Truth in the Tinsel Take 4


Clarissa and I do a lot of holiday type things in December.

My mom usually sends us a gingerbread house kit for our anniversary. This year, it was a village. And we couldn’t get it to stay together. So we just had fun decorating the pieces. We ate some icing and candy, and then Tim ate some of the gingerbread.

We also make and decorate cookies. Though I will say, this year, Clarissa was way more conservative with the sprinkles than in years past.

When we made cookies for the second time, she decided to skip the sprinkles and try some icing. We had fun figuring that part out together.

But my favorite activity that we do in December is Truth in the Tinsel. Every year the experience is a little different.

The first year was really all for me. I enjoyed reading the Christmas story everyday. I feel like I learned a lot about Mary and Joseph as parents. The second year Clarissa was so excited to use scissors and cut out the ornaments. Last year, we were consistent at reading Bible stories and attempting crafts.

This year was all about the conversations. We took December off from her normal preschool curriculum in order to focus on Truth in the Tinsel. Clarissa was used to reading Bible stories several times per week so that wasn’t a big change for her. She even looked forward to crafts several days.

Some days we didn’t do crafts and had wonderful conversations about the stories.

The day we learned about Jesus’s name, I told her about how when she was still in my tummy, God told me she would be a little girl with great faith. So we named her Clarissa Faith which means “brilliant faith.” Now when she plays house, she says that God told her that her doll baby would have faith so she named her Clarissa.

Another day we talked about when Jesus went to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord. So we got out our photo albums and looked at the pictures from her dedication. We talked about how the pastor and our families prayed for Mommy and Daddy to be good parents and for Clarissa to love God.

The last lesson is about the cross. We celebrate Christmas because Jesus could not have died on the cross for our sins if He was never born. So we had this great conversation about how she used to just like God and not Jesus but now she is friends with Jesus too. (The reason she didn’t like Jesus is because she thought He didn’t listen to her because He wasn’t answering her prayers…)

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Is December really over?


I had lofty goals for the month of December. I was going to do “the real” version of Truth in the Tinsel this year (as opposed to the printable ornament version that we have done the past two years). I even started a facebook group so I could do it with friends.

Clarissa and I started strong the first few days. We read our Bible verses and made our ornaments for the tree.

But then we got sick. Over the course of one week, all three of us had the flu. So we got behind. The stories repeat over a few days and you just focus on a different element, so it was easy to get caught up on our reading. But Clarissa was only randomly interested in the crafts.

I am glad to say that Clarissa and I enjoyed our Truth in the Tinsel time together. Every day she wanted to read the stories. And then she would ask me to read other stories in her Bible, so that was good for this mama’s heart. But she wasn’t terribly interested in the crafts this year. I think next year we’ll go back to the printable version.

This December, my parents sent Clarissa an advent tree. She really enjoyed putting the ornaments on the tree and practicing her numbers.


My aunt sent us a miniature tree with some snowflake ornaments last year. This year, we decided that it could be Clarissa’s tree. She kept it in her room. Over the course of the month, she would randomly pull ornaments off of the big tree in the living room and confiscate them for her little tree.

We made Christmas cookies five different times this holiday season for various events. Clarissa really enjoys doing the cookie cutters and sprinkles. She also enjoys eating the raw cookie dough…

My mom sent Tim and I a gingerbread house for our anniversary. We had fun decorating it together. And eating it.

Tim and I went on a fun date downtown for our anniversary to a place called Sushi Neco.  The sushi was delicious and reasonably priced.  I ordered a princess platter and Tim ordered the 12 piece assortment. Both came with miso soup and a ginger salad.

We had originally planned to visit Seoul for Christmas.  But Tim has TDY in Hawaii in January so we decided to skip Seoul and make it a family trip to Hawaii instead.

We mostly had a lazy weekend at home.  We introduced Clarissa to the Santa Clause and Miracle on 34th Street.  (Are there any family Christmas movies that aren’t about Santa?) We also were able to Skype both sets of grandparents.

We wanted to do something fun in Daegu so we headed to the new Shinsagae mall.  I will definitely blog about that experience later.


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The rest of Advent


I meant to write a blog post each week during Advent…Oops.

Clarissa consistently asked for “Mary” almost every day before our trip to Japan. She stopped asking for scissors and really only used them again on the last day, when she cut her ornament into about 50 pieces. At least she colored it first…

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During one day of the devotion, it really made me think. I don’t remember exactly which day it was. God chose Mary to be Jesus’s mom. I wonder what it was about her that made her perfect to be Jesus’s mom? God could have chosen anyone else. But He chose her. What is it about me that makes me the mom that Clarissa needs? Why did God choose me to be her mom?

My parents sent coloring books with the Nativity story in them. Clarissa wanted to read and/or color them every day of our trip. When we returned home from Japan, Clarissa went right to the table and asked for “Mary.” She was very disappointed when I told her that the ornaments were over. I guess we will have to do crafts more often.

There were several books that helped me explain the Christmas story to Clarissa. Eventually, I did use the Jesus Storybook Bible for Jesus’s birth, the shepherds, and wise men. A Star for Jesus arrived on the day we learned about how the wise men followed the star to find Jesus, which was perfect because that is exactly what this book is about. We also read The First Christmas several times.

She really loves The Christmas Story. The last day of Truth in the Tinsel, you talk about why Jesus came and so she also enjoyed The Easter Story. I think she enjoys them so much because of the flaps. A Christmas Prayer is great as a review because it goes through every character in the story, even the donkey and the star.

Another book I bought this year is  Jesus, Me, and My Christmas Tree which talks about how the lights, gifts, and angel point us to Jesus. My Christmas Stocking talks about St Nicholas and how the stocking tradition began.

We did other “Christmasy” things during December as well. Clarissa and her best friend Haven were able to decorate Christmas cookies together. Clarissa ate a lot of cookie dough. They both used way too many sprinkles. But they had a great time. The cookies tasted good too so that was a bonus.

We didn’t bring a Christmas tree to Korea with us. We were in Japan for Christmas so we didn’t buy one either. My aunt sent a little one as a gift, so Clarissa was able to decorate a Christmas tree.

Clarissa was able to open presents over Skype with the grandparents. One before Christmas and one after to break it up a bit. We gave her her Christmas stocking the night we returned from Japan.

I think next year I would like to be home for Christmas. I’d like to have a Christmas tree at the apartment and open presents on Christmas instead of just when they show up. We did continue our tradition of watching a movie on Christmas Day. Clarissa really enjoyed Home Alone.

We celebrated New Year’s Day with friends. There was a gingerbread nativity set at the Commissary half off so I bought that for the girls. It was another sprinkle fest.

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But they had fun. They both kind of licked the frosting but didn’t really eat their cookies.

Another thing that I like to do on New Year’s Day is to open my blessings jar. It is fun to look back on all of the things I was thankful for in the past year. I really need to be more diligent in writing down blessings in 2016. Maybe I will choose one day per week to record them?

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Some of my favorites:

  • Hulu so I can watch “So You Think You Can Dance”
  • air conditioning
  • Clarissa is hilarious
  • dreams fulfilled: moving to South Korea
  • God answered my prayer: my car lasted until Tim got the job in South Korea
  • free housing
  • I get to be a stay at home mom
  • skype
  • new friends

It was interesting to see that several things were listed more than once on the slips of paper.

Note: This post contains an affiliate link. If you order Truth in the Tinsel through this post, I will make a small commission. However, it does not add to your cost.

First week of Advent


Normally Advent starts on December 1.  But we are going to Japan in December,  so we started the day after Thanksgiving in order to get the full number of days in before we leave.

Clarissa and I did Truth in the Tinsel together last year.  She was really just learning how to hold a pen at the time and mostly ate her crayons.  But I read the Scripture to her anyway.  It’s never too early to plant seeds right?

I decided to do printable ornaments again this year.  She really enjoys coloring.  I wasn’t sure that her little two year old self would have the attention span for a story and full craft each day for 24 days.  Plus,  let’s be real,  I don’t want her to play with scissors and glue everyday at this point either.

The first day,  she saw me cut her ornament off the paper so she asked for scissors. Honestly,  the first couple of days she did a few obligatory marker strokes on her paper before she asked for her scissors.  She wanted to do our daily activities because it was the only time she was allowed to play with scissors.

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But as the week has progressed she has started asking for “Mary” and forgetting to ask for scissors. We have studied a few different things this week and Mary has been in most of the stories.

The thing I like about Truth in the Tinsel is that over the course of 24 days, Clarissa will learn all of the pieces of the real story of Christmas. She will learn them in chunks that are small enough for her to understand each lesson. But it all adds up to one big story. I love that.

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There is scripture reading for each day, but honestly I haven’t been reading it straight from the Bible like I did last year. Our favorite Bible is The Jesus Storybook Bible but it doesn’t do scripture like a traditional Bible. It has the main passages as stories. So this week, the individual lessons haven’t fit into stories in the book. I used a page from God Gave Us Christmas to talk about Jesus being the Light of the World. We read pages from The Christmas Story to talk about Mary, Gabriel, and Joseph. I did finally get the Beginner’s Bible from the library this week. That helped with Elizabeth and Zechariah.

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Another piece of our daily routine is the Lifesong for Orphans Advent Calendar. This is probably more for me, but she has started asking for “boy” each day as well. She can recognize her numbers 1-10 at this point, so she gets to find the number for each day. Each day has a specific donation idea. For example, pay 15 cents for each hot drink consumed that day or pay four dollars if you have a roof over your head. The most interesting was to pay 2 cents for each pair of shoes in your house. We went on a shoe hunt. I was so humbled. We have 62 pairs of shoes in our house! Over 50 of them belong to Clarissa. We have been so blessed with hand-me-downs that we have never bought a pair of shoes for her. Of course, she had to try several of them on. Multiple times. A few days in a row. But it definitely reminded me of God’s provision. I wonder what our total will be at the end of the month?


The other part I like about this calendar is the prayer focus. Each day has a specific need to pray for in a specific country. Today we prayed for the Lifesong workers in Ukraine to have wisdom, strength, and provision as they mentor the children in their care. That really hit home for me since I actually went on a mission trip to orphanages in Ukraine over Christmas break in 2005. So I got out the photo album and tried to explain orphans to Clarissa. I’m not really sure she got it, but that’s okay.

Today we also decorated a gingerbread house. I decided to give myself some grace this year and buy a gingerbread house kit from the PX. I tried making one from scratch last year and it didn’t turn out very well. I mean, it was delicious, but the frosting wasn’t right and the whole thing literally fell apart. My Korean oven is tiny and cooks different than my oven back home. I decided that it would be way better to just buy a kit. And for $15, it probably is about the same price as buying all of the ingredients and candy.

Tim picked our kit up from the PX on his way home from work last night. Clarissa kept asking for “Santa” because there is a small Santa on the box. But we told her no last night because we didn’t think she would last for the assembling and decorating of the gingerbread house before bedtime.

This morning, I decided that four hours before naptime would be plenty of time. I was surprised when I opened the box  and realized that the house came preassembled. All we had to do was decorate it. Which was genius! I don’t think that Clarissa’s two year old attention span would have lasted for me to assemble the house and then decorate it.

First, she wanted to play with Santa. She said she wanted to eat him, which I gave her permission to do. She said he was “yummy” but then put him down next to “his house.” We talked about what she wanted the house to look like. I put frosting on the roof. Clarissa wanted Santa’s name on his house. And her name too. We had a door on the front and three windows on the back. Then, we opened the candy. She got frustrated at first because the candy was rolling off the top. She spoke in a very stern voice and said, “you able go time out!” I added more frosting to the roof. Problem solved.

She wanted to eat the house when we finished. I told her we had to wait until Daddy got home from work. She was very surprised when I put the completed house on top of the refrigerator. I think she thought that she would be able to play with it all day.

Tim thought the house looked great. So we decided to have some for dessert. We demolished it. Or inhaled it. Whatever you prefer. Needless to say, it was delicious. And it’s gone.

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Advent is for Mommy…this year


I don’t remember when I started following Amanda’s blog. I think I was working at the church, but it was before I was pregnant with Clarissa. I think that if we met in person, we would be fast friends. She used to be a children’s pastor. Now she is a homeschooling mom who wants to help other moms teach their kids about Jesus.

A few years ago, she wrote Truth in the Tinsel . For 24 days in December, she gives you a scripture passage to read, discussion questions, and an ornament craft to tell the Christmas Story.

I have been looking forward to doing this with Clarissa. I figured that at 15 months, she is a little young for crafts. So I downloaded the printable ornaments to make it easier. I bought twistable crayons so that they would be harder to eat.

So on Monday, we started our adventure. I really enjoyed the scripture and the thoughts about Jesus being light of the world. I tried to get Clarissa to color her ornament. But, mostly, she tried to eat the crayons. Tuesday was a little better.

By Wednesday, Clarissa was more excited about playing with the crayons than coloring with them.


By Friday, she had forgotten about the crayons (actually that is not true, she threw them on the floor). She decided it would be more fun to eat her ornament.

I was ready to give up on ornaments this year but this morning was our best yet. I didn’t take a picture, but she actually colored her ornament with a pen happily this morning. There is hope for us after all!

We will continue with our Truth in the Tinsel. I really look forward to the scripture readings and the different pieces of the Christmas Story. Amanda makes me think about things in a new and fresh way. If nothing else, I am planting seeds. They might mostly be in my heart. But that is okay!

I also got a few books from the library to make the Christmas Story more real to Clarissa.

God Gave Us Christmas is about a little bear who asks his mom if Santa invented Christmas. Little Bear wants to find Santa, but instead Mama Bear takes her to find God. They see God in things like the stars in the sky.

A Christmas Prayer is about a little girl saying her bedtime prayers. She looks at her nativity set and takes the time to thank God for each part of the Christmas Story (the angel, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus).

Note: This post contains an affiliate link. If you order Truth in the Tinsel through this post, I will make a small commission. However, it does not add to your cost.