1. Call A Friend. Just because.
2, Write your grandma, your great aunt, your favorite teacher. On paper. Mail it with an actual stamp.
3. Watch a good movie. Try The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
4. Play with Play Doh.
6. Read the book of James in the Bible.
7. Memorize Galatians with Beth Moore
8. Follow Jon Acuff on Twitter. He's Funny.
9. So is Chris Pratt.
10. Read a book: Fahrenheit 451
11. Hug someone.
12. Take a bath. With bubbles.
13. Make Cookies. Take them to a retirement center, hospice house, or the emergency room.
14. Tell your pastor thank you.
15. If you don't have a pastor - find one.
16. Take a class. Khan Academy
17. Go for a run. Don't stop just cause it hurts.
18. Buy some sparkly fingernail polish. Paint the nails of the cutest 3 year old you know.
19. Figure out how much you spend on your favorite indulgence. Skip it for a month and donate the money.
20. Text your friend who you miss. Tell her why you miss her.
21. Buy milk and bread and broccoli. Drop it off for a new mom.
22. Buy an extra pair of gloves. Give them to someone standing with a cardboard sign.
24 Do a puzzle. If it drives you nuts give yourself permission to quit and put it back in the box.
25. Read an old comic book. Peanuts. Or Calvin and Hobbs
26. Buy those really nice wool socks.
27. Invite friends over for dinner.
28. Try a new food. Bonughts in Nashville.
29. Learn how to fold one really cool Origami animal.
30. Spend a week with absolutely no electronics.
31. Pet a dog.
32. Go try on the nicest pair of shoes you can find. Don't buy them.
33. Buy a nice pair of shoes.
34. Donate a nice pair of shoes.
35. Find a special olympics competition and cheer. Loudly.
36. Tip a waitress who seems harassed. Tip really big.
37. Write a thank you to your doctor. Or your child's doctor.
38. Send flowers to someone you know is feeling lonely.
39. Get rid of that thing. You know the thing that makes you feel bad when you see it? Get rid of it.
40. Take a teenager out to coffee. Listen.
41. Take a grandma out to lunch. Listen.
42. Ask the oldest person you know their best advice for life. Listen.
43. Put together a lego kit.
44. Donate a lego kit.
45. Cuddle with a cat.
46. Read the entire Bible.
47. Get a pedicure.
48. Forgive someone. For reals.
49. Clean out the drawers under your sink.
50. Go for a walk. Take photos.
51. Get up early and watch the sunrise just for the joy of watching the sunrise.
52. Rent a kayak and spend an hour out on a lake by yourself.
53. Have a game night. Invite someone you don't know very well.
54. Try something you've never done before.
55. Ask a preschooler to tell you her favorite joke. Laugh.
56. Take good photos with someone you love.
57. Sit quietly and listen to water.
58. Turn the music up really loud to your favorite song from high school and dance like a crazy person.
59. Plant some daffodil bulbs in an empty lot.
60. Plant a tree.
61. Color with crayons.
62. Have a tea party.
63. Go to the dentist.
65. Quit a bad habit. You really can.
66. Go to a high school band concert.
67. Go to a high school track meet.
68. Go to a high school debate tournament. Cheer.
69. Sell something.
70. Write a post for Wall of Faith.
71. Write a letter to someone who makes you really angry all the time. Burn it.
72. Do a prayer fast. Really pray.
73. Learn a magic trick.
74. Think about who you know with the worst schedule. Offer to babysit their kids so they can get a break.
75. Take someone dinner who has been sick. The flu this year stinks.
76. Clean out your closet.
77. Go swimming.
78. Have a picnic.
79. Sew something.
80. Say sorry.
81. Save up and go to Disneyland. Pay cash.
82. Cut up a credit card.
83. Give a present to your cousin. Just because.
84. Buy art.
85. Make art.
86. Learn all the words to a favorite song.
87. Write a haiku. I love them. Kinda silly but fun.
88. Go to a kid's birthday party. Eat the cupcakes.
89. Sponsor a refugee.
90. Watch for rainbows.
92. Say something hopeful on Facebook.
93. Encourage someone to continue.
94. Tell someone you appreciate their hard work.
95. Don't complain.
96. Don't fight with people online. For the love.
98. Go to the parent night at your local school.
99. Volunteer for a local river clean up.
100. Pick one of the list. Do it today.
Most self improvement books preach a similar them "More More More". How to do more, earn more, pack more in. This book was a refreshing change. It's a practical book, full of tips to help you figure out what's most important in your life and how to thin out the excess. It made a difference in my life. Overwhelmed? Try this book and get more done. Just kidding. Less is more.
What makes you feel most overwhelmed? What helps?
The resident chef put us to work and we spent all yesterday baking. We started with Candy Cane Cookies. These ones are the baking tradition from my childhood. We sampled and then plated up the rest and drove them down to the local hospice house. Its important to us for our kids to remember other years and the care we felt when people loved us.
We walked into the family room at the hospice house. A man was sitting huddled up to the far wall. I quietly asked if he’d like a Christmas cookie. He said no. The girls unwrapped the plate while he watched. He asked if they were homemade. I smiled and said yes and walked the plate over. He took a cookie and said “ok. I’ll have a candy cane cookie”. He bit in. As we walked out, he shouted “these are delicious”. Christmas cookies don’t solve the world's problems. But they can serve as a reminder that joy exists.
We also made Gingerbread cake. It’s made with dark molasses, lemon zest and crystalized ginger. Marscapone frosting. This cake is a serious declaration of war on mediocrity.
We made Cinnamon rolls. I love how our arms intertwine as we cut the rolls. It takes some coordination. 24 years making rolls together and we've got the rhythm down.
Cherry pie. Hand rolled pie crust. The instructions stated if you add too much water it will not look pretty. The key was to stop adding water when its a shaggy mass. This piece of advice is good for other areas of life as well.
I cleaned my sewing room and set up the blow up bed. Cleaning the sewing room enough to fit in a bed is a Christmas miracle all by itself. The first year I put my parents on this blow up bed they froze. I've added extra layers over the years. I rolled out quilts. Some are treasures from family. My great grandmother made one as a wedding present for my parents. Some of the quilts are estate sale scores. I buy every quilt I find at estate sales. I can't hack the hours of work and love poured in from some random persons' relative. So the quilts stack up and join my family heirlooms.
I watched my kids open their advent calendar. Only one more door remains. I don't want to miss out on a single second. Squeeze out every ginger infused and cinnamon scented flavor. I want to slow the time.
There's also an overwhelming awareness of blessings and grace. We went to dinner last week with my family. I sat next to my husband and across from my father. My dad paused. He looked down the table at his family and grinned at his wife. Looked at me and said "I just can't wait until Christmas".
Christmas makes me cry. Its the combination of the desire to slow down time and the I can't wait excitement. The tension between the two overwhelms me sometimes. You remember the wistful wishing from childhood? Its grown up into a homesickness for heaven. Imagine the Christmas's there. All the loved ones at the table. No empty chairs. And the guest of honor - the baby himself.
I have spent the last week battling the flu. A couple of days ago I headed to bed early and took my girls with me. My little one said her tummy hurt. A few hours later my husband came and picked up our five year old to carry her to bed. I heard him holler from the stairwell. I made it to his side just in time to watch her puke all over his face. She had already drenched his arms and legs. I was so impressed as he calmly patted her and told her it was ok. The gentleness of a father was a perfect picture of Christmas.
That first Christmas included some pain. A Loss of reputation for the newlyweds. Exhausting trip, no room at the inn, childbirth. And Jesus? He set aside all the glory of his title and joined us. O holy night. Mary pondered these things in her heart. I think this is where my tears come from. It's when the bows and baking settle and I ponder.Jesus left perfect to join our mess. Christmas isn’t perfect. It is holy.
I'll be honest. This was a hard book. But hard can be good. Sometimes hard can be best. In this case, the author argues marriage is supposed to make us more like Jesus and not to fulfill our dreams. So here's the question. If marriage was to make you holy and not necessarily happy would you respond differently? Thought provoking.
What do you think?
When I found out I was pregnant with each of my babies the first thing I purchased was a beautiful leather journal. I'm not a fancy scrap booker but I do love to gather memories, words and thoughts. As each pregnancy progressed I tracked doctor appointments, gifts given, blessings bestowed.
When my babies arrived I was a stickler about making each visitor write a message to the newest family member. Occasionally I drag out the book and read their stories to my girls. We talk about their beginnings. My goal was to write words of honor and legacy onto their souls. My five-year-old is enthralled. She loves her book.
Last night we were sitting around chatting before bed while the eldest did homework and the youngest was drawing. She paused and said "Oh - I want to write this in my book like I did earlier.".
Wait a minute.
I gave her a look. "Are you writing in the baby book?" My brow did it's furrowing thing. Was she really scribbling in her baby journal? Wrecking my labor of love?
"Go get the book". I said. "I want to see it."
Her eyes welled up in tears and her voice squeaked out. "I didn't want there to be blank pages".
She handed me the book and sure enough, she'd spent much of the day drawing in her baby journal.
I took a deep breathe as God spoke into my heart. He whispered. It's her book you know?
Here is a drawing she did of Mr. Grinch and his lesser known wife Mrs. Grinch. That was me. Mrs. Grinch. Sigh.
I gave her a hug. I asked about her pictures. We went through the drawings and labeled her work. She talked about her people. Big sister cuddling her as a baby got me.
The journal is a good thing. The legacy and blessings are a gift. They are not a script for her future. I was crabby because I was holding on to ownership of something that wasn't really mine. Truth is my daughter isn't mine either. She's entrusted to our care for a time by her creator. He has much better plans for her life and I hope the words she really listens to are His. At some point I have to let go of the plans I have for my children and let them write their own story.
Last night my youngest was my teacher. Happens all the time. I agree with the little one. I don't want her book to have blank pages either. I can't want to see what she writes.
Brilliant. Obviously, it won a Pulitzer. But its not high brow in the way you tilt your head and wonder why it won an award. This book is lovely. It's sit and ponder, soak into your soul, write the words on your heart kind of lovely.
"Love is holy because it is like grace 0 the worthiness of its object is never really what matters".
Have you read it? What's your favorite quotation?
We decorated for Christmas last week. Nativities set out, presents wrapped and stockings hung. When we were done the four year old immediately ran up to his room to take a nap. I was thrilled thinking he was tired and I was going to get a little break. He stayed in bed and was very quiet for an unusually long time that afternoon.
What I didn't realize was he was convinced his stocking would be filled when he woke up.
He was staying in bed so Santa would come.
It was a sad moment when we pulled out the calendar and he realized he had a long, long time to wait for the big day. We bought him a chocolate advent calendar to count down the days. Chocolate helped. Waiting 30 days for Christmas feels like an eternity when you're four.
Waiting is hard.
Lauren Daigle's Christmas song titled, "Light of the World" beautifully announces the good news-
For all who wait
For all who hunger
For all who've prayed
For all who wonder
Behold your King
Emmanuel means "God with us". He came at Christmas. Santa comes once a year and brings tangible things that waste away. Toys break, sweaters pull, socks get holes, new cars lose their shine. Weeks pass and we lose interest in the things Santa brought. We have a hard time recalling what we got last year and the year before that. Christ came and brought love, joy, peace and forgiveness. He came and gave his life. He rose and gave the gift of hope. He ascended to heaven and gave the gift of his daily presence-the Holy Spirit. His gifts do not disappoint and they are eternal.
This year when you count down the days to Christmas know He is with you every day of the year. He is waiting for you to come to him.
O come, all ye faithful
Joyful and triumphant
O come ye, oh come ye to Bethlehem
Come and behold him
Born the king of angels
Oh come let us adore him
Oh come let us adore him
Oh come let us adore him
Christ the Lord
And as you worship and live and breathe continue To wait. For He is coming again.
That's the Book: Galatians
The annual preschool bell choir was yesterday. It's one of my favorite days of the year. I love 3 and 4 year olds. I get them. They seem to get me. We do well together. They are funny, smart, mostly kind and they could really care less about all the pretense which can show up later in life.
We have been practicing for today's bell choir for the past several months. Every Sunday morning we go over the rules. Don't touch the bottom of the bell. Two feet on the ground. Big voices. Smile. Be nice. The rules are there to protect us all. It hurts when a wild bell hits a neighboring child's head. And the bells break if you touch the bottom bit.
Galatians is a letter the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Galatia. Prior to this letter, Paul had preached and served in Galatia. Many Gentiles (non-Jewish people) had accepted his teaching about the grace of Jesus to cover their sins and bring them into right relationship with God. The church was born and was growing. Later, Paul heard this church was twisting the new faith of the local people by adding all kids of rules to the faith. Difficult, detailed, depressing rules. The church was being dragged away from the simple idea of following Jesus to a complicated faith with too many structures and requirements. The book of Galatians is Paul's simple "Stop That".
I grew up in the church where I still attend. This is amazingly joyful most of the time because I know their stories and I see Jesus in them. They know my stories and can call me out when I need it. Occasionally this is hard. Sometimes I hold off writing or doing something I know God is calling me to because I happen to know it will offend someone I love. I really like everyone I love to be happy. But increasingly I'm learning the people pleasing part of me has to die.
For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10
Frankly, sometimes I let them down because I'm following ME. This requires an apology. But if my people are disappointed because I follow Jesus I'm learning to be okay with that. Took me a long time to get there. I like to follow the rules. I've learned sometimes the rules or traditions are wrong or outdated or not as important as the people standing in front of me. I like grace and freedom.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live,, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly. Galatians 2:20-21
The kids this morning stood up on stage and declared to the believers watching the glory of Christmas. "For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a savior who is Christ the Lord." The whole reason I teach preschool is not so we have a cute and heartwarming program. The reason I teach the 3 and 4 year olds is because I don't want a single one of them to remember a time when they did not know about Jesus. How much he loves them. How they can be a part of his family. How he is the greatest gift ever given. It's why I bother to write as well. I think Paul felt the same.
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, than an heir through God. Galatians 4:4-7
Paul knew freedom isn't the same thing as anarchy. Freedom has responsibilities. It has relationships. But it isn't bound up in a list of rules. I'm free to follow Jesus. So are you.
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:13
Before we dug into bell season, we ran through nine lessons with the preschoolers on the fruit of the spirit. This is the most well known section of Galatians. Paul is begging the church to return to a vibrant growing relationship with Jesus and let go of the piles of rules. He's convinced if they follow Jesus with their whole heart the rest of it will work out. We told the kids if you have Jesus in your heart things will start to grow. Good things. Powerful things. You won't have to worry or stress or fight. The lists will be covered because grace grows the good stuff.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5: 22-24
Today was a crazy schedule day. Bell choir, meeting after church, birthday party, piano recital and play practice. Goodness. I showed up at church this afternoon for the last event kinda spent. My friend offered to bring my kid home after practice. Little thing. HUGE impact. An hour to read, reflect and write.
You know what I figured out in Galatians? Loving people is way more important than pleasing people.
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:9-10
It's the beginning of December. I know your schedule is nuts. Take a few minutes and read Galatians. It's six chapters all about the freedom and grace found in following Jesus. Love people. Follow Jesus. Let go of some rules. Breathe. Don't grow weary. Christ is born. What a great way to ring in the season.
If you are used to these at the end of the That's the Book posts you know I think they are a great tool. If you haven't watched one yet - why not today?
Galations - lots to check out. Here is a great visual from New Spring Church
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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