Happy Hygge Christmas!


HURRY!  HUSTLE!  Let’s go!!  Tension! Stress!

Wait… Isn’t Christmas supposed to be a time of peace? A time to be calm? 

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord with all of you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16

I was anything but filled with peace and calm during the holiday season. There were presents to buy and wrap, decorations to hang and the Christmas tree had to be perfect, cookies to be baked, and so on and so on.  I almost had a nervous breakdown trying to get it all just PERFECT! 

Then… it happened.

I found Hygge. (pronounced HOO-GUH)  Hygge is a Danish word and there really is not a definition for it.  It’s a lifestyle. Danish people are some of the happiest people on earth. I wanted to be just like them. I started minimalism that same year but when it came to Christmas, I was all over the place.

Stressing instead of finding my quiet time.

Tensions building over getting all the décor together. 

Unhappiness set in.

The holiday season was stealing my joy.


 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2

So, I decided that I needed a change right there in the middle of decorating and baking! That year I had a Happy Hygge Christmas and I’ve continued it right into the new year and into every holiday and every year after.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

How does one have a Happy Hygge Christmas?  (or lifestyle all through the year) 

Hygge is all about living a cozy, peaceful lifestyle.  

Six ways to hygge-fy (I made that word up!) your life!

1.  Ambiance
     Turn off the electric lights! (and the television) Use candlelight and fairy lights. Christmas tree lights make a beautiful glow all on their own. Light up that fireplace! You can’t get a better cozier ambiance than that! (Insert soft Christmas or easy listening tunes here.)

2.  DIY Decor
     Hygge is all about bringing the outdoors in.  Bundle up the family and take a walk through the woods. Gather up branches, pinecones and pine and anything else nature has to offer you along your hike. Create DIY decor. Hygge is also about spending time with your family and friends.  I can’t think of a better way to spend time together than gathering free things from nature and creating and saving money while doing so!
3.  Bakers Gonna Bake
     Bake, Bake, and Bake some more!  Whether you try some new recipes or stick to the old originals like chocolate chip cookies. Baking and indulging in baked treats is a hygge must! I know what you’re thinking; but what about ALL THOSE carbs? How about trying your baking hand at some low-fat treats? Baked goods are also a great Christmas gift!

4.  Warm Drinks
     It doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is that it makes you feel all warm and cozy on the inside and it pairs great with all those baked treats! It’s a great time to try new flavors. I found vanilla chai tea and it is a must-have flavor in my home now. Not a coffee or tea drinker?  How about hot cocoa or hot cider? I love to put mulling spices and a bottle of apple wine in my crockpot and let it simmer all day. Oh my hygge-heavens!!

5.  Socialize not Social Media
     Put down the phones and tablets. Step away from that laptop. Hygge is all about connecting with loved ones. Play board games, craft together, or even bake together. Grab your partner or a good book and wrap up in a cozy blanket and warm fuzzy socks. Don’t forget your warm drink and cuddle up near the fireplace!

6.  That’s a wrap!
     Think about your decor. Simple, natural, minimalized. Follow this theme while wrapping your presents. Buy a roll or two of plain paper. I usually use wrapping paper that resembles a plain brown bag, white or black. Then I have an evening of decorating each gift with sprigs of pine and twine. I’ve even stenciled the receiver’s name. The possibilities are endless!  

Cheers! (lifting my piping hot cup of vanilla chai tea)
Here is to you finding a happy hygge Christmas, New Year and lifestyle! 

Deb Ridenour

Deb suggests taking a long, relaxed look at this LINK to get in the Christmas hygge mood.

Deb Ridenour has been married to her teenage sweetheart for almost 33 years. They have three children they are so very proud of and they have five grands that they are even more proud of! Deb is a doggie mom to Gunner and it is no secret that he is her favorite child (he even has a tag to prove it!)

She is proud to be a daughter of the one true King, and she says it is NOT only because that makes her a princess! Deb feels that God has truly blessed her with a passion to create and design. She has just begun a business – Sparrow and Grace Designs. She seeks to honor and glorify His name in all she does and in all she creates because she recognizes that her talents come from the Lord.

Finding Cheer in a Covid Year!

I think we can all identify with the need to have a little cheer this year. 

How can we be cheerful despite our circumstances? It’s easy to dwell on the negatives. They are all around us and blasted on the media constantly.

I think the answer is to focus on what we can do, not on what we can’t do or on what we can’t control. 

We can….

Continue reading “Finding Cheer in a Covid Year!”

Matters of the Heart

“Just follow your heart.”


The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 ESV

I don’t know about you, but my heart could lead me to do some not so nice things if I allow it.

And the statement, “Just Follow Your Heart.” ?

Let me just say, “Not a good idea!”

If everyone followed their hearts, can you imagine what the future would look like? It would be a very dark place, to say the least.

Continue reading “Matters of the Heart”

5 Ways to Make Your Marriage Last

I’ve been asked, “What’s the secret to a happy, healthy, long lasting marriage?” 

On a recent anniversary outing with my husband as we hiked through the woods, I was pondering this. As we effortlessly walked alternating side by side walking or walking one in front of the other the parallels started to overcome me. 

Perhaps that is part of the secret – taking turns leading as well as moments of side by side interaction.

Continue reading “5 Ways to Make Your Marriage Last”

Wait for it. . .


A word we would rather not hear in our fast-paced, over-scheduled lives. In our internet-driven world, we have instant access to constant news and information. With the touch of a button or the tap of an app, our wait time has decreased to seconds.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “wait?” Does the word “wait” give you a good feeling or make you uneasy? Do you become excited anticipating a positive experience, or do you feel dread due to the fear of what might or might not happen?

Right now, we are all living through an exceptionally long season of waiting. Waiting for this virus to disappear. Waiting for our next event to be canceled. Waiting for our plans to work out. Waiting to see what will happen next. Waiting for the election season to be over. Waiting for positive change, peace, and unity in our country. Waiting for things to go back to “normal”, whatever that means. 

Continue reading “Wait for it. . .”

Finding God in the chaos

Being a stay-at-home mother is to constantly be in demand. 

Depending on which stage you are currently in, quiet time can be elusive.  It is easy to be overwhelmed, which can become yet another source of “mom guilt”.  You wanted these kids, so why do you need a break from them??

They always need something. They lost the remote (again). They spilled something on your freshly mopped floor. Just when you sit down someone needs their bottom wiped. 

This is motherhood.

And it is chaotic. 

We are in challenging times.  We exist in our own bubble, most of us with limited or no support – and now with the pandemic, it has become worse.  We are more connected virtually, yet more isolated than ever.  We escape to social media only to see everyone else’s highlight reel – the seemingly perfect families, first days of school and moms that do it all.  It makes us feel more inferior. 

Time with God is no different. 

Continue reading “Finding God in the chaos”


 Gratitude Unlocks the Fullness of Life

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow” – Melody Beattie

I love this quote, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.” Don’t you?

The Oxford Dictionary defines “grateful” as showing appreciation of kindness. And “thankful” as pleased or relieved – both great feelings. The difference – being thankful is a feeling – being grateful is an action.

The Bibles say…. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

Over the years, I’ve learned to be grateful in all things. Not to say that I get it right all of the time. I do slip up. I’m a work in progress.

Continue reading “Gratitude”




Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20

This month is the four year anniversary of The Connection going public.

I spent some time thinking back over the last 12 months. What a year of extreme highs and lows! But through it all we’ve seen God’s hand guiding and protecting the ministry.

Our goal had been to be in a rental property by October of this year.


But God had another plan. The property on Walnut Street dropped in our laps last fall – a year early, according to our timeline.

God not only brought the property to us but He also nudged many of our ladies to give to the ministry so that we could afford the rent and expenses that come with it. He encouraged our wonderful landlord to work with us and take a chance on a ministry that is like no other around.

God provided the manpower to renovate the property, donation of building materials, discounted items that were needed.

After nearly three months of blueprints, permits, demolition, rebuilding and beautifying, we were ready to move in. At the end of January, we had our open house and welcomed our ladies, families, neighbors – everyone – to come to see what God had done.

Six week later… Mid-March, the term “Corona Virus” became the new normal. We had to push “pause” on hosting in-person events. What we thought would be two short weeks of quarantine turned into way more than we ever thought.

We wondered…

What will happen to the ladies? Will they go off and forget about TC? How can we continue to serve them and love on them from a distance? What about ministry finances? Will we still be able to continue to pay the bills and fulfill our lease?


But God was not taken by surprise by Covid-19. He had already put things in place to take care of every one of our concerns and needs.

Last January, months before we had ever heard of Covid-19, we began the 365 devotions on Facebook which provided daily live connection through the lockdown. (And it’s still going on. Jump in HERE)

We already had a large Facebook following (now nearly 900!) So, we added daily posts for entertainment and encouragement.

We learned to Zoom. It wasn’t the same as seeing each other in person but it provided opportunity to connect.

We even had a time to hang out at a distance in a parking lot.

We mailed cards, made phone calls, dropped off surprises. Our ladies had the connection and care that they needed to get them through.

And through this difficult time, our finances have remained steady – partly because we had begun to encourage monthly giving about a year earlier. This has been huge in paying the bills. I don’t know where we’d be without that steady income.

These last 12 months have been crazy – from renos to shutdowns to hoop skirts that kept us distanced at our Garden Party.


But God has been faithful and His girls are continuing to find the caring and support they need through this ministry.

Looking ahead to the coming year, we plan to continue to be a safe haven for all women. I see us becoming more involved in the community. One of our goals from the beginning was for TC to become a household name. I think this year we’ll make great strides in that area. I would love to see TC become known for being a place to turn for prayer, education and community with others. We want to shine Jesus’ light and love in our neighborhood.

Thank you for your part in making The Connection all that it is. Please continue to invite friends to come along and be part of this amazing journey!

If you’d like to give financially to support The Connection, click HERE or speak to me sometime.


Special thank you’s go out to our wonderful prayer team! Your prayers this past year have sustained us. It’s like when Moses wasn’t able to hold up his arms to protect his tribe on his own. Others came alongside and held up his arms so that he could continue. We have felt your support in the past and we are thankful that we can count on your support in the coming year. Thank you for faithfully holding up the leadership, the ladies and this ministry. We couldn’t do it without you!


“The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.

“So, Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So, Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.” Exodus 17: 8-13

Mandy Hood




Mandy is a board member and executive director of The Connection. She loves to facilitate women connecting with each other and helping them grow in their faith.

Mandy and her husband have been married for 40 years and have 2 adult children, 2 in-law children and 3 grandchildren.