Christmas in Cary

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For the first time in 3 years, my sisters and I ventured back to our home town of Cary, Il 60013 for Christmas! We were so so excited to see how things had changed and what it would be like to go back.

It was weird. We went to some of our fav restaurants: Portillos (even though we have them in AZ now!) , Kojaks, and The Tracks. If you’ve never had a burger from The Tracks, then you haven’t lived. So amazing.

It was freezing cold- like 2Ā°….literally. We survived, though! Mom and Dad spoiled us rotten. My dad makes the best breakfasts. I have great memories of waking up to the smell of pancakes and bacon. Mom had every detail perfect- from cute welcome baskets with new PJ’s & treats to Christmas presents that we didn’t even know we wanted. (My mom is the ultimate gift giver.)

It was funny to go back and realize that Cary does have a certain small town charm. I think it’s one of those things where everyone hates where they grow up. So much of my life feels like it’s in Arizona that it sometimes feels like I never lived in Cary.

We spent a day in the city shopping. There is just no other city like Chicago. It’s old & new, normal & spectacular- all at the same time. We grabbed some great bargains.

And then it was time to go home. It was weird for Betsy to head to SD and not home with me & Mag. It was so nice to spend time with the whole family and really special to have a white Christmas.

I’m glad to be back in AZ. I have a great feeling about 2014. Lots of new chapters opening and lots of change at hand- I’m excited.

Here are some bonus pictures:
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The Giving Keys.

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This year, for Christmas, my sister Maggie got all the girls in the family these cool key necklaces. I love keys (and have given them as gifts before!), but these offer a little bit more.

They are from The Giving Keys. This company employs homeless people that engrave and assemble the necklaces (and other cool accessories- like rings and phone cases!).

Caitlin Crosby, the founder, started the company with the idea that “in a way we are all like these keys — unique, flawed, scarred, and at risk of being discarded.” I love that.

The other catch with The Giving Keys <is that when the key has served you well, you are supposed to pay it forward to someone else who needs it.

Mine says "grace." On my drive home, I was thinking about what the word "grace" means. Grace is not sweet or amazing unless we realize our desperate need for it. This is the upside down kingdom: When we realize that we are sinful creatures, full of lust and greed and selfishness- and we put all of that at the feet of The King- then what we get back is overwhelming grace. That is supremely humbling.

I need lots and lots of grace, so I'm sure I'll have my key for quite a while. It's a reminder, tied around my neck, of my need for oceans of grace.

"Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”