Christmas Devotions Available!

Today is the day you can download your free CHRISTMAS DEVOTIONAL!

This plan is perfect for the whole family to work through as you prepare your hearts for this season of celebrating our Savior. There are activities and discussion questions throughout the plan so download your copy here and get started TODAY! It will take you right up until Christmas Day!

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. Luke 2:14

Lessons from Autumn

When I think of fall, I immediately think of cozy. Curling up on the couch watching a football game with a bowl of chili…settling into a good book with a cup of coffee or chai tea…yummy candles and warmers filling my house with sweet and spicy scents…going for a walk in the cool evening with my hand snugly fitting into my husband’s, all of these things spell F-A-L-L in my corner of the world.

Deep down, beyond the cups of chai and cozy blankets, our souls long to be comforted, don’t they? That may look different for different people, but we all crave it. We go through seasons of intense toil which grow us, shape us, and prepare us for other challenges on down the road. It’s good and right and what God intended for sure.

But thankfully, God also promises his children seasons of rest and comfort.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Psalm 107:28-30

As the sights and sounds of fall build and swirl around you like the rust-colored leaves across a sidewalk, take a moment and think about this: what are you seeking from the Lord? Are you in need of the comfort only he can provide, but you’re not even sure how to voice what you need? Trust me, you’re not hiding anything from him.

He knows what’s really going on the back hallways and basements of your heart. Pour your heart out to him. Open those doors to the musty rooms and dank passageways. You won’t be left empty, for he is faithful to fill and comfort you. Our emptiness isn’t a disqualifier, but a starting point that leads us to him.

On the flip side, could you be the extension of the Lord’s comfort to someone in your life right now? Sometimes a hug, an encouraging word, or watching someone’s kids are as soothing as lighting a pumpkin-scented candle. Listen to those around you and see who the Lord is leading you to comfort.

As you set out pumpkins and plant pansies, press into the Lord’s comfort in new, fresh ways. And never stop looking for ways to comfort others.

 

Check out my Fall Playlist on Spotify.

White Space

Squinting, I leaned toward the screen of my iMac in the editing bay, a few hours into laying out my first issue as editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper. Space. Space. Space. The phrase echoed in my mind. How to fit in all of the stories while leaving enough white space?

Odd, isn’t it? You’re producing words, but what makes the words stand out is having the proportional amount of white space to offset it. Too many x’s and o’s and people quit reading before you can yell “Extra, extra!” Too little words? Then you don’t have a newspaper. You have at best, a hearty email.

The front page was always the hardest, as the interior pages fell together much quicker. The front page was made up of many moving pieces: the masthead, headline, all while fitting the proper stories and photos above the fold, and always worrying about white space.

Have you ever stopped to think about your soul as the front page of the newspaper?

Our brains need the space to register the information coming in, our souls need room to spread their roots and blossom, but so often we underestimate the space that takes. We cram and cram until all white space in our lives is obliterated.

What do you do when you find space in your life? Do you view it as a blank spot to be filled with another pillow, painting or project? Or do you view it as the gift it is: a breather, a pause, a rest? A place to just be?

Biblical White Space

There are lots of examples of “space” in the Bible. Even the creator of the universe didn’t create everything in one day. He worked and then rested. He gave space between projects, and then created a full rest at the end of the week. Not because God needed a personal day. He already had us in mind, and knew that we would need an example of rest, of margin, of white space in our own life.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me. Psalm 16:6-7a

If we ask him, the Lord will show us where our boundary lines are, because we have to know our boundaries in order to discover that margin or space. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. It’s not about slacking, but about measuring our expectations against reality and seeing if they match up. It examines the load we’re carrying and asks, are we carrying this load like Jesus?

Our Worth and White Space

Earlier this year, God had me camp out in Psalm 37, focusing on the truths of “be still” and “do not fret.” As usual, I had an opportunity the next day and rest of the week to practice those truths and also per usual, the opportunities were not what I was expecting.

My husband, who rarely gets sick, came down with the flu, and our whole week was thrown to the wind. With the fractured scheduled and unexpected time at home, I found myself emotional and unsettled. God quietly whispered this was a perfect time to be still, but I was so frustrated by the lack of momentum in the week and my own lack of motivation, that I felt guilty and projected that onto God and how he must be feeling about me.

Our worth is not based on how much motivation we muster, or how productive we are, but based on the character of Christ which doesn’t ebb and flow. He was reaching out toward us while we were still sinners, and so he is not impressed nor disappointed with our productivity hacks and motivation methods. He loves us for us, and invites us into the words and white spaces of life to experience his presence.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:33-34

His kingdom. His righteousness. Close your eyes and take stock of your life: how are you treating the white space? Are you busy filling in your own kingdom with your own righteousness? Do you have margin to breathe? Or are the words, meetings, and lists crowding you out to the very edges? Are you propelled by an internal ruthless master telling you to produce, create, do and achieve until you are left breathless? To prove your worth by your own productivity?

If that sounds like you, I give you permission to stop a moment and breathe. We are the overscheduled and overworked ones; God isn’t.  We need the space and the words to fully tell the story God is writing through us. Both are beautiful. Both are necessary.

Will you let him work through your words and white spaces?

Tourist in Your Own City: OKC

I’m happy to report that Hanni Staycation 2017 was a success! After researching the OKC districts (plus making a list of fun favorites we haven’t done in a while) we mapped out several things to do and new restaurants to try as we played tourist in Oklahoma City.Tourist in Your Own City: OKC

Staycation Overview

Pros:

  • Save on lodging and airfare
  • Save on petsitting, babysitting (if applicable)
  • Still enjoy a change of pace
  • Still enjoy focused time with family

Cons:

  • Still have pet duties (we didn’t get to sleep in)
  • Which in turn limited how long we could be gone
  • Weather (the heat altered our activities)

Staycation Food

  • Torchy’s Tacos (Kurtis’ first time)
  • Gabriella’s (Samantha’s first time)
  • West
  • Mutt’s Hotdogs
  • Hall’s Pizza Kitchen

By far our favorite restaurant was West! Located next to the Hideaway, West’s tagline is “comfort food with a twist,” and they delivered on that. Tourist in Your Own City: OKC

The zucca chips are a must if you go (our stoic waiter called them ‘strangely addicting’ and he was strangely correct), and Kurtis’ choice of chicken fried beef tenderloin has been on my mind ever since last week. Best thing I’ve put in my mouth in a long time. *Bonus: They bring out complimentary cotton candy with your check!* We also randomly saw Frank and Cathy Keating there, so I guess we can also check “celebrity sighting” off our staycation list as well. Tourist in Your Own City: OKC

Staycation Activities

  • Rafting and kayaking at OKC Riversport
  • Cowboy Hall of Fame
  • OKC Bombing Museum
  • Chisholm Trail Museum
  • Territorial Museum
  • OKC Museum of Art
  • Shopping, movies, and house projects!

Our favorite activities was the rafting day, and our trips to the Cowboy Hall of Fame and the bombing museum. Some things to keep in mind when planning your activities:

  • Many museums and coffee shops are closed on Mondays. Plan accordingly!
  • Check any equipment you may need ahead of time. For example, we spent way too much time on Monday scouring stores for water shoes.
  • The weather. I’m a little bummed we couldn’t have done our staycation this week, because the weather is SO MUCH COOLER. We had the zoo, golfing, and biking on our list, but by Tuesday, we had nixed those items completely because the heat last week was offensive and inappropriate. Plus I’m married to Kurtis Hanni, who can start sweating on the walk from the car to the house. It’s a big deal. Cooler weather can give you lots more options, so I’d love to do a staycation in the fall. A staycation in Oklahoma in the spring might turn into DIY Storm Chasing….so no thanks.
Cowboy Hall of Fame

The bombing museum sets a high standard for all other museum experiences. We spent 2.5 hours there and could’ve spent even more time. If you haven’t been before, be aware that it’s somber and emotional, and graphic photos and footage are visible throughout the museum. (Something to consider if touring with little ones). 

We visited the Chisholm Trail Museum in Kingfisher and the Territorial Museum in Guthrie the day after the bombing museum.

Adjust your expectations.

While we still learned some new things, the museum in Kingfisher was more like looking through Kingfisher’s attic…or garage. You can find some treasures, but there’s not much thought or narrative to how it’s laid out. And it’s hot and smells old. You do get to see some relics that were brought along on the famous cattle drives, and get a good history of the trail as well as history on the town of Kingfisher itself.

How’s this for perspective? Old switchboard. iPhone.

We hit up the Territorial Museum where we were asked, “1 adult and 1 child?” for admission.

Um, no. Two adults please.

In retrospect, we should’ve just said yes and rolled with it. However, I was too bumfuzzled trying to figure out who, between the two of us, looked like a child.

Anyway. The Territorial Museum was more put together than the Chisholm Trail museum. We also took a quick peek in the Carnegie Library (which was beautiful and amazing and I want to live there) but only a quick peek because no AC (scratch that, don’t want to live there.)

And since we were in Guthrie, I wanted to hit up Hoboken but alas the clock read 3:05.

Darn you coffee shops and your “special” hours.

One of the last trips we made was the Museum of Art in OKC. (I know, ANOTHER museum. However it was 200 degrees outside that whole week. Museums set their AC at about 60 degrees.)Our favorite exhibit were the Dale Chihuly glass pieces. Exciting to finally see some pieces in person that I’ve only seen in pictures or in commercials!We also took a peek on the terrace and were rewarded with a beautiful view of the city we love so much. Would love to go back during cooler weather.

But as always, my favorite part was finally getting some uninterrupted, non-construction time with my favorite guy. We lingered long over lunches and dinner, talking about what was on our hearts, talking about everything from minimalism, geography, to of course house stuff. It did us good.

What about you? Have you done a staycation before? What are the musts and misses of OKC? Leave them in the comments below!