Friday, December 13, 2013

Deck the Halls... {With Delightful Decor}

Good Evening, Everyone!
Merry Christmas!
This weekend I will be rushing around like a mad woman
due to my church Christmas Program. 
I anticipated the craziness and took today and next Monday off from work.
I had quite a few things to do today,
but I also wanted to work some more on my Christmas decorations.

Well...I succeeded! :)
What do you think?

I guess in a way I consider this shelf my "mantle".
And the decorating ideas I get for it
usually come from someone else's mantle.
This Christmas theme is no exception!
The Rainbow Forest comes from Mr. Michael Wurm.
You should check out his blog:
I don't even know what to say about it.
It's brilliant, charming, bright, get the picture.

I have also been decorating elsewhere in my room and house.

This lantern is definitely one of my favorite decorating pieces!
And I am completely OBSESSED with this ribbon!

Some of my favorite parts of decorating for the Holidays are:
the memories that come attached to the pieces of decor.
Like these two beautiful little people...

My WONDERFUL grandparents gave them to me as a Christmas gift
several years ago and I absolutely treasure them!
I love their vintage feel
and, of course, the fact that they from my grandparents.

What pieces of your decor are of special meaning to you and why?
I would love to hear your stories!

Thank you for viewing!
I pray God's richest blessings upon you and yours this Christmas season.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Children's Book Review {Merry Christmas!}

Glad Tidings of the Season to you all!
I hope this finds you enjoying the Spirit of Christmas
with your family and friends.
If you're anything like me, 
you're rushing around like a chicken with your head cut off
trying to find a few minutes to just sit and enjoy the Season.
My church Christmas Program is coming up this weekend
and my mind is consistently running in about 20 different directions.
But, yesterday, I made up my mind
 that I was going to take a moment or two 
and just enjoy Christmas.

One of my favorite parts of the Holidays 
is reading Christmas storybooks to any children willing to listen.
I also LOVE IT when they read to me!
I currently have a Kindergartener at Thomas Jefferson
who EXCELS at reading!
She has been moved up to an Advanced Reading class
(at least that's what she told me this morning...)
because she reads so well.
And, for the record, that doesn't surprise me one bit!
This is little girl is sharp as a tack! :)
She's one to watch, people!
I'm excited to see what she becomes when she grows up.

Anyway, enough bragging about my kiddos :)...
onto the Book Review!

To start off, we have Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol (picture book edition)
beautifully illustrated by Brett Helquist.
This condensed narrative of the classic story along with the cartoon images 
nicely simplifies Dicken's story in a manner suitable for children.

Secondly, we have another another traditional Christmas tale 
that no Holiday celebration should be without:
Dr. Suess' How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

I don't think I need to say much about this wonderful book...
Dr. Seuss' writing and artwork are amazing 
and the whimsical rhymes of this book can speak for themselves!

Now, I bring you to some lesser known books...
but all worthy of a seasonal reading with your children! :)

Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell
The Legend of the Christmas Stocking by Rick Osborne
Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffmann
For me, if a book has a gripping cover and amazing illustrations, 
I'm going to read it...most likely, more than once.
These three books are three examples of this!

Sixth...I have to give in to my feminine side for a minute...
Would any little princess be satisfied without reading a Girly-girl Christmas story?
Enter Jane O'Connor's Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas
Again, this book's illustrations, as well as the words, make this book what it is:
an adorable story that will bring a smile to a little girl's face!

Next on the list:
The Light of Christmas by Richard Paul Evans.
If the author's name sounds familiar to you...
Richard Paul Evans is the author of many literary works involving Christmas
including The Christmas Box, Finding Noel, and The Gift.
I think it's safe to say that Richard Paul Evans 
is almost as sentimental about Christmas as I am...:).
Just knowing he was the author of this story is what sold me on it.

Eighth, we have The Littlest Tree by Charles Tazewell.
Honestly, I had never heard of this book in my life. 
When I was book shopping on,
it popped up as "something you might like". 
Can I just say, "AGREE!!!!"
Great story about putting others ahead of ourselves...
and, of course, the magic of Christmas.

Ninth, I bring you The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg

I believe I've said this before...
but the illustrations are what often times sell me on a book.
This book tells the history of the beloved Christmas candy
while completely surrounded with bright, colorful images that delight the viewer.

Finally, would any Christmas book collection be completed without
Clement C. Moore's The Night Before Christmas?
And can it get any better than the classic story embedded in Mary Engelbreit's illustrations?

In my opinion, these 10 Christmas Story Books are Must Haves 
for the Christmas season.
Even if you don't have kids of your own
(like in my case...),
FIND a child to read them to!
You won't regret it
and they will love the stories and illustrations included therein.
Who knows? 
You might just make a Christmas tradition
that you'll keep for years...:)

"A Merry Christmas to All! And to all a Good Night!"

Friday, December 6, 2013

Wonderings about the Future {I Wonder?}

Good Morning, Friends and Family!
Season's Greetings to you and yours!
My first semester at Colorado Technical University is almost over.
And to be honest, I'm really proud of myself and my grades.
Count 'em, folks!
2 As and a B!
(I'm expecting an A in my current class as well...
I receive perfect scores on the first seven assignments
so I'd say that an A is within my reach)
Like I said, I'm proud of myself.

But I've started the "wondering" process...
You know, all the second-guessing.
I wonder...
Is this schooling really going to help me achieve my future goals?
Have I FINALLY found my niche?
Will this education be satisfactory in the eyes of future employers?
Will I FINALLY be able to get a job 
that allows me to fully support myself financially?
Will I ever view myself or be viewed as a responsible adult?
Nevermind...skip that last one...
that is WAY TOO MUCH DRAMA to get into right now.

Obviously, I have quite a bit on my mind
and really, I haven't even begun to share the minimum 
of what's going on up there at the moment.
Don't want to completely overload you all at one time.
Sufficed to say, this Roller-Coaster Life is stressful right now.
It's not all bad stress...some of it is simply the stress of the upcoming holiday.
Presents to wrap, decorations to hang, Christmas Program to direct...
that's all GOOD, sometimes FUN stress...
if there is such a thing...

With so much going on, it is easy to get caught up 
in the emotion and stress of it all.
Believe's VERY easy!
But I had a God Moment last night
(while putting up Church Christmas Decorations).
If I'm going to spend my time sitting around wondering...
(well, more accurately, RUNNING around wondering...), 
shouldn't I be wondering about what is truly important?

I wonder...
"Why would God be born in a Stable?"
"Why was He raised by a carpenter? 
Surely there was a person of royalty available somewhere!"
"What was it about the star 
that the Wise Men found so fascinating 
that they gave up their daily lives to travel countless miles?"
"Did Joseph still have some doubts 
about the Child's paternity even after the angel visited him?"
"Did Mary ever look around at her life and wonder, 
'Am I dreaming all of this?'"

I wonder...

The of the Birth of Christ is a WONDER-full TRUE story.
It was a miracle that I CHOOSE to believe in.
To me, it proves that God uses ordinary people and ordinary circumstances
to accomplish the EXTRAORDINARY.

A few years ago for Christmas,
our choir at the Pentecostals of Peoria
sang a very moving and powerful song 
about never losing the sense of awe and majesty of the Christmas Story.

I can honestly say, I haven't lost it.
I haven't "gotten over" the wonder of it all.
And I pray I never do.

I still wonder...
Do you?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thankful Everyday in November {Instagram Diary}

Good Morning, Everyone!
I realize it has been a little while since I have posted,
but to be honest...I am an ABSOLUTE CRAZY person right now
and have had to let somethings go.
I promise I haven't forgotten you and that I won't be gone forever!

That being said, I do want to take a second
and share an Instagram Diary with you.
I haven't done one of these in a while
(in fact, I think the last one was for my birthday March...
you can find that post here.)

I took a "challenge" of being thankful everyday in November.
I added my own spin by making it a photo challenge :)
('Cause you's just what I do...)
The following are the photos I took
and the descriptions I wrote to go along with them.

Day One: Today I'm thankful for Pajama Day...
the kiddos are extra cute and cuddly when they are in their Jammies 
and I needed the cuddles today. :) 

Day Two: Today I am thankful for #starbucks and this girl to share it with :)

 Day Three: Today I am thankful for the knack for
 #photography that God has given me ;) 

 Day Four: Today I'm thankful for all my little loves. 
There are way too many of them for me to list them all! 
They brighten up my day when nothing else does. 
They are always ready and willing to give hugs 
and tell me they love me. 
And I love them with all heart! 
Xoxo, sweet kiddos! 

 Day Five: Today I'm thankful for the #nlcacrusaders 
who taught me how to be tough 
and keep up with the boys in kickball :)

 Day Six: I'm so thankful to be apart of the POP Music Team...
I'm so privileged to learn from 
and sing with these extremely talented people! 
Love you all! #singer

 Day Seven: Today I'm thankful for the Mercies of God 
which are new every morning 

 Day Eight: Today I'm thankful for rough days 
that make you treasure the good days 
and for parents who can admit when their wrong 
and, of course, for Starbucks

 Day Nine: Today I'm thankful for the Dee-Mack Annual Pancake and Sausage Dinner...
enough said. #allyoucaneat

 Day Ten: Today I am thankful for instruction in righteousness. 
I never have to wonder if what I'm hearing 
from the pulpit is from the Word of always is!

 Day Eleven: Today I am thankful for all of the US Service men and women...
and for the beautiful #snow

 Day Twelve: Today I'm #thankful that I've been #redeemed 
and set free and that my heart has been washed white as #snow

 Day Thirteen: Today I'm thankful for the Godly women of POP. 
You mean so much to me and inspire me to give my entire being to His Service. 
I love you, Ladies! 

 Day Fourteen: Today I'm thankful for my cozy, inviting bed. 
This is probably my favorite place in the world. :) #sleeplover

 Day Fifteen: Today I'm thankful for my PHD (#Pentecostal Hair Do) styling abilities...
about which one of my little girls said, 
"You've got #Elvis hair today and you're totally rockin' it!" :) 

 Day Sixteen: Today I'm thankful that #Christmastime is near! :)  

 Day Seventeen: Today I'm thankful for #shelter from the storms of life. 

 Day Eighteen: Today I'm thankful for my job. 
Is it perfect? Do I always love it? Am I getting rich working there? 
No...but it does supply me with the means to pay my bills 
and gives me a reason to get up in the mornings.

Day Nineteen: Today I'm thankful for the living, breathing Word of God. 
I needed a Word today...and I got one :) #aGodmoment

 Day Twenty: Today I'm thankful for time to #doodle
It is a relaxing, meditative time 
that always brings my focus back on what is important :)

 Day Twenty-one: Today I'm thankful for rain and the storms of life. 
"The myth is that storms have to do with punishment. 
That they are God's response to sin 
or His disappointment in us as His children. 
May I suggest that it is actually the opposite? 
It is the confirmation that we are flowers the Father has planted 
and He desires to grow. 
And no matter how painful or inconvenient, 
it is necessary for the flower's beauty...
There is beauty to be found in the struggle 
of necessary storms in our lives...don't be afraid to grow." 

 Day Twenty-two: Today I'm thankful for my College & Career group. 
They provide much-needed encouragement and fellowship.

 Day Twenty-three: Today I'm thankful for my Care Group! 
I love them all with all my heart! 
What a great group of people!

 Day Twenty-four: Today I'm thankful for my #dramatics teacher. 
She practices what she more ways than one. :) 
Dramatics changed me and I'm forever #grateful

 Day Twenty-five: Today I'm thankful for quiet moments to myself.
 I enjoy the time to reflect on what truly matters. 

 Day Twenty-six: Today I am thankful for my #library...
it has saved me countless dollars and has been an important resource for me my entire life! 
 #nerdgirl #ilovebigbooksandicannotlie #reader

 Day Twenty-seven: Today I am thankful for the #education 
I received at New Life Christian Academy. 
I'm so glad I can turn in college homework assignments 
without HYSTERICAL spelling and grammatical errors...
unlike some other people in my class... 
Day Twenty-eight: Today I'm thankful for friends that can be family 
and family that can be friends. #ithinkisaythiseveryyear

 Day Twenty-nine: Today I am thankful for Chinese takeout...
the perfect end to a long day of #Christmas decorating. 
I'm calling it the perfect end since we left all the #Thanksgiving leftovers out at Grandma's...
and how about that fortune?!?!?!?! 
Claiming that one in Jesus' Name! ;)

Day Thirty: Today I'm thankful for wedding cake...enough said :)

 Let me know what you think! :)
Have a great rest of the week!