The most wonderful time of the year … or the most stressful?


Christmas stockings hung by a crackling fire. A mug of a hot steamy beverage — like hot cocoa or apple cider. Peaceful Christmas carols playing in the background. The cheerful hum of conversation with beloved friends and family. Twinkling lights from an evergreen tree decorated with ornaments spanning the decades. Children’s choirs singing. Goodwill and cheer.

Or frantic shopping for the relative who always disdains whatever you buy. Addressing card after card after card … to friends you only contact once a year with exchanged annual updates and Christmas pictures. Trying to fit in every party. Wrapping gifts incessantly. A higher level of stress and angst.

Which describes this season for you? And is the first paragraph merely an ideal we all hope for but will never obtain? If you live in paragraph two, how can you move to paragraph one? Is it possible?

I had a conversation with a good friend last week, and she told me that she wasn’t doing all of the stress this year. She was going to emphasize what was important, and she’s intentionally spending time going out with friends rather than wandering aimlessly in the mall for hours looking for gifts for people who don’t need anything. Another friend decided with her husband that they weren’t sending Christmas cards this year — and they both felt instant freedom in this. More time freed up to do what’s actually important. I’ve known people who gave generous year-end gifts to charity instead of spending exorbitant amounts of money on gifts to family. (and who needs it more, really? especially this year!)

Now I’m not saying that buying gifts for family and friends or sending out Christmas cards is essentially stressful or moves away from the meaning of the season. I’ve done both — and actually had fun doing it — but I am asking you how you make it the most wonderful time of the year instead of the most dreaded. Ideas? Thoughts? Tell them — for the good of all of us!

what’s new for the Nelsons

Before any of you (especially our family) begin getting excited about any news as big as … say … expecting our first child, let me lower those expectations. We don’t even have a new pet (although I’d love a dog if we lived somewhere that would provide humane living conditions for one). But we did buy our first plant. And we completed our IKEA furniture collection with a buffet.

Have you ever noticed the way that getting one new furniture item quickly escalates to an entire home re-decorating project? Take the buffet as an example. Once we replaced the two bedside tables we’d made a makeshift “sideboard” out of with a real piece of furniture designed for its purpose, the whole room had to be rearranged. With the big sideboard/buffet piece, the pre-existing bookshelf really made the corner look too crowded. But to get rid of the bookshelf required Seth packing up 4-5 more boxes of books. And once the bookshelf was moved, the corner looked too empty. So we moved pictures around and rearranged the lamps. Only to realize that now we needed a plant in that corner.

So last Saturday, off to Home Depot we went to choose a plant. We found the perfect one with a pot we liked a lot. And once we set the plant up in its corner, we noticed that the lamps really look cheap … and now we’re in search of “the perfect lamps.”

Isn’t this life? Economics talks about a law of infinite need/desire. Advertisements and shopping malls play up this desire — elevating it to a “must-have need” when you find the “perfect” dress … which now will need “perfect” shoes to match and jewelry….etc. We as Americans buy into this too often. I’m including myself very much. And I’m wondering what it would really mean to gaze at eternity as the reality I’m living for and to use the “stuff” I’m given for eternal purposes. To better the world rather than build my little kingdom. To give away what I’ve been given instead of hoarding it.

That will require a holy imagination and eyes to see what’s yet unseen. A heart set on worshiping the real but invisible God. Desires kindled by the hope of redemption when Christ returns (a yet unseen reality) instead of by the “latest thing” we “need.” We’re far from seeing the world from this vantage point … but we will continue to seek that Kingdom.

What helps you to store up treasures in heaven rather than on earth?

deciding not to move

We have to renew our lease for August 2007 – August 2008 this Thursday, May 1. (yes, that is a good 3 months before our current lease runs out) We really would like to move so that we could have our “dream apartment” which would consist of (1) two bedrooms (2) a dishwasher and (3) a washer/dryer in our unit.

Forget the American dream — that’s been replaced by the Nelsons’ seminary-days dream.

I (frantically) searched the local newspaper ads and craigslist, and I found two places for us to look at on Saturday. But, alas, neither would work out. One didn’t have a dishwasher (despite what was advertised) and the kitchen was smaller than our current one … and there was less closet space (believe it or not). And the other one looked like it had not been updated in the entire time this landlord owned it (13 years). Granted it had two bedrooms, dishwasher, and washer/dryer … but when you have mismashed cabinets taken from the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, respectively, as well as carpet to “match,” who really cares that it has all the amenities you want?

So we were back to square one. I was reluctant — feeling doomed to another year of the 560 square feet we’ve called home (and office). But as we’ve talked it out and thought and prayed it through, we’re newly convinced that this is a good and right decision for now. And God has truly given peace, even contentment, which defies our disappointment in having to put off the pursuit of the Nelsons’ dream apartment for one more year.

Reasons why we’re (becoming) glad we’re staying:

1. no hassle of moving in the heat of July/August

2. better financial decision (not stretching our already tight budget)

3. convenient location — Bed/Bath & Beyond, Walgreens, Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Target, TJ Maxx, Old Navy, Steinmart … all within a mile!

4. amazing maintenance staff — they even kill apartment mice for us

5. wonderful neighbors that we hope to continue building friendship with

And best of all: it’s COZY (better word than teeny-tiny small) and holds all the memories of our married life thus far.

“new” identity

My best friend, Katherine, and I had a good email exchange this week about who we are now. Since we’ve both gotten married, we really can’t any longer address one another with our familiar-since-high-school nicknames of “KO” and “HD” (our maiden name initials). We realized we have a dilemma … or rather we’ve been through a metamorphosis.

So we made it official that she’s now “KC” and I have chosen to be “hdn.” It’ll take some time to “make it real” but these nicknames now accurately reflect our “new” (as in 6 months for her, 1.5 years for me) identities. One of the reasons I like “hdn” is because of the tie to this blog title “hidden glory.” And now whenever I write it, I will not only be reminded of my married identity as Seth’s wife but also that I am “hdn”/hidden in Christ … as in how Colossians 1:3 describes the identity of Christians (those spiritually “married” to Christ): “…your life is

hidden with Christ in God.”

What an identity! It’s mysterious and beautiful all at the same time. It’s challenging. How many people would look at the way I live my life and describe it as a life where I, Heather Nelson, am hidden and God is revealed through Christ in me? More grace, Lord, more grace, to be who you call us to be and to be who you have made us to be through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. May we be hidden and your glory be revealed.

Katherine & I at her bridesmaids\' luncheon in November

Making the switch

I’m done with my old blog. It will be preserved and archived forever on the world wide web. So if you’d like to check out previous blog entries before today, go to

This will be where I write henceforth …

a sick day

I’m at home sick … but I’m not so sick I can’t do anything. So it’s probably the best kind of sick day. I had a fever last night and a super sore throat, so I decided this morning that it was best to call in sick. To rest instead of pushing it.

I don’t know what I’ll do with my day. Read a few of the books from the always-changing stack on my bedside table (i can’t ever just read one at a time). Catch up on emails, perhaps. Find new friends on facebook. Call about a few new apartments. Officially switch my blog over to wordpress??

Or perhaps have this blog as one where I post various writings more than biographical details. We’ll see…

the beauty of a new blog

Welcome to my updated blog! I’ll have to be honest…the real reason I switched is because I liked the design templates better here at But I just realized that it’s a bit harder to load pictures. Anyone have suggestions for how to best utilize wordpress to do this? It’s not as user-friendly as blogspot…so back to blogspot I go (for tonight at least). []

Ok…so I just figured out how to upload a picture. A bit more complicated, but it may be worth it. Stay tuned…

Here’s a picture of Seth and I from dinner at the William Penn Inn celebrating my graduation with our parents:

Seth and Heather celebrating graduation