Category Archives: Christmas

If a waterbed wasn’t ridiculous enough, Caitlin wants a…

After 3 years, I finally caved. She’s been asking for 3 blessed years and because she doesn’t have much else on her list, she’s going to get that thing she’s been wanting. It is against my better judgment to let Santa bring this thing into our home but what am I to do? I’m already nixing the waterbed off Blake’s list, shouldn’t at least one of my kids get what they want? Paxton’s easy, his list can be bought in the electronic department of Target in a day. But my girl, sigh, she’s pining for this one thing and this is the year she’s gonna get it. She’s gonna be STOKED!

What’s the “thing”, you ask?

Oh. That.

Well, see, it’s the enormous stuffed bear from Costco. It’s the size of a Yeti (the monster not the cup) and I’m not even kidding. I have held it off for 3 years but she won’t stop asking for this silly bear. What can I say? The heart wants what it wants.

So I go yesterday to Costco to purchase said Yeti bear and OH. MY. WORD. It’s a monstrosity. It is bigger than ME and pound for pound we’ve got to be close to the same weight. I sort of wish I could see the store video footage of my trying to get this bear into my cart. It was basically a comedy sketch and by the end I’m in a full-blown sweat. I imagine it is like trying to get a 7 ft unconscious person into a car. And never mind the passersby that gawked at me like I was some sort of sideshow entertainment.

I finally manage to get the stupid thing into my cart but I have to hold the side of the cart to drive because it’s hanging out of both ends.

img_5998

Then come the people with all their commentary…

“Is that for you? Heh heh.”

“You should take the stuffing out and it could be a costume!”

“That’s bigger than you!!”

It was really precious, all those non funny comments.

Ya’ll would have been so proud of me. I didn’t say one ugly thing out loud to any of those people. I kept all my nasty, cutting comments to myself. I wore my invisible “SUCKER” sign on my forehead and walked to the checkout like a schmuck. I tried to avoid eye contact and looked at the ground but it was obvious people were staring as if to say, “What kind of idiot would by that?” Yep. That’s me. Idiot, Party of 1. I wish Kyle had been with me. He would have laughed along and had something funny to say to all their little jabs, but no, I wore my SUCKER sticker all by myself that day. I mean, people were literally pointing their fingers and laughing at me. Are we even allowed to point and laugh at people anymore? I feel like that should be a new rule. “No pointing and laughing at people unless they are a comedian or a clown.” I’m starting a petition.

Anyway, I check out and get to my car and just stand there, looking at my trunk. Like a statue.

img_5999

I have no idea how I’m going to get this beast of a bear into my car. Luckily, I didn’t wait long because a sweet couple offered to help me. They told me they had bought that same bear 3 years ago for their 10 year old granddaughter. Hallelujah and praise hands for compassion! We stuffed that bear into my car and I headed home, my faith in humanity restored. Look at this picture. I can’t even handle it.

img_6001

Big Foot Bear is residing in my garage at present, covered with a sheet and massive amounts of junk. See, there ARE perks to being unorganized and having piles of crap in your garage– no one notices when you add to the pile. Hopefully she won’t notice. Fingers crossed.

-Courtney

Tagged , , , , , ,

Christmas, I love you but I quit.

img_6072

I want to quit Christmas. Does anyone else feel me on this? I’m so done and over Christmas shenanigans and I haven’t even started the baking yet. Maybe I should’ve baked first so the sugar could take me to my happy place then I would not be over all this Christmas.

Believe me when I tell you, I’m no Scrooge about Christmas. I adore Christmas. I love the lights, the music, the decorations, the baking, the gift-giving, ALL OF IT. I love it. Maybe my mood has to do with trying to sell a book at the craziest time of the year (The month of May runs a close second), or that we’re doing some home renovations, or that my kids still want to eat everyday and have clean clothes and do activities and need help with doing life because they are only children for goodness’ sake! I’m over 2015 and am ready to tap out. Anybody with me?

All the aforementioned things may be factors in my current attitude, but I think the truth is I’ve become a victim of the world’s view of Christmas. I’ve bought into the idea that even though you have a lot going on in your regular life, you need to make sure you buy all the presents, make all the goodies, attend all the parties, decorate all the rooms, do all the Advent calendars, watch all the Christmas movies, and make all the memories with your kids…ALL WHILE REMEMBERING THAT “JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.”

For goodness sake.

I cannot.

Gosh we’re good at adding unnecessary things to our plate, aren’t we? I love baking at Christmas. And I love watching Christmas movies. I love having a Christmas tree in my living room because it just makes it feel magical. But somehow it has turned into, “I’ve got to go to 20 different places and 30 different websites to get everyone’s presents! I have to get on the baking because the kids are almost out for Christmas break and I ALWAYS bake something for the teachers! The kids will be crushed if I miss their “holiday” parties; I have to go! I have to get all my Christmas decorations up so I can tell people I have all my Christmas decorations up! I’ve got to get the red nose and antlers on my car so people will know I’m pretending my car is a reindeer…oh wait… no, I don’t EVER need to do this. I need to find the perfect outfit for the Christmas parties I’m going to! I’ve got to get the kids to the mall to see Santa and get their picture made! Shoot, we forgot to read our Advent calendar, now we need to read 6 to catch up! Then I’ve got to remember to post everything I’ve done with my kids during the Christmas season so people can “ooh and aah” over what an amazing mom I am! Don’t forget!!”

YA’LL.

THIS IS LUDICROUS.

No wonder I’m tired. Did you read how many “I”s are in that last paragraph? 17 . Whew, I’m beat and I haven’t even done all those things.

I’ve made Christmas into something it’s not. I’ve made it about me and what I’m doing to make it perfect and magical. Bless my heart.

The most important, perfect, magical thing I should be doing this Christmas season is taking the time to worship the God who gave us His Son. That’s it. Why is that so hard for me to remember?

Christmas is our call to worship. That’s what the angels and shepherds were doing the night Jesus was born. That was the reason the wise men loaded up their stuff and made the trek to meet Jesus. To miss the opportunity to worship is to miss Christmas. And I think that’s why my soul is weary and I feel such unrest. I’ve been giving my worship (time, attention, efforts) to things that are life-sucking rather than life-giving. I need to find my way back to the manger. I need to sit in awe of the gift God gave to me, and the rest of the world, so long ago. My soul is never more rested than after time spent with God. So today I’m pumping the brakes on commercial Christmas. I’m going to go curl up in my favorite chair and pour over the words in Luke 2. I’m going back to the manger. Who’s with me?

-Courtney

Want a copy of my new Christmas book The Forgotten Ornament? Go on up to the Purchase tab at the top of the page and get you one!!

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter!
Follow me on Instagram: @thecpallen
Can’t get enough? Click here I’ll send these straight to your inbox!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

The weirdest thing my kid wants for Christmas

Blake is always my most vocal child when it comes to what he wants for Christmas. He’s quick to make a list but I can’t shop too early because chances are he’s going to change his mind. There’s one thing on his list this year that has stayed the same. I keep waiting for him to decide he doesn’t want it anymore and cross it off the list. Unfortunately for me, this hasn’t happened yet. As a matter of fact, it’s the #1 thing he wants this year.

Any guesses as to what it is?

“OBJ jersey?” No. He’s already got one of those.

“Video games?” Nope.

“Football cards?” Please, baby Jesus, no. We’ve got enough.

The item topping his list this year, the thing he has not waffled on once, the thing that may or may not end his belief in Santa is…

Wait for it…

A WATERBED.

I’ll give you a minute. It’s ok, I about took a knee when he told me that’s what he wanted. What in the heavens? Is this some sort of joke? A waterbed?! Do the 1970s somehow come with it? Do I need to buy him a lava lamp and shag carpet as well?

I’m sure you’re wondering his reasoning behind wanting a waterbed as was I when he told me. After he told me why he wanted it, I COMPLETELY understood.

Me: “Blake, why on earth do you want a waterbed?”

Blake: “I just do.”

That’s it, folks. He just does. As compelling as his “I just do” argument is, I can’t. Right? I can’t get my 8 year old a waterbed. Like really?! I’ve tried explaining that there’s no way Santa could fit a waterbed down the chimney. He says he can just come through the front door. I half think that Blake knows the goods about Santa so he’s doing some sort of Christmas test on Kyle and me. He’s heard rumblings about old St. Nick at school and Paxton has almost blown Santa’s cover several times. I think in Blake’s mind it goes:

Waterbed= Yes, Blake, there is a Santa Claus!

No waterbed= My parents are lying liars and they deserve to have their pants catch on fire.

Well, it was fun while it lasted, Santa, but I can’t get my kid a waterbed. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Do they even MAKE waterbeds anymore?” Why yes, yes they do. I only know because I just looked it up on Google for the purposes of this post, NOT for the purposes of purchasing one. (And in case you are in the market for one, they now make them to look like regular mattresses. So you can have the feel of the ‘70s without the look of the ‘70s. However, if you want that bed-encased-in-wood look (i.e. 1976), they still offer those.)

A waterbed for Blake would be like most other Christmas gifts he receives: it’ll be awesome for a hot minute then he won’t care about it anymore. Or worse, he’ll pop a hole in the thing and we’ll really be up a creek. Literally.

I know Blake, and I know he’ll be disappointed when he comes downstairs to find no waterbed but seriously, I just can’t. He’ll get over it, right? If he grows up and wants to buy his own waterbed, more power to him. Then maybe his wife can be the bad guy and tell him there’s no way she’s sleeping on a waterbed. Good girl.

Anyone have any suggestions on a good substitute for a waterbed? Is there another substitute other than, well…a regular bed? Maybe I’ll just give him a lava lamp and call it a day. He’ll think a lava lamp is totally groovy.

-Courtney

**Since writing this post, he has changed his #1 spot to a new bike! Glory be! A bike I can do! And look a little further down on the list…

img_5973

A lava lamp. Large. I didn’t even know there were different sizes.

What in the world.

It’s like he was born in the wrong decade.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter!
Follow me on Instagram: @thecpallen
Can’t get enough? Click here I’ll send these straight to your inbox!

Tagged , , , , , ,

What’s the book about?

unnamed

Today I wanted to take a minute and tell you a little more about Ollie. If you’re new to this blog or don’t follow me on social media, Ollie is the main character of my latest children’s book, The Forgotten Ornament. This sweet little gingerbread man ornament is trying to get on his family’s beloved Christmas tree. He’s been stuck at the bottom of the ornament box for many, many years and thinks this might be his last shot at making the tree. The story goes on to tell of him trying to get to the top of the box and the other ornaments he encounters along the way. I don’t want to give too much away and spoil the ending but just know that it’s a story of hope. And I feel like we could all use a little more hope these days.

When I wrote Rooster’s Balloon, every time I signed it I would write Jeremiah 29:11 under my signature.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Little Rooster’s story was one of hope. God had a plan for her life and her story.

When I sign The Forgotten Ornament, I write Proverbs 13:12 under my signature.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Ollie has hope that he will make it on the Christmas tree because somewhere deep inside he knows that he is loved and worthy.

I love hope. It’s my absolute favorite. And the only reason I have it is because of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. He came to live the life I couldn’t live and die the death I deserved. And just when it couldn’t get much bleaker, He rose from the dead to show the world He was the actual Son of God who could not be held by death. He overcame our sin to  prove He was/is the only one Who can save us. And He did all these things because of His deep-rooted love for me. For us. For everyone who believes. And dangit, if that doesn’t fill me to the brim with hope. Hope that God uses people to do good things. Hope that even though Americans are a little shaky at best right now, it’s going to be ok. Hope that God has used leaders and authorities from the beginning of time to carry out His plan. It may not be the way we would choose but His ways are not our ways.

As long as I write, hope will always be a theme. So if you need a little more hope in your life or just a sweet read for your kiddos, this book is a must for your library. Every kid needs to know they are loved just the way they are and Ollie is a wonderful example of that. It’s got a great message for your little one and it might just have a message for you too. Just click the PURCHASE tab at the top of this page to buy one…or 100. I’m fine with either. 200? Ok, you’ve twisted my arm.

-Courtney

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter!
Follow me on Instagram: @thecpallen
Can’t get enough? Click here I’ll send these straight to your inbox!

Tagged , , , ,

Ollie’s HERE!!!!!!!!!

HE’S HERE! HE’S HERE! OLLIE IS HERE!!!!

15tfo

This little guy has been on the quite the journey to make it here but he made it! I can’t wait for you to meet little Ollie and his friends. They are so dear and I know your kids will love them. So if you have kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, godchildren, or children you even mildly like, GET THEM THIS BOOK!!! Such a fun little book for the Christmas season which, if you don’t know…is here. I say it’s here because I was at Target yesterday and they had Christmas décor aligning some of their shelves. Guys, it’s still October, but as I learned this week, there are only 9 MORE SATURDAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!! This is ludicrous!!

BUT….

If you go ahead and buy this book it can be an early Christmas gift for the little ones in your life. It might be the only time you’re early this year so jump on the Ollie train and BUY A BOOK TODAY so I can empty some of these boxes.

img_5693

Just click on the PURCHASE tab at the top of the blog and get it done. Boom.

And just for fun, here’s a video of me with my books. At some parts in the video, my face is enormous. My sincerest apologies.

Ollie’s first video

-Courtney

PS If you never got the chance to buy my other book, Rooster’s Balloon, that one is also available for purchase!

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter!
Follow me on Instagram: @thecpallen
Can’t get enough? Click here I’ll send these straight to your inbox!

Tagged , , , , ,

Merry Christmas!!

IMG_2966

Merry Christmas from my family to yours! I love that my church had a snow machine for our 70 degree weather here in Nashville! Love to you all!

-Courtney

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter!
Follow me on Instagram: @cpallen216
Can’t get enough? Click here and I’ll send these straight to your inbox!

Tagged , ,

The Calm Before the Chaos

December 1. It’s here. The first day of the last month of the year. The day you realize you haven’t done one bit of Christmas shopping and now Christmas is in a little over 3 weeks. The day you feel like you need to get on the Christmas decorating or it will be too late and you won’t want to fool with it because it’s so much trouble to get everything out. The day you remember you are supposed to start some sort of Advent calendar with your kids but you forgot to buy one so you’re going to be behind. The day you have to get out that wretched Elf and start remembering to move him every night. The day anxiety sets in.

Let’s just take a breath, shall we?

How are we going to find rest in December? Between the baking and the decorating and the shopping and the parties and the things we do all month long so our children will have beautiful Norman Rockwell memories of Christmas…I’m getting overwhelmed just thinking about it. And let’s not even start on how social media will attempt to make us feel inadequate all season long. People posting pictures of beautifully decorated trees and perfectly wrapped packages. The posts of cute Christmas cookies that the children “helped” make. Let’s be honest, the only thing they let the kids help with is maybe going to get the ingredients. Then there’s Pinterest Elf. I hate him the most. All of his little adventures every night that will be sure to make it to Facebook and Instagram make me want to go crawl in a hole because it’s the third day in a row that I’ve forgotten to move our Elf. Our Elf’s biggest adventure is making it to a different room.

There’s got to be a way to find more rest this season.

Then I remember the source to all of my rest throughout the year: Time with my Heavenly Father. I’ve decided this month, December, I’m going to make time for rest. Rest for me isn’t going to look like physical rest. No, I’ll be getting up in the wee hours to find it. Something about being up while darkness rules the sky and my house is still quiets my soul. When I go to the Lord before I start thinking about my to-do list I’m able to give Him my most pure thoughts and needs. I’m able to focus in a way I can’t when my family wakes up. I’m able to find rest for my soul. I encourage you to make time for rest this Christmas season. I’m going to get up early but maybe that’s not your thing and you like to stay up late after everyone’s gone to bed. Or maybe you lock yourself in the bathroom while your kids are watching a show. Whenever and wherever doesn’t matter, it just matters that you find the time. Christmas is crazy because we’ve made it into a big production. I’m all for Christmas. I love all the decorations and music and lights but let’s be honest, a baby being born in a barn with smelly animals is about as bare bones as it gets.

Take some time to make much of Jesus.

Reminisce on the hope we have because of what He did for us.

Meditate on His sovereignty and calm in the midst of the storm.

Remember His kindness that draws us in.

Sit under the weight of His love and forgiveness.

Rest.

 

When will you make time to rest this December?

-Courtney

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter!
Follow me on Instagram: @cpallen216
Can’t get enough? Click here and I’ll send these straight to your inbox!

Tagged , , , ,

Stop Throwing Christians Under the Bus

S1cfdaK8-5616-3744

Red cups. Guys, I can’t even deal with this. I feel like in order for me to move on from this topic I have to get my feelings out. I apologize in advance for the soapbox. I typically don’t weigh in on current events like this but it’s just so ridiculous that it’s drawing me in. Again, my apologies.

First of all, when did we start putting expectations on our coffee cups to fill us with Christmas spirit? Is this really the job of a cup? We’ve never asked our coffee cups to wish us Happy Birthday or Happy Thanksgiving, why is this different? My expectation of my coffee cup is for it to hold coffee. That’s it.

Second, when did we start using our coffee cups to tell others Merry Christmas? Are people walking around holding up their coffee cups at one another rather than actually saying “Merry Christmas?” Did I miss this phenomenon? No more saying “Merry Christmas” just hold up your cup it’ll say it for you. This is absurd.

Third, we do realize Starbucks is a secular company, right? Why on earth would we expect a company that doesn’t necessarily believe in Jesus to wish Jesus “Happy Birthday” on their cups? There’s no Christmas without the birth of Jesus so why would we expect them to recognize it as such?

It’s beyond frustrating that we’ve allowed a couple of people with platforms speak for all of us “Christians.” Acting as if all the “Christians” are in an uproar over a red cup. Did any one of these people take a poll to find out if the “Christians” are actually offended by the plain red cup before shooting off their mouths? According to my Facebook feed, apparently not. No one cares about the cups. Get over it. Please stop giving the world more ammo to shoot down the Christians. We make enough mistakes and blunders on our own without you throwing in nonsensical issues.

Can we just love people and not stir up dust over things that really don’t matter? Our measure of compassion for others matters. Our measure of grace for others matters. Our loving our neighbor matters. Red cups, not so much. It’s no wonder people are so disillusioned with the church and Christians if this is what we’re putting out there for the world to see. Why are we letting the nitpickers have the microphone? They don’t represent the majority of Christians who think this a stupid issue to begin with.

Let’s not let the devil take our eye off the ball. This red cup controversy is a distraction. It is silly. Fight a battle worth fighting. If Starbucks said they wouldn’t serve you coffee because you were a Christian that might be a battle worth fighting. Or you could go to one of the other bazillion coffee shops that exist. Fight good fights. Stay focused. And for the love, say Merry Christmas to others, don’t sit back and expect a cup to say it for you. Ok, stepping off my soapbox, hopefully I won’t trip on the way down.

Does this issue have anyone else baffled?

-Courtney

Follow me on Facebook & Twitter!

Follow me on Instagram: @cpallen216

Can’t get enough? Click here. I’ll send these to your inbox

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Christmas through my iPhone

So Christmas happened. And today I’m looking around to the pit that used to be my home thinking, “I’ve got to get it together and put Christmas away.” Instead, I’m writing a post about our Christmas because that’s far less daunting than cleaning up and putting away Christmas decorations. And because they say pictures are worth a thousand words, there will be many pictures. Consider these snapshots, if you will, into our last week and a half. Let’s get started…

IMG_3140

With this much candy in my purse, it’s obvious we went to the movies. I know, I should be ashamed of myself for sneaking candy into the movies. I know I’ve let many of you down. Sigh. Ok, enough of the shaming. We went to see “Annie” and it was such a cute movie! Highly recommend.

Next let’s move on to the baking…

IMG_3149

Rolling out the dough.

I’m not going to lie and tell you it’s always magical when my kids help me bake in the kitchen, but when it comes to Christmas cookies, I do kinda love it. I think it’s because several years ago I relinquished control of what the finished product would look like.

IMG_3143

Decorating.

I had hopes of Martha Stewart-esque Christmas cookies where the gingerbread men actually had faces and candy cane cookies had red and white stripes. Ah, a girl can dream. And unless your child has mad cookie decorating skills and is super OCD, you’re cookies will not look like something out of a magazine. They may look more like ours…big globs of icing with enormous amounts of sprinkles with a cookie hidden somewhere underneath. But guys, these cookies are AMAZING. They melt in your mouth. Well, as long as you don’t choke on the sprinkles. But the soft cookie with powdered sugar icing? Divine. (My secret: add a little almond extract to the icing. Trust me. It’s perfection.) What I loved about cookie making this year is that it was the first year my daughter could pretty much do it on her own. She’s been watching me do it for so long I didn’t even have to give her much instruction. When I said to her, “Man, it’s like you don’t even need me to help you anymore.” Her response? “Yeah, we pretty much don’t.” Always so sweet with her words that one. It did sting a little when she said that but it also made me realize she’s big enough to do things. I don’t have to hover so much. She may not do it exactly like me but she’s doing it. She’s learning. She’s going to do great things. Yes, I got all that from watching her make cookies. I may be a tad sentimental and not thinking clearly but never mind that.

Then after the cookies were made and iced and sprinkled,

I saw this…

IMG_3142

Wowza. 2007?!?!?!?! In case you’re playing catch up, my food coloring has been expired for 7 1/2 years. That’s longer than Blake’s been alive. A good mother probably would have thrown away the cookies and gone to the store to buy new food coloring and made the Christmas cookies all over again. I’m no such mother. And let’s be honest, I’m sure good mothers only use all natural food coloring without the fake dyes that are sold at Whole Foods for a cool $15 per color. Again, I’m no such mother. My kids have ingested this dye for the past 8 or so years and they’re mostly normal. I think it’s fine. Or at least, that’s what I like to tell myself. Moving on…

IMG_3145

And this is what my kitchen looked like for most of the Christmas season. No really. I’m still finding sprinkles in the crevices of the bar stools.

IMG_3146

No break from school is complete without a trip to Chick-Fil-A. Who am I kidding? No week is complete without a trip to Chick-Fil-A.

IMG_3147

Go to your room…

Then there was that moment when all the kids got sent to their room to “think about what Christmas is all about” because they wouldn’t stop fighting with each other. That was a blessed 30 minutes.

IMG_3150

Blake needed a few naps. Kindergarten is hard ya’ll so he needed to catch up on some serious ZZZZ’s.

IMG_3177IMG_3178IMG_3174

Rain, Rain Go Away…

There was roller skating with cousins on a rainy day….there were lots of rainy days this Christmas. I hope this gives you more insight into why my house is a pit. Kids were in it. all. the. time. Ok, I’m lying. It would be a pit regardless but kids didn’t help the situation.

IMG_3154

Then there was that time that all the kids looked and smiled for the camera before going to church on Christmas Eve. It truly was a Christmas miracle!

IMG_3190

So this was the situation after the kids went to bed on Christmas Eve. When I walked into our playroom and saw this, all I could think was “Oh boy, we might be up all night.” It was another Christmas miracle that our children didn’t wake up from the clanging poles and accidental curses. So many curses on Christmas Eve. It happens every year. Unfortunately, my husband and I are not engineers which is pretty much the degree you need to have to put a Pop-A-Shot basketball goal together. We muddled our way through it and actually made it to bed before 1:00am so we counted that as a win. And never mind that “Santa” had to rearrange the whole playroom for this new addition. But in all honesty I kinda like it better. Probably because we did a massive clean out of toys so there isn’t quite so much junk everywhere. The kids had a lot of fun on Christmas “versing” each other in pop-a-shot. Kyle might have schooled me more than once. Basketball is definitely not my game.

IMG_3169

The kids waiting on the stairs before seeing what Santa brought. I know what you’re thinking. “Where did she get those amazing Christmas pajamas?” I make it look effortless, don’t I? Don’t be jealous of my matching skillz. Santa did make it to our house and most of the children were pleased. Then we have that precious talk on Christmas morning about being thankful for gifts you receive and how that Christmas isn’t all about the presents, it’s all about the birth of Jesus and so on and so forth. This is usually met with sighs and slumped shoulders. It’s super fun if you’ve never experienced it. But overall they enjoyed Christmas very much and had a blast with our family.

IMG_3186

This was his favorite present. A gummy bear/worm/fish maker. He was sad Santa didn’t bring it but luckily his Nana and Pepaw came through. It’s probably one of those presents we will use once, maybe twice, then it will sit in our toy closet for a decade. Oh well. He loved it.

IMG_3184

Fantasy Come True.

And if you’ve followed the blog for a bit, you may remember my post on fantasy football. Well, looky who won his first time playing! He was beyond thrilled and his dad was beyond shocked! His sweet Uncle mailed him a trophy with his name engraved on it. When he opened it, he told me he felt like he had just won the Super Bowl. I can’t even. He will definitely be back to defend his title next year. I think he’s been turned into a lifer. Big sigh. Another one bites the dust.

IMG_3180

To top off the Christmas weekend, our dishwasher broke. Or the panel did. Whatever. It doesn’t work and I found out my 21st century hands are not meant for hand washing dishes. My delicate skin turns into newspaper about 3 dishes in. I’m sure I should wear gloves but I resist. Have you smelled the inside of those gloves? Gag. Hopefully the part to fix it will get here soon! Until then we’ll be enlarging our carbon footprint by using all styrofoam cups and paper plates. Sorry Earth. Hopefully, Jesus will come back soon and make a new one of you.

Now, my Christmas gifts this year deserve a post all their own. I thought it would be bittersweet saying goodbye to something I’ve had for so long but the new one is so sweet it was hard to be anything but excited! Stay tuned….

2014 was one for the books. Be on the lookout for my New Year’s resolutions. They’re coming soon!

So now, it’s your turn:

What was your favorite gift you gave this year?

What was your favorite gift you received?

-Courtney

Follow me on Facebook & Twitter!

Can’t get enough? Click here! I’ll send these to your inbox.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Mary, Did You Know?

On the way to Bethlehem.

On the way to Bethlehem.

So often at Christmas time my thoughts turn to Mary. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to misplace any of the worship onto Mary but I do think about her a great deal. I feel like I can relate to her in some way. Just so we’re clear, I’m aware God didn’t choose me to carry the Son of God in my womb. I’m also aware I didn’t give birth to Him. What I can relate to is being surprised by my circumstances. What I relate to is the feeling of not being ready for what God has called me to.

When I was pregnant with my first, I remember reading in Luke 1 about the angel Gabriel coming to tell Mary she was pregnant with Jesus. You all know the story. Mary, the unwed virgin, finds out she is going to conceive God’s Son, the Savior of the world. I think this is one of those stories that we get used to hearing so we sometimes forget the magnitude of it. But sitting there, pregnant, with my son I couldn’t help but feel a little bond with Mary. You see our first little boy was a surprise we didn’t see coming too. We were fresh out of college and newly married and babies were not even close to being on our radar. We were young and in love and felt like babies ourselves.

Mary & The Angel Gabriel.

Mary & The Angel Gabriel.

We weren’t ready. Why on earth would God think we were ready for something like this? Please know I’m not comparing myself to Mary in any way. I have no idea how she felt or what she experienced when that angel came and basically told her

You’re pregnant with God’s baby and still a virgin. Don’t worry God’s got this under control. Peace out.

What the what?

I’m sure Mary didn’t feel ready. I’m sure she had all kinds of questions. I’m sure she wondered how could she possibly explain all this to Joseph. I mean, can you even imagine? “Um, honey, so an angel came and told me that I’m pregnant with God’s Son. Surprise! Yeah, I know, I thought it seemed a little far-fetched too but I promise it’s the truth. No, I didn’t get the angel’s number. No, I’m not sure when. Well, I guess you’re going to have to take that up with God.”

What I love about Mary is her response to the angel.

And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ Luke 1:38

She had just received the most unbelievable news of her life and this is her response. Her response is submission to the Lord. Her response has nothing to do with how she feels and everything to do with her desire to serve the Lord. I have a sneaking suspicion this is why God chose her to be the mother of Jesus.

It’s Not About Me.

In my own life, I don’t think I’ve ever responded like Mary. I’m pretty sure my first responses to circumstances are, “So, how is this going to effect me? How am I going to do this? What’s in it for me?” My first response is always focused on me. Later I might get to the serving the Lord part but mainly I want to know how my life will be affected first. This was certainly the case when I found out I was pregnant the first time. All I could think about was how all our plans were going to be changed now. I always thought we’d work for a few years and save some money before we started a family. When I found out I was pregnant, I think my husband and I had been working at our new jobs approximately 6 weeks. We were broke. How were we going to be able to provide for a baby? Do not fear? Yeah right. I thought that was the only possible feeling I could have. We were scared out of our minds. We had been married about a minute and now we were going to be parents.

My Place In this World

Sweet Mary. How did she overcome her fear and doubt and submit to the Lord’s will so quickly? I think it’s because she knew her place in the world. She called herself “the servant of the Lord”. I’ve also heard other versions where she calls herself a “bondservant”. See, Mary knew something I often forget. Her life was not her own. She was a slave to the Most High God. She recognized this was her calling. I forget that it’s mine too. I want to control my life because I’m under the mistaken impression that it’s mine. I want to be in charge. I want to do what I want to do. Thank goodness God uses our circumstances to change our perspective. I don’t know that there has been anything in my life that’s pointed me to the Lord more than having kids. Hallelujah for that. He knew I needed them even if it wasn’t in my timing or on my terms. I think God takes great pleasure in reminding me that He’s God and I’m not. And He takes even greater pleasure in turning something I think is a mess into something completely beautiful.

Mary wasn’t perfect. I’m sure she screwed it up a time or two in her life. (Remember when she and Joseph left Jesus at the temple? Whoops.) But on that day, when the angel came, she got it right. Her relationship with God was at the forefront of her mind and she didn’t waiver. She was brave. I’m so thankful that God used those ordinary screwed up people in the Bible to carry out His will. He shows us that we don’t have to be ready, we just have to be available. We can do brave things even if we’re scared. And that gives hope to a scaredy-cat like me.

Merry Saturday, friends!! Go be brave!

-Courtney

Follow me on Facebook & Twitter!

Can’t get enough? Click here! I’ll send these to your inbox.

Tagged , , , , , , ,