I am crazy about gifts that do double-duty. Gifts that are not only thoughtful and well-made, but gifts that give back in some way.  I love supporting companies and people that don’t simply create good products but that do good. Last year I complied my favorite gifts that giveback. I had such a blast with that list, I decided to create one again this year .Here are my five favorite gifts of the season. Several of these gifts give back in unique ways.

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My husband and I made a decision this Christmas. It’s a bit radical. It’s something I’ve been thinking about, praying about, and weighing for years. And this year we’re doing it: we are not buying our two girls, ages 7 and 11 any toys.

Before you label me a scrooge or or dig out your receipts to return all your gifts let me explain why. This decision didn’t come easily and if I’m being really honest it wasn’t easy to ignore their wishlist which contained many of the newest,

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Last year I wrote a post titled When You’re Sick and Tired of Getting Christmas Wrong, it was a personal post about my failure to focus on what really matters this time of year. If I’m being honest with myself, and with you, I didn’t get it all right last year (who does?) but I got less wrong. And I did it with help from this manifesto. It was one of the most popular posts of last season so I thought I’d share it again.

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The sink was full of dishes stacked high, overflowing onto the countertop. Pants, shirts, and socks rose in a mound on the master bedroom bed, and thick layer of dust covered every surface in the living room except for the places my seven-year-old had traced her fingertips.

Basketball, a sweet 16 game, played on the tv much too loud for the conversations taking place over it. The front and back doors stood wide open as kids ran in and out,

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For years, I slept until I had to get out of bed. I was exhausted and grumpy and barely functioning.

A toddler would come wobbling into my room with a loud shout of “Mommy!” and I’d crawl out of bed, feeling my way to the coffee maker.

In the evenings, by the time I got water, and blankies, tucked them in “snug as a bug”, sang songs, and took them on one last potty break.

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Have you ever found yourself looking at your phone, your neighbor, or your best friend and thinking one of these things:

  • Everyone has more than us; more stuff, more love, more money, more time.
  • When will it be our turn God? Why must we keep waiting?
  • I guess I’m not doing something right.
  • Why are you blessing them and not us?
  • I need to be a better mom and wife (while looking at someone else’s profile).

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Last night I scrolled through my feed, one after another of me too. Too many to count. I sat and I read every single one, tears streaming down my face.

My heart broke for those women, teens, girls, sisters, daughters, mothers, friends. My heart broke for them now and for them when it happened. My heart split wide open for all the ones who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, or still felt they shouldn’t speak out.

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**In honor of the blog’s one year anniversary, I’m sharing a post from a year ago that was featured over at (in)courage. I have a feeling there are a few of us that still need this reminder today:  God can grow us anywhere. He doesn’t need the ideal conditions. **

My husband and I have been married for thirteen years and together we have made a total of six moves.

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After I had my second daughter I struggled with losing the weight I had gained.  At my heaviest (ever) and experiencing severe knee pain, I knew I needed to start exercising and eating better. But there was so much to do, and I had so much weight to lose, I was completely overtaken by overwhelm.

I realized that with each passing day nothing was going to change unless I did. I wasn’t going to wake up one day with the overwhelming feeling gone and I certainly wasn’t going to wake up with the weight suddenly gone,

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