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

CHRISTMAS PLAYLIST

Happy Holiday | Bing Crosby

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear | Johnny Mathis

The Little Drummer Boy | Harry Simeone Chorale

Silent Night | Frank Sinatra

White Christmas | Dean Martin

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen | Perry Como

Jingle Bell Rock | Bobby Helms

All I Want For Christmas | Ray Charles

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas | Perry Como & The Fontane Sisters

O Little Town Of Bethlehem | Frank Sinatra

Away In A Manger | Bing Crosby

Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree | Brenda Lee

Baby, It’s Cold Outside | Dean Martin

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas | Judy Garland

I’m old school. Mariah Carey and Glee Christmas can only last me so long before I revert back to the traditional songs I grew up on. I don’t know what it is about Bing and Perry that set my heart ablaze, but they really know how to make Christmas sound right.

I hope this playlist brings you joy this season. Grab some hot chocolate and your loved ones, and enjoy! And if you’re a Pandora listener, check out their Christmas Radio station. It’s full of the good ole stuff.

Merry Christmas

#thingsadored

SECURITY IN A CHANGING WORLD

As I sit on my back porch, coffee in hand, I watch as the leaves slowly fall from the trees. Just a week ago, green still filled the branches as touches of orange, red, and yellow found their new home. It’s breathtaking. There’s nowhere else I would rather be than quietly sitting in the sun while watching the wind blow the colorful branches back and forth. Back and forth. But as I watch one leaf fall, two leaves fall, then three, four, and five, I realize that winter will soon take it’s proper place and remove every last leaf from its home.

It saddens me to think that such beauty can be removed, replaced, and eventually replenished once more after another long year in waiting. A lot can happen in a year. We experience birth and death. We go through job changes and moves. We’re given good news and bad. Our lives, this world, is a never-ending shift.

And change can be hard.

Sometimes I just want to stop the clock, go back to the happy, youthful days when there wasn’t a care in the world and evil still seemed so far removed from our daily lives. But this world doesn’t stop for anyone. As much as we long for those perfect playground days to go on forever, we eventually grow old and experience life in an entirely new light. People change. Places change. Rules change. But one thing stays the same.

“They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will role them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” Hebrews 1:11-12

Our Father in Heaven remains. When your friends betray you and move on, Christ stays. When you lose loved ones, Christ stays. When your drug and alcohol addiction pushes everyone away, Christ stays. When your parents decide there are other priorities in their lives, Christ stays. When sickness creeps in and your health disappears, Christ stays. When the leadership of your country strays from the path it once was on, Christ stays.

In a changing world, Christ is our only security.

Feel like the ground beneath you is crumbling, and all you want to do is remain in that one place? Me too. But we can’t depend on anything around us to stay fastened. As tempting as it is to grasp on tightly to earthly securities, the only stronghold we have is Him. Christ is changeless. He is always fair, just, and merciful to us who are so undeserving. Nothing we do can change Him or His love for us. Whatever may happen in this world, He Is. Nothing else can or will stand firm.

On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.

#thingsadored

Originally posted by The Simply Beloved

HOMELESS

Home (n.): the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.

The place where one lives permanently… I don’t have that. Now, before this comes off as ungrateful, let me begin by saying I am very blessed. God has poured an abundance of grace and love into my life. He has taken us all over the country, connected me with so many people, and introduced an entirely new world I never knew before. Yet, I’ve still been struggling lately.

My husband and I live a pretty nomadic life. His career in the NFL has us living in both Baltimore, MD and Memphis, TN; and my career as an actor has us located in Los Angeles, CA for a few months as well. So, in a twelve month time frame, we move at least five times between those three cities.

Now my problem isn’t with the shuffling from here to there, deciding between whether to fly or drive, or constantly wondering if my favorite sweater was left on the east coast or the west. Lately, I’ve been struggling with the urge to settle down into one place – one city – one home with all our belongings where we can spend each week with everyone else that gets to live in one house all year long. Now that I think of it, I haven’t lived in one town for twelve consistent months since 2006. I feel unplugged, out of place, fleeting, as though I don’t belong anywhere.

Living in LA for a few months a year is incredible. The weather is beautiful, there’s so much to do, and I’m surrounded by people striving for the same thing I am. The entire city is full of actors, writers, musicians, directors. Everywhere you go, you’re inspired. The thing about LA is it’s super fast paced – there’s a never-ending shift and everyone is going going going. So when someone like me comes in for a few months at a time, I leave and it’s like I was never there. You build relationships, you do your best to keep in touch, but it’s never a permanent, comfortable feeling.

In Baltimore, I have the support of the girls on the team. We’re all going through the ups and downs of the NFL together. They are my family. The women here are the ones I spend holidays with because there’s a chance you could be watching Morgan on TV while you eat your Thanksgiving dinner. They take me to lunch on my birthday, call me over to hang out when the guys are away, and they’ll probably be the ones to come over when my screaming newborn won’t settle down while I’m home alone. However, we won’t be in Baltimore once he’s done with the Ravens, so even though we have an amazing life here, it’s still an awkward temporary mindset.

Now Memphis will always be a ‘home’ for us. It’s where we were both raised, and all of our family is there. I get more homesick for Memphis than I do with either of the other two cities. Even so, I go back and still feel left behind. The people and places are the same, but life has moved on despite my absence. I’m missing so many things that happen while I’m away that I feel like an intruder. Yet, so many things change for me while I’m gone that I feel like a fish out of water, too.

I’m caught between three different worlds. When I’m in one place, I try to talk about my life in the other cities, but no one can identify. Each time I move, I readjust to the people and the lifestyle. There’s an internal battle to merge the three together, but it’s a battle I’m fighting alone because no one else can relate. My friends in Baltimore don’t know my family in Memphis, and our teammates on the Ravens have no idea how to respond when I talk about an audition I’ve just had in LA. Home is all three places and none of the three at the same time. I belong, but I don’t. I’m constantly surrounded, yet completely alone. Home is everywhere, yet nowhere.

And why do none of these places feel like home?

Because none of them truly are.

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on this earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have an opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:13-16

No matter how hard I try, I will never be completely comfortable. Whether we are living in one place or ten, we will always feel a bit unsettled because this is not our true home. We don’t belong here. This life was only meant to be for a short time, and I’m at peace with that. One day we will no longer feel uneasy, unsure, overlooked, or forgotten. We will be settled in our forever home with our heavenly Father. Don’t be discouraged when you feel like a stranger on this earth. This life is temporary, and when God’s timing is right, those of us who trust in the Lord will be reunited in our eternal home. To stay.

#thingsadored

Originally posted on The Simply Beloved