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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Where you go, I will go: A Devotional on Ruth 1


"Look," said Naomi, "your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her."
But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. - Ruth 1:15-18

The beautiful words of Ruth 1:16 are famous and oft repeated. The commitment they convey gives us one of the most inspiring examples of loyalty in all of the Bible. Because of this, many of us have heard them read at weddings more often than we can count. I, in fact, read this verse at a wedding of a friend over twenty years ago.

Here's a secret: At the time I stood up in front of that congregation, I had no idea the story behind the words I was reading.

To truly understand how impressive the commitment of Ruth is we must read the whole story. When we read these verses at weddings we are reciting them in the context of romantic love and jubilant celebration - a time of hope and light. And yet, if we actually read the entire text, we find that these words are not exchanged between an engaged couple looking toward newly wedded bliss and the hope of a prosperous, happy family. Instead, they are exchanged between two impoverished widows in a time of fear, desperation, and the prospect of a bleak future.

If you had Ruth 1:16 read at your wedding, I certainly don't mean to rain on your parade. The powerful sentiment of joining together in commitment still holds. The words are a timeless example of selfless dedication to another, no matter the context.

But a further look into the story shows us the great contrast between making a choice to be obedient in the midst of a joyous occasion vs. making that same choice in a situation rife with obstacles. In addition, we also must recognize that Ruth not only makes this choice once, but again and again, even as her mother-in-law's protests becoming increasingly persuasive.

Naomi offers Ruth and her sister-in-law, Orpah, numerous very compelling arguments to push them to turn back. As the daughters-in-law are Moabites, they will not be welcome in Bethlehem. All three women are widows with no power, no money, and no reasonable hope that they will be able to marry when they arrive. Orpah doesn't take much persuading and soon turns to leave. I can't say I blame her. Ruth, however, defiantly ignores each argument making the difficult choice to continue the journey with Naomi.

Making a decision to follow God's will for our lives is rarely a one time choice and is even more rarely an easy road. Often times I like to tell myself that I'll know that I've made a decision in line with what God wants for me if doors open easily and the path seems crystal clear.

On the contrary, quite often continuing to make a decision to be committed to someone or something that God wants for us can be anything but easy. We need only to ask an addict how many times she has to decide to refuse the lure of alcohol. How many protests will her mind give her that just one drink is no big deal? For many, that choice has to be made daily, if not hourly. Or how about the husband and father who has to climb out of his warm bed every morning to tie his running shoes tight to exercise so that he can be the healthiest version of himself for his family even when it is cold and rainy outside? Or what of the employee who could easily skim a few dollars here or there without anyone being the wiser for it, but instead makes the more honest albeit less financially profitable choice day after day?

As I contemplate all of the many choices we make each day, it occurs to me that perhaps there is no better place to read this 1st chapter of Ruth than at a wedding. Last week, my husband and I marked 25  years of marriage. In 1995, I was 25 years old with nary a wrinkle on my face nor a kid's college tuition bill in sight. I was dressed in white lace and tulle and was looking forward to champagne, dancing, and that overpriced ice sculpture full of shrimp cocktail at our reception. It frankly wouldn't have been all that difficult to say, "where you go, I will go" to my young husband in that moment.

But 25 years later, when parenting bigger kids means dealing with bigger, more consequential issues and when every single day another part of my body hurts, and when someone still doesn't seem to understand dishwasher loading etiquette, that commitment becomes a different matter all together. This choice to stay, to journey together, to meet whatever obstacles come our way is not just one decision but, one after another, after another, after another.

As we enter a new year, many of us will be making resolutions and committing ourselves to fostering new habits, while many of us will simply need to continue what Eugene Peterson refers to as "a long obedience in the same direction". No matter what choices we have to make, we ought to take a lesson from Ruth today and call upon God to help us practice a sustained, enduring obedience to follow His lead each and every day that He sees fit to give us.

Holy, gracious God. Help us in this new year. Our short-sightedness, our fears, and our doubts will fail us when we try to use our will power to make decisions for our future journeys. Fill us with your Holy Spirit, so that we might be filled with conviction and wisdom to follow You wherever you might lead us. Amen.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

More than a Game: Lessons from Kate

Today is my birthday. I am 51 years old today. Four years ago on my birthday I sat down at my laptop to write about a little girl who was only able to celebrate four birthdays. Her name was Kate Rhoades and she died on January 12, 2016 after a sudden relapse of leukemia. Each of the four years since her death, my birthday week takes on a new meaning for me. I think of Kate's sunny face and try not to lament the passage of time, the new wrinkles at the corners of my eyes, and the increasing number of aches I discover in my body. I recognize that time is a gift and that birthdays are not promised to anyone. The anniversary of the death of a four year old girl only days before my birthday makes that recognition glaringly clear.
So why do I include a post about Kate on a travel baseball league's website? Because as most longtime players and fans of this game know, baseball is more than just a game. Baseball is about people and relationships and community as much as it is about strikes and hits and runs. I knew about Kate's story because of my involvement in the Kyle's Kamp Memorial Day Youth Baseball Tournament which raises money for pediatric cancer patients. Many NVTBL teams participate in the tournament and many are paired with a local pediatric cancer patient throughout the tournament. The coaches, players, and their families form a relationship with their "patient ambassador" and I can tell you from personal experience that young boys who have been singularly focused on basehits and batting averages become young men who learn life lessons they might never have otherwise and are  forever changed by the moments they spend with these children.

Friday, December 20, 2019

5 Friday Favorites: December 20, 2019

Happy Friday, Friends!

It's time for my Friday link up with A Little Bit of EverythingGrace and Love, and Momfessionals

On Fridays I share things that made me happy from the week - a photo, a song, a quote or Bible verse, a beauty product, a recipe, a pair of cute shoes, etc. If it's a product, sometimes it's something I actually own and sometimes something I just saw online that gave me a smile. Sometimes it's serious and sometimes it's silly. I suppose I believe that God is in the simple details of life and yes, I can even find Him in a tube of lipstick.

Hey, ya'll. I hope everyone is totally calm and completely in tune with the real reason for the season and all that stuff. 

Now let's make this quick because I got a kid coming home today and I'm doing the superfreak because THERE IS TOO MUCH TO DO. Here are some favorites from this week.

1. Jesus Sees You Meme

#HeyYou #Whatchadoin'

A friend shared this on Facebook this week and oh my word, it made me laugh. For those of us with children who drive cars and go to places without us and if their lips are moving, they're lying and nothing good happens after 11:00 pm, we can just send this photo in a text and a couple of hashtags. You know, a word or two from the Savior. Just a little friendly reminder for the kiddos that the Bible doesn't call Him "The God Who Sees" for nothing. ;-)

2. Au Lait Hand Wash

This is a weird favorite, but I found this Au Lait Hand Soap at Home Goods a long time ago and I love the scent so much. I figured it would be a long shot to find it again there after so much time had passed, so I crossed my fingers and looked it up on Amazon. SCORE. It looks like their line also includes hand lotion, body wash, bar soaps, and body butter. The packaging is really pretty and again, the scent is amazing. Great for your guest bathroom or a hostess gift for Christmas.

3. Stitch Fix

I was a Stitch Fix customer for a number of years and I really loved it. Stitch Fix is a subscription styling service where you pay a $20 styling fee and receive 5 pieces picked out just for you based on a Style Profile you complete. You can choose once a month to once every other month. Then you can keep as many pieces as you like (The $20 fee is waived if you keep at least one item.) You send the items you don't like back free of charge. 

I still have a lot of pieces I received from my Stitch Fix deliveries that I wear often and get lots of compliments. If you've been here long enough you know that I used to do a review of all of the items I received every other month. Eventually, I was just trying to consume less, so I stopped my subscription. Then I received a gift card for my birthday from a friend, so I started it up again recently. I know many people who have not had great luck with their boxes, but I have to say that they really do send me some great things. If you're looking for an easy, last minute gift for someone on your list, a Stitch Fix gift card might be a good idea. 

4. Dr. Scholl's Wynter Wedge Bootie

A Confession Story: How I Zoned Out During Bible Study This Week because of  a Pair Of Shoes
Subtitled: The Devil Will Use Anything to Distract a Sister

It all started when my friend, Missy, brought her daughter, Sam, who was home from UVA graduate school to our Bible Study group on Wednesday. Sam was sitting across the room from where I was sitting so that her adorable wedge boots were right in my line of sight. I could not stop thinking of how awesomely cute her boots were because I am a sinner in need of a Savior. She told me that they were Dr. Scholl's and after a quick search, I'm pretty sure they are these Wynter Wedges. They come in two colors and I am confessing that I might have missed a minute or ten of our deep theological discussion on the Gospel of Luke because I kept staring at these boots. I would appreciate your prayers. I need some redemption and maybe these boots.

5. Kappa Alpha Theta Sisters & Tortilla Soup

This is not a picture of Tortilla Soup. This is a picture of my friend, Lynn. We met when we were freshman sorority sisters at The University of Texas. Our faces were full of collagen and our hair was big and we made some questionable fashion choices including, but not limited to shoulder pads, ribbed mock turtlenecks, and high top Reeboks with two pairs of color coordinated socks. Also, apparently I took part in the Spiral Perm Phenomenon of 1990.

Every week at Mexican Food Wednesday at the Kappa Alpha Theta house we ate Tortilla Soup and more chips and queso than was reasonable. She is one of my favorite people in the world and she makes me laugh so hard I cry. Lynn lives in Dallas, but works up in Northern Virginia periodically. Lucky for me, she was in town for work this week and stayed with us, so I made some Kappa Alpha Theta Mexican Food Wednesday Tortilla Soup. Last night, we put on our pjs at 8:00 pm and we ate Tortilla Soup and laughed so hard we cried. You should make some soup and you should have a friend like Lynn who has been through hairstyles and bad fashion and boyfriends and break ups with you without forgetting to make you laugh. Life is hard and weird and 30 years goes by so fast. But it is so much better with friends and soup.  Here's the recipe:

2 pounds cooked chicken, cut in to bite size pieces
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped,
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons of oil
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato soup
1 can beef broth
1 can chicken broth
1 1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
6 corn tortillas, cut into 1/2 inch strips
grated cheddar cheese

Saute onion, jalapeno, and garlic in oil in large stew/soup pot. Add chicken, tomatoes, soups, water, and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer covered for 1 hour. Add tortillas and simmer for 15 more minutes. Top with cheese when serving.

Bonus Favorite: Lessons from Joseph

I wrote a devotional over at Arcola Methodist Church's site on Matthew 1:18-21 about the lessons we learn from Joseph this week. You can read it here.

Have the best weekend, Friends, and a very Merry Christmas. I'll be away from this space for a week or two to hang out with my people and celebrate Jesus, my very favorite every Friday and every other day. Blessings to you and yours.

 Disclosure: The View From Behind Home Plate is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn small fees by linking to Post might contain other affiliate links as well.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Power of Humility: A Devotional on Matthew 1:18-21

"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother, Mary, was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." - Matthew 1:18-21

This is a familiar passage to most who grew up in the church. And what an amazing tale it is. A woman carrying a child conceived by the Holy Spirit? An appearance by an angel in a dream? A message that a Savior will be born? That's some pretty impressive prose.

But, perhaps due to the times we live in now, what sticks out most to me in this passage is the phrase "Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly." What a concept, huh?

It seems to me that the world is full of those itching to expose people to public disgrace. Everyone with a Google search button is on the prowl to display unsavory details of other's lives. Whether it's poring over a young man's social media tweets from when he was a teenager to having a phone video camera at the ready during any interaction in a public place, we have a generation of folks lying in wait for something salacious to happen. The prospect of creating a viral video seems to make people feel powerful and important.

It might behoove us to take a lesson from Joseph . . . a man who according to the culture has every right to throw Mary to the wolves. It's quite likely that his friends and his family encouraged him to save face by shaming her. And yet we read that Joseph was righteous. Other translations of verse 19 call him just, good, noble, and a man of stern principle. While he is a man with all the power here, he acts out of humility which should not be confused with weakness. Perhaps Asheritah Ciuciu describes humility best in her Advent Devotional, Unwrapping the Names of Jesus. This kind of humility "can best be understood as power under control."

Of course, we know that in the following verses an angel of the Lord urges Joseph to go a step further and take Mary as his wife thus committing to raising her child as his own. Admirably, he follows that command in obedience. A great moment, to be sure. But I'm still stunned by the brave kindness it took for Joseph - before the angel even appears to him - to shield Mary from disgrace.

Clearly, the Lord saw something good and righteous in Joseph well before He sent the angel. He knew that Jesus would take notice of the character of the earthly father who would raise Him. Seems to me that, as usual, the Lord makes no mistakes in who He chooses to fulfill His purposes. Seems to me that in a world that might need a few lessons in humility, kindness, and principles, we might look no further than the powerful message of Matthew 1:19.

Gracious Lord. We are grateful that You waste no chapter, no verse, no single word in Your message to us. Thank You for the lesson of Joseph's powerful compassion. Thank You for forgiving us our need to find power and worth in ways that hurt others. Help us to be more like Joseph. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, December 13, 2019

5 Friday Favorites: December 13, 2019

Happy Friday, Friends!

It's time for my Friday link up with A Little Bit of EverythingGrace and Love, and Momfessionals

On Fridays I share things that made me happy from the week - a photo, a song, a quote or Bible verse, a beauty product, a recipe, a pair of cute shoes, etc. If it's a product, sometimes it's something I actually own and sometimes something I just saw online that gave me a smile. Sometimes it's serious and sometimes it's silly. I suppose I believe that God is in the simple details of life and yes, I can even find Him in a tube of lipstick.

Hey, y'all.

Guess what? It's less than two weeks until Christmas. Can you even believe it? As of last night at 10:08 pm (not that I was holding my breath and counting the minutes or anything) there is even one of my two college boys home already. Due to the fact that 1986 brainwashed me with this commercial, I came downstairs this morning fully expecting this to happen.

Guess what? No one named Peter came home to the Skinner house and no one brewed me a cup of coffee. Gah. The only good thing is that at least I wasn't wearing that high-necked nightgown. 

Someone named Kyle did come home and dumped all his laundry on the floor right inside the doorway and will likely sleep until noon. If his little brother wakes him up he'll probably say, "Keep it down, Loser."  I really don't know why Folger's hasn't contacted us to film a holiday ad. 

Oh well, I like my Real Life better. Hey Peter's Mom, you won't believe what will happen in 2019. We have this thing called a Peppermint Mocha and you just have to drive-thru a place called Starbucks to get it. You don't even have to take off that nightgown. 

Anyway, if you're up this morning waiting for one of your kids to make you a cup of coffee, why don't you go ahead and make your own just to be safe and check out my Friday Favorites. I've got a few more last minute Christmas ideas for you in case you need them, too.

1. Christmas Baseball Tee

I'm certainly not a Christmas Sweater type of girl, but I've also never even been a Christmas shirt type of girl. When I was a teacher many years ago, it seemed like everyone thought you were a scrooge if you didn't wear something festive, so I remember a mentor teacher of mine gave me a Rudolph sweatshirt and I felt compelled to wear it to school. My husband made so much fun of me and it scarred me for awhile. If only these cute tees from Amazon were available in 1997. There's a huge selection of fun, non-scarring tees and you can get many of them really quick with Prime. I love this one with the cute leopard and plaid printed Christmas trees.

2.  Opal House Mercury Glass Candles

If you've read any of my Friday Favorites at all, you know that I love candles and am always looking for affordable ones that smell great. These Opal House Mercury Glass candles from Target are a very close duplicate to the much more expensive Capri Blue candles. They come in a bunch of pretty colors with shiny gold lids. They smell amazing and are only $9.99 for a 9oz candle. These are perfect hostess gifts or stocking stuffers or just something to add to your Target cart along with all the other things you didn't plan on buying.

3. Jesus, Light of the World - Third Day

In our Bible Study our pastor asked us our favorite Christmas song and I always say O Come All Ye Faithful because as far as traditional hymns go, it is the best for me. However, Steve and I love Third Day and every single year when we decorate our house and tree we play their Christmas Offerings CD which is amazing. Jesus, Light of the World is my favorite song on the album and I will listen to it all month long.

4. Portable Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

Buying gifts for teen boys for Christmas can be really hard. In general, they don't get real fired up about clothes, jewelry, or skin care which are my favorite things to buy. I mean, why in the world does my 15 year old not want a Vitamin C Retinol Cream and a set of gold bangles? Weirdo.

What I do know is that my boys LOVE their music. Drew and his friends are constantly running their music through our bluetooth speaker at the pool, at the batting cages, and outside in the driveway shooting baskets which means we can never find it. Luckily, I happened on this waterproof bluetooth speaker at Amazon and it comes in some really cool colors. It's the best (and really only) idea I have right now for my kid.

5. Fast Dinner for the Week before Christmas
Chipotle Pomegranate Meatballs

In addition to all the holiday craziness, we had three basketball games for two weeks in a row. That means that I had to figure out how to make a dinner that could be eaten by some before a 5:45 game and also by someone else at 8:00 at night. On those weeks, I often go to to find recipes. Most of her ideas are fairly simple and don't have any crazy ingredients that are hard to find. I made these Chipotle & Pomegranate Meatballs last week and my people loved them. I served them over regular rice for the guys and cauliflower rice for me. They'd also make a great party appetizer.

Bonus Favorite:
Lessons from Mary

I feel really blessed to get the opportunity to be on a devotional writing team for my church, Arcola Methodist. This week, I wrote a devotional based on Luke 1:26-38. You can check it out here. We have some very talented writers, so if you are interested you can see all of the devotionals here along with the corresponding sermons. 

Have a great weekend! 

Disclosure: The View From Behind Home Plate is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn small fees by linking to Post might contain other affiliate links as well.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

"How Will This Be?": A Devotional on Luke 1:26-38


"In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.

"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God. "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be with me as you have said."

Most of us have heard these verses from Luke's first chapter every December in every church we've ever attended. Many of us might practically be able to recite them from memory as the pastor reads aloud. We are moved by the glorious greeting in verse 28 when the angel refers to Mary as "highly favored". Next we listen to the powerful conviction in the foretelling in verses 32-33 that the baby she will carry will be the "Son of the Most High; One whose kingdom will never end." And then, we marvel at the confident answer from Mary in verse 38 when she says, "I am the Lord's servant. Let it be with me as you have said."

I am so inspired by Mary's statement of obedience. She seems so sure. She teaches us in one small statement what it is to fully trust God. And we know that this young woman's trust will bring us the greatest gift humanity has ever received.

I wonder sometimes, though, if we might miss something important if we quickly skim over a specific verse in the middle of the passage. Luke tells us that Mary does not answer with powerful confidence immediately. Of course, we don't know specifically how much time passed between verses 28 and 38, but we are told that initially Mary is "greatly troubled". Other translations describe her as "deeply confused", "perplexed", and even "thoroughly shaken". If Jenn Skinner wrote a translation it might say, "Mary was kinda freaking out."

Can we blame her? Our blessed Mary is so important. Her faith so strong. Her obedience so rock solid. She is clearly meant to inspire us to boldly answer the call God has on our own lives just as she did.

But I, for one, am comforted to see that Mary seems to need a minute. She wonders. She ponders. She asks some pretty reasonable questions about biology. It is in those moments when she is confused and troubled that I would most like to know Mary's thought process because I really want to understand how she gets from Point A ("Um. Hold it. This seems super-crazy.") to Point B ("Whatever you say, Lord. I'm your girl.")

I think of her there in those moments between Point A and Point B and I am reminded of a devotional on trusting God written by Lysa TerKeurst in which she says,

"What we see will violate what we know unless what we know dictates what we see."

I can only imagine the frightening scenarios Mary must have played in her head. As she contemplated her future what did she see? The images must have been terrifying. She was only a young girl. She had no power and no money. And now, not only would she be young, poor, and powerless, she'd add unwed and pregnant to her resume. Surely, what she saw in her mind was a future of ridicule, loneliness, scandal, gossip and even the possibility of death by stoning. I imagine that if Mary had continued pondering those scenes for too long, she would have let what she saw violate what she knew in her heart to be true.

Thankfully for all of us, what we find out about Mary later in Luke is that she knew the God she served very well and it is that knowledge that dictates what she sees. In a glorious song to the Lord in verses 46-55, Mary praises the God she has known for her whole life. She knows that "He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant". (verse 48) She knows that "the Mighty One has done great things for {her}". (verse 49) She knows that "He has performed mighty deeds with His arm". (verse 51)  She knows that "He has filled the hungry with good things".  (verse 53) She knows that "He has helped His servant Israel and remembered to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever". (verse 55)

In my mind, I picture Mary refusing to let what she sees in this uncertain, frightening future violate what she knows about God. And then I picture her listing all those wonderful characteristics of Him, realizing that He had loved her and her people with an everlasting, fierce devotion and that He had always kept His promises to them. Holding on to that knowledge, she was able to answer the call so confidently, knowing that whatever came to be, her God would never let her go.

Although the call on our lives might not be as significant as the call on Mary's and the future might not be as daunting, we still have the ability to look toward our future in the same way that she did. When there is uncertainty and challenge in our lives, we can choose to play out the worst case scenarios in our heads. We can let all the fear and anxiety take hold of us and allow those emotions to violate what we know to be true of God. Or we can ponder for awhile. We can consider what we know to be true. We can remember all of the ways He has loved us, protected us, and comforted us over the whole of our lives. Then we can move forward letting what we know of Him, dictate what we see of the life He has set before us.

See Him in your mind's eye. He was there before. He'll be there again. Just as we was for Mary.

Blessed, constant, holy Lord. We are grateful for all the ways we are able to know You. Through Your Word, through our communities, through prayer, and through Your Son, we gain confidence in our relationship with You. When what we see in the world threatens to violate everything we have learned, help us to ponder, to wonder, and to remind ourselves of every good and perfect thing we know about who You are. Let us use that knowledge to walk in confidence along the path You set before us, saying boldly, "I am the Lord's servant. Let it be with me as you have said."

Friday, December 6, 2019

5 Friday Favorites: December 6, 2019 - That Week with All the Sports Opinions

Happy Friday, Friends!

It's time for my Friday link up with A Little Bit of EverythingGrace and Love, and Momfessionals

On Fridays I share things that made me happy from the week - a photo, a song, a quote or Bible verse, a beauty product, a recipe, a pair of cute shoes, etc. If it's a product, sometimes it's something I actually own and sometimes something I just saw online that gave me a smile. Sometimes it's serious and sometimes it's silly. I suppose I believe that God is in the simple details of life and yes, I can even find Him in a tube of lipstick.

1. Thanksgiving at the Skinner Home
A Typical Sequence of Events
(Could Have Been Any Day Of The Week)

Three men watch the sports. (Fourth man at the sports practice. Will return soon to play his (very loud) part. Joe offers an opinion about the sports. If memory serves it had something to do with the Celtics. But it could have been about college football. Or college basketball. Or perhaps even elementary school kickball. The possibilities for opinions about the sports in this house are endless. It really doesn't matter. The sequence remains the same. As is custom around here, Kyle disagrees with this opinion. This is his "Nah, that ain't it, bruh." face.

Step 2:
Kyle tells Joe how wrong he is. Hand gestures commence. Notice how little Joe cares. As in NOT ONE BIT.

Step 3:
Kyle continues to disagree with Joe's opinion, telling him all the ways he is wrong. Hand gestures continue and now he will look at him for emphasis. Notice that Joe still has no interest in debating his opinion. HE CARES NOT ABOUT YOUR POINT. 

This is my life: Sports Opinion. Rebuttal. Sports Opinion stands. Nobody budges. Nobody compromises. Each thinks the other is an idiot and usually says so. Nobody's mind is changed.This sequence will be repeated 374 times during the lovely, peaceful family holiday. Just insert new sport, new opinion, and also, on occasion, the very passionate red-headed 15 year old's opinion will be expressed loudly and with conviction and with a few more "y'all are idiots" for good measure.

For a really accurate illustration, see politics on Twitter. Same. Same.

Still, this is one of my favorite things about having all the boys home for Thanksgiving. I just eat all the pie and watch.
2. Hooded Flannels for Teen Boys

I've got another gift idea for you if you have teen boys. Hooded flannel shirts seem to be a thing this year. It's very Kurt Cobain. (minus the drug use, please Lord.) Some are thicker - almost like jackets for your kids that might go to school in colder areas. This one from Wrangler has a quilted lining.

For kiddos that aren't living in the arctic world of State College PA, these are great and they are only $19.99. They aren't lined as much so lend themselves to Knoxville, TN. Amazon Prime and I are in a serious, long-term relationship right now, but I am seeing them at a whole bunch of retailers including PacSun and American Eagle as well.

Also, let's say you want to do a Mother/Son matching photo. I mean, really this could be at the top of your high school boy's Christmas list. He will be beside himself. Well, lookie here! I found this cute flannel hooded shirt dress and it has pretty good reviews. It comes in five different colors and would look great with leggings and boots. 

3. Orolay Thickened Down Jacket

Y'all. This coat. This coat. This! COAT! I have lived in Northern Virginia for 27 years. And I am notorious among my friends for only buying coats that a Texan would wear. Flimsy and thin. I think I'm still in denial about how cold it gets here. I have never had a warm enough coat. Until now.

The Orolay Thickened Down Jacket is so warm and it. is. so. cute. I asked for it for Christmas and it looks like someone listened to me because the package came and I "accidentally" opened it and tried it on. (Don't worry. I wrapped it back up because I have very high moral character.) I love the zipper details and the sherpa lining. It covers your bum so it's perfect for sitting on cold bleachers when it shouldn't be baseball season yet. It comes in some great colors. Please someone get the red one! Please. 

Listen. I don't know why the model looks so sad. This is not what I looked like when I put it on. Girlfriend needs an attitude check.

4. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I cannot think of a movie the world needs now more than A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I honestly have not stopped thinking about it since I saw it with Joe during Thanksgiving week. The more I think about it, the more I realize that the main character is not even Mr. Rogers. The performances are remarkable. The storyline is clever. The running time is 1 hour and 48 minutes which doesn't take up your entire day. It is worth seeing on the big screen for one scene that took my breath away. Take your family. Take your tissues. This movie is so well done.

Also,  if you're interested, Jen Hatmaker's podcast interview with the screenwriters is a good one.

5. Basketball Season

It's that time again. The season came on fast and furious with three games this week and three games next. I told myself that this year I would be so relaxed. Calm and chill. And I was for most of the game last night. But then our freshmen - who were down 14 points at half time - decided to come right on back to win by 2 with less than a minute on the clock. And y'all. What do you want from me? Manic cheering and fist-pumps and high fiving other mamas happened. It's hopeless. I'm a fool for you, High School Sports. A.LITERAL.FOOL. I'm resetting my chill for tonight. I've got this.

Bonus Favorite: These Jokers Came Home

Some college boys who I still look at as 3rd graders were home and I had some feelings about it. You can read that here.

Have a wonderful Friday and a happy weekend, Friends! 

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