You Know What Takes CHRIST Out Of Christmas? Complaining Over A Red Cup.

Is anyone else confused by the hype over the Starbucks red cup? When I first saw the image of the 2015 cup, I thought it looked nice. Simple and a clever use of the Starbucks green logo on the red background.

No problem right?

Well, I guess not. It seems that some people are upset over the cups and think they do not stand for Christmas.  I don’t usually pay attention to these things but the articles that kept popping up specifically mention that Christians are the people making the fuss. I like to know what I’m being associated with.

SO, I looked at the last 6 years of cups that TIME put together for easy viewing. Do you know what I see? Nothing that says “Merry Christmas” or any mention of Jesus. In fact, the apparent change that makes people upset is the lack of a snow flake.

A snow flake?

Beloved sisters and brothers in Christ – since when is a snowman, snow flake or a person sledding on a coffee cup a symbol of Christmas? I don’t remember seeing any mention of these things in the story of Jesus’ birth in the Bible. Haven’t read it? Check it out for yourself in Luke Chapter 1. These symbols are completely and totally unrelated to Jesus Christ.

I can see how this may sound harsh, but it needs to be said. You know what takes the CHRISTmas out of Christmas? Complaining, slander, and overly vocal disgust at red cups. Beloved of Jesus – there are so many more important issues to take a stand on. This distraction does not draw unbelievers to know and love Jesus. If anything, it makes Him less appealing because those who claim to follow and love Him are preoccupied with coffee cups.

As Christians, let us instead CHOOSE to celebrate Jesus, despite what is happening around us in our culture. Regardless of who says “Happy Holidays” and who says “Merry Christmas”, the culture does NOT decide the status of our hearts. We choose who we worship and what our focus is on.

It is either the world or Jesus. He longs for us to choose the latter.

So, as His chosen, and beloved people, CHOOSE to set your eyes on Jesus. Then CHOOSE now to let the rest of it roll off of you. All season long. Spending our precious time boycotting coffee cups is simply a distraction that takes our eyes off of HIM – All God’s grace in one tiny face.

How do we focus on Him?

  • Tell others you are grateful for them.
  • Tell GOD you are grateful for Him and spend some extra time with Him in prayer.
  • Set your grateful hearts on Jesus – on how He loved us and came to DIE for us so we could be saved. And how we can never deserve such a sacrifice and gift of grace.
  • Be grateful that in the United States you can speak the name of Jesus out loud without being tortured, exiled or killed.
  • Pray for those who are dying for their faith and have life and death concerns that make a preoccupation with coffee cups look foolish and careless.
  • Go out and treat others with kindness, respect, and love.
  • Tell others WHO Jesus is and WHY you love Him.
  • Intentionally spread some joy and cheer.
  • Find someone to help, serve or surprise.
  • Let Christians be known for spreading good will among men instead of complaining about things that have no eternal value.
  • Choose Jesus and show others WHO HE IS by sharing His LOVE.
  • Show the world that His love reigns in the hearts of Christians and speak well of others, regardless of where they buy their coffee. Or what color the cup is.

It’s a paper cup, people. We put coffee in it and then throw it away.

Doesn’t CHRISTmas mean more to us than that?

It’s the second week of November. There will be plenty more things this year that do not include Christ. There will surely be over-saturation of Santa, Happy Holidays and commercialization of the season.

Will you choose to allow those things to take your eyes off of Jesus?


Of Course My 2 Year Old Wants Coffee

Of course my 2 year old wants coffee |

One lovely morning, I sat on my front porch talking by phone with my sister. The sun was shining and I was enjoying drinking my morning coffee in peace. The kids were playing in the yard and our daughter meandered over to sit next to me. She proceeded to point at cars passing by and to bounce up and down while cracking herself up.

Then, she gave me a sly look, kneeled down, and decided she wanted to lick coffee out of my coffee cup.

Naturally, I removed the cup from the step.  You would have thought I pinched her. She dramatically threw herself onto the concrete and began to scream “I. WANT. Coffee!”

Toddler problems are serious.

I couldn’t help but laugh at her angry, tearless cry as I reported to my sister what caused the ruckus. As it turns out the 2-year-old need for coffee may be universal (at least to our family) because her daughter does the same thing.

Of course they want coffee! Kids are observant. They know what makes grown-ups happy.

And I must admit that coffee DOES make me happy on a regular basis.

I head straight for coffee in the morning. The kids know that little gets done before coffee is served. I know they see the content smile as I hold cradle the warm cup in my hands and smell it while it cools down. No matter how tired I am…coffee makes the morning better. A morning without coffee…well, any coffee-lover knows how that does.

The kids have seen a drive-thru cup of coffee MAKE. MY. DAY. And, when we go through the coffee drive-thru, they get nothing. But they can tell the grown-ups are getting a treat.

They also see adults having coffee with dessert. Who wouldn’t want something so closely associated with dessert?

My no-spill travel mug keeps coffee hot for 5 hours (yes, you need one of these!). Our kids see me clinging to it for dear life all morning when we’re out and about. Really, I can hardly remember life without coffee (probably because I was to sleepy to pay attention). In all seriousness, I’m pretty sure God made coffee with ME in mind.

Even at the age of 2, children already know the secret that coffee is a gift. A comfort. A grown-up cup of deliciousness.

However, they’ll have to wait. Everyone knows coffee stunts your growth. And of course, the caffeine would make them so hyper we might not make it. Seriously.

So my darling…no coffee for you. I understand your sadness because it would make me sad too.  It must be tough being 2.

Today I’m grateful I’m not 2…and for coffee.

The thisgratefulmama 2015 FALL Family Bucket-List

2015 Fall Family Bucket List |

The 2015 fall bucket list focuses on activities to enjoy with your family during the fall season, with an emphasis on gratitude and service to others.

I hope these 100 ideas help you fill fall with joy. 

Hello, Fall!


 Events (Twin Cities)


  • Play a board game
  • Start a Fall Family Tradition
  • Rake leaves and jump in the pile
  • Be a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army (starts in November)
  • Set your fall schedule
  • Play backyard football with the whole neighborhood
  • Visit a new playground and have a picnic lunch
  • Help your kids start a nature collection
  • Plant tulip bulbs in your yard with the kids
  • Write letters to deployed service members
  • Spend the day cleaning the garage as a family before winter
  • Stay warm on a chilly night around a bonfire while enjoying hot cocoa and S’mores
  • Start a family prayer journal – keep track of requests and answers this school year
  • Volunteer to serve meals at Loaves and Fishes
  • Take a family photo shoot in the leaves
  • Make the most of dark evenings – have a candlelight dinner date after kids go to bed
  • Set goals for the school year and encourage each family member throughout the year
  • Spend an afternoon at Feed My Starving Children
  • Clean out the closets and give warm clothes, hats, mittens and coats to those in need
  • Go to a local high school football game
  • Let your child do chores to earn money to give on Sunday at church
  • Deliver Meals on Wheels in your area
  • Help the kids write letters and mail them to grandparents and extended family
  • Spend the afternoon doing homework and reading together at the library
  • Sign up for the family oriented fall Public Programs in the MN Valley Wildlife Refuge
  • Start a Gratitude Journal
  • Get lost in Minnesota’s Largest Corn Maze in Brooklyn Park, MN (Sept 19 – Oct 25)
  • Gather all the neighbors and play an epic game of flashlight tag
  • Download and start the JOY DARE from A Holy Experience 
  • Create your own family Fall Scavenger Hunt and take a nature walk together
  • Read fall-themed books as a family
  • Spend the next large family gathering playing a huge game of Capture the Flag
  • Say Thank you to those who go out of their way to help your family
  • Collect acorns and have some fun with Acorn Races
  • Help your child take photos of fall leaves
  • Help your child find a pen-pal and help them write and send ‘snail mail’
  • Practice gratitude
  • Clean out the toy box together and take your children to donate items
  • Have a movie night with blankets, jammies and home made popcorn


Go (Minnesota)

11 Ways For Mamas & Kids To Express Gratitude On Father’s Day (And Every Day)

11 Ways For Mamas & Kids To Express Gratitude On Father’s Day (And Every Day) |

Can you believe that Father’s Day is already just over one week away? Father’s day is one of my favorites to prepare for – it’s a dedicated day to show my husband how much I appreciate him, and a day to help our children express how grateful they are for their daddy.

I often struggle with how to best express this intense appreciation and gratitude. We just want it to be a special day honoring the one who is so special to us.

Last year, we gave my husband a photo desk calendar, celebrated with a family meal, and our 3-year-old son gave a framed set of interview questions and answers. This year we want to shake it up a bit. Here’s a few ideas we’ve used in the past or are considering for this and future years.

(Now…if you are my husband reading this….this might be a good place to stop or you may feel rather unsurprised this year)

11 Ways For Mamas & Kids To Express Gratitude On Father’s Day (And Every Day)

11 Ways For Mamas & Kids To Express Gratitude On Father’s Day (And Every Day) |

1.Photo Calendar – Many photo services offer a calendar in both full size and desk varieties (I prefer Shutterfly calendars – 50% off thru June 16! Order for all the dads in your life and get free shipping with orders over $39)


11 Ways For Mamas & Kids To Express Gratitude On Father’s Day (And Every Day) |

2. My Daddy Is – Ask your child questions and prepare to be amazed by their answers. We made our own but one of these free printables will work nicely: My Dad’s Superpowers, Father’s Day Printable Book, Father’s Day Interview Poster.



11 Ways For Mamas & Kids To Express Gratitude On Father’s Day (And Every Day) |

3. Coupons – They may be generic, but coupons are a worthy gift if your children (or you) actually plan to fulfill the promises on them. If you give a coupon book, encourage your husband to use them! Make your own, or use these free printables – Father’s Day Coupon Card.


11 Ways For Mamas & Kids To Express Gratitude On Father’s Day (And Every Day) |

4. My Daddy and Me Book – We made a board book filled with activities our son loves to do with his daddy using the printer, full sheet labels and a plain book.  Not into struggling with full-page labels? Make one online.

11 Ways For Mamas & Kids To Express Gratitude On Father’s Day (And Every Day) |

5. Father’s Day Photo or Collage – Use signs and the camera to express your feelings in a card – or even better, frame it and wrap it as a gift. We have used this for birthdays and many holidays. Check out other online examples: Father’s Day Photo, Scrabble photo, We love you daddy feet, Father’s day photo collage, D-A-D framed photos.




11 Ways For Mamas & Kids To Express Gratitude On Father’s Day (And Every Day) |

6. Kids Art Work – Let children paint on canvas like our son did for Mother’s day. Or, try one of these other dad-crafts: Following in Dad’s shoes, Daddy art, Daddy mug (make your own with an industrial sharpie)

11 Ways For Mamas & Kids To Express Gratitude On Father’s Day (And Every Day) |

7. A special touch – Regardless of your gift plan, small touches can make any day special. My husband bought me a growler of cold press coffee before Mother’s day. It might not seem like much, but he knows me well and it was a small gesture that went a long way. What does your husband like?





11 Ways For Mamas & Kids To Express Gratitude On Father’s Day (And Every Day) |

8. A child-daddy date – think of an activity your child can do with daddy, perhaps something they’ve never done before. What do your children like to do with their dad?

  • Baseball: snag tickets to a minor or major league baseball game
  • Golf: send them to hit a bucket of balls at the driving range or  them to play putt-putt
  • Art: send them to a painting class or to the children’s theater
  • Cook: father-child cooking class
  • Camping: rent a campsite or for the less-adventurous (or young ones), set up a backyard camping experience, marshmallows and all
  • Music: tickets to a children’s concert or pack them a picnic and send them to an outdoor free concert
  • Fishing: prep the fishing gear and send them to fish on a dock or rent a boat and pack the car with gear and life jackets
  • Family fun: do the dirty business of filling all the water balloons and have a family game of balloon toss (or just have a water balloon fight), family picnic in the park,  camping trip, hiking

11 Ways For Mamas & Kids To Express Gratitude On Father’s Day (And Every Day) |

9. Help the kids cook a meal – help your children pick and prepare a meal or special dessert for daddy. Try to let them do as much as possible!




11 Ways For Mamas & Kids To Express Gratitude On Father’s Day (And Every Day) |

10. Plan a no-kids date – just from you. Because you appreciate all he does and you love spending time with him.




11 Ways For Mamas & Kids To Express Gratitude On Father’s Day (And Every Day) |

11. The Father’s day week – Ambitious, I know. Why a full week? Because dads are dads EVERY DAY. One day just isn’t enough. So why not make it seven? We should express gratitude every day. Start a week before and end on Father’s Day, or start on Father’s day and go for seven more. Flood them with love and gratitude for a 7 full days – handwritten notes, artwork from the kids, maybe a coffee growler, special meals and extra hugs. Make this year’s Father’s Day week one to remember!

P.S. To my husband…if you’ve read this far…don’t be expecting every single thing listed here 🙂 Love you.

11 Ways For Mamas & Kids To Express Gratitude On Father's Day (And Every Day) |

Sprinkler System. Yep, That’s Me.


What really wakes me up at 630 AM? Was it the run I just finished? Nope. A freezing blast to the face from the sprinkler as the wind catches the spray, forcing it in the opposite direction from which it was purposefully aimed.


Last year, as new homes finally got sod, just one other poor soul was out there, throwing up a simple wave each morning. A sign of solidarity as we wrangled hoses and sprinklers. I must say, I’m glad it wasn’t just me, even if they mastered not getting sprayed in the face and I did not.

Windy morning after yet another windy morning, trying to force the water into submission, my sole purpose was to not let the new sod die. Struggling to master what some might find easy, I’d hear the surging spray erupt from well-oiled machines in (almost) everyone else’s yard – one by one, a ticking clock of sprinkler heads.

Sprinkler systems – admittedly a source of irrigation envy on many-a-morning.

As with many neighborhoods, there’s a lot of small talk as we meet and greet new neighbors. In spring, the small talk is often about sod…and sprinkler systems. It is almost assumed that you have one.

When asked, my husband and I sometimes joke that we do.


Sprinkler system in the flesh.

Only, lets not get too hasty in calling me a ‘system‘ or I might get a big head. It’s kind of like when I worked for a certain genetics company and someone started referring to me as the ‘equipment department’ to customers. Ha! Tech service calls and repairs definitely taught me a thing or two, but I was no department…but I digress…back to the sprinklers! I have found a method that seems to work but ‘system‘ suggests that I’m not still getting sprayed in the face on a regular basis.

Believe it or not, once the watering twice a day because it refused to rain last July, and our sod watering permit expired, it actually wasn’t so bad.

In fact, having to water my own lawn may actually have a few minor perks.

I appreciate what I once did not. The every-other-day watering restriction used to seem like a bummer. A limitation. Nope. It is freedom! No matter how hot, I just cannot water on odd-numbered days. At the end of certain months…I get TWO days off. In a ROW. And no more disappointment when the sun isn’t shining – rain is a gift, washing away sprinkling duties.

I have to get up for it. I cannot water my lawn with two small children without watering them. It’s further motivation to keep getting up early, run, and start sprinklers when I return. Then I my bible and have plenty of time to read, study and pray…albeit with a couple of trips to move sprinklers and perhaps some towelling off. Then, hot coffee and a shower, and I’m ready just in time to greet those sweet little faces as they wake.

It saves money. We obviously saved by skipping the initial purchase of a sprinkler system, but last year, we also saved big on our water bills. When several neighbors told us the cost of their sprinkler-system driven water bills, we were shocked. Ours wasn’t just a little less, it was a lot less. Trust me, when you are moving it around, you are keenly aware of how much water is going on your lawn, and elsewhere. Our ‘method’ takes into account wind so we only place sprinklers where water actually hits our grass – Not the neighbor’s yard (sorry), the street, or the weeds behind us.

We are so blessed. By now, you know me, I’m always looking for a way to be grateful and joyful regardless of my circumstance. It’s here – even in a cold spray to the face. I am grateful we have a lawn instead of a dirt and weed pit like we did at the beginning of last summer. We have two hoses and two new sprinklers that work (last year 2 marginally worked and one simply did not).

We have clean, drinkable water that we use to water our grass. Just consider that. We should all be very careful in complaining about having such excess of a resource that many in the world die without.

Watering the lawn without a sprinkler system is a true first-world problem.


Sure, maybe someday we’ll install a sprinkler system. It would be a true luxury. But for now…hoses and sprinklers are good enough. A little self-discipline never hurt anyone. And, since my neighbors can see my inept attempt at escaping the spray, it can be seen as a humbling experience.

While I know I’ll probably still be excited to quit sprinkling by mid-summer, for now, I’m committed to enjoy it. Our lawn may not be as plush as some of the others, but it sure will have deep roots.

As new sod is laid out like carpet in our new neighbors yards, some of you will see me out there in the morning. My smile and wave hopefully will communicate an appreciation and understanding for your watering struggles.

Be encouraged; if I haven’t killed my sod yet, you won’t kill yours. That would take some serious skill.

Solidarity, my friends.

Embracing The Messy-Reality Of Mother’s Day

Embracing The Messy Reality Of Mother's Day |

This morning, like every morning, I came downstairs, with two frantic-for-breakfast kids in my wake. The view upon opening the fridge stopped me in my tracks.

There, on the middle shelf was a beautiful sight – a growler of dark roasted coffee, cold pressed for 24 hours. A full jug of coffee goodness. Even better, on it, a handwritten note from my husband proclaiming, ‘Happy Mother’s Day’.


Yes, my friends, this man is a keeper.

Today, as you know as you read this, is Friday. It is not Mother’s Day.

Delighted and excited to try some, I first did what mothers do – I made the kids breakfast and made sure they had water and anything they might need from me before trying to pour myself a cup.

This coffee is every bit as wonderful as you might think it is. Dark. Strong. And, unlike my normal morning coffee with the kids, I don’t have to worry about it getting cold.

It is intentionally, delightfully cold. Delicious.

That man is my hero.

Last night, before bed, I read a ScaryMommy blog post, titled “What Moms REALLY Mean When They Say “I Don’t Want Anything for Mother’s Day” that made me crack up.

Out loud.

By myself.

Yes, I do that a lot since I am a heavy mom-blog consumer and some of you are incredible blogging comedians.

This morning, watching our kids and drinking fantastic coffee, I was struck by what I really want for Mother’s Day and how appropriate it is to wake up to a Mother’s Day gift during a standard week day.

What I really want is not what I originally thought. Last night, I agreed with ScaryMommy and thought I wanted an uninterrupted day.

But I don’t. I think if I have an uninterrupted Mother’s Day, I will miss what makes me love being a mom. Mother’s Day isn’t about being served, thanked, showered with gifts, or praised. Mother’s Day is about being a mom, and being a mom means a life of interruption, both good and bad.

Although I sometimes complain about the lack of sleep, cranky or tired kids, or how I want to go to the bathroom in peace, even those moments bring a fullness and joy to life I can’t do without. You see, un-interrupted sleep means missing a chance to snuggle and comfort a child who is too busy to snuggle during the day. An extra long shower means I might miss something they may never do again.

It is true that being a mom means I don’t have as much time for myself as I used to, but who needs all that self-reflection and pampering anyway? What I did before kids was waste a lot of time and hot water.

I may have quick showers, less sleep and have to answer the question ‘why?’ in one morning more than any person should in a lifetime, but I also have priceless, funny, sweet, and sometimes messy (or stressful) moments with two incredible little people.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to stay home with our kids. They change me for the better, every single day, whether I like it or not.

Truly, Mother’s Day is better spent on a day like today, without a big family gathering or special meal. I don’t really like to be the center of attention anyway – it makes me feel awkward and weird. On the actual day, I am often distracted by events and our kids are usually off playing with cousins so I don’t see much of them until they are over-tired, crying and ready for bed.

I remember last year sarcastically thinking “happy mother’s day to me” as they screamed their way through bedtime baths, books and prayers – who could blame them? We had so much fun celebrating and playing, they were just plumb worn out!

Don’t get me wrong, the celebrations of moms are wonderful and important. All mothers, and those who love our children but may not be biological mothers are worth honoring. Absolutely spend time pampering the moms in your life this Mother’s Day.

But today, a regular Friday, is what being a mom is all about. Sure, we have bruises, time-outs, messes, and tears, but we also have life lessons learned, sweet sibling snuggles, playtime, curiosity, and all-out-hysterical-belly laughing.

What I really want for Mother’s Day, is a regular day with our kids – a day that wouldn’t be complete without interruption, grass stains, time-outs and dirty diapers (OK, I admit I could do without the diapers). While uninterrupted moments might be nice, I love them so much, I don’t want to spend the day with only the perfectly behaved portion of their day – I want all of it. Messy or not.

At a minimum, I thought this known sleep worshipper would at least want to sleep in. But really, I won’t. I will hear the rabble-rousing downstairs and know that I was missing moments with my family. I want to be there when my husband and kids are wrestling and they are giggling and tackling each other. I don’t want to miss it. Instead, I’ll use the day to reflect and be grateful for all parts of being a mom.

I will not trade it for even one day.

Today, a coffee growler made me feel loved, celebrated, grateful and well-caffeinated – a perfect combination on a not-so-perfect day.  The fact that it was given on a day that isn’t Mother’s Day makes it twice as appropriate and special. Thank you, Seth (and kids) – you know me so well.

Remember, it doesn’t take much to make a mom’s day special. Let the moms spend the day with the sweet kids who make them moms in the first place. The kids are the best gift a mom ever asked for anyway.

Even if they come with interruption and boogers.

Happy Mother’s Day!


DIY Metallic Painted Coffee Beans

I recently stumbled across this picture of coffee beans that appeared to be painted.  I searched further, hoping for DIY instructions or at least where to buy some but was disappointed – it was just a photo with filters applied so the beans appeared blue.

Inspired by the photo, I was determined to recreate the look with paint and coffee beans. Initially, I thought spray paint would be best, but could not find metallic spray paint in the color I wanted. Instead I bought some metallic craft paint and decided to experiment.

DIY Metallic Coffee Beans are inexpensive, can be used to make a variety of accents, centerpieces, gifts and more. Even though I love the way they look, the best quality is they smell like coffee! Comforting, warm and homey.

Here are 4 good reasons to make your own: 4 Ways to Use DIY Metallic Painted Coffee Beans.

Happy Painting!

DIY Metallic Painted Coffee Beans


  • 10 oz Whole Bean Coffee – $3 (bought with a coupon, cheapest brand)
  • Metallic Craft Paint in color of choice (I used Folk Art Metallic Acrylic Paint in Aquamarine and Ice Blue) – $1.99 each
  • Foam tipped paint brush – $1
  • Plastic bowl, or disposable aluminum foil tray
  • Paper cup
  • Baking sheet lined with aluminum foil

Steps Used:


Start with 10 oz whole coffee beans

Start with 10 oz whole coffee beans

Metallic Craft Paint

Metallic Craft Paint

Pour coffee beans into a large bowl or tray

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil

Transfer paint to a paper cup

IF mixing paint colors together, stir to mix using a foam paint brush

I couldn’t find the color I thought I wanted, so I mixed 2 parts Iced Blue craft paint in 1 part Aquamarine craft paint. In the end, the mixed color was washed out so I ended up adding Aquamarine paint, without mixing to brighten the beans up.

Paint the Beans

Coat the foam brush with paint

Coat the foam brush with paint

Stir the beans with the brush

Stir the beans with the brush coated in paint

Add more paint and continue to coat the beans by stirring

Re-coat the brush, and continue to stir the beans

Stop when coated as desired

Stop painting when coffee beans are the desired color

Coat the bottom half of the foam brush with paint so it is coated, but not dripping

Transfer the brush to the bowl of beans and use the brush to ‘stir’ the beans

(The more you stir, the thinner the coating on the beans)

When it appears no more paint is being transferred, re-coat the brush, and stir again.

Repeat steps until the beans are coated with paint as desired

I coated with the mixed color paint first, but it wasn’t bright enough. I then switched to the aquamarine paint and re-coated the brush more often, stirring less for a thicker coating

Allow to Dry Fully

Transfer to a foil coated baking sheet

Transfer to a foil coated baking sheet

When the beans have the desired amount of color, transfer to the baking sheet and allow to fully dry

(Mix them up every now and again to expose them to air and speed-up the drying process)

Mine seemed to be dry quickly, but I allowed them to sit overnight on the tray just to be sure

Use them

Once they are dry, they are ready to use! Feel free to share how you use yours in the comments.


This post was shared on the Something To Talk About and Do Tell Tuesday Linkup Parties: