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.

Pillars of Salt

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“Ughhhhhhhhh.  Really?”

I was just brushing my teeth minding my own business when I heard the way-too-intense-for-this-early-in-the-morning-groan from Sweet Hubs.  It wasn’t the usual I-wish-my-kid-could-get-his-own-breakfast grumble, it was more of an exasperation mixed with a bit of mild sadness.

Curious as to the culprit of this I poked my head out of the bathroom and saw what he was watching.  The Today Show was doing a story on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition‘s newest cover model.

You know, the one they had to use a photoshopped ribbon to cover her exposed, ahem, dainties, because it was “too hot for morning tv.”

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This is for You

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Real Talk:

I’ve never really been a fan of “women’s ministry” — mostly because my few experiences with it at my churches growing up left me feeling like I would never belong to the elite club of ladies who read their Bibles on the daily, prayed fervently and without ceasing, knew all the Christianese, and were frankly quite perfect.

Then I realized that, bless their hearts, that maybe they didn’t have it all together but instead they put their best foot forward because that’s just what we’re supposed to do.  Broken and loveless marriages, addictions, gossipping, feelings of inadequacy, wayward children, infertility, depression..those things didn’t have a place around the women’s ministry tables where I sat.  No, those were the things we “prayed” (read: gossipped) about for others but would never to admit to each other that it was happening to us, too.

I could never reconcile the differences between what my interactions with women’s ministry expected me to be and who I actually was.  So, like any good southern girl does, I bottled it up, put on a smile, and stayed as far away from deep meaningful relationships with women as much as I could through the whole of my 20s.  It was just easier that way.  I was safe from the judgement, safe from the bless your hearts, and safe from becoming just like them when I was old enough to sit around their tables for real.

Frankly, it’s all BS.  And it’s time to change this perception.

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Not Our Home

ruin-457475_640As I was sitting on the floor of the hospital I was acutely aware of the cold hard floor against the back of my legs.  While I watched nurses running in between rooms and I realized that life and death are such close friends in this place.  The sadness of the room I was avoiding was punctuated every so often with laughter of the other rooms.  A bed wheeled down the hallway and picked up the girl in the room across from me, she was having a minor surgery and it was no big deal.

But for those of us who were waiting outside of 425, it was a big deal.

It’s a big deal because we were watching my best friend’s grandmother as her life was slipping away.  Actually, we were waiting for it.  Ironically enough, we were praying for it.

As I was sitting there, I flashed back to 6 years ago as I stood in the ICU with my brand-new husband of 12 hours while we watched life slip away from his childhood best friend.  The beeping of the monitors that were breathing and beating for him, the hushed voices, the tear-stained faces of the friends and family he was leaving in that hospital room was almost too much for any of us to handle.  I will never forget sitting in that waiting room later that day and watching the nurse bring out a plastic bag of the clothes and shoes he was wearing before he found himself in a coma in the bed down the hall.  The finality of it punctuated by the ordinariness of clothes in a bag.  His shoes, scuffed and stained, his clothes cut down the middle when the paramedics came and tried to resuscitate, the gold cross necklace he wore tangled up and visible from the outside of the bag.

The difference between these two stories is that one was surrounded by those who believed in a life after death and the other was surrounded by a mixture of those who did and didn’t believe in that.

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.  Hebrews 13:14 (NLT)

While I watched my best friend’s professional work as a doctor and her personal life of losing her grandmother collide, I was reminded of this verse.  As she said all the things that you say to your grandma when you realize she’s dying, I couldn’t help but think of how incredibly painful it must be for those who believe that the end of life is the end of it all.  For my friend’s grandmother, when her eyes opened again she would see Jesus and the place that He has prepared for her.  It’s seems odd to rejoice in the fact that she’s gone but for those of us who know Christ, it makes sense.  There’s peace in knowing that we will see her again soon when we take our place that has been prepared for us in heaven, too.

I need for my son to know that this world is not our home.  That we were not meant to chase success by the world’s standards at the sake of our own souls and relationship with Jesus.  I want for him to grow up knowing that we never really say goodbye to those in whom Jesus dwells.  For as sad as it is to watch someone as life slips away, we have to remember that as final breaths are taken on this earth, first breaths are taken in heaven.  It doesn’t make it hurt less when it happens but at least there’s hope to cling to until the pain dulls and the heaviness of heart lightens.

My heart hurts for my friend but my soul rejoices for her grandmother who is finally home.