All posts by Lauren Cox

RINGING IN 2016

Oh 2015, the year of new adventures.

It was interesting for sure. I became an aunt, booked a few jobs, lived alone for the first time, and drove drove drove til my tush was numb – all while spending 1/3 of the year away from my husband. It was rough. But it was a good rough.

I mean, let’s face it. No one’s year turned out like they would have envisioned. May it be good surprises or tire-popping potholes, we all encountered something unexpected, and the same thing will happen next year. The best thing we can do is be ready to face the giants of 2016 head-on while paying attention to the little details along the way.

Today has been entertaining though. It’s the last day of the year, and everyone is reflecting on what happened the last 365 days. I could join in by listing what I did, who I met, where I went, and how I changed, but I’ll spare you the gag sesh. I know what I’m proud of. I’ll keep it to myself. Instead, I’d like to share with you some things I learned + precautions I will take in 2016. Feel free to take notes.

Lessons from 2015

Your hair can and will get stuck in a blowdryer. I’m not the exception to the rule.

Not everyone loves my dog as much as I do.

Selfies are ok as long as you use a tripod.

Ticks are real. Very real.

75% of what comes out of my mouth at home is completely ignored by my husband. I’m ok with it.

You should keep your eyes open at all times while singing in the car.

It may take buying seven or eight lip stains to find the right shade. Oops.

Living alone is fun. It only takes 3 weeks to stop crying!

You won’t ‘literally die’ from giving up a TV show or two.

And lastly, it’s ok to touch other people’s pets and babies. Just ask first.

Goals for 2016

Go on more hikes.

Eat less bread and cheese. And tator tots. No more tator tots.

Try my best to actually use the 100 bottles of nail polish I own.

Get more than two haircuts a year.

Give gifts and compliments often.

Wear more sunscreen – not because I need to, but because apparently it’s healthy.

Say yes to everything. But not drugs. Don’t do drugs.

Take more pictures with Morgan. 

Give away more clothes. Give away, like, all my clothes.

Love everyone. With all that you have. No matter what.

I hope you all have a blessed New Year. Be safe. Have fun. Keep my lists for future reference.

Love,

Lauren

Photos by Anna Grace Photography

THE CHRISTMAS PATH

In this world, there is a lot of uncertainty. We go through life not always having the answers, and sometimes it’s frustrating to be blinded by the unknown. So, we do the best we can. We cling to ideas and beliefs that best suit our needs. By creating our own truths and rules, we can justify our actions.

So how do you find the correct path? How do you know which one is right…

Many people ask, why Jesus? Why is He the way? What makes Christianity so different from every other religion or idea?

It’s quite a complex question to ask. Some people like to think of it this way: God is sitting atop a mountain and on all sides of the mountain are different paths. You may take a different path to get to the top, but we all end up in the same place as long as you believe in God or a higher power of some sort. So if everyone makes it up there somehow, why Christianity over something else? Why Jesus? Why the cross?

Take a journey with me to the top of this mountain. You’ve got your hiking boots on, backpack filled with food and water, equipment to get you through the rough patches, and you know which direction you’re headed. In the first thirty minutes it’s smooth sailing until you come across some poison ivy. You hop over to another path only to find it’s snake infested. Backtrack to the previous route, and you’re good to go. Well just kidding, you’ve come up on a drop off too high and your equipment just won’t cut it. Now you transition to another route. This pathway is gorgeous. The scenery is breathtaking! After an hour or so of trees and flowers and a view to die for, you get wrapped up and eat some berries that were not meant for your stomach. You take a break to feel better and choose a fourth path. This path leads you to the top but when you get there – nothing. You’re standing up there completely alone and confused. You can’t figure out why all your hard work was wasted. There’s no one there but you.

Why?

One word:

CHRISTMAS

In every other religion, we have to work to get to God. But instead of waiting for us to come to Him, He sent His Son to earth to save us. He humbly left His throne in heaven to become flesh and take on the sins of the world. Jesus doesn’t force us to take that journey. He’s not sitting in heaven with His nose held high, judging the world and reminding us of all our shortcomings. He came down. Why? Because He loves us.

What other god did that? None other than Jesus Christ.

And that’s what Christmas is all about. It is about our Lord leaving heaven to save us from an impossible journey that would only lead to defeat because of sin. No amount of effort on our part can get us to heaven. What happened on the cross does. We aren’t worthy of eternal life with God, so

He gave us a Way up by sending His Son down.

I don’t know all the answers. I won’t until I’m resurrected with the rest of our brothers and sisters. But one thing I do know is this: even if I wasn’t sure about religion, even if I had more questions than answers, even if the grass seemed greener on the other side, I would rather follow a God that sacrificed for me than a god who didn’t.

You can climb all day long. Climb as high as you want. But just know that you don’t have to because two thousand years ago, a Savior was born in a manger. While other religions are busy trying to reach unrealistic expectations, our Father is kneeling down to meet us where we are. That’s what’s different about Jesus. His love and forgiveness.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

Merry Christmas

#thingsadored

How many Kings stepped down from their thrones?

How many Lords have abandoned their homes?

How many Greats have become the least for me?

And how many gods have poured out their hearts

To romance a world that is torn all apart?

How many Fathers gave up their Sons for me?

Only One did that for me.

Find the song here.

EXPLORE MORE

Welcome to Owings Mills, MD, the last place on earth you’d expect to wind up in a scene like this one. And believe me when I say that my mouth hit the floor when I stumbled upon this little corner of the earth. It’s incredible. I’ve visited this trail a few times lately, and I find myself thinking about it all the time.

It’s pet friendly, too!

As I get older, I find myself wanting more of this – more adventure, beauty, solitude, peacefulness, and reminders of God’s love. It’s places like these that cause me to think of how big the world is and how small I am. But it also shows us how much we’re loved.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?” Job 12:7-9

God is the only one responsible or capable of such beauty. It’s a beauty we should constantly seek and never stop giving thanks for.

So grab a friend and go exploring! You never know what you may find out there.

Jacket | Francesca’s

Sweater | H&M

Pants | Garage

Boots | Target

Hat | Under Armor

#thingsadored

CHRISTMAS ANTIQUES

I wandered the aisles looking for little trinkets to bring home and make my own. They were things that had been long forgotten by their original owners, but they were new to me. The Island of Misfit Toys had nothing on Sheffield Antiques. I had hit the jackpot and lost all self control.

If you’re old school like me, try wandering around an antique store near you for your next Christmas purchases. Macy’s is great, and Nordstrom has some really nice decorations, but nothing fills a home with Christmas cheer like the secrets hidden in an old ornament that once hung joyfully on someone else’s tree.

There are so many treasures to be found, but we always tend to draw to what’s shiny and new. Why not dust off that 1950’s Santa on aisle E that’s been waiting to cheer someone up for the past ten years? I think you’ll find he does a really great job.

#thingsadored

CRAZY JOY

Oh Christmas time! The most wonderful time of the year. It really is, isn’t it? No other holiday can compare when it comes to the food, music, decorations, and traditions. And what sweeter praise than that of our Savior entering the world. It melts the heart and warms the soul.

My favorite thing to do is cuddle up in front of a warm fire with a cup of hot chocolate while my favorite Christmas songs play on the record player next to the glowing tree. Nothing fills your home with peace like songs of worship and a manger scene on your mantle. Sadly, this season is gradually overbooking itself and stealing away those comfy couch nights. Between parties, jobs, charity events, and family gatherings, there’s hardly any time to stay in and rest. I can already feel the stress of the mess called my social calendar taking over. And it’s quite overwhelming.

But that’s how the holidays go, right? Each year, we say we’re going to take it easy this time. We’re going to get ahead of the gift-wrapping and the cooking and “actually enjoy this Christmas”. Then, we’re surprised that it’s the same chaotic thing as last year. We finish the Thanksgiving leftovers, blink, and it’s Dec. 26th.

So how do we slow down without slowing down? How do we breath while we’re suffocated by tinsel and bows?

Be intentional.

You’re already ahead of the game because you know what’s coming. You know who to buy gifts for, you have access to a calendar, and you have Christ to lean on.  Don’t let your To-Do list intimidate you; don’t be afraid to say ‘no thank you’ if it’s getting to be too much; and most importantly, set aside some time to spend with God. Read your Bible this holiday season, and pray for peace when you feel it leaving you.

The LORD gives strength to His people; the LORD blesses His people with peace. PSALM 29:11

The biggest mistake we can make is thinking we can get through the holidays without His help. Christmas isn’t about the hustle-and-bustle. It’s about HIM! It’s about love, generosity, and Jesus Christ coming into the world to selflessly show us the Way. You can’t keep the crazy from coming, but you can be intentional about it.

Instead of looking at your gift list and letting it freak you out, bring a friend to help and make it fun! Stop to talk over coffee or take a Christmas lights viewing detour. Then, when it’s time to wrap all those gifts, make hot chocolate and put on some Christmas music or a Hallmark channel movie in the background. And on those days full of family and food, don’t stress over what you’re bringing – let Pinterest do that for you! Smile that you can serve your loved ones, and look forward to sitting with them around a fire. Ask them questions about how they’re doing and what’s been going on.

The Grinch put it best:

He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming! It came!

Somehow or other, it came just the same!

We can’t stop the crazy. So embrace it. Have fun. Give thanks. And don’t let the true meaning of Christmas get away from you in the process. This season is about a Savior leaving His heavenly home to come to earth for a short time. And in that short time, He saved us. But it all started with a baby in a manger, three wise men bringing gifts from afar, and Mary trusting the LORD with everything she had.

Jesus came to serve and to do it joyfully. Be glad that you have people in your life you can celebrate with. Instead of letting the enemy steal your joy this season, pray for peace from the Prince of Peace Himself. Do everything with a purpose: To Love.

He puzzled and puzzed til his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.

Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.

Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more!

#thingsadored

Originally posted on The Simply Beloved