Search Results for: kindness advent

Kindness Catch-Up

Things are pretty wonky around our house right now and I just don’t have a lot of words to write.  I am slammed with life and work and if you’ve placed an order I promise I’m working just as fast as I can.

We started our Kindness Advent on December 1st and have been moving right along.  This is easily one of my favorite and most intentional times of the year.  Kindness does not have to be big and grand and expensive…it can be small and simple and free, but either way it’s always intentional.  This time of year reminds me and our family that kindness comes with intentionality.

So here’s what we’ve been up to.

December 1st: Buy toys for the Christmas store at church where people in the community who are struggling this time of year can get presents for their kiddos.  We really encouraged the kids to pick things they would love to receive themselves and they did awesome.  Amon might have asked 1000 times when he got to open the Mickey Mouse tool set he picked out to no avail.

December 2nd:  Share Sonic happy hour.  My phone was dead when we went to Sonic, but Harper decorated a cute little note with a Christmas tree and we taped it and a $5 gift card to the ordering board.  Easy easy.

December 3rd:  Paint wood slices and leave them at the park and on the sidewalks.  We added this one last year and it has become a fast favorite.  2 cousins happened to be over that day so we had some extra painting help.  We all walked down the street to enjoy our local Christmas parade and left these along the way too.  The kids absolutely loved this one.

December 4th:  Buy double packs of bar soap for the prison ministry at church.  Regular every day toiletry items cost much more than they should to inmates and the prison ministry at church is trying to help out this Christmas.  When checking out at Walgreens me and the cashier had the sweetest conversation about prison and people in prison.  She has some loved ones who are incarcerated and she shared some really valuable words with me.  Truth be known I wanted to reach across that counter and bear hug her.

December 5th:  Load trinket machines up with quarters.  The kids always love this one and are totally okay walking away empty handed.  This year we had too few machines and quarters leftover so we went ahead and turned some of them, left the trinket or candy under the silvery, metal flap and loaded the machine up again.

December 6th:  Treat and warm drink for our Salvation Army bell ringer.  When the kids got in the car after school the first thing Hudson said was, “Mom I brought a dollar to put in the bucket.”  I absolutely love that the kids love doing this.  I love the intentionality of this time because it’s one of the busiest, bustling times of the year.  There’s a Starbucks in our Kroger grocery store so we slipped past our sweet bell ringer and the kids picked out yummy treats…cake pops to be exact.  We noticed he was already drinking a coffee so we opted for a $5 gift card instead of an actual drink so he could get whatever he liked when he was ready.  We gave him the goodies, dropped in our monies, wished him a Merry Christmas and he was just the sweetest.  As we walked away Hudson said, “That felt good.”

Tomorrow is ornament delivery and everyone has their recipients picked out and ornament ready to go.

If you would like to follow along daily with our advent I’m sharing about it over on Instagram.

Happy Tuesday night!

Advent Ready + Noonday Giveaway

**GIVEAWAY CLOSED**

This week is going to be fun.  So many things I am looking forward to.  First, our kindness advent starts tomorrow…December 1…and we are ready.  Every year I change up how I display our advent envelopes at least a smidgen.  This year I just picked a door frame and went to town with washi tape.  Done and done.  Everyone is pumped and can’t wait to begin tomorrow.

Second, I still have lots of stuff available for sale and ready to ship.  There are no key fobs listed yet, but tons of other stuff.  Hoping to get key fobs listed this week.  Check out everything for sale HERE.

Third, this week there will be Noonday Collection giveaways every day…here and on my instgram.  This company is so legit and lovely and changing the world and we get to get in on the world changing too by purchasing with purpose and spreading the Noonday love.  I basically went through and picked some of my most favorite, favorite items…all the heart eyes.

Fourth, the Timbali Crafts party is Thursday.  You guys, come on out and do some shopping.  No ordering…all the bags are at my house so you will leave with your goodies that night.  You can go home and immediately wrap them right up.  I have so much it’s crazy.  I love companies who are changing the world and Timbali is absolutely doing this.  I get nothing for hosting the party…so there are no incentives…other than the privilege of opening up our home, feeding you guys yummy food and drinks, laughing a ton and shopping incredible products created by incredible women in Swaziland, Africa.  Invite your friends and come shop until you drop.  There will be fun door prizes and a giant pile of free stuff as well!!

And fifth, let’s kick this week off right with the first Noonday giveaway.  Up for grabs first in the metric cuff.  No joke…zero exaggeration…I wear this bracelet almost every single day.  It goes with everything and is my favorite!!!

2 ways to enter:

1:  Leave a comment…any comment will do.  Maybe share something you’re looking forward to this week.

2.  Share this post via social media…Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, whatever suits your fancy.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry.

Winner will be announced tomorrow and the next giveaway will begin.  This is fun, right!?!?!?

Make sure you follow along on instagram too…I’m @pitterpatterart…to enter to win the Funky Paper Bead Bracelet.

 

Alright…that’s it.  Here’s to a great week.  It’s going to be a good one…I can just feel it.

Happy Monday!

**GIVEAWAY CLOSED**

December Recap Pt.1

We all had our predictions on what Leo would do upon seeing Santa and Ms. Claus.  I was hoping for the screaming and crying “Get me out of here” moment because those pictures are top notch and bring all the laughs, but the kid loved Santa.  He walked right up, sat on his lap and gave his beard a tug.  Winter’s reaction to Santa coming in was my favorite though.  She squealed with absolute delight and kept asking me to remind her of what Santa’s wife’s name was. 🙂  There weren’t many Christmas requests this year, but Winter did ask for an ornament and I love that was her request to Santa.

We put out Everett’s Christmas tree again.  We pulled out the rainbow lights and all the ornaments we made together last year, decorated his tree and then took it to his grave all together.  This is our normal now.  Everyone knows we go to the cemetery.  They load up bikes and skateboards and scooters and the football and a blanket and they know this is just what we do.  It’s equal parts beautiful and heartbreaking.

Josh Kelley and I found mini gingerbread houses at Target and I never want to go back to the big ones again.  LOVED the little minis and so did the kids.  They all got their own and decorated their own and ate their own.  There was enough for Josh and I to make one too.  His was pretty legit, but we all know who won best gingerbread house award.  Wink, wink, nod.

Josh’s quote for our Christmas.  Hahahahahahaha.  It was so fitting.  We really wanted to add the explicits that follow, but figured we’d let it be a G rated board.  If I could sum up how the Kelley family felt about the holidays this year, this would be it.  Peace out Christmas.

There were approximately 43 spaceships or forts made out of delivery boxes in the month December.

Chalkboard art forever.  #revolvingchalkboard

Special little events here and there were lifters for the kids during this weird feeling season.  Our friend Bekah gave us tickets to the Marvel event and the kids were huge fans.  They had the best time.  Thanks so much Bekah!!!

We went to see the new Grinch movie and to our surprise, we were not big fans.  I think it’s hard to re-make such a classic…especially after Jim Carrey took on the roll of The Grinch.  The new one was not our favorite version.  It was sweet and cute and I teared up at one moment, but it was pretty meh!  Which made me sad because I adore Benedict Cumberbatch…Hello Sherlock and Dr. Strange!!

We Kindness Advented our way through December.  My favorite part is reading all the cards and kind words my kids share with others.  This was Amon’s card to Mr. Allen who helps clean and take care of their school.  I mean, the smile induced by his little words lasted for quite some time.

Hudson, Solomon, Amon and Winter were all in a Christmas play at Josh’s parents church.  Hudson was suppose to be a wiseman, but got sick so Amon left his role as an animal and took on the wiseman position.  Winter was some sort of animal and Solomon was Gabriel.  When I saw this photo of Sol it made my heart swoon.  This boy…geeze…there’s something about him and being caught in this in-between stage of still being a kiddo, but nearing pre-teeness.  He still gives me hugs at random and likes to snuggle and I just could eat his little face off.

Toby was constantly on our minds and hearts.  As we walked Target aisles picking up all our last-week-of-school-before-Christmas-break-and-everyone-has-a-party-and-ten-things-they-have-to-bring-in items we collected his name.  It’s beyond hard to be in the hospital with your child as the world carries on.  We always want them to know they are never far from our thoughts.

Candy canes all December long.  Candy canes from the Christmas parade and school and parties and random candy canes given to us at every single turn and the peppermint sticks I love to buy.  The kids ate peppermint before breakfast far too many mornings.  Merry Christmas indeed.

The kids all buy presents for one another with their own money each year.  This year we waited far too late for shopping, so they drew names and shopped for just one sibling and I hope we never go back.  I loved seeing what they had selected for one another and seeing how excited the giver was to watch the recipient open their gift.  Most of their packages had added rainbows and hearts and I love it so much!!! We talk about Everett every single day and I deeply hope that never changes.

PS: Amon’s “luf you”, well OH MY GAH!!!  We are absolutely the luckiest.

Wonky & Hard

I’ve thought about stopping in and writing time and time again.  In fact I’ve written what feels like a 1000 posts in my head, but haven’t taken any of them to my keyboard.  Things are just wonky and hard around our house and in our heads and in our hearts and putting those feelings down are just harder than imagined some days.  We’re all struggling to figure out who we are now and what this supposed joyful and hope filled time is suppose to look like.  Josh Kelley and I we’re talking the other night about how we feel like we can’t win right now.  Everett’s death shadows most everything right now.  We try and plan fun things to take our minds off of our loss and get us out of the house, but right now missing Everett always comes back around.  Example:  We we’re all so excited about the new Star Wars movie.  We planned, we went, we watched and snacked on all the fun movie snacks.  And by the time we got home 3 out of 5 kiddos we’re sad and crying and missing their brother.  Our grief just over shadows everything right now.

We are not lost to the fact that things could be so much worse though.  We are blessed and grateful for so many things.  We have each other and we’re mama and daddy to 6 beautiful children.  We can feed our children and we have a warm, safe home to live in each day and sleep in each night.  We are all healthy and strong.  God is still God and He reigns always supreme.  We have some dear people who have chosen to walk this grief road with us.  We see joy on the horizon, but getting there is sometimes a hard road.  I’m white knuckling hope for myself, Josh, our kids and our future as a family.

The kids officially began winter break on Monday.  It’s hard all being home with all of our grief all the time.  We convince ourselves we should go and do and then we all just end up wanting to be home.  A neverending catch 22.  Right now the littles are sleeping, the bigs and I are watching a movie, Solomon is putting in some microwave popcorn and I’m typing away.  I find myself thinking daily how are we going to keep trudging along day-in and day-out while so deeply longing for our boy.  How do we balance living here while craving heaven?  How do we do however many more years like this…without Everett?  How does this all work and how do we thrive again?

For now we just keep putting our feet on the floor each morning and as my friend Shannan said, “”Feel what you feel.” This is allowed, friends. Even in December.””  We’re feeling what we feel.  We’re living grief full on and honestly and ugly and truly and deeply.  There’s no hiding from grief.  It finds us from the minute we wake up until the moment our minds drift off to sleep and often it wakes us in the middle of the night.  And instead of pushing it all down, we’re treading in it often afraid it’s going to drown us, but, as shocking as it is to us, we’re still afloat.

The holidays look so different for us now and likely for a lot of you too.  We’re still doing our kindness advent, but I don’t love it as much as I usually do.  I haven’t documented it like I typically do.  Sadness has sucked a lot of joy from the things we normally find joy in.  Josh Kelley’s house lights keep skitzing out on him.  Our pre-lit tree is only half lit and Josh hasn’t found the energy to pull all the lights off…for a second time…and replace them.  We’ve baked less, but are trying to still share as much.  The kids have bounced from the high-of-highs to the low-of-lows and so have Josh and I.  This season is riddled with hard questions for Jesus and lots of truth filled hurts spoken out loud.  We are feeling the weight of our pain and the loneliness of losing our Shuai.  What we wouldn’t give to have him with us.  I still catch myself looking at his sweet face and finding myself still in disbelief.  How could this lively, life loving, laughter filled, ball of joy little boy not be here with us…his family??!  How?!?!

So we trudge on.  We love hard and cry every day.  We try and share our pain with one another and give lots of hugs and comfort when someone is so far down.  We also fight and yell and hurt each other’s feelings. We get lots of things wrong, but by the grace of Jesus I feel like we’re getting some things right.  We bought Everett a little Christmas tree and made ornaments and bought the perfect rainbow solar powered lights.  We decorated his tree and placed it on his grave to help us feel like we’re still celebrating our first Christmas as a family of 8…like we’re still celebrating our first Christmas with Everett.

Like I said, things are wonky and hard and like we never imagined, but we’re trusting He understands our pain and suffering and that He certainly understands what it’s like to watch His son die.  Trusting we serve an unendingly empathetic, loving and merciful Father.

7 Things

1. Tomorrow kicks off our 7th year of our kindness advent.  You can see a good re-cap post from our original year HERE or you can see last year’s post HERE or you can use the search bar to your right and search “Kindness advent” and see all our past posts and ideas.  This has become a staple in our Christmas season and this year feels so similar to our very first year when we’d just lost my Mom 10 days prior.  We needed something to push us outside ourselves during intense grief and this year is no different.  Still thinking and holding tight to what I learned most from Mom’s death…”When you don’t know what to do for yourself, you can always do for others.”  I’ll post tomorrow on what all we’re doing for this year’s advent.

2. Amon’s kindergarten teacher text me this photo of him from his Thanksgiving meal with his classmates and I almost died.  I mean, he’s the cutest little thing I ever did see.  And his Indian name was Amon Biting Snake 🙂  He was so proud and wore his get up at home quite a bit.  Good teachers are the bomb…teaching and loving on our babies.  Thank you Mrs. Peters!!!!  And yes, the giant holes in his knees, he is the third little boy who has worn these jeans that came to use already used and we were fresh out of clean unholy jeans that day.  We rolled with it and so did his school.

3. These are the faces of 3 brothers who are deeply invested in a Star Wars series and are not one bit interested in their mother taking their photo.  Hahahahahaha.  It made me laugh when I finally looked at it.

4. Let’s just call him Clark Griswold.

5. It’s not even December and we’ve already made gingerbread houses…or at least 3 of the Kelley kids and 1 Kelley cousin have.  They assembled and decorated 4 of these and promptly got busy eating them.  We have lost all our parenting will and are just trying to say “yes” to those things which really aren’t crazy important.  “Can we have a piece of gum?” “Yes.”  “Can we go to the library for the 10,000th time?”  “Sure.”  “Can we make gingerbread houses on November 25th and immediately devour them?”  “Why not.”

6. The cutest little Everett boy in all the lands because, well, I just miss his sweet little face and body.  Shuai Shuai, you are terribly missed and you would have loved every last thing about this holiday season.

And 7. Sometimes things are just so dark…looks and feels like thick darkness, but that light is coming.  The skies still preach to me that is for sure.

 Thank you guys for all the love and kindness…as always.  Thank you for still meeting me hear, reading my mess on the inter webs and sharing your own.  You are encouragers and I am forever grateful.  See you tomorrow with our kindness advent ideas for this year.  Can’t wait to share with you what’s on our calendar.

Ferrero Rocher Sprouts

In the midst of craziness and lostness and overwhelmedness there is always a chance of laughter.  Always.  It keeps us sane and afloat.  It’s joy.  Over the past month or so Josh Kelley has taken on a facial hair transformation.  He now has a full on mustache.  See exhibit A, B and C.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

While his new mustache growth has taken me some getting use to others are praising it…especially high school boys at Zaxby’s who say things like “Sweet stache man.”  Also since his facial hair revolution has really come into its’ own Josh’s great ideas have gone to a whole new level.  Don’t get me wrong Josh Kelley has always been quite the master mind…the dude is crazy smart.  He arranges furniture in our house like I never could have dreamed up, his jokes are off tha hizzy and he is the one who came up with our most infamous kindness advent which has lived on year after year…surprising someone with a Christmas inflatable…on their front porch.

One night while watching TV a Ferrero Rocher chocolate commercial flashed across the screen and so an amazing idea was birthed forth from the stache.   “Wouldn’t it be funny to buy those chocolates and fill them with brussels sprouts?”  Why yes, yes it would indeed.

In the Kelley family whammy gifts have been given on and off throughout the entire 21 years I’ve known the Kelley family.  Josh and I like to take the whammy to new and different levels like randomly filling Easter eggs for our annual Easter egg hunt with things like rocks, rotten strawberries and used bandaids.  There’s nothing like hearing a 6-year-old exclaim “I got a cigarette butt” while cracking open those plastic eggs.  I kid.  We’ve never used a cigarette butt, but I’m tucking that idea away for next year.

I digress.  So we purchased a Christmas box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates and proceeded to surgically remove each chocolate and enjoy each one over about 2 weeks time.  We kept every last paper until it was just a few days before Christmas and time to execute our plan.

Then we bought a bag of brussels sprouts and loaded each little tinfoil wrapper with a tasty, green sprout.

This is obviously the only tutorial you will ever need again in your life so pin away friends, pin away.

The coconut chocolates had clear covers so we had to get a little creative with these, but nothing some white acrylic paint, hot glue and shaved coconut couldn’t fix.  Why yes, yes I did paint some brussel sprouts white and hot glue coconut all over them.  When we’re in, we’re all in.

We left two regular chocolates in the pack to try and bait people in.  I thought it looked pretty legit when we were done.

In the end 5 people tried our chocolates.  My brother dug into a coconut one, but noticed the bottom resembled a plant before actually eating it 🙂  One of my SILs picked up one of the two regular chocolates in the mixed, popped it in her mouth and said how good they were.  One of our nieces picked out the other legit chocolate and ate it up.  Our crew died a little knowing the full on the laughter we had just missed out on.  Then Josh’s dad late on Christmas night opened one of the coconut brussels sprouts and popped it straight into his mouth and started to chew.  His sudden death from white acrylic paint and hot glue poisoning flashed before my eyes and I immediately started yelling, “Stop chewing.  Don’t eat it.  Stop.  Stop.”  It was the funniest thing in all the lands and well, well worth all our stupid hard work.  Then there was Amon who knew about the joke, watched the joke go down with Big Daddy and then proceeded to open up a Ferrero Rocher Sprout and yell, “Awe, you guys got me.”  I die.

Moral of the whole story:  Mustaches give you better ideas.  Josh Kelley and I might have too much time on our hands OR are evil geniuses.  And Amon, well I could just squeeze him into pieces.

Happy Tuesday.

Wonky Feeling Christmas

This Christmas was rather weird and wonky and heavy.  I feel like I have about zero words lately…hence my absence around these parts.  I just don’t know what all to write, but I miss this space.  I miss you guys.  I miss pecking at these keys.

So how was your Christmas?  I hope it was grand and magical and lovely.  If it didn’t feel like those things, I feel ya and we’re going to make it and survive and maybe even more because God sent this baby and He changed everything.  Like everything everything.  This is the good news.  This is the hope.

When Christmas break kicked off we enjoyed some solo dates with Kelley kids.  Last year everyone chose Josh to go out with except one kiddo.  This year I got picked twice.  My odds are getting better. Harper and I got her hair cut, shopped for her siblings at Target, ate Mexican food and desserted (it’s a real world) on Starbucks cake pops and cookies.

Solomon and I ate an appetizer’s only meal which included cheesesticks, pot stickers with slaw and mini sliders.  He got a fruity bright blue drink to wash it all down.  We shopped at TJ Maxx for his peeps and went with ice cream from Sonic for dessert because it was only 24 degrees outside.

Amon and Hudson chose Josh… Traitors! 🙂  Our littlest is well, too little to do any sort of shopping.

We spent the rest of our days leading up to Christmas doing our kindness advent, baking, watching movies, suffering through crazy cold temps, working a bajillion puzzles including a 1000 piece snow one that Josh Kelley finally abandoned because #ALLTHOSEWHITEPIECES  We ate yummy food, Christmas partied with friends, stayed up way too late and wavered between joy and sadness…resting in His peace and questioning everything.

Christmas Eve arrived and the temps spiked and our kids wore shorts and tees.  It was 64 degrees last night and 70 degrees now.  Not exactly the white Christmas we were dreaming of…break out the Bermuda shorts.  We saw every single cousin in less than 24 hours.  We opened Santa presents with our littlest’ family early in the Christmas morning hours and chatted over sausage balls and canned cinnamon rolls.  Then we ate, ate and ate some more with Josh’s family.  I broke into tears while trying to decide between fudge or buttermilk pie and filled out a giant pile of new adoption paperwork.  I emailed our caseworker and the grant supervisor who is overseeing one of our grants we received…wishing them a Merry Christmas, asking questions and not expecting a reply at all, but I left my in-laws house feeling a sense of accomplishment along with another giant stack of papers ready for the mail.

This morning after my workout I was driving home and caught the sky in my rearview mirror.  I turned around and headed to the Kroger parking lot and then just sat and watched the sky.  Things feel really messy right now on so many different levels.  My stress level can skyrocket with simple thoughts like realizing 2017 is just 5 days away which puts me and our little guy another full year apart…another full year I completely missed.  To put it simply, I feel like a mess.  A jacked up, messed up, wonky mess.

And as I sat there and watched the sky change minute-by-minute and thought about the past few days and the days ahead…when I thought about all those feelings and emotions and downfalls…When I thought about how undeserving I am of pretty much everything…I was reminded of how God sent Jesus for my wonkyness, my brokenness and just my messed-upness in general.  I’m so thankful He shared Jesus with us all, but first with a bunch of messy misfits.

“Now where would your send your splendid choir?  To a big cover hall maybe?  Or a palace perhaps?  God send his to a little hillside, outside a little town, in the middle of the night.  He sent all those angels to sing for a raggedy bunch of shepherds watching their sheep outside Bethlehem.”  -The Jesus Storybook Bible

And that feels like hope.  Big, lovely, messy, gracious hope.

Happy Monday!

The Weary World Rejoices

Life just feels so messy and rough right now.  We’ve got a lot going on in the Kelley house plus the world feels very hard and sad.  We’re working through loss and major tantrums and big decisions and questions and a sweet boy oceans away who needs heart surgeries.  This Christmas season has been speckled with sadness and joy.  I read somewhere years ago…I can’t even remember where now…that joy and grief can co-exist.  I wrote that in a card just this week to friends missing a loved one this season.  And tonight I whispered it to Harper as she cried over Aleppo in her top bunk.  Joy and grief can dance…they can take hold of one another and preform a beautiful, magnificant dance together.

I first talked to our kids about Aleppo a few weeks ago.  I was so overwhelmed by it.  I found myself just reading and sobbing and reading some more.  I felt it necessary to tell them.  Did I show them pictures that might have been too graphic?  Yep.  Did Hudson and I cry together while driving to school?  Yes we did.  Good decision?…Bad decision?…the jury is still out, but I’m starting to think maybe not my worst parenting moment.  I don’t want them to turn their eyes away from the brokenness and sadness of the world.  Instead I want them to turn towards it and then reach out their hands and cry with the world.  We need other people’s pain to become our own.  We need to feel deep compassion and empathy which moves us to action.

With the recent news of Aleppo we dove back into conversations today and more pictures which ended with lots of tears and donations being made to Preemptive Love to help provide food, water and sleeping bags.  We talked about what we could do and they compiled a list.

1.  Give.

2.  Pray.

3.  Go to Aleppo.

4.  Send toys.

5.  Remember.

I want them to take ownership in how we can love those around us.  We talked about how we couldn’t go to Aleppo right now and how toys probably aren’t the best thing to send currently, but how we could do 1, 2 and 5 regularly.  We talked about choosing gratefulness and remembering the people of Aleppo.  We talked about how fighting over pretzels (which had just happened) seemed small and silly when we think about our brothers and sisters in need.  We talked about how we can still celebrate this season, but also remember those in such dire need and how we would do what we could.

If we take the stance “We can’t do anything.  We can’t make a difference.” then we absolutely won’t.  But if we choose to know we can make a difference, then we absolutely will.  When we rally together…when we stand together…we can make a difference.  I want our kids to always know they are world changers.  Jesus calls all of us into it.

A friend was asking me some things about foster care this week.  I told her one of the reasons we are a foster family is because my mind can’t even go to the place of thinking about having my children removed from our home because of a mistake I made…no matter how big or small…or how bad or not so bad…and then placed in a stranger’s home.  I cannot fathom how I would even begin to feel because just starting to think about it makes me want to throw up.  We are foster parents because if the roles were reversed we would want someone fighting for us and loving our children madly.  We would want someone in our corner saying “You can do this.  And we’re here to help you.”  We are foster parents because we want to treat people how we would want to be treated.  This goes for Aleppo too.  And every other situation for that matter.  We are called to treat people as we want to be treated.  To love others how we want to be loved.

When we read about Aleppo in history books years from now, I don’t want to think about how our family did nothing.  I don’t want to think about how our family turned our heads the other way.  I want to know we treated the people of Aleppo how we would want to be treated if we we’re the family running for our lives and trying to protect & feed our babies.

Harper was still pretty upset about it all tonight after she went to bed.  I ended up snuggled in her top bunk under her covers next to her.  We cried together and hashed things out.  I told her how one of the main reasons I love our kindness advent is because God planted it on my heart in such a desolate moment of my life.  I was so sad…so grieved…so hopeless feeling after losing Mom and there in the grief and sadness God planted this piece of joy.  I still remember reading a photo copied devotion my friend Sandra gave me about how even when we don’t know what to do for ourselves, we can always do for others.  I told Harper how even in our most hopeless of moments God can do wondrous things.  He can bring joy in the midst of sadness. He can bring hope and peace in the midst of war and heartache.  He can make things new and beautiful even when they seem far too broken.  That’s what He does.  That’s the jaw dropping, redemptive beauty of our God.  Beauty from ashes.

We ended our bed chat/cryfest talking about how O Holy Night is one of our favorite Christmas songs because of one line “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.”  God never told us not to be sad.  God never said to not take on our neighbor’s pain.  We can still be weary and downtrodden and rejoice.  We can be sad and have our breath taken away by the thrill of hope we find in Him alone.  Joy and grief can dance.  So that’s our plan for the rest of the Christmas season.  We’re remembering Aleppo…and other’s in our lives and around us who are facing hard things…we’re choosing kindness and generosity…we’re looking towards the pain…we’re feeling it…and we’re rejoicing in the hope of Jesus.

 *If you would like to donate directly to aid on the ground in Aleppo GO HERE.

*Great read about Aleppo HERE.

*Shannan always says it 10x better than I every could.

*See Beyond Despair in Aleppo is a must read.

*7 real things you can do right now about the catastrophe in Aleppo