Category Archives: Joy

“I love bread!” (Me too, Oprah ;) !)

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I was so incredibly excited when Oprah signed on with Weight Watchers.   I mean, I’m thrilled that she’s getting healthy and all that.  But honestly, the best part was when she said, – ON NATIONAL TELEVISION –  “I love bread”!

Breakfast toast with red heart jam symbol on a red checkered table cloth.

ME TOO, Sister Oprah! Me too!

My favorite kind of bread is homemade and hot out of the oven, fresh as can be, and with special touches (like organic sundried tomatoes baked right in and homegrown rosemary sprigs on top, and maybe even a little finely shredded artisan cheddar thrown in for good measure) that everyday, store bought brands just cannot produce.

rosemary-bread

(Excuse me while I salivate…)

I’m coming out of the anti-gluten closet and admitting it.  I’m a girl who loves artisan bread.

I ALSO love craft beer and single vineyard wines.

I like small batch iced teas and I love the health benefits and freshness of organic food.

I’m “all-in” on the farm-to-table movement.

I completely support the sustainable food agenda.

I’d much rather each a whole food than one that’s been processed.  And don’t even get me started on stuff that’s been genetically modified or chemically enhanced.

(Let’s ignore my diet coke habit for the moment, shall we? *Ahem.*)

People  who love and care this much about food know ONE THING for sure: the process is just as important as the end product.

For instance, a food artisan knows everything about the ingredients and process of what she’s making, and often uses traditional methods.  Why?  Because she’s learned that tried and true ways of doing things endure; traditions create consistently masterful products.

The craftsman makes his product by hand, using minimal processing and checking each step of that process to ensure it is done to his specifications for a quality product that he’s proud to call his own.

small-batch-wine

The small-batch creator believes in taking the time and effort to make each batch just so, just right, to please her consumers and make them feel special in receiving something that got such care in creation.

The food producers, shops, and restaurants who subscribe to the farm-to-table philosophy understand the value of cutting out the middle-man and ensuring the good stuff is coming directly from the maker.

And everyone who buys into the concept of sustainability is 100% on board in making sure that the resources we have will not be used up or destroyed so they can replenish as needed and continue for as long as possible.

The artisans who create these kinds of foods and drinks have two things in common:

  1. They are intentional in what they do (meaning they put thought, care, and time into each part of the process); and,
  2. They are specialized in their trade, not diversified (meaning they don’t have a million different things going on) which allows them to focus on the passion of their particular trade.

That’s pretty amazing stuff right there, don’t you think?!

So, what if we applied these concepts to something spiritual in addition to food? What if we used these ideas to radically affect our prayers and how we spoke them?

I think we’d be equally as nourished spiritually as we are when we eat cleanly!

I’m encouraging each of  us to do one (or more!) of the following things this week as we set some time aside for intentional prayer:

  • Apply the principle of organics: cut out the stuff that doesn’t need to be there!  Don’t be so verbose, adding in all kinds of words that don’t add anything to the purity of your prayers.  Keep it simple, sisters, and just say what you need to say as simply as possible. Then quietly sit back, waiting for Him to speak back to your spirit.

 

  • Use the concept of small batch creations and artisan work: be intentional in how you speak your prayers, carefully thinking about them and making little notes for yourself before you dive in.  Use traditional methods passed down to you from previous generations that honor the sacred process of prayer.  Use time-honored prayers you’ve heard in your own faith tradition to enrich your prayer life instead of saying those prayers as rote and perfunctory obligations.  Rewrite them in your own words in order to make them come alive to you again.

 

  • Subscribe to the main idea behind the farm-to-table “theology” and cut out the middle man! You have a direct line to Jesus!  Don’t “worry your prayers” with friends and hope God was listening while you did it; instead, sit down with God one-on-one and offer him your best instead of worn out and tired thoughts and prayers.  (“Go to the throne, not the phone!” 😉 )

 

  • Focus on sustainability in your prayer life. Try different methods until you can settle in on one or two that make it possible for you to be consistent and create quality, positive interaction between you and your Father.  Tend to the “soil” of your prayer life – if you will – which basically means to get your heart in the right condition to not only offer up gratitude and praise, but also to receive nourishing sacraments like forgiveness and loving correction.

Good soil can take years to cultivate, right? And even a novice gardener like me knows that sometimes the fields you use to grow something great need to be rested every now and again to maintain and regain their efficiency.  So be patient with yourself in this process and remain flexible in trying new things along the way, okay?

sunflower-field

The important thing is that you DO commit to trying to create something artisan with your prayers. Why?  Because it will make the difference between a processed, plastic bag of white bread and a hot-outta-the-oven, multi-grain loaf bejeweled with morsels of deliciousness!

Following along with our Wonder-FULL series?  (You can click here for more info!)  We are reading chapters .005 and .006 in the Wonderstruck main book and completing section 4 in the participant guide!  And check out our song of the week:  “In Your Hands” by Unspoken.  This acoustic version makes me SO happy!  Enjoy!

Peace, love and JOY!!!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  The Wonder of Friendship

 

 

The Best Way to End Things

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The ending of something wonderful is never easy, is it?  I mean, when something sweet has run its course, how do you bring closure to it without feeling a wee bit depressed?

Well, you throw a party, of course!

Last week, we wrapped up our Summer 2016 series, easy, with a super fun, progressive Pop-Up style party!  We send out email invites a few days in advance and announced our secret locations!

We started the night at Camey’s house for drinks, appetizers, and lots of catching up and giggles!  (And Camey’s dog, Dodger, stole all our hearts!)

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An hour or so later, we meandered through a candlelit path to Alicia’s, to find a spot to sit, relax, eat our picnic dinners, visit the popcorn and candy bar, and watch a silly movie from the 1980’s – “Sixteen Candles”!

16 Candles Collage 6

We spent out night enjoying each other’s company, eating delish food, and just plain ole’ took it easy!  My thanks go out to everyone who came and especially to our entire pop-up party team for your generous support of the night!  We had a BALL!

16 Candles Collage 4

And of all the wonderful things about Alicia, I have to say I was super impressed with her ability to pack my car so expertly at the end of the night!  😉

16 Car Packed

I hope you had as much fun walking through this easy summer as we did!  Stay tuned for our announcement next week – RIGHT HERE – for our big unveiling of our Fall 2016 series, “Wonder-FULL”!!!!  It’s going to be GREAT!!!

 

Peace, love and joy!

Wendie

 

 

Five Things You Can Find Today for More JOY!

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“Nature is one of our greatest spiritual teachers.” Oprah Winfrey

Good lord, I LOVE Oprah. She is one wise sister friend!  And that quote right there is one of my favorites because I think she is spot on – all the lessons we need to learn about life can be found by observing the wonders and rhythms of the world around us.

We learn the character of God in these wonders, don’t we? I mean, who else but a loving and creative God could design and make such diversity, resiliency, and beauty and put it on display for all of us to experience?

NTS Week 7

From the gorgeous flowers that bloom each spring, to the powerful weather that races across oceans, we can see and learn the value of appreciating amazing moments AND riding out the storms.

From the wide range of races and languages and dialects across the globe, we can learn that the goodness of God’s love is universal.

From the resiliency of the changing seasons we can experience that, even when things look bleak, a new season of growth is around the corner.

From the gentleness and grace of a sunset, we can plug into a peace that is unlike anything else.

All of these life lessons are ours because we have a Father in Heaven who loves us so much he wanted us to be surrounded by a natural world that would remind us of His goodness and care.

Earth from Space

Take an easy hike outside this week and find things that meet the  criteria listed below!  Take pictures of them (you could even record them if you are more auditory than visual) or simply make of note of them in your notes section on your phone or journal.

  • Something beautiful. (Colorful flowers, a blazing sunrise, a hawk in flight, a moving song, etc.)
  • Something unique. (Individual shells along a beach, your child’s smile, the night sky tonight, a bird chirping, etc.)
  • Something resilient. (Ivy growing on a brick wall, a bird rebuilding a nest, WEEDS in your garden ;), cicadas humming their end-of-summer tune, etc.)
  • Something powerful. (Storm clouds, rushing water, a bonfire, thunder claps, etc.)
  • Something peaceful. (Gentle waves, wispy clouds, leaves rustling in a soft breeze, a prayer whispered in the chapel, etc.)

Thank God for all the amazing “miracles” he created for your enjoyment and for the lessons we can learn by simply taking it all in and experiencing the ebb and flow of the seasons and all the wonder they bring. Regardless of the season, let him remind you that he is always good.

If you are following along with our easy 2016 summer series, we have reached our second to last week! Can you even believe it?!  Only one more week to go!  But never fear as we are already cooking up what’s coming next!  We will announce our fall study in a few weeks.  In the meantime…

Click here for the following easy goodies:

  • Link to this week’s mantra and scripture card!
  • Link to this week’s yummy menu and recipe cards!
  • Link to purchase/find out about our July book, Giddy up, Eunice, by Sophie Hudson!
  • And click this link for another great tune this week by MercyMe, “Flawless” – one of my all-time favorites!!!

Have an easy week, sweet friends! See you next week when we wrap up the easy summer series!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

 

 

Play Like a GIRL!!!

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I know what you think this post is about.  You’re wrong.

It’s NOT about “Girl Power” in sports or school or the working world, or even about feminism in the gender equality sense.

You need to know I wholeheartedly support those agendas; it’s so important for our voices to be heard, our accomplishments to be recognized, and our contributions to be valued just as much as anyone else’s.

But this post, sweet girls, is about the power of gal pals and our uniquely special friendships.

Last week, I had the amazing and super awesome privilege to have lunch with two of my college roomies. These are girls I love; as in LOVE LOVE LOVE.  I met both of them the very first day on campus at Butler.  And there hasn’t been a holiday, birthday, special event, or heartbreak we haven’t walked through (or belly-level crawled) side-by-side since.  Thirty years, ladies.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Kappa Al-Potatos!

( Junior year…I’m the ADORABLE brunette farthest to the right on the bottom row.  While I love ALL these ladies, my lunch girls (Chappie Sue and Reenie) are the beauties just above my right shoulder.  Blondes.  Yep.   I had to throw the hair color thing in.  Because you NEED to know we all had the SAME amount of fun, regardless of hair color.  Just saying.)

What’s our secret?

We play well together.

We get along famously. We finish each others’ sentences.  We love on each others’ children and reprimand one another’s husbands (and we adore them, too…!).  We show up for milestones with bottles of champagne and heartfelt presents/presence.

And, conversely, we sit quietly, holding hands, in grief or fear.  We’ve shared clothes, pizzas, money, tears, giggles, bedrooms, viruses, recipes, lip gloss, beers, vacations, card games, and even argued a time or two along the way.

I pray you have some “same age-same stage” friendships like ours. I love these girls to the moon and back, infinity times infinity times!  There is such great camaraderie and comfort in these crazy friendships…and a WHOLE LOTTA FUN!

But you know what? I’m equally in love with cross-generational sister friendships.  The ones where we not only are loved on and brought up by ladies a bit more experienced and seasoned than we are, but ALSO the ones in which we are doing the bringing up!

Maybe she’s an aunt, a neighbor, your mom. Or maybe she’s a niece, a younger sister, a daughter, or even a new tennis partner.  It doesn’t matter how you are connected, you know?

It just matters that you connect.

sister friend selfie

Me and She

God places special people in our lives as an extension of His love for us and our innate need for relationship. Regardless of age, stage, circumstance, and standing.

It’s how we are meant to do life.

NTS Week 5

Girls, if you don’t know the story of Naomi and Ruth, I urge you to stop what you are doing and read it right now in the short, but power packed book of Ruth. Click here. No worries; I’ll wait here while you do…!

Where you go, I go. Where you stay, I stay.  Your peeps are mine.

Yep, that’s good stuff.

Sophie Hudson (author of our July book, Giddy Up, Eunice) reacts to that kick butt verse by saying this:

“It’s one of those passages that takes my breath away a little bit, because it’s a level of commitment we don’t see modeled often in our current culture.” (Sophie Hudson, Giddy Up, Eunice)

To play like a girl means to demonstrate that “LEVEL OF COMMITMENT” to our treasured friendships.  Whether through mentoring, discipling, walking alongside, or just plain and simple “gal pal-ing”.

Let’s make that model a bit more mainstream, okay?

WHERE YOU GO, I GO.

That’s how we stick together. That’s how we do LIFE.

My prayer for you this week is that you take the time to appreciate the Ruth’s and Naomi’s in your own life. Call them up.  Tell them how much you love them.  Share a pizza (or some sushi, or whatever your thing is)!  Thank God for their presence in your world and your presence in theirs.  If you are having trouble identifying a true sister friend right now, ask God to open your heart and mind to the possibility of making a new one.  He will not disappoint you, sweet one.

Following along with our easy 2016 series?! Click here for the following goodies:

  • Link to the FABULOUS book, Giddy Up, Eunice by Sophie Hudson!  It’s what we’re reading this month!
  • Print up/display our scripture and mantra card for this week!
  • Hungry? Print up our menu idea and recipe – veggie sandwiches!  Super yum!
  • And click here for a link to our fun song and video for this week: “Breathe” by Johnny Diaz (it’s a fave for many of our girlies!)!

Come on back next week and read about our ideas on trying something NEW! TRY IT…YOU’LL LIKE IT!  😉

Peace, love and JOY!

Wendie

P.S.   Thetas rule.  (Mic drop…)

P.P.S.  We love our guys, too.  Thought I better throw that in.  Smoochies, Bo!  😉

 

 

 

 

Be Mindful (Get Your Mind Out of the Gutter…!)

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One of the most unsettling noises a homeowner can hear is the drip…drip…drip of a leak, especially when that dripping noise isn’t happening in a sink or near a faucet!  On a recent rainy morning, as I was rushing to get out the door, I was suddenly panicked to hear that noise from not just  ONE place in the house, but THREE.

Water was dripping in over the fireplace in our family room, seeping through the floor from the deck into the kitchen, AND managing to find its way down the insides of the windows in the dining room. It was a bit of a mess.

Good times.

The rain eventually stopped and so did the leaks. After some inspection, we were relieved to find out the leaking was due to clogged gutters, NOT some other structural issue.  We called out the Gutter Squad and were very excited, when the next rain storm rolled around, that we were completely dry and leak free.  We learned the valuable lesson on keeping the gutters clear of junk so the water can flow freely through the gutters, keeping the house clean, dry, and well, “healthy”.

Sometimes, we can get our minds all cluttered up with junk, you know?  What we think about is affected by everything we take in: television, radio, internet usage, conversations with others, our senses, our worries, what we read, and so on. If we are not careful to run all that “input” through a filter, our minds can get clogged with things that dampen our spirits and skew our perspective in some pretty negative ways.

So, what’s the spiritual equivalent to a Gutter Squad clean-out?! Check this out:

NTS Week 4

THAT is the “gutter guard” of the mind, sweet friends. I don’t know about you, but THOSE are most definitely the kinds of things I want to be focusing on!!  We know from this scripture from Paul that it pleases God (and therefore good for us!) when we think about things that are:

  • True (reality based – as defined by God/Bible)
  • Noble (worthy of respect by God and those you personally respect)
  • Reputable (lawful and just under the jurisdiction of where you live AND most importantly, by God)
  • Authentic (pure, untainted, natural)
  • Compelling (attractive – morally and ethically speaking!) •
  • Gracious (admirable, you can honestly recommend this idea/thought/concept to others as Godly)
  • Beautiful (it is an exceptionally special thought/idea/place/person/etc. in the eyes of God)
  • Worthy of praise (God will be pleased with this thought/idea/circumstance)

Therefore, when we sense we are taking our thoughts into muddy waters, we can meditate on (…meaning “to be mindful of and think on”) these eight themes to unclog the blockages and replace them with free-flowing water (the kind we talked about last week! ).

This week, to take a few moments out of each day to clear your mind. To unclog the pathways of junk in your soul and fill your spirit with Truth.  Find a quiet place where you can breathe deep, let some things go, and find God.  Be present in the moment, away from to-do lists and tasks that would normally occupy your mind.  Give social media, television, and even radio a break and in their place fill up on healthier mind food – scripture, prayer, and focused time with God!

Following along with our summer series, easy 2016? Click here for the following items:

  • Printable note to self with our mantra and scripture for the week!
  • Printable copy of this week’s EASY recipe! (Kabobs – YUMMY!)
  • Link to amazon.com to find out more about our SUPER FUN book for this month: Giddy Up, Eunice by Sophie Hudson (I mean SERIOUSLY – how could you NOT want to read a book with a title as awesome as that!)
  • And if you like music, you can click this link which will take you to another great tune from our summer song list! This week, we’re dancing along to” Nobody but You”, by Dara Maclean!

Have a great week! See you back here next Monday for some seriously FUN talk about how to play like a girl… 😉 !!

Peace, love, and JOY!!!

Wendie

We’re still taking it easy!

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Did you get it yet?  Did you? Oh, I hope so!  For all you local ladies, you should’ve already received in your hot-little-hands our summer series goodie bag full of everything you need to have a faith-filled, fun, and EASY summer!  😉

Goodie Bag

Today, we are going LIVE with our Easy Page that gives you an all-access pass to pretty much everything in the goodie bag, AND tells you even more about our book suggestions, song list, and dates for our summer get-togethers!  ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS CLICK HERE!!!!

And, if you’d like to ask friends or family to join in the fabulousness of easy, just send them right here to the blog and have them click on that link above!  They can print up everything they want, as many copies as they want, until they’re walking easy street alongside us!

Don’t forget:  we start up our summer blogs on Monday, June 13th!  The blog posts will be short and sweet little ditties designed to help you understand the “Notes to Self” mantra and scripture for each week and give thoughts on how to apply God’s word to your life in easy and common sense ways!  How cool is that?!

So, what’s a good Bible study girl to do between now and then?  Well, if you have school-aged littles (or bigs!) at home, breathe deeply and hold on while you enter the end-of-year chaos!  It’s almost over… 😉 !  We’re in the throes of it with you.  The great news is God’s got your back and He’s got all this stuff covered.  If your kids are grown or you live in a kid/chaos-free house, say a prayer for us (!)!  We’ll be back here in three weeks from today with the series KICK OFF!!!

In the meantime, download your playlist, order your books (if you’d like to join us in our summer reading – remember it is totally voluntary), find a great spot for your “Notes to Self” card, and get ready to start taking it easy with us!  Enjoy the day – He created it specially for YOU!

THIS is the day the Lord has made; let’s rejoice and be glad in it TODAY!  Psalm 118:24

In other words, don’t wait for tomorrow or vacation or even better weather.  Look around and enjoy God’s goodness – his GREATNESS – today!!

Put that magnet on your car and start waving at all the other easy ladies around town!  😉  hee hee hee!

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

I’m easy. How about you?

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It’s almost time…time for our summer 2016 summer series to kick off!  And this year, we’re taking it EASY!

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What’s our focus?  Setting our hearts on God.  Why?  Well, because we’re all about God and, in the summer especially, we’re all about easy:

If you set your heart on God and reach out to him…Your world will be washed in sunshine,
every shadow dispersed by dayspring.  Full of hope, you’ll relax, confident again; you’ll look around, sit back, and take it easy. 

Job 11:13, 17-28 The Message

This week, all local participants (150 ladies this year!) will receive their very own “easy 2016” goodie bag!  Everything you need to know about the summer series will be in the bag!  If you aren’t local, don’t worry!  You’re still included in all the summer silliness!   Everything you need will be accessible and printable by clicking on a link that will go live tomorrow (Thursday, May 19th).  This page will be updated then and you’ll be all set with the instructions you need to get geared up for our kick off on Monday, June 13th!

I’m taking it easy this summer, setting my heart on God and letting him wash my world in sunshine.  Wanna join me?  I hope so!  See you back here tomorrow!  😉

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie  🙂

 

The 2016 Manifesto of Friday (which is WAY better than any New Year’s Resolution!)

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Well, hello there 2016!  Nice to meet you, new friend.  And may I say – I can’t wait to get to know you better.

I know you probably have a lot in store for each of us this year. And I know there will be ups and downs with each day, month, and season. So instead of one, impossible resolution to try and keep this year, I’m taking a few suggestions from our boy, Friday, and making myself a 2016 manifesto.

The 2016 Manifesto of Friday:

Everything that is supposed to become BIG must begin quite small.

Everything big must start small

 

 

Anyone can fly if they believe they can.

Believe You CAN Fly

 

Sleep is really important.  Like, SUPER important.

Sleep is super important

 

Sometimes life is going to get messy, and that’s okay.

Dont be afraid to get messy

 

Create a little mischief from time to time.

Create a little silly everyday

 

ANYTHING can be a treasure if it means something to you.

Everything is a treasure

 

 

Hugs make everything better.

Hugs Make Everything Better

 

Relax.  Everything’s going to be okay.

Relax

 

 

Protect what’s important.

Protect what's important

 

Don’t be afraid of the dark.  The light always wins.

Don't be scared of shadows

 

Always make new friends – even if they look bigger than you and stand on the other side of the fence.

Make new friends even if they are bigger than you

 

Spend time with your “people”.

Love your family - biological and otherwise

 

And…spend time with your people.

Trust the ones that love you

Happy New Year, sweet friends.  From our home to yours.

Peace, love, and JOY,

Wendie (and our guy, Friday, too)

 

 

The Legend of Uncle Harold (…what you REALLY need this Christmas)

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the legend of uncle harold

I was shopping for last minute Christmas gifts a number of years ago and I spied the most gorgeous brown scarf with green fringe and little flowers appliquéd on it in the shape of a peace sign.  And if you know me at all, you know I am in LOVE with the word “peace”…so I bought it for myself for Christmas.

Having said that, please know that I don’t NORMALLY buy myself Christmas gifts, but there were only two in the store and I didn’t want to go thru the rig-a-ma-roll of sending Tim in to get it for me and chancing that it would be gone.  Sooooo…I grabbed one off the display case and asked the woman who rang me up to box and wrap it for me.  She started to giggle and said, “I’ll put a card on the top that says, “From Uncle Harold”.

As she saw my questioning look, she smiled and proceeded to tell me the “Legend of Uncle Harold”!  For the first few years of this woman’s marriage, her husband would receive some really awesome Christmas gifts each year from his Uncle Harold.  Every year, on the last working day before Christmas, he would arrive home from a day at the office and say, “Good old Uncle Harold stopped by the office today and dropped off my presents!”  He would pop these gifts under the tree with a big smile on his face!

Mind you, Harold never brought her any gifts – just her husband.  That didn’t really seem too odd to her, however, since she had never met Uncle Harold before.  Regardless, each Christmas morning her husband would open the “Uncle Harold” gifts and marvel at how well the presents suited him and would say that no one knew him better!

Christmas ornament deal

After several years passed, this woman happened to mention the name “Uncle Harold” one year at a family Thanksgiving dinner.  It seemed everyone she asked about Uncle Harold denied any knowledge of such a relative.  Confused and perplexed, she asked her husband, “Why doesn’t anyone know your Uncle Harold?”

Sheepishly, he had to then admit, that as much as he loved his dear wife, she was not the best gift giver.  She’d give things like hankies or toothpicks.  Or maybe vacuum bags or a can opener. (Very practical, this woman!)

He, on the other hand, was an extravagant gift giver!  He had the knack of being able to find the perfect thing for each person on his list.  And, he also could find the perfect thing for himself (then again, can’t we all…!).  So, in order to make Christmas “merry” for himself too, he decided that he would become his own “Uncle” so he could be assured of getting what he wanted under the tree!  Luckily, his wife had a good sense of humor and thought this was a clever and silly deception.  And they keep up this “tradition” even today – 20 some years later…

I think back on this story every year around this time.  On the surface, it’s funny!  It’s cute!  It’s even sort of endearing!  And walking the dogs one morning, it hit me:  YES!  I want us all to have an Uncle Harold Christmas;  I want us to have the best gifts that we have ever received under the tree this year.

Alright.  I was wrong.  I realized about a minute later that I don’t honestly want that.  True – if we could buy and wrap our own presents and pop them under our trees, we’d have one fine Christmas morning, indeed.   But you know what would be missing?

  • Memory making (years from now, looking back at those handmade crafts that we don’t have a clue what to do with – or even what they ARE!);
  • private giggles with our spouses over the coupon books our children make;
  • tears of joy at the look of pride and excitement on the faces of the ones giving us the gifts;
  • even BIGGER tears as we see the joy that the gifts WE gave have created; and,
  • quiet moments of reflection and gratitude for the thoughts put into the giving after the gifts are open.

And that’s when it finally settled in, and I mean INUncle Harold has nothing lasting to offer.  Uncle Harold gifts won’t sustain us in hard times or grant us peace in the storms we all will have to endure.  Uncle Harold can’t even enjoy the element of joyful surprise or the gauche of cheeky silliness.

Let me ask you something.  How would you feel if you spent infinite time, care, and love wrapping something incredibly special for someone you loved and when Christmas morning came, that person passed over your simply wrapped present for those that looked a bit brighter, maybe a little flashier?  Would it grieve your heart to think what you created for that someone would change his/her life for the forever better but they chose not to open it and accept it? I wonder if that’s what God feels like when we choose to fill our lives with things that have no lasting impact – things Uncle Harold can deliver, but don’t make any difference to our lives in the long run.

christmas candles

So I no longer wish you an Uncle Harold Christmas, my sisters!  Instead, I wish you an Authentic Christmas, stuffed full of surprises (like the birth of a baby who became the Savior of the world), loaded with spontaneity (like finding a place where that baby would lay His holy head); and unexpected, simple gifts (like shepherds giving the only thing they could – keeping watch).  And that, my sweet sister friends, is an authentic Christmas.  Jesus.  The gift of Jesus is a game changer – a LIFE changer, sisters.  He is the energizer bunny of gifts – the gift that keeps on eternally giving  (no batteries required)!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, my friends, filled with love, laughter, peace, and Jesus.

God bless you.

(Hope you enjoyed this fun, Christmas story, posted in its original form on 12/23/13!)

Peace, love, and JOY!

Wendie

The Back to School Blues…and reds, and greens!

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Oh boy.  It’s time to start singing those “back to school blues”. And this momma is feeling it all the way down to her tootsie toes. Are you? If so, sit back with something soothing to drink, and read this – and know you’re not alone!

 

104 days of summer vaca

I love me some of that Phineas and Ferb theme song, don’t you?! 😉

But I’m not going to write all about the emotions of moms everywhere around the country right now regarding the age-old back to school sadness and drama.

It’s not that I don’t I struggle with it, too, because I do. I absolutely love having Ella home all summer! I love the relaxed routine it affords our family. I cherish every second that we’re not fighting over homework, searching high and low for a pair of matching socks THREE seconds before we need to be out the door, or trying to unearth gym uniforms that should’ve been washed last week.  And don’t even get me started on lunches…;)

I crave the hours and hours I get to spend with Elle in the summer, watching her in her “element” – which is truly just hanging out in our neighborhood with kids of all ages and from all different schools, and playing endless hours of games at dusty softball fields.

I love waking up not knowing what’s for breakfast that day, let alone dinner! I love having wine at night on the deck with Tim, popping open an iced cold Diet Coke from the cooler first thing in the morning, and sipping margaritas on the porch with neighbors (on a Tuesday, even!).

Margarita in a jar

So yes. I’ve got some brooding emotions sitting in the pit of my tummy as we face returning to school on tomorrow! But that’s not what I want to talk to you about today.

Instead, I want to focus on the endless possibilities and new beginnings this very thing brings!

I want to assure you that, just like every other back to school season you’ve experienced, this one will be full of chaos (just breathe…), surprises of all kinds, new friends, old reliable ones, and intriguing opportunities. It isn’t a negative, dear friends! Because no matter WHAT may feel like it’s “ending” in your life right now, I promise something else just as great (or even better) is about to begin. And I believe God wants you to embrace it!

Open up a brand-spankin’ new box of sharpened colored pencils and what do you see?! A carton bursting with colors just aching to be pulled out of the box and spilled out with delight onto a bright, white piece of paper! Each one joyfully begging, almost audibly, “Pick me! Pick me!” to the creator.

Romans 8 15 16

What if we saw ourselves as those pencils?! What if, when that new box is opened, we were the first ones to raise our hands, jump onto the paper, and let Him write our new story with complete trust that our colors would show, or even shine?! What if, instead of hiding in the box, we let Him lift us out of our comfortable, supported position next to the ones we’ve been stored with for a long time and let Him make something beautiful with us? Because He can and He will if we let Him!

Sure, we may need a little sharpening. Maybe we’re not as tall or perfect on the outside as we used to be. Maybe we have a couple “bite marks” from past use by someone who didn’t know quite how to take care of us. That’s not what matters because our God-given colors are still as bright and unique and perfect as they always were – and He knows how to coax them out from the dust and even fix any misuse of us in the past.

Every color is beautiful to someone. Never ever forget that.

god colors

We urge our children to put themselves out there each school year. To raise their hands. To volunteer. To make new friends. To take chances. That no question is a dumb one. To notice those who may need help and step in. We tell them it’s okay to make mistakes; to give an incorrect answer; that falls happen and to get back up and try again.

As we begin this new school year season, whether you are sending your children to kindergarten (and, oh, may God bless you with plenty of Kleenex for that first day!), back to the same school or home school for a new year, off to a brand new school, or even off to college (and I pray for plenty of Kleenex for you, too!), listen to your own advice.

Be the color that someone else needs to see. Look for complementary colors to walk along side you. Raise your hand. Ask the Teacher to pick you – and then let Him create a beautiful picture for this new season. Don’t stay in the Crayola box, sweet friends. Jump out onto the paper and see what He does with you. Then send me a copy of it! I can’t wait to see it and relish in your beauty.

Peace, love, and JOY to all of you!

Wendie