Monday, December 8, 2014

All I Want for Christmas...

What do you want for Christmas this year? Have you been asked that a lot in the last few weeks? Have you asked your loved ones this question?

A few weeks ago at church, my pastor posed this question instead: 

What does God want from me? 

That got my mind racing with more questions:

What can I give this Christmas?
Whom can I help this Christmas?
What can I sacrifice this Christmas?

Of course it’s not enough to simply ask these questions. These questions BEG to be answered. 

What can I give this Christmas? 
  • More time and attention to my kids
  • My hours and help at my husband’s office
  • Treats to the children at a local women’s shelter (the boys and I will be putting these together and delivering them next week)
Whom can I help this Christmas? 
  • A working friend needs help with care for her son, so he’ll be spending a couple of days with us over Christmas break
  • My mother-in-law is hosting a lunch for 30 women at her house this week, so I will help with greeting, taking photos, and washing dishes
What can I sacrifice this Christmas? 
  • This one is personal, but I will look for specific ways to be selfless, secondary, and sacrificial in the weeks to come
Christmas is not about me or you or our families or the needy. Christmas is about our mighty Lord leaving His throne to enter our sinful world as a helpless baby with one purpose: death.

What did He give this Christmas? His life in place of our sin.
Whom did He help this Christmas? All who believe.
What did He sacrifice this Christmas? His glory, His crown, His body.

Still care about that new iPhone?

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Rabbit Rabbit Christmas

I think I was in sixth grade when my teacher, Mrs. Ripley, taught our class about saying “Rabbit Rabbit” first thing on the first day of each month for good luck. It’s certainly a silly superstition but somehow it stuck. Thirty years later and I still whisper it, when I remember, as I open my eyes on the first of each month. I don’t really believe in luck, but it makes me think of sixth grade, which was a really fun year at my small school. Mrs. Ripley got pregnant that year and the eight of us in our small class were really close. So Rabbit Rabbit and Happy December!

I faithfully made it through Thanksgiving without listening to any Christmas music and, let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. But now that we’re safely over the turkey and onto the holly, I’ve been enjoying the sounds of the season.

I have other favorite things this month as well – to listen to, read, taste, and watch.


I have three Christmas cds on constant rotation at home, two by David Ian (otherwise known as Dave Ghazarian, co-founder of Superchick and current guitarist of the Peter Furler Band) and one by Peter Furler (former lead singer of the Newsboys).
Dave’s cds, Vintage Christmas and Vintage Christmas Wonderland, are a smooth, jazzy rendition of Christmas classics. Offering both vocal and instrumental selections, these are the perfect songs to have on while you’re baking or wrapping Christmas gifts. Also, I want to throw 17 dinner parties this month just so I can play these songs in the background. My favorite is an original composition by Dave titled “Christmas Time With You,” (a duet featuring Andre Miguel Mayo and Acacia on the Vintage Christmas cd). I couldn’t compose a song if my life depended on it, so I really appreciate Dave’s talent not just in arranging these songs, but in playing piano, guitars, and bells as well.

Peter’s cd, Christmas, consists of 10 classic carols and spoken word offerings. His voice, with that Australian accent, is so strong and unique. My favorite on this cd is Peter’s rendition of “We Three Kings” and a haunting version of “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” Dave produced this cd, and infused it with a multicultural vibe, including violins, cello, the Armenian duduk, and French Horn. There’s a touch of the Armenian Divine Liturgy in the background vocals, and the spoken word selections really bring meaning to this season. Peter is gifted and the Holy Spirit brings Scripture to life through him.

You can pick up all three cds (and more) here. They also make great stocking stuffers!


I recently read my friend Carrie Padgett’s book, Short, Sweet & Sassy. It’s a collection of romantic short stories, and by short I mean that each story is one chapter. In just a few pages, Carrie captures that moment of a guy and gal falling for each other. Each tale is unique – a sweet snippet of romance and love-at-first-sight in different settings and circumstances. You could read one story before bed for two weeks or, like me, devour it in one sitting.
Order it here for less than $5! This would also make a fun stocking stuffer! And be sure to visit Carrie’s blog here.


Anyone who knows me knows I’m a little fanatical about the Hallmark Channel – especially at Christmastime. I’ve been made fun of relentlessly but I don’t really care. If you want sweet, entertaining, family-centered stories and can suspend all reality and logic for two hours, then Hallmark Christmas movies are for you.
I get it – they’re cheesy and predictable. But who cares? I want a happy ending, even if I can see it coming a mile away. Yes, there just happens to be a single lady and a widowed guy and a puppy and a bakery – I mean, however could it possibly end up? You just have to ignore the sarcastic comments (I’m looking at you, Jayson) and enjoy the ride.


I’m slightly obsessed with Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Stars cookies. They only come out at Christmastime and I try to control myself by purchasing one box at a time. But about mid-December, I get a little desperate knowing they won’t be around much longer and buy an extra two or three (or six) boxes that I stockpile in our pantry and ration throughout the year.
And if you’re feeling really crazy, try the Mini Dark Chocolate Mint Stars cookies. I mean, dark chocolate and mint? And they’re mini? The cutest, most deliciously evil and addicting cookies out there. If you miss them this season, you’re welcome to visit my pantry.
OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sweating the Small Stuff

On my bathroom counter is a small glass cup that holds Q-tips. I realized the other day that I refill that cup quite often. Sometimes it feels like all I do is refill the Q-tips.
Is this what my life has come to? Restocking hygiene products? I mean, don’t be jealous of my glamorous life.

And then I caught myself. I use Q-tips all the time:  to clean my ears, to remove eye makeup, to touch up my nails when I paint them. Q-tips are important. If I don’t refill the cup, who will?

Jayson dislikes the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.” Because the small stuff matters.

Even Q-tips.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Monday, November 3, 2014


Even though it’s Monday and you all know how I feel about that, I LOVE that it’s finally November.
This is my most favorite time of the year. Growing up in Massachusetts, nothing beat the crisp (non-humid) air and unbelievably gorgeous foliage of autumn in New England. I get googly just thinking about pulling out my jeans and coats and boots and scarves and crunching the leaves on the ground and drinking hot tea.

I also love November because Thanksgiving is absolutely my favorite holiday. It’s all about being grateful, giving thanks to God for our blessings, and enjoying family and good food. It’s a focused day without much distraction (the Armenian Telethon notwithstanding). November 23 is my mom’s birthday, so Thanksgiving was always a double-celebration for us. Jayson and I got married in November. So many good things to commemorate this month!

That said, I want to fully enjoy this season, so I will be intentional about saying “no” to certain things as well. I won’t say no to shaving because, well, No Shave November is for men (save your hairy Armenian jokes, thankyouverymuch) and, also, that’s just gross.

1. No to getting ahead of myself with Christmas planning. I want to enjoy this season of gratitude before letting the crazy take over.

2. No to being overly critical. This is hard for me, but I will try my best to stay focused on the positive, or at least have a positive outlook about my criticisms. Especially with people I don’t know. I’m so quick to judge peoples’ actions and motives when what I should probably do is just talk to them.

3. No to automatically turning on the tv when I want to entertain the boys. We don’t have any electronic devices at home, but the tv is on a lot.

4. No to eating all the leftover Halloween candy. Time to exercise more self control.

5. No to holding myself back when I feel a prompting from the Holy Spirit. I’m pretty good about listening and following through, but sometimes I get nervous and hold back (especially when I feel prompted to pray for or with someone. Out loud. In public.).

6. No to being afraid to take risks. I hate to fail, so I don’t try. You know where that gets me? NOwhere.

7. No to going to bed too late. I’m a night owl, but I’m tired of waking up tired. This one will probably be the hardest for me, but I will try.

What are you saying NO to this November?
OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Break the Rules

Every morning from Monday through Friday I post a fashion “pick-me-up” on my facebook page. These are pictures of runway looks that inspire me by their beauty, artistry, creativity, innovation, and design. They are looks that I would love to own and wear (if I only had the funds) and they also reflect a more discreet aesthetic, proving that you can be fashion-forward and maintain your dignity.

The comments that these posts receive are thoughtful, passionate, and so very entertaining. Clearly we all have our own opinions about fashion and it’s interesting how many people share that they wouldn’t or couldn’t wear certain looks. Sometimes people just don’t understand the design or find the looks unreasonable and unwearable. Fashion, as most art, is very subjective.

I also get many questions about “the rules.” Fashion rules have often been ingrained in us by our parents from a young age – young ladies may have been taught to “keep your shoulders covered” and young men admonished to “match your belt to your shoes.”

I’m here to tell you that rules were made to be broken. Because really, in fashion, there are no rules anymore.

Here are a few “rules” you can (and should) break:

    1. No White After Labor Day – White is no longer considered just a summer color. You can wear white all year long, but be mindful of the material. Try a winter white in heavier fabrics for the colder months (a cashmere sweater or wool coat, for example). However, if you’re brave, you can pull off a white chiffon dress in winter by pairing it with black tights and a motorcycle jacket. 

    2. Mixing Gold and Silver – Go ahead and wear your silver and gold jewelry together. Both are considered neutrals and they blend well together. That’s the beauty of accessories – you can mix and match to your heart’s content and just have fun with it.

    3. Wearing Black/Blue or Pink/Red – These colors actually DO go together. The trick is to make your outfit look intentional rather than a mistake. You don’t want it to seem like you accidentally pulled out the wrong shoes from your closet that morning. If you’re concerned about the colors blending in, pick shades that contrast a little more – for example, a chambray shirt with a black pencil skirt (instead of navy and black) or a brick red sweater with hot pink pants.

    4. Matching Your Shoes/Belt/Bag – This just looks dated. Mix it up! If you think you’ll look like a rainbow clown wearing too many different colors, keep these accessories in the same color family. For example, a yellow belt with camel boots and a chocolate bag. You’ve got this.

    5. No Hosiery With Open-Toed Shoes – This one is a little tricky. If you want to pull this off, keep the open toes small (no wide open sandals) and make sure your hose doesn’t have a seam at the toes.

    6. No Miniskirts After 35 – I have to confess I sort of agree with this one (Tina Turner notwithstanding). But if you want to wear a miniskirt, do it properly. Think about pairing it with flats, or wearing opaque tights underneath. And please learn to get in and out of a car properly (get in bum first, get out legs first).

    7. Formal = Dress – If you’re attending a formal event, think outside the box. You don’t have to wear a dress every time. Pantsuits/jumpsuits are really having a moment right now. And as classic as LBDs are (Little Black Dress), explore a bold color to really stand out in the crowd.
    Even though fashion rules can be broken, I’d like to offer three tips to keep in mind:
    1. Undergarments – Wear proper undergarments with your outfits. Make sure bras fit properly and panties don’t show when you bend over. And if you’re wearing white (all year long!) wear flesh-colored undergarments. White shows underneath white. 

    2. Speaking of white, it’s still not a great idea to wear white to someone else’s wedding. There is a whole spectrum of colors to choose from, so let’s leave white to the bride. 

    3. Sweats and yoga pants should be worn to work out. Period. I know they’re “comfortable,” but so are regular clothes.

    Any questions? Let me know! Now go on and be your rule-breaking, confident, rebellious, own-your-style, bad self.

    OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

    Monday, October 20, 2014

    Choose Your Own Ending...


    I’m sitting in Starbucks working when I get a phone call. I see that it’s the school calling, so I answer. They tell me that James fell during recess and split his lip. There was a lot of blood, but he seems okay. He also got a scrape on his shoulder. No need to panic, but they wanted to let me know.

    ENDING 1 – What I WANT to do:

    PANIC! PANIC! My baby fell! He’s bleeding. He’s hurt. Did someone call 911? My poor baby! He must be scared! He needs his mommy! I will drop everything and run over there and hug him and hold him and make all of his pain go away like only I can with my magical mommy powers. I don’t ever want him to hurt. Not for one second. Ever.

    ENDING 2 – What I THINK I SHOULD do:

    They said he’s okay, so be cool. My kids don’t run my life. I’m no helicopter mommy. I’m going to raise independent, resilient, self-sufficient children. He’s a boy and boys are tough. Time to man up, kid – you’re in first grade now. No more kissing boo-boos to make the owies feel better. He’ll forget all about it by the time school’s out.

    ENDING 3 – What REALLY happened:

    My heart hurt a little that James got hurt, but they said he’s okay so I believe them. I know if he sees me he’ll want to go home. Apparently he told the office his lip didn’t hurt but it was “annoying.” I waited an hour then stopped by at lunchtime to give him some Tylenol in case it was still hurting. Then I said goodbye and left. <DEEP BREATH>
    OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2014

    Think Pink

    I sat in the waiting room trying not to panic.

    It’s just standard procedure, I told myself. They’re playing it safe.

    My mother died at the age of 49, when I was just 22 years old. Since then, I’ve been very proactive with my health. When I turned 35, I had a mammogram to create a baseline for my doctors, even though there’s no history of breast cancer in my immediate family. Last year, at 40, I had my second one.

    But when the results came in, something wasn’t right. So I was sent in for a follow up mammogram.

    I sat in the waiting room wearing a thin covering, shivering more from anxiety than the cold air. It was all I could do to distract myself from negative thoughts. I have two young children. I don’t want my husband to watch me suffer. I’ve been through enough – this isn’t fair.

    The lady taking my special pictures was very kind, very patient, very encouraging. She was able to get the images looked at right away, while I got dressed. And when she came to talk to me in the waiting area, I held my breath.

    “Everything’s fine.”

    My eyes welled up. I just couldn’t help it. I felt like an idiot for getting so worried, but why shouldn’t it happen to me? I know God is in control, but I’ve seen – over and over again – bad things happen to good people. Faith in Jesus Christ doesn’t exempt us from suffering; it prepares us for it.

    My beautiful Aunt Lola, with gorgeous curls and a husky laugh, died of breast cancer. My hardworking Aunt Araxi fought breast cancer, beat it once, and two weeks ago had surgery to fight it again. My lovely friend Carolynn is a survivor. My sweet friend T.L., who is my age, had a preventive double-mastectomy last year.

    And tomorrow, a darling young woman from my home church will be undergoing surgery in her fight against breast cancer. She is 26, brave, faithful, enduring fear and pain and all those things with a smile on her face. In her struggles she is encouraging others, helping at V.B.S., and spending time growing closer to our Lord. She is an inspiration. If you are the praying type, please keep my friend Danielle in your prayers tomorrow.
    October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. When breast cancer is detected early, there is a 98% survival rate (National Cancer Institute). Here are some additional facts from

    ·  One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
    ·  Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
    ·  Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women.
    ·  Each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die.
    ·  Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 410 will die each year.
    ·  Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, in part due to better screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options.

    Ladies, touch your girls! A self-exam only takes five minutes. Here is a link to the five easy steps of a self-exam – please do it once a month and be aware of any changes in your body:

    Our boobs don’t define our identity – our cup size does not determine our femininity. Our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20). I know that’s easy for me to say with my unscarred breasts. But Christ broke His own scarred body for us on the cross, so that we would glorify God with ours – and we don’t need breasts to do it.
    OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.