holiday things to chat about

There are so many wonderful things going on in the webiverse this season. Let’s take a look at some of them, shall we?

christmas

Check out this sweet community of writers and readers, celebrating a season of change, a life of return @ Christmas Change.

Rachel @ Small Notebook wrote a great post last year called Come As You Are: Christmas Without the Frenzy. Not a new Christmas concept, but one I can’t get enough of. She takes it back to the basics, something she is so good at doing.

A Christmas Card Picture Quiz @ Never Say Never. I got a good chuckle from this one. And for what it’s worth, I scored a 36.

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester
Don’t forget to link up with your holiday decor photos for the Christmas Tour of Homes at Nesting Place on Monday. I’ve been taking some photos of my newly open living room.

Here’s something fun: Blog Nosh Magazine is hosting a linky sharing stories of  hope, sponsored by Tide Loads of Hope. It is quite simply a laundromat on wheels, offering laundry services to families affected by disasters. Megan Jordan of Velveteen Mind is the Founder and Editor-in-Cheif of Blog Nosh and lost every.material.thing. in Hurricane Katrina.

She knows that of which she speaks.

Read her amazing story here.

I tell you about this a) because it’s awesome and b) because I know you girls are filled with hope AND you can write. So link up at Blog Nosh with your own stories of hope, either a new post or a previously written one from your archives.

Merry Two Weeks Before Christmas.

to believe

with santa

Growing up, Mom told us Santa was a game everyone played at Christmas. She said It’s okay to pretend, but really Christmas is about Jesus. And that was that. Then she would warn us not to talk about it in front of the other kids because we might ruin the game for them. I kept that secret under lock and key, even as I listened to friends debate his existence on cold, Indiana playgrounds and worn out tire swings.

Still, I watched. And on Christmas Eve, I kinda sorta tried to hear sleigh bells.

We tell our children a similar version of the same thing. But it doesn’t seem to matter what we say. They still kinda sorta think maybe he might be real a little bit. I think that’s okay. I want them to own what they believe in life, even in the small things. So I tell them Bible stories, put out the nativity, answer their questions in truth and love. And I let them watch Rudolph. It’s a hodge-podge of re-living my own childhood Christmas memories as well as learning what it means to make new and meaningful ones for them.

I’m glad for these early introductions to their other-than-me-ness. I’m thankful for this innocent opportunity to talk about faith, choice and belief. In all of this, I learn again that I can’t control my kids. I can’t make them believe or not believe anything just because I say it. I have responsibilites to teach just as they have choices to make. They are little God image-bearers,  created to choose love and life. Because eventhough they are only in kindergarten, their growing choices will have real consequences, more than just staying up too late on Christmas Eve to hear reindeer hooves.

wrap up

morning

Though Tuesday is my favorite day of the week, Wednesday is becoming a close second because that is the day I usually finish reading the Tuesdays Unwrapped posts. I can’t help but highlight a few of my favorites in case you didn’t get a chance to browse them.

Stolen Moment @ This Restless Heart

O Christmas Tree @ Under Our Red Roof

The Time is Coming @ Through a Glass, Darkly

Adding a Leaf to the Table @ Jo’s Kitchen Table (a really fun announcement!)

Unwrapping a Memory @ Imparting Grace (One of  my most favorite unwrapped moments. Ever.)

I have found some of my favorite blogs by hosting this linky and I hope you have, too. There is nothing like discovering like-minded, kindred-spirit type girls. And sometimes fellas, too. Thanks for letting us in a bit and sharing your thankful perspectives.

tuesday unwrapped

looking for the sleigh

Even though she has been told he isn’t real and even though the boys are too old to believe in him anyway, they ran to the window as the waitress announced that Santa would be leaving soon. Where is his sleigh? we hear the small skeptics say; a dare rather than a genuine question.

Still, there they stood, as if waiting for him to hail a cab while at the same time, hoping to see some shred of proof that they were wrong. They know the truth. They are looking for loopholes, just as skeptics ought to do. Unexpectedly, I see a gift in their halfhearted waiting. I see a glimpse of Advent.

Rather than wait for something we know will never come, we wait to celebrate One who has come already. Rather than roll our eyes and scoff at a fake magic maker who fails to deliver, we stand in awe of our Maker and Deliverer. God with us, for us, in us. What a gift.

Picture16-11

will dance for rolls

Our family won’t be spending much money on gifts for each other this year. Instead, we are trying to be purposeful about spending time together. So this weekend, my parents and my sister’s family came to spend the weekend with us. One thing we wanted to do while we were together was to eat four sticks of butter.

butter

I kid. Kind of. Actually, we wanted to make Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls because they are the most wonderful, festive, fantastically delicious tin full of fat you will ever eat. So my kitchen was filled up with flour, sugar, tag-playing-kids and Bing Crosby’s White Christmas.

cooking

There was a lot of butter and a little dancing. The recipe makes seven tins of rolls. Pioneer Woman talks about making these and delivering them to friends at the holidays. What a great idea, we thought, as we finished off the third tin. Granted, there were twelve of us. But still. That’s a lot of rolls.

PW's Rolls

I did deliver one tin to my sister-in-law and it was extremely satisfying to show up on her cold doorstep with warm, maple, coffee smelling rolls. I assume everyone has heard of these, but if you are one of the three who haven’t, here is the recipe. And we only ended up using three sticks of butter, so they’re that much closer to healthy.

Home is...
**I’m linking this post with Sandy’s Home is… party.

the gift of the funk

dead mums

Sometimes I’m not thankful. There are days when I am so restless I can’t see straight. Days when the funk settles like a fat troll who made his way up from under the bridge and plopped his hairy, nasty feet up on my shiny coffee table. Days when dead mums on the porch aren’t a reminder of happy memories from autumn gone by or the beauty of the natural course of life. Sometimes they’re just ugly, dead mums.

How it is possible for a girl who is happily married, has three healthy babies and a beautiful warm home to be ill-content? How can I, a woman who doesn’t have cancer, a daughter with both parents living, a sister as a best friend and enough money to buy what she needs and some extra, how dare I feel ungracious?

I’ve heard people, when they are going through a struggle or a hard time, try to reconcile the hard time with the presence of God and say things like “Life is hard but God is good.” or something like that. But what about when life is good? My life is good. Still, it isn’t enough.

It’s because I wasn’t created to be healthy. I wasn’t created for a blessed life, a healthy life, a life that is overflowing with abundant goodness. I know that because I have all of that. And it isn’t enough.

It is important to notice and celebrate the small and sacred things like we do here on Tuesdays. But those small, sacred things do not a content life make. It no longer surprises me when I feel ungracious in the midst of abundance. It instead reminds me that the daily gifts are tiny shadow-like reflections of the Giver.

For in Him, all the fullness of Diety dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete.  Colossians 2:9-10a

unwrapping the crazy

thanksgiving

As I stood on a chair at my mom’s house and took in this scene, I knew before I snapped the shot that it would be my favorite of all the photos I took on Thanksgiving. And it is.

Do you have a favorite snapshot from Thanksgiving, in all its chaotic glory? Perhaps your gift is a quiet moment, a gentle touch, a thoughtful word, a man who loves you, a friend who gets it. Though official Thanksgiving has passed, let’s continue a lifestyle of noticing and celebrating the small and the sacred.

If you are new to unwrapping your Tuesday with us, please take a quick minute to read this post, particularly the part that explains how to link up using a permalink. Last week nearly 10 links were deleted because they were linked using the wrong address. If you have no idea what I’m talking about but want to join, feel free to email me: emily(at)chattingatthesky(dot)com.

As always, if you are reading in a reader, you will need to click over to the blog to see the lovely links. I encourage you to do so. Thank you for making Tuesdays my favorite day of the week.

christmas swap

My beautiful friend Cambre hosted a Christmas swap last night. Everyone brought either new or used decorations they no longer want or need as well as some things they got as gifts that would never work for anyone. Ever.

freaky face ornament

It looks as thought the “artist” got a little bit distracted while painting on the eyebrows. Of course, with my luck, this disturbed angel is a pricelessly priceless authentic piece of Christmas heirloomness. I still have her, just in case. She fell out of the box in my car before I went into the party. Lucky girl. Still, I took some other stuff I didn’t need and came home with a bag full of these non-freaky ornaments.

ornaments

And all of this other lovely stuff.

normal stuff

What a fantastic way to get new Christmas stuff without spending a dime. Not to mention the hanging out with friends part. Or the getting rid of stuff you don’t want part. It was just the little inspiration I needed.

swap

Elisabeth poses with her finds.

If you’re interested, my sister wrote a great post on how to host your own swap.

in the zone

rest

We’ve entered the serious zone of rest around here. After two days of eating and laughing and Mom doing the cooking, life has slowed to a crawl and I am reveling in the pace of it. Here’s to one more bite and an extra workout on Monday.