A parenting quote from Evergreen!

Nov 22nd 2014
Posted by Susan

Thank you to my friend Emily Ann Peterson for this beautiful pin! 

parenting quote

Thank you for stopping by! 

XO!

Ingrid Christiansen

Thursday Tune Up: Take another look at Gift-Giving

Nov 20th 2014
Posted by Susan

Surviing the ChaosThursday Tune-Up: Thoughts on Simplifying and Savoring the Holidays (and Surviving the Chaos!)

Ingrid’s Insights to Christmas Gifts

No, this is not a list of 100 things you can give for less than $50. 

It’s not a list of cool pinterest craft gifts.

It’s not an encouragement to pick gifts from the Samaritan’s Purse catalogue and give a goat to the needy (although you can if you want).

I want to talk about WHY you give a gift. 

My favorite moment is when one of my children opens their gifts, and sees something unexpected, something amazing.

Something that delights their heart.  Something that gives them peace, or joy.  Comfort and delight.

My children love it too – in fact, their goal at Christmas is to make me cry.  The one who gives me the best gift, apparently, wins.

The best gift?  Something of themselves. Something that shows me how much they love me. Like a photograph of our family, edited and framed.  Or a card with their favorite memories written on it.

We spend so much money every year on stuff…what if gave something more expensive. What if we gave ourselves?

What if I gave an hour of game time every week to my son.  Or a “Girls-Only” weekend to my daughter? What if I game my mother a daily telephone call, and my husband a weekly date night (that I planned?) 

This season, I challenge you to think outside the box with your gift-giving. 

Start with understanding the love language of your giftee – words of affirmation, affection, quality time, acts of service, and gifts.

What “gift” speaks to that love language?

Add in, what sacrifice can you make that enhances that gift? 

How does your gift bring delight, joy, peace…comfort?

This is the substance of the gift of Christmas, the example set by our Savior.

Stop stressing. Start simplifying.

What unique gifts can you give this year?  We welcome ideas!

Thanks for reading!

Ingrid

Tuesday Tasty Treat: Casper’s Chewy Ginger Snaps

Nov 18th 2014
Posted by Susan

Simplify and Savor Cookies

 

From Ingrid’s Cookbook

Casper is our middle child – which means he’s the peace maker.  When I first decided to allow our children to pick their cookie, Casper first picked Darek’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. Seeing they were taken, he then chose Eden and Grace’s  Lucky Kiss Peanut Butter  Cookies.  Alas, too late. He then spent a few days trying to decide between Owen and Amelia’s Sugar Cookies or his mother’s favorite, Chewy Ginger Snaps. This recipe also came from Grandma Christiansen’s worn Minnesota cookbook, Recipes from Minnesota with Love. 

Because I didn’t pick a favorite to bake, Casper sidled up to me one morning before December’s baking began and announced that he wanted me to have my favorite too – so he’d pick the spicy snap that I thought might be doomed to extinction.  Casper, saving the day, again.  

To delight him, I always let Casper press the tiny red-hot in the center of the cookie, like the crown jewel.

 

Casper's Chewy Ginger Snaps
Yields 4
A delicious, chewy Ginger snap!
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 c. butter
  2. 1/4 margarine
  3. 1 c. light brown sugar
  4. 1 egg
  5. 4 Tbsp molasses
  6. 1 tsp cinnamon
  7. 1 tsp nutmeg
  8. 2 cup flour
  9. dash salt
  10. 1/2 tsp cloves
  11. 1 tsp ginger
  12. 2 tsp baking soda
  13. bowl of sugar for dipping
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and margarine.
  2. Beat in sugar.
  3. Add egg and molasses, beat well.
  4. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  5. Chill 30 mins.
  6. Roll in 1 inch balls, dip/coat with sugar.
  7. Place on lightly greased baking sheet.
  8. Press a red-hot in the center of the ginger snap!
  9. Bake 350 for 8 mins.
Adapted from Recipes from Minnesota with Love
Susan May Warren http://www.susanmaywarren.com/
 

 

Simply and Savor Tip:  Eat this with a yummy mug of hot cocoa. Luckily, these are rather rich, so you’ll be happy with just one or two.  (Maybe!) 

Thanks for reading, 

Ingrid

Simplify and Savor: Surrendar

Nov 17th 2014
Posted by Susan

simplify and savor icon

From Ingrid’s Journal

God’s way may be harder for you, but it will be easier on you.   H. Hanson

As the “co-owner” of Evergreen Resort, I’ve shouldered much of the bookkeeping, entertaining and marketing to get the place running. Much like Susan May’s experiences of being a missionary wife, I wanted to run side-by-side with John to help shoulder the burdens.

I couldn’t believe it the day he turned on me.

Oh, how it hurt.  My husband’s words, although he tried to be gentle, ripped open my heart. “I’m sorry, I just can not allow you to do this job any longer.”

Can not allow?  My pride, my rebellious spirit ruffled.

“You are tired and crabby, and our family is suffering.”  I knew he was right; my job as accountant was taking its toll on our family life.  From cold noodle dinners to cancelled bible studies, I had become a walking nerve. And now, expecting our fourth child, something had to give.

“Please quit,” he said as I slammed the bathroom door in his face and collapsed, crying.

Surrender. It never came easy to me. I was the child who pushed curfew, the Christian who danced on the fence of disobedience.  I had been known to shake my fist at God while He waited, patiently.

But this submission would mean sacrificing a part of my identity, slicing off some self-esteem.

My history with God reminded me that when I surrender, He gives me the key to a closet of unimagined treasures…peace, untried spiritual gifts, blessings…joy.

So why was I hanging onto this job like some sort of tenacious bulldog?

I slowly peeked through the door, and then abandoned myself into my husband’s, and God’s waiting arms.

Six months later, I rocked my cooing baby, lingering in the precious treasure of quantity time. Again, surrender had unlocked the door to true joy.  Just another step upon my spiritual journey.

My husband hadn’t betrayed me – he loved me enough to pry my own expectations from my grip and freed me into a place where I could be a better version of myself.

Simplify and Savor:  Is there something in your life you are tenaciously holding on to that is no long a “fit” in your season of life?  Surrender your pride, let go, and savor the new season!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Have you ever “surrendered” something only to realize the freedom – and joy – that resulted? 

 

Thanks for reading!

Ingrid Christiansen

'Evergreen' by Susan May Warren

 

Ingrid Christiansen and her amazing family are featured in Susan May Warren’s award-winning, best-selling series, The Christiansen Family.  Her newest book, Evergreen: A Winter Novella is available now as an ebook or in Hardcover (which would make an excellent Christmas gift!)   

Pin and Review of Evergreen by Renee Smith

Nov 15th 2014
Posted by Susan

I just love Susan May Warren’s reader friend Renee Smith who is a fantastic Pin-maker!! Check out this fun pin she made from a quote from Evergreen…and follow it to her review. Thank you Renee!

Pin from Renee

Thanks for stopping by!

XO!

Ingrid Christiansen

Thursday Tune-Up: Traditions or Traps?

Nov 13th 2014
Posted by Susan

Surviing the ChaosThursday Tune-Up: Thoughts on Simplifying and Savoring the Holidays (and Surviving the Chaos!)

Insights from Ingrid: Traditions or Traps?

Tuesday Tune Up:  Ingrid’s Insights

I love Christmas traditions.  Like, our clam chowder soup on Christmas Eve, and the family cookie decorating contest and cutting the tree down from the backyard.  I think traditions benchmark our holiday season, and help us share favorite events. 

But, the can also strangle us.  Trap us into doing something for, well, tradition’s sake.

One of our longest standing traditions is the Christmas Week Puzzle.  It started out small – maybe thirty pieces, when the children were young, yet grew as they grew.

And, living by the “bigger is better” mentality we Christiansens do, eventually came the year when we decided we’d attempt…gulp, 2000 pieces.

I negotiated for the entire month of December to work on it, and they agreed, happily pouring out a waterfall of tiny pieces onto a piece of plywood that topped our coffee table (leaving barely inches of leg space).  It took an hour just to turn the pieces over.  I stared at the scattering of pieces (it’s a coka-cola puzzle with a Christmas theme) and they blurred in my head.  No. Way. 

How on earth were we going to find time to do this gargantuan project?  That year, with seven performances of the community play, a full plate of social events, basketball games, band concerts…we’d barely be home in an evening to work on it.  Not only that, but when we were home, we had Christmas letters to write and cookies to bake, and packages to wrap.  No time to sit, no time to puzzle….

The puzzle only seemed to epitomize our hurried, jumbled lives.  Yes, we chipped away at it, but by the time our extended family arrived from out of town, we’d only managed to complete half the frame. 

We were well on our way to puzzle failure.  But more than that, the Christmas season, even our traditions had taken over our lives.

I was stricken with the Traditions Virus – you know what it looks like. If it doesn’t happen, Christmas is doomed!

And that year, so was our puzzle.

Christmas Eve arrived and we hadn’t finished.  And we had to face the moment…were we going to push forward into the wee hours and finish the puzzle – or, what if we dragged out the easy 100 piece puzzle of earlier days.

Laughing, we pulled out the kids puzzle. Fought for pieces, and with tears rolling down our cheeks, took our annual Epic Puzzle Picture.

Best. Puzzle. Ever.

What traditions are strangling you?  Could you dial it down, simplify?

Do you have to make 30 different kinds of cookies?

How about, instead, 1 batch of everyone’s favorite?  Eaten with hot cocoa around a 500 piece puzzle.

Simplify.  Savor.

What traditions have you simplified? 

Thanks for reading!

Ingrid

Tuesday’s Tasty Treat: Eden & Grace’s Lucky Kiss Peanut Butter Cookies

Nov 11th 2014
Posted by Susan

Simplify and Savor Cookies

 

From Ingrid’s Cookbook

Eden and Grace’s favorite cookies are the same:  Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies.  I think it’s because I let them unwrap the tiny kisses as the cookies bake (and they love to hide the fact they are sneaking the kisses into their mouths! I always buy extra bags because of this).  Over the years, we’ve gotten more creative with our Kiss varieties, sometimes choosing the caramel filled or white chocolate ones to top the cookies. 

But our favorite seem to be the boring “Milk Chocolate Kisses,” the traditional, old standby.  But maybe that’s why we like them…because Grandma Christiansen used to make these, and we stole the recipe from her cookbook, Recipes from Minnesota with Love. 

Here’s  a quick tip.  Store the kisses in the freezer until you’re ready to bake. They won’t melt as quickly on the hot cookies (although you want to add them while the cookie is still hot so it will affix into the cookie securely), and they will be harder for your children to steal and eat!  

 

Eden and Grace's Lucky Kiss Peanut Butter Cookies
Yields 4
A delicious and festive peanut butter cookie recipe
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 c. brown sugar (or 1 cup white sugar + 1 Tbsp molasses)
  2. 1 c. white sugar
  3. 1 c. butter or margarine
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 1 tsp vanilla
  6. 1 c. peanut butter (we love the chunky kind!)
  7. 2 1/2 c. flour
  8. 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  9. dash salt
  10. 1 14-oz packages milk chocolate kisses
  11. 1 bowl sugar for dipping (red sugar is fun!)
Instructions
  1. Cream together sugars and butter.
  2. Add eggs, beating well.
  3. Add vanilla.
  4. Gradually add peanut butter and dry ingredients.
  5. Chill for 30 mins.
  6. Roll into 1 inch balls, drop and roll into sugar.
  7. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Lightly press thumb into each ball to create indentation.
  8. Back 350 for 8 mins.
  9. Pull out, press kiss in each center, move to wire rack to cool.
Notes
  1. Hint: Store the kisses in the freezer so they'll be less apt to melt into a puddle on the hot cookie!
Adapted from Recipes from Minnesota with Love
Susan May Warren http://www.susanmaywarren.com/
Simply and Savor Tip:  Buy an extra bag of kisses and hand one out for special moments, just because. Why not?  You already have them in your freezer!  

Thanks for reading, 

Ingrid

Simplify and Savor: Hope

Nov 10th 2014
Posted by Susan

simplify and savor icon

If you’ve read my story, Evergreen, you know I lost a child sixteen years ago through miscarriage. Regardless of how many years pass, you never forget (Susan May Warren, the author of Evergreen used her own experiences with miscarriage (4 of them) as she penned my story.)

 

Here’s a glimpse into my journal as God comforted me.

Our Lord has written the promises of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in Springtime.   

Martin Luther

 

Thick, silent tears coursed down my friend’s cheeks as she grieved the loss of her baby. I took her hand and held it, understanding her pain all too well.

Five years earlier I had stumbled from the Doctor’s office in agonized disbelief. Our last child had died in my womb. Pain; Emptiness…how quickly a miscarriage turns joy to sorrow. At home, I slumped into the recliner and held my other children, sobbing into their tiny shoulders. They patted me, confused, until their father came home and took over.

I was inconsolable. How could this happen…would I ever have children again? Fear choked me and I felt paralyzed, unable to cry out to God for help. Past midnight, I sat in the darkened living room, despair building a wall between me and my Lord.

But He was there, a whisper of strength lingering in the silence. I knew I had to confront the One who held my life and my baby’s life, in his hands.

“Why?” I sobbed.

No answers. Instead I found comfort. Psalm 107:35, “He turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs.” What does that mean, Lord?

But I already knew. I wandered in a desert of grief, but ahead of me, and my baby, waited a spring of life. I still had a child – and because of my faith, because of Christ, I would see that child again. Hope is the treasure of those who trust in Him.

 

Simplify and Savor idea:  Today, read a Psalm, experience David’s emotions and savor a moment of gratefulness for the gift of Heaven.

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why are you so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, For I will yet praise him my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:5

 

How has God ministered to you as you’ve encountered deep loss?

 

Thanks for reading!

Ingrid Christiansen

'Evergreen' by Susan May Warren

 

Ingrid Christiansen and her amazing family are featured in Susan May Warren’s award-winning, best-selling series, The Christiansen Family.  Her newest book, Evergreen: A Winter Novella is available now as an ebook or in Hardcover (which would make an excellent Christmas gift!)   

A quote from Evergreen…

Nov 8th 2014
Posted by Susan

Hey! Ingrid here, and while I was surfing Pinterest, I found some fantastic Pins from some of my friends in the reading world!  

Thank you Heidi Robbins for this inspiring pin! 

Pin by Heidi Robbins

Thank you for stopping by! 

XO!

Ingrid Christiansen

Thursday Tune-Up: The Reason for the Season

Nov 6th 2014
Posted by Susan

Surviing the ChaosThursday Tune-Up: Thoughts on Simplifying and Savoring the Holidays (and Surviving the Chaos!)

Insights from Ingrid: The Reason for the Season

I used to be that mother who had a to-do list for every category of Christmas – decorations, wrapping paper (homemade, only!), Christmas cookies (30 different flavors!), parties, gift-exchanges, teacher gifts, caroling and outreach, and oh, the traditions.

I admit to a lot of crying. 

I finally wised up and realized two things. No one liked the crying, and…less is more!  Fewer decorations meant less clean up later (and more to focus on instead of clutter!) 

Fewer cookies meant we picked the ones we liked.

Fewer events meant more time at home, reading a great Christmas book (can I suggest my author friend Susan May Warren’s newest story about our family, Evergreen?)

Fewer outreach events meant better attitudes for the ones we attended/arranged.

Less is more. 

And simplifying leads to cherishing.  To discovering and savoring that which really matters.

So, in that theme, this month we’re going to talk about simplifying and surviving the chaos with the goal of savoring the season!

*****

Let’s start with the MAIN THING:  Why we’re gathered here today…The Reason for the Season.

I’m going to say something controversial here. . .

I love Jesus. I love Christmas. And I love being a Christian.

But I don’t have to put Jesus into every Christmas tradition.  I don’t have to wrap a story into the Christmas tree about Jesus dying on a “tree.”  I don’t have to limit presents to “three” because the wise men gave Jesus three. I don’t have to tell a story about a candy cane and how it tells the gospel story (although, admittedly, that’s kind of cool), or even take down my stockings in front of the hearth just because Santa is not Biblical.  I can focus on Jesus without having to imbue every tradition with spiritual significance.

Because Jesus has given LIFE significance.

Jesus isn’t just here at Christmas – he’s among us, in my life every day.  And perhaps our perspective shouldn’t be how do we add significance to our celebration of Christmas, but rather how does Christmas help us cherish the significance of Christ, of Immanuel, here with us?   

I don’t have to reach for significance in an Evergreen tree when I see the beauty of it against a white snowfall.  I see God’s creativity.  Faith, hope and love enduring. 

I don’t have to reach for significance when I hear a holiday song, even if it’s secular song because I’m reminded of my family.  And eternity.  And the joy we have in the body of Christ.

Christ puts significance into the Christmas season. We don’t put significance into Christmas.

Simplifying and Cherishing means I can celebrate Christmas every day.  Celebrate the gift of knowing Christ, personally. Sitting down for a moment to read my Bible, to pray, and praise.  To worship Christ as if it is Christmas morning, wondering anew at this miracle, every single sunrise.

So, here’s an idea.  This Christmas, as you prepare, look for Jesus in the everyday.  Find him. Thank him. Worship him.  Your Immanuel is with you.

Has Immanuel shown up in your life today?  Share your joy! 

Thanks for reading!

Ingrid