Which Warby Parker’s Would You Choose?

In the last few years my eyesight has taken a bit of a plunge. I attribute it to the fact that I’m now 41 years old. I’ve always heard that it happens after 40, and I guess I’m right on time. I’m way past due for a visit to my eye doctor for new frames, so in order to limp by I ran to the Tar-Jay and bought a few pairs of readers. The more I’ve used them, the more dependent I have become on them. So it’s time to do something a little more permanent.

Enter the frames and the philanthropy of Warby Parker. They are to the eyeglasses industry what Tom’s are to the shoe industry. They believe glasses shouldn’t cost a fortune – so all their glasses are $95 – and they believe that everybody in the world deserves the chance to see – so they give away a pair for every pair they sell. (After helping the eye doctor on a mission trip, I can tell you first-hand how incredible it is to give someone a pair of glasses when they haven’t been able to see. Y’all, there is nothing like it!!) Though they do have a few stores nationwide, they are mainly an online company, so the way it works is that you select five pairs at a time to try on. They ship them to you postage paid, and then you return them postage paid. When you settle on a style you like, you send them your prescription and they send you the glasses you chose.

So here’s the deal. I hate making decisions about glasses. I never really know which ones look the best or even if any of them look good. Can y’all help a sister out? Here are the five frames I chose. Please leave me a comment telling me which ones I should order. Thanks bunches!

These are called FINN:


These are the PRESTONs:


And the NEDWINs:


Next is COLTON:


And finally REECE:


 So what say you? Is there a favorite? Ditch them all and start over? Thanks for the help, friends!

Abraham, Lot, and Lent

You know, inspiration can come from the craziest places. Today I was reading through my Twitter feed while waiting on my little one to finish ballet. A friend of a friend posted that for Lent she was giving one useful item from her home each day. Sort of a purging of clutter. As I have been on the warpath to rid our home of the EXCESS, that sentiment struck a chord with me. As a Southern Baptist, we don’t celebrate Lent, but I have always been impressed with those who have the will-power to give up something they love for 40 days. I decided to see what the Word has to say about the idea of giving up material things.

I found what I was looking for in the very first book of the Bible. In Genesis 13:5-7 God says this about Abraham and his nephew Lot and their STUFF:

5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s.

At this point in the story, Abraham had heard God’s call to leave his home and travel to a land God would show him. Abraham, amazingly, had agreed because he believed Him to be the One True God. In a land that was polytheistic, it was possible that Abraham had never seen or met anyone who believed in One and Only One God. This would have been a foreign concept to him. From infancy he would have been taught to sacrifice to the sun god, the moon god, the fertility god, the harvest god, this-that-and-the-other god to gain their favor. The idea of believing in One God, and walking out that faith by leaving home and land and family to go to a land that God would show him? That’s just crazy talk. But believe Him he did, and now all of Christendom knows Jehovah as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Mercy! The difference one person can make in the lives of thousands and millions that come after him.

So Abraham and his nephew Lot are en route to this new home that God has promised. Everything rocks along just fine until THINGS get in the way. POSSESSIONS cause some major issues for the pair. They have attained so much wealth, much of it in the form of livestock, that the land cannot support them both. There simply isn’t enough food growing in the area to feed all of their animals and people. They had to separate. The end of the story is that Lot went one way and Abraham the other. But let’s look at what happens in the messy middle of the story.

Had Abraham and Lot had the grace to separate peacefully, all would not have been lost, but the last part of verse 7 lets us know that that’s not the case. Because of their possessions, quarreling arose between Abraham’s herders and Lot’s. This uncle and nephew, who obviously adored each other enough to begin a new life together, were eventually separated because of arguing and quarreling over THINGS. Their JUNK became a wedge driven between them. Oh, how I wish I could just shout back into history that PEOPLE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN POSSESSIONS!! The relationship between family is of far more worth than the junk we carry around.

Friends, are we naive enough (or blind enough) to think that this story doesn’t happen to each one of us today? I mean, I know that it’s the story of Abraham and Lot, but isn’t it all too often OUR STORY? I know we wouldn’t dare say it out loud, this confessions that we value our things more than relationships. We know that the Sunday school answer has it going the other way.

Except that sometimes our actions belie our beliefs.

And we lose our vision.

And we forget that it is people who go into eternity with us, not what we have stockpiled.

Oh, yes. I DO believe that the notion to give away things which we hold dear is a fantastic way to untie ourselves from our belongings. Unyoking ourselves from materialism? Yes, I think the Father would approve of that. Divorcing ourselves from the chaff to marry ourselves to the wheat? That’s a holy union. One that I willingly enter into.

I want less of STUFF and more of HIM. I want to rid my home, my schedule, my life of the clutter which causes nothing but distraction and busy-ness, so that I can have room for more of JESUS.


More LOVE.

More of HIM.

Global Impact Celebration Kickoff With David Platt

Each year our church hosts a huge event to honor missionaries from across the US and around the world. We fly them all in to Birmingham, put them up i host homes, and dote on them all week. They provide us with a list of items they need for their ministry, and even some personal needs, and we do our best to blow them away with what we provide for them. We have a huge kick-off on Wednesday night of the celebration, and it is absolutely one of my favorite days of the year!

The missionaries set up booths so that our church members can go around and talk with them about the people they serve. Our children have the opportunity to meet missionaries from literally all over the world. The missionaries are treated like rock stars while they are here, and it is so good for our children to see that being a missionary is such an honorable vocation. My favorite tradition is how the kids take their GIC prayer books around and get autographs from the missionaries.

After a really fun time of NBA-style introductions of the missionaries, and a time of worship for what God is doing around the world, we always hear from a speaker who is heavily involved in global missions. The aim is to recharge the missionaries for what can be extremely lonely work, and to refuel our church’s commitment to supporting missionaries. This year’s speaker was Dr. David Platt. You might have heard of his book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream which came out last year. In it, he challenges us to take a BIBLICAL look at the issue of surrendering everything to make Christ known to the nations. If you haven’t read it, IT IS A MUST READ. I’m currently working my way through it, and he issues QUITE a call!

Anyhoo, David Platt was our speaker and he was phenomenal! In a nutshell, his sermon was about how Christ, as our Master, Savior, Son of God, and Redeemer, is worthy of our praise. We should have such love for Him and devotion to Him that we worship with reckless abandon. And He is also worthy of the praise from the 4.6 billion people around the world who don’t know Him. If we love Him and agree that He is worthy of the worship of people from all nations, then we will be about the business of sharing Him with them. As I said, it was phenomenal!

Today MA and I attended a luncheon with all of the missionaries. We were privileged to sit with two sets of missionaries, one serving in Spain and one in Birmingham. It was incredible to hear their stories and hear about their daily lives in the areas God has called them to. The family from Birmingham has six children, whom they homeschool, and they are involved in ministry to people leaving jail and re-entering society. It was fun to learn ways we can plug into their ministry. We are always looking for ways we can serve with our girls.

After we ate, the missionary ladies held a panel-type discussion about life on the mission field. They discussed how they were called to missions, funny stories about things they have done, and ways God is moving in their ministry. I loved seeing my girl interact with the missionary children she met last night.

I am so thankful to be able to raise my girls in a church that cares so passionately about reaching the nations for Christ! It is the most important work we can do!

** I wish I could show more pictures of our celebration time last night. Unfortunately, being a missionary in a land that is hostile to Christianity is a harsh reality for many of these missionaries. For that reason, it could be dangerous to them to publish their photos and connect them with Christianity. All the more reason to keep them surrounded in prayer! (The above photo is not a missionary in a secure area. She is Sonya Bumpers with M-Power Ministries, located here in Birmingham. They serve the poor in area code 35222.)

Are We Yoked To Holiness?

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said, ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’

“‘Therefore come out from them and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty. Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1)

Friends, as I read this charge to examine ourselves today, I am struck with a sense of how holy our God is.

And what wretched sinners we are.

He is so pure, so without blemish, so perfectly right in actions and motives, so loving, so just, so unadulterated that we cannot compare. We, because of our sin, because of our impurity, because of our blemishes, because of our un-right-ness in actions and motives, because of our un-lovingness and unlovliness, because of our apathy toward justice, because of our adulterous ways in all things cannot even stand in His presence . We don’t even dare to lift our head to gaze upon Him because we will be consumed.

Hallelujah, we have a Savior who covers us with his sacrifice, becoming sin in our stead, that we might be spotless and without blemish and therefore righteous before the Father. Worthy, even, to be not only in His presence, but to be His child. His heir. Having His Name.

Can I get an amen for that kind of grace?

Now, if that kind of grace has been imparted to us, don’t we at least owe our reverence to the Giver? This passage tells us one way we show our reverence to God… by perfecting holiness. Knowing that we are imperfect, how do we perfect holiness in our own lives? By eliminating those things in our lives that make us unholy. You know the things I’m talking about*:

  • Watching things on TV that we have no business watching.
  • Being overly competitive or self-exalting. Serving God so we can look good.
  • Getting our own way no matter what.
  • Brooding about harsh things you would like to say to someone.
  • Being prone to exaggeration or lying.
  • Patterns of griping or complaining.
  • Saying things that are divisive.
  • Having a lack of respect or being critical of our spiritual leaders.
  • Failure to forgive, even when the guilty party hasn’t asked for forgiveness or even admitted they’ve done anything wrong.
  • Robbing God by failing to tithe.

This perfecting holiness does not save us. We know that. We are saved by faith alone in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. We will never rid ourselves of enough sin to be righteous. That would be salvation by works, and salvation by works is no salvation at all. It certainly is not the Good News that Jesus offers. However, as James tells us, faith without works is dead. We must have works in order to show that our faith is genuine. This perfecting holiness, ridding ourselves of those things which don’t belong in our lives, is a way for our faith and works to line up. We separate ourselves from unholy things, not because it saves us, but because by doing so we show reverence to God (v.1).

I pray that we would all examine our hearts today and choose this day to separate ourselves from those things which we know to be unholy, and yoke ourselves to those things which are holy. Because in doing so, we show reverence to the One who is so worthy of our devotion.

*This list was taken from the Solemn Assembly prayer guide for Shades Mountain Baptist Church found here.

Christmas in List

We’re (almost) back in our regular schedule this morning. It’s sad to see the holidays go, but we like a good routine in this house, so I guess we are ready. Don’t get me wrong, we loved EVERY MINUTE of having our Daddio home with us and were heartbroken to send him back to work this morning, but we are choosing to be thankful that he has a great job to go to so that we can stay home doing our thing.

It’s hard to recount the entire Christmas vacation in one post, but since I like a challenge, I’m going to attempt it. And because I know you don’t have all day to read my ramblings, I give it to you in list form. You’re welcome.

  • Finished school on Friday, just short of our goals for the year. No big deal. We’ll just hit the books a little more diligently in 2011 and knock it out.
  • Had a friend over to make reindeer cupcakes and spend the night. I (big heart) my girls’ sweet little friends. Have I mentioned that before?
  • Did several days worth of Christmas baking and candy-making. I must say, it was one of my best years yet: fudge, peanut brittle, mini red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing, carrot cake muffins.
  • Hours after sending our friend home, MA and I came down with the stomach virus. While no stomach virus is ever fun, this one was particularly brutal. At one point I considered a trip to the ER. Whew! Glad that’s over.
  • The girls had planned to spend a few days in Meridian with their Gran and G, but… see the above bullet.
  • Threw out all the food I had spent days cooking so as not to spread the”love” with our family.
  • Spent two days recovering, and while I was barely strong enough to stay upright, I packed suitcases, gifts, and food for four people to spend five days in Mississippi. Did I mention that this required moving all of our Christmas gifts? Are we crazy?
  • My father-in-law called to say that the bike Santa delivered for our little girlie-girl was in fact a BOYS red dirt bike. Mad rush to replace it on Christmas Eve ensues. My poor father-in-law drew the short straw and had to go to Geoffrey and Wal-Mart to correct the mistake. Did I mention it was Christmas Eve?
  • Finally rolled into Meridian on Christmas Eve night, just in time to miss the Christmas Eve service at church.
  • Unpacked for what seemed like hours while trying to keep the girls awake so that we could do our family Christmas Eve service. Mary Anneliese read from Luke 2 and I read The King’s Christmas List. Our family does this every Christmas Eve, and it’s one of my favorite traditions.
  • After the girls went to bed, we did the mad Christmas Eve dash that parents with small children do.
  • Had a fabulous Christmas morning. Opened gifts at leisure and played with our new toys ALL DAY.
  • The Hill family started arriving and we had a lovely Christmas dinner of charred fried turkey and all the fixings. It really was fabulous, and we all ate way too much.
  • Jonathan woke in the night with the stomach virus.
  • Spent two days nursing him back to health.
  • Packed up all our STUFF and started the trek back to Birmingham.
  • Put away Christmas decorations. Organized closets. Made room for Christmas toys. Gathered Hannah Home donations.
  • Made over Pitter Patter’s room so that she can have a big girl bed. She has stayed in it for two naps and two nights. I can’t believe how smooth the transition was, and she LOVES her new bed. I’m still mortified that she might get up in the night and walk around the house, but so far so good. Unless I’ve slept through it.
  • Dropped MA off at a friend’s house yesterday and haven’t seen her since. She called to stay for dinner. Then she called to spend the night. Then she called to stay for lunch. Fun times!

While reading through this list, I realize that the sickness would be enough to turn a good time sour for some people. This year, since I’m going to focus more on the good and less on the bad, I will choose to see the joy and good times in our holiday. It was a great time with our extended family and friends. And we have reason to celebrate because…

Our King was born.

Top 2010 Posts

2010 was a great year for the Hill Hang-Out. We had lots of new readers this year, and I’m so tickled you all decided to take a peek into our little lives. As you know, this blog is about a little of this and a little of that, and my most-read posts reflect that. I am nothing if not a jumbled mess of unrelated topics. “Eclectic,” I prefer to call it. Judging from the list of Hill Hang-Out posts you read most often, you are an eclectic bunch as well. Maybe that’s why we get along so well. 🙂 Here are your 2010 favorites:

10. Sweet Shot Tuesday

9. Five Favorite Gifts

8. My Mississippi Day

7. Book Review: Jesus Calling For Kids

6. This Little Lady Got A Makeover

5. The Only Thing I’m Committing To Is Being Non-Committal

4. Home Is Where Your Art Is

3. The Decorating Files

2. Old Made New: Thrift Store Finds

1. Hill Preparatory Academy for Girls: Curriculum Choices

Several of these most-read posts were posted on blog linky parties, and many of my readers have come to the Hill Hang-Out from these fun events. Many thanks to Darcy and Emily for sharing their success with others!

Wekend Recap… From LAST Weekend

I love the Christmas season! Honestly, I do! But we move at the speed of light from one activity to the next, which leaves no time for sitting down and writing about those memories while they are actually happening. Since I have two little girls who are a bit under the weather today, which has caused us to stay home from church, I will take advantage of my time and catch up.
Last weekend was actually one of the BEST family weekends we have had in a long time. Because of several family Christmas happenings, both Jonathan’s and my parents were in town, along with Jonathan’s grandparents. Grandma and Papaw Hill are 88 and 90 years old, and have not traveled much over the last few years. However, they got a wild hair and decided to come to Birmingham for the weekend. What a fun surprise it was for us to have them come for a visit! We knew if we were ever going to get them to come back, we better show them a good time while they were here!
On Saturday morning while MA and I were at rehearsal for our church Christmas program, Jonathan took his grandparents for a ride through Birmingham, showing them all of “our” sights. They enjoyed seeing his office, our church, and they took a drive through some neighborhoods where they were blown away with the size of the houses! 

Saturday afternoon we went to the nursing home to have a Mills family Christmas with my precious grandmother. It was such a joy to be able to gather her family together to spend a great afternoon celebrating with her. Almost all of her grandchildren were able to be there. (We missed my brother’s family who live in Dallas and weren’t able to be there.)

Several of my grandmother’s siblings were able to join us, which she was so excited about. She is very close to her brothers and sisters, and she lights up when they come to visit.

Our rather large family came from all over to be here. My dad’s cousin John and his wife Elaine made the drive from Mentone, Alabama. It has been years since these cousins have gotten together, so it was nice to catch up with them and hear about Mentone. We will definitely be planning to spend some time in this beautiful little community very soon!
But the star of the day was my cousin Danielle’s new baby, Luke. He was born last week, and they stopped by on their way home from the hospital. Don’t worry… she didn’t bring him in to the party. Too risky for a little guy! She stayed in the car and we ran out to take a peek at him. He’s a cutie patootie, for sure!

Saturday night everyone came over to our house for a casual soup buffet dinner. It was one of the easiest dinners EVER, and it was a lot of fun. I prepared all the soups beforehand and warmed them for the party. We had Spicy Tomato Soup, Loaded Potato Soup and Santa Fe Soup. I added a fabulous new Greek Feta Salsa that my sister-in-law passed on to me, garlic bread and banana pudding (also made ahead of time), and I was good to go! I enjoyed getting to visit with everybody instead of being in the kitchen the whole time. We will definitely do that again!
Sunday morning, the Hill family all joined us for church. We weren’t sure how Grandma and Papaw would respond to the more rocking contemporary atmosphere at Shades Mountain since they are accustomed to a much more traditional worship style at FBC Meridian, but we were excited to have them join us. They were good sports, and I think they even enjoyed it!
Sunday afternoon, we all went back to church for our annual Christmas by Candlelight program. This is a HUGE production that our church does every year, and the children’s choir always has a part. Mary Anneliese sang with her choir and also was a part of an ensemble this year.
Once again, I was humbled by the fact the my girls get to be a part of a church that teaches them how to worship with their whole heart. Our music staff does not treat a  performance like this as a “performance”, but rather shows the kiddos that they are leading the audience to the throne of Christ. And they do it while helping them build relationships that will last a lifetime. These girls will one day be each other’s support and accountability to keep their lives clean before Christ. They will inspire and encourage each other to greater heights and depths in Him. Can I tell you how grateful I am for that?

Hope your Christmas festivities are well under way as we celebrate the birth of the King of Kings!

Magnet Nativity

Just a quick post to tell you about a good idea I had. They don’t come around very often, so when I have one I feel the need to report on it! 🙂
The other day the girls and I were in Hobby Lobby looking for some Christmas decorations when I came across this cute little nativity set. They are made out of felt, came in a plastic hanging package, and were in the scrapbooking section. I guess they are supposed to be used to decorate scrapbook pages. They were nice and sturdy, so I got the idea to put magnets on the back of them and hang them on the fridge. I purchased the magnets at Hobby Lobby, too, and I secured them with hot glue. The entire project cost about $2.50, and I love having them on my refrigerator.
Patterson and Mary Anneliese have had the best time with them! I love hearing MA tell her little sister the story of Jesus’ birth. And PattiGirl has been fun to watch as she tries to retell the story. It has been a really sweet way for her to learn the story of our Savior’s birth! And the dialogue between the wise men (as created by my three-year-old) has been priceless!
Peace on Earth!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 
Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgivingand his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 100
As Christians, we have so unbelievably much to be thankful for. GRACE has been defined as God giving us that which we don’t deserve. Because we are dead in sin without the redemption of Christ, we DESERVE nothing from our heavenly Father. Nothing. No protection. No provision. No relationship with Him. No good gifts. Because of our sin, we deserve to be separated from Him, for now and all eternity. But, Hallelujah! He has created us to know Him and know Him intimately. He knew that we would sin and separate ourselves from Him. And so, before the dawn of time, He made a way.
He has always used sacrifice as a covering for sin, even in the days of old. But He knew that we would not be able to follow His law and our sacrifice would never be good enough Never be pure enough. Never cover us enough. And so He made a way. He sent His precious Son, who was perfectly sinless to become sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God. He provided a sacrifice that would not just cover over our sin, but REDEEM it. It is because of that Perfect Sacrifice that we can become
Children of the Most High God.
Heirs of God and Joint-Heirs with Christ.
Is there a way to say “Thank you” for this Grace-Gift from our Father? This provision from our Way-Maker? I don’t know, but I intend to spend a lifetime and an eternity trying. Oh, thank you, my Sweet Father! How I appreciate what You have done for me. You are so worthy of my praise and adoration. I choose to enter your gates with thanksgiving and your courts with praise. Everyday!
May your Thanksgiving be filled with all things good: family, friends, good food, laughter, and joy. But most of all, may we all be thankful for the grace of a Loving Father.

Practicing His Presence

Thank God!
Pray to Him by name!
Tell everyone you meet what He has done!
Sing Him songs, belt out hymns, translate His wonders into music!
Honor His holy name with Hallelujahs, you who seek God.
Live a happy life!
Keep your eyes open for God, watch for His works;
Be alert for signs of His presence.

I love these verses I read this morning from Psalm 105. They deal with being aware of God’s presence with you in your daily routine. He says in His word that He is always with us. Always. That means that He is with us when we sleep and when we rise. When we cook and when we eat. When we do dishes and drive to the office. When we talk on the phone with customers and when we deal with our employees. When we discipline our children and when we read to them. He’s with us when we watch TV and when we run errands. He’s with us. Always.

The question is… how does His being there change us? Do we acknowledge Him or ignore Him? Do we depend on Him or are do we do it all ourselves? Do we acknowledge that things we see were created by Him or do we give someone else His glory? Are we too busy to even notice? Do we give Him Hallelujahs? Do we “translate His wonders into music?” How do we treat His other children? Even when they have done something wrong or aren’t “like” us? DO WE LIVE A HAPPY LIFE? He is still there. He sees it all.

Will you practice His presence with me today?