The Christmas Letter Has Gone Digital

I have become a big fan of outsourcing.  This year I discovered that I could have someone else shop for my groceries and it has changed. my. life.  I did pretty much all of my shopping on Amazon this year, and mobile ordering my coffee has become a way of life.  It might be a sickness.

On my quest for a complete automation of my family’s home life I also discovered that Shutterfly has a department of elves that will print, stuff, address, stamp, and mail your Christmas cards.  I love America.

It is because of this you are likely reading this since I put a handy dandy little link on the back of our cards this year. So without further ado I present to you, my dear reader:

The Smalling Year in Review: Christmas Letter Edition.

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The Boy Who Brings the Joy [a reminder]

I have to admit something.

I am not much of an adventurer or traveler.  I used to be in my young and free (read: childless) days.  I remember those days when I could just bounce out the door to visit some far away place, like, that wasn’t Target.  All I needed was a pair of shoes, my car keys, and my wallet because DIET COKE.

Now it is too much effort to go anywhere that isn’t Target when you have two littles in tow.  Granted, one of them is not so little anymore but there is still wailing and gnashing of teeth at the mere suggestion that socks and shoes should be put on before leaving the house.

But MOOOOOOM.  I CAN’T PUT ON DEEEZ SOCKS.  THEY ARE CRUNCHING MY TOESSSSS.

When did socks become tiny crushers of toes?  Have I missed something in the Mom Manual vol. 6?  Should we protest sock companies for a less toe-crunching version of their sweet stretchy cotton foot coverings?

#socksofsatan

This past weekend I was gifted the most glorious gift ever with a solo trip to Charleston to see some friends.  ALONE.  Did you hear me?  I was A-L-O-N-E.  I only had to worry about my socks not crunching MY toes (no problem there).  I didn’t have to worry about anyone eating, having enough pairs of underwear, was there enough diapers, where will the next potty be and how long can I stretch between little people naps without crossing over into the point of no return?

Glorious I tell you.

As I was deplaning in Atlanta (my ultimate favorite city of all time, traffic be darned) a woman reached out to me and asked me if I shop at Target.

Why yes, yes I do sweet lady who shares my affinity for adorable housewares and storage containers.   How could you tell?  Was it a good guess based on my general Young Mom Uniform (jeggings, oversized sweater, epic blanket scarf) or did you just recognize my amazing boots that I was wearing and assume they must be from Target?  Either way I am pretty sure we are now best friends.

She quickly realized I was looking at her as odd as she must have felt and quickly filled in the blanks.  She remembered me from Target the day prior because she overheard a couple of conversations I was having with Chicken Little in regards to fashion.

No Mommy, that dress will NOT make you feel spectaculawr, I fink you need to twy dis one on instead.

Mommy, pwease twy on deez boots.  Your feet need to feel spectaculawr for your twip, too.

I’ll be durned if he wasn’t right.  Somewhere at Parsons, Tim Gunn is smiling.  I can’t make this stuff up even if I tried.

She laughed as she recounted to me the memories she had raising her boys (now in their 20s) and thanked me for the reminder that sweet little boys who love their mamas still exist.  I could see that look, I recognized that look.  That mischievous twinkle in her eyes that she too, knew the struggle of perfectly-timed boy farts and of mud pies and sloppy kisses.  The one that says the days are long but the years are short and that look of true camaraderie.  Mamas somehow all know how to recognize each other and how to give that look of solidarity, especially boy moms.  Of this I am convinced.

I am also convinced that if we could stop for a minute each day and look to someone and bring a word of joy, of peace, of comfort, of unity that it likely won’t be rejected.  In fact, it might even bring a bit of we’re in this together-ism to the tired and the weary among us.   I don’t believe the whole world will be fixed by an act of kindness or a smile or a thank you.  But maybe, just maybe, it can put a bandaid on the brokenness.

Even just for a moment.

That One Time I Changed Jobs

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So there’s been a bit of radio silence here.

I could break into some long drawn out Ted-esque HIMYM soliloquy about how I got to where I am right now but I’ll save you from that. The long and short:

I now work at another local church in our town, still in kidmin but on a different team.  Though highly unusual, not as awkward as you might think.  And the reason why is an important principle for leaders.

Sometimes (no, all the time) your plan is not nearly as big or as awesome as the God you serve.

When you remain in a place that you are not longer called to serve you are telling God you are bigger and more awesome than He is. (See: Jonah, big whale, Ninevah)

If another leader came to me and said that they were going to do what I did I would tell them they were crazy.  I would likely advise against it.  It’s one thing to switch jobs–people do it all the time–but a completely different beast when it’s a 1.) church world and 2.) in the same town.  But sometimes the Holy Spirit causes you to stand safely in the boat and sometimes he calls you to step out of it.  And sometimes he keeps you right where you are and tells you to cast your net on the other side of the boat.  It’s the same boat, different side.  Regardless, when your eyes are fixed on Jesus you can’t lose.  You might look like an idiot, but you won’t lose.  In fact, you’ll probably definitely not drown and find lots of fish in your nets.  I wish I was wise enough to know all of this before I went through this transition but I didn’t.  Typical.

Transition does not come without pain, I had to leave a lot of things and people I loved.  My son took his first steps in the church I served in for the last 6 years; he was loved and we were loved.  There was no major drama, no terrible fallout, just a girl who heard a call that was different from the one she had in mind.  So, I had to be braver than I wanted to be and stand firm in the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  I had to trust that my husband was hearing and seeing and understanding the same things in his own life for me.  I had to listen and lean in to those women around me who have that kind of unwavering faith that I’m convinced can really move mountains.  I had to be willing to leave the safe and comfortable.

My life is not my own and my ministry is not my own, it’s all bought and paid for and it’s not for my glory.  So when He calls, I go even when it doesn’t initially make sense.

Are you in a transitional time in your life?  Have you just recently experienced one?  What would you do/have done differently?

Shot on Saturday: Coffee Cake Muffins

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Saturdays are for brunching.  And crafting.  And baking.

Today was one of those blessed days where I was able to do all of those things.  Days like this do not come around often enough and that’s because I’ve bought into the lie that there’s not enough time to take care of myself and do things like this without feeling guilty.  There are weeks where I pretend to be the martyr and sacrifice myself for the cause of fill in the blank here with whatever it is that I use as an excuse to not feed my soul.  But then I’m grumpy and hangry and awful so everyone around me loses.

It feels like an epidemic that plagues us all, yes?  Or is it just me?

I didn’t think so.

What would happen if we (yes, that includes you too) would take back our time and our lives?  What would happen if we didn’t give into our kids every single want or need at the expense of our own sanity?

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Joy

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I looked over at the clock, it was 3:58am.  The reason I’m up is I just got kicked in the head by Chicken Little who, at some point last night, wiggled his way into our bed and promptly fell asleep.  Between the snores of Sweet Hubs, Neurosis the Wonder Dog, and Chicken Little, there was no hope for sleep redemption last night.  I’m not even sure how long he was there but I do know that he wasn’t there when I fell asleep the first time.

That little sneak.

This scenario played out again at 5:45am, 6:00am, 6:22am, 6:54am and finally I relented at 7:00am and hoped the tv could babysit for another 30 minutes while I tried to will myself out of bed on 4 hours of sleep.

Dear Coffee, I love you.  Will you be my Valentine?

Sometimes in the rush of life we miss the little things.  And even though I feel like that exhausted rodent on the front of my coffee mug this morning I’m choosing to find joy.

Joy that Sweet Hubs made coffee for me before he headed off to class (part atonement for leaving me all day with Chicken Little and mostly because he’s great like that).

Joy that my house is warm, messy, but warm.

Joy that a healthy little boy can run across the house in the middle of the night and crawl into bed with his mom and dad.

Joy in the million little things that make up this life.  This beautiful mess of a life that I share with my boys (and one neurotic, smelly dog).