I feel like my weekends should be categorized somehow lately.  They are somehow like a pause in the panic-mode.  Ha!  I feel like each weekday I have my head down kind of in scramble-mode, but and then the weekends are a breath of fresh air.  I don’t know why, it’s actually kind of weird because there’s not much “breathing” going on with all this hullabaloo getting ready for a wedding in the midst of Christmas-time.  But there is some kind of a gentle pull that I have felt more than ever that is grounding me a little more this Christmas.  

Perhaps God knows I need those little pulls.  Sometimes it seems that He places them right in my lap.  And perhaps I have been better at listening, and noticing.  Because I desperately want to feel the peace and beauty of the wedding as well as Christmas.  So I say a little prayer each morning trying to “spiritually create” my day and for the most part I feel the power of that communion with God somehow more powerfully right now.  
This is the time of life that I want desperately to remember.  It is so full and beautiful (mixed in with the sometimes ugly and crazy of course).  But we are awaiting the celebration of the arrival of Christ’s birth!  And we are simultaneously planning a wedding! (which could be categorized as it’s own kind of birth, beautiful and new).  And what could be more beautiful than that?
I feel like life the last week could be categorized by the stages of “the envelopes.”  The stacks and stacks of Christmas cards and wedding invitations (that happened to all arrive at the same time, thanks to a random mishap of the invites being sent to Clearwater Florida instead of here to the desert…strange…).  They sat in our home, in various stages of addressed, stamped, stuffed, still-needing-new-addresses-looked-up, still needing international postage, still needing notes written from us (we tried to write little notes to each missionary we know and love out there in the world), blah blah blah.  
I don’t have pictures of many of the stages, but here are a couple from one of them with the wedding invites…we were watching something, I think “Elf” this time around, as we stuffed and addressed:

 Lu was a good sorter:

Needless to say, it felt really good to dump those babies in that large blue receptacle at the post office.

(I don’t think I have any pics. of the Christmas card envelope stacks, but you get the main idea…)
In the midst of getting those envelopes out, there are three things that have helped that velvety Christmas mode to seep into our home.  
1) The first is Advent.  We have never done Advent properly in our home.  We have done “Light the World” which I love, and we’ve done different variations of scriptures in the morning to lead up to Christmas, but we’ve never done the whole light-the-candle-each-Sunday and other various things that go along with Advent.  Maybe it’s awful to admit, but I’ve never really understood the whole deal…and we are still trying to figure it out.  But this ad from the Small Seed popped up on my Instagram one day in November showing this Advent book to help celebrate the different names of Christ each day and it spoke to me.  
So I ordered it.  (And ordered a few for some friends too.)  In hopes that it would bring the Christmas spirit into our home.  We are reading through it each morning, a new name for Christ each day, and we love it. 
I can’t figure out if I love the book and the messages (and images…they are beautiful!) more, or the fact that this is how Lucy feels about it:

She loves that thing, and her ears perk up each time we read.  I love how her soul shines in all things spiritual.  How can I bottle that up and help her keep it forever and ever?

2)  Our fireplace.  Here is one night when I was trying to do some wrapping and we were gathered close, (Claire doing homework):

There is something about a gathering place like that to draw us all near.  It’s speaking to all of us this year.  It’s a little chillier than usual and there is nothing like turning that thing on and nestling around it to slow life down.

Even Bo feels it and is found right here much of the time:

3) Christmas books.  At the library a few weeks ago I found a book called “The Christmas Box” on sale for $1 and felt like it would be something Lu would like.  And I was right.  I love that when kids ask to read books it pulls you out of whatever busy-ness that is keeping you away from “real” ness to nestle in with them.  She begs for chapters here and there, and those gentle pulls lure me away from my “stuff” to her heart. 

I sneak reading in with my older girls too as much as I can.  (We have a big box of Christmas books waiting and ready whenever we stop to read them.  We used to read them every night when the kids were little, but now with older kids that gets more complicated…some of my favorites are HERE.)  While Claire was taking a homework break one day I pulled out a Christmas book as we snuggled by the fire.  When Grace was home the other day I pulled them all three plus Dave to the couch and took a minute to read about the first Silent Night, then all sang that beauty song together, our voices slightly off-key but beauty seeping in all around.

This is not to say that things are peaceful and calm here all the time, because that is far from true.

I just picked up Claire who is sick from school just now, for instance, and got mad at her about something or other…yep, right as she’s coughing and sallow-eyed.  That’s just one example among I’m sure hundreds of me shattering that Christmas spirit that is trying so beautifully to infiltrate our home this year.

But it is there for the taking if I will recognize it.  And for some reason this year the stars have aligned in such a way that I’m not willing to let it slip away. 

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  1. Shawni, I am so sorry to keep asking you annoying furniture questions! Your house and style are so similar to mine! Where is your new living room rug from?? I had also asked about your white breakfast table! I'd LOVE to know so I can see if they fit in my budget! Thank you so much!! 🙂

    1. We had that table made when we couldn't find one as big as we wanted it to be. This question is perhaps the most asked question on this blog! I wish I had the guy's contact info (I've lost track of it), and that he would ship those puppies all over, because it's a great table (that is in need of a paint job! 🙂

      The rug is from Overstock.

    1. Oh gosh darn it. That thing was proof-read by so many eyes, but hey, I'm sure there are lots more mistakes that will come along in the process of this wedding! Welcome to the first (or maybe it's the tenth, or 124th…who's counting? Ha!)

  2. Wow!! Cultures are just so different even within the US. It’s so hard for me to understand the rush, the lack of proofreading, the 2 hour reception, the temple dress vs. the picture dress, the difference between an invite and an announcement, having everyone stand outside the temple to greet newlyweds, the emphasis on “purity,” the late invitations etc etc. All so hard for me to relate to. But I truly appreciate Shawni being so open to sharing this all with us. It kind of like cultural anthropology

  3. They will always remember the invitations. Now that a mistake has been made the rest of the festivities will go smoothly. I think I looked at my invitation exactly twice since my wedding, 18 years now. The mistake won’t prevent anyone from making it.

  4. I agree! It’s really all so fascinating… the speed dating and engagement, parents being so involved in ordering/sending invites, the rush of it all- did i say that already? 🙂

  5. I'm laughing at how some find this wedding rushed. My daughter was planning a spring wedding, and due to circumstances with transferring schools and states, SURPRISE! We are having a wedding a few days after Christmas. I only have a few weeks to plan a wedding. Which reminds me–I really need to look into ordering a wedding cake tomorrow! Max and Abby are adorable and I'm so happy for them! Love the photo. Best of luck with the wedding!

    1. Lisa, I agree! I was out with some friends last night from my kids school here in Ca, and two of them told the best stories about how they eloped and surprised everyone by telling them after. I think there's a million ways to do things!

  6. Just to clarify, I suspect "thier" is actually "Pothier" and not a typo.

    Lisa, why do you plan your daughter's wedding? Is it because she is in another state? I wouldn't have liked, I enjoyed the planning and organising!

    As for weddings in general, if by the end of the day two people have said yes to each other (or whatever Max and Abby will say in the temple), it will have been perfect!

    1. Yes, my daughter is at school right now in a different state. She is very involved in the details. It is really her wedding plan. I'm just trying to pull it together and make it happen for her special day. I like to help my kids anyway I can, especially when it's something so important to them. It's a way for me to show my support and love to my daughter and my future son-in-law.

  7. I love a wedding that is not turned into a Hollywood production. As for the speed issue- it beats people dating around forever. As a Catholic, I find a lot about the way Mormons manage this transition admirable.

  8. What was the big hurry anyway? They have all the time in the world, why not have a nice Spring wedding with much less stress, and time to get everything right?

    1. She mentioned earlier why they picked that time year, I can't remember exactly, something to do with Max's volleyball schedule and how this was a much better fit, but I know they did look into trying to do it later!

  9. I met my husband, 10, yes 10 days later we got engaged and 3weeks later we got married. I also moved across the world to be with him. It wasn’t about sex, or ‘ trying to keep him’ or anything, we simply knew we wanted to be married and wanted to be together. 18 years later and 3 children we are doing good!! Sometimes it seems just meant to be !

  10. Unknown 12:07. I’m not joking. An anonymous infrequent poster can post either positive or negative comments but a frequent identifiable poster may only post negative OR positive comments? I think you just made that rule up. I suppose you agree with Maria and just find it rude and disagree with me than two adults can get married whenever they want to. Max and Abby aren’t Duggar’s. They don’t need dad’s permission when to side hug and when to marry.

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