Thursday, December 18, 2014

Santa is not the Issue.

I always want to live my life as honest and open as I can.  I have always felt called to this, my hearts greatest desire and I truly believe it is the way God created and intended me to be. I went through a period in my life when I was very discouraged to live my life like this, that it in fact was wrong. And I let myself believe that because I let their words become greater and stronger and louder then Gods words. I don’t think I realized the depth of that lie and just how much I had lost myself until I moved away.  It is so beautiful how God takes you on the journey, with all the twists and turns and pits and valley’s but he is never far, ever present, and always speaking…if we listen. I am trying hard to listen. I fail daily, I parent on my own rather the relying on God, and I spend more time scrolling Facebook then I do studying His words. I know these things. God is using my children as a mirror into my own lack of self control, and selfishness...A daily lesson for sure.

As this Christmas season approached, and my children (especially the 5 year olds) have really started to understand Christmas, both Kevin and I wanted to make sure we tried our hardest to stay as centered and focused on Christ as we possibly could. With that said, it was also our hearts desire that we do not rob our children of the innocents and imaginative hearts that GOD created inside of them. We went through many debates and came to the conclusion that with our family we would not “do santa.” (Introduction to Gabe).   

Now let me make something clear. We do not do santa but we have not sat our 5 years olds down and said “Santa is NOT REAL” in fact we have never spoken those words. We just don’t make a big deal about it and try our hardest to make a big deal of Christ. We however do not in any way want to take away from families who have chosen to do santa. Nor do we place judgment or think less of families that have chosen to embrace the fun and imaginative mind of santa. Santa is not an enemy of Christmas for Christians. Santa does not take away from Christ. Santa is not “lying” or “deceiving” our children.  Santa is not the issue. Our human flesh, nature, and sinfulness of the fallen world is. Santa is pretending. When we play with our children, we become ninjas, fighters, dinosaurs, firefighters, jet pilots, or race car drivers. We give them be best experience that we can because they are children. I tell my little boys all the time “you have best super power ever, your imagination. You can be, do and create ANYTHING with your mind and believe it is real.” I want them to embrace that, because we lose it all too soon. And when we do, there is no getting it back. Santa is pretending. Can it be over done? Over kill? Absolutely but that is sin, the sinful nature in all of us.

I love this quote by Charles Dickens “It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.”

Let kids be kids. God created their sweet minds to embrace the imaginative , creative, unbelievable, making it believable things.

It all came clear to me the other day. I sat a bin out for my boys “from Gabe” they were to fill it with some toys for children who may not have any toys. They did “ok” I had to do a lot of talking and explaining and encouraging. But whatever they are 5. That was not my issue. My issue was the disrespect I was receiving from my boys. Their attitudes and talk was out of control. Their expression of entitlement was overwhelming me.  I had come to the end of myself. I sent them to bed at 6:30pm that night and they were still fussing, fighting, screaming, and not listening. I found myself at their level (which is the worse and I am frequently doing) yelling “this is NOT what Christmas is about, we are suppose to be kind, and happy, and sweet…” I then took the bin that Gabe left and several other baskets into their room and took every.single.toy. out of their sight.  I wish I could write in such a way that you could literally hear the screaming and crying and sheer panic coming from my children.  I hid their toys. I also told them that Gabe would be “still” for the remainder of the week. And I left their room. 

That night I was exhausted and desperate and called Kevin (who by the way was out of town…) and he was encouraging and supportive as always. But my heart was still heavy. What were we doing wrong with our kids? I have stirred and pondered this question and gone before the Lord about it. And once again was humbled by the realization that this is me every day, all the time with my Father. My flesh so often taking the lead in my 
life, and yet at Christmas I expect it not to? No, reality of it is, although Christmas is a miraculous time of year, and such a sweet time to stop and remember, we are not to do it “one time a year.” The problem is that I expect my children to already understand this but instead I am realizing that I need to be teaching them all year long. Showing them. And I try. But I fail.  And because this is such a beautiful sweet time of the year, this is when our flesh rises up the strongest, and our battle is stronger because SATAN hates this time of year. We somehow forget his lurking and prowling this time of year, as though he has gone away to let us celebrate the One he hates the most…He hated it when Christ was born and he hates it today. And I believe, again I am no scholar...but I believe satan stirs more because it is the "one time a year" that we stop and remember and celebrate the most. So the battle for our children’s heart is stronger and harder. And through all the giving, presents, lights, and special Christmas-everything, we are fighting against our flesh, our sin, our nature to rise above and see it for what it really is. Our savior, being born, to die. The battle is every day, but that “one time a year” we are failing our kids. Our battle is every day, not just Christmas. Our battle is every day, and we need to be teaching our kids this.

Santa is pretending, really at the end of the day it does not matter if you do santa, or elf on the shelf, a tree or no tree, none of it matters, and the greater issue lays at the foundation of our hearts. Are we teaching our kids that Christ is the focus “one time a year’ or are we teaching our children that Christ is the focus EVERY.SINGLE. DAY?

Needless to say, my kids still haven’t got their toys back. And Gabe has sat in one spot. We will resume soon, because I don’t want to miss out on the precious, sweet, innocents of my children. But I am realizing that from this moment forward, we are going to be celebrating and teaching my children about Christ in a new light. He will not be celebrated just at Christmas, we will not just be Christmas…we will not just give exceedingly…at Christmas…we will not do acts of kindness…at Christmas….we will start doing this EVERY day. So when Christmas comes, yet it is special, and yes it is fun, hopefully my kids will not see a difference in the way we are living, or being, or doing because it will be our lives everyday not just…at Christmas.

So enjoy good ol’ Saint Nick and have fun with elf of the shelf…but remember…let’s celebrate CHRIST our Savior, everyday….

Friday, December 5, 2014

Gabe's upcoming Events

Hi Friends! We are 5 days into our Advent season. How sweet of a time it is. Whatever it is you decide to do remember it is not to late, and to have fun!  I wanted to give you a few of things that are to come for our Gabe so you could use them if you choose to. Also, I get several of my ideas from online and even Elf of the Shelf. Although I do stay away from Gabe being naughty, I try to focus on fun sweetness.

1. Gabe will leave bags out for the kids to fill with toys they do not play with anymore. He will leave a letter explaining he knows several little boys who do not have much for Christmas. And that Christmas is not all about getting but also giving. The next morning he will leave chocolate coins in the place of the bags. We donate the toys to a local ministry.

2. Gabe brings them each an ornament that is special and unique to them. One they will put on the tree for years to come.

3. Gabe will leave a ticket to see lights (I just print a fake ticket and we hit the neighborhoods) and they will have pop corn and hot chocolate.

4. We have done the angle tree in the past and I allow Gabe to be the one that leaves a letter about the child and the Christmas list he has. We then enjoy taking the older boys to the store to help pick out the gifts.

5. Gabe will leave a Christmas movie for a family movie night.

6. And this idea I just recently got off of Pinterest, He will hide candy canes all around the living room for them to find.

I hope you are having a good time with your Gabe. I am praying that this Christmas is the sweetest one yet, filled with memories and excitement and a whole lot of Jesus!!  I so have loved any and all feed back you have given!!!


Monday, December 1, 2014


I can't help be so overwhelmed by the response in regarding Gabe! Seriously y'all, I wasn't anticipating even one like, but to have so many of you be as excited as I am has blessed me to no end. Gabe is still and experiment. What I do know doing it again for the second time is that
1) They remember
2) The more fun you have the more fun they have
3) Gabe is awesome leverage i.e. "Gabe just told me if you don't stay in bed he will not do anything special for you tonight” (Awful, but wonderful.) 
4) You will forget to hide the star…it happens especially towards the end of the 25 days.
5) You will not be able to do Bible reading every night…some nights just get crazy. It’s ok, just pick up where you left off and move on.
6) You will lay your head down at night and remember you forgot to have Gabe do something….
7) You will love the excitement and wonder on your kids faces as they try to figure out how Gabe did that, and if he is really real.

God is revealing and releasing all kinds of idea for me regarding Gabe and this whole experience. I have no idea how or when He will allow me to incorporate them but I am excited to continue to experiment with y’all which make is too much fun…so thank you!
I am still very much in the process of Gabes story, really not knowing exactly how it will come together. I’m not sure his story will be ready this Christmas season, but I pray and anticipate maybe next time.   Kevin wanted something to read from Gabe tonight but I didn't have anything for him. To be honest I am currently battling a severe case of strep…ugh. So my energy level is a bit on the low side.  Stick with me though.  My dearest friend and I are working on Gabes story, so if I can get it finished I’ll get it you all to see what you think! Keep sharing, I have enjoyed having friends doing it with me this year! Yay for more years to come!!!  


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I'll be posting some pictures of our experiences with Gabe on Facebook. Follow his journey with the Tanner Crew!!!