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If you follow me on instagram, you may have noticed that the background of my photos has changed. No longer do you see the boxy, 1904 cottage (ok, not a cottage, but with 4 kids, it felt like living in a cottage) that we lived in for almost 8 years in the center of our college town.
The blog has been *incredibly* quiet for the last few months, so let me give you the quick run down…
This past summer, we moved out to the country, about 20 miles away, to live with my husband’s parents, whose health has progressively gotten harder for them to manage on their own. We’re living in their beautiful barn house, surrounded by fields, and built on the family farm, and we’re here to help with their daily care, cleaning, cooking and joyfully providing the entertainment (read: noise) that only 4 kids, 2 dogs, 3 chickens, 3 ducks and 2 rabbits could produce. Granted, the rabbits aren’t very loud.
So these last few months have been a literal blur. Until recently, home has been the rickety fixerupper we bought when we only had 2 kids and weren’t going to have anymore (ha!), but for the last year, home has been straddled between the old and new – our old life in the city and the new one we’re building here in the country.
We packed up and moved at the end of last school year, missed enough school days that we needed to continue over the summer, and then picked back up in August, now with a 7th grader, 4th grader, 1st grader and a toddler.
Flexibility has been the name of the game, as we are adapting both to country life, as well as to caring for my in-laws, all while reading Shakespeare and memorizing times tables.
I can’t even begin to tell you what it means to me that the blog has kept on truckin! Each day I’m getting notifications of new subscribers and to those of you that reached out during the quietness, a deep heartfelt thanks! I read and reply to every email myself, and the little notes of encouragement are worth more than you’ll ever know!
If you’re a new reader, welcome! Thank you for joining me! And to those that have been here since the beginning (back in 2012!), thank you for hanging in during these last few months. I’m back now and have notes upon notes of ideas and projects that I can’t wait to share!
If you haven’t yet, make sure to subscribe so that you can catch all of my posts in my weekly newsletter!
And never forget that it’s never too late! Hanukkah began Tuesday night this year (2017) but even if you don’t join in until the 8th night, it’ll be worth it! Don’t wait until next year, but join us in celebrating that Light that has overcome the darkness!
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(Hey you! Busy Mama! if you don’t have time to read the entire post, just skip to my P.S. at the end – I want to hear from you!)
Yep, it’s me. Here after a reallllly long blogging hiatus. I’m hoping to sit down soon and write a nice newsy post and catch you up to speed on our crazy happenings around here, but in the mean time, I thought I’d pop on because it’s the start of Hanukkah and I just had to share what we’re doing (and why)!
I posted recently on instagram about why we’ve chosen to celebrate Hanukkah, even though our family is not Jewish –
“We get asked if we’re Jewish because we celebrate Hanukkah, and no, we’re not Jewish, but we do observe this AMAZING 8 day celebration that commemorates the unlikely success of a small band of Jews that victoriously pushed back against the Greek army. Not only that, but once they reclaimed the temple, they wanted to dedicate it back to God by celebrating the feast of Tabernacles (an 8 day Feast) but there wasn’t enough oil to light the menorah for that long. However, their oil continued to burn and did not stop burning until they’d finished their celebration! This is a celebration of MIRACLES with a powerful message and reminder for all that the darkness cannot overcome the Light.” (catch my full post here)”
So that’s the short version.
The even shorter version is: It’s life changing.
We’ve been celebrating Hanukkah since my children were very little, but each time it rolls around (sometime between late November and late December), I learn even more – about the story of Hanukkah and more importantly, the goodness and overwhelming love and faithfulness of God.
He always keeps his promises. No exceptions.
He swore that he would never allow the Jews to be wiped form the face of the earth, and not only did he fulfill that promise, but He went over and above and blessed the Maccabees desire to rededicate the temple, allowing their menorah to stay lit for 8 days, when their was only enough oil for one.
If you want to learn more about the WHY and WHAT of Hanukkah, take a minute to check out these few clips on the history and celebration of Hanukkah – and why Hanukkah is not just for Jews!
and also this one:.
And now onto the HOW of celebrating Hanukkah!
Your Hanukkah celebration can be as simple or elaborate as you choose. Personally, we like to keep things simple and meaningful, but there is technically only one thing you’ll need:
a Hanukkiah – a menorah that is specific to Hanukkah. A traditional menorah has 7 branches – one for each of the seven Feasts of the Lord, and it’s used all year in Feast celebrations. However, a Hanukkiah has 9 branches – one for each day of the festival, and one branch called the sh’mash or servant candle, and it’s used to light all of the others.
To celebrate, grab your menorah (or make your own! simple DIY ideas here) and on the first night, light the servant candle and then extinguish the match. Then, use the servant candle to light the first candle and allow them both to burn down completely. On the second night, repeat these steps, lighting the first and second candles. Continue on until you reach the eighth night, thus lighting all nine candles.
Aside from lighting the menorah each night for 8 nights, there are no other specific guidelines to celebrating Hanukkah.
Here’s how OUR FAMILY celebrates Hanukkah –
Lighting of the Menorah.
Jewish families will recite prayers as the candles are lit, and this is a wonderful component to add, whether you are Jewish or not. Our family takes a little different route, and instead, we pray before lighting the candle (more on that in a second) and then as a, uh…joyful….if not melodious….expression, we sing this song, getting faster and faster until it’s a jumble of shouting and we can’t go any longer. I blame this tradition purely on my husband.
This is, to me, one of the greatest aspects of our Hanukkah celebration and the most important part to pass on to our children. Hanukkah is the season for Miracles. It’s commemorating a time when God did the impossible and this is a truth that I want my children to cling to. During the 8 days of Hanukkah, our family spends time each night praying for those that need miracles. I post on social media, asking for prayer requests that we then place on cards in our Hanukkah calendar, and then I divide the requests as evenly as possible over the 8 nights (thanks to my dear friend Angela for the awesome idea!). We also spend time as a family writing down our own requests and reminders to pray for our dear brothers and sisters in Christ through out the world.
We read a Hanukkah story every day for 8 days, and I’ve got a wonderful list of titles that we work from as I slowly build our home library. I’ll be sharing our reading list soon – so check back!
Our family also celebrates with donuts on the first and last nights of Hanukkah. There’s no rhyme or reason to imbibing on these particular days – other than I choose not to serve donuts every night, despite the temptation to do so. Donuts and latkes (think fried hashbrowns from heaven) are “traditional” Hanukkah fare – as is any food fried in oil – a tip of the culinary hat to the miracle of the oil.
So remember: donuts = miracles.
Isn’t Hanukkah amazing!
If you’re looking for some Hanukkah cooking inspiration, check these out –
Yes, our family does still celebrate Christmas in an abbreviated way (more on this in another post). However, my husband and I decided that we’d give our gifts to the kids on the last night of Hanukkah, and Christmas gifts are reserved for grandparents and extended family on December 25th.
If you’ve never celebrated Hanukkah before, I can’t recommend this enough!
And I know. One.More.Thing. to add to an already packed and chaotic holiday season.
However, please believe when I say that it’s absolutely worth it!
Do as little or as much as you’d like.
Simply read the story of the Hanukkah miracle to your children.
Sit quietly together and pray for those that you love, because this is the season for miracles.
Eat a donut or two.
In the midst of this crazy month, Hanukkah is a time to slow down. To remember and pass on to our children the promises of God and his supernatural intervention in the lives of those who honored Him and refused to compromise.
P.S. Our family truly DOES want to pray for you! As part of our personal Hanukkah celebration, we want to spend time on each of the eight nights of hanukkah, praying for those of you that need miracles – those that need to see God move in unexplainable ways and to see the darkness over come in your own life or in the lives of those you love. If you’d like us to pray for you, please comment below or email me. We’ll be placing each request in the pockets of our Hanukkah calendar and pulling them out each night to pray. Please never be afraid to ask for prayer or reach out. My children would love to pray for you! May you know the Light that has conquered darkness during this season!