27 Days of Christmas Music

Dear Friends,

This year, I’m going to try something fun for the days leading up to Christmas on my blog!  I’ve chosen 27 (okay, actually 29 if you count the two bonus songs I couldn’t live without!) of my favorite Christmas songs performed by some of my very favorite artists.  Each day leading up to Christmas, I will blog a song of the day with links to listen to the song on Spotify or view the song’s video on YouTube.  I will also include a short little mini-essay about why I chose the song of the day. 

I hope you will enjoy my musical selections leading up to Christmas!  Feel free to peruse my complete playlist of Christmas Music over on Spotify:

27 Days of Christmas Music (Plus 2 Bonuses!)

Merry Christmas!


27 Days of Christmas Music: Day 2, Josh Wilson’s Once A Year

Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson – Once a Year – feat. Andrew Peterson

(from Josh Wilson’s 2012 album, Noel)

I really like this song, especially these lyrics from the song’s chorus:

Once a year, December’s here

And our hearts open up

Once a year, we give with cheer

To those who don’t have enough

Wouldn’t it be something

If we all learned to love like it’s Christmas

More than once a year

Every year in the Stauffer household at Christmas time, I try and make a little extra effort when it comes to impressing upon Alex the importance of giving to others and doing our part to make the world we live in a better place because of Christian faith.  My husband Jon and I try to be good examples all year long of these values; Jon is a volunteer firefighter and very involved in multiple non-profit organizations in the community, and I volunteer and participate in church activities and other community events.

Come Christmas every year, however, we seem to be filled with a little extra goodwill in our hearts that leads us to try and do a little more.  In the past, we’ve delivered groceries to shut-ins as a family and assembled countless shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.  Last year, Alex and I drove around Fort Wayne in the days before Christmas passing out Blessings Bags and gift cards/free coupons to fast food establishments to the homeless.  We’ve provided food for holiday meals to shut-ins, mittens to preschoolers from low income families, and gifts for senior citizens thru the Secret Santa program at Walgreens.

Yet somehow, it still doesn’t seem like it is enough.  I wonder if Alex is really seeing the “why” behind what we do?  Will he grow up with the same love in his heart for helping others that his father and I have?  Will the times we’ve spent together “giving with cheer to those who don’t have enough” be the times he remembers most as an adult, or will he only remember the getting of his own presents on Christmas morning?

I guess only time will tell how Alex will turn out.  I have highest of  hopes that he will have a heart for sharing the love of Christmas with others more than once a year.

How are you sharing the love of Christmas more than once a year with others?  I’d love to hear your story!  E-mail me at beth@bethstauffer.com!

(Big, huge, gigantic side note:  If you are in the Fort Wayne area, you can see Josh Wilson perform Once A Year during his Christmas concert, Noel, at Lifebridge Church on Corbin Road beginning at 7:30 pm.  TIckets start at $15 and will be available at the door.  I saw Josh perform twice this past year while he was out on tour with the Sidewalk Prophets and he is a fantastically talented songwriter and musician.  In my opinion, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone with more overall musical talent than Josh Wilson.  This spring, he will join forces with Third Day on their ‘Miracle’ tour so if you can’t make it out to see him tonight you’ll have another chance this March at the St. Francis Performing Arts Center.  Tickets for tonight’s Christmas concert can be found by clicking here and tickets for the Miracle Tour with Third Day, Josh Wilson, and American Idol’s Colton Dixon can be found here.)


The complete line up for the WFRN Friend Fest was announced this morning and it’s spectacular!  I didn’t think WFRN could top last year, and I for sure didn’t think the line-up could possibly get much better after hearing the line-up of stellar headliners planned.  I love it when I’m wrong!  Here’s a complete breakdown of who’s coming…I think you’ll see many of my favorites on this list!

  1. TobyMac
  2. Matthew West
  3. Building 429
  4. Peter Furler
  5. Big Daddy Weave
  6. Kari Jobe
  7. Jamie Grace
  8. for King & Country (YESSS!!!)
  9. Rhett Walker Band
  10. Moriah Peters
  11. Finding Favour
  12. Hyland (Yay!)
  13. The Neverclaim
  14. Mosteller

Seriously, the WFRN Fest was my favorite festival I went to last year for a lot of reasons.  Amish Acres is beautiful, the whole thing was incredibly well-run, and the food and beverages were the cheapest I’ve seen anywhere.  (Need I mention they had David Crowder, Casting Crowns, Tenth Avenue North, Sanctus Real, and the Sidewalk Prophets in the line-up?)

I’ve already put in on my calendar for 2013 and bought my $29 two-day pass…you should too!

27 Days of Christmas Music: Jesus is Alive…

Jesus is Alive

Wish that I was there
On that Silent Night
When your tiny heart started beating for mine

I wish I could have seen
The Star in David’s town
When you turned a stable into Holy ground
I sing along, the angel’s song

Noel, Noel, Jesus is alive
Emanuel, hope is here tonight
So go and tell the world that death has died
‘Cause Jesus is alive, yeah Jesus is alive!

Written/Performed by Josh Wilson, on the 2012 album ‘Noel’


“Though we are …

“Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without a compass, God’s love encompasses us completely. … He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.”

Thought for the Day written by Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Jill Has a Beth Moment: The David/Michael Phelps Story

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What you are about to read is a true story about the funniest conversation I may have ever had with my friend Jill.  I love it when she says something ridiculously wrong.  It makes me feel like I’m not the only one who frequently opens their mouth only to insert a foot.

Setting:  A balmy afternoon in late November, inside Beth’s 2012 Honda Civic, while driving down Jefferson Boulevard in Fort Wayne.  The radio station WBCL is playing Christmas music in the background.  When the song ends, an announcer begins to speak.

Announcer:  Friends, please welcome David Phelps and his Christmas Tour to First Assembly of God here in Fort Wayne on Tuesday, December 18th for two shows beginning at…

Jill (looking out the window):  Do you have tickets for that?  That’s one concert I’d like to see!

Beth (sounding surprised):  Really?  No, I don’t have tickets for that one.  I’ll be in Minnesota that week.

Jill:  Too bad.  I’d like to go just to see if he wears all of his gold medals while he sings.

Beth:  What?

Jill:  I said I’d like to go to that concert just to see if he wears all of his gold medals while he sings.  Do you think he wears a Speedo during any part of the show?  I’d definitely go to see that, too!

Beth (very confused):  Jill, what on earth are you talking about?  What medals?  And why would he wear a Speedo during a Christmas concert?

Jill:  You mean you don’t know who David Phelps is?  He’s that famous Olympic Swimmer that won all the gold medals during the Olympics.  Apparently he sings during the off-season from swimming.

Beth (laughing hysterically, which causes her to drive erratically):  Jill, I think you’re thinking about Michael Phelps, the swimmer…not David Phelps, the Christian singer.

Jill (turning bright red and beginning to laugh):  You know, I thought it was a little unfair that God would create one person who could both swim like a fish and sing like an angel.

Beth:  You’re right, that would be totally unfair.

Jill:  Promise me you won’t write about this on your blog.

Beth:  This story is too good not to share on my blog!

So, for those of you may be confused like my friend Jill about the upcoming David Phelps concert at First Assembly here in Fort Wayne:  David Phelps and Michael Phelps are two completely different people.  If you show up to the concert hoping to see Michael wearing his Olympic Gold Medals and/or a Speedo, you’re going to be bitterly disappointed.  If you just want to catch a great Christmas show, however, you’ll most likely be pleased with what David Phelps has to offer.  For ticket information, click here.

One last thing, in case you were wondering:  Michael Phelps and David Phelps are not related, unless you count having the same Father in heaven and the same Uncle (Sam) in Washington, D.C.

Livin’ Like Boomer

Some of you may remember I wrote a few weeks back about how I was experiencing a significant case of the doldrums.  Well, that was in October and here it is, almost December, and I’m still feeling rather blasé.

Perhaps part of the reason my ho-hum-edness is lately so apparent is that we’ve added a new member to our family and he’s anything but ho-hum.

Boomer is an 11 month old Bassett Hound my family and I recently adopted from the pound, but the first thing you need to know about Boomer is that I’ve come to think of him as the anti-Bassett Hound.

You see, every Bassett Hound I’ve ever known is of the typical Bassett variety.



Likes to take good long naps.


You know, a canine version of me.

Of all the Bassett Hound pound puppies in the world up for adoption, I somehow ended up with the one who goes against every stereotype of his breed.

According to the vet, Boomer is the perfect weight, which in my opinion is not such a perfect weight because he is able to squeeze thru the cat door and in between the slats of the picket fence (or under the chain link fence if he so desires.)

Boomer is not lazy.  Not even close.  In a way, he kind of reminds me of a basketball that is being dribbled…he is in a perpetual state of motion, and usually that motion is of the up and down variety.

If you move, he will chase you.

Whether you are a cat or a tennis ball or the Roomba is beside the point.

As far as taking naps, Boomer probably does enjoy a good long nap…just not at the same time that I want to enjoy a long nap.  Lying down in my bed is all the invitation Boomer needs to dive bomb my face with sloppy wet dog kisses while simultaneously sniffing me with his cold wet nose.  (It’s especially fun when he does this to me when I am in the middle of a deep sleep.  I’ve aged at least 20 years from Boomer scaring me to death with his 2 am dive bombings.)

With this being said, I have to say that Boomer does have some of the other traits that are characteristic of Bassett Houndshe is certainly loveable and sweet and friendly.  He is good natured and sociable.  He’s gentle and loving with children.

One of the best things about Boomer is the rock star welcome I receive every time I walk in the front door.  Even if I’ve only been gone for 30 seconds walking to the mailbox, he barks his happy bark and jumps up and down trying to kiss me before taking off in a frenzied run throughout the house announcing my arrival.

I’m thinking that if my son and husband welcomed me home in a similar fashion, I’d be one very happy girl.

The thing that I love the most about Boomer, though, and the thing that I most want to emulate in my own life, is how ecstatically happy Boomer is with everything.  To look at his face, you might think he’s sad but you would be wrong.

Boomer is in love with life, and his four legged, 36 pound frame can barely contain his joy.

My Bible verse this morning immediately brought Boomer to mind:  “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” (Psalm 118:24)  Truly, Boomer is rejoicing with every wag of his tail and chase of his tennis ball.  Even though he’s had a rough time of it in his first 11 months, being a pound puppy and all, today he is happy to enjoy the blessings he has been given:  a little boy to call his own, a backyard with rabbits to chase, a peanut butter stuffed Kong, and a squeaky stuffing-less squirrel to play with.

I’m inspired to want to live like Boomer today and every day.  Instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, I want to just live in the moments I am given this day, remembering that it is a gift from the Lord.

He deserves my thanks and praise for each day that I am given.

While I don’t have a cute little tail to wag like Boomer, or big soft ears perfect for flapping in the wind as I run, I am nevertheless filled with the joy that comes from knowing exactly who made this day.

My heart is light with the knowledge that I am carefully being held in the palm of His hand not just today but every day.

Thanks be to God for the little anti-Bassett Hound Boomer who came to remind me to rejoice and be glad in this day and every day!

My First Homemade Thanksgiving Disaster

When I left home for the first time at the tender age of 22, I had decidedly limited culinary skills.  I could scramble an egg.  I could follow the directions on the back of a blue box to end up with Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.  I could come up with something that reasonably resembled pancakes by following the directions on the back of the Bisquick box.  I could make stellar Quaker Instant Oatmeal (only the strawberries and cream flavor though.)  By far, my signature dish was chicken flavored ramen noodles.  (I would substitute Watkin’s chicken broth seasoning for the little seasoning packet that came with the ramen noodles.  Genius, I know.)

My culinary skills, or lack thereof, were undoubtedly inherited from my mother.  My Dad loves to tell the story about the first dinner my Mom cooked after they were first married back in the early 1970’s.  “I never knew it was possible to ruin spaghetti until I met your Mom,” my Dad said pretty much every time our family ate spaghetti during my childhood, or in other words, on at least a weekly basis.

In the years since then, I’ve watched a lot of Martha Stewart cooking tutorials and I’m happy to say I’ve broadened my repertoire in the kitchen well beyond ramen noodles and instant oatmeal.  My husband will tell you I’m a darn good cook, and my son will agree as long as we aren’t talking about vegetables.  Come to think of it, no one in my family is underweight with the exception of our kitty, Tiger; we might be better served if I wasn’t such a good cook.

Of course, when Jon and I first got married back in 2004, I hadn’t quite worked out all the kinks in my cooking.  For the first two years of our marriage, I was happy to go and celebrate Thanksgiving with either Jon’s family or at my sister’s house, contributing a store-bought pumpkin pie or cheese ball when necessary.

Holidays were stress free and blissfully happy for my handsome husband and I.

Then, Alex was born and I transformed into a crazed, sleep deprived lunatic hell-bent on recreating the happy Thanksgiving memories from my own childhood while making a few new ones of our own.

My sweet little bald-headed baby boy, who was at the time of his first Thanksgiving only 3 months old, had no idea the kind of madness that was about to descend upon his family.

At the center of my fanaticism to create the perfect Thanksgiving was having it at my home, all of our family drawing near to each other around the big dining room table while platters of steaming food was passed around from person to person.  Of course, this was because I thought at my own house I would be in control of the Thanksgiving Day dinner theater that was about to unfold.

In retrospect, it’s kind of comical that I ever thought I was in control of any of the happenings under my roof…but more on that in a minute.

In the days leading up to what I imagined was going to be the greatest Thanksgiving celebration since the pilgrims invited Squanto and his crew over for a meal, I went into overdrive.  I starched and pressed my tablecloth and napkins.  I created napkin ring holders out of beads that looked like turkeys.  I made little turkey looking seating cards using cardstock paper and Alex’s handprints.  (Side note:  Putting sparkly acrylic paint in multiple colors on a newborn’s hand was a really cute idea in theory, but one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had in terms of practicality.)  I watched online tutorials on how to brine a turkey at home and how to make perfect pie crusts from scratch.  I washed my kitchen floor (which by the way, is huge) on my hands and knees using a toothbrush.  I dipped marshmallows and Ritz crackers in chocolate and decorated them with white licorice to make edible pilgrim hats.

This was probably the one time in my entire life that Martha Stewart would have been proud of me.

By the time Thanksgiving actually rolled around, I was starting to get a little fatigued.  My crafts & housecleaning extravaganza, plus the added strain of having an infant that required round the clock feedings, was beginning to wear on me.

As anyone who has ever thrown a Thanksgiving feast knows, the most essential thing is not the turkey, or the mashed potatoes or the pies.  The most essential thing of all is getting the timing right of when all the dishes are done and ready to be served.  If your timing is way off, the whole day is pretty much going to be ruined.

In all of my planning, I had not really taken this into consideration.

I had also not taken into consideration the fact that when you are defrosting a gargantuan sized turkey, it may take more than 2 days in the refrigerator.

At 6 am on Thanksgiving morn, I trekked across the street in my slippers and bathrobe to my in laws garage, where the huge bird I had so carefully selected was supposed to be defrosting in the refrigerator.  Immediately, I realized that the bird felt like a lump of cold marble.  What I did not immediately realize was that this meant the bird was still frozen solid.  It wasn’t until I unwrapped the bird and attempted to shove my hand up the bird’s back-end only to find it was frozen shut did I realize I had a big problem on my hands.

Seeing as how this was the first and only turkey I had ever made up to that point, I had no idea what to do.  I tried shoving the bird into my microwave on defrost, but it wouldn’t fit.  I attempted to defrost it by giving it a bath in lukewarm water in the sink, but that didn’t do much.

I decided that my best option would be to try cooking the turkey at a higher temperature for the same amount of time.  According to my calculations, I needed to cook the turkey at approximately 580 degrees for 4-5 hours.  (Side note:  it’s probably obvious at this point that I never took home ec, nor were my grades in math anything to brag about.)

To make a long story short, in about 2 hours I had a turkey that was blackened on the outside and still frozen solid on the inside.  Further complicating matters, when I took the turkey out of oven to baste it 3 hours into the cooking time, the flimsy aluminum pan I had it in collapsed and the turkey bounced out of the pan and skidded across the kitchen floor, hitting the leg on the dining room table and vaulting like a hockey puck into the entryway.

I’m ashamed to admit this now, but as I chased down the blackened turkey that almost got away, I saw my husband sitting and watching TV without a care in the world in the family room.  I began to feel very hostile, and so my debate about what to do with the runaway turkey was short.  Without a word, I picked it up with my oven mitt encased hands, walked back into the kitchen, reassembled the aluminum pan around it, and shoved the whole thing back into the oven.

I reasoned the high temperature in the oven would kill off any germs, and if not, peeling off the blackened part of the turkey would for sure get rid of them.

The chaos surrounding the turkey put a damper on my pie making.  I was so distracted by everything that was going wrong with the turkey that I didn’t follow the apple pie recipe correctly, and I forgot to set the timer to take the pie out of the oven.  The filling from the pie bubbled over into the bottom of the oven, eventually catching on fire and filling the entire house with smoke.

In my exasperation with the ruined pie, I decided I would just shove the whole thing down the garbage disposal along with the peelings from a ten pound bag of Idaho potatoes.

This was a very, very bad idea; perhaps even worse than trying to make painted turkey-esque handprints of my infant son.

In a matter of moments, the sink and dishwasher literally exploded.  Thru the smoke-filled kitchen I screamed for Jon, who took a break from his TV viewing to come to the kitchen to investigate.

“What did you put down the garbage disposal?” Jon asked, looking at me in disbelief.

“Just an apple pie and potato peelings,” I replied.

I can’t repeat on my G-rated blog what Jon’s response to that was.

As the water continued to overflow from over and under the sink, Jon ran to the bathroom to grab the toilet plunger while I ran to the linen closet for towels.

At that precise moment, the doorbell rang.

My family had arrived.

My golden retriever Abbey, one of the most notorious people food thieves the world has ever seen, had probably been watching and waiting all morning to make her move.  In the midst of the commotion of trying to find a toilet plunger, towels, and welcome the guests, my second pie of the day met its demise as Abbey grabbed it off the counter.

Branden, not one to be left out of stealing people food, surfed the counter and came up with a bag of frozen, unrisen yeast rolls that he proceeded to swallow whole.  As his body heat defrosted the rolls causing the yeast in the rolls to rise in his stomach, Branden swelled up like a Macy’s Day Parade balloon.

“What the hell is going on in here?” my Dad asked, never the one to miss an opportunity to offer color commentary.

I looked in wide-eyed horror around my house to find my husband furiously plunging the kitchen sink, one of my dogs bloated and lying on the couch while the other one pushed a pumpkin pie plate around the floor licking it clean as my infant son screamed louder than the smoke alarm that was currently going off.

The Norman Rockwell painting Thanksgiving I had planned in my mind was a complete and total bust.

I looked at my Mom, who had whipped out her camera and was taking photos of Jon as he plunged the sink, and I couldn’t help but laugh at how far astray the reality of my first ever Thanksgiving was from the one I had envisioned.

Everyone else followed suit, and  we all laughed and laughed.

Truly, it ended up being one of the most memorable Thanksgivings ever.  Granted, the turkey was terrible, we had no dessert or bread to eat, and we ended up eating approximately 4 hours after we were supposed to, but our house was filled with things that can’t be created or forced:  those things are laughter and love.

Plus, I’ll never forget the one (and hopefully only) time I had to wash dishes in the bathtub as I set perched on the lid of the toilet in our small bathroom.

Thanksgivings at my house since that first one have been much less eventful, but not nearly as memorable as that Thanksgiving six years ago.  I guess you could say I learned a lot of important lessons that year that I have carried with me.  My prayer for you this year as you celebrate Thanksgiving with your family is that you will make lots of memories with your family… just hopefully not as many as I did on Alex’s first Thanksgiving!

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever~Psalm 107 

Thanksgiving Mishaps: Food Fights & Ice Cream Cakes

This is so not what Thanksgiving looks like in my family!

It’s that wonderful time of the year once again, when family togetherness and nostalgia for days gone by reign.

At least, in my own mind they do.

This weekend had me thinking a lot about the Thanksgivings I have experienced in the past.  I was so fortunate to grow up in a rural old farmhouse in Northern Indiana with my close-knit family beside me.  Many of my favorite memories took place in that white, two-story house sitting on a little hill with those very same people as the starring characters in the saga of my early life.

As I was thinking about these memories, the funny thing I realized is I don’t really remember all that much about the Thanksgivings that went off without a hitch.  The Thanksgivings I remember the most were the ones went things went wildly awry.  I know I’m not alone in this; whenever my family gets together these days, the times we reminisce about the most and laugh about the hardest are the times when the unexpected happened and chaos ensued.

So, I thought this week I would share a couple of my favorite Thanksgiving mishaps memories with you–2 from when I was growing up, and one from my own household as an adult.  I hope you’ll enjoy my stories as much as I enjoy remembering them!  (Side Note:  If you live in WBCL 90.3 FM’s listening area, you might have heard me talk to Phil & Larry this morning about my favorite Thanksgiving mishaps!  What fun that was!)

My third favorite Thanksgiving mishap took place when I was a child, maybe 9 or 10 years old.  My Grandpa Whiteleather, my Dad’s Dad, was our guest for Thanksgiving Dinner.  My Mom, who had no doubt been up since the wee hours of the morning slaving over a traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey and all the fixings, had finally given the signal that the food was ready and we should all come to the table.

My Father, brother Brent, sister Stacy, and I crowded around the table along with my Mom’s Mom, Grandma Bricker, and my Grandpa Whiteleather.  After the blessing was given, we all began passing the food around and filling up our plates.  Of course, we had a veritable smorgasboard of food:  turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, corn bake, stuffing, a relish tray and who knows what else.

Well, I do know at least two other things–the bread basket and the ice cream cake.

Somehow in the flurry of activity of passing the dishes, my Grandpa (who sat at the foot of the table) had missed getting a roll.  The rolls were sitting in front of my Dad, who was sitting at his place at the head of the table.

My Grandpa, seeing the rolls in front of my Dad, uttered these words which will live on in infamy at family gatherings probably until the end of time:  “Will somebody please toss me a roll?”

Dad, without missing a beat, picked up a dinner roll and threw it at my Grandpa.  Grandpa, who was apparently not expecting my Dad to literally throw a roll at him, was pinged directly in the face with one of the brown & serve rolls.

My siblings and I found this hysterical, and peals of laughter rang out from around the table.

Grandpa picked up the roll and threw it back, hard, at my Dad.  My Dad, ever the star athlete, caught it and threw it right back at Grandpa.  In a bold move, my brother Brent picked up a roll and threw it at me, and I proceeded to throw it at Grandma.

In a matter of moments, we were engaged in an all out food fight.  My Mom, bless her heart, heard the commotion from the kitchen and came back into the dining room only to catch her own mother, Grandma Bricker, right in the middle of flinging a spoonful of stuffing at my Dad.

The look on my Mom’s face was one I will never forget as long as I live.  My normally calm, as close to a saint as they come without being Catholic mother appeared to be horrified by the shenanigans of her family.  Without saying a word, she looked at each one of us around the table, forcing us to each cautiously put down whatever food flinging implement we were holding.

Mom removed her holiday plaid apron and gingerly sat down at the table next to Grandma.

In silence, we passed around the dishes to my Mom, avoiding eye contact with her at all costs.  We were all treading on thin ice at the moment.  A short while later, my Dad broke the ice by asking my Mom if she could pass the olives that were on the relish tray sitting in front of her.

I swear to this day I caught a glimpse of the slightest smile ever as my Mom picked up a spoonful of olives and launched them towards my Dad, pelting him in the nose.

Truly, that was one of the most epic moments in Whiteleather family history.

Of course, the mishaps didn’t end there.  Actually there was one more mishap yet to come.

Against tradition, my Grandpa had suggested to my Mom that he would bring a Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake for dessert instead of the traditional pumpkin pie.  Apparently, Grandpa had seen a commercial for DQ cakes and wanted to try one.  Reluctantly, my Mom had agreed.

When the time came for dessert, Mom asked Grandpa about the whereabouts of the DQ Cake.  Nonchalantly, Grandpa responded that the cake was out in his car and told my brother to go out to his station wagon to get it.

My Mom and I made eye contact, and I could see the wheels in her mind spinning.  The DQ Cake was in the car?  That’s weird, I thought to myself.

Things were about to get a whole lot weirder.

My brother came back in with the cake and plopped it down on the table.  Everyone gathered around, anxious to see just exactly what a DQ Ice Cream Cake looked like and perhaps even more eager to find out what it tasted like.

Mom slipped the flaps on the box open and lifted the lid, and the highly anticipated DQ cake came flooding out the sides of the box.

The DQ Cake was a lot more liquidey than cake like, that much was certain.

“Dad,” my Dad asked, “Didn’t you keep the cake in the freezer?”

“No, I bought it on Tuesday and left it in the car.  Why, was I supposed to put it in the freezer?” Grandpa asked.

“It’s an ICE CREAM CAKE,” my Dad said slowly, a deep belly laugh permeating the room.

“Oops,” said Grandpa, turning bright red.  He looked at the mushy melted cake and let out of laugh comparable to my Dad’s.

Then, everyone else started laughing too.

I’m not sure there has ever been another Thanksgiving that I have laughed so hard, nor has their ever been a messier Thanksgiving between the food fights and melted ice cream cake.

That was one of the few times I ever remember my Grandpa Whiteleather laughing, and in the years to come as he battled with health problems and dementia from the aging process, I would cling to the memory I had of that day filled with his laughter.

I still can’t help but laugh every time I see a DQ Ice Cream Cake and think about Grandpa…and if you’re lucky enough to ever have Thanksgiving dinner with my family and you hear the infamous words, “Will somebody please toss me a dinner roll?” you might want to duck!  We don’t pass the bread basket like normal families do.  We prefer our bread airborne.

Tomorrow, I will share the story of the first Thanksgiving I ever hosted for my family the year Alex was born.  It was a culinary disaster of epic proportions!  With that being said, I’m off to try to find the pictures from that Thanksgiving of Jon at the kitchen sink with the toilet plunger and me washing dishes by hand in the bathtub. 

Attention Please!

Dear Readers:

Guess what?  Thanks to the miracles of technology, you will now be able to listen to the songs/CDs I write about here on Spin: the Blog thanks to the masterminds over at Spotify!  You will need to have a free account, which you can register for by visiting the Spotify website, to get started listening in. 

You’ll begin seeing links to all of the music I write about at the top of each post starting, well, right now!

  I hope you’ll enjoy listening to the music I share just as much as I do 🙂

Here’s one of my favorites to get you started.  Just click the link below to partake in a classic Sidewalk Prophets tune:

Sidewalk Prophets – The Words I Would Say


Much Love,


How Love, Love, Love Saved The Day

Sidewalk Prophets – Love, Love, Love

The time is now 12:02 am (for those of you wondering, yes, 12:02 am Daylight Savings Time.)  I’m sitting at my kitchen table eating some weird soup with spinach and meatballs made out of chicken in it.  According to the label on the can, this particular soup is “all natural and gluten-free.”  The “meatballs “are supposedly made from chickens that were raised on an organic diet in a humane environment.

With the exception of ending up in my soup, I’m thinking those chickens may have had a better quality of life than I do.

I know I should be in bed, asleep, but instead I am sitting here debating the merits of all natural chicken soup and thinking about an interaction I had earlier today with one of my favorite little people in the whole world, 3-year-old Ned.  I’ve known Ned now for well over half of her life, and I’d like to think that she has picked up some of her more endearing qualities from me.  (Truthfully, my influence probably has very little to do with how completely awesome Ned is.  I’m pretty sure Ned has two of the most amazing parents ever to thank for her awesomeness!)

Ned and I always have some pretty interesting, thought-provoking conversations (at least, they are thought-provoking on my end.  What can I say, in addition to being super awesome, Ned is super smart!)   Today was no exception to the rule, but the way my thoughts were provoked came in a different manner than usual.

Things were trucking along very smoothly this afternoon, when completely out of the blue I heard a wail unlike anything I had ever heard before come from the other side of the room.  In a nanosecond, Ned was standing in front of me, holding her finger.  (So you can see what I was dealing with here, I took a picture.)


For sure, I thought she had lost a finger by the way she was crying.  Normally, Ned is not a big crier.  After counting all of her digits to make sure we weren’t missing any, I did the next logical thing and looked for blood.  There wasn’t any, not even a drop.

Okay, this was odd.

Next, I checked all of her fingers for a splinter even though I have no idea where she would have gotten a splinter from considering we don’t really have any wood lying around.

No splinters.

I asked Ned to show me where it hurt, and she pointed at one of her fingernails.

Little Miss Ned had broken a nail, and apparently, it was the end of the world.

“Ned, are you sure it really hurts that much? My fingernails break all the time, and it doesn’t usually hurt,” I asked.

“Miss Beth, can’t you see?  I’m broken!” Ned wailed, and in a moment of over the top dramatics that would probably have won her a Daytime Television Emmy had she been on a soap opera instead of at daycare, collapsed on the floor.

“Ned, can I get you a Barbie Band-Aid?” I asked.

“No,” she sniffed.

“Ice pack?”

Her bottom lip popped out and began to quiver.  I took that as a negative.

“Can I give it a kiss?” I suggested.

“Waaaaah!” she cried, loudly.

“Is there anything I can do to make your owie feel better?” I asked.

Ned stopped crying.  “Uh huh,” she said, holding up her finger in front of my face.  “I want love love love.”

My heart softened.  “Aw, come here sweetheart,” I replied, holding my arms out to her for a hug.  “Come, sit with me and I will give you some love!”

The crying started again.  “No, I want love love love!” Ned sniffled thru her tears.

I was confused.  “Say what?” I asked.

Ned pointed at the stereo.  “Love, love, love.  Now!”

That’s when it hit me.  She wanted to listen to her favorite song, the Sidewalk Prophet’s ‘Love, Love, Love.’


I pulled up the song on the iTouch and immediately all of the other kids began to have a dance party.  Everyone, that is except for Ned.

Ned took her wounded finger and laid down on her nap time cot, listening to ‘Love, Love, Love’ on repeat until, miracle of miracles, she was healed.

Later in the afternoon, Ned came and sat with me and together we looked at her finger.  The broken part of her fingernail had fallen off, and while Ned was deeply concerned that she was now “missing one of her pieces,” I tried to assure her that what remained was a completely normal looking 3 year old’s pointer finger.

As we examined her finger, Ned looked at me with her chocolate pudding eyes, rested her head against my shoulder and said, “When we have a bad owie and are missing some of our pieces, all we really need to make it better is love, love, love.”

Like I said before, Ned is one smart little cookie.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Ned and her broken fingernail since this afternoon.  It occurred to me that perhaps Ned’s broken fingernail is a lot like many of the other hurting souls we all walk amongst every single day.  For sure, most people are not going to be as demonstrative about their pain as Ned was today.  In fact, a lot of people go to great lengths to cover up their pain to the outside world; yet their pain remains, a throbbing, stubborn hurt that doesn’t go away.

Ned’s words, “Miss Beth, can’t you see?  I’m broken!” reverberate in my mind.

I wonder how many times I have glanced at someone else in my daily life who is dealing with this kind of hurt and not really seen the pain that lies beneath.  How many times did I walk on by because they weren’t obviously disfigured by their pain?  Did I not see, not take the time to care because there wasn’t copious amounts of blood flowing from their pain?

I want to see, Ned, I really do, but sometimes, it’s hard to see the pain of others thru the lens of my own brokenness.

What amazes me the more I think about Ned and her broken fingernail, however, is the fact that at just three years of age, my little friend already knows the answer to our brokenness and pain.  She knows what will make us feel better when we hurt.

When we have a bad owie, she knows that all we really need is love, love, love.

I’m pretty sure wiser words have never been spoken by a three-year old anywhere, ever.

Now, here’s the ironic twist to this story.  You know how I mentioned I was looking for major wounds, and blood, and splinters when Ned came to me in pain at the beginning of this story?

Well, the love, love, love that heals even the worst owies was first wounded for us so that we might live.

His splinter was a cross.

His blood literally poured from his hands, feet, and sides.

He was completely and utterly broken.  For us.

His death and His pain served only to bring healing and redemption.  To us.

Until we come to know Him, the Love that has no end, we will remain in our own brokenness and pain, unable to help others or even ourselves; but once we know Jesus, there is no owie that is too deep for Him to heal, no pieces of our hearts that are too finely shattered to be put back together.

Not one.

While we might not be able to see what is broken, He can.

While we might not be able to find all of the pieces of our broken hearts, He can.

I pray that if you are hurting tonight, you will turn to Him in your brokenness and give Him all of the pieces of your broken heart to put back together again.

Remember, as my friend Ned so wisely said to me earlier today, “When we have a bad owie and are missing some of our pieces, all we really need to make it better is love, love, love.”

Oh, and just one more thing–“God is love.”  1 John 4:8.