Category Archives: Relationships

On Christmas Birthdays & A Lindsay Letters Giveaway

Lindsay Letters O Holy Night Print

The only preference I ever had about babies and timing was no Christmas babies, please.

I had always imagined that laboring, delivering, recovering, taking care of a newborn, and then figuring out how to properly celebrate the kid’s birthday near Christmas would be…lame.

Despite my best-laid plans, I find myself the mother of two boys, one born December 23rd and the other coming any day now.

But you know what? Birthing a baby near Christmas wasn’t nearly as awful as I’d pictured.

Even though we’d just moved across the country, knew hardly anyone, and spent Christmas day in the hospital, it was a rich time of seeing our needs provided for in every way.

Plus, apparently a Christmas baby means extra attention from nurses, a miniature tree, and a hand-knit hat for baby. And a pretty peaceful wing of the hospital.

Lindsay Letters O Holy Night print

The birthday celebration thing, however, is still something I’m navigating.

So far, it’s not been too tough. Buckaroo is only three and doesn’t yet plan his parties six months in advance like big sister.

But throughout this pregnancy I’ve bemoaned the fact that as he gets older and we’ll (probably) have two December birthdays to contend with, it will be more of a challenge to carve out special birthday time for both kids in the midst of a crazy season.

Back in September, I was sharing these thoughts with a friend and a new acquaintance.

The acquaintance, who I knew only from her fabulous work on some of my favorite book covers, mentioned that she had a Christmas birthday and that it had never been a bummer, but something she rather enjoyed.

Then she interjected some wisdom, something along the lines of:  “After all, you’re in charge of making your kid feel special.”

I didn’t take her remark in a burdensome “go find ten Pinterest projects you can craft for your kid’s birthday party so he feels special” kind of way, but more as “it’s possible to be intentional to make your kid feel special even in the midst of a crazy season.”

I don’t have to just sit back and fuss about what I imagine to be the bad timing of it all. I can remember that God’s timing of my kids’ births isn’t bad at all. And I can choose to celebrate my boys in ways that are meaningful to them.

It might take a little extra planning and strategy, but I’m pretty sure it can be done.

Lindsay Letters O Holy Night print

Right now, it’s as simple as wrapping his birthday presents in non-Christmasy paper, making a cake (or, at 36 weeks pregnant, let’s be honest—buying a cake), and planning to do his favorite things (bath-time, blocks, trains, sword fight, chase, and lunch with Daddy at work) on his birthday.

And later? I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Until then, I’m thankful for the good reminder from a lovely lady.

So in honor of her bit of wisdom, I’m giving away one of her art prints!

It’s one of my favorites. I have it hanging in my entryway now and it brings a smile whenever I see it.

Want to win one for yourself or to give to a friend? Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below! You can complete more options to earn more entries. I’ll announce the winner next Monday, December 15th. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This giveaway ends on Sunday December 14th at 11:59pm CST. One winner will be chosen using Rafflecopter and will be notified by email. The winner will have 48 hours  to respond with their contact information; if they do not respond a new winner will be chosen. Must be at least 18 and live in the U.S./Canada to enter.
*All photos via Lindsay Letters

Taking Initiative, in Spite of Fears

Taking Initiative |  A Simple Haven

This is day 16 & 17 of a 31 days series on Living Boldly. To read the other posts, go here. Welcome!

I’ve moved enough to learn that if I want to make friends in my new town, I’m going to have to do the hard work of putting myself out there.

Of taking some initiative. Of not waiting around for everyone to come to my door, but to knock on some doors myself.

As an extrovert, taking initiative in relationships probably comes more naturally to me than some, but it can still get exhausting.

It can also be a little fear-inducing: What if they don’t like me? Is what I’m saying resonating with them at all? Am I going to find any kindred spirits?

So there’s a boldness needed to push past the fears that come with initiating–in hopes of really connecting with people and starting quality friendships.

I’ve also found that other fears can arise after you do find a kindred spirit.

Will it weird her out if I suggest getting together regularly? Does she like me as much as I like her? She said if I was ever in her neck of the woods, I should call her up–did she really mean that?

I’ve done this whole starting-over-and-making-new-friends thing about 50 times more than I’d like and the fears never totally go away.

But this year, my One Word pushed me toward being more intentional in my friendships.

To be more honest and say things that felt a little bold. To lay more cards on the table than I felt completely comfortable with. To put myself in potentially awkward situations.

Maybe I’ve just been lucky. A recipient of extra grace. Or maybe I just made the fears a whole lot bigger than they actually deserve to be.

Because it’s gone really well.

I found a new friend who I really connect with and am super encouraged by–we now get together every couple weeks after the kids are in bed. And on some days, those coffee dates are my lifeline.

But I had to ask.

I joined a Bible study at a church I don’t attend because I heard it was filled with older women and I’ve been craving the wisdom and company of a different generation. They’ve been so kind to me and I’ve loved the different perspectives and experiences represented.

But I had to show up knowing only a couple people. And feeling a bit like an outsider.

I went to a blogging conference and roomed with a friend I knew only from online and another girl I’d never met. They were great (great!) and it was a life-giving weekend.

But I had to say yes to going and yes to any potential awkwardness.

More points for boldness.

 Have you had to start over in relationships lately? Any words of wisdom for the rest of us? 🙂

P.S., you might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).

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Boldly Believing the Best in Friendships

Boldly Believing the Best  A Simple Haven

This is day 15 in a 31 day series on Living Boldly. To read the other posts, go here. Welcome!

One fear I can deal with in friendships is the whole “are they mad at me?” thing.

You know.

The conversation ends and you go home and are alone with your thoughts. You start to reflect on all that was said. And start to wonder if maybe what you said wasn’t that great after all.

Did I offend? Was I misunderstood? What does she think of me now?

Or when you haven’t heard from a friend in a while. Maybe she hasn’t called back or you sense a coolness between you that wasn’t there before.

Is she mad? Are we still friends?

Maybe this is all just me. But from what I hear from girlfriends, I kind of doubt it.

The Antidote to “Is She Mad at Me?”

Back in college, a wise woman once told me her policy about all of this: “Believe the best until you hear otherwise.”

In other words, assume that everything is fine unless the friend says differently. Maybe you are already in this habit, but at the time, the concept was revolutionary for me.

You mean I don’t have sit around being anxious and worried about the relationship? I can just trust my friend to tell me if something is wrong?

Yes.

Well, what if she doesn’t? And it really seems like something is wrong?

Ok, then ask: When I said X, did that hurt or offend you? Hey, are you doing ok lately? Is there anything you’d like to talk about?

Easy peasy. Well, maybe it’s not always easy to start those conversations, but the principle is pretty simple: when in doubt, ask.

You know that verse from the Bible about love that everyone likes to quote? My favorite translation of it goes like this:

“Love…is ever ready to believe the best of every person.” 1 Corinthians 13:7, Amplified Version

Love is ready to believe that they’re not mad. Or that they will extend grace if I’ve wronged them. That they’re believing the best about me.

For me, to hope for the best (or ask a question) in the face of fears often feels bold.

But I’ve been trying it for a while now and I like it a whole lot better than anxiously focusing on what may or may not be wrong.

Do you fear what friends may be thinking and not saying?

P.S., you might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).

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Boldy Making Friends When You Might Be Moving

Boldly Making Friends When You Might Be Moving  A Simple Haven

This is day 14 in a 31 day series on Living Boldly. To rest the other posts, go here. Welcome!

I told you that I hope for honest, authentic relationships where we bear each other’s burdens and share in one another’s joys. Maybe your hopes are similar.

Well, what if you know you’ll eventually move? Or might move?

Do you continue to invest in the people in your community, spending the time and effort needed to grow those relationships? Or do you check out, pull back, “guard your heart” from getting broken quite so badly when the move eventually happens?

As someone who’s moved 11 times in 8 years, I’ve wrestled with these questions a bit.

But I’ve decided that any pain that comes with leaving is worth the joy of dear friendships.

Yes, It’s Hard

The deeper the friendships, the more it hurts to leave. Boy do I know about that.

Our three years in Dallas was by far the longest we’d lived anywhere. And the friends we made there truly felt like family.

Then we moved. In the middle of winter. To a Midwestern farm town where we knew no one. And I was very, very pregnant with #2. Then my husband had double foot surgery and started grad school. (Cue sad violins).

It was all pretty pitiful. It was also pretty amazing to see how God provided for us during that time. But that’s another story.

But It’s Worth the Effort

Yes, it was a hard season. Yes, I missed my friends in Texas desperately. No, I didn’t always feel like “putting myself out there” and making new ones.

Full disclosure: every time we move, I whine to Hubs about how I don’t want to make new friends/what if no one wants to be my friend? He’s gotten very good at reassuring me.

But at that point, I had also determined that even if we weren’t here in Farm Town long (Lord, I hoped we wouldn’t be here long), I needed to live in community with others while I was here.

Because I believe we were made to go through life’s hills and valleys with other people. Because life is richer when shared with friends. Because I really, really needed people to bring me meals after I had my baby. (Ahem. Cough).

Because anyway, what’s the alternative?

Shallow friendships. No one truly knowing you. Missing out on the blessing of knowing and learning from new friends.

Bummer if/when you move? Totally. But bigger bummer if you miss out on the friendships that could have been.

Have you ever left friends behind? Or struggled with how much to invest in a new place?

PS, Are you moving any time soon? If so, go grab a copy of my free eBook, The Homemaker’s Manifesto: Loving the Home You Have. It’s a quick encouragement to make the most of your new place. 🙂

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What I’m Hoping For in Relationships

Hoping for in Relationships | A Simple Haven

This is day 13 in a 31 days series on Living Boldly. To read the other posts, go here. Welcome!

If boldness in relationships is acting in hope despite fears, that begs the question, “hoping for what?”

My guess is this will look different for each of us.

What I’m Hoping For

Me, I’m hoping for honest, authentic relationships, where I know the other person and am truly known. Where forgiveness is asked for and received and burdens and joys are shared.

A tall order? Maybe. None of us is perfect, all of us will disappoint and be disappointed.

But again, I’m hoping for this. Not expecting it.

Hoping looks like working toward these things as far as they depend on me: by the grace of God, trying to be the kind of friend that I want in my life.

Taking initiative, sharing my heart, making time in my schedule, asking questions, serving in practical ways, admitting when I’m wrong.

Not always easy stuff. But again, by the grace of God.

Will I be this intentional with every person in my life? No.

There are varying levels of intimacy in relationships. I doubt it would be helpful or wise to take as much initiative or share as openly with everyone in my life.

But these are the things that I hope characterize my close friendships.

What do you hope characterizes your relationships? And do you have any thoughts about hopes vs. expectations?

P.S., you might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).

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