Friday Links {Christmas Edition}

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

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I honestly can’t believe Christmas is over.  December flew by, but it was such a rich, sweet season. We had such a wonderful time celebrating this season with our families.  We spent Christmas Eve with Bryan’s family and then went to the Family Christmas Eve service at our church. It is probably my favorite service of the entire year. The kids dress up as the characters from the nativity story, and we tell the story of Jesus’ birth as we celebrate the gift of love and peace. It is absolute chaos—kids screaming, crying, and laughing throughout the entire thing. I’m pretty sure Jesus would LOVE it! 🙂

We drove to my parent’s house after the service for dinner and some of our favorite Christmas Eve traditions—family game night, Christmas movies, and wine (which we need to get through family game night). We spent the night there and woke up open gifts from Santa (and yes, my sisters and I still put out cookies for Santa every single year). We spent the rest of the day visiting extended family, baking cookies, going to see Unbroken, and just being together. It was such a great Christmas!

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas, too! Happy Friday! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure…

  • There are a lot of posts about holiday decor circulating, and I love this one from House of Turquoise (especially the mantle).  Is it sad that I’m already excited about decorating next year??
  • This incredibly beautiful post from Ann Voskamp on suffering and Christmas.  God is so moved by our being entangled in suffering—that he moved himself into our world and entangled himself in the suffering with us. God with us. 

Merry Christmas!

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For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. And the government shall be upon his shoulders: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! XO

Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

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We’re prepping for a party over here, so this weekend is all about catching up with friends and spending time with people we love. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

Have a lovely weekend, friends! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure…

  • This interview with theologian Roger Olson on the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism.  An important read for young people (or any people, really) attempting to define their faith and what they believe.
  • This post from The Handmade Home about genuine hospitality and creating a space where people can bring their baggage, put it down, and just be. I love this post!
  • This reading list from Hollywood Housewife. I love reading about what other people have read and loved. I tend to like her recommendations, so I’ll be adding a few of these to my own reading list in the next few months.

The Best Days

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We put a lot of weight on tomorrow.

Everything could be different tomorrow.  I’ll get to it tomorrow. Tomorrow could be the best day of my life.

But why are we always holding out for tomorrow?

Obviously we all have those days that no matter how we look at them, twist them around, or spin them, won’t make it onto our best days list: Sick days. Moving days. The day you got dumped. The day you got rejected from your dream school or fired from your dream job. The day your best friend moved away. The day Duke won the national championship. Those days are bad days, no matter what.

But I also think most days—our normal, ordinary days—have the potential to be our best days. But we miss them. We sweep them under a rug and forget about them. Why?

For me, I find that I’m always looking ahead to the next thing.  What’s next? Where’s the next step? What’s bigger and better and more exciting than this season I’m living in right now? Something in me is wired to keep waiting. Something keeps me looking ahead for something better instead of stopping to look around and notice that the life I’m living right this very second is pretty spectacular, too.

I think we all do it. We keep waiting for the big moment—the perfect job, the pivotal relationship, the smaller jean size—so that we can really start living. But when we do that, we miss it. We miss the beauty and sacredness and profound moments that are happening right here in the middle of this seemingly ordinary day. We miss the little glimpses of the divine that are taking place all around us.

This season is all about hurry. It’s about the hustle and bustle of creating the perfect holiday, shopping for gifts, decorating, crowded malls and parking lots, deadlines, and overpacked schedules. But it’s also about gathering around the table for story-telling and prayer and the clinking of glasses. It’s about learning to find joy in giving, in taking care of someone else who needs it more than you do. It’s about twinkling lights that add a little more magic and beauty to our world. It’s about hope and peace and joy and a baby who changed the world. I want to notice that side, too. I don’t want to miss this season because I’m too focused on getting to the next one.

These days, the ones I’m living right now, are my best days, and I want to treat them that way. Give them all my energy and passions, because there’s no point in waiting. Today is already here.

*Photo Credit

December Reading List

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1. Delancey by Molly Wizenberg. I super enjoyed this book—in fact, I finished it in two days. I love Molly Wizenberg’s voice. It is honest and easy to read, but also articulate, witty, and incredibly rich. Delancey is a memoir about opening a pizzeria in Seattle with her husband, Brandon. It’s about the dream and the heartache of opening your own business, but it’s also about marriage and relationships and change and figuring out how to fit into the life you’ve chosen. Also, Delancey is about food. And I love reading about food. I just love it. I hate cooking (although I’m working on that), but I love to eat really good food and reading about it is almost as good. If you’re into food and novels, Ruth Reichl’s Delicious is another favorite. Just make sure you have a snack when you sit down to read.

2. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith.  I picked up this book because a friend clued me in to the fact that Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, and I will read any and everything that woman ever writes.  I was skeptical about this book after being really disappointed by Rowling’s other adult novel, The Casual Vacancy.  The Cuckoo’s Calling is a mystery thriller that follows private detective’s Cormoran Strike’s investigation into the suicide/murder of a world-famous supermodel.  I actually really enjoyed this book.  It was intriguing, well-written, and I didn’t guess the ending (which is always crucial with mysteries).  The sequel is on my reading list for next month.

3. The Vacationers by Emma Straub. This book would have been a great beach read, but it’s 28 degrees outside. So instead, I enjoyed this novel snuggled up in bed with my Christmas pajamas and a good cup of coffee.  The Vacationers was a fun, easy read about the things that really go on inside a family—the hurts, the laughs, the lies, and loving each other in spite of it all. The story was set in Palma, Mallorca, an island off the coast of Spain that I travelled to when I went to visit my friend Laura in Madrid.  I love reading books set in places I’ve been, and I also love Spain—the sun, the people, the food. Take me back!

Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

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This week has been CRAZY, and it’s not looking like the weekend is going to slow down very much.  I’m off to spend the morning with some of my favorite kiddos, and then the rest of my weekend is filled with more Christmas parties, work functions, and family gatherings.  Tis the season, right?! I am super thankful for a wonderful Christmas dinner with the Angels last night, and on the way home we just had to stop and take a picture of this house! No I don’t live here…but whoever does it pretty awesome! 

Happy weekend, friends! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure…

  • I love this house tour from House of Turquoise—the colors, the patterns, the pillows! Make sure you check out the whole week!
  • This wise and insightful interview with Walter Brueggemann made me thankful for our call to action, communication, and justice.  Beginning with the Exodus narrative and the Elijah narrative and the Jesus narrative, they are all stories about public transformation that happened by courage of uncredentialed people. Just wonderful.
  • This post from Sarah Bessey on the importance of female relationships and why we need each other so badly. This lady speaks my love language. So good.
  • That one time all of the most awesome people in the world were in the same place at the same time. If Taylor Swift had been there too, the whole arena might have imploded.
  • The “2014 Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog” might be the best thing I read all week. And it is SO true! Enjoy a little funny for your weekend, friends!

Nine Books You Should Have Read As A Kid

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1. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I just loved this book as a kid. It has everything a good children’s book needs—adventure, fantasy, whimsy, and a good life lesson or two. The book follows Milo, a little boy who gets bored and drives his toy car through a magic tollbooth, on an epic adventure through the Kingdom of Wisdom. The Phantom Tollbooth is witty, heartfelt, and playful.  And for all the English nerds out there, this book has all kinds of good wordplay.  Enjoy.

2. The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg is a story about friendship, bravery, and finding your tribe.  I just love Konigsburg’s writing style—which may just be why she shows up multiple times on this list!

3. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. The simplest (and best) way to describe this books is to say that its about friendship—real, genuine, no-matter-what friendship. The friendship that blossoms between the most unlikely pair, a pig and a spider, has something powerful to teach us about what can happen when we take care of one another and realize that we all need to be rescued sometimes.

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4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling is just gold. I won’t gush about Harry Potter (too much), but every kid should read the Harry Potter series…and every adult for that matter.  This is the kind of book that can make a kid fall in love with reading.  It is about magic, yes. But it is also about good versus evil, growing up, figuring out what you believe in, friendship, and standing up for what is right and good and true. I honestly can’t wait to read these books to my kids.

5. Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar is a hilarious book about a school that was built 30 stories high and the wacky things that happens there. My second grade teacher used to read us a chapter from this book at the end of each day, and we loved it. This is the book for the kid who doesn’t like to read, and I can guarantee that it will have him rolling on the floor laughing.  Sachar just gets kids, and this book totally reflects that. Bonus: there are also two other books in the series that are just as wonderful.

6. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle is a science fiction novel that follows a little girl named Meg’s journey through the fifth dimension to rescue her father.  There are a lot of difficult concepts in this book, but the writing is beautiful and honest and authentic.  It also teaches us that there’s nothing wrong with being the girl who is super smart and a little weird…in fact, it’s pretty awesome.

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7. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis might just be one of my favorite books of all time. C.S. Lewis possesses the rare ability to communicate effectively with both children and adults and to tell a story so vivid and tangible that it captures your heart and imagination and won’t let go.  The world that Lewis creates in the Narnia series is a captivating and beautiful portrait of who God is and his role in our lives. This is another series that I’m super excited to read with my own kids one day. 

8. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has so much to teach kids about empathy, patience, and being a voice for justice. It’s also the kind of book you can read over and over again—and you should.

9. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg tells the story of two kids who run away from home to go live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.   I mean, what kid hasn’t fantasized about running free in a museum at night? I love how the author combines the main character’s thirst for adventure, mystery, and quest for identity with a fascination for art and history. This is definitely my favorite Konigsburg book.

What would you add to the list?

Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

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This weekend feels like the calm before the storm. We have a few quiet days then our next few weeks are full of Christmas celebrations, meetings, gatherings with friends, work functions, traveling, and lots and lots of Christmas movies. We’re about to head into the holiday season at full speed, so these next few days are about rest, finishing up our Christmas decorating, and just being together.

Here’s to hoping your weekend brings fun and relaxation. And Christmas movies. XO

For your weekend reading pleasure:

  • This excerpt from Anne Lamott on asking for help.
  • More gift guides! I love this one from Lauren Conrad—someone in my life is getting that wine. And also that elephant bottle stopper. And that someone may be me.
  • Earlier this week I wrote about Advent, and this piece from Sarah Bessey captures it perfectly. I love her voice and her raw, vulnerable honesty. The weary world is still waiting.

On Advent

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This past Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent.  If we’re not careful, Advent is pretty easy to miss. Christmas lights go up mid-November, holiday music starts playing sometime shortly after Halloween, and everything feels festive and merry long before Christmas day. Advent, with its somberness and quiet, gets swept under the rug. We light a few candles, but our hearts barely register what it means.

The season of Advent is about yearning, waiting, and anticipating. It is about creating space in our chaotic lives and hearts for the coming of Jesus, for the Word made flesh. It acknowledges that the twinkling lights and Christmas trees and familiar carols don’t tell the whole story—that before rejoicing there was longing. And it was hard.

Longing is something we all understand. Maybe this year we understand it better than ever before.  We understand the deep ache for something that is yet to be and the hunger for what is not yet ours.  But Advent offers more than just waiting. It offers a promise. It offers a promise that God made a long time ago that no feeling of brokenness or loneliness or emptiness is too great for his power and love to heal. It was a promise that he would send a Savior to heal this pain-stricken world and remind us all that this is not the end.

Advent, at its very core, centers on the belief that everything is going to be okay. It is about expectation and anticipation and longing and waiting, but most importantly, it is about hope. Yes, there is darkness and pain, but wait—there is more! There is a light coming, and that light will shine in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it. Yes, there is hurt and brokenness and despair, but there is also rejoicing for a weary world whose cries have been heard. Yes, sometimes it feels like life is not worth living, but a new way of living is on the horizon, and it is good and holy and so, so worth it. And we have the promise that everything is really and truly going to be okay.

One of my favorite authors sums it up kind of perfectly:

“I believe deeply that God does his best work during times of great heartbreak and loss, and I believe that much of that rich work is done by the hands of people who love us, who dive into the wreckage with us and show us who God is, over and over and over. There are years when the Christmas spirit is hard to come by, and it’s in those seasons when I’m so thankful for Advent. Consider it a less flashy but still very beautiful way of being present to this season. Give up for a while your false and failing attempts at merriment, and thank God for thin places, and for Advent, for a season that understands longing and loneliness and long nights. Let yourself fall open to Advent, to anticipation, to the belief that what is empty will be filled, what is broken will be repaired, and what is lost can always be found, no matter how many times it’s been lost.”

-Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet

To me, Advent is about hope. It’s about knowing that something better is coming, and this season I’m holding tightly to that truth.

What are you hoping for this Advent?

*Photo Credit