25 Days of Christmas, Day 3: The manger

After a bitterly cold Thanksgiving week, we have enjoyed temps in the 70’s and even 80’s for the last few days.  I hear that the cold is coming back, though.  I enjoy the warm days but certain people prefer cold weather in December.  I prefer not to be cold, ever.  I don’t always get my way.

Remember I mentioned a Christmas explosion?  It really wasn’t a big one.  Besides the photos I posted yesterday, it was just this:

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And this little guy.  The tree, I mean.

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…which really has hardly any decorations at all right now.  I’ll probably let them bring in some ornaments for it with the next wave.  It will be used for our church’s ornament exchange later this month, but that’s not a problem.  We’ll strip it for the party and redecorate after everyone leaves.

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Today we read Luke chapter 2, and Megan couldn’t help laughing.  Again.  She laughed at the same passage when she was practicing her narration part for our church’s upcoming Christmas pageant.  There’s a very important comma that sometimes doesn’t get enough emphasis when you read the passage aloud.

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.

Luke 2:15-16

Just try reading it aloud. Now ask your listeners: Who was lying in the manger?  How in the world did all three of them fit in a manger?

See my other 25 Days of Christmas posts

25 Days of Christmas, Day 2: Decorating

Today is December 2.  Can you guess what I’m listening to?  Here’s a hint: it’s Christmas music.

Still cover art


Yes, I got my copy of Nathan Clark George’s Christmas album, Still!

You can listen to individual tracks for free, but the whole album is just $8 to download for keeps.  Even better: for $10 you get a physical copy, plus downloads, plus mobile access to the songs via the free Bandcamp app.  You can also download a free sampler of his Christmas music just by providing your email address.

Today we did better on Christmas stuff: I realized that the book of Luke has 24 chapters, so decided to read a chapter each day for Advent.  This morning as we finished breakfast, we kicked it off with chapter 1.  I’ll try to read an extra and catch up soon, but the first chapter had over 70 verses so I left it at that.  As it was, the narrative was fast moving and engaging, so even the youngest kids really paid attention.

We also read the first chapter of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  It’s a fun story, but extra fun this year because our church is doing a Christmas pageant, and 4 of our children will be in it!  It’s a short story with just 7 chapters, so I’d like to read another when this one is done.  Maybe we can talk Perry into reading Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.

I picked up a super cheap & simple Advent calendar from Target so the kids can count down the days to Christmas.

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On the same trip, I found a $1 package of gel window clings.  They caught my eye because Bethany was so taken with the package she saw at her uncle’s house at Thanksgiving.  I had told her I would try to find some, and here they were!  She was delighted, and arranged them on the sidelight next to the front door so all of our December guests would see them.

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I let the kids get a few decorations out of the storage shed, but made them wait on the stockings.  I’d like to let them get a few items out each day until we run through the supply, but I think they’ll manage to get it all out much more quickly than I’m envisioning.

Example: the lights are already out and hung.  They look like they were hung by a 12yo, but that’s OK.  They were.  And she had fun doing it.


Perry’s first comment when he got home: “It looks like a Christmas explosion in my house.”

I was a little concerned: “Did we overdo it?”

“No, it makes me happy.”  I love this guy.

See my other 25 Days of Christmas posts

25 Days of Christmas, Day 1

Wait, whose idea was this?  And how are we already this close to Christmas?  I have to admit, I’m a little nervous about the whole season.  I was a hormonal basket case last year, and am not looking forward to a repeat performance on any level.

But I’m also a little excited about Christmas decorating and activities.  I want to keep it easy and low-key, but I’m hoping to do a little something each day to keep Christ in Christmas, as they say.  I want to be sure even my youngest children know it’s not just about gifts and pretty trees.

Since this was the first Sunday of the month, our church group stayed after the fellowship meal to sing.  We sang every single Christmas and Advent song in the Cantus Christi, except for a couple no one knew.  It was fun and beautiful!  Our church has been practicing God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen in four part harmony, but it’s definitely a work in progress.  The alto is hard!

While we sang, several of the little kids decided it would be fun to tear red Solo cups into strips.  They just cracked them at the top and pulled the sides down until they reached the bottom, leaving narrow strips attached to the circular base.  I idly folded them until I came up with this.  Does anyone think they look Christmas-y at all?  Ornamental, perhaps?  I think they bear a little resemblance to poinsettias, or roses, or oversized peppermint candies.

Solo cup craft - no tools required

Solo cup craft – no tools required

We didn’t start any sort of Advent reading, but I hope we can make that a part of our day in the weeks to come.

I don’t have a schedule mapped out, but I do have some ideas for the next 24 days.  I’m not promising they will all happen, but I hope we can build some good memories this month.  Who knows? Maybe we will even start some new traditions.

What special things does your family do in the month of December?  What new ideas do you hope to try?

See my other 25 Days of Christmas posts

30 Days of Thanks, Day 30: Travelling mercies

Today is the last day I’ll be doing this, and tomorrow I will start 25 days of Christmas.

Today I am thankful for what my dad always called “travelling mercies.”  Whenever our family left the house as a group – every week for church and less frequently for other reasons – he gathered all of us together around the table to pray for travelling mercies.  By God’s grace, we always arrived home in roughly the same condition as when we left, and we always found our home the same way as well.

We just got home from 4 days and 4 nights in Austin with the extended Coghlan family.  We live in a very quiet neighborhood known for its low crime rate, but there have been several minor incidents lately.  I was apprehensive about leaving for so long, especially during such a predictable time of the year.  We even took the dog with us, leaving our house quiet and empty – and vulnerable.  I guess I still haven’t entirely adjusted to city living, because I was really uncomfortable about doing this.

But we made it safely to Austin, and nothing worse than a little vomit happened while we there.  It wasn’t even anyone from our household – how did we escape that?!  And we made it safely home again.  Our house was was not broken into, or if it was they didn’t find anything worth taking.

Also, we didn’t die in a fiery wreck.  I’m being flippant, but I am truly thankful.  God is good.



brother in law

grandma and grandpa

yours truly



post-turkey coma

post-turkey coma

See the rest of my 30 Days of Thanks 2013

30 Days of Thanks, Day 29: Grace

I am such a flake. I made it for 28 days in a row, and on the day after Thanksgiving, I dropped the ball: I completely forgot to post.
But that gave me something to be thankful for. I am thankful for grace, both from God and from those around me. I am thankful for God’s kindness to forgive my sins and shortcomings, and for friends and family who reflect His grace in their willingness to love and forgive me.
Forgetting to write a thankful post is hardly a cardinal sin, but it’s just one tiny illustration of my fallen nature: I failed to follow through in a simple, specific goal: 30 Days of Thanks. And the fact that no one I know of is shaking their head with hands on hips, muttering about how disappointed they are in me – this is the grace from friends that makes me thankful.
I fail daily in countless ways, and there’s no excuse for that. But I am thankful for friends, family and a God who love me anyway.

Post-turkey coma


… with glow stick.

30 Days of Thanks, Day 28: A Christian nation

Today is Thanksgiving Day, and I’m thankful today to live in a country with strong Christian roots.

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Our nation has come far from its Christian roots and has many grievous issues now, but we still have the remnants of our foundation, and a hope that goes with it.

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I am thankful to live in the United States of America.

See the rest of my 30 Days of Thanks 2013

30 Days of Thanks, Day 27: Mother-in-law

Today, I am thankful for this lady, the sweetest lil mother-in-law in Texas.


Now that they have settled in Tennessee she’s not always in Texas, but I think Texas will always be in her.


She was raised in east Texas with her six sisters, and has a soft deep drawl that adds a syllable or two to almost any word.


Wait, where is she?


Not only is she the mother of the man I love most in the world, but she has also been a second mother to me for more than half my life.
Today is her birthday. Happy birthday, mom-in-love!

See the rest of my 30 Days of Thanks 2013

Giveaway – More Than Rules: Exploring the Heart of Beauty and Modesty


Today’s giveaway is Bambi Moore’s e-book, More Than Rules: Exploring the Heart of Beauty and Modesty.  If you don’t read Bambi’s blog, In the Nursery of the Nation, you are missing out!

Black Friday special: get the PDF for $.99 or the Kindle version for $2.99!

But even if you do read her blog – or especially if you read her blog, you’ll want to read her e-book on the difficult and divisive topic of modesty.  Bambi bravely tackles the subject without laying down rules and drawing arbitrary lines on the arms, legs and neckline.  Instead, she delves into the heart of the matter.  What is modesty?  What is beauty?  Why should we care?  How can we seek God’s will when we choose our wardrobe?

An ebook I wrote on beauty and modesty

Here’s one of my favorite bits from the book.  When discussing modest dress, people often make the assumption that modest = ugly.  Some even refer to modest dresses in general as “frumpers,” i.e. frumpy jumpers.  Not true.

Our lives make public announcements. A Christian woman’s clothing should make an announcement of “good works professing godliness”, not “pride” or “sex.” But why? The function of a Christian’s good works is to glorify God.
Consider Matthew 5:16: In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
It is self that drives us to steal glory that belongs to God alone, no matter the tactic. It is self that makes us desire the focus and attention of others, to want their admiration and praise for clever wit, high social standing or clothing that is too expensive, too tight, too short or overall improper. Incidentally, clothing that screams, “Just look at me! I’m more spiritual than you because I’m dressed in a jumper two sizes too big!” is also immodesty because it seeks to attract attention.


I love this review by Jacinda of Growing Home

“More Than Rules is, hands down, the best work I have ever read on modesty. In typical Bambi Moore style, More Than Rules delivers a timely and convicting message with humility and humor. Though generally a divisive topic among Christian women, Bambi breaks through barriers of legalism and antinomianism and presents a biblical doctrine with grace and kindness that will ultimately lead others to contentment with who they are in Christ. It’s an affirming and encouraging read for those who sometimes feel like living in the modesty trench is a losing battle, and for anyone just curious about what it means to be modest, consider More Than Rules your ticket to a whole new wardrobe! “

Interested?  Learn more here.  You can read the introduction for free.  Ready to buy?  Get it as a PDF, or get the Kindle version from Amazon.


Bambi has agreed to give a copy of her e-book to 5 winners!  To win, just enter any or all of the following ways.  Please leave a separate comment for each entry.

  1. Leave a comment here.
  2. Like In the Nursery of the Nation on Facebook.
  3. Like Life in a Shoe on Facebook.
  4. Follow Bambi on Pinterest
  5. Share this post on Facebook, Twitter or other social media.  You can use the buttons below.  Leave a separate comment telling me where to find each share.
  6. Blog about this giveaway.  I will choose 2 winners specifically from among those who blog about this giveaway, so bloggers will have a very good chance of winning!

I’ll leave the giveaway open for 7 days before I randomly choose the winners.

30 Days of Thanks, Day 26: Family

I may have already said it, but it bears repeating:I am thankful for family.
It bears repeating partly because family is just that much of a blessing, but also these are different family members than the ones I was thankful for earlier this month.



Oh, by the way. I’m totally coveting the crocheted Coghlan.  If it disappears while we’re here, I’m not answering any questions.

See the rest of my 30 Days of Thanks 2013