12 Normal and Not-So-Normal Lighting Decor Christmas Gift Ideas.
Unique Christmas Gift Ideas

I’m not a big decorator. I don’t have a knack for putting together a cohesive design and I can’t tablescape to save my life. Put me on a committee to cater a meal and I know how to feed people, but unless there’s someone else on the committee who is blessed with the gift of decorating, there will be no tablecloths and the utensils will be in a plastic box next to the buffet line.

When it comes to decorating, I know what I like when I see it and I tend to gravitate to the unusual; stuff you don’t see that often. As a result, I tend to have a very eclectic looking home. One thing I’ve discovered I like is lighting. I have most of the following lighting options in my house right now and the rest of it is on my Amazon Wish List. So, if you are looking for some gift ideas, here’s my list of 12 normal and not-so-normal suggestions to light your home:

Flameless CandleGift IdeaPandaing Large Set of 9 Flameless Candles Battery Operated LED Pillar Real Wax Flickering Electric Candles with Remote Control Cycling 24 Hours Timer – These candles were a great buy – I’m very happy with them! Nine candles with remote and memory timer. Turn them on, set the timer and they run for 2, 4, 6 or 8 hours, then turn themselves off until 24 hours after the time you turned them on. Constant glow or flickering glow, with a dimming option. And the a happy accident/bonus is that the remote for these candles also control the flameless candle set below. That means I can split both sets of candles between the upstairs and downstairs, because I have one remote upstairs and one downstairs.


Flameless Candle Gift IdeaFlameless Candles, Led Candles Set of 9(H 4″ 5″ 6″ 7″ 8″ 9″ xD 2.2″) Ivory Real Wax Battery Candles With Remote Timer by (Batteries not included) – Also controlled with a remote, these work exactly like the set above but are smaller in diameter. Great for grouping together. I have three of different heights on one large candle holder meant for a 5 inch width candle. The three flickering multi-level lights are subtle and pretty. If you click the link to see these on amazon, check the listing for exact measurements for the different sets/options before you buy so you won’t be surprised or disappointed by accidentally ordering the wrong size.



Flameless Votive Candle Gift Idea
Flameless Candles Tea Lights with Remote – Votive LED Tea Light with Timer – Realistic Flickering TeaLights – Fake Candles – Battery Operated Candle 200 Hours – Holiday Decoration 12 Set x 1.8″
– I will never buy flameless votives without a remote again. I don’t use them every day, so I turn them on and off when I need to. Picking each one up individually and manually turning the switch for 12 individual votives gets annoying – and I have three sets of 12 votives. These are great! Solid glow or flickering, a dimming option and a 2,4,6 and 8 hour cycling timer to help save the batteries when I forget to turn them off. And don’t forget extra batteries: LiCB 10 Pack CR2450 Battery 3V Lithium CR 2450


Broadway Dressing Room Lights Gift IdeaLinkable Vanity Mirror Lights, BWL Makeup Mirror Light Bulb, Hollywood Style Dressing Bulb Kit with 10 Cosmetic Dressing Bulb, Makeup Vanity Light Kit, Dimmable lighting, Strip Vanity Set for Dressing – Bought these for my daughter’s room to frame the mirror mounted on the wall in front of her vanity. She loves them! Simple on/off or dimming function. Easy to install.



Salt Lamp Gift IdeaCrystal Allies Gallery: CA SLS-PILLAR-14cm Natural Himalayan Pillar Salt Lamp on Wood Base with Cord, Light Bulb & Authentic Crystal Allies Info Card – This immediately reminded me of the stones from the movie, The Fifth Element and although I felt like I should buy four, I only had a place to put two. Put them both on a timer because I figured I would forget to turn them on. Maximizes the light bulbs life too ($9.99): 15A/1800W 7-Day Programmable Timer Outlet, Plug-in Wall LCD Digital Electrical Timer Switch with 3-prong Outlet, UL Listed


Christmas Story Leg Lamp Gift IdeaA Christmas Story 20 inch Leg Lamp Prop Replica by NECA – I actually have this lamp. My daughter gave it to me for Christmas a number of years ago. Some might assume it’s a Christmas decoration, displayed for a month and put away for the rest of the year. Nope. It’s on a bookshelf in my bedroom, year round. Right in front of a window.



LED TV Backlight, Maylit 2M/6.56ft RGB Neon Accent LED Lights Strips for 40 to 60 in HDTV Neon Light Bias Lighting with Remote, USB LED Strips TV Backlight – Nice, peaceful ambience with easy installation and for very little cost.



Cinema Light Box,Delicacy A4 Size Cinematic Light Box Light Up LED Letter Box with Total 189 Characters and Colorful Symbols(104 Letters and 85 Symbols)Fun or functional. Motivational quotes, retail notices, fun messages you can change seasonally or for special occasions.



SEEOU 20 LED Wine Bottle Lights with Cork, 10 Pack 3.3ft/1m Craft Cork Copper Wire Starry Fairy Lights, Battery Operated String Lights for DIY Events Party Wedding Christmas Halloween (Cool White) – I had previously purchased a bottle light, but the design was different – a single bulb in the bottom of a cork-like case. It worked, but the light was SOOO dim. THIS design looks even better!



Star Wars Death Star Lamp Gift IdeaMeiTuKanKan 3257 the Force Awakens Multi-Colored Table Lamp 3D Death Star Bulbing Light for Star Wars Fans

Bought these Star Wars lamps for my son two years ago and they are still going strong! Color changing, timer feature, remote controls. EXCELLENT! Powered with USB chargers. (we had to buy longer USB cables because he wanted to put them on a high shelf.)


Millennium Falcon Lamp Gift IdeaMulti-colored 3D Millennnium Falcon Light Star Wars Wood Mood Lamp Lighting




Uncle Milton Star Wars Deluxe Lightsaber Room Light – 8 Different Blade Handheld Remote – I saved the best for last. This has been in my son’s room for years and is still going strong. Great ambient light! It does time out, which some people hate, but I think that’s why its lasted so long! I’m sure we would forget to turn it off.


(Disclosure: The links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through them to make a purchase.)

When Words and Actions Conflict, Actions Carry the Stronger Message
are you duplicitous?

Do you have a friend who you KNOW differs from you with regard to faith, politics, relationships, social issues, etc?

Is there a difference in how you relate to them one-on-one and how you express your opinion of the cultural sub-groups they fit into?

Do you have a Christian friend and mock Christians as uneducated sheep?

Do you have a liberal or conservative friend who you personally interact with respectfully but then post content that could be viewed by them as arrogant condescension?

Do you post divisive and mocking “us” vs. “them” memes and gifs about the group your friend is affiliated with?

Those friends are not stupid and they don’t live under a rock. They see your posts. They hear what you say. And when you talk to them in real life, they know what you REALLY think about them.

They know you are duplicitous.

(unless you’ve blocked them because YOU ALREADY KNOW you are duplicitous)

Look at the content you post, from the other person’s point of view.
Listen to what you say, from the other person’s perspective.

Often, we have the ability to recognize content that might be viewed as an attack on others who differ from us. If you know it crosses that line, DON’T post it. DON’T say it.

Not sure? If you genuinely care about this other person, be brave. ASK them if they’ve seen or heard anything you posted or said that contradicted the respect you express toward them in person.

Maybe they’ll tell you the truth.

or maybe, they will protect themselves by remaining silent because they know they can’t trust you.

I’ve written about this before, with examples, in my posts entitled:
duplicity. duplicity everywhere” and
People talking without speaking. People hearing without listening

the unintentional message behind accepting the status quo.

Check it out.
Such a cute video.
A great example of optimism.
But another thought nags at me.
Scroll below the video if you care to explore that thought with me.

Sure. He’s the “GREATEST CATCHER in the WORLD!”

But that’s not what he wanted. He wanted to be the “GREATEST HITTER in the WORLD!”

But after THREE tries. T H R E E.

all by himself.
with no coach.
no instruction.
no advice.
no developmental feedback (constructive criticism)
no hard work.
no practice.

He GAVE UP his self-proclaimed dream.

and settled for what he was ALREADY good at.

(theoretically. At that moment, he has zero competition. “Greatest Catcher” status remains to be seen until he’s on the receiving end of an average pitcher’s fast ball.)

Does all that sound mean? pessimistic?

If the goal is to make him feel better, then yes. I suppose it is.

BUT. If the goal is to help him GET better, then how is cheering for him when he abandons his dream a good thing? How is cheering for him in this situation NOT encouraging him to give up instead of asking for help and working toward fulfilling his dream?

Seriously. Everything I do well, I probably sucked at in the beginning.

I serve as a career coach and one way I do that is to volunteer with a 12 week program that helps the unemployed and underemployed find, obtain and keep a family sustaining career. As you might expect, the people who apply to this program are looking for a better job. They’re looking for a career inSTEAD of a job.

But even more foundational than that, they are looking for CHANGE. They want a better life. A more stable income. Security. Self-confidence. Hope. Encouragement. Inspiration. They are sick and tired of the status quo and they are at a place in their life when they are ready to do something about it. Without exception, every single person who applies is, by the act of applying, asking for help. When they are accepted into the program, they themselves are agreeing to accept help.

So what happens when the coach they’ve been matched with or another student in their group hears their story and reacts by assuring them they are “fine” just the way they are and they don’t need to change a thing. They are ENOUGH.

If you are looking for change and you are being assured you don’t need to change because “you are enough” just the way you are, what does that mean? What does that do to your motivation? If your choices – by natural consequence – have led you to where you are in life and you are not happy with where you are, is hearing “you are fine just the way you are – don’t let anyone tell you that you need to change” really helpful?

Is it kind?

Is it true?

I find myself thinking about the old adage:

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.”


“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
~ Albert Einstein

and one of my personal favorites:

“It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”
~ Winston S. Churchill

In my experience, telling these students – or ANYone seeking change or betterment in any area of their life – that they are fine and enough is counter-productive. If you want to get better at anything, there ARE steps you can take and by the sheer nature of the word CHANGE, those steps HAVE to be different steps than the ones you’ve taken in the past and the steps you are taking now. I’ve written about some ways to approach changing for the better four times in the last few days alone:

1. It Doesn’t Matter if You CAN. It matters if you DO.
2. Want to improve? Give people permission to tell you the truth.
3. Looking for a Qualified Teacher or Credible Mentor? 4 Things to Consider.
4. problem solving and benchmarking.

The hard fact is that if you WANT change, you HAVE TO change.

problem solving and benchmarking.
facing a problem? search for what's been done before.

I’m not that special.

I feel like I’ve written about this before, but when I’m facing a problem, I tend to believe that someone, somewhere, sometime has faced either my exact same problem or one very similar to it. And that at least one person who has faced and solved this problem – or at least figured out a workaround or a compromise – has written about it (or posted a video about it on youtube).

My first instinct is to search for what they wrote to benchmark best possible solutions.

More often than not, I find some information that helps me. Sometimes in a book, in an article, buried in a comment thread or even on a pinterest board or youtube, I’ve found solutions – or at least ideas – that have helped me in countless situations, from how to change my specific computer’s laptop screen to how to interact with a narcissist to how to have a crucial conversation to…I did say countless situations.

Most of the time, when I research, I get one of four results:

1. I find the exact best solution to my problem.

2. I find a solution that doesn’t quite work for me, but I can modify it a bit to solve my problem.

3. I find a solution that doesn’t work for me at all, but it sparks an idea for something I hadn’t considered before.

4. I find out what DOESN’T or won’t work.

By being patient, doing my research, putting forth extra effort and not giving up easily, I’ve saved money, time and even relationships. Often, after learning how someone else approached a problem, I’ve gotten what I needed, gotten what I wanted and again, even gotten confirmation that a particular approach would NOT be a good idea.

I love learning from other people’s successes – and mistakes.


Looking for a Qualified Teacher or Credible Mentor?
4 Things to Consider:

Don't Insulate Yourself from Developmental Feedback (constructive criticism). Be Brave. Seek it out.

Recently, in a post entitled “Want to improve? Give people permission to tell you the truth.”

I wrote:

“As scary as it is, if you REALLY want to improve, seek developmental feedback.

But NOT from just anyone.

Ask people you trust.
Ask people who have experience in your industry or craft – either firsthand or through extensive observation.
Ask people who have no vested interest in the outcome of your decisions…

…Ask for suggestions. Find qualified teachers and credible mentors.”

If you’ve decided to be brave and seek out developmental feedback from “qualified teachers and credible mentors” your first step is to:

1. Define “qualified” and “credible” so you can identify those people.

In my experience, “qualified” can be interpreted to mean that someone has a degree or certification or some sort of credential they’ve earned through a structured educational or training program. But much too often, that degree or certification represents completion in that program and not necessarily COMPETENCE. I’ve personally gotten more than a few clients because the “credentialed” person couldn’t actually DO the work.

(Sometimes a certification is necessary to meet eligibility requirements, but I stopped getting certifications to enhance my credibility a few decades ago when I recognized that, in many cases, anyone could become certified if they paid for it. I chose instead to diligently pursue competence, strive for excellence, demonstrate a strong work ethic and genuinely care about the needs and success of my clients, which resulted in a solid reputation and a client base built by referrals.)

So, if a credential isn’t a dependable measure of qualified or credible, then what should you look for in a mentor?

Someone who is doing what you want to learn to do – and is doing it well.

These are the people you want to emulate. Research their credentials, find out where they obtained their education and training and who their teachers were. Check out their websites, their Linkedin and any other social media presence they may have. Look for articles they’ve written or interviews they’ve given. If you discover they’ve quoted a book, read it. What they’ve done and experienced has helped them get to where they are today and there’s value in that information. After you’ve learned all you can about them on your own, consider reaching out to them personally.

2. In a career search, one way to find good advice would be through something called an Informational Interview.

An informational interview is different than a job interview in that there’s no specific job opportunity available. Rather, the conversation centers around learning about a particular field or career or even a company, so the interviewer can gain a better understanding of best practices and potential pitfalls. Usually, the interviewer comes away from an informational interview with some solid advice from someone who is or has been where they want to go. Approaching someone to interview can be scary, but you would be surprised at how often a complete stranger is willing to give you a few minutes of their time to give you insight into their chosen profession and tell you about their journey.

For more information about how to prepare and conduct an informational interview, check out What Color Is Your Parachute? 2019: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers by Richard N. Bolles.

3. Identify good teachers by identifying their students.

Finding a good teacher can be tricky. Forget about advertisements. They are often written by someone about themselves and who would ever say anything negative about themselves when they are advertising their own services? Instead, seek out (a) word of mouth referrals, (b) search for social media comments and reviews by their clients (and former clients) and most importantly (c) look at their students, especially long-time students. You would never intentionally get a haircut from someone if you knew all their clients had terrible haircuts. The same mentality applies when it comes to evaluating a teacher.

For instance, I’ve taken voice lessons on and off for decades. I found my current vocal coach because I heard someone sing and thought “Wow! I want to learn to do THAT!” I was drawn to excellence in a student’s performance and I wanted to know who their teacher was – I NEEDED to know who their teacher was.

If you are considering a teacher and none of their students are doing what you want to learn and doing it well, it could be that none of their students are talented or teachable, but the odds of that are slim. If you can’t find a single student of theirs who is demonstrating excellence, or at least growth, my personal advice is to find another teacher. If you still decide you want to work with them, don’t commit to a long-term student/teacher relationship with them immediately. A few lessons or classes during a trial period should tell you whether you are a good fit.

A Caveat:

If your teacher only ever gives you positive feedback, don’t settle for it. Compliments may make you FEEL better, but it won’t help you GET better. After all, if you were perfect, you wouldn’t need their help. Ask them directly to TELL you what weaknesses they see you struggle with and what you need to work on.


Finally, if your teacher runs out of developmental feedback (constructive criticism), YOU’VE OUTGROWN THEM. It’s time to move on and find another teacher who will challenge you.

Memo to Me: Listen more than you talk.

Memo to Me: Listen more than you talk.

Memo to Me: Listen more than you talk.Remember:

You can learn a lot about and from others.

What they think…
How they feel…
Something they’ve learned…
maybe even what they worry about or struggle with…

when you listen more than you talk.
when you ask questions.
when you let them get a word in edgewise.

If your goal is to #LoveGodLoveOthers, the first step is to pray. Then shut up and LISTEN..

To God and to others.

Ask God to help you see people and circumstances from His perspective

      instead of from your own limited and skewed point of view.

Ask God to help you pay attention to the people He brings into or allows in your day

      instead of blowing through your moments, oblivious to everything
      but your own thoughts
      and to-do list.

Ask God to help you pause…and really listen

      instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next.

Ask God to bless you with wisdom – and empathy – to understand

      instead of trying to navigate and process conversations
      on your own.

Memo to Me: Listen more than you talk.

Want to improve? Give people permission to tell you the truth.
(And don’t punish them for it)

Give the people you trust permission to tell you the truth

Do you want to improve?

To get better at what you do?

If the only feedback you are receiving about the

work you are doing…
the risks you are taking…
the things you are creating…

is positive, consider that for a minute.

Is that what you want? Is that what you need?

How do you tell the difference between someone who’s being nice
and someone who’s telling the truth?

If you NEVER hear negative – or even neutral – feedback how do you know what you need to improve?

If you’ve been the victim of 100% positive feedback…
If you are a member of a group of people pleasing back patters…
If you ask counterfeit questions, like “Wasn’t that GREAT?!” when you ask someone for their opinion…

Consider the possibility that you have a subjective and unrealistic opinion of your finished product – whatever it is.

Consider the statistical improbability that you are doing everything so well what there’s absolutely no room for improvement.

As scary as it is, if you REALLY want to improve, seek developmental feedback.

But NOT from just anyone.

Ask people you trust.
Ask people who have experience in your industry or craft – either firsthand or through extensive observation.
Ask people who have no vested interest in the outcome of your decisions.

If they believe you are sincere in the asking…
If they have the courage to tell you the truth…

and the feedback isn’t 100% affirmation and praise,


DON’T argue.
DON’T shut down.
DON’T assume they are wrong.
DON’T dismiss them as a credible resource.
DON’T dismiss the feedback.

Consider. Search their words for all possible truth. If you’re really brave, seek out a second opinion – again – giving them permission to tell you the truth.

Ask for suggestions. Find qualified teachers and credible mentors. Set realistic long and short-term goals for improvement. Work toward them. Consistently.

Improvement is rarely easy. But in the end, the hard is what makes it great.

09/2018 baseline fitness measurement.
indo board, forearm plank and wall squat.

I turned 54 three days ago – another birthday without consistent daily fitness, so I thought I’d find out how far I’ve regressed by taking an indo board lunch break and videotaping it (below).

It had been a few months since I’d been on it. Pretty easy up. Then I needed to find out how long I could STAY up.

While reading. (Not kidding – if I look down, I lose my balance. And reading keeps me from getting bored. results posted below the video)

#GoodStewardofthisBody #fitnessaccountability

First Try:
7 minutes up – serious regression. try again.
4 minutes up – now I was ticked off. try again.
10 minutes up – drifted the board into furniture. try again.
16.25 minutes up – meh. try again LATER.
21 minutes up – acceptable. for now.

of course, then I had to find out:
my current forearm plank time (90 seconds) and
my current wall squat time (1 minute) #iIHATEWallSquats

I need to keep this up.

Did I mention that #iHATEwallsquats?

follow my fitness log HERE

satan hates potential.
if you've got it, he's going to try and sabotage you.

Memo to me: Satan hates potential.

If you find yourself under spiritual attack or facing problems that derail or discourage you from following God’s will and direction for your life, remember two things:

(1) Satan has no need to attack someone who’s not following God. They’re already where he wants them. Comfortably ineffective and stagnant in their faith.

(2) if you have entered into a relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives IN you and you are equipped by His power.

I’m praying for strength and determination and perseverance and encouragement today. And if you’re reading this, I’m praying the same for you.

(book quote from “the Necessity of an Enemy” by Ron Carpenter Jr.)

my wish for you.

54. today. Little introspective, gotta admit. With all the birthday wishes, combined with the fact that today is the closing show of my daughter’s most professional role to date, I told her, “I wish so many good things for every person in the cast. SO many good things.” and I realized, I wish that for you too. No matter our relationship or how long it’s been since we’ve spoken, I wish GOOD, GOOD things for you. And I found myself thinking of this video I made a few years ago.

I wish you an ABUNDANT LIFE. And I pray you know – or come to know – in the deepest, profoundest way, God LOVES you – I mean jealously, unconditionally, holding nothing back LOVES you – NO. MATTER. WHAT. you’ve done or said or think or…He LOVES. Unlike some of his children who may have hurt you. So. My birthday wish? I wish GOOD things for you.

If you don’t feel like watching, here’s the gist of the video:

Looking back over my life, I gotta say. I’m thankful I haven’t always gotten what would make me “happy.” In some cases, that immediate and temporal happiness would have been a dead end. Because – for me – the disappointment, heartbreak or discontent that’s resulted from turned backs, closed doors and unfulfilled dreams has often been the foundation of motivation and inspiration to look beyond the dream I had for myself and discover God had something greater in mind, and His “greater” hasn’t always been wrapped in a big bow of happiness. Sometimes, in the middle of disappointment, it’s hard to remember is that rejection is redirection, that God is sovereign, that He loves me more than I do and that He has promised to work all things together for good. He’s promised to transform me – to help me see people and circumstances from HIS infinite perspective rather than from my own skewed and limited vantage point, where I am the center of me.

So, my 54 year old birthday wish for you?

Don’t settle for what makes you happy.

Instead, relentlessly pursue your next best step, even if you can’t see where the path you are on ends.

If you are a man or women of faith, pray.

Dig into God’s word – learn what the words originally meant before you apply subjective meaning to your life and circumstance.

Find wise counsel – other men and women of faith – and hold each other accountable.

If you love Jesus, then when you look for your “purpose” in life, remember, smack in the trenches of whatever circumstance, relationship, vocation or ministry, your purpose is to:

Love God. Love Others. Make Disciples.

#seepeople #edify because everybody is #justadifferentkindofbroken

“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
C.S. Lewis