11.29.2011

Tuesday Tips: Decorating with what you have... (and a link-up!)

The Christmas decorating has commenced around here, and I'm mostly done, save for a few finishing touches here and there. I've spent a lot of time looking around on Pinterest for decorating ideas, and knew that I had to do this one, especially since I have the exact plate that is used (a silver charger, or any other plate would work also!).


I was going from memory, and so mine is a bit different. Like I said, I have this plate, and then I used the scrabble pieces, and put the extras beneath, a few branches from the Christmas tree, and a couple of ornaments (and a few small pine cones that I will pick up next time I am out shopping) and tada!


I loved that I was able to create this with things that I already had in my home...and things that I would not think of using in my Christmas decorating!!! Here's a few of our other decorations...

(our main table, with Jesse Tree in the background)

(This photo album holds all of our Christmas Card pictures from friends since the first year we were married. It's so fun to look back through it each year.)

(Dining Room table...the bowls have since been filled with a white pillar candle in the center and red berries surrounding the candle inside the bowl.
Recognize those napkins from my yard sale post???)

(Dining Room Buffet)

(Living room coffee table...
with the decor that C is allowed to play with.)

(The piano)

Please share your Christmas decorations with us using the link-up below!! I don't have a button (yet), but if you would be so kind as to link back to my blog, I'd appreciate it. And, if you visit other bloggers, I'm sure they'd like to know you were there and how you found them. :-) Let the Christmas-ing begin! :-)


linking up with Teach Me Tuesdays, and Women Living Well Wednesdays



12 Days of Birthday: Day 1 (2 days late)

(winter canvas tote bag, peppermint mocha Kahlua, 
a mug of large proportion, more sbux via(!!), 
and an Amy Grant Christmas piano book.)


11.28.2011

Monday Musings: the fundamentals...

As we head into this very busy month (many of us are already very much immersed), these two verses are heavy on my mind and heart...because they are challenging...especially right now.

"Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
Psalm 46:10

Take time this Christmas season, to just be still and reflect on God and His place in your life... one of my favorite times to do this, is early morning or late at night, when the rest of the house is sleeping, and I curl up on couch with a mug of something warm to drink, turn off all the lights except for the Christmas tree, have some soft instrumental Christmas music playing, and just enjoy the calm.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,
give thanks in ALL circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1 Thessalonians 5:16

It's easy to get caught up in the commercialization of this season, and when you're stuck in holiday traffic, holiday shopping lines, running late for a party, drowning in a sea of to-do lists, feeling tension in relationships, dealing with fussy children, and all the other stresses that impose themselves upon us during this month, it is HARD to do these three things...but this is God's will for us. Make a special effort to plan ahead so that you are better able to do these things and when those trials come, try to remember to whole-heartedly rejoice (not just over a great sale!), pray without ceasing (not just about that long line of red taillights in front of you!), and to give thanks in ALL circumstances (not just the ones that are easy and obvious!).

These things are what I am preaching to myself today. Hope they are encouraging to you also.

If you missed my Thanksgiving post, you can read it here.

11.25.2011

12 Days of Birthday: Days 5, 4, and 3

Day 5
(Singing snowman/dog...for me...riiiiiight...
I needn't tell you who LOVES this gift. ;-)
2 Christmas novels that I'm itching to start...)

Day 4 
 (cd, chocolates, and sbux, oh my!)

Day 3
(one of my favorite wines, and a super-cute insulated tote from thirty-one!!)

HAPPY 34th ANNIVERSARY TO MY PARENTS!!! :-)

See also:

11.24.2011

Thankful Thursday: Thanksgiving...A Year in Review


If you had told me last Thanksgiving all the things that would happen this year, I probably would have tried to hide somewhere...or gotten really stressed out thinking about how to handle it all and trying to figure out ways to change it all for the "better."  What a blessing that we are NOT in control, and God IS.  He doesn't mess things up.  He has it all planned out just exactly the way it should be according to HIS perfect plan for our lives.

Here's a recap of the past year...

December 2010 -- our daughter (17 mos at the time) came down with a fever that spiked, and resulted in a febrile seizure, a ride to the ER in an ambulance, and a few hours spent in the ER.  Those moments...those very, very long moments when she was unresponsive were the scariest moments of my life.  I cried out to Jesus in those moments...literally.


March 2011 -- the dreaded phone call (which I received as a voice mail because my phone was off!) from my husband..."I've had an accident.  I'm okay, but the car's not."  A few moments difference, and it might have been the driver's side front door instead of the driver's side rear door.


March 2011 -- Earthquake/Tsunami in Japan...not something that affected us personally, but affected those that we love and care about deeply and thus we were emotionally connected.

April 2011 -- An F3 tornado ripped through our neighborhood, literally in our backyard.  Looking out our window we saw 2 brick homes ripped apart and countless others damaged.  Our friends' house was destroyed.  But, all life was spared.


May 2011 -- Just a few days after the tornado, those same friends whose home was destroyed got the phone call that their 2 teenage boys had been in a serious car accident.  Broken jaws, concussions, etc.  Again, not us personally, but very close to home and affecting those we love and care about deeply.  The body of Christ is such that when one member is hurting, the rest feel it keenly.

June 2011 -- the best month of the year! My brother married his true love (and our favorite)! :-)  Much rejoicing and celebrating!  We also discovered that we would be blessed with another child in early 2012.


July 2011 -- we celebrated our daughter's 2nd birthday, and announced our pregnancy to friends and family.


August 2011 -- the heart-wrenching pain of miscarriage.  For the second time in a year, I found myself literally crying out to Jesus.  We buried our son, and began the healing process.


September 2011 -- A few days later, a call from my (new) sister-in-law informed us that my brother had an accident at work and was thrown from a horse.  I firmly believe there were Angels on the ranch that day (not that they aren't there everyday).  He ended up with a broken wrist, and some cuts, scrapes, bruises, etc.

October 2011 -- Another phone call from my husband..."we're replacing the Accord piece, by piece."  This time, just a fender-bender.

October 2011 -- A friend, who assisted in the birth of our daughter, had a sudden and unexpected heart condition, and was with Jesus 24 hours later, leaving behind her husband and 5 daughters (ages 3-15).


So here we are...  apart from my brother's wedding and daughter's birthday, it would be easy to say that this was a pretty depressing year.  And, in all honesty, there have been some pretty low moments.  I have, on more than one occasion said that I am so ready to bid GOOD RIDDANCE to 2011.  But, I share all of this to say, God is faithful.  If you had told me all of this would have happened, I may have given up hope and decided I was done with this "religious business."  Where was God when I needed Him?  But, having come through it all, I find myself so much more aware of my need of Him, and the realization that I can't do anything on my own.  It is all through the strength that He gives...and that strength doesn't come in a 30 or 60 or 90 day prescription.  It is daily bread...He gives us strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.  I can look back and say God is good...I still don't understand why He chose for us to endure some of these trials, but He is good and He is faithful to keep us.  I have learned what it means to cry out to God in my time of need and to feel the comforting peace of His presence that He sends to us in solitude and through the ministry of His people.

This year has made me realize more (but probably not enough), the fragility of life.  So many near-death and actual death experiences.  This has really made me feel very strongly about "living in the moment" and taking a good look at what/who is important and how/where do I want to spend my time.  We are not guaranteed our next breath.

As I reflect over the past year, I am thankful that my daughter's seizure didn't have any lasting effects on her -- she is very healthy and very "normal."  My husband has come out of two car accidents with no injuries, and insurance has paid for the repairs.  Our lives, the lives of those around us, and our home were spared in the tornado (we did have minor damage, but ended up with a beautiful new deck as a result!).  Our friends who lost their home were not at home during the tornado (all 7 of them!) and the two that were in the car accident are mostly back to normal, when, from the looks of the car, it's surprising they're alive.  They have been blessed with a new home that far exceeds what any of us could have imagined for them.  God granted us strength in our weakness to accept His will for our lives in the loss of our son.  The process was free of physical complications and I have recovered well physically.  My brother is mostly recovered from his injuries and did not require surgery.  I could continue listing ways that I see God's faithfulness...they are everywhere.

This post is meant to encourage...to remind you that God is indeed faithful, He is indeed good, and He does indeed love His children.  We just might not always be able to understand His plan.  That's where the faith and trust comes in, and we just have to believe, and realize, that it is our duty to obey and to trust, and as our Heavenly Father, He will care for us and bless us in ways we never expected.

As we are apt to say around here....it is all by God's grace, and for God's glory.

 We have often found ourselves waiting for "the next bad thing" to happen, and for me, wondering what lesson God is trying to teach me that I'm just not getting and what's He going to have to do next to get my attention and what can I do to try to stop Him?  Thankfully, He doesn't work that way and He doesn't play games.  We have had to repent for our lack of faith, and daily ask Him to help us to trust Him.  This song from Rich Mullins has been in my head on more than one occasion this year...it's become my heart's cry.

Well, sometimes my life just don't make sense at all
When the mountains look so big 
And my faith just seems so small

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory 
Won't you be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It's so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory 
Won't you be my Prince of Peace


Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down, I'm falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band is playing this hymn
And your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory 
Won't you be my Prince of Peace



You have been King of my glory
Won't you be my Prince of Peace.


11.23.2011

Daily Bread...

We are so blessed. Truly.
We should be exceedingly grateful.


Tomorrow we celebrate thanksgiving...and we have SO much to be thankful for in our lives. We gather together and we ask the Lord's blessing on a bountiful meal, a meal that far exceeds our "daily bread." How blessed are we to be children of the King.

As we feast together tomorrow, let us not forget to feast at His table, as well as our own. Praise Him for all the good things He sends to us. Things like:

Macaroni and Cheese

What is on your Thanksgiving menu?

11.22.2011

Gobblers...

It seems that this week I have SO many blog-worthy things...thus the multiple posts each day.  I'm making up for those weeks when I can't seem to get around to posting at all.  So, don't get used to it (or, please bear with me...), it will all come to a close soon.

Thanks to Grammy for the fun activity we enjoyed last night...





12 Days of Birthday: Day 6

(DQ and a movie...yes, please!)

Tuesday Tips: my garbage bowl

I love to watch cooking shows...but I have to be careful, because they sometimes make me discontent and they make me very aware of my "needs." You know...I need a Cuisinart Food Processor, I need a new set of knives, I need another grater like that one, I need a cool garbage bowl like Rachael Ray...

The garbage bowl idea is fabulous...and I was really tempted to buy one of these...


And, while I still think they're really cool, the truth was...I didn't need one. The principle is great though, so I looked in my cabinet and found this (very functional) bowl.


And now, when I'm cooking (especially making salads, or other dishes involving cutting/chopping or other garbage producing activities), I usually have the bowl on the counter to put the garbage in... It's just a little bit of time that it shaves off from having to head over to the garbage can (or bring the garbage can to me), but it sure does feel like a lot more. And...it seems less gross.



Do you have a garbage bowl?

11.21.2011

12 Days of Birthday: Day 7

Beautiful Longaberger holiday bag,
 holiday notepads (for all those lists!), and gum :)

See also:

Monday Musings: Notes from the Marriage Conference


We were able to attend a marriage conference on Friday night and Saturday morning, so I decided to share a few of my notes from that with you today.  Not a lot, because that wouldn't be fair to the speaker, but just a few things...

3 Treasure Principles:
- Everyone lives for some kind of treasure.
- The thing that is your treasure will control your heart.
- What controls your heart will control your behavior.


The things that you name as treasure will always deepen and propel your marriage OR they will victimize your marriage.


Marriages must be fixed vertically before they can be fixed horizontally.


Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that doesn't demand reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving.


Love loves to love...are you willing?
There is no such thing as love that doesn't require sacrifice.
Is your marriage a chronicle of daily sacrifices?
Love looks to the interest of others.
Love is not a contract; it is a sacrifice.


"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God...This is how God showed his love among us; He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us this way, we also ought to love one another."
1 John 4:7-11

11.20.2011

12 Days of Birthday: Day 8

adorable winter tote from thirty-one, and a lovely candle

See also:

Christmas Songs... (and perhaps she sampled the eggnog?!?)

video

12 Days of Birthday: Days 12, 11, 10, and 9

Y'all...

I'm about to reveal 2 secrets...

The first, is that my parents are really, REALLY cool.

The second, is that I'm having a birthday soon, and it's kind of a "milestone year."  I am coming around to a season of gratitude about this birthday, despite some real struggles with it throughout the year.

I specifically requested that there be no big "hoopla" surrounding this and no surprise shendigs, etc.  Low-key is more of where I'm at currently, and I candidly asked family/friends to honor that request.  Mom & Dad, being the very thoughtful folks that they are, respectfully followed this desire, but also knowing how fun presents are, decided to spread out the birthday cheer a bit.  So, they came up with The 12 Days of Amanda's Birthday, in which I have a present to open each day leading up to the actual day, and I can't open it until after 9:59 AM each day as that was the time I was born.  So, yesterday, all 12 gifts arrived...and I was overwhelmed and then excited.

This is just too much fun to keep to myself, so I had to share with you all.  I plan to post each day to let you all in on the surprises...these will probably be bonus posts in addition to my regular posts.

Each gift is in a brightly colored bag with brightly colored tissue paper, and on 2 sides is a (different) photo of me as an infant and the approximate date that the photo was taken, along with the date I am supposed to open the gift and the corresponding #.  I thought about sharing all of the photos, but seeing as that would reveal more than just myself, decided to just share the gifts. :)

Day 12
 White Fudge Oreos and a new book...
(why hello late night snack attack and reading fest!)

Day 11
 2-sided Basket Inserts, Bags for gifting muffin/cookie mix, 
Fudge Minty Middle Cookies
(can't wait to try making these once I learn how to use my sewing machine...and oh...those cookies...
they're a celebration on their own!)

Day 10
Snowman plate and spreader, Christmas Travel Mug, and Starbucks Via
(it's christmas party & cheeseball time!  and oh, how I love coffee!)

Day 9
Gingerbread House Kit 
(looking forward to this fun family activity Thanksgiving weekend!!)

Thanks Mom and Dad for loving me in such a fun way and making my (sometimes dreaded) birthday pleasant and exciting.  

11.19.2011

Five on Friday (on Saturday): the last day behind...hopefully.

Thanks for continuing to read this week, despite my being a bit tardy.  Here are my top 5 for this week:

1) Like multi-tasking?!?  Here's a way to fix your hair and get fit at the same time...  Let me know if you have any "moves" to add to the list.

2) Social Media is a part of our lives and like most things can be positive and negative.  This article was both convicting and encouraging.  The changes she lists are some that I've been seeking to implement in my own life in recent weeks.

3) Gift tags made from tissue boxes, and (cute) wrapping supplies from the dollar store...you must read this one too!



4) In light of Thanksgiving coming up, Ann had a good (re)post this week that I have read previously and enjoyed again.  Why Every Day Begs to be Thanksgiving...

5) Maybe I'll just re-name this series, Four on Friday plus a link to Sally's blog. :-)  Her post this week on Training it (selfishness) out of our children was excellent.  In order to train, we must model...this is where the post gets convicting.  I had a conversation with my mom about this earlier in the week and then read Sally's post.  She is so much more eloquent than I am.  For example:


Jesus reminds us, “I am humble and meek, learn from me.” Learn from me–has he ever said that in any other scripture? Learn from me–if I the teacher and Lord bowed, then you should also do so.
So modeling servant leadership, speaking gently, loving others generously, giving up your time, your body, your convenience, your patience–if he did it, over and over again with the disciples, to show them how to live in service of others–he had compassion on them, then so we must do as mothers. It also means you must be spending hands on time with your children, not leaving them to one more dvd or cartoon or game boy adventure action software, but you have to plan, give attention to this, to build this into their lives.

Bonus Post: New Favorite...


It looks like I dipped my nails in chocolate.  It's that smooth.  Yum.

11.16.2011

Tuesday Tips (on Wednesday): Reuse!


You know...it is amazing how a search for "butter" on Pinterest provides SO many jokes about Paula Deen....Wow.  
But, on to the topic at hand...  What do you do with these?


I typically throw mine away...but not anymore!  Thanks to my friend, Grete, who suggested saving them to use for greasing baking pans, mine will be neatly folded (messy side in) and placed in a ziploc bag in my refrigerator.  A quick google search suggested other ideas such as using them to push rice krispie treats into a pan (mess-free!), or separating ground meat patties for freezing...

So...do you save your butter wrappers, and if so, what do you use them for?!?

11.15.2011

Monday Musings (on Tuesday): Hope


"Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, 
but the certainty that something makes sense 
regardless of how it turns out."  

And, I'd like to add, that it doesn't make sense because we see the logic in it, or because we understand it, but it makes sense because we know that God is in control of it and nothing happens apart from His perfect plan, and THAT is what makes sense, my friends.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
*We're a bit behind over here at the Eagle's Nest, so hopefully we'll have the Tuesday Tips post up tomorrow.  Thanks for your patience. :-)

11.11.2011

Five on Friday: Better late than never, right?

This is being posted much later in the day than I had anticipated, but we enjoyed my husband being off today for Veteran's Day, and we also have family in town for a few days.  My original list included 8 posts/websites to share with you, but I managed to get it down to 5! :-)

1) These tights are just too cute.  I just about started making some as soon as I finished reading the article.  My little lady might be wearing tights everyday of the year...


2) Sally Clarkson's post this week regarding bedtime routines was hugely encouraging to me.  We have always had a routine with C, but I was especially thankful for the reminder to continue spending this precious time with her and as she begins to talk, taking the time to listen.  "Though it did require a commitment of heart and time on my part, as often we were ready to put the day away for our 'own' time, I see now that this giving and ending with love meant so much to all of our children...Routines are often difficult to establish, but, when cultivated, they become a habit that gives life, love, and security.  It is still a gift to me that I now get to share the sweet fellowship best friends, my children when they are home, to tie together all the loose ends, in love and peace."

3) Speaking of listening...here's a good article on The Ministry of Listening.  And, lemme tell you...I've never really thought about listening as a ministry, but lately God is giving me PLENTY of opportunities to practice it.  I am a very driven person, so I'm all about being productive and crossing things off my to-do list.  Listening is HARD for me...but it's GOOD for me, and it's a blessing to those around me.  


4) This might be the article that I want you to read most, even if you skip the rest.  

5) Finally, it seems folks are all in a tizzy about Christmas decorations going up too soon.  Well...I like it, and the way I see it, we should be celebrating Christmas and Thanksgiving EVERY day of the year, so why not stretch out this focused season a little longer?!?  This is a great article with practical tips on Creating a Home of Thanksgiving all year long.


11.09.2011

Tuesday Tips (on Wednesday): Toddler Activities

This is probably not anything new to most of you, but just in case, I thought I'd share.  My mom used to let us play in the sink while she was working in the kitchen or doing other things nearby and it kept us busy for a very long time!  I have done this with many different children that I have babysat, and now, just this week started doing it with C, when I realized she was tall enough to reach.  (We actually did this several months ago, but she just sat in one side and played in the other side.)


I usually just fill the sink 1/3 - 1/2 full of lukewarm water and let her pour and splash to her heart's content.  This usually lasts about 30 minutes or more.  (I LOVE having her in the kitchen with me while I'm working.  It is delightful to me to have her nearby.  She talks with me and I love to hear her have her own conversations over "tea.")


We are still learning how to keep the water IN the sink, and to STOP pouring with the teacup is full, and to make LITTLE splashes...  thus the towels. :)


And then she figured out how to blow musical bubbles in the measuring cup...


And we were ALL incredibly entertained...


So much so, that I took a video to share with you all...
video
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