Just a quick note as we close out 2009. Enjoy today!

" This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."NIV
"This is the day which the Lord has brought about; we will rejoice and be glad in it." AMP
Psalm 118:24

The Lord has safely brought me through 2009. I have survived, but my desire for 2010 is to thrive! How I long to thrive not merely survive. One way that I intend to begin thriving is to remember that the Lord brought this day about, and He intends for me to rejoice in it. Rejoicing certainly sounds better than what I've caught myself doing way too often lately. I will rejoice in it for Emmanuel, God is with me. (Even if a three-year-old is screaming at her sister:)

Love to all,
Blessed Mama


A really quick note to remind you that there are only TWO DAYS LEFT on the New Harvest Homestead subscription sale for 2010. 2010 will be the final year New Harvest Homestead is published so make sure that you get in on this sale. This is one subscription you definitely will not want to miss. Here's the deal: New Harvest Homestead(NHH) is a bi-monthly publication devoted to being "steadfast at home" that arrives via email every two months. You can download it and either save it or print it out as you choose. Regular subscription price is $15. With this special deal, you receive your own subscription or renewal plus another subscription to give away for $21.60. For the same price you can also receive your own subscription and give one to the struggling sisters account OR you can give two subscriptions to the struggling sisters account. If you are a "struggling sister" and simply cannot afford the price of a subscription or renewal, contact NHH and you will be able to receive NHH free of charge. It is truly a ministry.

I have a couple of other reminders on current specials elsewhere. Molly's Digest will be receiving some new features this year that you may not want to miss. Go to econobusters.com to check out what's new with Molly. I'm hoping to get my January Digest soon.

Also, Martha Greene at the Homemaker's Mentor site is offering a free lesson right now. I believe there are also some price reductions for future lessons. Don't let this one get by. A year's worth of homemaking lessons for $39.95 is hard to beat. The topics covered in these lessons are quite varied. I'm headed on over to download the free lesson right now!

I am still immersing myself in the reality of "God With Us". I truly believe that this year is going to be "the year" in many ways in our lives. There is a definite atmosphere of expectancy in our house. We are eagerly watching for the Word of the Lord to be manifest in an unprecedented way. Emmanuel , God is with us.


God With Us

Christmas is over. The festivities of Christmas are past. Floors have been swept of their wrappings. Gifts have been placed in their new homes. The daily routine of laundry and dishes is back in full swing.

Now that the celebrations are almost over, what's left? Are the memories of this year's celebration warming the heart or causing it pain? No matter how the celebration of Christ's birth played out, the truth is still alive and real. Christ is born! A virgin conceived, bore a son, and his name was called Immanuel, God with us.

God with me. What a wondrous thought! God with me through the mountains of laundry. God with me through the long nights awake with small children. God with me through blizzards. God with me in the moments of despair and sadness. God with me in those glimpses of rapturous joy. God with me as I wipe a bottom. God with me as I dry tears and kiss ouchies. God with me when I hide in the shower and cry. God with me when I dance through the day and sing. When teenagers challenge my authority, God is with me. When little ones do the same, He is there too. When I want to give more, but have to settle for less, God with me. Emmanuel, God with us, has ever a gift been given that can compare?

Wherever the road may lead, whatever the day contains, be it joy or pain, God is with me. When I pass through the waters, He will be with me, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm me. When I walk through the fire, I will not be burned or scoched, nor will the flame kindle upon me. for He is the Lord my God, the Holy One of Israel, my Savior. Isaiah 43:2,3a

Think on that oh weary heart, and it will lend you might.
Consider that oh fainting soul; His joy will end your night.
Look to Him you tired eyes, your light He'll not let dim.
Think on that oh weary heart, and put your trust in Him.

"But now [in spite of past judgments for Israel's sins], thus says the Lord, He Who created you, O Jacob, and He Who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you [ransomed you by paying a price instead of leaving you captives]; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you. For I am the Lord your God, the Hol One of Israel, your Savior;..." Isaiah 43:1-3a


"Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14

What a marvelously, freeing word! "Strive to live in peace..." I don't have to sit around and wait for peace to come to me. It is something I work towards. I have something to do with it. I'm not a puppet on a string waiting for the puppet master to have the time or desire to move me into a better, more pleasurable or comfortable position. Living in peace is something that requires action on my part. I may not be able to "make" others live in peace with me, but I can certainly do my part towards living a peaceful life and having a peaceful holiday.

Experiencing PEACE during the holiday season is much more of a series of choices that I make than it is about events and circumstances lining up just so. The next step towards PEACE this season was going to be CONTROL - Let go of that holiday! After reading today's verse about striving to live in peace, that's going to have to be altered a bit. Perhaps more like CONTROL - Take control of yourself and leave the rest to God. Hmmm, I'll be getting back to you on this. I love the way my Heavenly Father leads me further into the truth of Himself. Greater understanding comes bit by glorious bit the longer I walk with Him.

Due to sick children in the house, I'm not really sure where we are on our Celebration of Jesus. Because the next few days will be busy for all of us, I'm going to list each day's challenges and question in today's post. That way, we can all celebrate together as we are able, and I don't feel guilty if I happen to miss a day's post. That wouldn't lead to peace.

Dec. 21 - Simmer spices on the stove and read the Christmas story
Dec. 22 - Create your own luminaries
Dec. 23 - Candle light Christmas Eve service or other? Decorate and Eat Cookies - Make your own perhaps
Dec. 24 - What's your favorite Christmas movie? Watch it today. Those cookies from yesterday would be perfect about now. Especially if they are your grandmother's gingersnap recipe. A mug of hot apple cider would round out the fun perfectly.
Dec. 25 - Today is the day! Celebrate Jesus all day long! "Behold, a child is born....Christ the Lord!"


Continued Celebration of Jesus and Scriptures to Ponder


We'll being with our challenge for today.  Today's challenge/project is to play and/or learn a new game as a family.  Last winter, during a really cold spell, we taught ourselves how to play poker (not for money).  It was something new and ended up being really, really fun.  It was a definitely bonding experience for us.  We also realized that oftentimes it isn't that an activity is "bad" in and of itself.  Usually it becomes a negative activity as people use it in a less than godly manner.  As a family we were able to learn a game that tends to have some "bad" associated with it and have a happy, healthy time of fun.  Nothing ungodly took place and none of us were "corrupted" because we played poker.  So pick a game, any game, let go of the stress, forget the deadlines, and just enjoy having fun with each other.  You will be so glad you did.

White lights or colored?  is the question for tomorrow.  Tomorrow will find our family gone for the day.  So, I will post Saturday's project a day early.  Our project for Saturday is to greet all of those bell ringers wearing the Santa hats with a genuine smile and hello.  Taking note of the word genuine, I'm going to make a concentrated effort to make sure my greetings and countenance reflect the love of God to everyone around me--especially the upset, harried, and most importantly, the annoying.  I pray that in my haste I remember that I too am annoying myself at times. 

Before we each rush off to the next thing "to do", I want to share some scriptures for us all to meditate (utter, mutter, and ponder) on in the upcoming days.

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand [anywhere else]; I would rather be a doorkeeper and stand at the threshold in the house of my God than to dwell [at ease] in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)!  No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts, blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who trusts in You [leaning and believing on You, committing all and confidently looking to You, and that without fear or misgiving]!
Psalm 84:10-12

[Let your ] love be sincere (a real thing); hate what is evil [loathe all ungodliness, turn in horror from wickedness], but hold fast to that which is good.
Romans 12:9

...Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people.
For to you is born this day in the town of David a Savior, who is Christ (the Messiah) the Lord!
Luke 2:10,11

          Merry Christmas!!!             


Christmas and End of the Year Specials

Two more specials have come to my inbox.  I couldn't wait to pass them on to you.  The Homemaker's Mentor is having an end of the year special on their lessons.  These lessons are great!  They are regularly over $4 each and are now available for $2.39each!!!  Ever wanted to learn how to make a pie?  or other homemaking lessons?  This sale is especially for you.  They would also make great Christmas gifts.

The other special....WAIT!...there are two more.  Homemaking 911 is offering a discount on all of their products.  Some of the items will be "iffy" for Christmas arrival.  So you won't want to hesistate.  Head on over there as soon as you possibly can.  Ebooks, however, are always available for immediate download.

Sale number three, for now, is at Joyous Home.  They are having a special on the Bosch Universal and Nutrimill Combo.  The Bosch Universal is available with or without the blender.  The price will be changed accordingly. 

Other sites to check out savings are TEACHmagazine, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Penny Raine, and Econobusters for tips.  Probably many more sites are having great savings right now.  It is the end of the year and many want to clear out last year's stock to make room for the new year.  Library and Educational Services Website is having AMAZING sales right now with a flat shipping rate of $3.95.  It would be completely possible to purchase several books and shipping for under $10 at this site.  If you need a few little things for gifts or simply need gifts that cost as little as possible, now is the time to get online and look.  You just might find it.

If things look bleak financially, don't assume that your holidays will be lean.  God has always provided for our family abundantly through every season.  Year and year and year there have been sales on exactly the items we needed and/or wanted.  One year I was certain that it would be impossible to get my sister in love, Jess, the item on her list.  However, while in a store getting something for the children, what should be on the sale rack?  The exact item, in my price range, and in the perfect color for Jess!  God is a God of detail, and everyone is always perfect when He provides.   Another year, it was all the way to Christmas Eve and we didn't have a tree or presents yet.  It was also bitterly cold.  When my husband went out to see what he could scrounge up with the resources we had, because of the cold and the lateness of the date, Dec. 24, he was able to purchase the most gorgeously HUGE tree we've ever had for a little bit of nothing.  It was a true miracle that majorly boosted our faith.  Believe me, our faith needed boosting that year.  Time and time again the supernatural provision of our Heavenly Father has made the impossible possible in our lives.  Knowing that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, I can say with absolute assurance that He will do the same for you and yours.  So, no matter what the situation you are facing appears to be, rest in the truth that God cares for His own.  If you are His, He will never leave you or forsake you.  He supplies all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19  Begin to thank Him in advance for His provision and care. 
This year, I am finding that without explanation, I desire a simple, meaningful Christmas.  I have no desire for many things.  Instead, I have a longing to be together with loved ones and enjoy the gift of each other.  I find myself actually wanting to make gifts rather than feeling like I have to.  All of the lessons I've studied and begun to implement on organization during the past year are bearing the fruit of peacefulness and preparedness.  Let me tell you, it's a wonderful thing.  The provision of my Heavenly Father is abundant, whether it is the provision of actual "things" or the contentedness of possessing treasures of more lasting value.  Romans 8:28 comes to mind again and again.  ALL things truly do work together for the good of those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose. 
Christ's love to all of you.  Maybe we could all get a head start on tomorrow's challenge of meditating on God's love by starting right now.  Merry Christmas!  BLESSED MAMA


Monday's Musings

Here's an answer to the color of decoration question: I use red and burgundy on the same tree. On one side is burgundy and the other side is red. In the middle, I gradually fade into the other color so maybe the middle is neutral, somewhat! I love my ornaments so if they clash, which I don't think they do, that's okay with me.  MOM

We are all getting busier every day.  To make sure that we don't miss any of our fun, I'm going to share tomorrow's question as well as a challenge for the following day (Wednesday).   Answers will be posted on Wednesday evening along with some scripture verses for us to meditate on as we travel through the Christmas season and remaining days of 2009. 

Our question over coffee for tomorrow is:  If you decorate, do you decorate the inside or outside of your house or both? 

Wednesday's challenge is to meditate on the Love of God.  It is because of His Love for mankind that He gave us Jesus.   So meditating on God's Love is the perfect challenge for the season.  

Thursday will bring us a fun challenge for the whole family.  You won't want to miss it. 

As we go through the final days of this year, I want to share a few resources to help us simplify the craziness.  Penny Raine has a free ebook on her website about creating a Family Friendly Holiday.  Penny's ebook is filled to the brim with very doable and helpful holiday tips for everything from planning the meal to preparing for a holiday with little ones.  Such wisdom in this one.  You won't want to miss it.  I would love to pass a copy on to you, but that would be illegal.  So, you'll have to go to her website and get a copy.    Another free holiday planning ebook comes to us from the Young's at the Raising Real Men website.  This one is filled to the brim with delicious looking and easy recipes and tips for holiday celebrations.  Both ebooks are quick reads and jam-packed with advice, tips, recipes, and wisdom.  You will definitely want to scoop up freebies like this before they are gone.  I will be using mine for many years to come should the Lord tarry.  I especially appreciated the wisdom concerning small children and the holiday celebrations.  It was a wakeup call as well as a warning against overstimulation.  Who is the true culprit when children become whiny during the holidays?  Not the children.  I am thankful for such loving instruction.  If you have little ones or little ones will be present at your holiday celebrations, reading the Family Friendly Holiday ebook will definitely provide you with insight and helpful tips and suggestions for everything from the beforehand prep, shopping, to the big day itself.  A must read for those whose holidays will include children. 

As I close, I want to send out a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who has participated in our Celebrating Jesus BIG Christmas Party.  Whether you sent in an answer or took part at home privately, I hope that you have enjoyed the celebration.  The best is yet to come.  The challenges are a treat to meet, and there are still some questions to share.  There may still be some goodies left to win as well.  So keep on playing.  If you haven't sent an answer in, go ahead.  Give it a try.  We are celebrating the greatest gift ever given, JESUS.  If you haven't received your gift of Christ, please, accept the gift that God has given you today, right now.  Make this the best Christmas you've ever had.


Having Fun With Jesus

Good evening! Once more the day has gotten away from me, and I missed getting today's question in. To keep the fun going, I'll post the question now along with Monday's challenge.

The question of the day is, drumroll please: Are your Christmas decorations done in traditional Christmas colors of Red and Green or other?

Now for the challenge: Bless your mail carrier with a Holiday Greeting and token of appreciation. I am so thankful for the service our mail carriers provide us. Living where we do, mail day is a blessing that we don't take for granted.

Now, I'll answer the question. When first married, the decorations were red and green, then they gradually moved into a gold, burgundy look, and now they are moving back into the red, green, and gold. Now the green comes from the greenery itself rather than the ribbon like it was at first. I found some gold fabric ribbon approx. 6-8 inches wide at the dollar store this week to add in somewhere too. Who knows though, it might not show up at Christmas. It might come out some other time throughout the year. We'll just have to see. I guess that means my answer is traditional colors. There are still some places where a bit of burgundy still shows up. I can get by doing that without the colors clashing since I decorate some of every room in the house.

Have a wonderful day tomorrow worshipping our Lord and Savior. Don't forget to bless your mail carrier on Monday and come on back for coffee to see what's going on with all the gang. The next couple of weeks until Christmas will find us receiving more challenges than questions so get ready for some active Christmas fun as we celebrate Jesus together. Bring your friends along for the last few days of our month of Jesus. Less than two weeks until the big day! Yea, Jesus!!!


Scents of the Season

Favorite seasonal scent: has to be a live Christmas tree. It is hard to choose only one. Love MOM
Not only do we have an answer sent via email, there is also an answer that is posted in the comment section.  Don't miss that one.  It's from my Victory.  She surprised me with it.  Now you can see why I am such a BLESSED MAMA. 

Knowing how busy we all are during the holiday season, I'm not going to visit long today.  I just want to put out a little taste of what will be coming to A Mother's Reward during 2010.  January is Our Favorite Books month.  Have you thought about what books you are going to put on your list?  What are your favorite reads?  As an adult?  a child?  Get ready to share the answers with us in January.  Please don't send in your answers yet.  Just think about it and be ready in January. 

For our Christmas question tomorrow, we will be finding out whether  you have a star tree topper, angel on the top, or something else.  We'll share our answers over coffee tomorrow.  


Our Favorite Foods and Tomorrow's Question

My favorite food: How do I choose? I love barbeque meatballs and homemade beef log w/crackers. I love my G'ma's gingersnap cookies and penuche fudge. Soups on Christmas Eve, yummm; Chicken and noodles on Christmas Day. Some of the traditions are from both sides of the family. Love MOM

Favorite food of the season.........Oreo cookie balls, all kinds of nuts and cheese balls. GRAMMIE
PaPo has a favorite and it is old time suet pudding.

My favorite food of the season would be beef log and well...everything else, meatballs, bacon crackers and cheese.  It's all part of the celebration so I have a difficult time choosing only one thing.  One thing that we did one year at our house that was super yummy was bacon wrapped around bite sized pieces of skinless chicken breasts dredged in a chili powder and brown sugar mixture then cooked in the oven until the bacon is done.  Yum, yum, yum.  Can't wait until chicken breasts go on sale again! I really enjoy cranberry juice and 7up punch as a memory from my childhood too.  This cranberry punch goes wonderfully with brown sugar shortbread cookies and gingerbread cookies too.  I must confess that these foods are tied into such comforting and pleasant memories that I have been known to fix something just because of the pleasant times associated with it. BLESSED MAMA

Seasonal foods bring us right into seasonal scents, which just happens to be our question for tomorrow.  What is your favorite seasonal scent?  Can you narrow it down to only one?  I can't.  Scents are what really stick with me.  Even my children have been known to comment that so and so's house smells like Grandma Allen's or this still smells like Grandma Great's house.  The sense of smell is a powerful memory maker.  So, what Christmastime scent is your fondest?  Another goodie will be sent or hand delivered to one of tomorrow's answers.  Will it be you? 

I'll start the ball rolling by answering tonight.  Some of my favorite scents of the season are pine, spiced cider, and hot coffee.  Coffee...I think I'll go make a pot right now.  Enjoy the warmth of God's Love throughout the evening.  The next segment in our posts on a PEACEful Christmas will be about Assurance.  I'm looking forward to hearing what the Lord has to say about this topic.  He has blessed me so much lately with various nuggets of truth from His Word.  Celebrating Jesus by living for Him just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter.  I'd be lying if I said it wasn't also getting tougher and tougher, but somehow the sweetness far exceeds the difficulties.  Day after day I'm kept in His love.  What a wondrous place to reside.  Eagerly looking forward to reading about your favorite seasonal scents.  Until our morning coffee...BLESSED MAMA


Question for Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009

Good Evening!

     It is a bitterly cold and snowy day here at our home.  Well, it's cold and snowy outside.  Inside, it is warm, cozy, and filled with laughter and love.  We had a wonderful time this afternoon.  For the first time, but hopefully not the last, all eight of us gathered around the dining room table for "afternoon hot chocolate".  Thanks to the cold and snowy day, Papa and CR were home so that we could.  Quite a few new electrical outlets were put in as well.  See, everything works out for good to those who love the Lord.  Romans 8:28

     I'm off to put some turkey and rice soup on for supper and continue decorating for Christmas.  I got the deer antlers out.  With antlers and pinecones, it's going to be fun decorating for Jesus' celebration.  Before I get busy with something warm and comforting for supper, I want to send you tomorrow's question.  Now for the question: What is your favorite food of the season?  

    During the past several days of cold and snow, I've been challenged to keep my heart warm and full of love no matter what the weather outside may be.  That I must make certain not to allow ice and coolness towards those around me to form.  If I remain filled with God's Holy Spirit, the love of God will flow out from me and warm the lives of those around me.  In such busy, stressful times, His love will shine out more brightly than ever.

This morning during our time of worship, the children and I read from Isaiah 40.  "Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?..."  What a wonderful time we had in the Word this morning.  The presence of the Lord was so sweet and real.  Our hearts were warmed

I'll be talking to you tomorrow!  Until then, may this find you basking in the warmth of God's love.  Jesus is the perfectly complete manifestation of such boundless love.  Merry Christmas!


Tomorrow's Question and GRACE by Paula Moldenhauer

Today I have shared an article I received myself.  The title says it is for the Homeschool Mom, but having been both a homeschool mom and a non homeschool mom, I can say with the utmost confidence that it is for all of womankind.  I couldn't say it any better, so I simply shared the article with you.  I hope it is done legally.  I included the credits. 

Before I post tomorrow's question, I have a scripture verse to share.  It relates to the last article about Entering in and resisting temptation.  James 1:12 - Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. KJV

Tomorrow's challenge:  Bless that grumpy neighbor, testy clerk, or irritated someone with a card and/or treat "Just Because God loves you and gave us Jesus, the best gift of all."

PS - if you have a favorite place to get things "on the cheap", send the name of it in and we will pass the tip along to others.  I have always loved a good buy, and now more than ever.  I doubt that I'm the only one who loves a great sale.  The better the buy, the more we can give others.  Also, do you have a favorite place to get tights and dress shoes for little girls and socks and shoes for little guys reasonably?  Please, do tell.

Now for the article.  I pray that it blesses you as it did me.

A Gift for the Homeschool Mom

Paula Moldenhauer


Do you hear the Master calling?

Look, there's a twinkle in His eyes and a huge gift in His hands. Notice how the golden paper glistens with a metallic gleam. And don't you just love the big, blood red bow?

A present. Just in time for the holidays.

Give the big kids an audio classic and put the little ones down to nap. School can wait. Ignore the dust. Meal preparation can be delayed. No one will starve, though your teenage son may think he will. You'll be able to face those holiday preparations with renewed vigor after you've basked in the Master's generosity.

Your Best Friend is really excited about your gift. He's done all the work--choosing carefully what you need most, going to great sacrifice to procure it for you. All that's left is for you to open it. Won't you focus on Him and unwrap His gift?

You pull the pretty velvet bow apart and lift the lid. You can't see what's inside, but you can smell it. It smells like lilacs and fresh cut grass and sunshine. You can feel the present, too. It's solid as iron, soft as a baby's cheek, and makes you warm all over. You can even hear your gift. One minute it swells with symphonic melody, the next it sings with the sweetness of a child. You can almost taste it on your tongue. It's meat, potatoes, and vegetables--all that is solid and healthy--and it is also silky chocolate and all that is sweet.

"What is it?" You ask.

"It's my grace." He speaks with hushed voice, a tinge of emotion lacing His words.

You stare at the box. You've heard about grace before, but you've never really experienced it. Who knew that grace would have a smell, a feel, a taste?

He suggests you reach inside.

You pull out a "G" and frown.

Jesus chuckles. "G is for guilty no more. Too many times you heap condemnation upon yourself. The children bicker and you think it's your fault for not training them well enough. You are overwhelmed with your many tasks and feel guilty that there's dust on the mantle. Your teen has a meltdown and you blame yourself, sure that if you'd spent more time with her she'd be happy.

"But it goes deeper. You beat yourself up for faults and failures I've erased from your record. I've already forgotten them. There's no need to be angry with yourself. I gave my life so you could live without condemnation. You are guilty no more. If you don't believe me, read Romans 8:1. Read it a thousand times and tape it on your bathroom mirror. Live as you are, my dear: Free from condemnation."

You have a big lump in your throat and since you can't talk, you reach back into the box. The letter "R" is in your hand.

The Lord gently lifts your face to his. "R is for Rest in Me. Come to Me when you labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. I will ease and relieve and refresh your soul." 1

"I try, but it is so hard to rest," You say.

Jesus tilts his head. "Think about when you nursed your last baby. Do you remember how you cradled him in your arms and he nuzzled to your breast? You nourished him, body and soul. Even as he was fed, he never took his eyes off of you. He gazed at you with complete satisfaction, trust, and peace. Rest in me as your baby rested in you. I will nourish you. I will lead and comfort you."

Your eyes are glued to the Master, hungry to believe all He is saying, but there is hesitancy, a fear you don't deserve to rest.

"My daughter, did your baby do anything to earn your love?"

You shake your head. "No. I loved him more as I served him, even though he could do nothing to help me."

"In the same way, I don't expect you to earn My love or the right to rest. I simply come and say, 'Are you tired? Let me help you. Are you burdened? Let me carry it. Do you feel guilty or ashamed? Let Me take that and replace it with forgiveness and acceptance.'"

Little tears gather in your eyes as you listen to Him. It's so much to absorb and you haven't even spelled out the whole word. You hesitate. The Lord reaches in the box and pulls out the next letter, "A." With trembling fingers you reach for it, running your thumb down it's long, sleek sides.

"It's time for you to accept my unconditional love," He says. " So often I stand before you with my arms open wide, longing to enfold you in them, but you duck your head and walk away. You let shame, guilt, or feelings of inadequacy keep you from Me. I have loved you with an everlasting love. 2 Nothing you've ever done has made me regret that great love and nothing can take it away.

"When I died on Calvary, I made it possible for us to be in close relationship. I washed your every misstep away in the river of my blood. There is nothing to separate us. Yet sometimes you are so determined to make yourself worthy that you refuse my free, unconditional love." 3

You're weeping freely now. He's right. The Christian life is about Jesus and the righteousness He gives. You keep making it about your performance, causing both your pride and your guilt to keep you from His arms. "I'm sorry." You whisper.

Jesus puts an arm around you. "Take the next letter."

You reach into the box and hand Him the "C." He lays it across your heart. "C is for Christ in you, dearest. I am your hope of glory. You try so hard to be good. Trust Me and let Me make you good. The good work I've begun in you will be completed. Stop striving. You are My masterpiece. Will I not finish it?" 4

The Lord reaches into the box for the last letter. You still weep silently, leaning your head against His shoulder.

"E is for Empowered. I am the One who empowers you to be all I've created you to be. Spiritual maturity isn't chasing after good works or achieving your dreams. It isn't being the perfect mother, wife, or daughter. It is knowing Me and letting your life flow from our relationship.

"Let me empower you, dear one. I am the one who gives you the grace to accomplish all I ask of you." 5

You nod. He hugs you and then kisses your cheek. As He walks away you finger each letter, His words echoing in your soul. You place the letters back into the box, one by one:

G-Guilty no more

R-Rest in Christ

A-Accept His unconditional love

C-Christ, my hope of glory

E-Empowered by His Spirit

You linger with the open box in your lap, breathing in the scent of grace. There could be no greater gift.


A home schooling mother of four, Paula Moldenhauer is passionate about God's grace and intimacy with Jesus. Her website offers home schooling hints, book reviews, and a free weekly devotional, Soul Scents. Subscribe to Soul Scents at www.soulscents.us. You can contact Paula at Paula@soulscents.us.

1 Matthew 11:28 (AMP)



Girlhood Giveaway Week 4 :

ATTENTION READERS!!! The Girlhood Home Companion is hosting a fabulous giveaway right now! You won't want to miss out!

They are giving away two holiday back issue bundles with companion CDs*PLUS four more Christmas issues !
The contest starts 12/05/09 and ends 12/11/09

Here is the address to check it out: www.remembrancepress.com . You will want to take a look at the sales going on right now too.

If you haven't ever seen this magazine, let me assure you that it is a treasure in godly femininity. They would make perfect gifts for any woman, old or young. This publication is one that a person devours rather than merely read through. It is so much more than just a magazine. Don't miss the giveaway and definitely shop while you are there to enter. Enjoy!

Celebrating Jesus Continues

I just received two emails with answers to today's question.  It looks like Jessica was the first to respond, but since Cindy was the first responder to today's question, we'll give them both a goodie!  I love, love, love giving presents away--that's good for those readers:)  Since this is the weekend, I will be posting the question for Monday---note we are skipping Sunday---at the end of this post.  One of Monday's answerers will receive a surprise goodie--not telling and no hints:)--so be sure and include your address with your answer.  Your address will not be posted in the blog.  It is only so we can get your surprise to you.  Merry Christmas!

Here are several answers in one email. I only get on the computer once a week.
*Most memorable Christmas was when I was about 5 and we were over at my Grandma Pence's for our traditional Christmas Eve party. It was late and we were excited to see if santa would come the next day. We ended up staying over at her house till past midnight. When we had got home Santa had come to our house. I got a doll bigger and heavier than me. The house was decorated and candy everywhere. My aunts had known that we weren't going to be able to have a Christmas that year so they played Santa while we were still at the party.
*Christmas traditions we started are putting up lights every year since TJ has been born. We have the C9 large bulbs in blue. Each year we add to our collection at the end of season sale. It started with just a row in front - to now having all the windows covered. This year when we put up our tree, we are going to have christmas snacks- sausage cheese and crackers with some egg nog. I also bought a ginger bread train to make with TJ now that he is 3. We try to take a family picture at christmas each year too.
*Favorite gift as a child my cabbage patch kid doll.
*We have an artificial tree that is 4ft tall and sits on an end table. This is so little ones don't pull ornaments off or knock the tree over on them. It has the lights on them, I never took them all off since there are two strings of multi color lights. I have a bigger tree in a box that a friend gave to me. We will set it up when both of the little ones are older.
*I have an idea for all. Write a Christmas letter. Even if you never have. It is always fun to see the ones from the years past. Thought I would start collecting a copy each year and put into a christmas scrap book. JESSICA

Santa or not...... Of course there is a Santa, I've watched Santa Claus the movie. hehe Okay, maybe I am one of those people who love pretend... I told our children pretending is fun and we know there isn't a REAL Santa but we can pretend. So there was and still is a gift under the tree from Santa, Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, our pets, and even the buffalo,,, so we carry the pretend thing a little far. Mommaclaus does most of the shopping here. Now, I have just answered the question about "Santa or not" and this in no way is the focus of Christmas in our home. Jesus' birth and all the glory with Him is what Christmas is really about. Just had to put that disclaimer in. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. CINDY

Santa or not....hmmm, Santa was fun as a child.  However, since I am really not that good (understatement) at pulling off surprises, I didn't even try with my own children.  I didn't "not" do Santa intentionally.  I just didn't choose to "do" the Santa thing either.  Angel doesn't think she would have believed in Santa anyway--even if I had tried.  THAT is exactly why I didn't even try--my kids are just way too smart and observant for me to have pulled it off.  BLESSED MAMA

QUESTION:  Do you use an advent calendar?  If yes, what type. 
BONUS QUESTION:  Do you have any ideas, patterns, and/or suggestions for making your own advent calendar?  Or another method of counting down the days until Christmas?


I'm Entering Into Change

Good afternoon!  As you have noticed, the look of A Mother's Reward has changed!  I was feeling the need to "rearrange furniture" and took it out on the blog instead :)

Thank you to everyone who has sent in answers to questions.  It makes it fun for everyone.  To add to the fun, the first person who answers tomorrow's question will receive a mix of Apple Pie Spice.  If that is you, we will zip the spice off in the mail to you or maybe even hand deliver it.  The spice mix is homemade by my very own Angel and would be great in any number of uses not just in apple pie.  How about making yourself your very own spiced tea or coffee?  What about spiced cocoa? 

Tomorrow's question is: Santa or not?


As I was thinking about and pondering on "Entering In" for our series on experiencing a PEACEful Holiday Season, I have to confess something.  That's all I have on this topic.  "Enter In"  If I am going to experience the Peace that passes all understanding, I must enter in.  I can't rock my way there as I rock my little man.  Though I can enter in while doing so.  Just as I can't rock my way there, neither can I wash, dry, fold, put away, or teach my way into peace either.  I have to purpose to enter into the peace that Jesus has given me. 

Keeping my focus on truth  John 14:6  puts me in a place to receive deliverance from the daily temptations assailing me.  Temptations?  What temptations could I have?  More than imaginable.  Some days it seems as if I am constantly bombarded on every side by them.  From the moment I awake until the second I lay down to sleep, the temptation to sin is great.  Fussing little ones, lack of sleep, mountains of laundry, teasing and taunting teens, the list of things that tempt me to leave the path of Love(God) and operate in the flesh seem endless. 

God says to be kind one to another Eph. 4:32.  All I want to do is bark out a command rather than gently shepherd my children's hearts.  God says to slander or abuse or speak evil of no one, to avoid being contentious, to be forbearing (yielding, gentle, and conciliatory), and to show unqualified courtesy toward everybody Titus3:2.  Being tired, I am tempted to speak sharply and not line my words aright.  Being contentious would be much easier than forbearing and showing unqualified courtesy toward everybody?  Believe me the temptation to skip the Lord's command is great.  God didn't really mean to be content with my earthly lot--whatever it may be Philippians 4:7...did He?  I don't think He knew about that mountain of laundry, or that teenage attitude being thrown at me.  He couldn't have and still given that command, could He? 

Yes, the temptation to sin against my Lord is great, but I'm told very plainly by Him in 1 Corinthians 10:13,14 that no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin, no matter how it comes or where it leads) has overtaken me and laid hold on me that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to me that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adpated and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear].  But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let me be tempted and tried and assayed beyond my ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing) place, that I may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.  That I am dearly beloved, and I am to shun (keep clear away from, avoid by flight if need be) any sort of idolatry (of loving or venerating anything more than God)---even myself and my own plans and desires.

As I continue on through this Holiday Season, my thoughts must constantly be centered on the greatness of God and His divine provision, not only of clothing, food, and gifts for my children, but of patience, gentleness, and peace.  He has already provided all I need through Christ, and it is Christ's birthday we are celebrating.  What better way for me to celebrate Jesus' birthday than by living as He set me free to live?  Free, clear of sin, and in peace, patience, and love.  Oh, God is good---all the time.  Happy Birthday Jesus!   I love you and long to serve You fully, with every fibre of my being may I praise you Lord!  

I just had the thought that perhaps the greatest birthday present I could give my Lord would be to walk in the salvation He died and rose to provide.  That maybe the birthday song that sounds the sweetest to His ears is when I lift not only my voice in praise to Him but also my life.  Entering in---another step on the path to peace.   

The Answers Keep Coming

My husband and children always open our gifts Christmas eve morning. Then Christmas Eve we go to one of the grandparents houses or both. We've been blessed both families live in Valentine. This is a tradition carried over from my childhood. We always got up early Christmas Eve morning to open gifts, dad would go to work and when he got home we would load up and go to my grandparents 90 miles away, then Christmas Day to the other grandmothers. That was a "magical" time as it was usually snowing and the snow would sparkle like diamonds. We would sing and laugh (always) and have family time......Yes, my brother and sister would argue, not me I was the ANGEL!!!!!! Do you want Santa to come????? You'd better quit fighting!!! Now I need to tell you a secret. I love to give gifts and I love to receive gifts, but,,,, I really love all my family together. If even one is not able to come home there is an empty spot in my heart. One of my favorite sayings is: Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen. Happy Birthday Jesus CM


We open our gifts on Christmas eve after PaPo reads the Christmas story. Then before the

evening with family is over we stand in a circle and each hold a white candle, Papo lites

Grammie's candle and prays for her and on around the circle it goes. We do this when we

have Christmas eve at our house. You not only pray for that person but you pray

whatever is on your heart. GRAMMIE


Tomorrow's Question--Early

Good afternoon! I know this is a bit early, but I will be busy later this afternoon getting ready for our church ladies' Christmas gathering. After a year of surprises, we will be revealing who our secret sisters are. This is my first secret sister reveal ever and I am really excited. It's another milestone of womanhood passed. I have had and been a secret sister. OK, on to the question for tomorrow.

Question: When do you open presents? Christmas Eve, Christmas Morning, Christmas Day, or some other time?

I'm going to give my answer early as well. Growing up my answer would have been all of the above. Christmas Eve was one grandparents house, Christmas another, and our own immediate family was some other time, usually even earlier than Christmas Eve. Now that I have a family of my own, the answer is still much the same. The only difference is that unlike when I was growing up, we don't always know which family will be opening when. My husband, the children, and I have been blessed to be able to have a real, true Christmas morning gift opening a few times, and WE LOVE IT! The few years we experienced a storybook Christmas morning were a gift in and of themselves. Should the Lord tarry, we look forward to experiencing more Christmas mornings in our future. Whenever we are together as family, immediate and extended, is a gift whose opening is always a memory-making occasion. BLESSED MAMA

Tomorrow I hope to have another post on a PEACEful Holiday Season. God willing, it will be on Entering In. Until then, Pursue peace and celebrate Jesus BIG!

Christmas Tree Question Answer and favorite Christmas tradition

Another answer to the real or artificial Christmas tree question has come in.  Yea!!!  Thank you to everyone who has answered.  We're just going to keep on having a great time through Christmas. 

     We have an artifical tree now as I wanted one that was tall but not so big around at the bottom and real trees just come that way. (That's the way God made them) I have it decorated victorianish.

     One Christmas when our children were little and I was very pregnant I sent Roger Jerrad and Jessica out to cut down a tree. They came back with a cedar that took up half the living room. It had brown branches and did it smell....... AND our best Christmas gift was born that year on the 11th. Her name is Amy Dawn.

     My favorite Christmas tradition is the tradition that my children and I have of doing something new every year.  In years past we have crafted a number of different ornaments and decorations.  This year we are doing more new things in the kitchen together.   BLESSED MAMA


Artificial Trees

We have three trees. In the living room we have a Victorian "artificial" tree; in the basement we have our ornaments made for fun "artificial tree" and in the kitchen we have a small tree with very small bubble lights that are fun to watch. We used to do the real tree when children were home but now it's "easier" in our older age to bring the trees out with the lights already on. I have not decorated the trees yet but they are in place just waiting to be decorated as I drink my hot apple cider. Yummm. Love MOM

Another answer came in! I haven't answered yet because I'm not sure which it will be this year. There are several small artificial trees in various rooms. We have had an artificial for several years. It is beginning to look rather worn out and loses more needles than a real one. The children are all rooting for a real tree. I'll just be thankful for a tree, whatever kind it is. Though, there is something about a real tree...BLESSED MAMA

Tomorrow's Question is: What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

One of our fellow Mother's Rewards friends lost her grandmother a few days ago, on Monday. She wrote a beautiful tribute to her grandmother and Christmas time that I would love to share with all of you. It will be posted all by itself. Having grown up with two loving grandmothers myself, I could only cry at how beautifully Kim expressed her childhood memories. Please remember Kim in your prayers this week and in the weeks ahead.


Tomorrow's Fun

Good afternoon! It's time for the posting of tomorrow's fun! I hope that you are enjoying the holiday fun and will be able to send in your answers and pictures before the Christmas season has past. Today's prize was a sample of Cafe Vienna coffee mix. However, since there weren't any answers or pictures sent in, we'll just have to drink it ourselves :) OK, maybe we will save it as a prize for another day.

Tomorrow brings us another project. This one is easy and fun. Make Spiced Apple Cider and take a some time to enjoy several moments of Christmas calm.

Another question will be posted tomorrow afternoon for Thursday. If you know of anyone who could use a little holiday fun, go ahead and invite them to join us. We will be visiting daily with prizes and a post about PEACE during Christmas thrown in as well. We are celebrating Jesus in a BIG way this year. Enjoy the spiced cider! Until tomorrow, Blessed Mama