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Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

It’s the song I’ve heard most this season. It’s the song that’s resonating most with me this year.

Last Christmas, Apple launched an ad that featured the Harris family and a “misunderstood” teenaged boy on his iPhone. As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the most brilliant, heart-warming and moving ads I’ve ever seen. It brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it. Remember the song that accompanied the ad?

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

(After you watch the video – it’s only 1 minute 30 seconds – make sure to keep reading. I’ll be sharing more about my Merry Little Christmas Giveaway!)

I wonder what it is that you need to have a Merry Little Christmas this year. Love? A big bear hug from someone who really cares? Space to breathe? Peace and quiet? Forgiveness? Words of affirmation that everything’s going to be alright? Quality time with friends and family? Understanding we’re loved by a great big God who sent tiny baby Jesus to save us from the brokenness and pain we experience every day?

I don’t know your most intimate needs this Christmas. But I do pray that the longings of your heart and soul will be fulfilled. I do want you to have a Merry Little Christmas. And I do hope that one of these three giveaway packages could bring you a bit of joy this season.

Between now and Friday, December 12th at 9:00 CST, I’m giving away three Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas packages! The three packages are pictured and detailed below. At the end of this post, you’ll find a Rafflecopter sign up for each package. Sign up for one, two, or all three. It doesn’t matter to me!

Maybe you could use a package yourself, or maybe there’s someone you could gift a package to this Christmas? Either way, it’s all good. Take a peek. See what sparks your fancy. Which package would bring the most joy? Which package meets your needs this Christmas?

For Parents of Littles.

A beautiful hardcover children’s book titled God Made Light by Matthew Paul Turner, an accompanying set of encouragement notes for your kiddos, and a night light to remind your little one that there’s always light, even in the darkest of nights. And for you? The Love Dare and The Love Dare for Parents books. Because if there are two things worth investing in this Christmas and moving into the new year, it’s your marriage and your kids. Maybe this package is for you?!

DSC_2307For Parents of Teens and Pre-Teens.

Maybe, like the Harris family, you’re seeking a little wisdom as you parent a teen or pre-teen this Christmas. This package includes Dennis & Barbara Rainey’s book Parenting Today’s Adolescentas well as The Love Dare for Parents, because truth be told, we could all stand to learn some fresh ways to love our kids. This package also includes The Love Dare, because I’m a firm believer that children and teenagers need healthy, loving relationships modeled for them. Do you want to learn practical ways love your spouse even more this Christmas? Do you need a little insight as to how to navigate those teenage years? Then this package might be for you!


For One Who’s Seeking Less. Or More.

I don’t know who you are, but I know you’re out there. Maybe you’re Longing for More, and could use Timothy Willard’s book. Maybe you just need some Breathing Room, and could use Leeana Tankersley’s book. Or maybe you just need a really good cry? The Notebook DVD will help you release those tears if nothing else will. Guaranteed. When I saw this movie in the theater the first time, I thought I’d nearly break out in ugly cry right there in my recliner eating buttered popcorn and Sour Patch Kids. So if you need more. Or less. Or an ugly cry this Christmas, maybe this package is for you?!


The giveaway ends on Saturday, December 13th at 12:00 am CST. I need time to get these packages mailed and to your door before Christmas!

Enjoy, friends.

And Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.





a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway



God began calling me to write all the way back to 2003. But I didn’t launch my blog until July 2012.

I wasn’t blind and deaf to the call at all. I was busy working as a speech therapist, buying houses, taking vacations, and having babies with my college sweetheart. I was busy living the American Dream.

The call to write continued. It was quiet. Nobody knew but me. But God was persistent.

After many years of feeling called, I began to wonder if I was imagining things, if I was daydreaming crazy visions out of thin air. To remind myself of the events I considered signs of the call, I combed through old journals and pieced together proof through the years. It was obvious. A story had unfolded. So I put it together tidy and titled it the only way I knew how.

A Possible Calling.

I’ve debated this calling. I’ve doubted it. Believe me. It’s been a journey.

I’ve sought wise counsel. I’ve prayed. I’ve thought, then thought some more. And bless his soul, I’ve talked to my husband about it hundreds of times.

I have a tendency to be a people pleaser, to do what’s “right” and “good” by all-American girl-next-door standards, so ultimately, I had to step away from all the voices, be still, and sit with God.

Yes, it was then that I knew. This is what God has planned for my life. This is what He wants me to do. This isn’t the American Dream, it’s a God-Sized Dream. All was good between me and God. He’d called me to write, and now, I would write even more. The dream was ready to take flight.

But making dreams reality hasn’t been a walk in the breeze. I could have given up by now, I could have given in. I could’ve said forget it, because all this wonder and worry isn’t worth it a bit. There’s no degree, no guarantee, no paved path, no pay for this way, at least for today.

When in doubt, I returned to the peace I experienced between me and God. I couldn’t ignore that. I couldn’t pretend those pieces of proof didn’t exist. I couldn’t disregard every pull of my heart for the last 12 years. I couldn’t deny this feeling I was supposed to transform my work life completely.

I knew very clearly, all the way back to August 2012, that changes were coming. My husband and I began discussing options. But it wasn’t until August 22, 2014, that we made our final decision.

My last day of work as speech-language pathologist will be December 18, 2014. 

I realize that statement is dramatic, feels permanent, and might concern people who believe I’m wasting my master’s degree and 14 1/2 years of on-the-job experience. Here’s what I want you to know. I’ve pondered each word of this post carefully. My husband and I have thought through this decision extensively and exhaustively. Rest assured. There’s always a chance I’ll return to speech therapy in the future. This may end up being a sabbatical. Or it may end up being permanent, an early retirement from speech therapy. Time will tell.

Here’s what I know for sure.

I’ve been working as a speech therapist for 14 1/2 years. I strongly believe that my work as a speech therapist has been training grounds for what’s to come. Nothing has been wasted. I’ve served my patients and families well, to the best of my ability. I’ve given them my 100%. We’ve worked hard together, we’ve loved together, we’ve been patient together, and we’ve made progress together. I’m grateful beyond measure. And I’ve learned oh so many things.

Who’s to say I won’t be called back to speech therapy someday?

But now, it’s time to take what I’ve learned and apply it elsewhere.

This is my life. Part two.



I’ve never considered myself a full-time stay-at-home mom type. I’ve worked the whole range of 1-5 days per week since we had our first child 12 years ago. But now, I’ll be dedicating more time to our home and family. I’d like to declutter and get life in order. I need whitespace to breath, be and create. I want to live more freely and love more deeply. I want hot homemade dinners, chocolate chip cookies after school, and summers free to roam with the kids while they’re still somewhat small. I want to hear my husband out when he comes home from work instead of tuning everything out because I’m so stressed out from the day. It’s time to inch my way through the ridiculously high stacks of books in our bedroom, and maybe I’ll finally have time to check out the women’s bible study I pass every Thursday morning on my way to work. I’d like to keep an even closer eye on our family finances. And I’d love to invest in friendship because it’s been on the back burner far too long.



In early June, it occurred to me that I’ve LOVED taking pictures my whole life, but constantly stuffed the dream of becoming a photographer down deep. So I’m pursuing this passion to the next level. I purchased my dream camera in September. Its capabilities are beyond my current abilities, people. And that’s a good thing. That’s what I wanted. I wanted a camera I can grow into. So I’m going to EXPLORE special needs photography. I’d like to use the skills I’ve gained in 14 1/2 years of speech therapy and take them to the next level. Instead of focusing on fixing deficits, I’d like to focus on the inherent beauty of special needs. I’m skilled at developing rapport quickly, and I’m comfortable in just about any family’s home. So I’d like to give this a whirl. My short-term goal is to give away a bunch of FREE special needs photo shoots so I can gain experience, build a portfolio of work, and determine if a part-time business is viable.



Writing will become my primary work focus. I’m currently publishing blog posts at a rate of 2x/week. My publishing frequency will likely increase to 3x/week by early to mid-2015. In September, I launched a new long-term vision for my blog. I’ll be writing content even tighter within that vision. I’d like to connect deeper with other writers, and I’d like to attend more local and national writing conferences as finances and schedules allow. I’ve been asked to lead and join writing groups locally and online, I’ve been encouraged to write books, and I’ve crossed paths with a few people who have indicated interest in partnering for special projects. Ultimately, I’d like to use my gift of writing to advocate for people whose voices need to be heard more loudly, and to encourage others to live out their purpose.

So these are my dreams.

This is my life. Part two.

From here on out, I’m leaving a lot more room for God to work. There’s no specific path I can take that will ensure success at home, with my family, in writing or photography. There’s nothing I can do to make any of these things happen the way I’ve envisioned. All I can do is trust God’s leading me in the right direction, use my gifts to the best of my ability, wait, and trust that in the end, it will all piece together into a beautiful life story.

This is the biggest leap of faith I’ve ever taken, by a landslide.

I’m living with the end in mind. So while part of me is scared to death because this is not perfect or certainexpected or known, a bigger part of me is excited and humbled beyond belief. Because I know I won’t regret this. I know it’s going to grow my faith by leaps and bounds. And I know God’s going to prove He’s greater than any dream I ever imagined.

So here I am. On the edge of something new. My part two.




Friends, I’m so excited to share some awesome news with you today! Let’s just say I’ve had a hard time keeping it to myself. I can barely contain the joy, so let’s get right to it!

When I went on the sponsor trip to Haiti with Compassion International last February, I met a 2-year-old boy named Charles. I wrote a blog post about my time with Charles and his mama. If you never read it the first time around, or need your memory jogged, now would be a great time to check it out (click here and the post will open in a separate window.)

I know some of you don’t have time to read the original post, so let me refresh your memory! I met two-year-old Charles and his mama at one of the Compassion projects we visited in Haiti. Charles’ mama shared her painful story with our group, and revealed that Charles had one leg. She was beyond grateful for Compassion’s Child Survival Program, as they have been a tremendous source of hope and support. Needless to say, I was deeply moved by Charles’ story. Later that morning, I had the opportunity to interact at length with Charles, his mama, a translator, and Compassion staff. By God’s pure grace, I was offered the opportunity to be Charles’ sponsor once he’s old enough to officially enroll in Compassion’s Child Development Sponsorship Program. I was, of course, delighted to say yes, and gathered all the necessary information to make the connection back home.



When I returned from Haiti, I spent nearly nine months trying to track down Charles. I wanted to do my part to keep the promise. So between February and October 2014, I called Compassion International’s hotline three times to see if there was a way to link Charles’ name with mine in the system. While Charles and his mama have been participating in Compassion’s Child Survival Program, Charles is not quite old enough to enroll in the Child Development Sponsorship Program, therefore, there has been no easy way to officially link our names.

Let me just say, after the first two phone calls to Compassion, I was beginning to realize it was going to take an act of God for this to happen. But I was determined to do my part and follow it through to an end.

During my third call to Compassion in October, I was advised to send an email detailing all the information I had so they could investigate the matter further.

I sent that email to Compassion on October 30.

Within a week, I received a personal phone call from a staff member at Compassion. She notified me that she was going to contact Compassion’s country office in Haiti, and would get someone on the ground to investigate the matter. The goal, to ensure Charles’ continued participation in the program and officially link his name to mine for sponsorship.

I was excited and hopeful, y’all. This was actually going to happen!


(So here’s where the story starts to get really cool.)

On November 18, 2014, a man named Antonio (aka Tony) posted a note on my blog’s Facebook page“I would love to share my experience with your sponsored child Charles with you. Please contact me when you can.” That same night, I also found comments on my blog from Tony, one comment on the post I’d written about Charles, and another on a post I’d written about my love for Haiti.

Within four hours of the post to my wall, I was Facebook messaging Tony, this “random stranger” from Texas. Tony had just returned from a sponsor trip to Haiti with Compassion International on November 10-15. While he was there, he met and engaged extensively with Charles!

Within four days of the post to my wall, Tony and I agreed it would be awesome and much easier to chat on the phone about our sweet Charles. So we exchanged numbers and talked at length about our experiences. It was amazing. Simply amazing.

But friends, this isn’t the end of the good news! I saved the best news for last. Because it’s the biggest, most awesome and amazing of all!

Did you ever wonder how Tony tracked me down? How in the world did he know I had anything to do with Charles? I won’t bore you with the lengthy sequence of events Tony and I unpacked that ultimately connected us, but let me just say THIS WAS A PURE ACT OF GOD! There’s no way I would’ve ever connected with Tony and discovered these updates about Charles had it not been for God’s miraculous orchestration of events. Many hands were involved, friends. Many hands were involved. People followed the Spirit’s promptings, one after another, which ultimately led to me discovering and sharing the most AWESOME NEWS OF ALL with y’all today…

Our sweet Charles has a prosthetic leg! He’s well and joyful, and is moving about with relative ease! And his mama has a smile on her face that’s filled and overflowing with joy. I’m as tickled pink as I could be! For THIS is a miracle. This. is a miracle. Believe it, friends. Believe it when you see it.

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This is an act of God, all the way around. He has worked. He has shown His glory. He has shown His great power and delight in bringing joy and healing to His children.

Today, a boy walks and dances.

Today, a mama beams joy.

Today, this mama sponsor beams joy, too, for she understands God’s sovereignty and goodness, even in our pain, even out of our darkest moments.

Today, a man in Texas understands the power of the Holy Spirit. Because he listened to the promptings in his heart and stopped to engage with a little boy in Haiti, we can begin to fathom the lengths to which God pursues us. Even when we aren’t aware, even when we don’t believe, He’s working. He’s sovereign. He’s in control. He’s got this.

It’s a miracle. Pure awesomeness.





Yesterday was #GivingTuesday. Perhaps you gave to the nonprofit of your choice. Perhaps you didn’t, but are moved by Charles’ story. Compassion International is funding a Child Survival Program for mamas and babies in India! Yesterday, Brianne McKoy wrote a lovely post about the opportunity to help fund this project. Check out her blog post and maybe, just maybe you’ll feel led to give. Because who wouldn’t want to be a part of this joy?! Or maybe you’ve always wanted to sponsor a child. Head right on over to Compassion’s website where hundreds of children are waiting for a sponsor.


The mood in the car on the way back from Thanksgiving wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic as it was on the way there. We were stuffed. We were spent. And we were a little stressed.

Add three days of holiday eating, one sleepless night and doctor calls due to a toddler’s overstuffed belly and ruptured eardrum, one Black Friday, 12 people in one house for three days, then news that’s not so encouraging, and you’re sure to find a carload of peeps ready for deep breaths and quiet space to regroup.

But the Christmas music played on.

We were blindly oblivious to the joy we could’ve received from the Christmas tunes until Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Then everything changed. The whole car woke up. And everyone started singing along.

What was it about this Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that had the power to light up a whole carload of travelers weary from the journey?

It was magical, powerful, noteworthy, at least for me, the one who’s hyperaware of just about everything. The joy lasted for one, maybe two minutes, the length of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’s song, and that’s about it. Then everything returned to status quo.

That is, until the next day when we passed two freshly-built snowmen on the way out of the neighborhood. A similar glimmer of hope rushed through me. An innocence I desperately needed. A fresh perspective in the midst of the monotonous and mundane.

We passed those snowmen on the way out and in, out and in again. And as we passed, I felt gratitude for their creator, thankful for the frosty gift of simplicity.

So what is it about Rudolph and Frosty that light us up? Why do we listen to their songs? Why do we watch their shows year after year? Why do we buy stuffed Misfit Toys and Rudolphs with shiny noses? And why do we build Frosties with black hats and carrot noses?

I believe we deeply crave Rudolph and Frosty’s innocence. We’re desperate for the glimmer of hope they bring to the table. We long for things to be simple again, for days when all we need to worry about is singing and frolicking in the snow. We want to be jolly and happy, and wouldn’t it be awesome if all our cares washed away in the singing of one simple song? What can we do to bring back the days of old?

On the other hand, Rudolph and Frosty remind us we’re human. We relate to their simple, but profound stories. Rudolph and Frosty are courageous and bold, even in the face of adversity. They know they were created for a reason, and we see them most fully alive when they’re living in the center of their purpose. Hiding the best parts of us, letting our gifts and talents melt away into oblivion isn’t wise. It’s foolish. It’s a shame. We know we were made for more. We know there’s life and light waiting to shine in and through us.

So we watch. And we listen. We sing. And we build.

For Rudolph and Frosty represent you and me in the most simple, but profound of ways.

You and me – with gifts seen and unseen.

You and me – with gifts expressed and unexpressed.

You and me – with beauty and pain and everything in-between.

You and me – waiting for magical moments, ready to break free.

You and me – desperate for innocence and purity, longing for simpler days, slower days, days when we can give and share our gifts in community, days when we can just BE without fear of what MIGHT BE.

So yes, we watch. We listen. We sing. And we build.

Because Rudolph and Frosty? Their stories are our stories.








  1. Tom Baunsgard says:

    Great observations Amy,
    Frosty, Rudolf and and even the Grinch take us all back to our childhood memories of simpler times not filled with the angst of the everyday struggles. Were you ever in a bad mood when building a snow man?… You don’t see too many with frowns 🙂 I personally get verclempt when we watch “The Polar Express” At age 65 I still hear the Sleigh Bell! All part of the magic and joy of Christmas.
    Glad to hear you had a nice Thanksgiving Holiday and that you made the trip north to Duluth and back to Cities safely. Merry Christmas!

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