Thanksday #97 :: Stocking Stuffer Edition

THANKSDAY-01

YA. ALL.

My name is Monica, and my last Thanksday was ONE YEAR AND 10 DAYS AGO. I haven’t blogged here in general in NINE MONTHS. I’m not sure what to say about that, other than my creative cup has overflowed because of Be Still Be Free, and there were no words left for over here.

However.

I’m starting to feel a shift coming…thoughts and such have been swirling around in my mind and heart, and my fingers have been itchy, and I’m starting to gravitate toward writing again. Maybe that’s because it’s quiet in my house during the day now (thanks, Kindergarten!) and so I have time to think the thoughts.

At any rate, I can’t make any promises about what the future holds over here, or that I’ll have any sort of consistent writing schedule. What I can promise though, is that once a year I’ll do a Thanksday. (I’m all about setting realistic goals.)

That being said, I thought it would be fun to do a Thanksday that is focused on items you could consider for stocking stuffers for your daughter/sister/mom/friend. I don’t know about you, but stocking stuffers are the HARDEST things to buy. You don’t want to give 500 packs of gum and candy canes, right?

So as I was thinking about it, I realized there are some various items in my life right now that I ADORE, and would be darling for Christmas stockings. These run the gamut in prices, so there’s something for everyone…and in case there’s something here you might like for your own self, you could always accidentally send the link to this post to your husband.

Ahem.

Without further ado, here are this year’s Thanksdays!

1. Dead Sea Minerals Dead Sea Mud Bar Soap ($4). Okay, guys. My skin has never looked better since I started using this as my daily face soap. Perhaps my clean(er) eating has something to do with it, and maybe my spinny-face brush too, but from the first day I started using this I noticed it looked and felt a bazillion times better. And I was able to buy it at my local grocery storewhich for the mountains is a huge win.

Soap-Mud1

2. Burt’s Bees Pomegranate Lip Balm ($3). You can tell me all about your EOS, your Susie Chapstick, your Carmex and your Vaseline, but I will turn up my nose and shun you, because this is the only chapstick I will ever use, forever and ever amen. I do not want the original beeswax, the tropical, the Acai or even the Blueberry and Dark Chocolate. Give me Pomegranate or give me death, I say. (Not literally. You know what I mean.)

BURTS BEES copy

3. Peter Thomas Roth Pore Putty Pore and Wrinkle Reducer ($38). Straight up, here’s where I’m at: I’m officially “in my 40s” now and cannot, any longer, rely on grocery-store makeup to do the trick. I could get away with it in my 20s for sure, and slid by in my 30s…but the time has come when my pores are enormous, the wrinkles are coming and Maybe it’s Maybelline isn’t going to help me. I can’t remember where I found out about this product, but I have to tell you it’s easily my most favorite facial product ever. It’s extremely lightweight and non-greasy (don’t let the name “putty” deter you), and can be worn alone, under make up or even over makeup. Between the Dead Sea Mud soap and this, I literally use nothing else on my face most days — not even powder. Supposedly, the longer you use it, it “provides long-term clinical benefits to help reduce the appearance of pores to impart a smoother, more youthful look.” I haven’t used it long-term enough to verify this, but I will tell you I am very well pleased.

PORE PUTTY

4. Yankee Candle Mistletoe Car Jar ($5). Forever and always and all the year through, Christmas tree smells will always be my most favorite. I grabbed this little number over Thanksgiving and immediately put it in my car and have driven with happy grins ever since. Granted, my brother-in-law may have nicknamed me Buddy the Elf because of how gleeful I am over the whole thing, but I just called  him a Cotton-Headed Ninny Muggins and carried on with my pine dreams. (There are other scents too, of course, but why even bother?)

CAR JAR

5. Nordstrom Gift Card (Any Amount!). Did you know that you can use a regular Nordstrom Gift Card at a Nordstrom Rack store? ‘TIS TRUE. Is there anything better than having a gift card for a great pair of boots you find on sale at the Rack? ‘TIS NOT.

NORDSTROM

6. Starbucks Christmas Blend Espresso Roast (on sale right now online for only $10.46, regularly $15). This will always make my favorite things list each year, because it’s amaze. The regular Christmas Blend roast is delicious too, of course. Who wouldn’t want a stocking that smells of coffee?

CHRISTMAS BLEND

7. Darling Magazine Subscription ($64 Yearly Subscription). If you don’t know about Darling magazine yet, you need to get thee on the ball. Started by a former Christian book publisher, it’s an oversize, gorgeous quarterly magazine that prides itself on celebrating “The Art of Being a Woman” and proudly boasts in NO RETOUCHING EVER. Just read their mission statement which is on the back cover of every issue:

DARLING MISSION

Their photography is breathtaking, no advertising ever, and every single photo, article and fashion item is modest, uplifting, encouraging and delightful. You know what it’s like to read this magazine? It’s like your eyes take an enormous deep breath.

DARLING CURRENT ISSUE

8. Return to Tiffany Round Tag Key Ring ($135). OKAY YES, I PUT SOMETHING FROM TIFFANY ON THIS LIST. A girl needs to dream, right?? And this is fairly affordable (by Tiffany standards) and I just adore it. There’s also a plain tag that’s engrave-able (wouldn’t a nice BE look sweet on there??) and the best part of the gift is that darling blue box and ribbon. Can you imagine my her sheer delight pulling that box out of her stocking??

KEY RING

9. Victor & Rolf Flowerbomb Travel Spray ($26). My favorite scent, hands-down, is Rosewood by Banana Republic. I’ve worn it for ages and never once thought to look elsewhere until I discovered it’s now discontinued. Soon after my tears dried up, Nordstrom sent a booklet in the mail with samples of current fragrances, and lo, I fell hard for this one. I have no idea what it would actually smell like on me, but it’s “a floral explosion, a profusion of flowers that has the power to make everything seem more positive.” I don’t even normally like florals, but something about this was spesh. And the travel size of this lets you give it a good try without committing to the full size.

FLOWERBOMB

10. Live Inspired Write Now Journals ($7). I found one of these journals years ago at some cute store in Nashville, and fell head-over-heels. The paper is great quality, the lines are light and not too bold, it’s an odd-over size,  yet has just a small number of pages. I don’t know what it is about these, but I can’t get enough. There’s a wide variety of cover options, sure to make your journaler’s day.

JOURNAL

Well friends, that felt good. I hope you’ve been able to get some new ideas for that special loved one in your life, and I think there’s just enough time to find something and get it ordered!

What are some of the things you love to give? Leave a comment and share the love.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Advertisements

Thanksday #96

THANKSDAY-01

I’ve long neglected this space. Be started 14 months ago and has been my heartbeat (and rightfully so), but lately there has been a pull back to here — this place that’s just me, exploring and pondering and wondering — and I’ve found myself hopping back. Checking things out. Testing my fingers in these waters and enjoying the rush of cool and peace and home.

So I wrote something this week. And it felt awkward at first, and then familiar, and then like walking in the front door after a semester at college. This has always been, and always will be, the safe place I come home to.

There’s no place like home for the holidays, am I right?

As I typed out a status update on Facebook today, it brought to mind gratitude and thanksgiving and my heart again was pulled back here. After all, it is Thursday — Thanksday — and I got that wild urge to make me a thankful list.

(I also got that wild urge to forget to pick up my kids from school and just take off to The Big City for some shopping, but I thought this would be the more responsible thing to do.)

In no particular order, thankfuls for this week:

1. Christmas Blend Espresso Roast. It just might be what I look forward to the most every Christmas, but for some bizarre reason, they are only making half-pound bags right now, which makes me want to pull my hair out. Yes, I could just buy two, but I miss the big shiny bags with the fancy Christmas design. It doesn’t look as festive in an 8-oz size. (But it’s still delicious, don’t get me wrong.)

2. Pandora. All I play right now is my Frank Sinatra holidays station, and my car is a happy place full of the crooning of Frank, Ella, Dean, Sammy, Billie, Louie and others belting out Christmas favorites. My car is an even happier place when I’m be-bopping along with a Christmas Blend in my hand.

3. A Clean & Quiet House. I love being at home in the mornings, completely alone, in a house that’s decorated for Christmas and clean. Everything stays exactly where I leave it for those precious few hours, and there are no wrestling figures laying around, or shoes in my way, or crumbs trailing or PAW Patrol blaring. Sitting in peace and quiet and clean makes my heart so happy.

4. Mollie. Mollie is our three-year old Maltese we adopted at the beginning of the summer, and she is unquestionably the perfect dog for this family. She’s incredibly low-key, relaxed, chill, small, doesn’t shed, and the kids melt into puddles around her. Compared to Dogtastrophe of 2012 when psycho dog came into our lives briefly, not a day goes by that we don’t celebrate the chillness that is Molls. Even now, she’s just curled up into a ball on the white fuzzy blanket, and I can’t tell where she ends and the blanket begins. I love that. And I love my kids don’t walk around with high blood pressure and raised shoulders around her, unsure if she’ll snap or not. ‘Cuz not.

5. Breakfast Dates. For the first time in an embarrassing six months, Greg and I had a breakfast date this week. We used to do them weekly during the school year last year, but this year has been chaotic as I’ve done an extraordinary amount of traveling (which I am NOT complaining about and hey, Santa, bring me some more of that this year? Please and thanks.). But this week it made me remember with glee how much I love spending time with my husband. He is my most best BFF and honestly I’d rather hang out with him than anyone else on the planet. That was a fun omelet, and I’d like to do that again soon. (Please and thanks.)

6. The Dollar Store. Because wrapping paper, bows, ribbons and gift tags don’t come cheap, and I’m trying to save wherever possible.

7. Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Red Dahlia. This stuff is my jam. I can’t stand lipstick anymore, and lip stains don’t work for me. But this stuff right here? It rocks my face off. It’s soft and creamy and just enough color to make it actually look like I have lips (somehow, as I’ve gotten older, they are blending into the color of my skin. What the??). I forgot to grab my tube of this one day while we were at Disney World, and when I mentioned out loud I needed chapstick, my amazing sister-in-law pulled out hers and said I could borrow some. IT WAS THIS EXACT LIP BALM. I died with joy, and I fell in love with her more, as if that were even possible. (Burt’s has other colors too, but this is the best, IMHO.)

8. Phone Dates. I had a (long overdue) phone chat with one of my BFFs from the Wessside this week, and it made my heart burst wide open and tears flood from my eyes realizing how much I miss my people out there. It was so wonderful to hear her voice and catch up properly on life happenings. While Facebook is great for keeping tabs on everyone, nothing compares to voice-to-voice conversation and shared laughter to the point of happy tears. (Well actually, nothing compares to doing that in person, but this is the next best thing.)

9. Wrapping Gifts. It is a completely love-hate relationship, gift wrapping. I love to do it — it’s cathartic and fun and I can sort of zone out while I do it — but I’m also a bit of a perfectionist about it (thanks, Mom! I love tape!). I’m trying a new thing this year — wrapping as I go — hoping that doing a little bit each day will make wrapping all fun instead of stressful. Or, if my family wants to send gifts pre-wrapped this year, that’s great too! (Hint, ahem, cough, grin.)

10. The Best Yes. Over at Be, we were able to have a wonderful conversation with Lysa TerKeurst about her latest book, The Best Yes. (You can listen to it here.) The entire book (and our interview with her about it) is about giving yourself permission to make the best decisions for yourself and your life (with God’s guidance, of course) and gracing yourself to let out a NO from time to time. It’s a game-changer, this one. And as we embark into one of the busiest and stressful most wonderful times of the year, the timing of this message is impeccable. I’m giving myself permission to give only best yeses this Christmas as well as from now on, and I’m excited about it.

Well lookie there. I just completed my first Thanksday in 10 months. That felt nice.

What about you? What’re some things you’re thankful for this week? (Or have you been thankful for in the past 10 months?) Leave a comment and share the gratitude! And I’ll see you in another 10 months soon!

Week 5: GIFTS (Foreign Languages)

FOREIGN LANGUAGES-01

Here we are, the final installment of the Foreign Languages series. I do hope this has helped you define your relationships better, and helped equip you to speak love in the way that your loved one — spouse, friend, parent, sibling — will hear and receive. (In case you’ve missed the previous five weeks, you can read them all here.)

So gifts.

As best I can tell, the only person close to me that speaks love through gifts is my daughter. (And if I’ve misread you, GOOD HEAVENS I’M SORRY.) While it comes as no surprise that a child has a love language of giving and receiving gifts, I think now that she’s nine, we’ve narrowed hers down to gifts first, and words of affirmation second.

Lord, help me. Because I suck at speaking both.

I remember the first inklings that helped me figure out this was her: I’d bring her home a 99-cent Silly Putty from the grocery store and she treated it like gold. She refuses to ever throw away any toy because of who gave it to her and for what occasion. She wants to buy things for other people all the time and gets immense joy out of picking out gifts. Small things, like flowers picked from the meadow or a handmade card make her day — and make mine, too, because I get them when I’ve filled her little love tank.

Giving and receiving gifts is something many people enjoy, for sure. But for the person whose primary love language is gifts, it goes beyond the “Aw, thank you, I love it” and turns into “You actually thought about me and what I’d like and took time to get this JUST. FOR. ME. Yippeeeeeee!”

See the difference?

THE MAP

How can you know if the country you’re traveling to is a gifted one? Here are two ways to tell (really, this is just about the easiest love language to discern):

  1. They get you gifts. Wow. So insightful  right? But gift speakers love to give gifts as much as receive them. Maybe they pick up a magazine for you regularly while they’re at the store. Or they remember that a few months ago you admired a particular candle and buy it for you. In other words, they give you a tangible representation of their love for you. Often.
  2. Their face lights up when you get something for them. Maybe it’s 99-cent Silly Putty. Maybe it’s a bag of their favorite candy or a bunch of flowers for no reason. Regardless of what it is, their faces light up and  you can visibly see their joy in receiving the gift. It’s not just an appreciation they show on their faces — it’s a look of feeling treasured. Big difference.

KEY PHRASES

Giving gifts is all about showing you are thinking about the other person thoroughly. Here are some ways to speak gifts to your loved one:

  1. Forget about holidays and birthdays. These are standard gift-giving times and absolutely do not count. (Unless you’ve put a ton of time in selecting the perfect gift that will knock their socks off. Like a diamond Tiffany band. Or whatever.) Instead, set aside a small amount of money that can go toward picking up little gifts throughout the year.
  2. Consider gifts that keep on giving. If gifts is really hard for you to speak, consider something that they’ll continue receiving after you purchase it once — a magazine subscription, a something-0f-the-month club. Auto schedule something they enjoy — like a Stitch Fix or Birch Box — something that comes monthly and is full of fun little surprises they’ll enjoy. And each time they receive the magazine or box or book, they’ll remember your thoughtfulness and feel incredibly loved.

CLOSED ROADS

It would really easy to think that a gift person would be materialistic, high-maintenance or high-budget. But that is simply not the case at all. The cost of the gift has nothing to do with the love attached to it — whether they are giving or receiving. It’s purely the thought of it. A hand-picked card from the store, a hydrangea from the yard, or something you made yourself all have as much an impact as a diamond Tiffany band. Or whatever.

Also, while you should not focus all your gift-giving on holidays and birthdays, it is important to stress to NOT forget about them altogether!! Just as a harsh word is toxic to a words of affirmation person, a belated or missed anniversary gift, or a thoughtless one is disastrous to your gift person. Because remember, for them, gifts means you were carefully thinking about them — to miss an important occasion means you weren’t thinking at all.

CHALLENGE

This week, find one small gift you can get for your loved one, and leave it for them either in their car, at their desk at work, or another unexpected place for them to find. Also, start a gift idea list in a notebook or in Evernote! This is the best thing to do with a gifts person. Each time you hear them mention something they like — from a commercial, a magazine, a store — write it down. When you’re ready to give a gift, you can just choose from the list based on what fits your budget.

What about you? Do you speak gifts, or does your spouse? What types of gift-giving have meant the most to you or them?

MDS-SIG-01

Five Minute Friday #11

Linking up with The Gypsy Mama:

“On Fridays over here a group of people who love to throw caution to the wind and just write gather to share what five minutes buys them. Just five minutes. Unscripted. Unedited. Real. Your words. This shared feast.”

Today’s topic: IDENTITY

GO.

I struggled when she was born. Not because I didn’t want to be a mother, and certainly not because I didn’t love her. But because everything happened at once. In one 12-month span, I became a wife, was in ministry and then a mom. And suddenly, I didn’t know who I was anymore outside of those three things. I didn’t know what I liked. I didn’t know what I was good at. I didn’t know what I wanted for myself. When people would ask, “If time and money were no object, what would you want to do?”, I wanted to close my eyes, cover my ears and scream,

“I have no idea!!!”

I felt as though I was wearing hats, juggling balls and filling roles — but the core of me was unknown. In this new context of wifehood, ministry and motherhood, I got lost.

And I was desperate to be found.

Everyone meant well, especially my husband. Reassuring me that the roles I filled each day indeed made me who I was. And I would nod, and say, “yes, you’re right.” But I didn’t believe that was all. There was something missing. I felt it daily — huge hole needing to be filled, that would bring all the hats and balls and roles together and make it all fit. And make a better wife and mom. And bring joy and life abundant.

It wasn’t that being a wife and mother wasn’t enough. Not at all. It was just my soul was aching for something I couldn’t identify yet. It was a divine longing.

I used to wonder if Jesus — those 30 years he was simply a son and carpenter and brother — felt the same way. That His life was all well and good, but knowing in His core, in His spirit and His soul, that there was more. Waiting for the one thing that made it all fit. I wonder if He was desperate to be found.

And then His ministry began. And instead, He found us.

I’m slowly discovering the me God created. I’m rediscovering the things that bring me joy and satisfaction as Monica, outside of what hat I’m wearing. Dreams from long ago are resurfacing and whispering, “I was here for a reason. I haven’t died. Don’t forget about me. Don’t let me go.”

It will be a continual process, I’ll always be “…ing” — in the process of — growing, learning, changing and being. I’ll always be finding, but always remain found.

STOP.