Tips for giving a good gift

Every year around this time, I like to do a post about gift giving.

There’s nothing like receiving a meaningful gift.  But giving a meaningful gift is even better.  I think sometimes people get lazy when it comes to Christmas shopping.  We have too many people to buy for so we just go out and buy stuff that will do.  But what if the goal of giving a Christmas gift was not to just give a present but to give a present that says, “I thought of you.” or “I know you.”  Sure every gift cannot be perfect but we all have at least one person on our list that we want to put our best effort towards.

Here are a few pointers in gift giving that I posted here on the blog last Christmas…

1.  Don’t make it about you.  I knew a woman who got a pool table for mother’s day one year.  She had never played pool a day in her life. When giving a gift to someone, start by thinking about the things that they love.  They love hunting?  Go to Bass Pro Shop and ask for help and get a gift receipt for everything you buy.  They love cooking?  Go to Sur La Table, make a gift basket and just remember to get a gift receipt.  Don’t let your likes and dislikes and opinions keep you from getting someone else what they really want.

2.  Replace something.  Maybe they lost a pocket knife that got taken by TSA  or a pair of favorite earrings that they left in a hotel.  It could be something they broke like a favorite mug or pair of shoes that got ruined.

3.  Give a blast from the past.  Find a t-shirt from a concert you attended years ago.  Or an old cd you used to love together.  Maybe a copy of a movie you saw together.

4.  Do something nostalgic.  Frame an old picture or an old letter.  One of my favorite gifts my mom ever gave me is in my kitchen.  It is a framed recipe card for my Grandma’s eye round roast (my favorite thing she cooked).  My mom saved it when she was cleaning out my Grandma’s house after she moved to an assisted living home.  It is not even in a nice frame but I don’t care, it’s special.  It reminds me that cooking is about expressing my love to my family (for me, no pressure if you hate cooking).

5.  Be a good listener.  If your wife goes on and on to her friend about how beautiful her new purse is, take notes!  If your husband talks about how he wishes he had a universal remote, pay attention!  If your daughter goes on and on about sparkly UGGS take the hint!

When you give a really thoughtful gift you take a big risk.  Maybe they won’t get it.  Maybe they won’t think it is as special as you do.  Maybe you tried really hard but just fell short.  But maybe you gave them a gift that says, “I know you,” or “I pay attention to you,” or “I remember the great times we have had together,” and that speaks volumes.  And listen, if you need to throw in a gift card with your framed recipe card, that’s icing on your, I-put-thought-into-this gift.

Here are 3 don’ts of gift giving…

Don’t equate gifts with need.  That’s why socks and underwear from your grandma never meant much.
Don’t believe the lie that it is all about money.  Resourcefulness after a tough financial year could be the best gift you ever gave your spouse.
Don’t give up.  Just because you gave a gift that bombed last year doesn’t mean you throw in the towel this year.  It means you try harder this year.

And finally, here are a few tips for searching on the internet for gift ideas…

-Try one Googling a list like, “best gifts for guys” or “best cooking gadgets”
-One of my favorite sites for unique gifts is
-Gift ideas on is also one of my go-to websites
-Go to and search best-selling lists (book, toys, tech etc…)
Only a few days left!  Happy Hunting!

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge



The ALS Ice Bucket challenge is extra special to our family.  My father-in-law, Ltrain, who went to be in heaven last year had ALS.  Because of the viral success of the Ice bucket challenge, donations to the ALS foundation have gone off the charts.  This time last year, the ALS foundation raised $2.2M.  As of today, donations are up to $53.3 M!!!

To make a donation or for more information on ALS AND to watch some celebrity ice bucket videos visit

And for a good laugh check out these amazing ice bucket fails.  Ltrain would have loved to watch these with me!



I will fight!!!

I am sorry I have been absent from the blog this week.  Our boys are in the thick of coach pitch baseball playoffs and they are on a winning streak!  We have played every night this week.  If we win tonight, we play for the championship Friday night.  Shew.  It is so much fun watching your kids play sports but it sure doesn’t leave much room for blogging.

Anyway, while back I blogged about the piece my husband did called, I Will Fight (link here).   I also mentioned it in my sermon during our series, Crash the Chatterbox (link here, week 5).  Many of you have asked how you can get it.  Well, I am happy to tell you today that it is now available on iTunes!  Yeah!!  Here’s the link!  I know you are going to love it!

I listen to this track on a regular basis.  Sometimes daily.  It is so encouraging.  In fact, I am going to play it on the way to baseball tomorrow night!!

And if you would like to watch the video one more time, here it is for your viewing pleasure!


Ambient Light

It is rare to know a person who never complains, especially when by the world’s standards they have every right to complain.  My friend, Ferris Joye, is one of those people.  Ferris is married to Wade Joye, the worship pastor at our church.  You may have read the first part of their story in my husband’s first book, Sun Stand Still.

The short version is, about 5 years ago, Ferris gave birth to twin girls born 13 weeks early.  They literally had to fight for their lives and believe in Faith even when the doctors told them to give up.  The part of their story you may not know is that a year ago, the Joyes had another beautiful baby girl.  Ferris carried her full term and was so excited to finally have a normal baby.  A few hours after Sydney was born, Ferris and Wade had to hear some hard news, Sydney had cystic fibrosis.

Today Ferris and Wade are the proud parents of 3 amazing little girls.  Although they still have issues they deal with on a regular basis, Ferris handles it with absolute grace, and their daughters are a complete joy.   She inspires me so much.

Recently the Lord impressed upon Ferris’ heart that it was time for her to step out and help other moms of children with special needs.  She leads a group of moms at our church and she has also started a blog.  Her blog offers practical and emotional encouragement for so many moms in a similar position.  I hope that you will visit her blog, especially if you are blessed with a child with special needs, but even if you are not, you will enjoy following Ambient Light.

Today is the day!!!


The day is finally here!!!  This book has been in the makings for so long.  I am so proud of my husband for this.  Having watched the process of writing a book 3 times now, I can tell you that it doesn’t get any easier the 3rd time around.  There was a lot of resistance against this book and I know that is because the message is so great.

As I said yesterday, I read the first chapter with tears in my eyes because it was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment and I guarantee it will be the same for you.  In this book my husband teaches us how to hear God above the voices of insecurity, fear, condemnation and discouragement.

And today, to kick off the release of this book, we are doing a live radio show from 10am-6pm!!  Pastor Steven will be joined with Lysa TerKuerst as they interview guests such as Christine Caine, Pastor Craig Groeschel, Louie Giglio, and so many others.  It is going to be a great day.

Join us on the ElevationNetwork and don’t forget to order the book at

Go to great links

I thought I might start a new category: great links.  Every now and then I come across a great sermon or interview or teaching that is really impactful to me.  And you should never keep a good thing to yourself.

Today I want to share with you a message by Greg Rollinger.  Greg is the pastor of Palm Valley Church in Arizona, and is struggling through a disease with a very grim prognosis.  In this message, Pastor Greg talks about how there is purpose in the struggle.

I hope you enjoy the message and that you find encouragement as you go through your own personal struggle.

Stand- When you’re struggling.