These Are a Few Of My Favorite Things {Giveaway}

Today is going to be fun.

Most of the gifts I’m giving for Christmas this year are things I love and use myself that are faith-based, fair trade or support a cause I believe in.

So, I thought it would be fun to give away a few of my favorite things. (over $300 value)


One lucky reader will win everything pictured (color and style may vary from picture):

Please visit each of these links and enter below!

1. Hand knit scarf from The Refugee Project- this is the local ministry I’m involved in

2. Burlap iPad case made by women in Ethiopia

3. Fair Trade Friday Gift Box- Every box comes with 3-4 amazing items made by women all over the world.

4. An apron that changes the world- made by girls who have aged out of a Rwandan orphanage.

5. My favorite handmade soap made by families in Zambia (their lip balm is amazing too)

6. An autographed Book to Inspire-this book supports the work of Mercy House.

7. Words Matter Letterpress Blocks I’m giving meaningful words away this Christmas.

8. Shine Necklace -I love this inspiring Dayspring line.

9. Laline Milk Body Scrub-My Russian friends who are making disciples in Israel gave this to me and I love it. It’s made from salt from the Dead Sea.

10. My favorite everyday gold hoop earrings empowering survivors of modern day slavery

11. A squirrel pendant carved from a nut made by artisans in Ecuador

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WFMW: Sometimes Saying Yes Means Saying No


I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster, Lisa, for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

Heart exploding “Yes!” swiping at tears, I finish Rhinestone Jesus.

Hours “dreamstorming” follow, “It’s sort of like brainstorming…Except instead of writing down ideas, we’re writing down our dreams. The wilder, bigger, and crazier, the better.” (p.57)

Sometimes Saying Yes Means Saying No

Excitement resurfaces. Eagerness returns.

God shows me my life is like a Texas-sized steak dinner complete with a loaded baked potato, corn on the cob, and a fluffy roll. All on a cheap paper plate.

My plate is too full. I need to limit my portions so my paper plate won’t fail and find my juicy life-steak wasted.

I ask God how; He shows me:

Sometimes saying yes means saying no.

Walking away from good things hurts. Weeks of prayer gives birth to the courage to say yes…By saying no.

Hours of sending resignations, RSVPing refusals, and politely rejecting requests bring sadness yet relief. With every agonizing decision, I feel my load lessen.

Like a child, I lift my plate to God showing Him how smaller portions perfectly fit my plate.

Satisfied with my new routine, I set goals based on my “dreamstorming” list and make progress. Slow progress. I determine to be content with slow.

When suddenly life navigates surprising turns.


And I learn:

Sometimes saying yes means hearing no.

God’s “no” is a result of my yes.

Sometimes saying yes means hearing God say no.

In the no, I sulk; I sigh and, like a child, my disappointment fills the air thick.

I draw strength through Kirsten’s words:

“It all comes down to this one question: Do I love my comfort more than Christ? I get a different answer every day. But I believe we need to struggle…Struggle is the food from which change is made…Those who accomplish change are willing to engage in the struggle.” (p. 193-4)

Today finds me caught. Struggling. Hope for new tomorrows battles fear of future change.

I remind myself:

Sometimes saying yes means saying no.

His no reveals divine purpose. Freedom is found here. If I search for it, there is always a yes in God’s no. His way for my one thing. [Click here to tweet this]

Kristen says, “I believe we are all called to do something, just not everything. Focusing on our one thing and doing it well to His glory is both liberating and life-changing.” (p. 163)

yes in my mess

His no to me becomes my yes from Him.

Saturday Kristen spoke at our church.

“As women we fill our plates then add a side of Jesus when He is calling us to empty our plates then fill them with Him,” she says.

My heart shifts.

I understand my cheap plate is meant to hold only one thing. Jesus fills my flimsy plate perfectly.

He fulfills. Only Him. Always Him. When He says yes and even when He says no.

Yes is my response.

And sometimes saying yes means saying no.

“God’s yes and our yes together—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 (MSG)


Lisa Smith is a wife, mother of four, and Children’s Minister in North Houston. Long talks at coffee shops, big sales on cute shoes, and all her girlfriends inspire her. She writes at and posts regularly on Facebook and Twitter. She enjoys speaking at women’s events and is working on her first book.

Introduce yourself on her blog this week and be entered to win a free single Fair Trade Friday pack and a copy of Kristen’s book Rhinestone Jesus.

Dear Neighbor:

Driving around looking at Christmas lights is one of our favorite family traditions every December.

And we love the houses with Nativities the most!

Last year, we started a new tradition. Every time we saw a house with a Nativity in the yard, we put a note on their door. My kids loved sneaking up and blessing our neighbors with an anonymous thank you. Yours might too!

It’s a great reminder to our kids to keep Jesus the reason for the season and it’s really fun trying not to get caught.

Go, ahead, try it.

dear neighbor printable

Click to print letters of your own and start a new Christmas tradition today.

What The Poor Really Want For Christmas

“Okay, help me pick a family,” I told my kids as we stood at the table at the back of the church and looked over the spreadsheets. Each one had several names and ages of children, with their shirt and shoe sizes listed. Next to each name was a single toy suggestion for Christmas. It’s our church’s annual version of an Angel Tree for needy children in our community.

As we looked over the families to “sponsor,” I could hear my youngest read the items on the list. Barbie doll, she whispered, and with her finger she moved to the next name, Music CD.

“Mom, is this all they will get for Christmas?” she asked.

I could tell she was trying to understand need in her world of more than enough.

We finally chose 3 kids near the ages of mine who loved music. Three kids just like mine.

This time of year, there are so many opportunities to give something to someone in need. And I’m first in line. Angel Tree-yes; Food Pantry-count us in; Fair trade gifts that employ women, you bet, dropping of secret Santa gifts to a needy family-wouldn’t miss it.

What better way to remind my kids–and myself–how much we have than by teaching them to share with those who have less?

Perspective changes Christmas. It not only shows us the needs of others, it shows us our need.

And with her finger pointing to a girl’s name, just about her age, she asked, “Is this all she wants for Christmas?”

“No, honey. She wants much more than what’s on that list. She and millions like her want one thing for Christmas:

They want to be remembered.

What the Poor Really Want for Christmas

We live in a culture that lives in excess. We have so much and we want so much more. It’s so easy to get sucked in and think everyone lives the way we do:  Everyone spends money decorating their homes, everyone bakes 8 varieties of holiday cookies, everyone gets the best cyber deals and everyone has the opportunity to make Christmas magical for their kids.

And it’s easy to forget those who don’t live like “everyone” else.

I love traditions and magical moments as much as the next person and I don’t think we should necessarily forego or forget these special holiday moments. But at the same time, we must remember the poor. When we hang our stockings with care, we must not forget those hanging on by a thread. When we bake and eat treats and sweets, we must not forget those with empty stomachs. When we light up our tree and our house, we must not forget those who live in darkness.

you have not lived

And if we look around us, we will see the poor in our communities and across the globe.

This is real balanced living.

If we were all made rich alike, if God had given us all abundance, we should never know the value of his mercies, but he puts the poor side by side with us, to make their trials, like a dark shadow, set forth the brightness which he is pleased to give to us in temporal matters,” Spurgeon said.

The poor don’t want a handout this Christmas.

They don’t want platitudes.

They don’t want pity.

They don’t want our crap.

They just don’t want us to forget them.

Because do you know what really happens when we take care of someone who cannot take care of themselves?

We see the face of God.


When we spend our lives remembering the poor, they aren’t the only ones who receive a gift.

“Whoever gives to the poor will not want.” -Proverbs 28:27

Challenge: From now until Christmas, buy in twos (one for your family, one for another). Give and give a little more. You won’t be sorry.

This is Christmas.

Don’t Make Me Take Away the Nativity and Other Things Moms Say In December

I met Cindy at Walgreens.

She recognized me from the back cover of my book, Rhinestone Jesus.

That happens all the time.


We stood in front of the store and talked for 20 minutes. Two weeks later she showed up for our monthly Fair Trade Friday packing party.

Someone asked her how she met me. She said Amazon recommended my book to her. “I bought it because years before, I’d read Kristen’s first book, Don’t Make Me Come Up There!

Dont Make Me Take Away The Nativity

Do you know what my favorite story was from your first book?” she asked me while she stuffed bags.

I was sure I had the answer: “The time our dental hygienist gave me good news and bad news: your daughter doesn’t have any cavities, but she does have head lice?” I asked. “That seems to be everyone’s favorite. We found a new dentist, by the way.”

“No,” she answered. “My favorite is the one about the black light spy toy your kids got for Christmas and you wanted to see if it really worked and you discovered pee all over the bathroom,” she laughed.

Y’all. This is called fame.

It comes at a price.

I still stand at the foot of our stairs and yell, “Don’t make me come up there.” Often.

Dont Make Me

And I’ve reached an all new low with some of things I’ve already said the first week of December.

“Don’t make me call Santa,” which gets an eye roll from all three of my kids and a reply of, “Why call Dad? He’s in the other room.” Backfire.

“I don’t care if your friend’s Elf on the Shelf poops peppermint candy, we still aren’t buying one.”

“Please don’t dip your fingers in the Advent candle wax.”

“What are you talking about? These break and bake sugar cookies are homemade.”

“I don’t care if you’re nearly grown, you’re taking a picture with Santa.” #holdme


And the other day, I actually said, “Don’t make me take away the Nativity,” when I discovered my 7 year old dragging around the rope attached to the wisemen’s camel pretending it was a black mamba trying to eat baby Jesus.

Baby Jesus survived that attack. Unfortunately, one of the wisemen didn’t.

Motherhood is not a joke.

Especially at Christmas.


What are some things you’ve said so far this month?