Santa Magic

I never believed in Santa as a kid.

I’m not really sure why, except that I tend to come by skepticism naturally. Also pretty certain my parents didn’t push it. One frigid Minnesota night when I was five, I stayed up and sat in the living room near the lit tree, hoping to hear reindeer hooves on our roof. Never happened. So I went back to bed, convinced it was a sham. No hard feelings.


Fireside chats…

But the Santa we met today…he very well may have been the real thing; The Legend.

We have never taken Finn to sit on Santa’s lap before for several reasons:

  1. I am allergic to long lines. Hives. Hyperventilation.
  2. Shopping malls and/or crowded places used to terrify me with Finn wheeling around. So much staring and bumping into things and chasing. It’s exhausting, emotionally and physically.
  3. I don’t believe in Santa.

But all you people and your adorable Santa-sitting-photos made me wonder if I was depriving my kids of something. So this morning we waited an hour and 1/2 at Bass Pro Shop to meet and take a free photo with Jolly Ole’ St. Nick. It was surprisingly organized and the staff were friendly and warm. We received a Santa pass for an 11:30 photo reservation. We chased our kids, watched the striped bass in the tank and ate at Uncle Buck’s restaurant while we waited. Not too bad.

Here’s where the magic happened…

While in line, Finn was spinning around and stalling on his back wheels (our new fav trick), and Santa looked over between crying toddlers and waved at Finn. Finn smiled and waved back.

Then as we were nearing the North Pole entrance, Santa signaled “wait” to his helper elf and waved on a little girl from the side. She was beautiful in a sparkly white gown and appeared to have Down Syndrome. Santa held both her hands at once and spoke directly in her eyes. She probably told him what she wanted for Christmas and he listened intently, nodding. He was not in a hurry. They hugged and hugged.

Once it was our turn, Finn wheeled excitedly toward the throne and Santa said, “I’ve been waiting for you to come visit me ever since I first saw you!” He took Finn’s little face in his gloved hands and whispered, “You’re so handsome.” I was struck in my gut by His warmth and kindness.


This is when he was talking to Finn…I wish Joey had gotten Finn in the shot too. Paisley was shy, but didn’t cry.

He called Paisley an angel and we snapped this adorable photo.


As I was taking Finn off Santa’s lap, he said to me, “Before you go, I need to speak with Finn.” He asked Finn, “Now what would you like for Christmas?” (A miracle. Advancements in Neurological Science. No more shunt revisions. Strong, sturdy legs. Peace on Earth…) Nope. Finn stretched both arms into the air and with glee, he shouted, “Candy!” Spoken like the sugar-deprived son of a personal trainer. 😉 Santa laughed, gave them each a candy cane, and told Finn how special he was and that he was so glad he and Sister came to visit him.

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I know this sounds cheesy, but today I imagined Santa was a little like our Savior. Waiting for us to come to Him, noticing us and yearning for our closeness all morning. And then He cups our face in His hands and asks us what we want, what we need. And it doesn’t really matter if he gives it to us or not. What matters is that He listens. He smiles warmly and loves us as we are and looks us in the eyes. He is not in a hurry.

December 19, 2015 was the day I first believed in Santa. 11:33am. Bass Pro Shop. Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Thirty-two and a half years of age.




This word has been hovering over my kitchen since Thanksgiving.


Both families have agreed not to exchange gifts this year. They took away one of my love languages, and I’m not too happy about it. 😉 So I’m learning to give in new ways–perhaps more important ways than with the swipe of my debit card.

I’m giving more of my time. Each breath is on loan from my Creator, so it’s really not my time anyway, but I’ve always been most selfish with my time. Meetings that go long drive me bonkers. Commercials, snaking grocery lines, doctor’s offices, verbose, showy prayers, and stoplight traffic all test my patience something fierce.

Giving God more of my time (sheesh…it’s so hard for me!) in prayer and reflection has helped me refocus this Christmas season. I love the book, Savor, by Shauna Niequist. December 8th’s devotion reads:

“The season that centers around the silent, holy night, the simple baby, and the star quickly becomes the season in which we over-everything–overspend, overeat, overindulge, overcommit.”

I’m learning to give less frazzled, hustling, distracted moments and more intentional ones to the people I love.


Give Joey longer, more attentive kisses.

Put my phone down and listen…to whomever is speaking to me: the Target cashier, my kids, my husband, my friends, Pastor Craig…

Let Finn spell out E V E R Y single letter in The Sleepy Train book and forget about the long list of naptime-to-do’s I need to accomplish before sister wakes up.


They loved the Christmas lights at Rhema!


Sit on my bathroom floor with Paisley while she digs through my makeup bag. Discuss the importance of beauty on the inside…and my new-found appreciation for high quality mascara.

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Life Church BA’s lobby is a Christmas wonderland!

Allow my clients the opportunity for proper form and quality of movement even when I planned another set.

Blog about what God’s doing in my heart and how He’s teaching me that giving is a mindset. I can give to Him and to you every day in simple ways.


Taylor created this beautiful print for my mantel.

Give. And give again. Because when you give, you’re most like God, I heard someone say.

An Amateur’s Guide to Painting Cabinets White

I swore I’d never do it again…but I did. I just love a white kitchen and I hate spending money on something I can do myself. So Joey and I spent the two weeks before Thanksgiving transforming our outdated oak cabinets into a beautiful, clean white kitchen that we LOVE. Here’s how (and the harmless marital arguments that arose as a result 😉 ):

  1. Clean the nastiness off.
  2. Remove cabinet doors from their frames. We kept drawers in place. And we kept bottom doors on until the last minute because THIS little girl loves to empty a well-stocked cabinet.

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    She found our one pane-less french door within days of learning to walk. 🙂

  3. Sand all surfaces down using fine grit sandpaper. 150-220. Move sandpaper in same direction as the woodgrain. (Marriage Tiff #1) Cover your countertops/dishes/stovetop if you don’t want sand dust on them.
  4. Wipe dust off surfaces with a damp cloth.
  5. Use that blue tape to tape around borders, floors, and where the wood meets the countertops and walls.
  6. Prime all surfaces using a small-medium sized paint brush to get into all the cracks. Per the Lowe’s Paint Lady’s recommendation, we used PVA primer. IMG_2342
  7. We waited 3 days because it was raining. We didn’t want to spray-paint outdoors in the rain or humidity.
  8. Rain stopped.
  9. While Joey used his dad’s paint sprayer in our side yard and painted the cabinet doors–as well as everything behind and beside them: fence, rain-collection barrel, new A/C unit, bench, grass… (Tiff #2), I used Valspar Dove White semi-gloss paint as a first coat in the kitchen. (I love this color!)IMG_2377IMG_2378IMG_2383
  10. Most people would probably remove and replace all hinges/hardware, but we loved the quality of ours and didn’t mind that they were painted white.
  11. The paint sprayer didn’t work as well as we had hoped. The paint dripped and it was hard for Joey to keep bugs off the wet paint. It felt like the first, sprayed coat was a waste of time and fence. (Tiff #3) So he put the doors back on their frames to finish with a brush.
  12. Over the next two evenings and nap times, we painted the second and third coats. Joey’s idea of a “final coat” and mine were different. (Tiff #4)
  13. Use Trigger Point foam roller to work out all the kinks in your low back and shoulders. Ouch!
  14. We decided to keep one cabinet door off and open. Joey filled in the hinge holes with spackling putty. Then we sanded and painted over it.
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  15. Light a candle, clean the floors, blend up a green protein shake and enjoy the finished product. FullSizeRender 29IMG_2384
  16.  Reminisce about what it used to look like!

BEFORE: Joey’s dad put in a new backsplash (beveled white subway tile with light gray grout) for us when we moved in last December. We also changed the lighting.




AFTER: We don’t love the granite counter tops the previous owners chose, but they’re much more bearable now!

16. Go on a date. Apologize for being a jerk over paint. We enjoyed seeing Spectre (007) in the balcony at the Warren! Thanks, Aunt Melinda, for babysitting! FullSizeRender 31

17. Swear you’ll never paint cabinets white again…