Friday, December 5, 2014

FYI Friday: Things I'm Loving Right Now--Christmas style

It's been a smidge since I've done a Things I'm Loving Right Now post and there's no better time than the present. . .if you read further, you'll see what I did there. . .and while I'm at it, I think this will be a Christmas version . . .Enjoy!

1. Sometimes, getting Christmas decorations as a Christmas present is tough. I mean, you get really excited about it, but then have to put it away for an entire year. Tough life, ya know? So this year, I splurged and bought our newest Christmas decoration before Christmas, so we could enjoy it during this year! You might want to go ahead and do the same. Or, at least put it on your list---especially if you love nativity scenes. Best part about this nativity scene? It's from Lisa Leonard Designs! I absolutely love her, her designs, her jewelry and her story! My very favorite necklace is one she designed with all of my littles and Hubby's names right there on it!

Check her nativity scene out here, but also shop around! Her "tied to my heart" ornament is beautiful along with her others and there's surely something you can find for your mom, sister, friend, etc!
You'd think I was being compensated. I'm not. Promise. Just sharing the good! :)



2. Ann Voskamp has done it again! Her Unwrapping the Greatest Gift family Advent devotional is wonderful! Our family is really enjoying her words that speak Truth and the beautiful illustrations inside. It's written for all of us to enjoy and captivates our littles too! Definitely not too late to start--it's the meaning of Christmas that's all that matters!



3. Every single Christmas, I buy new Christmas music. It's something that brings joy to the season! This year, I'm so excited to have supported Shaun Groves in his Christmas EP. He's been the voice and leader of Compassion bloggers and he's been inspiring me for years! In fact, it was his trip to Ecuador with Ann Voskamp, that connected me to her! And from that trip, our family made a new friend, Fernando!

It also helps that Shaun is a Baylor grad (Sic Em Bears)! My boys think that is the best part of the EP! This CD has been on repeat for a week now, with its beautiful, original songs and those we know and love too! I absolutely love it! Check it out on iTunes--Shaun Groves--Christmas Vol. 1!







4. I ordered Jess Connolly's Advent devotional last year and we all really liked it! Her prints are beautiful and we hung each card up after we finished the devotion for the day. I've had more comments about these prints, so I thought I'd share! You can find them at Naptime Diaries, which is her online shop. She has fantastic Bible Study/journals/devotionals for different seasons and I've enjoyed all that I've ordered from her. Not to mention the prints hanging in our boys' bathroom as well as our own! Love her stuff!



5. Okay, so you can't really buy these, but they certainly fall under the Things I'm Loving (Forever) Christmas version. . .


Hope you are having a merry start to your Christmas season!
Happy Friday and Sic Em Bears!

(Hoping we get an early Christmas present with a big "W" this weekend!)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Why I am able to slowly embrace change (even during the holidays)

Picture this. I'm driving the boys to school this morning (all 4 of them go today). It's gray and foggy and misty and cold. A perfect winter morning, if you ask me. Well, maybe not perfect. Perfect would mean there was snow on the ground. But it was as close to perfect as you can get in Memphis. It doesn't snow a lot here.

So we're on our way and rounding a curve when my 6 year old mentions that if he had to choose between one of two Christmas activities to do as a family, he'd choose the one we haven't ever done. My response was, "Really? Not the one we've known and loved for years now?" And my 9 year old's response was the same as mine, "What? We've been doing this since I was born. I would totally choose this over that! Why would you choose, that?" To which our 6 year old replied, "Because I haven't ever done "that" and I want to know which one is better!"

And as he is answering, one of my very favorite Christmas songs comes on. Christmas Canon. If you don't know it, look it up and download it! Even better, look it up now and read this post as you listen. You'll transport yourself to my car this morning.

It was just an Aha! moment. I've never been a fan of change. Tradition continues because it has always been. Why change? Why risk? Why change something that is good? But recently, over the past couple of years, I'm starting to come around. My Hubby has shown me that change can be good. And now, this morning, one of my offspring was suggesting this same thing, just like his daddy.

But while I still struggle some, particularly during the holidays (over the past week or so, envisioning the holidays differently than my Hubby has been challenging), this morning helped me to see and truly realize we all have visions of our holidays and none of them are quite the same. And it's okay. It's okay that mine is different than my Hubby's, than my neighbor's, than my dearest friend's, than my parents or sister or children (though most of their holiday visions are still created by us).

So long as we remember what is most important, Who is most important about this season, change is okay. Because beyond all the boxes and strings, lights, cookies, shopping, cards, etc., beyond all this, all that can change from year to year, we have One who is always the same. One who has never changed and will never change.

The Lord, Jesus, our Savior who has come to the world, is our constant. He is the only constant we will ever need!



Monday, November 24, 2014

let's combat the anxieties that start to creep up this season

It's now officially the holiday season! You wanna know how I know this? Oh, it's not just the calendar, silly! I'll tell ya, if we lived in a hole, we would have we discovered that Thanksgiving is a few days away when the littlest littles and I went to the grocery store today and EVERYONE in Memphis was there! Holy moly! I was thinking people might not be crowding the stores until tomorrow or at least Wednesday! I was wrong.


A little disclosure. . . I'm praying that I can savor this week. This week of being thankful. Not that every week can't be a week of giving thanks, but I'm praying to push back the anxieties that pop up once the Christmas season really starts. The ones that come along when people ask if you've finished your shopping (I haven't even started mine) and if you've ordered your Christmas cards (we haven't even taken our photo). Or the anxieties that arise when you take a look at the December calendar and don't see a lot of white space or you peruse Pinterest and see all these beautiful holiday decorations but it's December 14th and you feel like the season is too far in to attempt them. You know the ones?


I've not really felt the anxiety of Christmas until we started having children, and even more so the past few years. There's so much to do now to fill up the holiday season with memories for your family. And honestly, lots of them are good things.

But I'm tired of feeling the way I have, this that I've brought on myself. Because really, what is this season all about? This last week of November I want to be full of thanks and contentment! I want to prepare my heart for the Advent season. The coming of Christ!


The magic of Christmas is coming soon, but this week I want to look for joy and hope and love . . . all while giving thanks to the Lord and being content in Him! Are we all in agreement?! 
Here's to being thanks-filled!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

a boy's best friend

Everyone knows that a dog is man's best friend. But before a man becomes well, a man, he's a boy. And I think we can safely say our new addition, Glory, is our little boy's newest best friend!



Meet Glory. . .


It's been 1.5 years since our first doggy has been gone. Mocha was born on our wedding day and we scooped her up 8 weeks later and brought her home. She was ours for 13 years. Although Hubby and I miss her, our boys never really knew her the way we did. Luke was 7, Charlie was barely 5, Miles was 2 and Way was not even 1 when she died.

We knew we were a dog family, but for me, it just hasn't seemed like the right time to bring home a new addition. It's pretty crazy around here keeping up with our 4 boys, much less a new puppy. So, even though Hubby and my boys kept giving me those puppy eyes, I kept saying not yet (and feeling like the bad guy).

And then my sweet friend posted a photo of her doggy's sister that needed to be adopted. In a matter of an hour, after talking to my friend, showing the pic to Chad, and calling the foster mom, we had an appt. to meet this new doggy. All 6 of us went and the 4 little ones seems thrilled! They were ready to take her home. But something inside Hubby and me, just didn't feel the same. This puppy didn't seem like the right fit for our family. So we passed.

But not even a week went by, and something inside me clicked. It was time for a doggy (like it was time for another hole in my head) (but seriously, when is there a perfect time for anything)! I began scouring our doggy rescue groups and Hubby and I began sending texts and emails about different ones we were finding. We inquired about a few, but Chad found her initially and said she'd be a perfect fit. Well, somehow, we kept landing back on her! Finally, after a couple of days, we went to meet her on adoption Saturday. We fell in love! And the rest they say. . .is history!





Glory has found her new home and we've found our new addition! She's a 4 month old rescue puppy! Past the new puppy stage, but still needing to be house-trained some. Glory is a Golden Retriever mix--they think with a Shelty. She's playful, and cuddly and soooo sweet! Our vet told us he thinks we hit the jackpot with her! All of the boys seem to love her, though Miles is still warming up (he's a smidge skittish with dogs). He runs away when she follows him, but is quick to assure us that he loves her! Charlie is having fun playing chase in the backyard with her! Way just laughs whenever she's around and signs "doggy" non-stop! And Luke, well he was smitten from the moment he saw her (and us too--just sayin)!

Some of my friends post photos of their child's journal. Mine doesn't write like that. But he was determined to come home and see to it that Glory was taken care of. . .Glory knows she has a friend in Luke!



Welcome home, Glory! You had us at hello!

Monday, November 10, 2014

sharing what's good!

So much of our parenting is focused on sharing. We have 4 children. Not every single person is going to get an individual snack, toy, book, etc. on every single occasion. It just cannot happen. So we work on it. A lot. Lemme just say that sharing comes easier to some than it does to others.

I, personally, love to share and typically think I do a good job. Well, unless we are talking about chocolate. Then I get a little stingy. Ahem. But actually, I've seen my heart recently over some little things and bigger things, and I've actually been bummed out. Convicted. Nothing we have is really ours. Not our house, not our money, not our children. The Lord owns it all! Why do I want to keep my things or people to myself? Why would I not want to share all that is good??

None of the below are things I've been trying to keep to myself, but I just wanted to share a little about the sharing talks we've been having in our home and in my heart!

I plan to have my 4th or 5th or whatever it is Things I'm Loving Now post soon, so I can share some of my favorite tangible items, but these posts and links are to a few articles that I have really enjoyed lately. If you like to read goodness, then take a few minutes, when you get a few minutes and read away! And I couldn't not include a new quinoa recipe. Gotta share the good!

It's Okay to Stop Trying to Fix Those Kids by Lori Harris via Lisa Jo Baker
--I just discovered Lori Harris and am struck by her keeping it real (something I truly admire) writing and her church plant struggles as she and her family walk with the Lord.

When Strangers Become Your People by Allison Hendrix via Ann Voskamp's Only the Good Stuff
--This was incredibly touching and I just sat crying while I was reading it. In the best way! My favorite read over the past week for sure!

Turning Back Darkness with Gratitude by Steve Nash, founder of Advance Memphis
--I've read the excerpt from Ann Voskamp before, but I love Steve's new found view on gratitude and the story leading up to it. Love his heart for inner-city Memphis and the Lord!

And now for our newest quinoa recipe. . .
Red Quinoa and Black Bean Salad. . .
which I have renamed (gotta change it to something my kiddos remember). . .

Sweet Pepper and Black Bean Quinoa 



The dressing
5 Tbsps fresh lime juice
1 tsp salt
1 garlic clove, finely minced
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp ground cumin
⅓ cup olive oil
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
The salad
1 cup red quinoa (though you can use regular--just for appearance)
1 can (14oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1.5 cup corn kernels, fresh (or I used frozen, it's what I had)
1 cup finely chopped colored bell peppers (think red, orange and yellow)
1 whole jalapeƱo pepper, seeded, minced (I didn't use)
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup finely chopped green onions
Instructions

Prepare quinoa according to package. Let cool. Combine in a large mixing bowl the beans, corn, remaining vegetables, herbs, and cooled quinoa. Toss gently with the dressing. Can be prepared a day ahead for flavors to combine or served immediately. Serve at room temperature.
Serves 6 (or 3 of my 4 children once and Hubby and me twice). Because quinoa has so much protein in it, I don't add meat to it. We have meatless Mondays with a quinoa dish every week. No need for meat with this meal either!

And how did my family rate it? Our oldest 2 (9 and 6 years old) gave it a 2 thumbs up, I think Miles gave it a 1 thumb up and Hubby loved it! I'd say it's in my top 5 favorites and in the boys' top 3 favorites! Thanks to the Tasty Kitchen for the recipe!

Friday, October 31, 2014

FYI Friday--the light will shine on | Day 31



By now, we've carved and scooped out our pumpkin! We've talked about how the seeds and goop are like our sin. We put a candle in our jack o' lantern and talked all about God's light shining in us! I will forever love this pumpkin metaphor! We have our costumes ready (and even right now, one of ours has a new costume he doesn't even know about yet--sure to thrill him--because as he walked out the door he just wasn't sure what he was going to dress as and didn't make a fuss) and our 4 year old couldn't be more excited to be Batman and tell everyone Trick or Treat! He's been talking about this day for a good month!


Yes, October 31st is here! You know what else that means? It means, it's time to put some flannel sheets on our beds! Earlier this week, we were playing outside in 80+ degree weather, record warm temps, but tonight we have a freeze warning out as it's supposed to be in the lower 30's! I love it!!!!! Bring on the flannel sheets and the fire in the fireplace, a couple of blankets and some warm tea. I am in heaven!



Oh, October, you bring such inner warmth and happiness! But before, we move on to November, one other thing marks the end of October. Today is the end of my #write31days series! Is that the end of blogging? Of course not! This light will shine on! I've been doing this for years now! That was actually part of the reason I decided to jump aboard the Write 31 Days series--I've been blogging for years. I was just feeling a smidge stuck and I was in a writing rut. I thought writing for 31 days would be a way to awaken my writing.



I'll tell ya, it was challenging for sure. I think by Day 3, I was ready to quit. How could I write for 31 days about light? But Hubby spurred me on. He usually does. Anyway, I was really inspired by writing for the series and I'm so glad I did it! I did miss 5 days, I think. Some of that was due to travel and some was just due to life. I knew it wasn't the end of the world if I missed a day, but I tried hard not to skip. I also followed some other bloggers who did the same and enjoyed several series. If you write and have ever even thought about joining the #write31days series, I think you should try it next year! If you missed any days in my series on light, just click here to find the links to each day! Check out Day 3, FYI Friday spotlight on Down syndrome, Day 10, Lighten (and Brighten) it up, Day 14, A light shining halfway around the world and Day 16, We are lightweights, they were some of my favorites!

Thanks for reading through 31 Days of Light! 
I'm still writing, so stick around for a while and join me!

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