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21 Days to a Simple Christmas: Day 21

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It’s the final day of the 21 Days to a Simple Christmas Challenge!

There’s snow outside, almost all of our Christmas preparations are done, and the kids are snuggled up watching White Christmas together. Today, as we pause from the usual daily routine, I’m reflecting on what Christmas truly means.

And as I’m reflecting, I remembered this post I wrote back in 2009 that sums up what Christmas is all about to me:

A few weeks ago, my rambunctious two-year-old accidentally knocked and broke a very special tea cup of mine. As I was sweeping the pieces of glass into a dustpan, I realized this was something one could easily find themselves upset over.

But instead of frustration, I found myself feeling grateful. Our lean law school years–when a hot cup of tea in my special tea cup was one of life’s few luxuries–had taught me a profound lesson: things don’t buy happiness.

It’s a trite phrase, to be sure, but when you’ve found much happiness in spite of the lack of things and the lack of money to buy things, it seems anything but cliche.

There are likely many reading this right now who are experiencing financial difficulty. Maybe your husband is unemployed and there are no job possibilities on the horizon despite your incessant knocking on doors. Perhaps you have no idea how you are going to pay your rent or your mortgage and you’re beyond tired of eating endless varieties of beans and rice.

No matter your current financial struggles, you can have happiness. In fact, you can find the very same kind of happiness I had when we were living on $800 a month in a little basement apartment in a new town with few friends.

You’ve likely read here about a lot of deals I’ve scored over the past few years, but today I want to tell you about the best “deal” I’ve ever gotten–one that changed my life forever and gave me lasting happiness and peace.

Two thousand years ago, in a humble manger in Bethlehem, a little baby was born. This baby, Jesus, would grow up to be the Savior of the world.

When I was 11 years old, I committed my life to Jesus and He become my personal Lord and Savior. Since then, my world has been turned upside down.

Where once I lived in constant fear and worry, I now have lasting peace. Where once I had emptiness, I now have true fulfillment.

Is my life perfect? Far from it! But I am loved unconditionally by the Creator of the universe. And that, my friends, is worth more than all the money in the world. He is what brings me true happiness.

As I swept up those pieces of shattered glass, I realized I wasn’t upset over my favorite tea cup breaking because I have something that pales in comparison to a thousand expensive tea cups–I have Jesus.

The things of this world will fade, crack, break, and die. Jesus is Eternal. He will never leave me or forsake me. And someday, I get to spend Eternity with Him!

This Christmas, my prayer is that you also know Jesus, too. If not, don’t delay another day until you get to know Him and commit your life to Him. ( to read more about Jesus and how He can change your world, too.)

I promise, this will be the best deal you’ll ever find–worth more than all the money in the world can buy!

Merry CHRISTmas!

21 Days to a Simple Christmas: Day 18 {Update}

Join the 21 Days to a Simple Christmas Challenge

It’s Day 18 of the 21 Days to a Simple Christmas Challenge!

Today, I encouraged those of you who are married to do something special for your spouse.

In honor of this week’s post on Love Notes To Your Husband, I wrote a love note to Jesse today. He always loves it when I do this — especially because one of his love languages is words of affirmation. 🙂

We’re also planning an at-home movie date tonight after we go look at Christmas lights as a family. We’re both looking forward to it!

If you’re married, did you do something special for your spouse today? If so, tell us about it in the comments or share the link to your blog post (if you’re blogging about the challenge).

21 Days to a Simple Christmas: Day 18

Join the 21 Days to a Simple Christmas Challenge

It’s Day 18 of the 21 Days to a Simple Christmas Challenge!

Today, we’re going to be focusing on doing something special for our spouse (if you’re married). It’s so easy to get so wrapped up in all the busyness of the season that we fail to take to nurture our marriages. And yet, if you’re married there’s not really anyone more important than your spouse, is there?

Day 18 Project

1. Read chapter 11 from (Did you sign up for your free copy yet? If not, and fill out the form to be emailed a copy.)

2. If you’re married, do something special for your spouse today. It could be something as simple as writing a love note or making a treat they love.

3. Come back tonight around 8 p.m. and share what you did to bless your spouse. And I’ll share about what I did, too!

21 Days to a Simple Christmas: Day 17 {Update}

Join the 21 Days to a Simple Christmas Challenge

It’s Day 17 of the 21 Days to a Simple Christmas Challenge!

Today, we whipped our homes into shape to prepare for the busy few days ahead. Here’s a little peek into the cleaning we did…

21 Days to a Simple Christmas

I printed out the cleaning plan to cross off as we finished things.

21 Days to a Simple Christmas

The basket of miscellaneous items from around the house. There were some interesting things we rounded up… some that ended up going straight into the trash and recycling bins.

21 Days to a Simple Christmas

Lastly, we tackled the laundry pile. It wasn’t too enormous and Kathrynne helped me so we got it done in record time.

21 Days to a Simple Christmas

And then I lit this favorite candle of mine to celebrate the clean house. 🙂

Did you do any Christmas cleaning today? If so, tell us about it in the comments or share the link to your blog post (if you’re blogging about the challenge).

21 Days to a Simple Christmas: Day 17

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It’s Day 17 of the 21 Days to a Simple Christmas Challenge!

Christmas is almost here (can you believe it?), so today it’s time to get our homes in shape for company or so that we can enjoy our family and not have to worry about stepping over dirty laundry piles or tripping on spilled milk. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all you have to do, I’m here to help!

I’ve got a two-hour step-by-step plan to help you get all the major cleaning done so that your home looks presentable for your guests:

Two-Hour House-Cleaning Plan

1. Start a load of laundry (3 minutes).

2. Set the timer for 15 minutes and take a laundry basket and a trash bag and go through each room in your home. Quickly straighten, pick up, and put away everything that’s out of place. Put all trash in the trash bag and put everything that doesn’t go in that room in the laundry basket (15 minutes).

3. Put away all contents in the laundry basket and throw out the trash (5 minutes).

4. Head to the kitchen and load the dishwasher or hand wash the dishes (15 minutes).

5. Switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer and start another load in the washer (2 minutes).

6. Sweep or vacuum your kitchen floor and wipe down your countertops (10 minutes).

7. Take some toilet cleaner and go squirt it in all your toilets (2 minutes).

8. Take some window cleaner and spot clean the main glass windows/doors/mirrors (3 minutes).

9. Take a dust rag and quickly dust in the main rooms of your home (10 minutes).

10. Vacuum all the major traffic areas in your home (20 minutes).

11. Head back to the bathrooms wipe down the toilet, sinks, floor, and bathtub/shower. Change the towels (20 minutes).

12. Switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer and fold the clean laundry (15 minutes).

13. Light a candle or simmer some potpourri on the stove and enjoy your freshly-cleaned home!

Free Downloadable Checklist

Like to cross off lists? Download the to keep you on track and remind you of what you’re supposed to be doing next. Now you have no excuse for getting distracted. 🙂

3 Tips for House-Cleaning Success

1. Set the Timer

A timer works wonders in helping me stay focused and work quickly. Plus, it makes it seem more like a game to see if I can finish my project before the timer goes off!

2. Turn on Some Music

It’s much more fun to work when you’re accompanied by cheerful, upbeat music.

3. Stay Focused

Don’t worry about the next thing on the list or your overwhelming to-do list. Just focus on the project at hand until the timer goes off. Then, move on to the next project.

If your house is a complete disaster, it might need more than two hours. However, remember not to get too hung up on making it perfect.

Just work quickly and efficiently and do the best you can do in the time you have. Even if your house isn’t pristine after two hours of work, I’m sure it will at least look quite a bit better than it did when you started. 🙂

Day 17 Project

1. Read chapter 10 from (Did you sign up for your free copy yet? If not, and fill out the form to be emailed a copy.)

2. Do as much of the Two-Hour House Cleaning Checklist as you can.

3. Come back tonight around 8 p.m. and share about what cleaning projects you accomplished today. I’ll share some pictures of our Christmas cleaning, too.

21 Days to a Simple Christmas: Day 16 {Update}

Join the 21 Days to a Simple Christmas Challenge

It’s Day 16 of the 21 Days to a Simple Christmas Challenge!

Today, we’re talking about Christmas decor and I promised you a little peek into our Christmas decor…

21 Days to a Simple Christmas

We have our tree decorated with these free printable ornaments and the free printable ornaments from Ann Voskamp’s beautiful devotional, The Greatest Gift. I love how they remind us of what Christmas is all about.

21 Days to a Simple Christmas

This is our . It’s so simple that I’m almost embarrassed to show it. However, the highlight of the morning is waking up and moving the marker a day closer to Christmas… so I guess our kids don’t seem to mind that it’s not very sophisticated. 🙂

21 Days to a Simple Christmas

And here’s our manger scene. You can read more about it here.

21 Days to a Simple Christmas

Finally, I just love our Christmas mantel. These have provided a lot of hours of enjoyment for our kids. And Jesse and I have joined in the challenge of coming up with new words to spell with them, too!

Did you do any Christmas decorating or add Christmas cheer to your home in any simple way? If so, tell us about it in the comments or share the link to your blog post (if you’re blogging about the challenge).