Tag Archives: Christmas

3 Executive Decisions This Momma Made for the Holidays This Year

In a century where holidays are hijacked by outrageous spending and overpriced tradition expectations…. I just want to love my family. I began to notice where my Christmas to-do list no longer lined up with love. Time to change things up!

For Thanksgiving, that meant I learned to mosey. For this first week of December, it means I am making a few executive decisions about our expectations for the rest of this month. I hope this turning of tables leads to better awareness of Jesus in our midst as I learn to love sacrificially like He does.

Perhaps you need to take back your expectations for the holidays too! I often remind my kids that the parents are the boss of the kids and Jesus is the boss of Mommy and Daddy. Sometimes, we parents need to exercise a little executive power to reorient our homes in line with our King. Here are the ones that made a difference for us this first week of advent:

1. Bless with a Dress. I do a lot of outfit control for my 3 year old twins. Many a favorite tutu gets nixed in favor of practical pants. However, this week I decided to hand over the fashion reigns, for both my daughters outfit and mine. A mother-daughter tea party play-date is the perfect opportunity to let my daughter explore her taste in style, and affirm it by strutting through the day dressed by my preschooler. With no small amount of glee, Evi dug through my closet and unearthed the only “twirly” dress I own, much like the one she was wearing.

Soon we were a pair of twirly girls ready for the day. She loved it, I only felt marginally awkward. But I held my head high nonetheless. Interestingly, when my husband saw my out-of-the-box outfit, he was enamored. Thanks to a brave moment of saying yes to my daughter, the twirly dress will now be featured more often in the outfit shuffle. It isn’t so bad taking turns in the fashion department after all.

2. Trade Trendy for Timeless. On a last minute whim, I bought bright silver tinsel garland. For weeks, I’ve had my eye on a red buffalo plaid ribbon to wrap around our tree, but the kids are little, tinsel is shiny, and who cares. We bought tinsel.

I also bought batman Christmas wrapping paper. And Disney princess wrapping paper. I kissed goodbye my dreams of brown paper packages tied up with string…with a sprig of eucalyptus tucked in the bow, and calligraphy monographs hand painted on top (thank you Pinterest).

Instead, I will put a pin in these dreams and revisit them maybe when the kids turn 17. It’s going to be one well-pined for Scandinavian-style, minimalism Christmas. Of course by then, it will no longer be trendy. I guess love is the trend I should be setting in our home instead. Let the kids be kids, and enjoy it while it lasts, right? After all, those memories are the truly timeless decorations at Christmas.

3. Stymie Unnecessary Stress. Also a last minute executive decision, I postponed the introduction of our “Shepherd’s Treasure.” We received this adorable Elf on the Shelf alternative as a gift last Christmas from my lovely older sister. She has charming documentation of their shepherd’s enchanting antics in years past, making me really excited to jump in.

The book’s instructions say to start the 1st day of December, however I decided not to. For some reason, the last 3 days of November had me panicked in preparation for the calm time of advent. It seemed counter intuitive that I was getting stressed in preparation for rest. The word oxymoron kept coming to mind.

So I made the executive mama decision: a late start date for our Shepherd was not going to deprive our kids. In fact, this delay was a sacrificial love act. When I release myself from forced Christmas creativity for too many days in a row, I can give my family the greater gift of having a peaceful, present mama.

In the days the twins were still babies, a wise soul implored me to seriously rethink traditions while my kids are little. “Simplify them to start,” she said ,”because it is less stressful on everyone to add a new expectation down the road than to fail a tradition later because you were over-ambitious in the early years.”

I deeply appreciate the freedom I have discovered in practicing this stay-present principle. So we might bring our shepherd out 10 days before Christmas, or maybe 7. Whenever it happens, it will be just as whimsical and enchanting.

There you have it, a few ways I said yes to twirly dresses and sparkly trees and batman wrapping paper (and no to being stressed-out mommy) in order to love my kids BIG this holiday season.

These are all decisions that boss me right out of my comfort zone. Not surprisingly, embracing them has brought more freedom and joy for this season.

What executive decisions have you made to stay-present this holiday season?

Jesus: The Rainbow Baby For All Creation


My sister is now 2 days past her due date for her first baby. I cannot WAIT for my niece to arrive. However, I believe my anticipation is far less emphatic than my dear sister and her husband who have waited over a year for this baby’s birth.

No, she has not been pregnant that whole time, but there exists a long and heavy load of expectancy in the timeline of a rainbow baby. My sisters story is similar to many: After miscarriage comes healing, physically and emotionally; in the midst of that—and sometimes before healing has done its full restorative work—two pink lines come into view, along with the shadow of anxiety and uncertainty of this second pregnancy. Mothers often call this their rainbow baby.

It is a long time to be in expectancy.

I can’t help but think this is how our world felt 2000 years ago. Adams choice miscarried our relationship with God right out of the garden of life. Beautiful and heartfelt attempts at new life ensued, but the law, the building of a temple, the unending bloodshed of innocent animals could not provide the heartbeat required for restored relationship with our Loving Creator.

Humanity, in longing and expectancy, was over due… past the due date by a million moments… and eager, yet hesitant, to finally see the birth of true salvation. True eternal life Himself was born, literally born! The metaphors of pregnancy and expectancy associated with the coming Messiah are not just a play on words. It is, in fact, the Word made flesh, humbly entering the time and space of spiraling earth as a helpless infant who would redeem the barrenness of our wayward hearts.

In reflections like these, I realize I, too, am overdue for Christ’s coming to truly impact my heart. Too often I am nonchalant, unaware of Immanuel. My sister could not be MORE aware of her beautiful belly; I too want to swell with ready expectation for the presence of God-with-us, both for today and for his second coming to truly make all things new:

“The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones—…And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow… Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him.

Revelation 4:3; 22:1, 3

One Good Reason You Should Hurry More (#AdultsNeedChristmas)

hurry more at ChristmasChristmas time is here! Between parties and packing, shopping and wrapping, we have a bunch of rushing to do. Even our carols are characterized by words like “busy” and “bustle” (which means “to move in an energetic or noisy manner,” in case you were wondering).

There was a bustling at the first Christmas too. But this expedited pace wasn’t a rush to the next office party, or a last minute baking frenzy for an unforeseen cookie exchange.

No. This was a sacred rush, a hurrying of heavenly proportions. This was the shepherds race to experience the divine:

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.”

Luke‬ ‭2:8-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The shepherds dropped everything they were doing and HURRIED OFF to find the Savior.

It wasn’t a Black Friday sale scurry.

It wasn’t a distant-relatives house relay.

It was a rushing to experience Jesus.

Adults need this kind of holy hurry.

This heavenly hastening to align ourselves nearer to the Savior of the world.

hurry to JesusWe need to re-ignite that kind of excitement, urgency to chase down the sacred like the shepherds did.

The shepherds abandoned their expectations to advance toward the eternal. Jesus’ coming was life-changing enough to take some time off.

To drop everything to experience proximity.

To then tell others about it, and spread the good news of great joy for all people.

Lord, the only thing I want to hurry up for this Christmas is you. Give me that sense of unsettled urgency to experience Your presence above all else.

Campfire Check In?

What will you let go of in order to experience proximity to the Savior this season?

What Adults Need at Christmas: A Heart for the Lost

rediscover a heart for the lostThis morning I sat cuddled on my couch with cocoa and Christmas cookies, reading my Christmas devotional book. I was practicing stillness, making room for Jesus in a full day. I had to turn off White Christmas and ignore the gifts that needed to be wrapped. I had to silence my inner to-do list and just listen.

A dear friend from our church recently blessed me with The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. The pages of this book presented a challenge for me to do something “that would be venturing big for God.” (Day 11)

I began to imagine what would be that difficult thing for me. What I could step outside of my comfort zone to encounter our faithful God in a powerful way? I glanced up from my reading and saw my neighborhood in the crisp light. So many houses, filled with couples and families all preparing for winter’s chill. In my minds eye, though, I saw ablaze all the homes that no preparation for eternity. From my knowledge (and I am not trying to be judgmental here) much of our neighborhood is destined for eternal separation from God.

My heart has ached for this neighborhood before. I know families swallowed by pride and culture and religions that lead to bondage. I take my dog on walks, passing homes filled with the riches of this world; my heart is heavy for they do not know the riches of a relationship with Christ.

Earlier this month, I motioned to simplify the holiday to-do list. After consulting with me, myself, and I, it seemed like a good idea to nix the neighborly gifts this year. After all, we go all out to love on our neighborhood for Halloween, and have prioritized sharing sweet blessings every May Day.

In my simplification, I was serving myself (and arguably my family). However, my consensus eliminated Jesus, once again, from HIS ideas for Christmas time.

I am convinced one way adults can rediscover the wonder of Christmas is by rediscovering Christ’s broken heart for the lost. Globally or locally, there are people in our path who need the Savior. It is why He came, after all:seek the lost

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10

Sharing simple gifts with my neighbors is one way I can invite them to our church’s Christmas Eve service. It also promotes relationship, displays kindness, and prayerfully provides openness to conversations over the fence when the weather gets nice again. It is during such conversations, I pray, God will steer toward our joy and purpose in Christ.

Like a redeemed Grinch, I think my heart grew three sizes today!

I am not so much burdened as I am hopeful for God’s great grace and mercy to bring light and salvation to the lost this Christmas. 2016 is a year of hope, I believe, and I choose to act upon such belief. My heart is not made weary by war and refugees, electoral candidates and the decline of the church. On the contrary, having a renewed desire to see the lost found in Christ gives me energy and excitement. Because I know the salvation of the world, both spiritually and physically, is not up to me. It is simply my privilege to join my God in the work He is already doing.

I know what my challenge is today (thank you, Ann Voskamp for prompting me thus). I am joining Jesus’ mission by putting neighborly gifts, along with time spent in prayer for each family, back on my Christmas bucket list this year. It is a small service in comparison to the cross, but that act of love has already been finished. I just get to tell the life-saving story.

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:1-11

Join me in finding inspiration and hope in these lyrics: “The giver of life was born in the night, revealing God’s glorious plan to save the world!” (Who Would Have Dreamed by ason Hansen and Bob Kauflin, Sovereign Grace Music)

Make Room: #AdultsNeedChristmas

make roomThis week, I was talking with a young woman from our local college. With finals and end-of-semester projects looming overhead, my friend is stressed. Add to that an inconsiderate roommate situation, which left her sleeping in her dorm-room hallway one night.

My heart ached for her. What she needed was solace. Peace. Rest. All the things I have been striving to rediscover this holiday season. So I invited her to stay in our guest room whenever she needed. To which she shrugged a thank-you, and the subject changed.

I walked by the guest room that afternoon and realized why her reaction was so half-hearted and faithless. That room was a PIT!

To keep some sense of order in the rest of the home, that room has become a catch-all for new gifts, wrapping supplies, shipping boxes, old toys for donations, unfinished crafts, laundry, etc.

I am telling you, there was no room. A giant canvas resided on the pillow side of the bed, 5 opened and half-unpacked craft boxes dominated the bottom half. Kids toys (and the containers meant to, ahem, contain them) littered the floor. Cap it all off with the kids bright red pop-up play hut, like a cherry on top of the toy pile.

No. Room.

Convicted, I remembered the story of Jesus birth, accommodated by a barnyard of animals instead of a generous hostess.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7

Through the years of reading this story, I have assumed that, given the same position, I would have invited Mary in. But now, my own inconsistency was heralding the reality from the pile of junk. Even though my words said, “you are welcome,” my home did not.

What a perfect picture my piled-up guest room displays of my heart-condition at Christmas. The spaces meant for Jesus to take up residence are filled up.

  • I’ve piled up the approval of others in the room meant for satisfaction in Jesus.
  •  I’ve stashed good chunk of my holiday accomplishments in the space meant for worship of the King of kings.
  • I have compromised that corner table in my heart, where Jesus and I share sweet moments of rest and romance. It’s strewn with lists and Christmas cards that need to be addressed.


No. Room.

make room pin

I have successfully eliminated room for Jesus in His very own holiday! I have re-created the busy Bethlehem. That night, I stayed up late making our guest-room guest-worthy. As I sorted through the mess, I also sorted through my heart. I keep repeating this line from the song, Be Born In Me, by Francesca Battistelli: 

“The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy…”

Lets us allow Jesus’ words to open our hearts, our arms, our homes, to welcome Christ this season, however he chooses to enter our reality.

Campfire Check-in:

How do you make space for Jesus in this season?

PS: I am not talking about having an immaculately tidy home for Jesus. I’ll talk about Embracing the Mess at Christmas NEXT!

Adults Need Christmas: How to Rediscover Wonder this Season

adults need christmas 2Does it feel like we just did this? I feel like we just finished Christmas of 2014. I found my Christmas to-do list like it never left my coat pocket. And I jumped right back into the routine of checking off each item. Now that my kids are old enough to enjoy it, I have focused even more on completing traditions. (Thanks to Pinterest, I have a host of new ideas and traditions to implement…oy vey.)

People all around me are going through the motions in a similar way, oblivious of the wonder and relief that Christmas is meant to bring. We get so caught up in making it perfect for the kids, we miss God’s intention for our own hearts.

In many ways, these five weeks from Thanksgiving to December have been commandeered by our enemy. Peace and joy have been traded for

  • Exhaustion
  • Busyness
  • Conflict
  • Numbness
  • Rushing
  • A stagnant maintaining of traditions

I am convinced that, as a grown woman, I desperately need Christmas. (Sorry Kranks, no skipping Christmas for me). This is the season we celebrate God’s plan for our redemption, salvation, and peace for humanity. Perhaps we need to find a way to redeem, save, and implement peace in the season itself.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some ideas on how to rediscover wonder, power, excitement, giddiness, and peace this Christmas, like…

But for now, I’d like to hear from  you:

adults need christmasCampfire Check-In:

What deprives Christmas of its wonder and delight for you?

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A Christmas Prayer for Adoption

Friends and Family, will you join us in prayer for our adoption? We have a significant meeting regarding our adoption today at 1:30pm MST, for which we are asking for wisdom, strength, and a holy perspective of the coming months.

adoption ornament

This Sunday, our pastor preached on the day Mary received the news of her baby, the Savior of the world. She did not question the power of God. She did not question the promise of a Son. But she did question the process… “how can this be, since…”

I can relate to Mary today. Our life is a big jumble of God power and promise, without a hint of HOW the process will work out.

However confused, unsure, or afraid Mary was, her final statement defines her: “I am the bonds lave of the Lord. May it be done to me, according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

My prayer today is that I, like Mary, would be submissive to the God who is so much bigger than I. That my final word would be “I trust you.” After all, He can see the end of this road, and how all things will work together for His glory and our good (Romans 8).

If I were to sit outside of myself, this is how I would pray for the woman in my shoes:

Lord, You are good. Remind Becky of that truth. Thank you for each blessing you rain down on the Rostys.

Help Becky to submit to your call on her life, even when it doesn’t feel logical. Give her foresight to see how you are making everything beautiful in your perfect timing. Provide strength–physically, mentally, and emotionally–to stand firm on your truth, unwavering at the slightest hint of anxiety or negative thinking. Like Elizabeth’s words to Mary, I praise you Lord, for “blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”

Even as I write, my thoughts are drifting to our world-traveler today. I don’t know when we will get to meet him or her; but for today, I choose to rest and be still. My God has the whole world, including our child, in His hands.

Thank you for your prayers!


1st Year of Marriage: Home for the Holidays

I am so blessed to know several newly-wed couples this year, including a few that Shane and I have been blessed to stand with as they committed their vows together. This series is all about those fun things that pop up once the honeymoon has ended. I hope to encourage all newly weds, (and oldly-weds) to keep seeking Christ in their marriages.

How are you struggling to survive THRIVE in your first year of marriage? Send me a message and I’ll do my best to discuss the issue.

Today’s topic is: Redefining “Home for the Holidays”

thrive home 2

Christmas is only a few days away. If this is your first year of marriage, you are probably trying to make an all-inclusive plan to visit everyone for the holidays… and still enjoy your first Christmas with your hot hubby.

The big question is…. “Which home will we visit?”

If you live quite a distance from either set of parents, this can be difficult. As I described in my last First Year of Marriage post, it has always been a relay race since both of our families live in the same town.

One way or another, one of you will probably end up missing out on a family tradition you always looked forward to. Not feeling sentimental? Then one of your families is going to miss out on having you for their big family dinner/gift-exchange/Home-Alone reenactment [poor uncle Joe], etc.

All of these stressors can add up quickly during the season, particularly if you are traveling. Then Bing Crosby’s voice rings through the radio and you are sniffling about how you don’t feel “home for Christmas.”

There is some great advice out there—build new traditions and accept your spouse’s old ones—which I will not repeat. Rather, I would encourage you to embrace a greater perspective about your first Christmas as a married couple:

Find your “home” in your husband.

You have probably been working on your sense of “home” all year. I remember trying to make our new apartment feel like a home. And then starting over with the next place. But Christmas rolled around and I really missed my moms cookies, my dads big laugh at the newest blockbuster, and my sisters’ excitement to open Christmas presents.

It took me MORE than a few Christmases to learn that Shane is my home. And I am his home.

It is not in the lights, decorations, and traditions that give me the warm feelings of knowing I am “home.” Rather, I understand my belonging when I look into my husband’s eyes and realize what a life we are building together.

In truth, “husband-is-home” is an applicable picture of heaven: as the “bride of Christ,” our sense of home and belonging should be found in God’s heart. We must detach ourselves from the comforts and traditions we have “growing up” in this world, that we might be fully satisfied in Christ. We don’t know what our home in heaven looks like, but we know what God’s heart looks like (by studying the Word of God). His heart can be our sense of “Home,” from now till eternity.

Shane and I before we got married...
Shane and I before we got married…

When I see my husband as my “home,” I am glimpsing the heart of God’s purpose for marriage. We are to be a reflection of Christian’s relationship with Jesus (see Ephesians 5).

Christmas is perhaps the best time to truly define your sense of “home” together as a married couple. I get to spend the rest of my life with Shane. Some Christmases we will be at my parents, other’s we will be at his. Still many more to come will probably be snowed in our little house in the shadow of our favorite mountains. I can’t wait for the Christmas we get to spend on the beach in New Zealand or South Pacific (hey, a girl can dream).

Regardless of where we are… as long as we are together, I’ll be home for Christmas.

Stay tuned for more posts on how to Thrive in Your 1st Year of Marriage.

How to THRIVE in your 1st Year of Marriage: Christmas Expectations

The year I was engaged to Shane, I was so excited to be married. Everyone told us “the first year is the hardest.” Well, I was anxious to prove them wrong.

The first year passed, and it ROCKED! (Take that, naysayers!)

But then the second year passed, and the third…. and I realized that what everyone said was true. That first year was awesome, yes, but it actually was the hardest (thus far). Thankfully, I learned some pertinent lessons along the way, and I hope to share them with you, my engaged and newlywed friends.

How are you struggling to survive THRIVE in your first year of marriage? Send me a message and I’ll do my best to discuss the issue.

Today’s topic is: Christmas Expectations.

The Rosty’s 1st Christmas

Our first Christmas together kinda creeped up on us. The holidays arrived after 6 short months of marriage. I had an idyllic idea of how it would go:

  • Decorating the tree while listening to romantic Christmas tunes.
  • A snuggly vintage movie night with hot-cocoa, adorable Christmas sweaters, and my AMAZING homemade Christmas cookies.
  • Enjoying all the other traditions with our families (driving to see the lights, Christmas eve candlelight service at church, gift-exchange, etc.)

1st Rule of a healthy marriage: communicate!!! I assumed  Shane wanted the same things. Alas, I was mistaken. Our 1st Christmas was not what I expected:

  • Shane pulled out the Christmas stuff after a meeting with our college student ministry team. I watched with stifled jealousy as 8 college kids hung lights and decorated the tree with my husband.
  • I also didn’t grasp the massive undertaking that is baking Christmas cookies. I spent WAY too much money, made a huge mess of the kitchen, and burnt half of the cookies.
  • We spent most of Christmas Eve and Christmas day in the car, driving back and forth between my parents, my in-laws, our grandparents, and siblings houses trying to snatch pieces of Christmas traditions from each home.

At one point, the disappointment burst out of me like a raging Grinch-storm of unmet expectations. I totally blind-sided my sweet husband who was enjoying the hustle-bustle of our 1st Christmas chaos.

Thankfully, Shane was SUPER gracious to me. After I explained everything that disappointed me, he apologized (though he didn’t need to), and gave me an attitude check. Eventually, we put some compromises in place for next year.

Now, my expectations are much different:

  • It turns out, I love decorating with our students. We made it an annual tradition: the Decorating Party at the Rosty’s. We laugh so much as we decorate cookies, the house, and the tree together.
  • I also fell in love with car-time with Shane. We have the best conversations sitting side-by-side on the road. The intimacy of hearing his heart is worth the hours to and from family gatherings.
  • We have learned to embrace “romantic” Christmas stuff in the days leading up to Christmas day. I try to get all Christmas busyness (shopping, baking, parties, etc.) done several weeks before. By the time our students leave for Winter break, we have a cozy home and plenty of down-time to focus on our marriage.
  • I make a point to communicate my expectations AHEAD OF TIME! I also try to let go of my assumptions, embrace new things, and enjoy HIS expectations for the season as well.

Perhaps the single most important lesson I learned through this season was my definition of “home.”

Stay tuned for another post on Thrive in Your 1st Year of Marriage: Home for the Holidays.

Shave with me Barbie, white elephant gift tutorial.

I am a glutton for White Elephant gift exchange parties. Over the years, I’ve done a terrible job, but this year… oh this was the year.

I found the idea on squidoo.com, just to give credit where credit is due.

Here it is: “Shave with me” Barbie!


Cost: $2
Time: 5-10 minutes
Materials needed:
Barbie doll
Glue stick
Paper, tape, printer, and computer for label (or you could hand write it)

So I snagged this cheap imitation Barbie and a pack of razors at the dollar store.

Rubbed glue all over her legs and armpits (the funniest part), trimmed the dolls hair and rolled her legs in it, then stuffed left hair under her arms.


Re-twist-tied Barbie back into her box, inserted the razor, then added the label I made on my computer.

It took the party-participants a second or two to get the gag, thinking it was just a Barbie; but the label explained it all. Some actually thought I got her from an awkward Barbie supply store (if only there was such a store.)

We laughed so hard, I couldn’t breathe.

Hope this helps for any of you last minute gag-grifters. This one is a crowd pleaser and super cheap and easy.