On the 2nd Day of CHRISTmas….Giveaway with Marybeth Whalen

Welcome to day two of the 12 Days of CHRISTmas giveaway!!! There will be holiday ideas, easy recipes and both practical and pampering prizes to win. Best of all, each day you will meet one of my fellow “sistas” from the Proverbs 31 Ministries speaking team. Get to know them and their wonderful resources including books and teaching cd’s. Why, you might even just discover the speaker you have been looking for to appear at your next event.

So get in the holiday spirit. Tune in each day. Hop on and leave a comment. The more you leave, the better your chances of winning. The 12 daily winners will be announced on the 13th day of December so comment on all 12 posts if you can! 


What fun I am having reading all the ideas and traditions you love and can’t live without! Let me tell you…..one thing I just can’t live without is my every-once-in-a-while marathon phone conversations with my friend and fellow speaker Marybeth Whalen. What seemed to be a chance meeting in a break room at a Hearts at Home conference in the late nineties has turned into one of the coolest friendships ever! (Marybeth and I are both still very 1980’s thus I say ‘coolest’) Although I am a member of the Proverbs 31 speaker team because of God, He used Marybeth to introduce me to this wonderful ministry. 

So today, on day two of this series of give-aways, please meet my friend Marybeth Whalen.

Marybeth Whalen is the wife of Curt (also known as Earl) and mom to six unique individuals, ranging in age from teen to toddler.  Three of her kids attend a local charter school and three are homeschooled. 
Marybeth is the author of several books, including For The Write ReasonA Recipe For Christmas JOY (ebook), and a new book which will be released in March 09, entitled Learning To Live Financially Free: Hard-Earned Wisdom For Saving Your Marriage and Your Money.  Currently, Marybeth is working on a follow-up book to For The Write Reason (for Christian writers) which will be entitled The Reason We Speak (for Christian speakers).  That book will be released in June 09, Lord willing– just in time for the Proverbs 31 Ministries She Speaks Conference
In addition to writing and speaking, Marybeth loves blogging at her blog Cheaper By The Half Dozen, reading, participating in her local Community Bible Study, and cooking.  Someday Marybeth hopes to find time to catch up on her scrapbooks, which have been painfully neglected in recent years. 
  • Marybeth, tell us a little bit about what the holiday season will look like at the Whalen house this year.

We attempt to simplify everything we can. I had a friend challenge me years ago to stop running around like crazy and carve out time to just be at home, enjoying each other and the peace of the season. Prior to that, we ran ourselves ragged trying to get to everyone’s houses– all the grandparents and great-grandparents wanted us at their homes in a span of two days.  We finally had to stop and say no, that we were going to be at home primarily, and that they were welcome to visit us there.  Now we do some visiting but not as much as we used to.  It is a nice balance, and one we work to maintain by continuing to set boundaries.

  • What are some of your kids’ favorite Christmas traditions?

Every year we have a family screening of Home Alone. We never get tired of watching it!  And decorating the tree is always a fun family time, taking out the ornaments we have collected and reminiscing. My daughters and I usually attend a Christmas tea in our area, which makes for some nice “girl time.”  Oh, and baking and enjoying treats galore!

  • You have written an e-book that deal with finding joy during this crazy, busy season. Tell us what prompted you to write it and a little bit about what it includes.
Well, last October I was thinking ahead to the holidays and how we would spend our time, gathering recipes and craft instructions, things like that.  As I did, I had the idea to compile it all in one place.  While I was doing it for myself, I figured I would make it available to others. This book is a collection of the best ideas I have found for keeping our focus in the right place and making great memories as a family at Christmas– without stressing ourselves out or blowing our budget! 
  • What advice can you give to moms who are stressing and obsessing over the many tasks that must be done at this time of year? How can they find joy?
I begin the ebook by sharing a story of how I created a centerpiece for Christmas dinner, and how I planned my whole meal around that centerpiece, laying out the place settings and other elements of our meal according to the the theme of that centerpiece.  Later, I realized that that was a great visual for how I need to plan my Christmases– keeping Jesus at the center of all I do, and making my Christmas plans accordingly.  We can take everything we do to Him, asking Him for wisdom about how to best spend our time, money, and energy.  I think much of what we put on ourselves each year is unnecessary.  That if we would take it all to Him and ask, “Do I really need to spend this money?”  “Do I really need to commit to this event?”  “Do I really need to worry about the way my house looks?” He would remind us that, no, we do not.  He frees us up because His burden is easy and His yoke is light.  Stressing and obsessing is the last thing He wants for us, but too often we get so caught up in the chaos that we forget to turn to Him. 
Thanks so much for taking time to chat with us!
You are welcome Karen!  I loved stopping by! 
Okay now gals, can I tell you how I love, love LOVE Marybeth’s concept of the Christmas centerpiece and keeping Christ at the center of our celebration. So, today let’s dive in and share any ways you steer clear of the commercial and cleverly weave the true meaning of Christmas into your festivities. Here is one of ours:

When we welcomed our first child nearly 18 years ago, we approached our first Christmas with her with a bit of apprehension. Sure, we were typical parents excited at the notion of buying gifts for our little one. However, we also feared that our children might grow up thinking, as many kids in society do today, that Christmas was all about getting and greed. We feared Jesus just might be left out of the very celebration of His own birth!

Thus we began a tradition that has stuck at our house; through 18 years and three children, mind you! It is the practice of giving our dear offspring just three gifts each Christmas. Of course they still get a stocking full of goodies. However, there are no mounds of presents presenting the opportunity for wanting more, more, more!!!! Our kiddos get the same number of gifts as were given to the very first recipient of a Christmas gift so many years ago. Three. Ahem! Anyone remember baby Jesus and the gold, frankincense and myrrh?

Here is how we tweaked the idea to make it fit and to make it fun. For a few years, they received one present that was something to play with, one that was something to read and one that was something to wear. As they grew older and acting on a tip from a gal in one of my workshops, we modified a bit and tied these items into the gifts Jesus’ received. Here’s how:

·      First, they get a “gold” gift. Gold is precious and priceless and highly desired. So, they get one item they really, really want! It is their gold gift.

·      Next, we have frankincense. It burned and arose during prayer. It was meant to draw you close to God. So, their frankincense present is something that helps them in their walk with Christ. It can be a new Bible, a musical CD, Veggie Tales DVD or tickets to hear a concert or Christian speaker. Maybe it is a weekend youth retreat pass or a new book or leather journal that will help them in their spiritual life.

·      Finally, we have myrrh. This was a spice that actually accompanied burial and covered a person from head to toe. So, they too get something that will go on their body. Perhaps it is a new coat, an awesome outfit they have been eyeing. For my boys it has been hunting clothes and boots or for our daughter it has been jewelry. Anything that they can wear.

Being purposeful in limiting the amount of gifts and tying it in with that first Christmas long ago has been a bright spot in what could otherwise be a very commercial Christmas. And it has forced me, as a mom, to be intentional and creative rather than just picking up all of the latest “must-haves” of the season. You just might want to try it!

And, you can also pray for me. You see, I am really good with this “just three gifts” idea. It is their stockings that I tend to overload!!! YIKES!!!

Now for the Giveaway: Leave a comment telling us how you tie in the first Christmas to your family’s celebration or perhaps how you’d like to do that more effectively this year. Just leave a comment on this topic in order to be entered in the give-away. Marybeth will be sending one of you a copy of her great e-book A Recipe for Christmas JOY

Here is an overview of what you will find in this book:
* how to make Jesus the center of your Christmas
* a complete menu for Christmas dinner and a traditional New Year’s Day meal (with recipe’s!)
* a week by week checklist for organizing your Christmas
* helpful websites
* suggestions for easy meals on those busy nights
* how to observe advent in a way that will work for your situation
* ideas for decorating for Christmas and instructions for gifts you can make
* many tried and true recipes for Christmas goodies
* 25 ways to make the holidays holy days
* fun and creative ways to reach out to others at the holidays
* list of great Christmas read alouds for you and your children
* a week of devotions for the week between Christmas and New Year’s

This resource will be a HUGE blessing to your family and your sanity. So hop on now and leave a comment. And remember, winners are not chosen until the 13th of December so catch up on any other posts and leave a comment there.  You just might be selected as the winner of that day’s gift !!!

Joyful Blessings,


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  • I love the idea of three gifts and their meaning. I’m going to implement this next year for Christmas and try to focus on the real meaning of Christmas.

  • I just forwarded your 3 gift idea to my husband. My daughter (our first) is 21 months old and we want to eliminate the focus on gifts at Christmas. We had been saying that our kids would get just one gift and then we could wrap some clothes that they would get anyway for something to open. I love the 3 gift idea, though!!

    Something that I am waiting for more information on from my sister-in-law is that her family does a Jesus tree. All the ornaments on that tree point to Christ – the only one I can remember is a light bulb with a bow for “light of the world”.

  • One special thing I have started with my daughters is that on Christmas Eve they each get to open a gift (which is pajamas – no surprise to them, but they love it). They get their PJ’s on, we read a couple books about the birth of Jesus and head to Christmas Eve service at church. It starts and 11 pm and they always fall asleep on the way home – ha ha they are already dressed in PJ’s! No fuss when we get home!