I'm so glad you found your way to my little corner of the neighborhood! Pull up a chair and stay, and let's chat about life on the margins and loving Jesus and, obviously, where to find the best cheese dip and most life-changing books. 

My Favorite Things at my Favorite Time of the Year (and also a giveaway)

My Favorite Things at my Favorite Time of the Year (and also a giveaway)

Anyone who knows me knows that I am always busy. It's not a badge of honor; rather, a legitimate problem for which I cannot find a solution. JUST SAY NO, I've surely heard that advice before. It's just it's all good things/better things, and parenting small (and middle-ish-aged) children, making enough money to live, serving my neighbors, loving my friends, working on our marriage, hanging out with kiddos in the neighborhood. I could just keep going ad-nauseum, annoyingly. 

Throw in the holidays, which are a busy time for everyone apparently, and things kick into some sort of over-drive that I didn't even know existed. Which is why, I suppose, I am getting emails about "last minute gift ideas" and panicking because I haven't even bought any first-minute gifts yet. Nevertheless, gifts are my love language, so I do my best to find thoughtful and meaningful Christmas presents for my friends and family. 


There are so many amazing and comprehensive gift guides out there right now (I love the one from Sarah Bessey for empowering women, and also Jen Hatmaker's Favorite Things). This little post is not comprehensive, to say the least, nor is it exhaustive. It's just a few of my favorite gifts this year, and a chance to win them (which is always fun, right?) And for good measure, a few ways you can make Christmas a more hopeful and beautiful place for mommas and kiddos in my neighborhood,  and for the loves spending Christmas in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at CHOA. 


1.  Something to Read. I will never stop believing that a book is the perfect gift. Which is why books are literally the only thing under our tree right now. Four books for our kids and one for my mom. So my first two things on my list are my very favorite fiction book I've read this year, and my very favorite nonfiction book of 2017. 
Fiction: The Hate you Give
Non-Fiction: Barking to the Choir
*Other books in the running for 2017 favs:
The Bright Hour
Sing, Unburied, Sing

2. Support Local. You know I'm all about supporting our neighbors and community, and there are usually creative and fun ways you can accomplish this around the holidays. Have a friend who makes Christmas cookies or a neighbor who arranges the most lovely flowers? Enlist their help and give good gifts while supporting those around you. My absolutely all-time favorite jewelry designer is an Atlanta girl who teaches at a local school, so I buy her stuff and champion her work every single chance I get. 


A. Battiste

3. Give Back.  Purchase beautiful gifts that empower and dignify people around the globe. My favorites in this category are Noonday Collection (obviously), Fair Trade Friday, and Preemptive Love Coalition. 


4. Be Generous. If you've been here before, you know we are passionate about loving our neighborhood. We even have our own nonprofit (Blueprint 58) whose goal is literally to love our neighbors and community well. This Christmas, we have a few different ways you can support our neighborhood in Atlanta through our nonprofit. 


Five8FMO - We are celebrating our young moms group this season with a fun party together, and each girl will get a personalized apron and cookbook. We would also like to help each mom have a little money to spend on their kiddos at the Pride for Parents store this year. You can sponsor a momma (and her little ones) for $100, and we still have six girls who need sponsors. 


Pride for Parents - FCS puts on this Christmas store in our neighborhood that provides an opportunity for our moms (and other kiddos/families) to shop at discounted prices in dignifying and beautiful ways. They always need toys and you can purchase items directly from their Amazon wish list. 


Finally, some of our dearest friends (who have walked their own son through heart surgery this year) are helping us put together baskets for kiddos spending their Christmas in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. We have been there twice for our own sweet Caden having heart surgery, and know the struggle and beauty of having your feet planted in such a holy and hard place, particularly during the holidays. You can contribute money via YouCaring, or purchase items for our baskets (see list below - we need 27 baskets total). 

A quick list of things we usually include in our baskets:
- Nice journals and pens (so parents can write, journal how they're feeling, write down medical details, questions for the doctors etc).
- Gum, mints (you dont always want to leave your baby's bedside to go brush your teeth, but also want to talk to the drs and nurses without scaring them).
- Small packets of tissue
- Water bottles
- Packaged snacks (granola bars, crackers etc) or homemade goodies
- Gift cards (there are several restaurants etc nearby: starbucks, chickfila, panera bread, doc chey's, and Domino's are neaby chains, and there are also some local places right near the hospital - Rise and Dine was our favorite).
- Gas cards (you drive back and forth a lot!)
- Travel-sized things of shampoo, body wash, lotion, etc.
- Hand lotion (you wash your hands constantly so they get super-dry)
- Small things of laundry detergent (if you stay overnight at the hospital, it's nice to be able to do your laundry)
-Antibacterial gel (you have to be extra careful about germs!)

2018: A New Year's Prayer

2018: A New Year's Prayer