeart team at the home of Sally Clarkson.  We enjoyed deep fellowship, wonderful teaching, and the breaking of bread around lovely tables.  We even spent a morning sitting ’round the lake at the Broadmoor Hotel, with instructions to ponder what it meant for each of us personally to make sure our lives continued to be both life-giving and sustainable.

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What a gift!

But we also left with another gift.  Sally and her team gave each one of us a choice of lovely pitchers, meant to remind us of our need to approach God for filling before we turned to pour out to others.  The one filled with the roses above is mine–isn’t it precious?  I’m talking a bit more about it today at The Better Mom, if you’d like to join me!