November 28, 2014

Simply Christmas Free Album Sneak Peak

Phew. I hope you've survived the craziness that is Black Friday shopping. We opted to stay home this year and enjoy a little bit of online shopping.

In my family, the day after Thanksgiving always signals the "official" beginning of the Christmas season. I'm excited to get home and start setting up the tree and decorations!

A big part of our family's Christmas tradition has always been singing and playing some of the classic Christmas Hymns (Away in a Manger, O Little Town of Bethlehem, etc.).

This year, I had the awesome opportunity to create my own Christmas CD. I figure that if you're worn out from hitting the craziness of the stores (or you're still recovering for yesterday's feasting) you might enjoy the ability to sit back and enjoy some calm, relaxing, Christmas tunes.

Or you could even let the music play as you're setting up your Christmas decorations!

I'm giving my friends and blog readers a chance to preview the entire album before it goes live for sale on Amazon and iTunes on Monday, December 1st.

Stream the album here for free through Dec. 3rd!

Click on the songs in the player below for your chance to stream my Christmas album for free!



ALSO - I will be donating $1 from every album sale to Compassion International's Child Survival Program. So not only will you get to enjoy some fun Christmas music, you'll also be making a huge impact on the life of a child who lives in poverty! You can read more about my trip to El Salvador with Compassion here.

The album is currently available to pre-order for $7.99 on Amazon and iTunes (the price jumps to $9.99 on iTunes on Monday).

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November 21, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Notice


Each Friday I will be linking up with some lovely ladies to participate in Five Minute Friday. You set the timer, write for five minutes on a designated word (no spelling or grammar checking) and then share your post.



If you want to participate, you can get more information here!




This week's Five Minute Friday prompt is the word "Notice." 


Notice

Have you noticed how quickly things change? One minute you're sweating away in the heat of summer and the next thing you know it's almost Thanksgiving. Time has a way of doing that - slipping through our fingers before we even notice it's gone.

The wonderful thing about Thanksgiving is that it gives us the opportunity to notice the many things in our lives that we have to be thankful for: the people gathered around our table, the food in our oven, friends and family spending time together.

It makes me wonder how things might be different if I took the time to notice the things I should be thankful for all year long rather than just one day a year. What if I was intentional about noticing the people that God has placed into my life for this particular season?

It reminds me of that old question: "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to notice, does it make a sound?" (In case you're not sure of the answer: Yes. Yes it does.) You see the world doesn't wait for us to notice it's intricacies. It keeps on moving. The sad thing is that if we don't pay attention, we'll miss it.

We'll overlook the milk mustache on our toddler's face, not realizing that all too soon that a real one will take it's place (well at least it might if you have a house full of boys like I do).

We overlook the friends who live down the street because we're too busy "getting stuff done."

We fail to notice the opportunities we have right in front of us.

I want to be better about noticing.

I want to be better about being thankful for the little things - the things that all too often I fail to notice.

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November 20, 2014

Give Thanks - 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thanksgiving is next week!! That's hard to believe! 
1 Thessalonians 5:18 reminds me to give thanks regardless of my circumstances. 
Circumstances will change, but God's faithfulness remains the same. 




What are YOU thankful for? 

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November 19, 2014

Early Black Friday Specials from DaySpring! Save up to 70%!

*Post contains affiliate links*
I have to admit it. I have a thing for words. I love to write them. I love to read them, and I love to decorate with them. I just realized the other day that 95% of my wall art is "word" art. If you're anything like me, then you are going to LOVE some of these Early Black Friday Markdown Items from Dayspring. They have some beautifully amazing stuff for up to 70% off retail price while supplies last!

Inspirational Message Blocks - Set of 9 Blocks
Regularly $49.99 , on sale $19.99

GIFT IDEAS UNDER $20

Bless This Home - Wall Art
Regularly $44.99 - on sale $17.99

GIFT IDEAS UNDER $10 (perfect for teacher gifts or secret santa gift swaps)

I thought this Redeemed - Redeemed & Blessed - Ceramic Cookie Jar was a really cute idea (and would make a fun Christmas gift - you could even fill it with their favorite cookies!). I love things that are cute AND practical. Normally $59.99, on sale today for $14.99.

Redeemed - Redeemed & Blessed - Ceramic Cookie Jar
Regularly 59.99 - on sale $14.99 
These sale prices will not be around for a super long time, so you'll definitely want to take advantage of them while you can (plus you'll save yourself the hassle of dealing with the crowds on Black Friday! - DOUBLE win).
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November 18, 2014

The Truth about Thanksgiving


Can I be honest with you?

Sometimes I complain about things I should be grateful for:

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I have to go to the grocery store - We have the money to buy groceries for our family.

I have to wash the dishes . . . again - Not only did we have food to eat, but we had something to eat it on. I even own a machine to wash them for me. All I have to do is stick them in a rack and push a button.

I have seven loads of laundry to do - My family owns enough clothes and linens to comprise seven loads. Not only do we have clothes to wear, we have an abundance.

There was an hour long wait at the pediatrician's office - I have access to doctors when my child is ill. Even more than that, I have medical insurance to help make their care more affordable.

Being a stay-at-home mom is hard - I have the opportunity/ability to stay home with my children.

My husband works a lot -  My husband has a good source of employment and does his job well.

I was stuck in traffic -  I own a car. I am able to drive myself to where I need to go.

My three-year-old is strong willed - His stubbornness can turn into an asset if it's channeled in the right direction. (Also, praise that my mother put up with my own strong-willed self when I was three).

I hardly got any sleep last night due to a nursing baby - I have been blessed with a child. I'm blessed with the ability to feed my child.

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Now, I'm not saying that we have to pretend that life is all sunshine and rainbows. If we're honest, sometimes things are downright hard. Sometimes situations are discouraging and overwhelming. Sometimes we just get frustrated and we need to vent. I get it. I do it.

What I'm learning about myself is that I will always find what I'm looking for. If you're on the lookout for the negative - for all of the ways that life is hard, it's not going to take you long to find those things. However, if you are intentional about finding the things to be grateful for in the midst of difficult situations, your attitude and outlook can be transformed.




The laundry is never going to go away. The dishes will still need to be done. The wait will be longer than you want. The toddler will throw that sippy cup on the floor one. more. time.

What will you do?

We cannot always control our circumstances, but we can control our reaction to them. 

We have been given the incredible power to choose.

I want to model this type of behavior for my children. I want to point out the positive rather than dwell on the negative. Who would you rather be around? Debbie Downer or Polyanna?  The person who points out everything that's wrong with the world or the person who sees what can be done to make things right?

My challenge to you (and to myself) for the next 24 hours is this:  Any time you are tempted to complain, try to find the positive in that situation. Turn that complaint into a praise. 

"Lord, there is a super long line at Wal-mart again. I'm tired of waiting, but help me to be thankful.  I thank you for for the ability and resources to shop for my family. Thank you that I have access to the food and supplies that we need. Thank you that I have legs to stand on and hands to push this cart."

I try to put into place the 1:3 rule. For every one complaint, I want to find three things to be thankful for. It's not that hard if you really think about it. By focusing on our blessings rather than on our burdens, we are equipped to see the good in the midst of the bad. It doesn't make the negative go away, but it helps to put it into the proper perspective.

Let's make Thanksgiving a way of life, not just a day in November.

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November 12, 2014

Wednesday in the Word - 2 Corinthians 12:9

2 Corinthians 12:9


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Free DVD from "What's in the Bible"



*Post contains affiliate links


Did you miss out on the huge 60% off sale from "What's in the Bible" a few days ago?
I have to admit, I may have bought 8 DVDs . . . but I only spent $39, and I saved over $60!  I  also managed to check a bunch of gifts off my Christmas list. Double win.

These DVDs are a hit in our house! Little known fact: My boys and I appear in the bonus section of DVD Volume #7. Pretty cool, huh! We won a video contest a few years ago and our video submission appears on the DVD. My boys even got a personalized message from Buck Denver himself!

video

All that to say . . . if you missed out on the big flash sale from a few days ago, they've just announced a new sale starting 11/12 and running through 11/18.

They're giving away a FREE copy of  Sing through the Bible with a DVD order.  (This is actually one of the DVDs I bought a few days ago! It arrived in the mail this morning!!) 




My boys love the songs, and as a mom, I like that they're learning good stuff while they're having a good time!

Just thought I'd pass on the info to you in case you've got kiddos to do some shopping for. You can keep the free DVD for yourself or pass it along as a gift to a friend.


They also have fun Christmas coloring sheets that you can print for your kiddos. (There are also free printables on the website too.

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November 10, 2014

Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!



Can you believe it? Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away! This whole year has just flown right by.

As a blogger, I'm thankful for YOU! Thanks for stopping by, reading, commenting and interacting. If it wasn't for you guys, blogging would pretty much just be the equivalent of  me sitting in a room talking to myself (although if I'm honest, I have done that before).

So. . . as a thank you, I'm giving away a $25 Amazon gift card. You can spend it on yourself, or put it toward Christmas gifts - totally up to you!

The giveaway will be open now through Thanksgiving Eve at midnight mountain time (November 26, 2014).



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November 7, 2014

"What's in the Bible" Flash Sale

What's in the Bible Sale


We absolutely love "What's in the Bible" at our house. My boys and I actually appear on volume 7 (We're in the bonus features - true story!).

They're offering a sale of up to 60% off retail, but only for 17 hours. 

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They are are also offering free shipping on all orders over $25, so if you order 4 DVDs for $25 you'll also get free shipping! 

We love that they make learning about the Bible fun and entertaining. As a mom, I love that they're teaching deep truths in a way that even young children can understand and relate to. They're funny and enjoyable to watch. 

If you've ever wanted to teach your kids more about the Bible, but you're not sure where to begin, These DVDs are a terrific resource! I majored in Christian Studies at my University, and I still learned new things watching the videos. 

Until 11 AM you can get the entire 13 DVD series for only $66.57 (normally $179.88) plus free shipping. Seriously. I've never seen them offered at that price before.

There are a ton of great DVDs to choose from! I'm getting a few as stocking stuffers for my boys.

Check them out here! 

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This post contains affiliate links to What's in the Bible. We hope you love them as much as we do!

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Five Minute Friday - Turn


Each Friday I will be linking up with some lovely ladies to participate in Five Minute Friday. You set the timer, write for five minutes on a designated word (no spelling or grammar checking) and then share your post.

If you want to participate, you can get more information here!


This week's Five Minute Friday prompt is the word "Turn." 

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 I couldn't have been more than four-years-old in the video that plays on the television screen. Flickering images of a little girl spinning around in her favorite skirt. I'm pretty sure that at the time I thought I looked as elegant and refined as the ballerinas I had seen. I never had dance lessons, but I did know how to spin - turning in circles to the music playing on the record player.

There was a confidence in those little legs that seems to have fled in recent years. Now instead of spreading arms wide and turning with wild abandon, I turn my head instead to see who is watching. I'm not sure at what point in life we make that transition from free to frozen.

It must have been sometime in elementary school. Those years where we take our first tentative steps out of the nest and into the big, wide, world. I suppose it was there that I learned that you could take classes to learn how to turn properly. It was probably there that I watched someone else perfect a pirouette and decided that maybe turning was best left for my living room floor and not for some fancy, far-off stage.

Turning points. Oh, that my children would learn how to dance with abandon. That they wouldn't stop dancing because someone might be watching. That when it's their turn to turn that they would hold their head high with confidence and turn toward the music and dance.


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November 5, 2014

Word-filled Wednesday - Psalm 34:8


**Do you have a favorite verse that you would like to see featured? 
Leave it in a comment below and maybe your pick will be featured soon!

November 3, 2014

Looking for Love


Last week at Allume, Shauna Niequist said something that stuck in my mind. She said, "What we long for is to be loved, but we'll settle for being impressive."

Truth smack - right in the face.

And you know what? It's true.

I've always struggled with the desire to impress. I've longed to do things perfectly, to be the "best" in whatever endeavor I've entered into. Trust me, this is not a great way to live your life.

In my mind, I equated being impressive with being valued. If you're the best at something, doesn't that make you worthy of admiration?

If I truly, deep down to the soles of my feet, believe that I am loved for who I am and not what I can do, all of the worry, the stress, the fear of failure, the desperation for approval can cease. 

Do you believe that?

Maybe your own personal life experiences have taught you differently. Perhaps there have been voices along the way that sent you a different message: In order for me to love you, you must meet my expectations. In order for me to accept you, you must impress me with ________ (your appearance, your income, your talents, what you can offer me, etc.).

Can I tell you a hard truth? It's one that I've learned over the last three decades:

You will never make everyone happy. Despite your best efforts, you will never be perfect. It is absolutely impossible. Sure, you can impress in an area for a season, but if your self-worth and value is dependent on the approval of another human being, you are in for a roller coaster of insecurity. Why? Because people will let you down. You will let them down. It's the nature of humanity.

So. What do we do then? How do we break this cycle of attention seeking? How do we redirect this desire to impress and exchange it for secure love?

We look to the source of Love. We look to the one who loved us when we were so totally opposed to Him. We turn to the one who loved us first, before we could do a single thing to earn his approval.

Maybe that's not the God you've heard preached from the pulpit. Perhaps you've been told that you have to earn His love too.

You don't. He loves you because you are His.

I remember the first time the nurse placed my son onto my chest. He was a mess. He was unbathed, squirming, crying with flailing arms. He could offer me nothing but his own needs. And I loved him. Wholly and completely. Not because of what he could offer me (in fact, loving him would cost me quite a lot), but because he was mine. He carried my image. I bore him in my body. I suffered pain for him, and he was worth it.


I think you can see where I'm going here.

God loves you, not because you deserve his love, but because He chose to love you first. He chose to love not because of what you could offer Him, but because of what He can offer you. True love. Unconditional love. Love based not on merit, but on choice. He chose love.

When I let that type of love sink down into my bones it gives me peace. It gives me the freedom to do my best without the pressure to perform. It allows me to offer my service as an offering and not as a down-payment on a debt I could never repay. It liberates me from the need to impress anyone else but Him.

I've found that I have to examine my motivations for doing things. Am I participating in this activity, this act of service, this social organization to appear impressive to others? When I get down to the deep core of my being, am I doing this to be noticed? Would I continue to do this task if no one else ever knew I was the one doing it? Am I doing things to draw attention to Him or to draw attention to myself?

Do the words I write (or the things I post on social media) make others feel better about themselves, or feel better about me? 

Do I value the opinions of those I love? Sure, I do. Do I let their opinions determine my worth? I try not to. I still struggle. I still want people to like me. I like the affirmation that I'm doing well in my endeavors (and I think it's good to encourage and affirm the gifts we see in others), but I'm trying to be intentional about keeping those desires in check.

I'm learning how to rest in His love.

 I love the lyrics from an old hymn written in 1882 by George Matheson:

O Love that wilt not let me go,

I rest my weary soul in thee;

I give thee back the life I owe,

That in thine ocean depths its flow

May richer, fuller be.

Will you take a few moments and rest in His love today? 

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