The Christmas Letter I Should Have Written

Christmas cards are one of my favorite holiday traditions. I used to write a sassy  fun letter every year, and I’ve taken only a couple of years off here and there, but this year was a little pathetic. We had no family pictures, not even any kid pictures (Instagram will have to suffice), and a bullet list of highlights instead of a letter.

So.

Here’s the letter I should have mailed…but thought it easier to blog instead. Continue reading “The Christmas Letter I Should Have Written”

The Emotional Dangers Of Decorating: Grief & Holidays

I walked into her room and asked if I could talk to her. It was one of my [many] humbled-mother moments.

Earlier, I had been getting the Christmas decorations out and situated, and in her excitement, she wanted to hand-make, and display, her own decorations throughout the house.

I drew the line firmly – maybe a little too firmly – when she brought out a string with pink, purple, and white ribbons stranded across it. Continue reading “The Emotional Dangers Of Decorating: Grief & Holidays”

God Is A Good Gift Giver

gift

“God is a good gift giver.”

Tahni Cullen’s son, Josiah, had typed those words on his iPad. As a toddler, Josiah stopped talking. Tahni wrote a book to explain how autism stole his words, but God gave him a voice. As Tahni spoke at our women’s retreat in 2015, she shared this story, and the incredible profound wisdom from her son Josiah since.

I’ve remembered those words, and her story, frequently since hearing them.

Recently, I was in Dallas, TX with my client to help organize one of his events and participate in the mastermind I’m a part of. It happened to be about 10 days or so after my birthday, and my client and his wife treated me to a very special birthday dinner to celebrate. I have a soft place in my heart for fried catfish. Not just any fried catfish, but tasty, crispy, mouth-watering southern fried catfish. They took me for some fried catfish and hushpuppies (and fried pumpkin pie. My life changed forever!) and as we walked to the restaurant, I noticed Sabrina’s arms were full of gift bags.

I gave her a curious look but kept walking. Sure enough, the gifts that filled her arms were for me.

After we ordered and sat down waiting for our food, I was encouraged to open the gifts. First, a gift my client had chosen himself. A true-blue Nespresso cup and spoon set. About a year ago, he had me try a cup of his Nespresso coffee. Oh my word. People. We’ve been doing coffee all wrong! I took my Christmas bonus check last year and we bought a Nespresso machine and lots of coffee. Nespresso is the besto. Unlike my compliments or praise of it.

As I reached for the next gifts, Sabrina explained, “Holy Spirit led me in picking all this out for you. I didn’t know what to get you, so I just prayed Holy Spirit would lead me, and He told me what to get.”

I had never heard that before. It made so much sense, yet I had never heard – or thought – of asking the Holy Spirit for guidance in picking gifts.

We’re getting closer and closer to the holiday season. Gift giving is about to run rampant again, especially in our nation and day and age of total materialism. The year Harlynn died, my priorities and desires changed and shifted dramatically. That Christmas, when I looked around at our living room piled high with stuff we had just unwrapped, I was completely overwhelmed. We were loved, we were blessed, and we were under a pile of stuff, a lot of which was completely useless to us.

What we, especially as Americans, tend to do when choosing gifts is let our purchase be dictated by price, convenience, and appearance.

Not by guidance from Holy Spirit.

Incredibly curious, I started to unpack the gifts she had felt led to purchase, as she continued to explain, “I got the sense you take care of your family before you take care of you and you needed to spoil yourself some.”

Those words caught me off guard a bit. I hate shopping. It’s no secret. When I do shop, I do it for practical reasons because my husband or my children need something. If I need something (other than groceries, specifically – chocolate) I put it off. Not because I don’t feel like I deserve it or anything, but because shopping drains me so much mentally and I can’t bear to spend my energy spending money for things I don’t know or realize I want or need.

I started pulling out item after item. Jewelry. Gorgeous, bold pieces of jewelry I would have been too timid to buy for myself, but always secretly want to try to pull off wearing.

Boot socks. Fun, comfy, cute boot socks, even. Not the boring, black nylon boot socks I’ve had for three years.

Leggings. Mine had holes worn in them and weren’t even comfortable to wear anymore. These leggings are the most comfortable I’ve ever worn – and I was short a pair of leggings for my trip, so they were also quite timely.

Comfy pants. Y’all, when I say “comfy pants” I mean quite simply: I WANT TO LIVE IN THESE PANTS. They aren’t bulky sweat pants. They’re the coziest cotton I’ve ever slung a leg into.

Pajamas. Comfortable, adorable, warm (I live in North Dakota…) pajamas. I don’t remember the last time I’ve worn actual pajamas.

Underwear. Not just any underwear, but the exact size and cut I wear.

In fact, everything fit perfectly. She had no idea what size I was. But Holy Spirit did.

A gorgeous sweater (when I had just thought, “I wish I had a nice sweater to wear.”) and lovely scarves. Chapstick. Lotion. Hand sanitizer.

I cried. Right there at the table, I said thank you over and over again and I cried. This wasn’t just someone getting me something for the sake of celebrating my birthday. This was a person walking through a store, praying to be led by God for exactly what I needed and what would lift my spirit. I was completely overcome.

God is a good gift giver.

As you begin, or maybe even finish (over-achievers!) your Christmas shopping this season, pray about the gifts you’re giving. Let God – who has given you multiple gifts – steer your gift-giving for others. You might be as surprised as they are.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. ~ James 1:17

Gifting the Gifts of Giftedness

I haven’t written a post in over a month. Which is really sad and alarming to me. I’ve known for a while I need to get my time under better control, and the fact that I can’t sit down to write – even one post in a month – is testament to that. I have so much to do over the next two weeks before the year ends, and I want to finish strong for the people and entities depending on me to produce for them – so I’ve been tucking myself away in the fetal position to get to work.

I’m carving out time today, though, to help you with some last minute shopping. If you’re stuck on what to get someone – hopefully one of these ideas will help you out.

Gifting the Gifts of Giftedness

Just like army training forces an individual to embrace responsibility and maturity, you can help someone achieve that same discipline and focus by giving them an adult coloring book. Or you can watch them cry while trying to color. Either way – it’s really more of a gift for you than for them. I would simply request you don’t give me one – unless it’s the one my friend tracyfixen[dot]com found for me on Instagram one day. That one looked doable.

I love meaningful, practical gifts and in a world dependent on consumerism, sometimes it can be hard to filter through the “stuff” and find something useful to give. So without further ado, on to the gift ideas and the reasons I’m recommending them!

Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper:

I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t really know how to work ours. I’ve made popcorn in it twice, and it turned out both times (deliciously), but it gives me anxiety and I’d much prefer my husband make the popcorn. That said, I can’t go back to microwave popcorn after having my kernels stir-popped. Never again will I have to suffer through that microwave-smoky-singed flavor when a bag was left popping a few seconds too long. We use coconut oil for our popcorn, and while neither my husband or I are fans of coconut, the stir-popped popcorn tastes like a little bit of heaven. We melt butter over the top of it, and I’m so glad I conceded when my husband told me he wanted to buy one. It’s one of my mini-kitchen appliances I’m happy to have around. Plus – we make a lot more popcorn for a lot less money. Win all around. If you have someone who likes to save money, likes to eat popcorn, and doesn’t like setting off their smoke alarms to whip some up – this is the gift for them. Given with a little jar of coconut oil – it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Nespresso [VirtuoLine]:

I have a client who was raving about his coffee every morning and like the real investor-in-people I am, I thought he was full of baloney. It turns out, he’s full of really good coffee. In my meeting with him after Thanksgiving, it was all we drank during our morning meetings. I’m a self-proclaimed latte addict snob. I love the rich, smooth texture of a good vanilla latte, and ones that are sweetened just so are hard to come by sometimes. When I can’t hit the drive through of my favorite coffee shop, I would always brew a standard pot at home and just sip off of it whenever I had a chance. I’ve always been one for pre-ground coffee in bulk, because it’s easy, it’s convenient, and coffee is coffee.

Oh, how wrong I was. There is too much to type about this, so I did a little video (worst ever, but you’ll get the gist) you can watch here. If you know someone who LOVES their coffee and would rather spend $1.10/cup than $5/cup, this is the gift for them. If you ARE that person, and this is a gift for yourself – you really cannot go wrong.

Massage:

I don’t know about you, but my body is made up of a bunch of muscles. I’m certainly far more than “skin and bones”, anyway.  More often than not, these muscles try to solidify and turn themselves into a knotted pile of concrete. The best way to get me to relax is to pay someone an inordinate amount of money to work these knots into pliable muscle tissue once again. It’s my favorite gift to receive, ever. If you know someone who doesn’t like getting massages, you can give me the one you would have bought for them. I like to help however I can…

FocusAtWill:

If you know someone who does a lot of work at a computer, or needs to spend a lot of time concentrating on their work, this is the gift for them. Focus At Will is an online music streaming service that incorporates the science of certain sounds and songs into the science of concentration. It sounds hokey, but I can personally attest to its effectiveness. I turn this on every time I need to sit and write, or focus on accomplishing a task that needs my undivided attention. It has sounds for everyone – if you like peace and calm or noise and bustle. You can read up about the science behind it when you visit the site. It works, and it’s so worth it. Cross my heart. I’ve linked through my referral link, so they know I’m sending you. I’m not an affiliate, and this is not an affiliate link.

New Socks – and Money:

Nothing feels better on my feet than a brand new pair of socks. I’m one of those weirdos who would write “socks and underwear” on my Christmas list each year, because I needed them, and they’re super cozy. A lot of people feel cheated if they open a package of socks and/or undies for Christmas. It’s unfortunate, because really it’s a great gift. That said, a great way to beat their disappointment is to slip a few presidents in the box as well. Comfortable feet, cheeks, AND money? Best Christmas ever!

So there you have it, my recommendations to help you get a meaningful and unique gift this Christmas. (Or next, if you’ve already got everyone covered this year.) Merry Christmas and happy gifting!