Greats of '08

“LOOK!!  It’s a Happy Christmas Treeeeee!!!” 

Two-year-old Samuel cannot get enough of the lights and decorations…his long-term memory hasn’t quite kicked in yet, so he feels like he’s seeing it all for the first time.  So here we are already at the 6th of December, and I’m writing this while waiting for a bunch of photos to upload to the site I use to make Christmas goodies for grandparents…you know those great calendars and books and mugs you can make nowadays, which grandparents ADORE, especially if they don’t live nearby.  One year I skipped it, because I thought perhaps they were bored with it.  Big mistake…Grandma was quite disappointed. 

So I thought it would be an appropriate time to talk about Favorite Things, since we’re all thinking about gift-giving at this time of the year.  I, for one, LOVE to get good recommendations for pretty much anything. (Although admittedly, my most favorite thing lately has been taking stuff to Goodwill.)

So here are a few things I really enjoyed in 2008.  These I can recommend for giving to your loved ones…or yourself (if you’re the type to slip a little something under the tree for yourself from “Santa”—yeah, you know who you are).

BOOKS:

Great With Child (Beth Ann Fennelly)—this is for the mothers in your life…one of the most beautiful things I’ve read in the last 10 years…I laughed, I cried, I stalked her.  Note: not for the ultra-conservative reader, perhaps, because of occasional language and candidness which some may find offensive.

Reason For God (Tim Keller)—this is for the spiritual skeptics in your life OR for people of faith who would appreciate a deeper and broader understanding of why Christianity makes sense…and why some people think it doesn’t.  LOVE THIS BOOK.

At the Crossroads (Charlie Peacock)—a history of “Christian music” and discussion of what it means to be an artist and a follower of Jesus…a VERY important read for music-makers and listeners alike.

Beyond the Cosmos(Hugh Ross)—Okay, I admit I haven’t finished this one yet, but it’s only because I’m not naturally a science-minded person, so I have to take small bites.  But it’s sooooo fascinating!  He’s talking about recent scientific discoveries and how they impact our understanding of God.

Real Love for Real Life (Andi Ashworth)—a discussion on the necessity, beauty and artistry of caregiving, on living in community and loving people well.  Great read for all of us, but especially a good gift for the people in your life who have a heart for hospitality and caregiving.  I’m loving this right now.

Peacemaking for Families or The Peacemaker (Ken Sande)—okay, this may not be a fun read, per se, but man is it eye-opening.  I gave the Families version to all my siblings and my parents one year because it is so radical and helpful and needed.  We all deal with conflict every single day in one form or another…we must learn to resolve it in a right & good way.  I promise you will be surprised by how much you didn’t know about what it means to live at peace with other people.

MUSIC

*I have bought and love a lot more music than what I’ll list below, but these have been some of the most played on my list and the ones that have broad appeal.

Sara Groves—Any album, but she does have a new Christmas project out.  (if you love conversational, relatable, story-lyrics and organic, piano-based music & production)

City on a Hill Christmas—(Simply great Christmas music…the only one my husband will let me play year-round)

Brandi Carlile—The Story (guitar folk/rock…beautiful way with words and moving melodies)

Jack Johnson—Any album, but my first love is still In Between Dreams (feel-good, acoustic, melodic music for anytime)

John Foreman—Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter EPs (lead singer for Switchfoot does his own thing, very mellow, very creative)

Katie Herzig—Apple Tree (up-and-coming singer/songwriter, strong lyrics, clever & perky melodies, unique vocal style)

Others worth checking out:  Leeland, Amy McDonald, Regina Spektor, Feist, Lykke Li, Josh Ritter, Cat Power, She & Him

MISCELLANEOUS:

Nightlight Turtle (great gift for preschoolers)

Anything from Museum Tour or Mindware (online retail)

Tiger & Tom Stories for Boys (“moral tales” that my kids LOVE to listen to)

Handmade beaded jewelry from Jinja Fair Trade—profits are returned to charitable organizations in artisans’ countries (www.jinjafairtrade.com)

Compost Bin…never thought I’d put that on a faves list, but there you go.  Love it.

Skin Care Products from Arbonne—very natural, very wonderful.

AND okay, I have to mention that another way to say “I love you” or “I really like you a lot” this Christmas would be to give someone a copy of A Rogers/Wells Project: so much to tell you OR my Christmas EP Before the Tree Comes Down.  You can click the buttons on the left-hand sidebar to get either one, OR you can use another online music retailer like iTunes to download.  The Christmas EP is only available for download, but you can still gift it to anyone you know who is a music-downloader.  Or you can be retro and make someone a super-rad mix CD that includes some of my music (but don’t be a pirate—Santa doesn’t take kindly to pirates, or so I’ve heard). 

ALL PROCEEDS FROM BEFORE THE TREE COMES DOWN EP BENEFIT ACTIVE-DUTY MILITARY FAMILIES.

Anyway, I now realize most of my Faves list was books and music.  I’m a nerd, it’s true.  The only club I joined in high school was the book club.  

Okay, most of you are like me, read and run, but like I said, I love good recommendations, and I’m sure other readers would love to hear yours.  SO.  If there is something you really enjoyed this year…please—share with the whole class.

love and Peace (with a capital P),

christa