8 Gifts I Received This Holiday That Didn't Cost A Penny

8 Gifts I Received This Holiday That Didn't Cost A Penny

1. Company of friends and family

Sometimes the best gift is to be surrounded by others, soaking in every moment you have with your loved ones. It doesn't cost a thing to be in the same room as all of your relatives and spend time with them.

2. A full belly

Sure food supplies cost money but a full course meal that took a whole day to be made is priceless. And it's even better when it's shared at a table with the people that you love.

3. Photographs to look back on

As the years go on, and gifts get repeated, you will forget about the socks your great aunt bought you when you were 12; however, you might remeber their bright color in years to come, because of a simple photo that captured the face you made when you unwrapped them. Photographs will always be a priceless joy.

4. Guidance on my future

Relatives are always curious what is going on in your life. Sure it's easy to lie and say, "I'm doing good" when in reality you have no clue what you're doing with your life. For me I like to be completly honest about where I'm at in life, because chances are an aunt, uncle or cousin has been there too at a point, and they are able to give the best advice.


5. Priceless entertainment

Television and Netflix and all that stuff may consume your free time; however, a big family get together can be more entertaining than an episode of "Shameless." Talking about embarrassing things that have happened to you has always been a hilarious conversation at my family get-togethers and always make the night just a little more interesting.

6. Stories to tell my friends

Along with entertainment there's always that one weird uncle who drinks a little more spiked eggnog than nessecary, with this comes great stories to not only put on Snapchat, but to tell your friends and to share at Christmas's in the future.

7. A realization of my priorities

Family has always been an important part of my life; however, at times it's hard to always put them first when school is rough and other things get in the way. Being at home or at your families home with them can truely make you realize what's most important is what's right in front of you. These are the people who care about you the most and who you should show that care back to no matter how hard life gets.

8. Memories I'll never forget

Each year holds its own special story of how what went down and each year holds its own memories. Hold onto these. These are the things you will share with each other the next holiday or moments you share with your future children and grandchildren. Memories are the best gift you may ever receive because you can think of them whenever, without having to worry about where you put them and you can't lose them, and most importantly they are the only gift than can be shared with as many people as you want.

Cover Image Credit: rush country foundation

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Getting Past the Past

Allowing yourself to move on to better things because you deserve it.

Over the past few months, I have dealt with giving up a lot of things that I don't want to let go of. So much so that I let these things absolutley consume me. I have always over analyzed things, so it is really hard for me to get past something that I don't understand. I have prayed and asked God to help me move on from things I have no control over, but I still found myself obsessing over things that I will not ever be able to change. 

In Philip. 3:13-15, Paul says: "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you."

Paul says that the first step in moving forward is forgetting what is behind.

Sometimes our past is filled with some huge hurts and letdowns.  You may have been physically, mentally, or emotionally abused. You may have been the child of divorce or been divorced yourself. You may have made a serious mistake and hurt someone (All too guilty of this). You may have lost a loved one in a tragic accident. You may have been rejected so many times you feel as if you will never be accepted. 

The mind feasts on what it focuses on, and you can figure out what a person is feasting on by just listening to what comes out of their mouths. 

There will always be bad days, bad things will happen, and I will be rejected and hurt many more times in the future. But I have realized that God sent Jesus who loves us constantly and will always stay the same- even through all the bad things that life can bring. God is good at being God, and nothing that we do can change that. 

So I am letting myself let go. I am letting go of things I can't change because there is no future in living in the past. I encourage you to do the same- let it go and let God. 

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Mom, You Are My Happy Place

Here is everything I've ever wanted to say to my cat-obsessed, coffee-loving, one-of-a-kind, beautiful Mom.

I've read articles written about moms from their daughters over the past few years and I've never related to them —at least not by much. As I've gotten older, I've come to realize that this was happening because the relationship between my Mom and me is unique — different from any other I've ever seen or heard of.

Here is everything I've ever wanted to say to my cat-obsessed, coffee-loving, one-of-a-kind, beautiful Mom.

Dear Mom,

Thank you for being the strongest woman I've ever known. You've withstood more hurt in your life than I would ever wish upon my worst. These last two years have been so difficult, exhausting, and grueling —yet here you are, being the most beautiful version of yourself.

And I am so proud of you. I will fight to the end to show this world who you are — the wonderful, sassy, courageous woman you are. The kind of woman and mom I hope to God I can be even half of one day.

Thank you for being my biggest supporter. I've never seen a more avid soccer mom — seriously. The love you have for the sport alone is enough to show. But trying your best to be there for every match, and being heartbroken when you couldn't, means more to me than you know. Knowing my biggest fan was right there supporting me was all I needed.

And being there when I chose a brand new sport, regardless of the cost, warms my heart. Choosing to swim was one of the best choices I've made thus far in life, and I wouldn't have done it without your help. You sat through the long meets, knowing little to nothing about the sport itself, just proud of that little girl in the pool.

Thank you for loving me. I know this one is semi-obvious, but I am more than serious. You stood right by me, holding my hand, when I went through the worst year of my life. You were there to spoon-feed me when I was diagnosed with Cibophobia. You were there through the hundreds of break downs, the frustrating days when I was eating little to no food. You were there for all the therapy appointments, all the days it took me several minutes to swallow a small pill, all the days when I was so lost. You remained calm. You saved me. You loved me regardless.

Thank you for our jokes. When I'm with you, there's a smile on my face, a loud and embarrassing laugh about to break through, and an incredibly warm heart. You bring me so much joy with just your presence alone. I know you can never stay mad at me for long, and although it's rare that you are, I love that I can make you smile and forget all about it. And I love that you can do the same even more.

Thank you for being so beautiful. I get compliments all the time about how much I look like you and there seriously isn't a greater compliment I could receive. When you smile and laugh, you glow. Your olive green eyes that you gave to me light up when I surprise you by coming home without telling. So many features I got from you and I couldn't be happier to be anyone else's look-a-like. You have such a beautiful, courageous heart and that's my favorite part of you.

Thank you for always believing in me. I don't believe in myself often until I hear from you. Your texts throughout the day, the calls I receive, the FaceTime dates we have.... I use these simple gestures as motivation to believe in myself. Because I know you believe in me. There's nothing in this world that would hurt more than disappointing you — and I thank you for instilling that belief in me.

You give me something to fight for. You taught us from a young age that we can do anything we fight hard for, and although the time went too fast, here I am, doing what you taught me to.

You deserve the world and I tell you that often in hopes you'll finally believe it. You are worth more than gold.

You deserve the happiness you are receiving — every bit of it.

Mom, you are my happy place.

Sitting with you in the big maroon chair back at home is my happy place.

Cuddles with you on Sunday morning is my happy place.

Breakfast on the lawn with you is my happy place.

Being wrapped in a big hug from you is my happy place.

This life is my happy place.

Because of you.

"She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible. She walked with the universe on her shoulders and made it look like a pair of wings." — Ariana Dance

Cover Image Credit: Tami Auen

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