You know how gift guides are usually either awesome but stupid expensive or cheap but not classy enough? Well, this is my answer to that. Hopefully these gifts will serve you well as a White Elephant offering, Secret Santa present, or Stocking Stuffer and you can feel good both about the quality of the gift you're giving AND the money still in your bank account. All the links to these products are below the guide. Enjoy!
If you are joining us for the 30-Day Devotional, you know that I feel strongly that holiday breaks are important, even vital, to our full thriving and wellbeing. Each has its own unique purpose. I believe that Thanksgiving is for gratitude; for pausing to take stock of what went well last year and to be at least a little in awe of the blessings that are heaped upon our lives.
December is for pausing - as we wait for the Advent of what is to come, we rest and we let that rest bring renewal. That doesn’t mean that we do nothing in this season, but that we pour into ourselves that best kind of self-care we know how, filling ourselves full to overflowing with good things. We stop to notice what didn’t work well in the last year and to set intentions about how we want to move through the world in 2019.
In the New Year we pour all those good things we’ve stocked in our hearts out into our world. We get on our mark and run hard after the goals we have thoughtfully set. We are ready to run because we rested well.
What I’m saying is that unless each of these holiday breaks in our schedules are handled well, we won’t get the most from any of them. They rely upon one another.
As we approach the Christmas Season, it’s time for some rest. And not only rest, but renewal. Renewal of the mind, heart, body, and spirit. What follows are the best ways I know to intentionally care for all four parts of ourselves and to ready ourselves for a hard run come January.
Caring for our head means stimulating your mind with what matters. For me, that means two things: reading and goal setting. I’ll be talking much more about goal setting in the coming weeks, and you can check out last year’s blog post about it here. But for now, take some time to think about what didn’t work well for you last year and one critical next step you could take to improve your experience in that area of your life. For me, one thing that didn’t work well last year was how busy my mornings end up getting and how, consequently, things I love about my morning routine end up getting rushed. I’m mulling over whether I need to commit to an earlier wake up time or if something should be cut from the routine.
Also, I am pouring myself into good books this season. I’m choosing to read, with a mug of coffee and a warm blanket under the lights of the Christmas tree rather than watch mindless television. I always wish I had more time for reading during the year, so as tempted as I may sometimes be, I’m not going to waste it.
Do not miss the chance this Christmas season to deepen relationships with your people. When everyone is leaning in, don’t waste those precious moments on cell phones or television, but create a space - in your living room or at the kitchen counter or wherever your family gathers - for connection. Ask deep questions and listen well. Look one another in the eyes and laugh a lot. Connection is what makes us human. We need it to be well and this season is perfect for it. Here’s a place to start: “What is one role you have (mother, boss, sister, etc.) that you feel is often misunderstood or mishandled by others in your life? Why?”
Caring for spirit often looks the most challenging. But really, in this season, you can find God around every corner if you’re looking. I believe deeply that God is faithful to meet us when we go looking, so as you seek to renew yourself spiritually, add some intention and He’ll meet your halfway. If you don’t have a quiet time practice, what better time to start one? If you have always wanted to try some meditation, do it now. If you want to journal, look up some journal prompts, buy a Moleskin, and get started right now.
Caring for the body might just take the most intention this time of the year. I don't know how many years I have spent December literally just sitting and eating. I mean, there's nothing really wrong with that, but as with most everything else, moderation is key. No one likes to realize that it's January and you need to start a Whole30 immediately to feel anything like yourself. So let's decide now to care of our bodies by moving for 30 minutes at least five times a week. That can be a walk, a jog, or jumping jacks on your living room floor. Let's stay in motion so we don't have to be grumpy about it in January.
1. Download a interval timer to your phone and use it to try some Hiit workouts. You never have to leave your house and they get you sweating in 15 minutes.
2. Bundle up and take a walk with a family member. Kill two birds with one stone by investing in relationships and caring for your body.
Take care this holiday friends. Get the renewal that you need and let's get ready for the best year yet in 2019.
I am SO very excited to announce that I've written a thirty day devotional to share with all my friends. Obviously this resource is totally free and I would love for you to take advantage of it during this upcoming Advent season.
As we approached this holiday season, I finally put my finger on a pattern that was cropping up every November and stealing my joy through the holidays. I noticed that I was saying "yes" to every single thing. I had fun, but the whirl of the season moved so fast that it was gone before I had time to truly embrace the rest and joy of these holiday moments.
If you can relate, please sign-up below to receive a daily email from me with a scripture, reflection/devotional, and prayer to help you approach December with the intention that I believe God would have for us. Consider this your totally free Advent devotional that you can read in community and hopefully apply directly to your daily life.
I've added the devotional from day one below so you can get a taste of the kinds of things you'll be receiving every morning. If you like what you read, I would ask two things:
1. Please sign-up with your email to receive the daily devotional.
2. Please share with your friends. I wrote these words in response to a calling I felt God had for me and I would love as many people as possible to have access to them.
Thanks for being my people. I'm so humbled that you would honor me by reading these words.
Day 1: Intentional December
We are starting off the most heart warming and crazy making season of the year. But that’s the thing right? This is just a season; and we have complete control about how these thirty days will treat us and our people. It would be the easiest thing in the world to make it to every fifth cousin’s Christmas party and spend 10 grand on gifts, but that likely isn’t the wisest thing for our emotional or financial lives. Instead what if lives “marked by the gospel” didn’t just mean that we have nativity scenes on our windows and are well acquainted with Luke 2 this season, but that we are marked with held space for both rest and spontaneity and with the grace made possible by eliminating the frantic in favor of the sacred, the meaningful, the lasting. These thirty days we are pushing toward an intentional December together. Brace yourself with me, because that might mean saying “no” to the good, in order to say “yes” to the truly great.
Empower me to see how our lives can be marked by the gospel in this season. Show me how I can stand apart in the best ways. Demonstrate to me that Christmas can mean renewal and togetherness instead of frantic and hustle. Empower me to take up a goal of intentionality today even if that means saying “no” sometimes. Jesus let me encounter you in a fresh way as I pursue you by carving out a quiet space in the middle of this busy season.
1. Pear Cranberry Crumble Pie
This pie is actually everything. I have been on the hunt for the perfect apple pie, and honestly, while the closest I’ve found is on the blog, this is the BEST pie I have ever had. The pears have that harvest flavor and the buttery crumble is indulgent while the cranberry cuts the sweet and adds a layer of flavor. I used the all butter crust listed in the recipe, but I think her Crisco/butter crust is a little better. This is a sure winner and stand out on your Thanksgiving dessert table. I know I’ll be bringing mine to TWO gatherings this year.
2. Simple is Best Stuffing
This recipe was first shared with me on Shauna Niequist’s Instagram account. I trust her judgement and palate so much that I knew I needed to try it. I made this with a day old loaf of bread from the Kroger bakery, a few herbs, and some veggies and stock. It probably costs less than five dollars to make and if you are into real stuffing that is bready and vibrant - this is for you. I served this alongside some roasted chicken thighs and crispy maple dijon veggies but it would be a perfect Thanksgiving dish to impress your guests.
3. English Sea Salt Toffee
If you aren’t a pie person, but you need a little something, maybe something a little too fancy for the everyday, this toffee would be a perfect fit. While it looks super intimidating, it just isn’t. If you can hold a candy thermometer with one hand and stir with the other, you can make this toffee and it will only take you ten minutes. I left the nuts out of this recipe and added sea salt because I have a tree nut allergy, but if you don’t, add them back in! I’m sure the crunch would be even more perfect! Put these on the dessert table Thanksgiving day for your non-pie people, and send leftovers in home cookie tins tied up with a ribbon for the sweetest parting gift.
Welcome! I'm a wife, third year music teacher, Jesus follower, and am chronically curious about just about everything. Join me as I kick off this adult life.
"I am the Vine, you are the Branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."