Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Lesson You Should Carry into 2017

I sat clearing out memory space


when I came across a

silly song

called Moriah's Blues

"Why life? Why life?
I don't understand why life keeps on treating me like this"

and as

we listened
we laughed


because sometimes it's just like that...

Why life?
Why, life?
Why? Life?

Then on the recording the girl actually laughs as her momma's


finally penetrates the day's overwhelming frustration

(and it was a gift...)

And as I thought about the gifts we each give


I was reminded

that the only way to give those gifts is to

embrace who we are

So for 2017 and beyond the lesson is to...

Just. Be. You.

Be weird... Be random... Be who you are
Click to hear...

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Danger of Singing Someone Else's Song

Be weird... Be random... Be who you are

The words just wouldn't come...
The notes either...

and it bothered me that I couldn't hear it

So I listened again


until I finally remembered

I know better but

had forgotten
had been too busy singing someone else's song

which is


every now and then

But the danger of singing someone else's song for too long
is that eventually...

you forget the words to your own

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Gift Left Unopened

Christmas is officially over

along with...

the hustle
the bustle
the planning

and expectation

We have...

tossed to the side and
moved on to the next

still searching

as Jesus lay in the manger...
out on the lawn

And it may take a few days for us to get to Him

to remember
to realize

that the stuff will never truly satisfy us

But that our true gift has been left unopened

if we
left Jesus

out on the lawn as a baby...
still a baby...

in a manger

when what we should have done was let Him into

our house
our hearts
our homes

as God!

(originally posted 12/28/13 as "Nativity Scene")

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Early Care and Education Series (Celebrating Families)

With the Holiday Season upon us
our monthly "Tea with Tondra"

would not have been complete without
a Holiday celebration to honor

the men
and women

who work

tirelessly to provide quality care for
young children and their families

Carmel Apple Cider Bar

Information Board
Cookie Decorating

Photo Props

Puzzles and Placemats

Gingerbread Play Dough
Ginger, Clove, and Spice? 
It's beginning a SMELL a lot like Christmas!
Recipe Courtesy: The Imagination Tree

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Gift of Now

So this is the last free write for the year
and I have stopped in just to say...

"Thank You"

(This has been some year together, wouldn't you say?)

We have...

cried together
cheered and

and although I cannot

personally hand wrap and deliver
personal gifts to each of you this season

Please accept my words here as a gift

with less than five-minutes
but lingering forever

because the best gift you can give someone
is the gift of yourself...


Peace and Blessings Family!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Top 20 Tips for Simple and Stress-Free Gift Giving

It's that time of year again...

People are shopping
People are sharing
People are stressing

over shopping and sharing

(and in all of that)

it's so easy to get carried away
and forget

the true meaning of the Season...

Let go of all of that Holiday drama and keep it simple
with these 20 stress-free gifting tips

1. Give Something Festive

Grab a book full of Holiday recipes, decorating ideas, or gift-giving
inspiration, tie a ribbon into a bow, and you've got the perfect festive gift!

2. Give Something of a Shared Interest

I chose to honor two "secret sisters" from my church and
when I saw these mugs our "shared interest" was evident...

(Our church is named "Peace")
 I also found these small notepads with Psalm 29:11

"The Lord blesses His people with peace"

to remind them as they take notes while meditating
over their morning coffee or afternoon tea

3. Give To a Stranger

Give to someone you do not know...  

Melodie over at Africa's Melodie has found a way to touch lives
and embraces the true spirit of the Season by making care packages 
to share with people experiencing homelessness.

Not only is her gift giving simple and stress-free, its giving for any time of year!

4. Give Something That Can Become a Tradition

My daughter was surprised when she came home from school to find a small pink tree, lights, and candy canes sitting on the dresser in her room. 
She grabbed her log cabin, made candy hearts, and plugged in the lights. Her reaction and the Winter Wonderland she created were so priceless I decided to make this an annual tradition!

5. Give Something Inspirational

A good book, a good album, or an inspirational movie
can be amazing gifts that share the love of the Season. 

The gift that inspires is the gift that keeps on giving!

6. Give Something from a Child
 Add a matte and frame to a child's artwork to create a special gift from a child

7. Give the Gift of your Talents

Offer a ride to someone with transportation issues, assist someone with
their holiday gift wrapping, sing Christmas carols at your local community center,
or perform in a musical.  Whatever your talent... find a way to give it.

(Seeing my son perform on stage was one of my all-time favorites!)

8. Give Something for an Entire Family

Gather some ingredients, place them in a basket, and give
something the entire family can make and enjoy together

9. Give Something for an Unborn Child

When gift giving this season, don't forget the little ones who have yet to arrive.

Giving books are great because Mom-to-be can begin reading to her little
one while in utero and the books can be enjoyed for many years later!

10. Give Your Favorite Thing

Cash, cards, or candles...
You can't go wrong by sharing something you love

11. Give Something to Create a Memory
 Whether it's a day at the spa with your girlfriends,
or an at-home spa day with your little girl and her friends...

these moments together are memories that will last a lifetime!

12. Give Something Sweet

Making, baking and decorating cupcakes with the kids is always a favorite...

13. Give Something Fun

Giving something fun can range from traditional... like
making or purchasing clothes for your little girl's dolls

(and just one pack of leg warmers can clothe two dolls!)
to untraditional...

like the time a friend gave me a
"shopping spree" out of her shoe closet

14. Give Something Sentimental

Holiday time is as good a time as any to show sentiment by telling someone...
Thank you, I appreciate you, or I'm thinking of you.

Imagine my surprise when I received this oven mitt, hand scrub and moisturizing softener
with a handwritten note that said..."Bless the hands that have prepared this meal"

Another quick way to give with thought and sentiment?

The next time you're invited to a Holiday gathering...
bring a box of Christmas Blend Coffee or Hot Cocoa!

15. Give Something Useful

Giving something useful can be as easy as having a meal delivered,
collecting canned goods to share, or giving a pair of socks to a child in need

16. Give Something Handmade

Give something handmade by yourself... or someone else

My children are still sharing items made during their summer business venture because
they've found that some people simply have an affinity for items that are handmade

Color*full Creations
creating a life full of color

17. Give of your Time
There are so many ways to give of your time...

You can volunteer, serve, support a cause, visit someone who is sick, 

or put together/deliver gift baskets to share with those in need


18. Give Something Personalized

Personalize gifts by getting items monogramed,
printed with pictures, or finished off with that special touch. 

Personalized gifts are special because they leave no doubt who the gift is for...

Created these "Love you to Pieces" Puzzles for each of my children

19. Give in Secret

Surprise someone by having a gift shipped to them, but instead of signing the card
with your name, include reasons why you are sending the gift, what you love
about the person, or favorite memories you've shared together...

Chances are they will enjoy the mystery just as much as the gift!  

20. Give from Your Heart

Most of all this Holiday Season remember to give selflessly, give thoughtfully,
and give from your heart.  With these simple gift giving tips, you can't go wrong! 

What will you give?

(revised post... click a title below to follow the original series)

  "Holiday Love... It's Gift Giving Time"
"Holiday Love... Favorite Things To Give"
"Holiday Love... Receiving- The Other Side of Giving"
"Holiday Love... Simple Gifts to Give at Christmas"
"Holiday Love... The Secret to Good Gift Giving"
"Holiday Love... When Your Refrigerator Dies Two Days Before Christmas
"Holiday Love... Let Your Light Shine"