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K.I.S.S. #2

Keeping It Short & Simple (KISS) #2

Where is your focus today? Is it on your unfinished Christmas tasks? Baking? Wrapping? Shopping? The impending blizzard?

Mine is on my Christmas prep to-do list, but let's refocus the lens and see the miracle of Jesus. He's the center of the week, but I seem to forget that too often.




You're busy! I know you are, because I am too. In fact, I've been too busy to blog for a few weeks. It's the party, Christmas program, and concert season and in our house it's also basketball season. So as we fly from one event to another, I try to squeeze my Christmas preparations in between other things. The other night, I fell asleep in my chair and woke up later still holding my crochet hook and yarn from the gift I had been working on. Another day, I brought my crochet bag with me to a basketball game to work on a gift while I was waiting for 40 minutes between dropping off my son and the start of the game. A fellow parent, a man of course, said, You're too young for crochet."

I'm not sure how he knew this crochet age rule when I've lived 40 years without hearing such a thing. When I told him I'd been crocheting since I was twelve, he followed it up with, "Well, at least you're too young to be bringing it out in public! It's something to do at home. And, old ladies make a lot of useless stuff and doilies."

My fingers still flying on the yarn, I kindly explained that my hats and slippers would not be useless gifts. I wasn't feeling overwhelming Christmas kindness in my heart at that moment, but it was somewhat funny.

You're much too busy to hear any more stories, so as I close today, I'll keep it short and simple (K.I.S.S.). In fact, over the next 2 weeks, I'll send nothing but a few Christmas, short and simple messages to keep you encouraged during the holidays.

Today's K.I.S.S. 
Find some time to relax this weekend and focus on friends and family more than on food and fretting.

Christmas Blessings,

What are you doing to keep things simple this holiday? Share your comments below.


Family Photo Gift Ideas

I love crafting. It's one of my dots! And since God has given me a creative impulse, I also enjoy sharing inspiration and ideas with others. I've been working on homemade Christmas gifts all weekend but I'm not telling what I made, just in case the recipients happen to be readers. As we approach Christmas and we think about what is most important to us, I think of the people in my family. And as I think of the people in my family, I think of photos and memories captured on film. I take a lot of pictures!

One of the most precious gifts we can give to someone else is a photo that brings hearts together across the miles. So today, as I break from my usual blogs and book reviews, here are some photo gift ideas that I found on the web and wanted to share with you. Maybe you'll bless someone dear to you with a photo gift this season.

Christmas Gift Ideas that Touch the Heart
Photo Block Puzzle
At, these photo blocks caught my eye. Your photo size will depend on your block size and you can vary it by having just 4 blocks too. Just remember, you'll need photos for 6 sides! It's easy to print them on a laser printer and decoupage them onto the blocks. Or if you use an inkjet printer, be a little more careful with your gluing.

Photo by
Using a trimmer or paper cutter, cut, your photo into squares and glue it on. Then flip the blocks to a blank side and do the same with another photo. Keep going until all sides are covered. You've now created an easy photo puzzle!

Photo Booklet
This photo booklet from Family Fun Magazine is easy to create and has printable instructions for you.

  Photo from Family Fun Magazine

Baby Mobile
A baby mobile made from recycled used Cd's and colorful paper with family photos at Parents Magazine's site.

Photo from Parent's Magazine website.

Unique Photo Blocks and Books and Clocks

Better Homes and Gardens offers these unique scraps of wall molding that have been turned into photo displays.

From Better Homes and Gardens

They've also recycled old books into a photo display.
Photo from Better Homes and Gardens

And finally, this photo clock from Better Homes. It's easy to pop the front off most low-cost clocks. Just  carefully take the hands off the clock setting them aside in the order you removed them. Then remove the paper insert for a template. If it isn't removable, trace the clock to get the closest fit possible. lightly tack the photo in place and replace the clock hands. So easy!

Photo from Better Homes and Gardens

What photo gift ideas can you share? Post a link to the site in the comments below. With these ideas, you'll be giving homemade personalized gifts this season with little effort.


Making a List, Checking it Twice

What’s On Your List?

Have you ever misplaced your shopping list? I have. Many times. I’ll dig in the bottom of my purse, run back to the car to look under the seat, panic, and turn every pocket on my clothing inside out finally resigning myself to rely on memory. However, when I get home I’ll have to start another list for the things I forgot.

At this time of year, it seems I’m even more infatuated with lists. Christmas is coming, so I’ve started my gift-shopping list. Sometimes, I’ll make a day after Thanksgiving sale list that might help in shortening the gifts-yet-to-buy list. That is, if I can snag some doorbusters in the sea of elbows and shopping carts without a black eye or a broken toe.

The list of lists goes on. I’ll make my Christmas card list and a holiday to-do list, and eventually a thank-you card list. In time, there are little papers everywhere. On my desk, on the refrigerator, between the cushions of the sofa—enough lists to make a person need to write a list of places to look for the lists.

List-making can become an obsession. I confess that sometimes I complete a task that isn’t on my list, then I write in on and cross it off just for the satisfaction of having completed something on the list.

A recent e-mail from a friend gave me another perspective on the value of lists. She mentioned a book she had read in which the characters made a list of twenty things they would like to do, a checklist of things to learn and explore. They put their lists in a scrapbook binder. It reminded me of the movie “The Bucket List” where Carter makes a list of things he wants to do before he kicks the bucket. It also reminded me of the movie “Up!” where Ellie makes an adventure scrapbook of all the places she would like to go. Later as a widower, her husband Carl completes “My Adventure Book” for Ellie by finishing her list.

In the same e-mail I mentioned, my friend sent me a list of some of the things she would like to do, with no deadline, just things she’d like to achieve in this lifetime. Some are things that she could do today, and some are things that will take some strategic planning to make happen. This kind of list sounded so much more inspiring to me than grocery lists or to-do lists. It takes list making beyond the mundane into the realm of imagination, creativity, and life-long goals. I like that. And I like a list that isn’t a throw-away paper.
I love to dream and imagine what I might do, so I was itching to make my own list. But I wondered how I could reconcile my desire to make lists and dream big dreams with God’s purpose for my life. Was there some way my personal dreams could intersect with God’s purpose for me? Or would I have to toss out recreation or hobbies in favor of devotion to Christ?

As I did my personal Bible study the morning after I received the e-mail, a study question asked me to write down my primary purpose in life based on Philippians 3:7-11. In this passage, Paul talks about everything that he once thought significant being considered rubbish compared to the value of knowing Christ and being one with him. As I considered the passage, I realized that it isn’t that goals such as learning to sew or visiting the ocean are nonsense, nor that lists ought to be discarded. Instead, I think it means that in the greater scope of things, my relationship with Jesus Christ matters more than any of those other things. It means that the number one item on my list ought to be living a life that pleases God and brings him glory. It means that I need to base my choices on that goal and seek God for wisdom in my decision-making. And it means that my hobbies, aspirations, and dreams are fine, so long as they don’t get in the way of that primary purpose.

Dream your dreams. Make your lists. But remember to put your relationship with Jesus at the top of your list. It’s the only item on the list that matters forever.

This article also appeared in my "Habits for Quality Living" column in Wisconsin Christian News.


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