Friday, December 26, 2008

How was your Christmas?

Here's a glimpse into mine:

From my 7 year old daughter who wrote her own letter:

Der Santa Class,

I whant a Addi amaranken girl doll. I whant a Kit amaranken girl doll. The books whould be grate to. And I whant littlst pet shop. Have a very Mary Crimiss!

I love you!


From my 5 year old son who dictated his letter:

Dear Santa,

I would like a monster truck, a transformer and that is all. I am glad you are not on Satan's team because neither am I. That's it, I'm done.

I know it sounds cheesy, but I am fortunate to be a member of such a great family. I often tell my in-laws I would have married Dan just to be a part of the group. But as it worked out I happened to fall in love with their son so there was no moral dilemma.

At the end of every day I'm a wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt, in-law, and friend. Most days I wonder how I can juggle so many hats. But today I'm thanking God for every one of those relationships. As if the birth of Christ weren't enough, he has seen fit to give me gift after gift in the people I love. For me, it's been that kind of Christmas, which makes it one of the best I've had. The trick is to maintain that focus every day.

I have a sneaking suspicion that conviction is a gift, too.

So that's my Christmas story. What about you? What was your Christmas like?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

May the hope and peace of the first Christmas fill you this Christmas. God's blessings to you and your family today and always.

Love in Christ,


Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Contest Winners Deb and Karen

Deb & Karen, runners up for the photo caption contest, I need your addresses. My in box was wiped out by mistake. The mistake being that I am a moron. Thanks. (

Christmas Has Descended at SFL Headquarters

As I type this there are 300+ brand new legos scattered all over my office floor.

An attempted art project is on the floor, too, but my daughter is in tears because she can't figure it out.

And somewhere in a CPA office across town, the man I love sits a little prouder today. He got Marvel Super Hero pajama pants from his son.

What about me? My mother gave me the jammiest jammies ever. They're fuzzy and have pink candy circle patterns. The top says "sweet" in big pink letters and has ruffled trim. Apparently I am turning 3 this Christmas.

All of that is to say we're in full-blown Christmas mode. My family came in Saturday. Tomorrow we leave to go to Florida for 10 days. When time allows I will write shorter, SFL style posts until after Christmas day. Then we'll get back to business.

But for today I'm enjoying some undivided time with my family. You go do the same.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I may not know this family personally, but I know they need our prayers. Desperately.

Mark Lamberth sustained a severe brain injury from a dirt bike incident about a week ago. The complications are scary. The situation is huge. But if we're all in God's family through Christ we can ban together through prayer. So that's what I'm asking of you today: Consider offering a prayer on the Lamberth family's behalf.

Follow this link, Pray for the Lamberths , to learn the whole story.

Jon Acuff's Birthday Is Friday! Yippeeee!

In addition to today's post we have some very important business.

1) Be sure to send your card, even if it's late it still counts! My husband took a Christmas letter from a relative, scratched out their names all through the letter, signed our names and sent it to Jon. It's spectacular. And that's just how easy this can be. Here's the address.

2) E-mails & Facebook messages are the second point of attack. But don't send these until Friday morning. Think we can make his e-mail read "inbox full"?

This is gonna be awesome!

What's Your Worst Christmas Gift Ever?

You know how I feel about class and culture on my blog. But do you have any idea the lengths to which I'll go to bring you such quality? It's not uncommon for me to sift through merchandise at Stumpy's Food Mart, only to second guess what I should purchase. I lay in bed at night, tossing and turning to answer this pivotal question: Is it TACKY enough? Do you know how hard it is to decide between a pooping reindeer candy dispenser and pickled eggs, harvested fresh from the jar by Buzz, the hairy gas station attendant?

So, it is in this vein, that I simply must tell you all - I'm sorry, but the pressure was too much. I won't be purchasing Christmas gifts for all of you this year.

But I will do the next best thing by showing you what I was going to send. I hope you like it.

Don't leave yet! I have a question. What is the worst Christmas gift you've ever received? Go ahead and dish. I won't tell.

P.S. I'll meet you over at SCL tomorrow morning for a good scoop of crazy. Come on, you know you want to...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

HELP! Christmas Women's Ministry Ideas Needed!

I'm in the process of writing about women's ministry at Christmas time. Believe it or not I've run out of ideas. So, stereotypically speaking, what crazy ridiculous stuff happens during Christmas in women's ministry? What have you experienced? What have you seen? What gets women's knickers in a twist? What do you avoid like the plague?

Let's stir up some insanity....

Monday, December 15, 2008

Winning Caption - And Runners Up

Twas the night before Christmas
Santa wanted to get smashed
But he was stuck taking pictures
With this pain in the....
- Teamstrand

Congratulations to Teamstrand! It's just like everyone's favorite movie "It's A Wonderful Life": "Mommy, teacher says, 'Every time a disco ball blings a blogger gets free things!'" So, in the spirit of The Season, Teamstrand will rake in The Classy Christmas Crap Pile.

But I'm not out of love yet my friends. That's right, there are some runners up. Each will receive a special SFL consolation prize. Here they are in all their glory.

Santa's inner monologue - "I am so getting out of debt this year. I can't take much more of this crap..." -Pastor Swish

Opening the church Christmas card, Elder Smith knew the New Year would bring some staffing changes at First Grace Baptist Community Bible Church Fellowship. -Deb (it was the church's name that went on and on that wowed one judge)

The results of Prancer's broken leg are proving quite disastrous. -Karen

If your name is on the list send your address to

Thanks to everyone who played along....both with the contest and my delusions... You guys rock my blog every day!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Jon Acuff's Birthday is December 19!

December 19 is National Jon Acuff Birthday Day. In order to celebrate Jon's birthday we need to send him some cards ASAP. 10 cards would be nice. 50 cards would be exceptional. But 200 cards - well that would be downright annoying. So that's why we're shooting for 200. To pull this off we have to work together and do 2 things:

1) Send Jon a card, or two... And it doesn't have to be a birthday card. Got a leftover Sympathy card in the bottom of a junk drawer? Perfect! Have a Christmas card you just got in the mail? Scratch out your friend's name and write yours in. Whatever option takes the least amount of work for you, pursue that option. (Please be sure to include your user name, too.)

2) Put the word out on your blog! Tell people what we're doing and how they can get involved.

Here's Jon's address:

Jonathan Acuff
PO Box 4522
Alpharetta, GA, 30023

And just in case some of you are thinking, "This is stupid!", I have one thing to say: YES, you are correct. And that's why we're doing it.

We've got to work fast! Post on your blog today!

CONTEST LOOT & Judges: It's Not Too Late!!

When it comes to contests on Stacy From Louisville there's one standard I will not compromise: class. You know, as in classy, or en vogue. My thought pattern goes something like this: "If Sassafrass labored to capture the essence of this photo, I should reward him/her according to the effort set forth." So, it is in that vein that I present to you the best seasonal merchandise The Dollar Tree, Wal-Greens, & Stumpy's Food Mart have to offer. Please say hello to...

The SFL 2008 Classy Christmas Crap Pile

The CCCP Contains the following:

One Super Dooper Reindeer Pooper - Ever seen those fancy candy dispensers that save your money and reward you with a nice gumball? This is nothing like that. It's one of Santa's reindeer helpers. When you push on his head he poops out Jelly Bellies! You can take it into work and giggle to yourself as you eat the candy. When your friends ask what's so funny you can say "Doody." (Which is a fun word to say and not used nearly enough in the English language.)

Fruit Cake - I have never eaten fruit cake. I am allergic to wheat. But I'll bet you're not! Do you know what a Christmas gift pack be without fruit cake? A Hanukkah pack. Just saying.

A Musical Christmas Tie - The tie says "Let It Snow" and plays "Silent Night". For no extra charge it's packaged in Mylar. I'm pretty sure you could leave that on there when you wear it, you know, just so you don't stain it.

One Disco Ball Ornament - Cause nothing says "class" like cut pieces of mirror stuck to Styrofoam. True story: When I purchased it the lady said, "Would you mind if I wrapped it separately? It's so pretty I wouldn't want it to break." Yeah, me neither.

One Pink Flamingo Ornament - A flamingo in a bikini with Santa boots. You'll be the envy of the neighborhood.

Jelly Belly Flavor Candy Canes


A Crisp $1 Bill (not pictured) - because "Christmas Shoes" MP3 downloads are 99 cents on Amazon!!

So there you have it, the Classy Christmas Crap Pile. Now that you've seen the prize it's important to know you have the rest of today and tomorrow to caption yesterday's picture. Enter as many times as you like.

Now, let's meet the judges.

Meet Judge #1: Paula Abdul
Miss Abdul, please describe yourself...
Paula Abdul (a.k.a. Stacey) is bright and thoughtful with a side of smartmouth. She enjoys coffee, books, taxidermy, in line speed skating, and collecting photographs of T.G. Shepherd. Humility is not her forte.

(I've known Stacey for 20+ years. She's got a huge heart and smells 83% better than most people. And that's her brother in the picture.)

Meet Judge #2: Wicked D.O.P.
And what does D.O.P. stand for? Danced On the Pulpit. That's right. In junior high, during a lock in, she mounted the pulpit for a mambo. She didn't know she was being video taped until the footage was revealed to over 200 people, including her parents. Good times.

Meet Judge #3: Curtis Honeycutt
Curtis, of Stuff Christians Like fame, is the winner of the heaven contest. Curtis has an awesome site called Just Wallpaper. He also has the skills needed to judge a photo caption contest. (Those skills being "literacy" and "super scroll down powers".)

So there you have it. All the makings for one fantastical contest. Hope you enter! And even if you don't win the mother load there may be a few honorable mentions. With SFL you never can tell.

In the meantime what's the worst Christmas decoration you've seen for sale this season?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

CHRISTMAS CONTEST! (Or Hooray! More Lame Prizes!)

When it comes to SFL there's nothing I love more than my readers. (Well, that and a good Christmas letter.) So, in the spirit of giving, I want to bestow some fantastical gifts to you, my readers. But you've got to work for it.

Below you will see a charming Christmas photograph. Your job is to caption this photo. Enter as many times as you like. The contest runs from today (Thursday) through Saturday at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time. The judges will select their favorites and narrow it down to one lucky winner.

Judges and contest loot will be announced and pictured on Friday. Good luck!

Caption This Christmas Photo:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

That's an interesting question....

My daughter just asked me, "Mom, do you use mind control on your blog?"

My dear readers, how would YOU answer her question? Please leave your comment for her.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Shoes

I hate the song "Christmas Shoes". And apparently 82% of you feel the same way. No, I have not seen the movie or read the book. So other than the song itself I have not real framework for the story. But based on the song alone here's what I gather...

There's a kid with a sick mom. She's going to die. So instead of comforting her as she dies he decides she won't be able to get into heaven unless she's well dressed. (Some women's ministry programs operate on this same premise. Just saying.) So he goes out to Footlocker on Christmas Eve. Instead of selecting a nice, sensible Hush Puppy, he selects some red, crystal encrusted Dior heels for about $450. He gets up to pay for the shoes, and even though he knocked over a 7-11 on his way over, he doesn't enough coin for the bling. So he deviously cons the guy behind him in line out of some mad cash. He buys the shoes. He shoves the receipt in his pocket. And laughs all the way home. He's taking them back the day after Christmas and pocketing the proceeds.

That's the way it should be anyway. I mean, seriously, people! Who wrote this song? Nobody, I mean N.O. O.N.E. ends up with a Christmas this ridiculously tragic. I don't know if there are world religions that offer divine merit based on footwear, but maybe that's what they were thinking.

I toyed with putting the song and video to "Christmas Shoes" up today. But I wouldn't want you to think I endorse such behavior.

Instead I'm putting up something pretty spectacular to get the "Christmas Shoes" chorus out of your head.

(Could you hurry please? Daddy says there's not much time...) (and yes, I wrote that from memory and I have no excuse for myself)

So, what's your least favorite Christmas song?

Thanks to Marni for the clip!

Monday, December 8, 2008

How To Sabatoge A White Elephant Gift Exchange

Over the years I have become a connoisseur of White Elephant Gift Exchanges. (Hereafter referred to as "WEGE". And yes, it's pronounced like you're thinking.) Every time it's the same. For the entire 4 hours before the event I develop delusions that maybe - just maybe - this year I might win big. Maybe I will take home a Pillsbury Dough Boy carved out of Velveeta. Or maybe a jar candle that smells like "Jumpsuit Elvis". Or anything fiber optic. The anticipation makes my palms sweaty. But I never get the good stuff.

Know what I usually walk away with? CRAP. By "crap" I mean: 1) a stupid gift that's really a piece of land-fill fodder, 2) a stocking full of broken dreams.

Truthfully, WEGE brings out the worst in me. It's the gift stealing that upsets my delicate demeanor. If someone steals my gift I get this overwhelming desire to bludgeon them with a light-up, plastic molded Christ child from the tacky yard display up the street. That's right. Come up against me and I'll drop you like Santa down a chimney.

But not anymore.

You see, I have discovered that WEGE is not about the gifts. These days my goal is to sabotage the game.

Let's set the stage. All of your Sunday School class is gathered in some one's home for the festivities. Holiday sweaters and egg nog abound. People are enjoying themselves. Then it happens. A choleric woman wearing a Santa hat, too much blush and dangly miniature Nutcracker earrings stands. She calls for every one's attention. No one listens. She calls again. Same response. Suddenly, her smile dims, the veins in her neck bulge and she screams, "Merry Christmas!" with all the grace of Gene Simmons.

She announces it's time to begin the gift exchange. She's as jumpy as a junkie squirrel looking for a fix. The antics that will follow will twist her knickers something fierce.

Here are 5 ways to sabotage your next gift exchange. Let's hit the ground running, shall we?

1) Give away liquor. We all know that even mentioning alcohol in some church settings will get you blacklisted. So why not make everyone in the room uncomfortable right from the beginning? Chances are that though they may suspect you of bringing the Satan Water, there are at least 3 other couples they will suspect, too. One year my husband and I brought a 4 pack of wine coolers to a WEGE. But, to push the envelope, we removed one from the pack, leaving a note, "We owe you one." Then we signed the leader's name. Yes, yes we did.

2) Goldfish. Not the VBS snack. We're talking a live fish. In a plastic bag that you just purchased from the pet shop. Put the bag in a pretty box, add a container of fish food, and pray it doesn't die. Why a fish? Because a Golden Retriever is hard to wrap and has a tendency to pee.

3) Go Political. Did you know that not all Christians are Republicans? (gasp) Shocking, I know. Yet regardless of how you voted in the election there's always going to be someone who has a different point of view. So why not unload all your 2008 election paraphernalia? Bumper stickers, t-shirts, yard signs - both local and national. Throwing out phrases like "I voted NObama!" and "I can see Russia from my house!" will make everyone warm and cozy.

4) Is that my purse? This one is serious. I have done it but you've got to be slick. Take some one's purse, throw it in a gift bag, put it under the tree.

And speaking of family portraits...

5) The Christmas Photo. Know that Christmas letter you just got from your Sunday school teacher? The one with the dazzling photo and letter about leaning on God in the midst having irritable bowel syndrome? I say you take that photo, enlarge it to an 11x13 so it's good and grainy, roll it inside a wrapping paper tube, and slap on a bow.

I think I can say at least one of these suggestions would throw a wrench in your next gift exchange. I've done all of them, in one way or another, and it has been spectacular.

Sadly, I could only come up with 5 ways to derail a party. Surely there are more. Since you all are so funny I'll leave it up to you.

What is the worst gift you've given or received at a gift exchange? What gifts would stop you dead in your tracks?

Friday, December 5, 2008

I'll be back on Monday with some serious sass. So let's meet here then and we'll share some White Elephant love....but don't turn it into a fist fight. I've got enough love to share with everyone.

Am I benevolent or what? Feel free to answer that question...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Creation & Redemption

From the beginning God had a plan to send Jesus to die for you.

The same hand that placed stars in the sky and trees in the ground would eventually be pierced on your behalf. His blood for yours.

It's simple. It's profound.

From beginning to end, from creation until the end of time, from Adam to you; one name, one God-man: Jesus Christ.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5: 6-8

God bless you today, my friend. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Alternative Christmas Letter

(The idea for this letter came from the comments section of SCL months ago. If this is your idea, give me a shout and I'll give credit where it's due.)

Christmas brings out strange behavior. Case in point, the traditional Christmas letter. You know what I'm talking about. Or maybe you've even sent one yourself, I know I have. It generally goes something like this:

1) Pay a photographer $500 for 1 picture in which every member of your family looks perfect. Usually this involves matching Polos and lots of airbrushing.

2) Write an exaggerated narrative about family events over the past 12 months. For example, "Jill learned to color" becomes "Jill, though only 2, shows artistic promise as she boldly experiments with color and design". Or, "Life really sucked this year. The fact that we never heard from you once means you're a jerk" becomes "God is teaching us to depend on Him in this season of growth".

3) Send the photo and the letter to people you haven't seen in at least 3 years. Why? Because they're uppity! Remember how they snubbed you after they moved to a nicer neighborhood? How they didn't invite you to their annual Earth Day Granola Munch? Those people deserve a filp o' the ol' Partridge In A Pear Tree, don't you think? The best way to do that is send a letter, where you look and sound perfect so they have to stop and wonder if snubbing you was such a good call.

I must admit, we get lots of these traditional Christmas letters. I don't think we ever snubbed anybody, but still, they roll in every year. Wanna hear a secret? (Lean in close to the screen - I'm whisper-typing.) We don't always read them. They get old and boring and...well...we really don't care how great a soccer player your kid is.....or how your new job as hot dog vendor at Weenie Time is a blessing....or how your new puppy, Mr. Poopsy Pancake, is so very, weary silly-willy....JUST MAKE IT STOP ALREADY!!!!

So, in response to the throng of Christmas letters that flood our mailboxes every year, our family has chosen The Alternative Christmas Letter approach. What you are about to read is the actual Christmas photo and letter we are sending this year. But I wanted to share it with you first.

Dear Family and Friends,

Merry Christmas! We wanted to send you a letter to let you know what we’ve been up to this last year.

We still live in a house. It is in Kentucky. We live close to some family members, but far away from others. We try to get together. Sometimes it works out and we have fun. Other times it does not.

This year we all had birthdays. We have a tradition where we give gifts and have cake. Sometimes we have ice cream, other times we do not. We also blow out candles, which is nice. Every person gets cake because it is good to share.

Dan has a job. He works hard. He gets up, goes to work, works all day and comes home just before dinner. Most days he does this, some days he does not. On the days he does not work he is sick or it is a weekend or maybe even a holiday.

Both kids are in school. Our daughter wakes up every day. So does our son. They put on clothes, eat breakfast, and get in the car. She goes to school and stays until she is picked up. She also eats lunch nearly every day when she is hungry.

Our son goes to school some days, other days he does not. On the days he goes to school he has a good time. He colors some. He listens to some stories. He plays outside. When he is done he comes home. On the days he stays home he plays with toys and sometimes watches a video. But every day he eats lunch.

Stacy stays home some days. Some days she goes out to the store. She buys food and sometimes even underwear or shoes for the kids. Most days she makes dinner. Some days we eat chicken. Other days we eat beef or sandwiches. Usually there is a vegetable but not always. When dinner is ready we like to eat it. We use forks except for when we have soup.

We had all four seasons this year. In the winter it was cold for the most part. Some days it snowed. We would look outside and say, “Look. Snow.” We enjoyed saying this. Then we had spring. Some days it was warmer, other days it was not. Then summer came. When it was hot we would come inside. When we did this we might have a cold drink or say, “It’s hot today.” But we did not say that every day, just some days. Then it was Fall. We had colder weather. The leaves came off the trees. “Look”, we said. “Leaves.”

Some of you are nice to us. We try to keep in touch. If you send a letter we will read it. If you call we will answer the phone. We like to say things like “Hello” and “How are you?” Being nice is good.

It has been so good to catch up with you. Merry Christmas.

Have a nice day,

The Smalls

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What's He Preaching About?

I find the following clip very disturbing. This is beyond Bible college weird, and that's saying something. I can't help but think that I'm missing key information as I watch it. Some thing's got him riled up. Watch the clip* and answer this question:

What in the world is this kid preaching about?

*Stacy From Louisville will not be responsible for adverse effects of repeatedly watching this video. Prolonged exposure may cause skin burning, ticks and twitching, spontaneous speaking in tongues during work hours, nightmares, and blindness from degenerated retinas (similar to staring into an eclipse or watching UFOs). Should these symptoms persist please contact Eastern KY Pastor via the comment section.