SO fun!! Easy Christmas Tree made out of Cinnamon Rolls

 I woke to the phone ringing.

A recorded message announced the first school delay. Snow flakes graced not only the grass, but the roads as well. In North Carolina, that reality rocks everyone’s equilibrium, and as a Wisconsin transplant, I still chuckle.

With our eldest home from college, visions of grandeur raced through my mind. The desire to fill his love tank with picture perfect, Norman Rockwell memories struck.

Cozy fires, beautiful decorations, home cooked meals in which we linger at the table each day, the Christmas plate filled with an unending supply of cookies, but most importantly, the aroma of  my homemade cinnamon rolls awakening the children from their slumber became a priority.

I dashed downstairs and pulled the flour from the pantry.

Christening this first snow with delight needed to happen, and nothing was going to stand in the way.

And then it hit me. I remembered my reality and I looked at the clock.

Obligations, previously held commitments, and messes loomed. My heart desperately desired to create the kids’ favorite Copy Cat Cinnabons, or at least my Overnight Refrigerator Rise Cinnamon Roll recipe, but the reality of life stood in the way.

Stress rolled in. The Norman Rockwell dream vanished.

I eyed the family room sofa filled with five loads of unfolded laundry. I rounded the corner of the dining room to catch a glimpse of the dog’s mischief, which didn’t smell too pleasing, and then remembered the boxes of stacked donations to take to Goodwill.  It was just a small start to the huge amount of purging that needed to occur, but in the process complete chaos ensued. So much so that when our son arrived home he questioned, “Aren’t you completely overwhelmed right now?”

“Yes, yes, I am, and I feel like I can barely keep my head above water.”

Yet in that moment, an epiphany occurred.

It’s eye opening how the Lord sometimes uses the simplest of acts to reveal the deepest truths.

He reminded me of what’s important through the tale of my three cinnamon roll recipes.

In that moment, I purposed in my heart to claim this December as His.  Unrealistic expectations might need to be released,  but my heart’s desire need not be crushed.

This advent season celebrates our Savior’s birth through the most simple of  arrivals, so why do I need to complicate it with self-imposed distractions that might conflict with elevating my worship of the one, true King?

As 2 Cor. 11:3 reminds, “the simplicity that is in Christ.” That’s the main thing – the heart and center of who we are centers on the simplicity that is in Christ.

I shoved the flour back on the shelf and grabbed the store bought prepackaged dough. I hit preheat and spent time praying over those blessings of mine asleep in bed.

I prayed that our family’s priorities would stay focused on the One for which we celebrate. I begged for help in decision making, and wisdom to choose wisely during the next month, both with my purchases and time well spent.

Christmas Tree Cinnamon Rolls

And so while those 5 Minute Christmas Tree Cinnamon Rolls baked, life lessons spoke.

While not through some overtly super spiritual act, but through those little things that make a big difference, I remembered that I do this for them, for Him. It’s not about me and not meant to impress.

In the midst of the ordinary of everyday, He uses the simplest gifts.

It’s quite obvious that my son never knew whether I slaved over the stove all day or spent five minutes popping rolls on a cookie sheet; he was just grateful for the little things that spoke love to him.

The Ultimate Cinnamon Roll was realized! It came from time together. It came from the delight that occurred when they walked down and saw what was waiting.

Over the next month, give yourself that same permission.

Relax! Enjoy! Embrace the simple.

We don’t give ourselves enough permission to do that and in turn create unnecessary stress amidst the “most wonderful time of the year.”

I’ve learned that special moments, created with love, intentionality and simplicity, are embraced and appreciated just like those that took weeks of planning.

With that being said, I will be making my Copy Cat Cinnabon recipe on Christmas morn because it’s what I love to do. It will take hours, but I will enjoy every moment without the stress, but until then, Pillsbury may be my secret weapon and no one will be the wiser.

1 Cor. 14:33 “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace—”

What steps are you taking to enjoy your Advent Season?

Are you being proactive now to make sure that you can enjoy those moments that are most important?

(Shared by Jen Schmidt, Maker of three cinnamon roll recipes and balancer of both beauty and bedlam.)

  • Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God


    What a great question…as the Thanksgiving pots and pans are still drying in the sink, I need to challenge myself to be proactive about preparing my heart for this Advent season. I can take my cues from the very first Christmas. Talk about simple…a baby in a manger with only the warm breath of animals to take the chill out of the air. I want my preparation to be glorifying to Him, not grandiose for my glorification. Keeping my focus on Him and how He came into the world helps me to keep it simple. Thanks for this perfectly timed reminder so that I don’t let in the Christmas stress and anxiety banging at my door!

    • Jen (Balancing Beauty and Bedlam)

      I just love this Bev – “I want my preparation to be glorifying to Him, not grandiose for my glorification.”
      Amen and Amen!!

      I hope you had a blessed weekend. :)

  • karyn

    O O O O O cinnamon rolls. O look at them.
    Thank you for the rest and peace we are going to have with JESUS this month. Happily and joyfully. hahahahahahaha Sounds so berry happy happy happy. In the clutter of washing all the winter and summer clothes to pack away in the closet and throw lots out by giving them to the poor.
    Thank you for your thoughtfulness in rest, for the Christmas Christmas Christmas.

    • Jen (Balancing Beauty and Bedlam)

      There’s just always more to do, isn’t there, Karyn?

      While you wash and pack away clothes, I will clear out my clutter and together we will remember those important things because these little things matter just as much. :)

  • Nanette

    Jen, I love to hear everyone else’s realities! Sometimes we get caught up in our own and forget that there are so many other moms and wives and caregivers that need to just stop and pray. Give all these “overload” moments to God, then move forward at the pace you can, not one everyone expects of you, just the one God knows you’re capable of. Just keep praying for strength through all of it and he will guide us. Blessings and Merry Christmas!!

    • Jen (Balancing Beauty and Bedlam)

      Absolutely – those overload moments MUST be given to HIM!!

      Yes, my reality is a bit chaotic right now, but I am clearing the schedule in order to really enjoy our December.

  • Mary

    What a beautiful reminder to stop and really enjoy the Advent season.

    • Jen (Balancing Beauty and Bedlam)

      Thank you, Mary – I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

  • Krista

    Thank you! :)
    These next few weeks always prove stressful to me. My son’s birthday is next week, two weeks later is Christmas, then New Year’s. I’m giving it all over to God this year. I’m done trying to do the Martha Stewart/Norman Rockwell stuff. I resolve to make more memories using pre-cut cookie dough and help from the Pillsbury doughboy! Spending time with family and reflecting upon the true reason for the season is my top priority.
    Have a blessed Christmas season!

    • Jen (Balancing Beauty and Bedlam)

      Oh Krista – I will be thinking of you this coming with your son’s birthday as you juggle much. I know that any little act that you do for him, he will love!!!

  • Jenn

    Thanks for the reminder of prayer about decision making, and asking for wisdom to choose wisely. I’m intentionally taking more time to just sit in His presence. Giving myself permission to NOT do other things during the time that I could otherwise choose to sit and be alone. I find it’s allowing me to recognize more of my own needs, and be renewed.

    • Jen (Balancing Beauty and Bedlam)

      In this hustle and bustle, it’s so hard to give ourselves that permission, isn’t it? You and me together. :)

  • Nancy Ruegg

    Thank you, Jennifer, for the invitation to “make December His.” I pray that thought stays with me. I, too, want to prioritize with wisdom and let go of ambition-for- impression’s sake. My proactive step? I’ve already started on the Christmas cards!

    • Jen (Balancing Beauty and Bedlam)

      Nancy – GOOD for you! Christmas cards already? That is being proactive and I pray that together we will remember to make Dec HIS! :)

  • Beth Williams


    One reason I’m not a fan of the holiday season is the hearing of buy, buy, buy and rush, rush, rush yet most people forgetting about the true meaning of Christmas.

    My prayer this year is that people everywhere–especially moms, dads, and caregivers would stop for a minute and enjoy this time with their family. Don’t try to do it all in a few weeks–say NO to some activities and spend time talking about the true meaning of Christmas. Heck buy a prepared meal from the store just to have more fun family time!

    My song for this year is “It’s Called Christmas with a Capital C” by Go Fish. Below is a link to the you tube video of the song. I love it because it talks about saying Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays.

    Blessings to all during this Advent Season!

    • Jen (Balancing Beauty and Bedlam)

      Beth – I am right there with you on the all the purchases. We really step back with our gift giving and it’s very minimal. In trying to focus outward and make it a season of giving, really helps us prioritize (but yes, that’s hard sometimes too with children.)

  • Mae

    “It’s eye opening how the Lord sometimes uses the simplest of acts to reveal the deepest truths.”
    I am or was the ultimate Cinnamon Bun Christmas rolls maker. A time when my kids were growing up and making those rolls during the rush of holidays it gave me pause back then to seek His Best! I have time now to relish in the simple moments!
    What’s different now? Just yesterday I wrote a piece about; why can’t we start over? Or was a simple writing of a journey
    Even though I didn’t do everything “right”
    even though, I messed up the recipe God
    chose, i think it’s His way to offer. Last night I lit a candle, I prayed for love, warmth of family gatherings again, then I sensed how a simple cold Night in a simple manger housed the birth of Jesus!
    A journey starts every morning! That’s Grace among the rush & tinsel. That’s love
    among the times we need patience, the times I wish I could start over! But as I see
    and hear my children focus on Christ during the year, those times of baking cinnamon rolls were the warmth that I hoped my children would remember
    not the busy times, but the times that reflect their lives today, it’s evident Jesus
    is their reason for Christmas! It’s not about me, it’s about His simple, glorious entry at Christmas!

  • lee

    “wisdom to choose wisely” – I needed to read that today! In the midst of the holiday season, my husband and I are also faced with choices about our next steps in life (professionally and personally). That prayer seems applicable in more ways than one.

    Thanks for sharing this reflection. =)