Dear Baby Boy

29 wksSURPRISE!

Today you are 29 weeks and 1 day! Together we are third trimester official, which is kind of a shock even to me. People say time moves at a different pace concerning all things baby. Mostly, they are right.

You are due on July 4th, which means I mostly make corny jokes about Independence Day and your arrival. But seriously. Your daddy and I listed out all the pros and cons of having a birthday on the 4th of July, and as it turns out, everything is pro, and nothing is con. You always have your birthday off of work, as do your family and friends, the weather is awesome, and fireworks.

I know none of my other babies were concerned about their actual due dates, but buddy, I think you should at least consider it.

But before you arrive, I feel like I should talk to you about a few things. Namely, your family. Just so you know, it’s a little wild at our house. You might want to start preparing. I know you can hear us talk (and laugh, shout, sing, and yell) now, but I’m guessing it’s a little hard to tell which sister is blowing fart noises on my stomach as a means of communication with you, so let me make a few introductions.

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You’ve got an oldest sister, Ellis, who’s going to be five in July. She’s going to take her sister/protector role fairly seriously, and she’s going to love you with all of her wide open, nothing-hidden emotions. She’s also going to want to hold you. A lot. I promise to provide pillows.

You’ve also got identical twin sisters, Gabby and Lucy, who are going to be three in July. This might be confusing for a while until you learn how to look for Gabby’s freckle, but don’t worry. It doesn’t take long to see the wonderfully unique parts of their personalities. Gabby, for instance, has a killer dinosaur growl. She’ll be an amazing playmate. And Lucy can sing you ALL the lullabies and nursery rhymes you’ll ever want to hear. If her stuffed animals and dolls are any indication, she’s going to be your personal, nurturing mother bear.

Side note:  Gabby and Lucy are going through this thing right now called the terrible two and threenager years, and enduring it is a little like chewing gravel some days. The good news is we’re going to get through this. The bad news is that we might have mild, family-style PTSD. I promise to take lots of pictures to make up for the fact that I probably won’t be able to remember when you got your first haircut.

jr2If that lineup of affection wasn’t enough, you also have a mama and a daddy who are CRAZY excited to meet you, and to learn the ropes of having a little boy. Raising your three sisters is an amazing thing, but to be given the chance to love and parent a little boy as well is a blessing we are pretty grateful for. Plus, someone has already given us pee-pee tee-pees, so at least we’re prepared on that front.

You also have a village of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends who are eagerly waiting for you to come. These people are basically our tribe, and I know you’ll love them too.

Just one more thing. I haven’t written much for quite a few months, which is kind of strange for a person who processes life through writing. But don’t worry. After you figure out the whole sleeping outside the womb thing, and I remember how to function without an afternoon nap and a 9:30 pm bedtime, we’ll spend more time telling stories together at the computer. I promise.

Sweet baby boy. You are going to be the best bookend to our family. And though it might not look like we are ready, you do have some clothes in a tote, plenty of (mostly pink) baby rockers, swings, play mats, jumperoos, and other crazy gadgets waiting in the basement, and an unfinished attic bedroom that may or may not be done by the time you arrive. Someday we’ll pull it all together.

In the meantime, you are in the process of being knit together, wonderfully made. Your Creator God has plans yet unseen for your life, and your daddy and I are honored to be a part of them, whatever they may be. We’ve chosen you a name, which means strong in faith. We’re praying for grace and wisdom to help you grow into it.

Lastly, I want you to know that being your mama is a gift in the truest sense of the word. Carrying your healthy, judo kicking legs is a blessing. Being able to actively (oh so actively) parent your sisters, go on dates with your daddy, and grow veggies that will hopefully become your baby food here on our little old busted up hobby farm are the earmarks of a life I do not take for granted.

I hope you like it here as much as we do.

Love,

Mama

When Easter Doesn’t Feel All That Holy

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Two weeks before Easter, Grandma generously surprises us with a bag of dresses, all butterflies and flutter flowers in aqua and blue. The girls try them on the next morning and refuse to take them off, dancing like fairies to Stevie Wonder while the rain mixes with snow outside our farmhouse windows.

Later I sit down with my bible during the twins’ afternoon nap and think, Easter. I should read about Easter. I end up somewhere in Matthew 5 instead, reading through the beatitudes and trying not to yawn.

A week before Easter, I go through the drawers and bins, hunting for tights and sweaters and shoes. (Yes, that’s Midwestern snow in the background, thank you very much.) Nothing works. The sweaters are stained. The eldest has a bin full of neon tennies and worn out boots. The tights all say 6-9 months.

Somehow, our preparation for Easter keeps running that track. Clothes. Shoes. A nap instead of contemplation. Suitcases. Car repairs. All things irrelevant to the story of a man on a cross, a body gone missing, an angel in a garden.  

We pack the van and drive six hours across Minnesota and down into South Dakota to the farm where I grew up. We are immediately welcomed by family, activity, food. The next morning, the girls follow Grandpa across the yard, bounding like eager puppies. They relive my childhood of feeding livestock, petting cats, begging for tractor rides.

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I stand by the kitchen window, coffee in hand, witnessing this ordinary, extraordinary grace.

But later, the girls are tired and owlish, and we abandon the idea of going to an evening Good Friday service. My brothers and their families come over instead, and we eat dinner out of a giant skillet, talk, laugh, wrestle children into pajamas.

There’s celebration in this. I know there is. We extend grace to one another when the table never gets set and we eat chips out of the bag. Fellowship is washing the dishes together, snapping towels, telling stories.

It’s not the usual, contemplative celebration of the body and the bread, and maybe that’s okay.

The hard part is this: the holiness of Easter is not where I used to find it, sitting quiet in the pew of a small country church, and I don’t know how to feel it here, lying on the living room floor with a shrieking toddler jumping on my legs and the TV droning in the background.

***

I’ve always craved the holy bits and pieces of things. You know, the proverbial moments when the music swells, the lights dim, and sacred swirls around, unmistakable. The candles at dinner. That split second when everyone is laughing all at the same time and the sun is setting and the world glows in hazy, golden twilight. Moments when everything comes together, holy, unmistakably divine.

You too? Good. Welcome to the fold.

Here’s the problem. I’m also a parent. And as a parent, I find that holiness is not in the vocabulary of my very young children. Quiet times are interrupted by fights over a toy. Church gets skipped when the girls don’t sleep well, or refuse to stay with anyone but mama. Early mornings are cut short; books I’m reading go lost under the couch.

Too often, the moment I’m craving slips by, an unacknowledged guest at the wedding.

I can’t help but think that something’s wrong here.  Maybe you’ve felt it too. Maybe you’ve nursed your way through countless different services instead of listening to the message. Maybe you were relegated to the kids’ table after your toddler spilled her third glass of milk. Maybe you skipped church for months at a time because of traveling soccer. Or maybe church was never part of your vocabulary to begin with, but you still feel this draw, this quiet calling out.

The reality I’m learning, and relearning, is this: we can’t always rely on a church, or a moment, to hand us our portion of desired holiness on a silver platter.

What if having “unchurchy” moments forces us to create our own definition, a definition that says it is not the when, the where, or the artifice of stained glass that allows us to contemplate and celebrate the mystery and miracle of our faith?

What if our new definition gives us the freedom to do it when we can? Where we can? With whomever we can?

What if, instead of manufactured moments, we sought connection with God himself?

***

This is how I ended up celebrating Jesus’ resurrection by myself the Monday after Easter, while the laundry thumped around in the dryer. I finally had a second to breathe. My eldest was in preschool, and the twins were napping. So I dug around in the fridge and pulled out some naan (the closest thing I could find to unleavened bread besides teddy grahams) and filled a little cordial glass with juice.

I leaned on the counter, and I read the story of the Last Supper. This, my body, broken. This, my blood, spilled out. I took makeshift communion. I prayed. I looked out the window at the brown of spring struggling to unfold in the northern climes of Minnesota and breathed a simple, heart-felt thank you that had nothing to do with eggs and candy and hair bows and coordinating shoes.

It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t choreographed or particularly inspired.

But it was space in the ordinary to recognize the sacred. It was searching out God himself, laying my simple gratitude at his nail-scarred feet.

Midday, barefoot, holy.

 

Friends, do you have ideas for drawing yourself, and/or your kids into unconventional celebrations of holy moments? Leave me a note in the comments. I’d love to hear how you balance the two!

Stories of Dark and Light: Hooking up with Night Driving Synchroblog

night drivingIt was dark the spring of my sophomore year of college, even though daylight savings time had bartered sleep for sun and the streetlights of Christian community artificially lit the campus where I lived all night long.

That year, dark did a strange thing to me.

Time stopped.

I mean this in the truest sense. In my world, time stopped passing normally. My anxiety was one of reverse chronophobia – instead of hours passing too quickly, they became painfully slow. Days seemed to widen and spread like the mold on the last few pieces of cheap bread I had in the kitchen cupboard. Hours that were not spoken for by class became a gaping chasm where I laid in my bed, pretending to read with my face to the wall.

The clock became an obsession. Twenty minutes in the shower. Ten minutes to get ready. Five minutes to eat breakfast. Seven minutes to walk to class. Class. Class. Then Break. A dreaded break. Where would I go? What would I do?  I’d plot where I’d walk, how long it would take me, and how to avoid eye-contact. Each move had to be calculated, or the wheels of my strange anxiety would hit pavement and I’d speed onto a highway of full-blown panic.

No one knew.

It was too hard to explain, and I didn’t really get it either. I didn’t know about triggers, and how easy it was to fall under the dark spell of depression. Meanwhile, the rest of my world was busy moving forward – something my anxiety with the clock prevented me from doing.  Other classmates excelled. Friends made new friends. A boy from another school that I’d had a deep friendship with told me he saw us always, and only, being friends.

I spent hours in my bed, clutching my bible like some sort of holy talisman. Sometimes I read it. Sometimes I just held the green canvas cover to my chest and mumbled intelligible prayers about wanting to wake up three hours later,  feeling normal.

And there, on the bottom bunk, staring at the brown metal springs of my roommate’s bed above, God did something strange. He held me. Quietly. Solidly. He pointed me deep into the Psalms, where I found David, a writer who seemed to understand how I felt in the pit and tangle of my fear.

I read. I read and I slept. My dip into depression was not deep, lasting about three months, though they were literally the longest months of my life.

Alone in my room, I read until I knew enough about God to believe what He told the writer of an Old Testament book called Ecclesiastes – that there was a time for everything and that somehow, time was not the enemy I made him out to be.

That spring, I also took a poetry class. I didn’t know anything about contemporary poetry, but I fell headlong into a world of metaphor and simile that threw me another means of rescue. My professor Judy encouraged me to submit my work to the campus literary journal, and my first published poem buoyed me to keep pushing into my darkness, prying into what it meant, and why it was happening.

I tell you this because I believe everyone has a story about dark and light. These are stories that deserve honor and space in our worlds for what they can reveal, and the ropes they can throw us.

Addie Zierman’s Night Driving is one of those stories. It catches you whole, packing you along with her carefully labeled totes and snacks and two small boys, and drives you down the interstate in a frenzy of giddy, winter escape. It makes you laugh with along with her wit and wisdom about gas station coffee and hotel pools, and think deeply about faith and the places you run from.

Night Driving is a perfect spring read, a realization that even a seasonal escape cannot bypass the reality that faith, like all living things, must endure the necessary dark and barren stretches in order to once again show green signs of life.

ANDDDDDDD… it releases today, which means you can buy it NOW at places like Barnes and Noble or IndieBound or Amazon.

Go ahead. Get one. You can thank me later.

 

 

 

 

Amateur Farm Hour: How Not to Open a Coconut

A couple of weeks ago, I inadvertently sliced open the skin below my thumb knuckle with a butcher knife. For a brief moment there was a lightning sear of heat and redness, and then I came to my senses, pinched the wound, and closed my eyes.

Cardinal rule #34 of motherhood: Don’t. Pass. Out.

I leaned over the counter, still pinching my thumb. It had begun to throb in a low, dull pattern. I didn’t dare let go of the skin, but somehow, I needed to get…  to reach… to open…

The kitchen began to spin, a kaleidoscope of morning light and the silver gleam of the sink.

I sank, cross-legged, on the cool hardness of the black and white floor.

Don’t pass out. Don’t pass out. You’re the adult here. Lord help us, you’re the adult. 

***

adulting stickers

Thanks to PeanutParade over at Etsy, you can now buy stickers to celebrate you and your friends’ life accomplishments. 

I don’t know why I still get all twitchy about the fact that I’m an adult. I just celebrated another birthday, firmly establishing my place in the mid-thirties set. But somehow, I still want affirmation for doing the grownup things. Moving appliances when I wipe off the counter. Dusting. Sticking to only the items on my grocery list.

For the record, the mid-thirties rock. I mean it. Being a full-blown adult gives me the freedom of accepting, being, parenting, and living as I choose. I love watching my husband grow into new hobbies and skills, and my daughters outgrow their shoes. I love wearing my favorite, worn in clothes and not caring if they’re stylish anymore.

I love being firmly gripped by Grace, every day a brilliant rescue, another reason for gratitude to my Maker.

Still, there’s a part of me that has a hard time believing I’ve been left in charge. It’s like when you babysit for the first time. The grownups leave, the kids stare at you, and the unfamiliar oven and range top you’re supposed to make macaroni and cheese on looks like a nuclear weapon.

Now my own small tribe of pink and ponytails depends on me for almost everything, and some days, that’s the hardest part.

Being needed. 

Strangely enough, I don’t ever feel ready for that role… the one role I feel like I should, somehow, innately just get.  And yet somehow, motherhood is the role I love. The role I play, day after day, sometimes turning in Oscar-worthy performances, sometimes wanting to hide all day in my dressing room.

The scary part is, I’m not sure I’ll ever feel ready.

Adulting is like that. Just when you finally get accustomed to scrubbing the bathroom sink once a week like a BOSS, you have kids and realize the toothpaste crusted to the basin is something that needs daily attention.

Whine. Sigh. Get the towel. Realize it takes twelve seconds. File it away as a mental note the next time you want to complain. Move on.

Nothing really prepares you for adult life. Nothing except the moments when you simply suck it up and do the work. And nothing you can see, at least, in the dizzying minute when you have to gather, rally, wipe away the blood, and haul yourself back to standing.

***

It took me a second to stop the spins, sitting there on the kitchen floor, clutching a bloody hand and desperately needing a few band-aids.

Thankfully, help appeared in the form of my four and half year old, who was more than eager to climb on a chair and dig in the coveted medicine cabinet. She emerged a minute later with the first aid box, along with some professional airs about being a nurse.

“OK. Hold still. This might hurt, but just… for a second. There. All better.” She gave my double band-aided thumb a well-meaning pat, which made me suck air like an industrial shop vac and confirmed that I probably needed stitches.

coconutStitches which I got, thankfully, in the form of glue (God bless those in modern medicine who understand us needle phobes) a few hours later, along with a strong admonition from my husband about trying to cut into a coconut with a butcher’s knife, at-home science project or not.

The YouTube tutorial was wrong. You can’t open a coconut by pounding the exterior with the butt end of a butcher knife. Or the sharp end, either.

Adulting is hard. End of story.

But the next time my daughter plies me with requests for exotic fruit with a hairy but cement-like exterior, I’ll know enough to say no.

That’s something, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The words that changed my life this month

IMG_3776January is my least favorite month. Followed by February. And March.

As a mother of three girls under age four, I’m doing my best to beat back the winter doldrums. We tiredly pull on our boots, zip up our jackets, and pop our hoods over our heads.  We’re trying to function mostly indoors: community play places, the gym, the library, the grocery store.

In winter, everything takes more effort and energy. No lie – even breathing in the cold takes more work, since our bodies have to warm and humidify the air.

I could go on and on. The sky is the same color as the rooftops, which are the same color as the ground, and it’s easy for all of the vibrancy of life to feel drained down to a muted, dirty white.

This starts a spin cycle of questions for me… Just why do I live in Minnesota again? Why did I say yes to X? Why does my baby insist on dunking her stuffed animals in the toilet? Why am I not on vacation? Why does everything have to be so HARD?

My whiny perspective is simple evidence of one thing. It’s easy, far too easy, to lose track of the good plan for my life…and then start looking around with cheating eyes at everyone else’s lives.

But friends, I have a quick encouragement for you today. I didn’t come up with it, but the girl who did is pretty amazing. I recently heard her speak at an online Thrivemoms retreat, and what she said changed my whole perspective over the past few weeks.

“God’s good plan for you doesn’t look like his good plan for someone else. Stop comparing the two.”

Stop for a second. Think it through. God’s good plan for you is not His good plan for me. My life is unique to me, and your life is unique to you. And each of us is promised enough grace and compassion to get through each day in our own situations, difficult or otherwise.

PS. I also get the view from the other side. Maybe you’re in a place that feels as far from God as you can get, and if this is His plan for you, forget it. You’re out. Or maybe you felt like you knew God once, but you’re not so sure about Him and his plans anymore. (If this is you, do me a favor? Head over to my friend Addie’s recent post at Off the Page “When you want to believe…and can’t”. It’s poignant, and true, and might help you search out some things.)

I’m no guru. I don’t have an answer to why our lives are lovely sometimes, and crappy in others. But I know that when I fall face-first into my rock bottom, this truth from Jeremiah 29 is always the bedrock gravel I’m picking out of my teeth.

11 For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 You will find me when you seek me, if you look for me in earnest.

So guess what. It doesn’t matter how many times hardship and comparison step into our days if we’re equipped to sweep them aside. And Truth makes a pretty darn good broom.

Friend, your life has a good plan. It is a plan that is completely your own and no one else’s. Take a second to look around it. Look at the roof over your head, the food you had for breakfast, the people who have your back. Look back through your recent social media feeds and be reminded of all the things you wanted to share with the world.

I don’t know what your plan is. Heck. I don’t know my plan is most days. But I can trust that the foundation is sure, and that it’s working toward a future and a hope.

May that be good enough for all of us today.

Three reasons I respectfully decline your network marketing invitations

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Photo credit: Sheknows.com

I don’t get worked up about very many things. Call it my stoic Swedish side, the one I passed on to my twin daughters who poker face their way through all shopping trips.

However, I’ve read quite a few articles and posts about network marketing lately, and as an average age-bracket, targeted consumer, I feel prompted to speak up.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been approached numerous times. Maybe it’s because my Jamberries ripped, my Doterra spilled in the car, and my hamburger didn’t fit in my Shakeology food portion jailers. Or maybe, it’s because I see a few problems with the how network marketing views me as a potential customer.

  1. Network marketing breeds negative comparison

I can’t scroll through my Facebook or Instagram feeds without seeing someone’s tan and muscled abdomen, someone’s stylized protein shake, someone’s sparkling sink or someone else’s glowing skin.

We live in an age where advertising is almost impossible to escape. But now that it has infiltrated social media through network marketing, we are forced not just to compare ourselves to the nameless face on the billboard, but to Sally, the girl we know and went to college with.

Combine that with the fact that the average adult spends 4.7 hours a day looking at social media on their phone, and suddenly, the time we potentially spend battling comparison skyrockets into almost a third of our day.

Even though comparison is the basis for selling most things, network marketing, with its targeted audience of friends, co-workers, family members, and acquaintances, creates a major source of unnecessary, unhealthy comparison in our lives.

I don’t particularly want to be targeted that way. Do you?

2. Network marketing doesn’t want your one-time sale. They want a line item in your budget.

This is not a new tactic for anyone in sales. Every business wants to bring customers back for more of what they’re selling. The difference with network marketing products is that they’re often priced in such a way that the average consumer can’t, or isn’t comfortable, making room for them in their budget.

I hear this over and over again: “I tried this product and I loved it! Then I realized I got a discount on the product if I sold it, so now you should buy it too!

Subtext 1: “I tried a great product. I don’t want to stop using it. But I can’t afford it unless I get a discount.”

Subtext 2: “I tried a great product. I don’t want to stop using it. But if I sell it to other people, they can pay my way.

Unfortunately, in a majority of instances, this doesn’t work either. In a study published by the FTC, a staggering 99% of those involved in multi-level or network marketing lost money instead of making it.

Every product aims to build repeat customers. That’s the foundation of good business. But when the product is priced in such a way that the consumer can’t afford it without selling, distributing, or working for the business that makes it, the model is flawed.

3. Network marketing inflates discontent

In the final season of Parenthood, Adam and Crosby counsel their niece Amber about finances and job choices. Adam reminds her, “Amber, remember. Money can’t buy happiness.” Crosby replies, “Don’t believe him. Money can buy peace of mind, which is basically the same thing.”

When we see network marketing professionals posting about their news cars, their vacation plans, and the things they can do because of their disposable income, we naturally question our own choices, and allow discontent to shade how we see our lives.

Maybe we do need more money. I haven’t been on an airplane in ages. I always wanted to take my kids to Mexico. And I’ve been wearing the same coat for at least three years. And the car needs new tires. I wouldn’t worry about that if I had extra money. 

But when a multi-level marketing scheme promises financial freedom, and waves around flyers for trips to Cabo and keys to a new Mercedes, beware. What they’re really doing is asking you to feel discontent enough with your own life that you’ll buy into their version.

In my personal experience with times of financial want and plenty, when I wanted more money, what I really wanted were more things and experiences and esteem, none of which had the lasting ability to give me happiness.

They did the opposite, in fact. Once I took a big trip, I just wanted to travel more. When I bought an expensive dress, I felt like I needed three others like it. Having extra money simply created a vacuum of false need, which inflated my sense of discontent.

If you are a network marketing professional, please understand one thing. I’m not attacking you or your choices. If you’ve been able to meet financial goals, stay home with your kids, quit your day job, or travel the globe because of your network marketing job, I offer you my sincere congratulations.

What I wish is that the industry as a whole would look for a more positive model for selling their products. A model that didn’t thrive on making me, as a potential consumer, feel compelled to purchase something out of guilt, shame, or discontent.

I don’t need to be sold on the fact that my life isn’t perfect. What I believe is that perfection (or network marketing’s perception of it) isn’t necessary for me to have a life worth living. 

Someone bottle that truth up and market it. I dare you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beating back the dark side of Christmas

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It’s the Friday before the second weekend in December. My approaching day is full of party prep activities, Christmas card pickups, grocery shopping runs with three children. I feel tired before I even peel my face off of the pillow.

Nevertheless, I get up early to sit, breathe, read, pray. For the moment, our house and its inhabitants are quiet, windows still turning a shoulder to darkness.

Each day this dark encroaches further, stealing into our hours of light.

It will continue to do this until the winter solstice, December 21st. On that day, Earth’s northern pole will see twenty-four hours of solid darkness.

It’s strange. We call Christmas the season of light, though in reality, it’s the exact opposite.

Christmas descends into the darkest hours of our year.

Here on the farm, we’ve found the miniature nails and hung the aging, craft-store garland that somehow survives year to year. The tree is brilliant in a new corner of the living room, a wonder after having fallen on the piano and the floor three times so far. Almost every room hosts a new light, sparkle, shine.

But outside, darkness weaves into the fabric of winter blue sky sooner than we’re ready for.

It seems as though there is less time.

Which isn’t true, exactly, but no one quite believes it. The first wave of holiday busyness is in full swing, and we’ve started to feel the pinch. The presents that took too long to find and cost a little too much. The magical cookie making that turned into a three hour flour-and-sugar marathon. The half-empty boxes of decorations waiting to be sifted through, hung, arranged.

And everyone tells us to slow down, pause, be present….and then buy this. Wear that. Hang this. Smell that.

Darkness laughs.

It knows, deep down, we’re afraid. Afraid of missing the season, never quite engaging, spending our time going through the motions, producing cheap shine and scraps of tinsel.

Every December, we set off on a great journey to the 25th. It looks nothing like the journey of the original Christmas story, the one where Joseph and his very pregnant betrothed, Mary, walked/rode on a donkey for 80 miles to follow a government mandate and register for a census.

We see concerts. They saw the backside of the donkey in front of them. We splurge on special foods. They ate travel food – stale bread, hard cheese, watered down wine (hardly the recommended diet for a pregnant mother.) We snuggle down deep in our beds. They slept on the cold, rocky ground.

It was, in fact, only day after day of hardship that finally led them to a dusty, crap-smelling stable in Bethlehem.

It’d be easy to miss that, too.

A baby born in the darkness of a cow barn, supposedly a king.

A baby foretold to make a way for mankind.

A way to find God. To stop going through the motions and know Him.

To hear Him. See Him.

To be illuminated by the Light of the world.

Which has nothing to do with what kind of appetizers I set out for a party… and everything to do with the way I love and bless my guests when they walk into my kitchen.

Nothing to do with presents… and everything to do with the appreciation they convey.

Nothing to do with picture perfect cards… and everything to do with the way they encourage and brighten others.

To purpose to see every small celebration of the season as a pinprick of light, a joyful response.