Lights and Gas

I’m gonna write a parenting book and call it Managing Expectations. How to excite and thrill your kids with very little effort.

Because the other night we decided to surprise our kids with a drive around town to look a Christmas lights. (An already free, low key way to keep littles entertained.) So we put them in feety jimmies and loaded them up in the car.

They were so excited as we got ready to pull out of the driveway, this conversation happened:

Alex: Where are we going?!?!?

Me: It’s a surprise!

Lily: To get gas!!!!!

Aaaaaaaannnnnnnndddd scene.

CLEARLY we are bundles of overstimulating fun if my kids think that we are taking them to the gas station at night as a surprise.

But managing expectations? Totally winning at that.

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Stitch Fix #4: You Decide

Loved this one. Loved it. But that stinky budget strikes again. So this time you decide.

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Owl dress. The Owls pretty much speak for themselves amiright?

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I loved the fit of the black leggings but they don’t really have a place in my life. Not a huge fan of the shirt, not sure if it was just too baggy or if it’s cause I felt like an Aggie in it. (Sorry Aggie friends, you know I just can’t do it!)

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Raindrop dress is adorable and versatile and just a touch quirky. I loved it!

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The yellow sweater gets two pics because the front AND back are adorable! I was doing something weird with my hips, but this sweater was actually pretty flattering in real life.

So friends what’s the vote?

Also, if you decide you’ve had quite enough of the mall right now and want someone to just pick out your clothes and give you staying ideas then you should use this link to sign up and help a sister out!

Advent Week Two

Y’all. This first week of Advent was rough.

All the things I thought I had set aside, all the burdens I thought I had surrendered? Almost crushed me again this week.

Peace.

I just need some peace.

But it’s Monday now and it is time to prepare for a week of preparation. A week of peace.

Because He prepared a way. 

Joseph took his pregnant wife and traveled a long distance only to find there was no room in the inn. No room.

Feels a little hopeless doesn’t it? Feels like a mess? Feels peace-less?

But there was room in a stable. There was a manger to lay in.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7

We see no room and we despair.

But somebody made some room for hope. 

And from that humble corner of the stable? A Light so bright it lights the world.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

From the dark corners where someone surrendered just a little bit of room? We got  star so bright that it lit up the entire countryside.

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16

I hope they were shocked and awed. I hope the inn keeper, the other people in that stable, the people out on the streets were blinded by the beauty of the humble savior that they just scooted over a tiny bit for.

Because when I really think about it, I remember that it isn’t about me. It isn’t about my perfect sacrifice. My perfect Advent.

It is about His light. His hope.

But maybe if I’ll just make a tiny bit of room, if I’ll just surrender one dark corner of myself…I would be surprised at the light He will shine out of me this week. I would find the peace in a place that I couldn’t force into that cramped little space.

 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Head Hunter

I had planned a super sweet adoption post today, but you are gonna have to wait for Friday for that because my head just exploded yesterday with the worst headache I have had in ten years.

In fact, I can barely see this screen to write it hurts so freaking bad.

So why am I bothering, you ask?

No, no, it isn’t that my narcissism has gotten so bad that I think you can’t live a day without me. It’s just that right when I was feeling like the pain might make it worth it to just cut it off and throw it in the dumpster, because it was clearly more pain that any added value it provides, my girl cuddled up next to me.

That girl. The one desperately trying to turn all my hairs grey. The one that daily drives me to an early grave. That one that has a skull made of stainless steel.

She said, “Mommy, you don’t feel good?”

“Nope.”
“San I pway for you?”
Yes, please.”
“Sank you for mommy and her head, Amen.”

Well. I certainly can’t get rid of head that my baby girl is thanking God for.

So I guess I’ll just go lay it down and live to write another day.

Tingling Anticipation: Advent Week One

I have a confession: I don’t tell my kids when we have family visiting.

It’s self-preservation really, because they go nuts. They don’t sleep and they start vibrating with excitement. There is never a lack of enthusiasim in our home, but when someone is coming over? It goes off the charts.

So I keep it to myself.

But ‘Tis the season.

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The season we are meant to tingle with excitement. The time of the year that we have set aside to celebrate the coming of our Christ. Our shepherd that leads us out of darkness and into light.

So we light a candle.  And we tell our children. We remind ourselves. He came.

He came. 

And the gift he brought? Could put even the best grandparent visitor to shame.

Because He brought His Glory to us. He brought us a light to show us the way to redemption. To show us the way to peace. To show us the way to his glory.

“And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 40:5

He gave us the Word, His Son, all His love for us encapsulated in flesh, so that we can know Him. So that we can know His Glory.

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

He gave us the gift of knowledge of Himself. Not a gift to be wasted in this season of celebrating Him. We glimpse a little more of His glory every time we peel back the pages of His word and see the love of the Word.

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But then we hear the drumroll in this season of Advent that matches the vibrations in our soul.

He is coming again. 

We have the hope of glory already in us and we have the hope of Glory waiting before us.

So we celebrate advent. We light our first candle. We enthusiastically ask Him to light our way to His glory.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14: 1-3

And then, with the light of that one little candle piercing the darkness, we can go crazy with anticipation. We can pour our hope our all over our lives. We enthusiastically share our hope with anyone without it in what is, so often, a hopeless season.

Merry Christmas!

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When You Sort of Hate Christmas

Five years ago I wanted to quit Christmas. Yeah, Grinch style. I wanted none of it.

My reasons were vast, from the highly spiritual to the painfully mundane. I felt like we were getting it wrong as believers, I always wanted a beautiful themed Christmas tree, but I just never did have the design chops to pull it off, and honestly, my holidays had been a push and pull game since I was little with guilt always nagging at my mind for where I was not and what I was not doing. And it made me grumpy. It made me Grinchy…

“You’re a mean one Mr. Grinch…”

More than anything it made me yucky. I was grossed out by my own greed and self-consumption. I was enlightened enough to see it, but not empowered to stop it.

So in a characteristically subtle move, (nope), I tried my darndest to quit Christmas. I kept plowing through a few measly traditions for the sake of my family, but if no one had taken out an Evergreen tree, my feelings wouldn’t have been hurt. I mean, it’s not like it’s really Jesus’ birthday or anything, right?

Here is the thing, the church started celebrating Christmas over 1700 years ago. And traditions have been piling on ever since. We are feeling the weight aren’t we? I don’t necessarily think the Grinch got it wrong when he says, “Noise. Noise. NOISE.” It can me deafening to our Silent Night, can’t it? I read so many posts about simplifying the Holidays and saying no, that I feel quite sure I’m not the only that just couldn’t deal with all the stuff anymore. More than that though, I couldn’t deal with my own, internal, stuff anymore.

Where are you Christmas?

In a Gallup leadership test I took in  college one of the results revealed that I am contextual person. I process what is going on now, by what has happened before now. And I’ve now spent five years digging through Christmas. Why I do what I do. Or for that matter, why anyone does what they do. What the heck where we doing?!?!

And while I found enough factual evidence that I could have put together a valid argument for quitting Christmas, I found God turning my heart in a different direction. I saw festivals of lights, a sainted man willing to have a heart like Jesus, sharing of wonderful sweet things to eat to commemorate something big.  I saw thousands of years of people celebrating a Savior’s coming.

I found something worth celebrating.

There were things that I was terrified to let go of that haven’t bothered me one bit, and there were things I was surprised I held on to.

I mean, for one, I didn’t throw out the tree. We just use ours a little differently now.

I didn’t have to quit Christmas, I, like the Grinch,  just had to turn from the Grinch to Grace. And I found myself singing a little Mariah. You know what I mean.

“All I want for Christmas is You.”

Because it turns out, when I do indeed fix my eyes upon Jesus, that in fact, the things of the world grow strangely dim in the light of His Glory and Grace. And with that Grace, He redeemed Christmas for me. Again.

Because it’s okay to say no. 

But it is also okay to say yes. 

When All I want for Christmas is Jesus, I not only have the enlightenment to see what it is all really about, but the empowerment to live in what it is all really about. I can enjoy others’ perfectly crafted trees without feeling sanctimonious or jealous. I can appreciate what we do give without feeling guilty about what we don’t. I can say no without believing that it means I’m not saying yes.

Because, maybe, just maybe Christmas is about a little bit more.

I don’t know where you are this Holiday season, but it doesn’t matter, because Grace? Is already there.

Seek it.  

Because this Christmas? Emmanuel.

God with us. 

Especially Loved

We had a party to go to after church a few weeks ago, which meant we needed to go out to eat for lunch. In a strange and undesirable world, we chose Burger King. Not only for the time killing play center but for the $1.50 for 10 chicken nuggets deal. *Sigh* We are nothing if not practical.

Because of my distaste for said eating establishment, I couldn’t even tell you the last time I was in one, but it was surely 20 years ago.

They didn’t have crowns then.

But they do now.

Somewhere in the stir of getting seated, passing out water bottles (yeah, we take our own water bottles), and general chaos of trying to feed five kids, I heard my sweet girl exclaim,

“I’m feeling especially loved!”

Um. Huh?

I mean I know you like to eat out and all, but that seem hyperbolic even for her in this situation. So in my pause I look her in her, now sparkling, eyes as she continued.

“You brought me to the King’s Crown. I feel so special!”

Oh my heart.

If you have little girls you know what I’m talking about here. If you don’t, here is the run down: The King’s Crown is the diner in the Fancy Nancy books that could have drawn their muse from my eldest daughter.

We took her for a small treat at Burger King and she knew she was loved because she was feasting at the King’s Crown Diner.

In those glowing and shiny eyes, the small wasn’t small anymore, and the incidental wasn’t accidental. She was loved, by more than just her well-meaning, but not intentional, parents, but by her God. Her God that worked it for her good, when her clueless parents just wanted to feed a big family on a small budget.

He blessed her and in her childlike faith, she had the eyes and sense enough to see a blessing for what it was.

Oh blessed perspective.

As we sit down tomorrow to share our thanks to God for family, friends, and food, maybe, just maybe, we could dig a little deeper. We could fine the sacred ordinary in our lives that could flip our perspective. We could find all the ways in which we are especially loved by our Creator who gives good gifts to His children.

I pray that we find a childlike faith to see and have the sense to realize that we are Especially Loved.