This Glorious Mess

glorious mess 1 glorious mess 2 glorious mess 3 glorious mess 4

The hubs read from Luke 2 on Christmas morning before we dive bombed into the presents.

He spoke aloud that Mary pondered and treasured the events surrounding Jesus’ birth in her heart.

And I thought how good it is to practice pondering.

To be present in the moments we are given – to think on the very things playing out in front of us.

Like the moment when I picked up Happy Baby from the nursery on Christmas Eve only to find that he had pooped his pants and I had forgotten to pack a fresh pair.

The dear nursery workers insisted on finding spare clothes, but Happy Baby confidently – and somewhat defiantly – toddled his bare legs and diapered tush off to the sanctuary before anyone could look.

He raced to the front of the church, climbed on the stage and stood before the milling crowds half dressed and bent over, happily blowing out all the candles from the service.

I smiled and laughed and pondered.

It was one of those moments where things weren’t perfect by any means.  My child was running around pants-less in front of 300 people.  He was so happy, but also extremely tired and I knew there would be a super tantrum when I told him it was time to get off the stage {{there was}}. But for those few minutes I treasured the zaniness of it all and even found it to be strangely… beautiful.

Because messy moments are often the ones that dot our days.

There’s the physical mess of our homes – the toys everywhere, the crumbs, the dust.

There’s the emotional mess, too – the impatient moments, the selfish moments, the resentful moments, the insecure moments, the ungrateful and discontent moments.

There’s the spiritual mess – the moments we doubt, get angry with God, or skip another day of spending time in His presence in exchange for an idol.

But for all these things – for all this mess – HE CAME.

I would imagine that when Mary pondered the moments that were unfolding around her, she could see that in all the mess that was her son’s arrival, there was something glorious.

Someone once said that one of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day.

Wrapping paper shreds, tissue paper crumples, boxes, bows…

And the message in all that mess is love.

We love, so we give.

God loved, so He gave.

He knows our need…  To our weakness is no stranger…

He was born into our mess and carried it all on His back.

All the way up the hill He carried our mess and nailed it to the cross.

So our mess could be made glorious.

Ponder this, sweet friends, because somewhere in between our stubborn, half-naked toddlers and our clutter and our tired selves is not a mess, but a message ringing loud of His unfailing love and coming for you.

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

– Julie :-)

Merry Christmas

christmas photo

 First family picture where EVERYONE is smiling!

It might have had something to do with the fact that A. We were in Georgia visiting Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop at Thanksgiving and the boys were in heaven. And B. Mom-Mom was doing jumping jacks and what we thought sounded like chicken noises behind the camera and the boys thought it was hilarious.

I pray y’all had a blessed Christmas today celebrating the Lord’s birth – the One who came to be the only thing that could ever truly make our homes happy.

Please know that every one of you is very dear to me.  I am so thankful for all of your sweet comments and encouragement and for taking the time to read this little blog.

I am daily awed that you make the Fairy a part of your world and hope that my words are always pleasing to our precious Savior and uplifting to your precious heart.

Merry Christmas!

Joyfully,

Julie :-)

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3

What Santa’s Bringing

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10 am!santa 4santa 7santa 6

We went to see Santa today at the mall.

Happy Baby didn’t want to have anything to do with him and kept clinging to me like a little koala bear repeating, “No Santa.  Afraid.”

But Happy Buddy was absolutely thrilled and even stayed {{mostly patient}} while we waited in line for 25 minutes.

I couldn’t get any close-up photos because an army of elves made me put my camera away because I wasn’t about the fork over $45 for a photo package that would probably end up getting bent or torn on the way to the car.

But the moment when Happy Buddy sat on Santa’s lap with that childlike sparkle of wonder in his eyes and the jolly old man asked him what he wanted, I thought it might be fun to preserve the memory of gifts that will be given to my boys this year.

I mentioned HERE that we are doing 3 presents per child, so here are the 3 items Santa will be leaving under our tree this Christmas for my 2 boys.

happy buddy's giftsHappy Buddy’s Gifts

1. Youth Football Helmet and Jersey – The hubs got really into watching weekend football games this fall and he often invited Happy Buddy to join him.  This was very inspiring for our boy and has since held imaginary football games every day in our backyard – complete with a numbered puzzle that he uses as a scoreboard and frequent outfit changes to personify various teams.  I once had to carry him off the ‘field’ because of an injury.  All he told Santa that he wanted for Christmas this year was a football helmet and jersey – in honor of the hubs’ and mine alma mater, of course.

2.  Melissa and Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards – We have this sweet, precious babysitter that comes to watch the boys on the night we have worship team practice and Happy Buddy always asks her to bring a game that is similar to this pattern blocks and board set.  He is definitely more of a mathematical thinker (I have NO idea where he gets that from), so I know he will get a kick out of this.

3.  BIG Picture Bible – Happy Buddy and I read a story from the Bible every night before bed and we like to start new Bible versions when we finish one.  We have worked our way through the Jesus Calling Bible Storybook and the Storybook Bible a few times so I thought it was time to try something new and I had read on someone’s blog somewhere that this was good.

happy baby's 3Happy Baby’s Gifts

1.  Giant Monkey Suitcase – Do you remember Happy Baby’s DVD obsession?  Well it has mushroomed into this beast we can’t control.  Like the other day we went to Target and he had a massive meltdown because I wouldn’t let him walk out of the store shoplifting the 15 DVDs he had picked up and tried to stuff under his shirt when I wasn’t looking.  Which brings me to the sad fact that he is not content with just one DVD anymore, but must carry 4-5 in his zippered ‘monkey bag’ lunchpail (see HERE).  While at the airport over Thanksgiving vacation, he saw another child pushing this matching monkey suitcase and he kind of freaked out.  It will probably hold about 30 DVDs.  I think we just might melt his brain with this one.

2.  Peppa the Pig DVD – Speaking of DVDs, we had to get him a new one and I am not going to lie, I have a MAJOR crush on this show.  Have you seen it?  Totally ADORABLE.  Favorite part is the random pig snorting.

3.  Sock Monkey Jack-in-the-Box – They sold this at a little shop in our mall and every time I took the boys there, they would beg for me to take them to the ‘Sock Monkey Store’.  Happy Baby especially delighted in the surprise element of this toy and I know he is going to be so happy to have it under our own roof now.

We’re filling the boys’ stockings with a few odds and ends like Minion bandaids and new sunglasses and their favorite treats.

my boysI can’t wait to see their faces on Christmas morning.  I am pretty sure they will both be up somewhere in the 5’s because they are so excited about Christmas morning they have been practicing getting up in the 5’s every day since school went on break thank you very much.

Which leads me to believe that maybe I should have bagged all the ideas above and just gotten them some Ambien for Christmas.

:-)

What is Santa bringing your kids this year?

– Julie

Super Easy Reindeer Cookies

super easy reindeer cookies

We made these super easy reindeer cookies with my 2 year olds on the last day before Christmas break.

Needless to say it was mass pandemonium about 20 minutes after ingestion and we had about 3 poopy diapers simultaneously, 2 kids wrestling on the floor, and the rest of them running around like little gingerbread men.

I called them to order with the promise of 2 weeks of ‘Mommy Time’ and a sticker.

And the sweet grace of Jesus.

Here’s what you need –

reindeer cookie ingredientsreindeer cookies 2reindeer cookies 4reindeer cookies 1The instructions are pretty self-explanatory!

I know your buddies will love doing this as a little pre-Christmas activity this week.

Just watch out for the wrestling.

;-)

Merry Super Easy Reindeer Cookie-ing!

Roll-A-Christmas-Tree Game – FREE Printable!

roll a christmas tree game - FREE Printable at happyhomefairy! love this!

Happy Buddy and I played this fun and easy game this afternoon.

All you need is some paper, dice, crayons, and the FREE Printable game (see below for download).roll a tree gameroll a christmas tree game

**Click HERE for your FREE Printable Roll-A-Christmas-Tree Game**

Have fun with your kiddos. :-)

Happy Roll-A-Christmas-Tree Game-ing!

12 Ways to Have a Christ-Centered Christmas

12 ways to have a Christ-centered ChristmasI have been looking on Pinterest for Christmas ideas.

This can be a very good and productive endeavor.

Or it can make me want to hide under my bed until December 26th.

There’s the Elf on the Shelf and the daily antics, there’s the beautiful decorations, there’s the gorgeous outdoor light displays, there’s the delicious recipes, there’s the crafty, homemade gift ideas…

It’s all so amazing to me and makes me want to be a better person, but at the end of the day I mostly just pin stuff and think about it for awhile and then decide that throwing some Christmas lights over the mountain of laundry piled on the dining room table is festive enough.

 Our elf hasn’t even come to visit yet because I am paralyzed by the thought of being committed to moving him creatively every. single. night (even though I have a post HERE featuring 24 super easy and fun ideas).

But when you think about it, what do you remember most about Christmas when you were little?

It probably wasn’t the 15,000 Christmas cards your mom wrote or the glamorously wrapped presents under the tree or the Pinterest-perfect crafts or the massive Christmas party with 200 homemade appetizers.

It was the smaller things.

The simple things.

I remember cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning (and they were from the can).

I remember opening my stocking.

I remember that Santa ate all the cookies we had left out for him.

I remember jumping on my parents’ bed at 6 in the morning and then that year my older brother did bugle calls on his trumpet at 5 (you’re welcome, Mom and Dad).

I remember my dad praying before we opened our gifts.

I remember the way the church glowed at the candlelit service on Christmas Eve as we sang Silent Night and raised our candles in reverent worship.

The simple things.

This year I’m trying to let go of all the ‘Pinterest Pressure’ and have decided to narrow my focus for Christmas and our family to 2 things –

1. Do things that celebrate Jesus.

2. Do things that share His love.

Our Elf on the Shelf might not make it out this year if I’m not feeling it.  We might not make it to every single party.  I might not make homemade ornaments for the family.  The adorable Christmas party favors I want to make for all the kids in my boys’ classes will probably never happen.  Happy Buddy might not get the chocolate advent calendar because I can’t find them anywhere – lol.

And that’s ok.

But here are 12 simple things that fall under the umbrella of my focus for this magical season that our little family is hoping to do in the coming days…

Happy Birthday Jesus Cake and Celebration

Birthday boy gets a special cake and small party every year at our house.  My favorite part is when we sing to Him.  HERE is a super neat birthday cake recipe we use that is not only easy to make, but also shares the Gospel.  And it is delicious.

Make Dinner for Our Pastor’s Family

I love our pastor and his family.  His wife was hugely instrumental in my survival of the Happy Baby’s birth and the journey we have been on with his health.  She texted me Bible verses every single morning during his hospitalization and she cried with me more than once.  They are true warriors of the faith and spend so much time serving our congregation.  December brings a lot of extra events and responsibilities and needs in their world so I like to help by giving them a night off from the necessary burden of feeding 5 people.  I think I will make THIS recipe and kill 2 birds with 1 stone.

Play With Our Nativity

My mom bought us the Fisher Price Nativity set a few years ago and it is my favorite Christmas toy.  This year I bought the Melissa and Doug one for my classroom and I love that one just as much.  I make a point to sit with my kids and play with the nativity with them.  It brings around some sweet and thoughtful conversation about Jesus.  We also like to play some of THESE nativity games.

Attend Christmas Eve Services

I cannot think of anything more precious than the worshipful, joyous, holy, reverent atmosphere of a candlelit Christmas Eve service.  I like to invite a few neighbors and unchurched friends to join us.  O come, let us adore Him. <3

Sing Christmas Carols With and Over My Kids

As soon as Thanksgiving dinner has ended I start breaking out my Christmas CDs.  I especially love Hillsong’s We Have a Savior album.  I also love climbing into bed with my boys, holding them close and singing Silent Night over their darling hearts as they drift off to sleep.  Have you ever really paid attention to the lyrics of some of the carols out there?  AMAZING.  O Holy Night slays me.  These songs carry a rich heritage of our faith.  I want to surround my kids with these truths all December long.

Pass Out Candy Canes With the Candy Cane Gospel

Christmas naturally lends itself to opportunities to share the Good News.  I like to use THIS FREE Printable tag, attach it to candy canes and drop them off with people we come across throughout the day.  The bank teller, the grocery store cashier, a neighbor’s mailbox, teachers, Starbucks barista, etc.

Remember the Hubs

I think it’s easy to get so focused on buying gifts and making things magical for our children that we forget the men in our lives.  And if you really want to honor Jesus, then pay careful attention to your precious marriage.  I try really hard to get my husband a present for Christmas that will really bless him.  I also like to use THESE FREE Printable Christmas Love Notes as silly reminders throughout the month that I love him.  But the thing that I think blesses my husband the most in this season is when I don’t spend a lot of money, don’t walk around a giant stress ball, and I make an effort to not put a lot of extra expectations on him.  Like whatever gift he gets me, I will love it.  Even if it’s a Dust Buster.

Stick to 3 Gifts

If it’s good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for my kids!  We give our boys 3 gifts each – like the Wise Men brought Christ.  It helps us stick to a budget and it is another reminder of the purpose behind our present sharing.

Pray Around the Christmas Tree on Christmas Morning

I wrote about this sweet tradition HERE.  It made a big impact on me growing up and I have been carrying on this tradition in my own home ever since.  Joining hands on Christmas morning and giving thanks as a family to the One who made the whole celebration possible in the first place is exactly where God wants our hearts to be.

Meet a Need

Our church participates in a toy drive for a local non-profit organization committed to providing homes and resources for kids in crisis situations.  Last Sunday the Happy Buddy picked a card off a tree in the Fellowship Hall that said a little boy’s age and a toy he would like.  We will go to Target together to pick it out.  I want my boys to find the true joy of Christmas in the giving rather than in the getting.

Read the Christmas Story (over and over and over again)

We will take the time to really dig into the story of Jesus’ birth this month.  We do this in a variety of ways.  We read it from the Bible and in different children’s Bibles.  We use THESE FREE Printable Advent Scripture Cards and THESE FREE Printable Nativity Story Cards.  I also have a bunch of Christ-centered Christmas books (see HERE) that we read before bed each night.  Anything to capture their imaginations point our hearts to the true Hero of the season.

 Being Still

The hustle and bustle and ‘noise’ of Christmas can interfere with our ability to truly experience the gift of His presence.  I recently became so tangled up in material possessions and Christmas gifts that I didn’t allow room for my Savior.  Sound familiar?  Making room for the Savior involves choosing to not be swept up in the ideals our world presents as necessary and finding the peace He offers in the reality.

Last week the Happy Buddy mentioned to me that all he wanted for Christmas was a football helmet…

And to hold baby Jesus.

:-)

I think he is on to something.

So crawl out from under the bed of busy and climb into the manger next to that precious Child Who this season is all about.

And that is better than anything Pinterest has to offer.

– Julie

Favorite Things Stocking Giveaway and Blog Hop

christmas stocking giveaway at happy home fairy

One of my favorite things about Christmas morning is opening my stocking at my parents’ house.

My mom is the queen of finding lots of fun little goodies and surprises to fill it with.  New sparkly earrings, a small wallet, stickers, shimmery eye shadow… She knows just the things I love!

Well, I have been thinking so much lately about all of you, dear readers, and wanted to put together something extra special as a way to say thank you for supporting the Fairy.

Taking inspiration from my mom (and 12 other incredible bloggers), I picked up a super cute stocking and filled it to overflowing with a few of my favorite things to giveaway to one of you!!

Here’s the scoop on this incredible giveaway…

To enter –

  • Check out the Stocking Giveaway Collage below featuring 12 other beautiful bloggers and their favorite things stockings.
  • Scroll to the bottom to see the details for MY Favorite Things Stocking.
  • Enter to win my Christmas Stocking Giveaway at the giveaway below.
  • HOP to all the other sites and enter to win their stockings!
  • Look around and enjoy the sites of these incredible bloggers – they all love Jesus and strive to bring Him glory in everything they share.  I feel super honored to be a part of this giveaway alongside so many godly and gifted people.

There will be 13 winners for this giveaway!  You must ENTER TO WIN ON EACH BLOG for the stockings you want most.  HOP to enter!

Giveaway collageBLOG HOP

1. Thriving Home // 2. Happy Home Fairy // 3. The Nourishing Home

4. Heavenly Homemakers // 5. Meaningful Mama // 6. Slugs and Bugs

7. Seeds Family Worship // 8. Jennifer Ebenhack // 9. The Generous Wife

10. The Modest Mom Blog // 11. My Humble Kitchen // 12. Kara Chupp

13. Motherhood on a Dime

giveaway1christmas stocking giveaway at happy home fairy1christmas stocking giveaway at happy home fairy2

Girls, get ready for the motherload of awesome. :-)

1. It Will Be Okay by Lysa TerKeurst – One of my favorite authors.  Her books have had a huge role in shaping my faith.  When my friend told me she had a book for kids, I had to get it.  It’s precious – the story helps communicate to your child one of the most important messages God’s love wants us to hear – that it will, indeed, be okay, because He is in control.

2. Gold Glitter Nail Polish – Y’all know my passion for all things sparkly.  This nail polish will be just the thing to help you ring in the new year.

3.-4. I loooove me some Target Dollar Bin finds.  Adorable Santa cupcake toppers and Santa Post-Its to write sweet messages to throw in your loved ones’ lunch pails.

5. The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle – This is a book about real marriage – the for better and the worse parts of it.  I am IN LOVE with the author (find her hilarious blog HERE) and how she can take the most mundane things and make them absolutely hysterical. You will laugh out loud, cry, and immediately go buy her other book when you finish this one.

6. Growing Grateful Kids by Susie Larson – One of the most frequent things I pray is that my kids will grow daily in an attitude of gratitude.  This book by Susie Larson has given me so many wonderful ways to help shepherd that in my boys’ hearts.

7. Younique Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara – Do you remember my review and giveaway of this mascara back in the summer? (If you missed it, go HERE to see how amazing this product is – before and after photos included!!)  I have another one for you!  I don’t know what I did before this mascara I love it so much.

8. Majestic CD by Kari Jobe – Kari is one of my most favorite worship leaders (beside the hubs, of course).  We got to meet her when Happy Baby was in the hospital (see HERE) and she prayed for him with us – I can’t even tell you how much that meant to me.  Her heart is so pure and precious and this album is her best yet.  I listen to it all. the. time.  The last 3 tracks will melt you.

9. Nativity Stickers – I am slightly obsessed with stickers.  As a preschool teacher I give stickers out every day to my students.  And they provide such an excellent fine motor experience for the kiddos.  I got so excited to find these Christ-centered stickers in the Dollar Spot at Target.  I may have bought 12 of them and gave them to all the other preschool teachers at my school.

10. Glitter – One of the most frequent questions I am asked is where I buy the glitter that I wear on my face every. single. day.  Here is the answer – Claire’s. :-)  You don’t have to be a tween to shop there!  This glitter is the greatest.  After my make-up is finished, I put a few dabs of this on my eyelids (and my cheeks and neck and chest…) before walking out the door.  My OB once asked if I was a pole dancer because I was wearing glitter.  Not even kidding.  Read about it HERE.

11. Burt’s Bees Lip Balm – I adore the way this makes my lips feel – tingly and refreshed!  Plus, you’ve got to get that mouth ready for your hubby and all that mistletoe floating around this season.

12. Yellow Picture Frame – Love these bright and fun wooden frames from Hobby Lobby, especially when they are filled with a photo of my little family.

13. Happy Birthday Jesus Ornament – Because this is what IT’S ALL ABOUT.

14. Breaking Free 365-Day Devotional by Beth Moore – Beth Moore’s original Breaking Free study changed my life.  My mother-in-law got me this devo a few years ago and I have enjoyed it ever since.  The devotionals are short, but powerful.  Just what this busy mama needs every morning.

15. Stella and Dot Soiree Gold Stud Earrings – I wish I had thought to take these earrings out of the box when I was photographing my stocking.  They are SO pretty.  And they go with EVERYTHING.  Dressed in yoga pants?  These glam it up.  Did you actually get a shower and put on make-up today?  These will take your look to the next level.  My friend, Jacqueline Rodewald, donated this pair for the giveaway, so please make sure if you love these earrings as much as I do that you buy yourself (and all the ladies on your Christmas gift list) a pair from her HERE.

stockingAnd last but not least, the stocking itself is the cutest thing I have ever seen.

My mom and I found it at this hole-in-the-wall shop in Georgia when we were visiting her over Thanksgiving break and doing some Black Friday shopping.  It was so bright and cheerful I knew it was just the thing for this giveaway –

for YOU!

Enter below by following the 3 easy steps and this amazing stocking could be YOURS!giveaway

1. ‘Like’ Happy Home Fairy on Facebook HERE (and don’t worry, if you don’t have a Facebook account, that’s ok!!  Enter anyway, my friend!).

2. Share this GIVEAWAY via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

3. Leave a comment below telling me what you love most in my stocking and why it would be fun to win – don’t forget to include your name and email.

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (apologies to my sweet international readers).  The giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Wednesday, December 17 (EST).  A winner will be selected shortly after and notified by e-mail.

And, most important, don’t forget to “hop” to each blog above to enter their amazing giveaways, too. :-)

Happy Christmas Stocking Giveaway Blog Hop-ing!