Monday, November 17, 2014

2014 gift guide

I always have fun putting these gift guides together. I’m heavily influenced by my own tastes and what I’d buy for Andy, so it’s entirely possible you won’t find a single helpful thing. But, maybe you will! At the very least, I hope these guides get the gears in your head moving and make gift-buying less stressful.

clockwise from left:
  • A classic red plaid scarf (regularly $29.99, but use the code CHEER thru 11/18 for 40% off)
  • A festive pitcher ($25) that would also make a cheery vase
  • This top-rated bronzer set ($22) includes four bronzers and a brush 
  • A jaunty fedora ($28, multiple colors), because the recipient wants to be a hat-wearer but is too nervous to buy one for herself
  • This goofy mug ($10) would give your selfie-loving friend a prop to pose with :)
  • This fitbit ($47.73) syncs to your devices and can be used with other apps, such as MyFitnessPal or SparkPeople
  • I featured these totes ($45) in my 2012 guide because I own one and I LOVE it! (The striped metallic tote is rather fabulous, too)
  • How happy is this desk accessory set? ($24, multiple colors)
  • I recently checked this bestselling novel ($16.20) out from the library and can’t wait to read it!
  • A geometric frame ($14.95) adds interest to a special photograph

clockwise from left:

  • A sleek backpack ($49.99, multiple colors) carries his laptop and gym clothes (Andy’s Kellogg’s backpack travels everywhere with us)
  • A growler ($38.68), so he can bring his favorite local beers home or take his home-brew to friends
  • Andy used a plastic bag for his toiletries before I bought him a travel bag ($12.70)
  • No kid at heart can resist a toilet mug ($10) (I bought one for my brother-in-law one year and Andy was bummed that I didn’t buy him one)
  • All he really wants to do is hang out in sweatpants (regularly $29.94, but use the code CHEER thru 11/18 for 35% off)
  • This bestselling biography ($9.60) will be a book he’ll never forget (it really is that good)
  • A bestselling piece of brain science ($9.78) to make him go “huh!” (if he’s read and enjoyed any of Gladwell’s books, he’ll like this one — it’s fascinating)
  • Hat clip and ball markers (various prices, the Bear’s set is $8.99)
  • Because he’s always getting holes in his socks ($17.49 for set of six) (I got this exact set from Costco last week for $9.99)
  • My guy runs on Dunkin’, does yours? Dunkin' Donuts gift card

check out previous gift guides, here

Thursday, November 13, 2014

giving thanks

I hung a banner from the mantle today. It was the second time I’ve hung this banner after losing a baby. The banner reads “Be thankful.”


I hung it, and then I sat on the stair landing for a while and stared at it. Be thankful.
My flesh wanted to tear that banner down and rip it into shreds while screaming I AM NOT THANKFUL at the top of my lungs.

But I have sat in bitterness for quite some time now, and I’m getting a little tired of it. I have allowed myself to feel anger, to scream into pillows and to say cynical things to people who I trust (who know that my heart is tethered to Christ, even though I spout words of doubt). I sit in sorrow, too. Sorrow as my arms feel emptier than ever. Sorrow as I unfollow friend after friend on social media because the statuses and pictures fill me with longing and remind me of what I do not have. Sorrow as I wrestle alongside Andy with the knowledge that our God, who we love and who we KNOW loves us, has allowed us to suffer in this way.

In the midst of this bitterness and sorrow, my soul cries out for relief. In my suffering, I find myself closer to God than ever before. I feel my bitterness slowly (sloowwwly) leaving. It’s being replaced by a voice that whispers, Just be. 

Rest in me.

A friend of mine and fellow hurting mama wrote the following in her most recent blog post:

Deserts can be harsh and lonely, but there in the quiet, character is being built, and an ear is trained to the soft whispers of God carried on a high wind. But in the desert, there are choices. Choices to resist, or choices to be molded by it. Choices to run, or choices to see it as an opportunity for growth and stay until God says “Move.”

Amen, girl.
(How beautiful was that?)

So here I am, just being. Here I am, fighting the urge to run. Here I am, staying until God says move.

And in this place of just being, I can think of quite a lot of things to be thankful for.

I adore this rendition of the following hymn:

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that foll’west all my way,
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.