Thursday, December 31, 2015

Perfect Storm - A Resolution

Two July's ago, I held my phone up to the American flag hanging limp and heat-shocked from the gingerbread eaves of my cute little house on what some might call the wrong side of the tracks. I captured the sun filtering warm through the nylon fabric and my heart swelled in stripes.

Inside, my little family gathered around the kitchen table with one new friend, fresh out of prison, already tearing the wrapper off the new start he was promised. He spoke kindly to my children, took seconds of my strawberry muffins, and when it was time to drive him back to the homeless shelter, I packed the rest up and sent them with him.

He had stars in his eyes, that July, but he was no body's fool.

A convicted felon, he faced insurmountable odds, beginning with bleak housing options and ending with the reluctance he met on a loop when searching for a job. His entire family lived hundreds of miles away, and when he left our home that day, he looked Cory and I both in the eye and said we were his best friends. It was the first time I'd ever met him.

Last week, on Christmas Day, he was here again. We ate tacos and black beans, then two more showed up unexpectedly, and another. This is not what Christmas is supposed to look like banged the reverb of my heart, over scattered conversation, our unfestive meal, the show-boating and attention grabbing and him, quiet, mostly alone again in the world, back at the same homeless shelter, back at our table with his good intentions and his relentless pursuit of hope. I wondered if he could feel our love amid all the commotion.

My family drove that night to Ohio. I finally found the capacity to pick up The New Jim Crow (Michelle Alexander,) staying up past midnight, nodding along, thinking of my holiday friend, and all the friends like him. I drank the words, my pulse quickening.

I am the mother of four non-white children. I've seen racism play out against them all in ways both subtle and otherwise. I over-think it like it's my job, because it is. I worry for all of them. But I only lose sleep over the safety of Robert, who two months ago drove for a day with a burned-out tail-light and was pulled over four times in under thirty-six hours. The last time ended with him sitting on the curb while his car was searched in vain for drugs. It doesn't matter that he's never had a drug charge. What matters is that he's black, he's young. He has "that look". I read about racial bias, swallowing the lump of my own culpability while my eyes burned and the pages turned. I cannot escape the ways I've been complicit, the ways I've bought what's sold and carried what's passed my way.

Sitting on my parents' couch, the book still in my lap, I heard the news about Tamir Rice, and the shocking failure of the Grand Jury to indict the officer who shot and killed the twelve-year old boy.

Rain beat against the window while the windmill cranked into overdrive. It was the perfect storm of despair and desire, that moment when something crystallizes and you suddenly know a thing you had not known before. I am a white, middle-class woman who might have more proximity to the burn of poverty and racism than many like me, but I haven't gotten mad enough. I haven't stared hard enough at my contribution to this pain. I mean, I've cared. Just not quite as much as I've cared about my life goals of balance, pleasure, style, or success.

I'm left wondering as 2016 closes in, what do my priorities say about the true condition of my heart toward my suffering brother?

I'd like to spend more time reading and moving in the new year. It would be nice to streamline my wardrobe and maybe eat less Taco Bell. Of course I want to be ever-more present and available to my family.

But I am simply and profoundly missing out if all my goals begin and end with me, or if they fail to fall heavy against the throb of injustice.

If we can't aspire to shift our hearts toward right things, it doesn't matter  if we stay chubby, weak, worn-out and in debt. If we can't take seriously our task to do justice and love mercy, who cares if our cabinets are crammed with empty carbs or our closets are a mess? Sure, we can commit to studying our Bibles more, but it will continue to be meaningless if we persist in fitting truth around our paradigm built on cash, security, and a pack-mentality where homogeneity just feels best.

I'm tired of being fed the lie that I should crave a simpler, easier lifestyle.
I don't want to aspire to greater love if that love does not, in practice, cost me something.
When my life is over, I can only pray that I'm good and tired, worn thin from running my race, carried to its end only by Jesus, who promises living water along with the ache of surrender.

The good news is that Jesus waits for us somewhere in the trenches, in the skin and hair and unfamiliar scent of wanting. He's there, in the shared meal of an outsider, in the loneliness of the overlooked, in the cheated, the oppressed, the "This time will be different". 

He loves us enough to not let us use up our chances to walk with him toward an end to the crippling disease of Us and Them.

He's already there in the thick of it, and should we decide poverty or racism or mass incarceration or abuse or addiction or homelessness are not among our top ten problems, we owe it to ourselves to at least acknowledge that we're trading our perceived safety and comfort for an encounter with the Holy God who continues to hold us close despite (because of?) our own versions of track marks, busted teeth, welfare checks, and handcuffs.

This afternoon, Cory called from the jail, just ten seconds on one of his busiest days of the year. "He's back in booking", our friend who six days ago swore he'd never go back.  His offense? Missing a parole meeting because he was unexpectedly working late at a last-minute job offered through the homeless shelter, with no vehicle and zero options.

We can pick it all apart.
We can say he should've known better.

But honestly, it's way too late in 2015 for that sort of judgment.
Next year, I just want to do better.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Yellow and Red

Last night, I drove the three little kids to see a Christmas lights display in a city 45 minutes away, in Cory's old beater with no working radio. I'm not sure how or why, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

When we discovered a new-to-us sub joint with bottles of malt vinegar on the tables for the hand-cut fries, things were looking up. But when we found ourselves at Wal Mart to do last-minute Christmas shopping after dark, the evening took on a decidedly bleak tune.

I've spent the past few weeks in a dash to finish the edits on my first book, and it's not the writing or the work that exhausts me. It's the worry that I'll hold it in my hands in the end and believe it could have been better.

Can you imagine a better way to suck the soul out of art? The fear that maybe it won't be perfect?

I promise you: it won't be perfect.

But as much as I kept reminding myself of the truth, it didn't sink in until Silas came down with one of the scariest kid-illnesses in the history of my motherhood, three days before my deadline.

He's fine now, and it whipped my priorities into shape - but quick.

A few nights ago I lay in bed, eyes burning, and told Cory I wished I would come down with a sore throat. Not strep, just sore. And with a low fever. I wanted an excuse to be taken down for a few days. As soon as the words escaped I wanted to gather them up like a burst of confetti and stuff them back inside. But I knew I'd never find all those little pieces and most of them had already hit the floor.

Maybe it's the exhaustion I'm feeling. Or the sensation of having all of my emotions siphoned out through my fingertips. Maybe it's the two guys staying in the basement for a while who simultaneously fill me up and make me tired.

Maybe it's the fact that I feel extra-needed right now, when what I really want is a maid. I want to stop waking up the next morning realizing I was too spent to tell Cory really important things that had happened the day before, or even two.

Just like last year and the year before, I have neighbors sending me desperate text messages this week about eviction notices and loved ones who are slowly killing themselves before their eyes. I have friends hiding out in fear, nearly snuffed out by the oppression life deals them. There are people I love leaning hard toward chemical love, unable to believe the real kind stands right next to them, waiting.

Surprise, surprise.
Christmas is hard this year.

It's bright and warm and it is so, so sad. I fight back the temptation, just like always, to huddle up and pretend the problems banging on my door are not my own. I say I want a simpler way, pretending Jesus came to bring joy and forgetting that he also came to suffer life with us.

We get to taste all of it, with him at our table, along with whoever else happens to stop by.

Last night, after the Italian subs and the cheap, Wal Mart tokens of our unending love, we hit up a massive, subdivision lights display.

It was fun until it wasn't, and as we (finally) escaped and drove away, Silas said, quietly, "My heart feels yellow. Yellow means lonely."

We know Christmas is red and green. It's been ingrained in us since birth.

But do we have the guts to admit it's also kind of yellowish? Can we possibly bear all three?

His law is love and his gospel is peace.
He knew we'd spend part of life swimming in sadness and at war.

He didn't wave a wand and spirit it all away from afar. He came to bear it alongside us, and ultimately, to conquer it.

I wrote a post today over at (in)courage, sort of a manifesto for all our happy/sad, battered hearts. I hope it brings you comfort, somehow. I hope you'll pass it along to someone who might need the reminder that they aren't a misfit or a weirdo, they're just a little yellow, along with Silas and the rest of us. 

Hopeful Always,

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Favorite Little Things

I'm sure you're all way ahead of me here, but I have plans to finish up my Christmas shopping today, because it seems like September when it's actually December and I haven't left my house since Wednesday morning and all the world is discombobulated.

I've been keeping a list of some of my favorite things, and this seems like as good a time as any to share them. Most are little things I already have and enjoy every day.

All of them would make super-fun gifts, many are very affordable, AND....there's always the question of Amazon gift-cards and/or Christmas cash. :)

1// Amazingly cool science posters from the Volume 25 etsy shop
2// Origins Ginger Essence perfume - I wear this every day, no matter what. I'm obsessed.
3// Great, visual cookbook, like Share: The Cookbook that Celebrates our Common Humanity
4// Fair-trade jewelry from Noonday Collection - loving this Tesfanish tassel necklace

5// Thrift store mugs (this looks like a fun project if you find some plain white ones!)
6// Fair-trade, hand-woven scarf from fashionABLE - I've got my eye on the Assefa (plaid!)
7// Fancy vinegar or olive oil. (I get mine from our local shop, The Olive Branch.)
Subscription to Cooking Light - This is a staple around here.

9// Special dish soap, like Mrs. Meyer's - it's the little things!
10// Handmade blankets from Ten Thousand Villages. (There's a 30% off coupon on the site!)
11// Goodwill finds - My friends and I love Goodwill gifting! Think vintage bakeware, dishes, linens
12// L'Oreal Voluminous mascara - THE BEST! A great stocking stuffer, and it's on Amazon Prime

If you have any favorite little things, I'd love to hear about them in the comments.

Happy Saturday, Homies!

PS - In a complete coincidence, Noonday is hosting a giveaway for a $250 gift card right now on their blog, featuring some of mine and Stephanie Holden's favorite pieces! Jump over and enter!

Amazon and fashionABLE affiliate links used.
{baking pan image found here}

Friday, December 18, 2015

Late for Church

Sunday mornings, particularly the ones that Cory doesn't work, are an epic sort of thing. Holy, even. I'm not talking about church yet, I'll get to that. I'm talking about sleeping in.

With our little kids at ages 10, 9, and 7, we have sort of arrived. Saturdays are typically busy, but on Sunday, we Sabbath like a posse of bosses.

The kids come downstairs around, oh, 6:45 a.m. (Why do they come down at 6:45 a.m.? Why do I have to wake them up for school, but not for cartoons? Questions for Jesus.) We made a rule that they're not allowed to turn on the TV until 7:30 as a deterrent, but all that has accomplished so far is to make us doubt our own wisdom and seriously question whether we're the victims of reverse-reverse psychology. Because for 45 minutes, they are a loud, bickering, tattling mess.

Whatever, man. I'm still in bed and even if college hadn't sent us off with Bachelor's degrees and each other, it taught us both how to fall asleep on a dime, a life skill we're loathe to let go.

Sunday mornings are great in theory, until the morning Calvin and Ruby are slated as Shepherds One and Two in the church Christmas program and the parents oversleep.

In all fairness, I blame the kids.
If they'd stuck to the script with their usual morning brew of infighting and spilled cereal, it would have been a non-issue.  The rascals had to go and be all harmonious and serene on one of our most important Sunday mornings to date.

C & R raced out the door just in time to costume up.
I bemoaned, for the 13,505 time (365 X 37, because I was completely bald for my first two years) that I do not possess two-day hair. Don't make me prove it. This hair must be washed daily, lest we all suffer a certain greasy despair. (gag)

No time for a proper blow-dry or fluffing.
No time for make-up.
And we were out the door, for our short walk to church.

Here's the thing: neither Shepherd One nor Shepherd Two care if my lashes are naked or my bangs are limp. They just need my eyes on them.

Here's the other thing: I've had some experience with this sort of thing, and here's my advice: Wear something that strikes a balance between casual and collected. Then throw on some Dr. Pepper Lipsmackers. Make the whole mess its own sort of look. Pretend to be the woman who "wakes up like this" because, hello, you are pretty much that woman. Granted, your version or mine might not be exactly what the phrase brings to mind...but God didn't give us active imaginations or the ability to feign oblivion for naught.

Part of our Sunday ritual is to take a photo in the alley that leads us to church. Even when we're running behind. Even when we're frazzled. Even when Silas is wearing track pants, which is actually every single Sunday, but that's neither here nor there.

The alley is always a different riff on the same recipe: broken fences, food wrappers, old tires, beater cars, telephone poles, and weeds that almost pass as flowers. The only thing that changes is the ratio, and last week was heavy on broken glass.

It was exactly as beautiful as it sounds; as beautiful as it always is.

My Running Late Uniform
Skinny jeans
Contrasting belt
White T

Most important of all: a statement necklace.

I happen to have a real thing for fair-trade jewelry. This is my new favorite, from Greenola Style. It's hand-made in Bolivia from acai seeds. (And on sale right now for $17. What.)

Guys, I keep telling you. You need at least one statement necklace, especially if you're the kind of girl who thinks it's the last thing you need. If you, like me, are an almost-strictly jeans & T girl, you need something that says, "Hey, it's Sunday. I'm fancy today. Here's proof." It's a sure way to look like you're trying, and I should know.

I've worn this one three times in the past week, two of them being on weekdays. So, if you happened to see me last Thursday with mah pearls on, I can only assume you thought it was Sunday. My apologies for the confusion. It's just that it's grey and hits at the right spot and is totally unique. I have no choice but to break my own die-hard rules of slothfulness sometimes.

Bada boom.
It sure beats bunny slippers and fleece pants.

We made it just in time for the show, so perfectly imperfect, real, and humble.
It was the very picture of redemption. God filled a manger with a King, filled the earth with His presence. Filled a kingdom with battered souls like you and me, a conglomeration of our shared drama and all our tattered edges.

As sometimes happens, we gained in number on the walk back home.

And we were still every bit as wonky as ever.
I love us.

Here's to hoping we make it up on time this weekend, but either way, I'll show up just as I am, however that happens to be, and I hope you'll do the same.

Because we're better together, that's all.
And because if we let him, God will point us to himself in the midst of all the other junk we get wrong along the way.

TGIF, Homies.
I love you just the way you are.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

One Day







This is the season of rising in the dark, of walks to school under lamplight.
This is the season of returning home, and firing up a hot cup of tea along with my computer.
This is the season of fuzzy socks, blankets, and the glow of the Christmas lights while the world wakes up, just a little.
This is the season of words, words, words, typing in yoga pants, showering at 2pm.
This is  the season of gray, damp days.
This is the season of therapeutic baking, homeworking, box top clipping, gift wrapping, violining.
This is the season of quick dinners, because routines matter even more when it's crunch time.
This is the season of all-day candles, messy surfaces, crafts to kill the pre-dinner hour, and saving the dishes 'til morning.
This is the season of books and Mad Libs, our Advent study (sometimes), bedtime prayers, and the hum of the furnace.
This is the season to live slow on the inside, leaning into sadness and joy.
This is the season of Homeland on the couch, hot peach tea, and reading one last chapter in bed...
before rising again in the dark.

This is my season of gratitude, thick and deep.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


It's December tenth and the sky outside my window is a wildfire. The streets are warming up for the day, and my furnace hasn't kicked on once.

Nothing feels quite right, and that's probably okay.

I hear people talking about slowing down to enjoy the season and honestly, I don't understand what that means. Life doesn't slow down for anything, and I'm not sure it's supposed to. We'll bake our cookies and wrap our gifts and do all of those things because we want to and we can, but arriving at a place where we avoid interruption or inconvenience because we're trying so hard to savor Christmas is not the Jesus way.

My heart this morning is heavy for my neighbors.

It's heavier still for you and me.

We can buy gifts for "the needy", hang mittens on the tree at church, pack a shoebox, choose an angel, write the check for an extra twenty bucks for our sponsored child across the ocean, but we resist opening our door to the heaviness of fractured lives. We avoid it year-round, but especially in December.

Earlier this week, Cory's friend Tom arrived back at jail. It was a pretty short turn-around. They talked about what circled him back to incarceration and here's what he said, "I went back to the drug game because the drug game takes anyone."

Are we listening?

Can you hear the hearts breaking all across our cities while we stand in our Sunday best and sing carols, swearing Christmas makes our weary hearts rejoice, failing to acknowledge that we are not the weariest? We hate the thought of that. We wish it away. We congregate together and pretend there is peace on earth.

But we don't prepare Him room just by contemplating His birth or reading our Bible more. And we sure don't prepare him room by being festive.

We prepare Him room by preparing room for His beloveds - literal, tangible room. We rearrange our schedule and push the furniture to the edges of our heart. We clear a path, make a bed, pick up the phone, simmer the soup.


A couple months ago I wrote this post about our friends living exiled in poverty and got an email that took the wind out of me. With her permission, I'm sharing it here, because I can't shake it (emphasis is mine):

I live this everyday. From both sides. I've bee a nurse for 32 years but we live paycheck to paycheck. We live in a rental house and you can see the landfill from my house. I worry over spending $5 on myself and go without dental care because I can't afford the co-pay. I long for Christ but each time I reach out to Christians I'm ignored because I'm not in the in crowd.

I feel like your neighbors, like God's stepchild forgotten and unloved.
This from a woman who used to have faith.

The church I once loved has become so judge mental that it would condemn to hell those who don't fit the mold. I work in a job where I see the worst in people. Some of the rudest people I care for are good Christians. Yet I blindly stumble around trying to find my way back to a father who I wonder ever loved me.

Blessing praised by others as God's providence become arrows to my heart as I struggle. Does God really only love white middle class women who live in upscale homes and have etsy business and are stay at home moms who have disposable income to spend on $90.00 hoodies and $50.00 necklaces and Hawaiian vacations? It seems that way on social media.

This is my question Like so many of those you speak of. I feel this is who to church needs to seek out and love! What I wouldn't give to be invited to a conference but sadly, people like me and your neighbors don't get to attend things like that. Just my thoughts from the other side of the fence.

It has gotten to the point where kindness to me and my neighborhood is shocking and that's sad that for most of us on the other side, church has become more like an exclusive club and not a hospital for hurting people!


Are we listening, church?

Jesus appreciates a good party. He doesn't mind gifts, and I believe in my heart that he is pro-cookie.

But let's not kid ourselves. He's waiting for us to notice the hurting hearts around us. He's waiting for us to care, and then to act. He's waiting for us to honor him by loving our neighbor, no matter how messy it might get or what it might cost us.

He came to ransom the captives.
Every last one of us.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Hard Truth About Real Love

We met on Wednesday evenings, at the park just a stone's throw from our front door. Without fail, those afternoons found me frantic, scrambling for hot dogs and buns and oh, maybe I'd better buy a watermelon and those cookies we baked turned out a bit misshapen and hard, but we'd better haul them over, too.

We wanted, no, needed the company of each other, food and two hours to be not-alone were our only agenda. And if we needed this, we figured our neighbors must, too. So we gathered in our mid-week ordinariness, grocery store containers of deli salads open along the weathered edge of the picnic table. An invitation. Come on over, grab a plate.

Our time was designed around an element of surprise, but the hard truth is, I'd always prefer a clean list of names ticking down a sheet of paper. I like knowing how many forks will be needed, how much lemonade. I worry about not having enough, and I worry even more about ending up with too much. What will we do with all this food? It makes for pricey left-overs, if you choose to look at it that way. And I often do.

Heading up the hill one evening, I saw them there on the park bench, two women who struck me as wearisome dinner companions. It would be too much awkwardness for so late in the day and besides, what if we didn't have enough chicken?

Lodged in the pit of my stomach was a stone I couldn't shake loose - I will never outrun Olivia. I wonder and write about the love that would compel me to those at the fringes. I want that love. I do. But she is everywhere, and for every step I take toward her, there is at least one where I veer off to the side and hope she doesn't notice.

There are days I mean what I say, but there are others when I want to run back to when it didn't even cross my mind. The trouble with trying is the persistent failing.

Returning might be the only thing I did right.

We gathered last summer on Wednesdays, ate potato salad and pie with plastic forks, asked questions and listened because we're new to each other; there's so much to learn. The kids ran wild. We welcomed the ones who showed up, the smudged-eye teenagers, the young men who filled their plates then sat with their backs to us. Once, thanks to the most impossible misunderstanding, a text invitation accidentally went out to a complete stranger, a town a way, and he came.

All the while, I felt the hand of God at our backs, nudging us further out. I heard his promises, that trusting the haphazard way of Jesus would always be worth it, and that he would turn our hearts toward him if we dared to find his face in the storied eyes of our neighbor.

It's December now, and my doubts haven't wrung themselves out. My part in the scheme of Emmanuel still feels paltry sometimes, like a day-old tease. He came to be with us and hoped we'd follow him into this withness that cuts to the heart of things.

I want to believe breaking bread and passing plates can really be communion, God's love kissing dirt.
It would be so much simpler if I could remove myself from the equation, because I can't seem to stop defaulting to the ease of sitting with people who make my kind of small talk.

In his book Red Letter Revolution, Tony Compolo writes, "My only defense is that I'm not as unfaithful today as I was yesterday." 

This is all the hope I can muster, to grow in faithfulness degree-by-degree, while the burgers go cold and the slaw warms, everything feeling upside-down and cockeyed as we sit in the fellowship of sweat-stained saints and the night closes in.

This is the tension of living somewhere between the one long life we were given and eternity. We wait, smack dab where the green meets blue. Maybe the kingdom of God is exactly the way Silas used to paint a landscape - a thick band of grace between two thin streaks of sky and grass, our mess tethered to Heaven by the wide promise that we can't ever screw this up enough to miss what matters most.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Skinny Tree {and the garland winner!}

I've made it no secret that I fall into a deep constitutional angst every year at Christmas. It's as sure as the tides, as predictable as the moon, as maddening as Calvin's morning mood when he's short on sleep.

It's not all bad, this festivity swirling in the air.

For one thing, there's the fact that I love an excuse to redecorate my living room.
For another, when our Sunday school class read The 5 Love Languages eons ago, my top love language was Gifts. I love an excuse to shop for people I love.

And then there's the age-old issue of Crack Bark. I don't think I need to tell you how much I love an excuse to ruin my oral hygeine for the greater good of gaining six pounds and living in elastic-waisted pants for the duration of winter (hint: winter is lonnnng in northern Indiana) because I can't-stop-won't-stop making it and shoving it in my slightly-fuller face.

Aside from all that, I'm forever trying to make sense of Christmas. Like most of us, I enjoyed a childhood where I knew the "whole point" was baby Jesus, but it all sort of sifted through the cracks of everything else. It now strikes me as one of those classic, "Do what I say, not what I do" life moment. 

I guess I'd rather do what I can to walk a different way. With sticky teeth and tinsel in my hair.
See? Complicated.

For a week or so, I had decided to skip a tree this year. There's simply no room in this inn for a tree.
I tried stripping its backside of branches and shoving it into an awkward corner last year, but I'll be honest, the whole maneuver gave me the blues.

I'd like to imagine myself as someone entirely different, someone who rises above the machine - whatever on earth "the machine" even is... I must have secret dreams of being a hippy. I want to take the streets and do...something.

I want to be a renegade, when what I really am is ordinary. Totally normal. At least half-mixed up about most things. Geez Louise, is "ordinary" a hard pill to swallow. It's the fruitcake of defining characteristics. And yet, not a year goes by that we don't joke around about fruitcake. It never goes away! It has bonded us for life, in its own, weird way. I don't think accepting our boring humanity is any different.

My name is Shannan, and I don't have stuff figured out. I'm passionate about loving my neighbor and selfish as heck. I want to give everything away then fill myself back up with more more more. And do it all over again. I'm tired and hopeful, an inspired cynic. I'm glaringly typical, but I hope you'll be my friend.

Putting up our gangly, off-whack Christmas tree is one of a handful of childhood memories that instantly fills me with a distinct, can't-articulate-it feeling. It messes with my internal chemistry, changing me for just a second, not unlike catching a whiff of Brut cologne or drinking Coke from a glass bottle.

Yada yada, we bought a skinnier tree at our favorite thrift store, with a coupon.
It's as though the universe was just waiting for me to admit my humanity and just cave already.

So here it is, in its narrow splendor. We jammed it into the only possible cranny. We brought out all of our weirdest, tackiest ornaments and of course, our catalog garland.

I have never loved a Christmas tree more.

Although I think I say that every year...

(except last year because that was just awkward for everyone)

Wouldn't you know it, it hasn't ruined everything. Jesus came so I didn't have to have all the answers. I'm sitting here in this tension, but he is with me in my struggling and confusion. With me to the end. That's what changes things.

In other news, hey, Raye Marie, you won yourself a catalog garland! Email me your address at shannandmartin@gmail and I'll put it in the mail.

We're gearing up for Calvin's orchestra performance tonight. You know how I feel about symphonies. And on top of that, I think I have a prodigy on my hands. Is this a normal mom reaction?? :)

Tomorrow I head to Trinity Church in Holdredge, Nebraska to speak at their women's Christmas brunch. It's kind of the 11th hour, but if you'd like to join us, call the church to RSVP!

Happy Thursday afternoon, festive homies.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Kicking Consumerism in the Teeth

Step One
Gather a stack of old catalogs and/or magazines. Bonus points if they feature Best Gifts of 2015 guides or any single item priced over $30. Triple bonus points if they try to make you feel bad about buying a roll of red and green paper along with a bag of those stick-on bows from Kroger and calling it a day.

Step Two
Gather additional supplies.
  • circle paper punch (I found mine at Michael's but this one is similar.)
  • scissors
  • spool of white thread
  • tape (double-sided is best!)
Step Three
Make a cup of tea in a winter-themed mug, because we aren't barbarians here. 

Step Four
Queue up instrumental Christmas hymns or Broadchurch on Netflix. Whatever. It's up to you.

Step Five
Page through your catalogs, scouring for interesting color and pattern.

Step Six
Punch circles until the cows come home or you know who killed Danny, whichever comes first.

Step Seven
Sandwich two circles onto the thread with a tiny piece of double-sided tape, spacing somewhat evenly between circles, but it's not like anyone's going to take a tape measure to it...

Step Eight
Fling your finished garland about. (The tree! The walls! The headboard of your bed!)

You can't possibly imagine how therapeutic this entire process is.

I laugh in the face of Cyber Monday! I toss my thinning hair over my bony shoulder in righteous indignation over your $270 throw, Garnet Hill! I refuse to buy into the lie that normal children make their beds, Land of Nod! Serena and Lily, YOUR PRICES ARE WHACK!

But you sure do produce lovely circles for my garland, and for that, I thank you.

Hey, hey. It so happens I have an extra catalog garland burning a hole in my pocket. Leave me a comment telling me anything holiday related - anything in the world! - and I'll send it to one of you.


*Check out my other junk-magazine crafts right here.