2016 Christmas Bucket List

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Ready or not…it’s time for Christmas! Tomorrow is the first day of December (how in the world?!?), so I’m sharing some of the things we have on our bucket list this season.  What are you looking forward to doing with your family this Christmas?

  • Bake Christmas cookies.
  • Watch all of our favorite Christmas movies (Home Alone, The Holiday, Love Actually, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, etc.)
  • Pick out and decorate our tree together.
  • Take Christmas pictures with Finley.
  • Go see a Christmas show.
  • Have a date night and shop for stocking stuffers.
  • Listen to Christmas music every night while we make dinner.
  • Take a Christmas lights tour around town.
  • Go sledding (come on, snow!!!).
  • Sign up for an Angel Tree child.
  • Make some Christmas crafts.
  • Try a new holiday recipe.
  • Start some Christmas traditions in our new home.
  • Less busy, more time together.
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The Gift of Advent

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Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent.  Advent is my favorite season in the church year.  Advent offers us the opportunity to pause, to turn inward, to make space is our busy lives and hearts for the coming of Emmanuel, God with us. Advent is both sacred and somber, full of both hope and longing.  Advent has something to teach us about expectation and promise. It makes a way, if we are willing, for us to connect more deeply and profoundly with the God who became flesh and dwelt among us. It offers us a glimpse into the millions of ways, big and small, that he is still making his presence known in our world today, showing up to remind us that love wins in the end.

This year the hustle and bustle of Christmas feel overwhelming to me. Shopping for gifts and hanging lights seems more like a burden, and I feel my soul longing for Advent. I feel myself longing for rest and connectedness and belonging more than cookies and ornaments and holiday cheer. I find myself needing to sit quietly in the presence of the one who came to be with me, the one who offers hope and peace and joy and love to a broken world. I feel myself longing for Jesus.

I don’t know what you’re longing for this year, but if you’re paying any attention at all to this messy, broken world then I know you’re longing for something. And that’s the promise of Advent. God’s gift to us in this season is hope. Hope that he hears our prayers and longings and hope that he is a God who keeps his promises.  Hope that he has not abandoned us, hope that he is still here right where he always said he would be—with us.

So don’t miss it, friends. Don’t skip straight to Christmas and miss Advent. It is too holy, too precious, too worthy to be forgotten. Accept the invitation to pause, to take the time to prepare your hearts for Jesus. It will make all the difference.

 

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November Reading List

  1. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. I just need to say something…I adore Glennon. She writes with a kind of honesty and vulnerability that I’ve never encountered in anything else I’ve read. She describes herself as a truth teller, and she really is…in the best possible way. Love Warrior is a memoir about marriage and infidelity and addiction and loss. It’s about finding God and yourself and learning to love another person without walls and stipulations. It is beautiful and painful and not for the faint of heart. I loved it!
  2. The Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne. To be honest, I’ve been putting off reading this play. I LOVE Harry Potter, and I was afraid not loving this would somehow lessen the experience in mind. I was so, so wrong. This play is amazing! The story, set in the wizarding world of Harry Potter nineteen years after the last book ended, revolves around Harry Potter’s son, Albus, and his adventures with his best friend Scorpius. The plot was not what I expected at all—it was so much better! I don’t want to give anything away here, but if you love Harry Potter then you will love this, too. You even forget you’re reading a play after a few pages and just get absorbed in the story. Just magical. And it makes me want to plan a trip to London to see it live!

Home Sweet Home

Surprise….we bought a house last week!!! Part of the radio silence around here has been the stress of trying to close on this house (which we put an offer in on over two months ago!). But we finally closed last Thursday, and we are so thrilled to move into our first home together. It a lovely little house with four bedrooms, a huge back yard for Finley, and lots of popcorn ceilings for us to scrape off. We can’t wait to move in and start making memories here. And I’m sure I’ll be sharing some projects along the way…happy Monday!

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Why I (Still) Voted

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I always vote early. I hate crowds and lines and tons of people (I’m delightful, I know), so I go early.  I went to my local library this past Friday to cast my ballot. And I waited. I stood in line for about 45 minutes before I even got in the building (which I know is nothing compared to what many people experienced this weekend). I waited in line with all kinds of people who decided that this election was important enough to show up and vote.

I waited in line with mamas who had babies sleeping on their chests and toddlers climbing up their legs. They looked tired and overwhelmed, and I know it would have been easier for them to stay home. But they came. I stood in line with people dressed for work, who had jobs to get to and meetings to prepare for and appointments to make. But they came. I stood in line with people who were much older than me and people who were voting in a presidential election for the very first time. I stood in line with people of different races and religions and backgrounds. As I waited, I overheard a conversation between the man standing behind me and an election official.  The man, an elderly African-American gentleman wearing a U.S. Army Veteran vest, told the official that he had driven by earlier that week and had noticed there was no line.  He said he thought about stopping but decided to come back later.  The official assured him that the line moved quickly, and he wouldn’t have to wait much long to get inside. He replied, “Oh, it doesn’t bother me. I’m not complaining.  I’ll wait all day to vote if I have to.”

As I stood there, a lump formed in my throat. I truly thought I might start sobbing right there outside the Durham Public Library.  My heart was so heavy that I just couldn’t stand it anymore. The truth is this whole election still baffles me. How did we end up here? I thought about the people I was standing in line with—people who had been demeaned and belittled and discriminated against throughout this election because of the color of their skin or their gender or their religious beliefs. I thought about the hate and distrust that weighs on our country leaving us all bitter and angry and so incredibly tired. I thought about the genuine fear that exists for many who are considering the future of our country and the kind of world we’re leaving for our sons and daughters.

All this to say—I get it. I understand why so many people are saying they want to abstain from this election. I understand why people say that they can’t, in good conscience, vote for either candidate. But friends, please hear me say that it is too important. This election is too close and the stakes are too high for us to be silent.  If you believe that neither candidate is the right choice for our country, then use your voice to vote for a third-party candidate and say that. Please vote. The choices are bleak, I know, but the choice is still ours.

I (still) voted because I have been given a voice and a choice. I can choose to use my voice to speak up for kindness and truth and hope or not. I can choose to use my voice to say that all people are valuable and worthy and equal or not. I can choose to use my voice for love or not. So I chose to use my voice. I hope that you will, too.

Friday Links

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

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Hey there! I hope you’ve had a fantastic Friday. So far I’ve voted and gone to Ikea, so I’m feeling pretty accomplished going into the weekend. My mom and I are in Charlotte this weekend for the Belong Tour, and I am so pumped! I cannot wait to hear Shauna Niequist and Jen Hatmaker speak, and I’m pretty excited to spend some time with my mom, too. Hope you all have a great weekend! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure…

  • Pam Beesly for the win. Always.
  • Love, love, love this from Shauna Niequist. Love asks what’s best for the person you love, not what’s best or most convenient for you. 
  • I’m thinking a blue front door might be in my future. Which shade is your favorite?

Currently: November

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Reading: Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton.  I can’t even describe the respect and love I have for this lady.  Her storytelling is incredibly honest and brave, and her vulnerability in talking about her journey wrecks me every time I read her words.  I’m only about a third of the way through this book, but I can’t put it down. More on this soon!

Watching: The World Series. That’s right, people—I’m a baseball fan now. We watched the games when we visited Chicago last week, and now I’m all in. The excitement was too much for me to resist, and tonight is the night! GO CUBS GO!

Anticipating: The Belong Tour this weekend! My mom and I are heading to Charlotte on Friday to attend the Belong Tour, and I am so pumped to see some of my favorite writers/speakers in real life. Also, Ikea.

Planning: CHRISTMAS! Now that November has arrived, I feel like I can officially start getting really excited about the holidays.  I’m thinking about Christmas decorations and making shopping lists….because I WILL finish my Christmas shopping before December hits. (I just can’t do the crowds.) We have some really exciting travel plans around the holidays, too, so there are good things coming!

Loving: All things fall! It has not felt like fall around here the past few weeks (I’m looking at you 80 degree days), but it’s starting to shift.  The cooler mornings, pumpkins, new cups at Starbucks, and upcoming football plans have me feeling like the season has finally arrived. Now, if we could just get some changing leaves and scarf weather happening, we’d be all set!

 

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