Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

From our family, to yours:

Have a Happy New Year, Ya'll! 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

How Jesus Ruined My Christmas

ru-in [roo-in] 

a fallen, wrecked, or decayed condition

the downfall or decay of anything

to devastate

to injure irretrievably

to fall to pieces

it implies irrevocable and often widespread damage...

6 For to us a child is born, 
   to us a son is given; 
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, 
   and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, 
   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
{Isaiah 9:6}

Jesus ruined my Christmas.

I have been somewhat melancholy during this particular Christmas season. 
Unable to get into the "Christmas spirit." 
Traditions that once brought me great joy, now left me feeling empty and unsatisfied.
All month long I've gone about my daily routines with this sort of gnawing sensation deep within me that I simply could not shake. 

I so desperately wanted to make this Christmas about Jesus. 

Having worked in retail {both secular and Christian} for 10 years or so, I have seen first hand what can happen to those who lose sight of why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. From Black Friday to Christmas Eve, I've seen the true ugliness of humanity. Men and women storm into shops and retail establishments in mass numbers, each one of them demanding discount upon discount; then screaming, cussing, or even threatening physical violence when the poor associate trying to help them{who is just trying to earn a paycheck by the way} cannot meet their demands. I've seen people accuse retail associates of "destroying" their Christmas because the product that they came in to purchase is no longer available. I've seen customers take advantage of the long lines at the register to shoplift and short-change associates. I've seen respectable men and women throw grown up temper tantrums when managers cannot bend company policies and procedures in order to meet their demands. 

Having also worked in a church, I have seen people in heated debates over whether or not to celebrate the life of St. Nicholas in their households. 
Or which seasonal phrase brings Jesus honor:
"Merry CHRISTmas"
"Happy Holidays"
I've seen church goers rant and rave over how Christmas Eve services are planned and executed.
Or leave the church all together because the traditional Christmas cantata has been canceled. 
I've seen more pride, anger, jealousy, rage, selfishness, and malicious behavior out of 
Christ followers during the month of December than any atheist or pagan I know.

Once I left the world of retail, and resigned as a member of our church staff, 
I vowed that I would never treat people in that manner.
That I would be different. 
I vowed that I would treat others with utmost respect, kindness, and patience during the holiday season. That I would not get caught up in the materialism of the season and instead, extend the love of Jesus by clothing the poor and feeding the hungry. That I would make it a point to smile everywhere I went. Or bake cookies and bring them to those who would not be able to celebrate Christmas with their families this year.
 I thought that I was spreading Christmas cheer everywhere I went. 
That I was celebrating Christmas in a way that honored Jesus. 

But I was wrong. 
Very wrong.

Jesus ruined my Christmas.

You see, I still didn't get it. 

Then late last night/early this morning He spoke to me. 
He reminded me of this:

Christmas isn't about gifts. 
You cannot buy it at the store.
You cannot wrap it and put it under the tree.
It isn't about Christmas trees or lights or decorations.
Christmas isn't about being kind and compassionate to one another.
It isn't about feeding the poor or clothing the homeless.
It isn't about spending extra time with your family.
It isn't reading about His birth in Luke 2.
Or even experiencing the awe and wonder...
...the beauty and majesty...
...of the manager. 

It's about a person.
One person in particular.

Christmas is a celebration of the fact that 
...unconditional, unimaginable, unexplainable...
came down and dwelt among us.
Christmas is all about enjoying the very Presence of God.
God With Us.
And He wants us to experience the wonder and hope of Christmas
not just once a year- but every single day of the year.

So it really doesn't matter 
whether or not we choose to buy our loved ones gifts.
Or put up a Christmas tree.
Or decorate our houses with lights.
Or travel about the neighborhoods singing Christmas carols.
Or baking Christmas cookies.
Or feeding the hungry and clothing the homeless.
None of those things 
{and they are good things. very good things.}
matter at all if we are too busy to take the time to be still and enjoy the very Presence of God.

You can do all of those things and still miss Christmas... 
just like I did.
You can do all of those things,
and experience the very hope and joy of Christmas.
Because you understood what Christmas was all about.
You took the time to bask in the Presence of the Most High.

That is what He wants. 
That is what brings Him glory.
Your time.
Your heart.

So please, don't spend this season arguing with each other 
over whether or not to wish someone 
"Merry Christmas" 
"Happy Holidays."
 Or angrily write "Merry CHRISTmas" on everything you can get your hands on
because "Jesus is the Reason for the Season."
Or debate over whether or not your children should celebrate Santa Claus.

Yes, I think Jesus asks each of us to "celebrate" His birth differently.
But what He has called one family to do does not mean that He has universally called all Christians to do the same. 
I think if we get too caught up in all of that we will miss it.

We will miss His Spirit calling us...
...inviting us...
...alluring us...
to simply enjoy Him.

 Jesus ruined my Christmas because I had forgotten what really mattered-
to take the time to seek His face.
To sit at His feet.
To bask in His glory.
To enjoy Him.

And I am so very glad He did.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Hope of Christmas

It cannot be purchased from stores...
 or found in the local mall.
You cannot wrap it and place it under a tree.

It can only be found

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

7 by Jen Hatmaker

Ya'll... I saw this trailer for Jen Hatmaker's upcoming book, 7, that releases in January 2012. 

I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to reading it. 

I can tell already that this will be a book that will most likely step on my toes a bit, challenge my way of doing things, and yet, inspire and encourage me to seek after the things of God rather than of the world. 

God has already started to challenge my way of thinking in several of the areas that Jen addresses in her new book, and I have a feeling that He is only going to continue to refine me through Jen's writing. I'll be sure to write a review once I'm finished reading it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Goal for 2012: Run a Half Marathon

It's time to hit the pavement! I've got a goal in mind {and a large one at that} and I'm not stopping until I achieve it. With the end of the year approaching and the dawning of a new one upon us, I've spent a lot of time thinking about some areas that I would like to change. One area in particular, is fitness. 

When I was in high school and in college, I used to run all of the time. I had sort of a love/hate relationship with running. It wasn't uncommon for me to dread my daily runs- because it was hard work and I was lazy, I suppose. But day after day, once I finally convinced myself to put on my running shoes and hit the pavement, I actually enjoyed what I was doing. The first few minutes of my run were always the toughest. My body would resist and I would literally have to fight off the urge to go sit on the couch. But once I "found my rhythm" I had a lot of fun! 

Then kids came along. I found myself making up excuse after excuse as to why I wouldn't lace up my running shoes and go for a jog. "I'm so tired!," "I need to fold the laundry," "It's too hot/cold outside to run." My list of excuses went on and on. Now I look in the mirror and at times don't even recognize "me." I used to be fit and healthy. What happened?! 

Well- I'm committed to making 2012 different. I think my problem with goal setting is that I usually set too many all at once. You know how it is... every year we make New Year's Resolutions and by the time February comes around we've either forgotten what we resolved to do, or we've given up completely. So I have decided that I will only set one goal for the year 2012: to run a half marathon. Here is how I plan to accomplish this goal:

Having fibromyalgia has made it difficult to work out in general, but I am not going to allow it to control my life. Weather effects my symptoms a lot of the time and living in Texas, which I often refer to as the Bi-Polar state {when it comes to weather}, does not help matters any. Which is why my parents so graciously gifted Greg and I with a treadmill for Christmas this year. A treadmill will allow me to go for a run, when the weather would otherwise keep me indoors, and keep me on track to meet my goal.

My next plan of action is to follow the c210k program. Many of you may be familiar with c25k (Couch to 5k). This is a similar plan only it will take me a little further than their beginner program. I've already downloaded their iPhone app and cannot wait to get started! To check out their program, click here

I plan to keep all of you updated with my progress as I make this journey, because I know that in order to achieve my goal, I will need a lot of support. I'm already checking out race schedules for next year because #1) you get a discount the earlier you register for a race and #2) I know that if I go ahead and register for a race, I will be even more motivated to accomplish my goal because I have invested money into it. 

Are any of you runners? I'd love to hear from you on any of the following topics: 
training, running gear, races, tips/advice, or words of encouragement. 

Well- I'm about to go complete c210k Day 1 Week 1.
Wish me luck!

A Social Media Christmas...

Just Watch:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Late Night thoughts from Greg

I must admit.  I’m weird.  I’m an introvert, yet the leader at my workplace.  I’m colorblind, but enjoy a good Van Gogh or Picasso.  I hate to write, but am a freak about grammar (and can pull off a pretty-stinkin’-good essay when called upon).  You could say I don’t hear as well as some would wish, but I enjoy Bach, Beethoven, and other sorts of Classical music- which I air-conduct at the same time.  I’m left handed, but am no right-brained individual. 

People often wonder about introverts and think that they are (a) jobless, sitting in a basement, playing X-Box or (b) computer programmers, IRS auditors, and analysts (not the TV types).  For me, introversion involves working in public, leading staff and meetings, and handling customer service issues; which thankfully, are few and far between.  I even enjoy a good party every now and then.  Most not-so-psychologically-educated types would say, “That sounds like an extrovert”.  My wife would tell you that I can put a good front- a REAL good one.  When people find out I’m an introvert, there is generally shock.  “No way!  I had no idea!”  What they don’t see is after the party, or after work.  I am exhausted, not necessarily from physical exertion but from the actual interaction of party guests, customers, etc. (A good blog post for introverted leaders, go visit  When I am “tired” of people (use the term “tired” very loosely), or “peopled out” one could say, I shut down.  When I come home from work, I really and truly feel for Megan, because I, pretty much, require a “reboot”- which entails about an hour or so of doing and thinking nothing.  I say all this not to say that I don’t enjoy or like people or wish I had a basement with an X-Box.  I love people, but, to me, they take time and energy (that I don’t always have). 

I don’t usually tell friends right off that I’m colorblind.  I guess I’m odd in a certain way, and yes, it’s clinical- I did learn my colors- I just can’t tell you what they are.  I am perfectly content telling a stranger that I’m colorblind, probably because it makes for an interesting story at a party (“Hey, Joe, I met a colorblind person today!”).  I guess you could say I’m color-deficient, not so much colorblind.  I see colors- lots of colors.  Just not the way you may see them.  I may see A LOT more orange, blue, green, and yellow than you will EVER see in your lifetime.  I relegate my color “knowledge”, as I choose to call it, to about 10 or 15 colors.  More than that and you’ve got me tuckered out.  I have a real thing about the color brown.  My mind may tell me, “Greg, it’s BROWN!” but I cannot get myself to say it.  I will default to green, because it couldn’t possibly be brown.  The only things in my life that are brown are dead leaves, tree trunks, old rusty cars (or is that red?), poo, and of course, brownies.  I know what color the sky is, the grass is, that car, your hair, your shoes, ___________, as long as it’s in my little color wheel of colors I’m comfortable enough to acknowledge.  (On a more serious note) I guess it all stems from mockery I faced when it came time to color (because that’s what happens when the dog eats your lesson plan, teacher) in elementary school.  So, I colored “brown” things green, and red things orange, and purple things blue, because heaven forbid I color a blue thing purple and be accused of not knowing my colors (as a Highest Honor Roll student).  The first optometrist who treated me for general vision issues stared at me incredulously as if I didn’t know my colors when he rendered the test.  He told me, “Look harder, how do you not see that?”  I learned much later (at a job where I worked for an optometrist) that you really don’t have to look hard at all.  If you don’t have color-vision deficiency you will see a 36, if you have it, you see 12.  On a lighter note, my freshman year (high school) art teacher painted my color wheel project for me.  That was one project I didn’t have to worry about.  Pretty simple.  But art!  Oh my goodness, do I love a good painting.  I see lots of paintings (prints more so than paintings) throughout the day.  Most are pretty good.  But I just have something for “Starry Night”.  I’m sure most people do, but for a color blind person it looks pretty good.  I also enjoy looking at pictures of Santorini, Greece.  That’s nice on a color blind person’s eyes. 

The last time I blogged was well over 2 years ago.  My most notable blog was on a recent page-not this one- called Baby Bumps and Heath Ledger (we had seen The Dark Knight while Megan was pregnant with Rylan).  I still refer back to that from time to time.  It was quite funny.  Anyway, I will be the first to admit that I am no Ernest Hemingway.  Goodness, that man had a way with words.  In 8th grade, every Friday in English, we had the opportunity to let our minds melt out onto paper in what we always affectionately called “creative writing”.  My problem was that I never, in all of 8th grade, completed a story.  I had one story that went for 10 pages, then trashed it because everything came apart.  I started using “then” A LOT to drag the plot along.  By then, I knew I was done.  Thankfully, we never turned any of our creative writing assignments in.  Looking back on it, I think it was our teacher’s way of taking a day off.  I had an assignment in 9th grade that blew my teacher away and earned the assignment from the whole class as “suck up”- which earned me the right to grade their grammar homework for Mrs. Johnson.  I guess you could say I learned some valuable skills that helped me through my formative education years in that class.  Even though I do not like to write, and it has taken monumental inspiration to drag myself here to write a blog post, I have certain quirks with words.  I’ve been told I’m pretty good at writing. I know that statement immediately invokes criticism of too many commas, not enough semi-colons, too many parentheses, and the like.  But, all that aside, I’m quirky with words.  I do not like double negatives, subject-verb disagreement (He don’t?  Are you kidding me?!), the extreme usage of punctuation (really?!?!?!?!?!), incorrect usage of punctuation (you don’t use an ellipsis to invoke a pause in thought, that’s what a hyphen is for- or to tie two words together), and ending sentences with prepositions (phrases are perfectly acceptable).  I have a thing about contractions in professional emails as well.  I avoid them like the plague for the very reason that I think professional emails should not have contractions.  I’m not entirely sure where I heard that, but it seems to work okay.  My staff probably hates it, but I correct double negatives and subject verb disagreement ad nauseum.  I admit, I’m working on it, but it still grates on me.  I once dated a girl who put an “L” in vacuum, dropped the first “R” in frustrate, and yes, put a third “I” in mischievous (there’s only two- I PROMISE! ß1 exclamation point).  Spelling is a BIG quirk of mine.  It always has been.  I went to an elementary school that graded penmanship (that’s how well you can write with a pen and paper) and spelling.  I totally bombed a quiz, though; over the proper use of the words “lain” “lay” and “laid”.  Funny thing was that whatever you missed on a spelling test you had to take home and re-write 10 times until you spelled it correctly (“Really?”  Yes.).  We had words to look up in a dictionary and write out their meaning (yes, their, not there, or they’reß that’s another quirk), as well.  I’m not saying that you must speak like Shakespeare around me (I never was good at poetry), and I will try my hardest to be gracious if you make a grammar goof.

Music.  I love music.  I must thank Mrs. Theresa Cornett, my 3rd grade teacher, who “taught” classical music appreciation once a week after lunch- as well as 3rd graders could learn it.  We would sit down and listen to movements by Beethoven, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Handel, and Strauss.  When I get the chance to watch Little Einsteins, I enjoy the mess out of it.  I took band in middle school, becoming proficient at the cornet.  My “D”s were always a bit sharp, ‘cause I could never kick out that 3rd slide at the right time.  I love to air-conduct in the car (by myself- sorry babe).  Unfortunately, we don’t have a jazz station in Texarkana like we did in Dallas.  Nothing kills the stress of rush-hour like Brandenburg Concerto #3 or Handel’s “Water Music” alla Hornpipe.  That’s music!  I don’t look the type (at least I don’t think so) that traditionally loves this kind of music.  There really is not much I don’t like.  I can listen to Vivaldi, Michael W. Smith, Top 40, Country, and even (gasp- how can I utter this- or write it) rap- in small doses, and I prefer the spunky 80s/early 90s stuff.   

Finally, people are oft confused when they see I am left handed.  Truly, I’d like to say I’m not really ambidextrous (not ambidextrious ß put that into Word and you get the squiggly underline that says “You spelled that one wrong”), since I look like an absolute buffoon eating with my right hand.  If you want to see a 1st grader’s handwriting, just put a pen in my right hand.  Thank you, Mrs. Cox and Mrs. Papazian, for not forcing me to switch hands in preschool and kindergarten.  If you want to see me throw like a girl (you never will), make me throw with my- left arm.  I can do most other things with both legs.  I earned the nickname “Boomer” from my Dad during soccer.  I was always strong with my right leg, but the left was there if I was caught in a pinch.  The biggest surprise most people find when they discover I am left-handed is how left brained I can be.  Oh, I’m right-brained a lot of the time, but, like soccer, the left is there in a pinch when I need it.  I’m sure most people are like that, but I had been told by those outside my primary sphere of influence that I was destined to be a musician, artist, or author- none of which really, to an 8 year old mind, made any money in life, and therefore did not deserve super high aspirations.  I study sitting up, not laying down.  I’m not fanciful; instead, I love details.  I generally go from parts to the whole (typical left-brain dominance thinking) in my planning.  I plan out the budget the way I wish it to go, apply the mighty dollar, and make my cuts.  I usually do an outline first, though I can usually write a paper, on the spot, then write an outline to go along with it, if the teacher needed an outline first (lucky me, then my paper was done too- no one told me this until college though). 

I’ve realized something in the last couple hours I spent writing this.  First, my headache went away (I know I didn’t say I had one, but it’s gone now).  Second, looking at the last paragraph, I admit that I am not a typical right-brain dominated individual, but I sure love right-brained things.  I love words, pictures, and music- things which drive left-brained people nuts.  Right-brained individuals tend to be your more introverted types, of which I am, though I try not to let it master me.  I guess I could say I’m weird because, really, I’m normal.  I feel confident to say I’m balanced- like a good cup of coffee- in a place where you’re told to fit into one mold or another.  I guess I could encourage you to say break out of your mold.  Try some air-band in the car on the way home.  Break out an excel sheet, throw some numbers up, and see what you can do.  Send out the wife/husband and kids, and sit quietly in your house-just you-or, throw a party and see how long it takes for you to get “peopled out”.  Go to an art museum for the heck of it.  Act like you’re enjoying the paintings even if you’re not, or try painting for yourself (with oil and canvas- not the computer).  Who cares if it looks like 1st grade watercolors?  Balance works everywhere in life, except with Jesus.  Go all in on Him.

Boot Scootin' Boogie

I don't know why, but whenever I think of boots, this song immediately comes to mind:

Anyone else?
Or is it just me?

Anywho.... Saturday afternoon my parents took Hayden, Rylan and I to Cavender's. They wanted to get the boys another pair of boots as a part of their Christmas present, as their boots from last year have already gotten too small. {That's just what kids do. They outgrow things in the blink of an eye. One day they fit, and the next, you're having to go buy them more stuff. It's crazy!} As we were browsing the selection of kids boots, Rylan ran straight for these:

Ya'll... I about died! There is NO WAY I was going to let my son walk out of that door wearing pink boots. Good thing G-Dad quickly steered him toward a pair of manly boots that happened to look just like his. I was forever grateful. And I'm pretty sure Greg was too! 

So after trying on a dozen pair of boots of various styles and colors, they both settled on these:

Cute {I, err, mean... handsome} right?!

And I even got an unexpected pair myself as an early birthday present! I haven't had a pair of legit cowboy boots since I was roughly Hayden's age. I was in awe as I aimlessly walked around the store looking for the perfect pair. I finally found these and I absolutely love them! 

Thank you, Mom & Dad! We LOVE our boots! 

Oh, My! Looks Who's 5!

Well... Almost

Being a Christmas baby {literally} can be hard at times, especially when you are young, so we celebrated  Hayden's birthday a few weeks early.{I can totally relate. My birthday is the 21st}

Hayden absolutely LOVES sharing his birthday with Jesus. He thinks that it is the greatest gift in the world to be able to share his special day with the King of Kings! {His words. No lie.} But I know from experience that it can be difficult on a young child when all of your friends cannot make it to your birthday party because of other family obligations, the seemingly unending list of Christmas parties that they must attend, etc... Nevertheless, Hayden has handled this with such grace. For now, he doesn't seem to mind simply celebrating his special day with just his family. So that's exactly what we did.

Below are a few of my favorite pictures, 
as we celebrated the birth of one very special young man.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I cannot believe that I have not blogged in about a month...


Have you ever gone through a season in your life where God has revealed so much about Himself- that it's... almost...I don't know, overwhelming? Don't get me wrong-  it's been incredible! but at the same time, I often cannot find the words to even begin describing all that He has taught me in the last 9 months- unless you have about 3 hours to just sit and talk. And let's be honest, who has that kind of spare time these days?

I've come to my computer several times in fact, to blog about all that God has taught me recently, only to find myself staring blankly at the screen, drumming my fingers idly across the keyboard, just praying that my mind could somehow form a cohesive thought that was worth reading. Now, here I am... It's almost midnight. I should be fast asleep in my bed-but I'm wide awake.

My mind is restless.

I blame it on the coffee that I so thoroughly enjoyed late this afternoon, but in all honesty, I don't think it's that...

My spirit has been in tension this Christmas.

It's usually my favorite time of year. I look forward with great anticipation to decorating the house in all of the traditional holiday decor. I simply love listening to various Christmas stations on Pandora- filling the house with sweet melodies sung for the Christ-child. I love the way the house smells at the holidays- a mixture of scented candles, Christmas cookies, and Crayola markers {I have small children. We do lots of crafts this time of year}. I love driving down the street looking at the beautiful Christmas lights and yard displays. And, call me crazy, but I love wrapping gifts. I don't know why- I just do.

But something has been different about this year. The things that I usually love about the holidays have left me somewhat empty...unsatisfied. I couldn't put my finger on what exactly was going on with me until I read a blog post by one of my favorite authors, Jen Hatmaker. In this particular post {which I strongly encourage you to read} Jen describes a similar tension during the holidays that she and her family have battled for years, and their decision to give Christmas back to Jesus. Ya'll, it was as though Jen looked inside my heart, saw what was going on, and wrote a blog post about it.


At least, for my family, that is...

Greg and I have decided that our family will celebrate Christmas a little bit differently from now on. We're still in the process of figuring out what exactly it will look like for us next year, but we want to give Christmas back to Jesus. We've discussed several different ways of celebrating Christmas, but I think I may leave it for another blog post, as this one is getting considerably long.

But we do know this: we want less emphasis on ourselves, and more emphasis on Him.