The offerings under the tree: Life lessons from While You Were Sleeping

Have you noticed the multitude of articles and mommy blog posts dedicated to advising us poor parents on how to deal with those gifts we receive that don’t meet up to our standards in some way? “But I clearly said only organic, wooden toys.” The parents cringe as their children open something that most certainly does not fit that description. 

I have wrestled with this a lot because, like nearly everyone, I have my own set of standards I like to meet when it comes to the things we bring into our home. I can understand and agree that it’s nice when outsiders try to respect those standards. It’s a huge blessing, in fact. But what I don’t like is when we dictate what gifts we will and will not receive, as if our standards grant us the right to become miffed (even if in secret) by the gifts that people give us. A gift should be something that brings people together in a tighter relationship, not something that creates division. Continue reading

Chatting with Angela: Journeying through motherhood and ministry

In 2011 my husband and I moved with Seb, then a one year old, to Durham, North Carolina in order for Cody to attend a masters program at Duke University. There we met Angela Compton Nelson and her husband, Jeff. In the spring they welcomed their daughter, Juniper Magdalene, and we were able to meet her briefly and reconnect with Jeff and Angela during a whirlwind 3 hour visit in Durham. I am continually inspired by Angela’s life and ideas as she shares them on Instagram, and was eager to ask her a few questions about her life and faith. Here she shares her approach to beginning religious education with their 8 month old daughter, incorporating symbols of the Christian faith at home, some of the sources that inspire her, and her journey and calling as a minister. Continue reading

An unapolgetically unoriginal gift guide

As time passes, my desire for novelty in my possessions fades.

The fact is, our space is limited, and if your family is anything like mine, you’ve moved several times and have more moves ahead of you. Two-bedroom apartment living has been our past and will be our future for at least 3 more years. This means that while I want our home to be a haven of rest and peace and hospitality, we also just can’t physically (and for me mentally) deal with a lot of possessions.

I’m not anti-novelty. I love novelty. I love traveling to a new place, popping into a newly discovered shop, or breathing in a new vista. But I think there is limited space for novelty with our things. This doesn’t mean we can’t have new items for our homes, it means that maybe our new things, when we need them, should feel just a bit like “old” things and contribute to our homes in meaningful ways. If you missed it, you can read more about giving with intention and how it has the potential to impact our relationships. Continue reading

Chatting with Paige: Hospitality in the difficult and simple places

I am so happy to be back with the second part of my interview with Paige Gutacker. Thank you for being patient! You can find the first part about prayer here.

In this second installment we delve into the layers of hospitality and what it means for us and our communities, and how it plays out in our homes. I know that Paige’s words will inspire you during this season of Advent to show bold hospitality to your friends, neighbors, and strangers. Continue reading

Nurturing your village… by giving with intention

There is a lot of tension wrapped up in the concept and act of giving a gift. In this season our senses are on high alert for the best deal, the coolest new gadget, or something that will get us that “wow” expression when the paper and ribbons are torn away. We nearly burst blood vessels trying to think of the perfect gift for Uncle Fred.

Some of the tensions that I personally feel deal with the desire for minimalism, but also the desire to bless abundantly. I am a gift-giver at my core. I also have a strong conviction that quality is to be desired over quanitity, and longevity and usefulness of the gift is preferable to the “wow factor.” Of course, if you can have both, all the better! And then there’s the ever-present money/lack-of-money factor that we all wrestle with regardless of the size of your paycheck.

My husband and I were having a conversation about these things when we realized that there’s another tension at play. Perhaps we need to talk more about human needs. Continue reading