2011 Countdown #3- Puddles and Rock Stars- remix

At any given time I maintain at least six girl crushes. If you don’t know what a girl crush is, it’s when you seriously admire another woman to the point where you’ve contemplated hanging around their mail box. You know, in hopes that you’ll bump into them and become best friends.  My girl crushes are rocks stars and role models in the areas of faith, fitness, parenting and cooking. Girl crushes are fun and fairly harmless, but it’s more important that our role models are not just celebrities but women in our real and everyday lives. You probably have a few girl- crush worthy rock stars at your church. These women ooze with spiritual discipline and always deeply engage during worship. They’re full of encouraging words and they faithfully pray for you when they tell you they will. Also, at least 72% of their tweets and Facebook updates are bible verses or worship song lyrics. They are truly spiritual rock stars, and the sort of strong, confident women we look up to and perhaps even envy. I’ll be honest, I’m not one of these women right now. I’ve been in a truly difficult season for over a year and I would say that lately, I’ve been more of a puddle than a rock star.

A year ago my mom took her life just as I was rounding my third trimester of pregnancy with our second child. After her death I felt like a shell of a person, just floating through life. After we returned home from our 2000 mile round trip journey to arrange her funeral I was nervous to return to church. I knew that grief and weariness showed on my face and I was somehow running on empty. I was also working in college ministry at the time and I worried about returning to work. I didn’t want my students to see me face down on my desk sobbing, or dragging myself to get another cup of coffee. For weeks after my Mom died I lived under the lie that God couldn’t use me as I was, that I was too weak. I believed it was better that I hide away for a while until I was in more presentable shape spiritually and emotionally. In the middle of my puddle months God taught me a new and valuable lesson. Even though I felt like a puddle on the floor, I was actually a rock star in a unique way. God wanted to use my puddle-ness to model what it meant to be authentic in a gray and difficult season. You see, if we’re only willing to be real when life is easy we leave people to navigate the stormy seasons from scratch, without any previous example of authentic brokenness. This world is a mess and we all experience the deep pain of loss in some form or fashion. If we downplay how much those experiences hurt, we create a community where people don’t feel comfortable being open with their struggles. This isn’t what God wants for us; He created us for close community with Himself and each other.

So, back to my story. I returned to church after my Mom’s death, and to be honest some Sundays I just sat there, buried my face in my hands and cried. When I was approached in the halls between services I was honest about how deeply I was hurting. I felt strongly that God wanted to use that season to show others that grief takes weeks, months and even years to truly heal. Deep hurts leave scars on our lives, but these healed wounds are beautiful monuments to God’s faithfulness, and our pressing need to be close to Him, come what may. I hope today you’re in a season without fresh wounds, healed and whole. If that’s you today, strive to be comfortable with those who are hurting. On the other hand, if today finds you with fresh, open wounds don’t feel guilty about your pain. This world is full of experiences and moments that cut us deeply. It isn’t how God intended it to be, but it’s the world we find ourselves in.

 

Mind if I offer you a little encouragement to take with you through those messy, painful times?

– Don’t be afraid to be honest and real about your pain, especially with your trustworthy friends.

– Don’t be ashamed to cry in church, you can be a pioneer who changes what we view as a “normal” response to grief and loss.

– Remember that God is resourceful and uses everything, even the messiest seasons for His glory.

– Be authentic about your journey and don’t be ashamed of pain or grief when it’s where your path takes you. Struggling does not mean you lack faith.

– Grab God’s hand and don’t let go, even when His ways are beyond confusing.

– When you’re in a sunnier season, support and encourage authentic healing for those in your community who are in a season of brokenness.

– Remember that the battle against death has already been won. Even on the darkest days, the light of this truth sustains.

This authentic way of living leads to true healing and strong women who God will use to display the whole and beautiful reality of His heaven here on earth. We’ll all walk through the sunny seasons as well as the dark valleys and when we’re brave enough to be puddles, that’s when we’re the true rock stars in disguise.

2011 Countdown- #4 The Saltine Diet

I feel like I have been hungry for a long time. I’ve been starving really, like the kind of hungry where you are ready to tuck in to a holiday feast, with pie and appetizers. This hunger hasn’t been for food, although I do love food don’t get me wrong.
I’ve been hungry to connect with people, with friends, with family. I want a good long meal filled with good food, laughter, and that comfortable feeling you have when you can be totally safe with someone. Where you’re not fearing judgment because you know you are safe, loved, and known. However most of my communication these days comes from texts, tweets, and e-messages in various forms. These feel like saltines for my hungry soul. When you are so hungry you are about to eat your own arm and someone hands you one saltine it’s a joke! You are thankful for a little something to chew on, but you need a whole lot more than this one little saltine. It won’t last.
Does anyone else feel like our techy forms of connection aren’t cutting it? Does anyone else long to have a good deep belly laugh instead of a twitter-inspired chuckle? Does anyone else want to eat pot roast together rather than take out alone over their iPhone? Is it just me or does anyone else feel like we are missing out on the connection God really had for us because face to face is so much more than pictures on a screen. The mountain view of the actual mountains can not be captured in a screen shot.
This whole year God has been calling me to something deeper. To something more satisfying. So I am going to throw some more dinner parties and try to get some more play dates. I am going to open up my home to friends in the hopes that they want to connect as much as I do.
This isn’t whining, or a guilt trip to you the reader. It’s a manifesto, a mini or maxi revolution. I don’t want to leave this earth not knowing those I love as fully as I can. I want to be known, to open up my closed off heart and be vulnerable. I want more connection with real friends and less casual contact with acquaintances.
So many poets have written about drinking deeply of this life. I am certain I am not alone in this world or in this time. Lonely is a human condition, we aren’t in the garden with our Lord anymore, there is this rift which isn’t healed yet. He is the only one who knows us fully and we aren’t in face to face relationship with him right now.
However he lives in each of us, so lets connect with each other and get as close as we can.
Go team.

2011 Countdown- #5 The Lies we Tell (with catchy video)

Well this weekend was my first experience speaking about my story and my message at the “Lies we tell” women’s retreat put on by H2O church in Ardmore, OK.  The theme of my message was the lie that “I have to be perfect” in the way I live my life and that “I have to be perfect” to be used by God.  For the second portion of the talk I leaned heavily on my article “Puddles and Rock Stars” featured here.

To add some comic relief we worked on this video to illustrate the way that social media puts forth the lie that we have to be perfect.  So often we log on to Facebook or twitter and see the best parts of the lives of our friends and family.  No one is posting a video of their most recent marriage knock out fight, but we certainly post hot date pics.  No one posts about failing a class, but a status about straight A’s isn’t rare.  It’s understandable to want to put your best face forward on social media, but the danger lies in believing that what we see on Facebook is a completely accurate picture of people’s real lives.  It’s not, it’s only the best parts, and if you feel like you don’t measure up to what you see in your news feed, remember that measuring your life against other people’s Facebook posts and tweets will always leave you feeling inadequate.  So do what you need to do to stop doing that.

And oh, if you get “the girl from Ipanema” or “The odd Couple Theme” stuck in your head this week, you’re welcome.  Use it to remember that you are uniquely awesome.

Express Advent- Season Finale, Noelle

Well here I am at the end of my struggle to celebrate Advent in my head and heart instead of my wallet and calendar.  I’ll give it to you straight up, I didn’t find all the depth and peace I was hoping for.  I got distracted and lost, I skipped daily readings and was less-than diligent, but you know what?  It was better than any other year before.  It was a step, a positive, freeing step in the right direction.  It will alter the way I do my future Christmasing and although I am a tad discouraged I need to find contentment with this step closer to the beauty of our Jesus.

As much as I love the classic Christmas hymns and phrases, when I think of the birth of Jesus I use the words “revolution” and a “game-changer” more than “Silent Night”.  Christmas was a turning point for the world and I love this so much that Kel and I named our first baby, a girl, Noelle.  You see, Christmas keeps my hope alive, because even when the world seems dark and totally impossible, light can burst on the scene and change everything, for always.  That is what my first baby girl was for me, she was the beginning of a beautiful new family.  Her birth solidified this hope that all the pain and gray from my past would blossom and grow into a vivid new legacy.  God is the true Redeemer of my life, but he has worked a thousand redemptions through my daughter in just 31 little months.

Christmas for me has always been a beacon of hope and restoration.  No matter how bad a year was there was always a hearty meal of love to be enjoyed at Christmas, even if it was almost drowned out by the noise of those we recently lost and buried.  Noelle is my reminder of that light and my commitment to use my hands, my life and my legacy to bring about God’s bright restoration on this earth.  Her name draws me back to the truth that because of Jesus, all is being restored, redeemed and set right.  All.  All.

Jesus is the game changer from pain to relief, dark to light, questions to answers and despair to hope.  He mends wounds and heals hearts, he fills holes and takes away loneliness.  If you get nothing else out of this day remember that the manger contained more than we could ever wrap our heads around.  Our absolute and total redemption.

Thank you Lord.  Again and again.

Amen

Express Advent #3- Preparation via Mary & Joseph

The second week and or candle on the traditional advent calendar is about Mary and Joseph and the preparations that they made to get ready for Jesus, which as I read it mainly involved travel.  If you read the account of the birth of Jesus in the four Gospels, you will notice that Mary travelled a lot for a pregnant lady.  And I can’t imagine donkey travel is comfortable, whether you are pregnant or not.

First she traveled to see her cousin Elizabeth to spend time together excitedly chatting about their babies on the way.  I have totally identified with this lately as I have gotten to sit with cousins and chat about babies.  Although ours are already here, there is really nothing quite like sharing exciting news with someone who has been a close friend since childhood.  There is a bond shared among memories of bikes, camping trips and failed bunny breeding business (yes really) that cannot be copied or replaced.  I totally get why she hopped on a donkey to spend time with Elizabeth.

Then when the time came for Jesus to be born she obediently traveled to Bethlehem, where her main squeeze, Joseph’s family was from.  Last Christmas I was incredibly pregnant and less comfortable than I have ever been in my life so I opted out of traveling for the Holidays, but Mary didn’t really have a choice because:

1) she was under orders from Caesar Augustus and Roman rulers aren’t super  sympathetic to the plight of anyone, let alone women in their third trimester

2) She had a lot of prophecies to fulfill by having her baby boy in Bethlehem, in a manger.

Bonus: After she had Jesus she had to hit the road again to go to Egypt to save her newborn little guy from being killed like all his other would-be peers.  Heartbreaking if you let yourself go there…

I’ve have been traveling a lot these past few days which is why you haven’t heard from me, maybe you’ve been packing bags and traveling too.  It is certainly not uncommon to do that around Christmas.  Travel in a mini van with two little ones is exhausting under the best circumstances.  I can’t imagine traveling on the back of an animal while being super pregnant.  I had to travel 940 miles in a dodge caravan, and it took me about 16 hours (mostly due to one very long breakfast at Cracker Barrel)  Mary and Joseph had to travel 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem and there is a lot of speculation as to how long this would have taken, as Joseph walked and Mary rode on the back of her trusty Donkey but most biblical historians say that it would have been slow going and taken about 5-7 days, which makes my 16 hours in a mini van seem like a pleasure cruise, screaming children aside. I don’t know if this is irreverent or not but… how sore must her butt have been?!

The thing is that with all of my reflection I don’t find myself with any pith insight to share, other than the simple face that I identify with Mary more than I ever have.  Our need for Family, Strength and God hasn’t changed since since 0 AD and I don’t foresee it changing any time soon.  Mary liked to laugh with her cousins, just like I do and Mary drew strength from God in the face of struggle, just like I try am ever trying to do.  We always paint her as this figure from long ago and I am finding that the more I consider her story, the more I can feel her Bethlehem get closer.

Express Advent- Day 2 Expectations

Well I am fairly certain that yesterday I alluded to the idea that the first part of advent is all about expectation, and our longing for the revolutionary freedom that is on its way through the birth of our savior.  When you think about the word expectation in todays context you will find that so often it is used to refer to expectations that go unmet or that don’t pan out.    And I would wager that our expectations skyrocket when it comes to Christmastime and all that it entails.  We plan and prepare, we are thoughtful and forward thinking and we envision moments, interactions and reactions that are often too lofty to play out in our living and dining rooms.  Then what are we left with?  Disappointment, hurt and crabby-ness and perhaps a great pair of fuzzy socks.  I love fuzzy socks, they are a game changer for my entire year.

Today didn’t go at all how I planned, it was the final day of preparations for our trip home to Michigan.  I expected a few last minute gift details, some packing, a few loose ends and eventually walking out of a cluttered, but clean house at around 10:00 am.  My expectations did NOT include a 4:45 AM wake up call, a living room strewn with clean laundry, a water main break or a set of new tires.  I ended up leaving a not clean and totally cluttered house at 12:15 in a state of total stress, hunger and fatigue.  My expectations went laughably unmet today and instead of calls to friends and family we got to call a plumber and make an appointment with Firestone.  Blah.

So often we think about all the scripture that was fulfilled and the dreams that were realized when the manger went form empty to full of a squirmy baby Jesus.  However there is an entire side of the coin that we don’t typically take into consideration and that side of the coin makes up a good majority of the Jewish people of Jesus’ day.  The Savior that they received didn’t line up with the savior that they were expecting, at all.  They were living in a time of intense tyranny and oppression.  Their day to day life centered around poverty, persecution and a tax rate that would send any wall street protestor straight home, dragging their picket sign between their legs.  They were expecting a political upheaval and a king that would set them free from the very visible and obvious bondage of Rome.

Up until this afternoon I didn’t take their side of the story to heart, because I always felt that they deserved the persecution that they were receiving.  After all, Israel was disobedient and they brought their issues with Rome upon themselves for their failure to follow Gods lead.  But then, uh oh… I’ve failed to follow, I’ve whined, I’ve fallen short of showing the world the truth of God.  Yet… I live in one of the freest societies in history, and yet that’s not what I deserve, at all.  That’s just me, I don’t know about you.

Yeah so Israel deserved it, and you know what?  So do we,  lets say a quick prayer for grace, eh?  The only difference here is that they missed the message and beauty of Jesus and we ( I hope) try see it, even though often it blurry to our eyes.  We, just like the nation of Israel, will struggle with expectations that go unmet on Christmas and this can cause us to miss the manger’s stark and life-shattering message.

In the next days you will meet obstacles and opposition and you might burn a cookie or two or forget to mail a card.  Instead of losing your religion, find Jesus right there in something beautiful around you.  I am starting to learn that most of the time beauty is within 10 feet of us, if only we would choose it.  So find the beauty, let it melt you, whisper a sweet prayer from a grateful heart and realize who is Lord of that moment.  PS it’s not you.

As for me, I choose to breathe in this week and allow the same Jesus who filled the manger to sill my senses with his truth and all the small and significant beauty that he is trying to show me.

What expectations are keeping you from experiencing this season the way God is giving it to you?  I choose to lay mine down and grab the sticky hands of my children and find joy in the simplest, yet most profound things that we discover together, typically on the floor.

Cosmic Santa

Today I’m linking up with JJ, (or as you may know her The Blah Blah Blahger) for her “Tales From the Tree” linkup, which is creating space for us to share about our favorite Christmas ornaments and the stories that they tell.

This is a “sort of repost” from Nov of 2011, but it’s been so edited and so many of you are new here, that I’m confident you’ll love it anyway.  

Growing up, Christmas was my favorite day of the year.  I could always count on Christmas to be a good day in our family.

My Dad was the Christmas King.  I miss him at Christmas most of all and my heart always spends a good deal of time wondering what Christmas would be like if he was still around.

Every year we would head out as a family to a local Christmas tree farm to hunt down that years evergreen centerpiece.

Then we would head home and haul the ornaments out of the basement while my Dad spent an hour in the garage, snipping away at the tree to even out the branches.  He was a perfectionist so I’m telling you that this part always seemed to take forever.

When the tree had a proper haircut, he would bring the tree inside and pray it stood up straight in it’s trunk, and about 50% of the time it did, and the other 50% of the time he ended up screwing the stand into the floorboards.

Then began the tediousness of watching him painstakingly wrap the tree in at least a dozen strands of lights.  As a child, every year I remember sitting on the couch wondering if my chance to decorate the tree would ever arrive.

Finally the moment came where my mother would carefully unwrap each ornament as hand them off to us as we hung every ornament, each one a memory, onto the branches of our tree.

But, there was one ornament that we saved for last.  The one that we saved the highest, most perfect branch for, my Dad’s favorite ornament, Cosmic Santa.

Cosmic Santa This is Cosmic Santa:

I don’t know the whole story behind him, but I know that he was a gift from my Dad’s mother, my Grandma Verkaik and that he made my Dad laugh.

When they asked me if there was anything I wanted sent from my parents house the Christmas after my mom died, Cosmic Santa was what I asked for.

Now he oversees our Christmas traditions here in Oklahoma.  I had to hot glue his helmet a little bit last year before I hung him up.  He’s getting up there in years, but I’m determined that he sees decades more Christmases with our family.

I even gave Kel a passionate lecture about how important he is to me, how Cosmic santa is kind of a big deal, and how when we unwrap him every year, he is required to make a big fuss as we hang him on the top branch.  This is non negotiable for me.

Every year, after tree is decorated, I pour myself a glass of red wine and allow my eyes to gaze over all the colorful and mismatched ornaments that grace our branches.  These Ornaments tell my story and many of them are gifts from my Grandma, who has been buying me Hallmark ornaments every year since I was born.

There’s a key from our first Christmas in our new home, a blinged-out acorn we picked out on a date night, and some pinecones we gathered on a winter walk while I was pregnant with Noelle.

They all bring back sweet memories from my journey, and Cosmic Santa soars over it all to remind me of where I come from, and the good parts of my family history that I am determined to carry into the future.

So when I look at his silver jet pack and bubbly helmet, instead of longing for what we’ve lost, I commit to building beautiful and lasting Christmas memories.  Memories that will become a foundation for my children to build on someday as they sip wine, with bedroom full of sleeping children, and take in their own grown up Christmas trees.

What’s your favorite ornament and what story does it tell?

Express Advent- Day 1

I am committed to turn it all around the last week of Christmas, If you need clarification, check out my intro post here and you can get caught up to speed on my Express Advent idea.

Okay, so my Express Advent (EA) day 1 looked like this.  I sat through a church service this morning about Jesus being the Lord over every aspect of my life, and I was hit in the face with the blunt truth of how little I really acknowledge his Lordship in my life.  So much so that I did this to my hand:

I haven’t written on my hands since high school, but I so deeply want this truth to sink into my skin, to be at the forefront of my life that I found myself pressing the pen to my hand as the truth sank in.  After a day of hand washing after bathroom breaks, dirty diapers and prepping food it’s almost all gone.

Isn’t that the way life so often goes?  If we aren’t careful the daily grind washes away the truth of God. So I neglected the grind more today and focused on the moments and the people, and so right now our family room looks like this, and I’m okay with it.

 

When I got home I sat with Kel and we talked, about frustrations, about burdens, about struggles and about all the things that we don’t let Jesus be Lord over.  Then we prayed.  And after our amen, instead of busying my hands I listened to the frenzy of my thoughts until I heard this song drifting meekly in my mind….

Come thou long expected Jesus
Born to set thy people free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in thee

So I repeated these lines, I wanted them to become my prayer for the day.

Jesus, please come into my Christmas, and set me free from all the “stuff” that I have stuck onto your season.  Piece by piece set me free from all the baggage I lug around.  Let my life be found-joy instead of stress and exhaustion.  I have fears and I have sins, I am tired, Lord please, please… help me to find my rest in thee.  But, what does this look like Lord?  My arms are full of “shoulds” and “need to’s” this season, what do I need to set down and walk away from?  What should I clear off of my calendar, erase from my to-do list?  Show me, lead me… my heart wants this.  I need this to survive, body, mind and spirit.  

We are expecting the coming of Jesus.  We live in the “in-between time”, Jesus has come, he has set us free from sin. He paid the price for our souls and he holds in his hands the key to our forever freedom.  Yet the world around is a broken beauty, it was created to delight us endlessly but it is broken completely and totally.  We await him to return one last time and redeem it all, set it all right.  In-between, that is the space in which we find ourselves this Christmas, 2011.  Our hearts are searching for wholeness in a broken world, our manger is full of hope and we yearn for intimacy with our God.  Our pain, our busyness, our brokenness keeps trying to pull us away from it and too often we walk away… but when we forget our hope, and neglect our relationship… then what?

I’m shooting from the hip here but .. I think that we just keep going back to the manger, to the cross, to the empty tomb and pray that God teaches us a better rhythm for our lives.  That he strengthens our connection.  We must keep the word grace on our lips and a prayer of repentance in our hearts.  I find myself sticking notes and quotes around my house to keep my wandering heart on course.

This week the world will clamor to grab your hand and pull you out of the stable, but I  want to stay inside, with the donkeys and sheep, waiting for the King to arrive.  I want to keep my eyes and my heart open for the moments God wants me to experience in the next week, do you?

Lets try this Action Item:  Be still for 5 minutes.  If you need food for thought:
– What are you expecting from this Christmas, are you doing something to make it happen?  What do your expectations say about the state of your heart and how do they affect how you are approaching Christmas Day?

Express Advent

We are a week out from Christmas, and I have been writing here about my deep desire to prepare my heart for the coming of Jesus.  I had big plans and goals of reflecting upon and journeying through the Advent season alongside my husband, children and friends.  Guess what?  I lied.  It’s a week out from Christmas and I am so stressed that for the past week I’ve been having mini panic attacks.  I haven’t rested my hands, in fact I may have given myself carpal tunnel.  I haven’t rested my spirit, I am anxious, nervous and exhausted.  I am spread thin, thinner than I have been in a long long time.  I do this almost every year, Christmas approaches with hope and I adopt beautiful and meaningful practices, only to abandon them by getting caught up in Christmas “stuff”.  I shop, I plan, I decorate, I make, I cook, and I serve.  All good things, but when done to excess, they can take your focus off the soon to be filled manger.

But not this year!  Not again, I will not, WILL NOT MISS IT AGAIN THIS YEAR!  I have decided to do something drastic, something new, and I am going to enter into a season I am calling “Express Advent” (yes this is a nod to Phil Dunfee)

I will be blogging about, tweeting about, and facebooking about #expressadvent.  I still have a week to center myself, my heart and my spirit around what it means to long for and then to celebrate the coming of Jesus.  So I’m delving into the 4 weeks of advent, in just one week.  And not just any week, the week before Christmas, often the busiest most stressful week of the year.

Here is my invitation to you, maybe you, like me, have almost missed it too.  Maybe your thoughts are at the mall, the grocery store or the post office instead of in the hills with the shepherds or in Bethlehem awaiting the coming King.  It’s not too late for us, lets not miss the restful, refreshing, revolutionary experience that Christmas is supposed to be.  Want to #expressadvent with me?   There may be a lot of content, so just read what you can and when you can, and if you don’t tweet, you can read the twitter feed on the side of the blog.

Follow along as I forge my way through a week of preparation and exploration.  Lets not let another year go by without “getting it.”

Oh and if you are going to #expressadvent with me, let me know by tweeting, commenting and posting links.  So many of us miss out on the depth of this season, lets unite in refusing to do it in 2011.

Calling it

Do you ever set overly lofty goals for yourself?  I do.  This is a very common occurrence in my life, I daresay that I am the queen of ridiculous goals.  My current pet goal?  Making all of 2011’s Christmas presents by hand, and by doing do saving tons of money and up cycling found resources such as bottles and old sheets.  Brilliant?  Well, in theory… until you find yourself on December 14 wanting to pull your hair out as you simultaneously take a baseball bat to your sewing machine and start jabbing people with crochet hooks.  You know… Hypothetically speaking.

Who am I kidding, there is no hypothetical here, this is all me, right now, this very night.  And since I am the queen of lofty unreachable goals, I am becoming very good at handling their inevitable failure.  So if this holiday season, or at any point in life you find yourself forced, for your own sanity, to call it quits on a goal that will otherwise kill you, here are a few tips.

1) Grace, If you can’t find space for grace, you’re screwed.  You aren’t a terrible failure across the board, you just bit off more than you can chew, again.  So breathe, and repeat after me: “I don’t suck, I just can’t do it all.”

2) Go to confession:  Ask a friend: “Hey I committed to this_____ but I think it may kill me if I don’t stop, what are your thoughts?”  Chances are they will support you in your need to take a few burdens off your back.

3) Laugh it off, Oops, you did it again, you set a goal that had great intentions but was way above your head.  Have a sense of humor about it.

4) Improvise!  Like tonight, I am making a list, checking it twice, and then letting UPS bring my presents pre made and stress free.

5) Repeat step 1, and maybe have some wine, read a book, and re tackle your problem in the morning.

So I may have mostly wrote that for me, but God has a funny way of using my foibles (dang I love that word) to help others.

And if that doesn’t help, then maybe this quote will:

“Whenever Christmas begins to burden, it’s a sign that I’ve taken on something of the world and not of Christ. Any weight in Christmas has to be of this world.” Ann Voskamp

That has conviction written all over it, especially if Christmas is crushing you tonight.