Earmuffs.

This is your typical webcam picture minus four inches of hair.

This is your not-so-typical webcam photo, plus earmuffs that are rather hard to keep on.

This is what happens when I don’t hang on to those puppies… they become cheek muffs.

These earmuffs have a story that does not include being worn outside.  For one thing, they don’t stay on my head very well – I’d have to clamp them to my ears with my hands to make them do their job correctly.  So, I’ll tell you their tale:

A couple years ago, my dear sister – in a valiant effort to be creative with Christmas presents – gave me a lovely pair of white gloves and white earmuffs (pictured above).  As any good sister does, I exclaimed with delight when I opened them.  (I really was delighted, but it was a little shocking at the same time.)

You can picture me holding a beautifully wrapped box, shaking it and saying, “ooh, I wonder what’s in here” as I peel the paper off.  Then, as I move the tissue paper, “ahh, it’s….  Earmuffs?!”

Thanks, Brooke, they’re adorable!

(and they are.)

Brooke was shopping for my personality.  I love earmuffs.  When I was younger, I had a pair of bright blue earmuffs (who am I kidding, I still have them and wear them when I go sledding).  They were headband-style, and I wore them to my figure skating lessons.  At that point in my life, as I had just about zero percent body fat, they were necessary in the  ice rink.  When I got older, I got a pair of bright pink earmuffs, the kind that go around the back of your neck, that took the place of the blue earmuffs.  They were on the slightly more classy side – can you really say that earmuffs are classy? – and didn’t stick out from my head as blatantly as the other pair, so I switched.

So you see that Brooke is totally redeemed in her gift choice.  I’m an earmuff girl, and those are cute earmuffs.  I’m also not that practical – at least not in the trivial things.  So, they seem to be the ideal gift.

About once a year, when we clean out our shoe closet, the puffy, white earmuffs make a cameo appearance.  I put them on for the duration of the cleaning.  While we decide what stays and what goes, those earmuffs stay on my head (not without quite a bit of help, but they stay).  They remind me that my sister knows me well, that she considers me appreciative of the more silly and fun things in life, that she wants me to keep my ears warm during our cold Minnesota winters, and that she loves me.

They’re also reminding me, as I start to decide what to give all the people on my list this Christmas, that it’s not always the usefulness of the gift that makes it meaningful.  Granted, sometimes it definitely is.  Sometimes you have to give practical gifts, like kitchen supplies and clothing’s – and they are well-appreciated.  But, it really is the thought counts.  When Brooke was shopping, she was thinking of me.  She never would have picked up those earmuffs otherwise.  And I hang on to them because of all the warm fuzzies they give me, knowing that Brooke loves me.

As I type this, the first snowflakes of the season are falling outside, and I’m listening to some of the best worship music ever written.  If you have not listened to Hillsong United before, make yourself a playlist of every single song they have ever recorded on Spotify, because they are so full of God.  Last night, my girlfriends and I spent the best two hours of the year (or maybe even our lives) worshipping with them.  They didn’t banter like normal bands do, didn’t make jokes about how cold Minnesota is, like artists usually do.  They just magnified God’s name and lead us in worship.  Experiences like that are my favorites, but at the same, they frustrate me, because words fail me when I try to describe them.  My Bible teacher described that as “Spirit-taught” words.  Like when you have to say, “I don’t have words for it!”, only people who have had similar experiences, being molded by the Holy Spirit will be able to understand it.  There were some really precious moments, standing next to some of the best friends I have on this earth and lifting our hands in worship.

Jesus bonds people together in ways that nothing else can.

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