Friday, December 31, 2010

year in review

There are just a few hours left in 2010 and I always like to reflect back on the year. This week I've talked about the concerts I've been to this year, songs that impacted me and books I've enjoyed.

So looking back, I started reviewing books this year and have read fifty-eight books! I've had the opportunity to read some great titles and there's still a stack in my room waiting for me.

I've made some progress with my writing by having some other blogs use my work. I have no idea what will come out of this but believe for God to continue to guide me. One of my goals for 2011 is to have one of my novels published (fingers are crossed).

I've had the chance to try some fun recipes and am looking forward to tackling some harder dishes next year. I love being able to mix together different ingredients to create tasty creations (I have a new cookbook just waiting for me to look through).

I'm hoping to delve more into creative projects next year. I follow a blog called "Today's Creative Blog" that offers daily do-it-yourself ideas. There are two on my list to try: desert lotion bars and sugar scrub.
I've done it once before but I'm wanting to read the Bible through next year. I've tried several times since then but end up falling so far behind that there's no way to catch up. Yet a new year brings a fresh start.

My pastor gave us a verse for next year and I'm very excited about it. Ephesians 3:20: "Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]--" (Amplified)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

year in review: books

I've covered music so now we're moving on to books. Thanks to discovering the amazing world of book reviewing, I've been able to read some amazing books...for free (to get started, try out Thomas Nelson and Tyndale House). I did a prior post listing all the books I've read this year but here are my top five:

* "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan
* "Plan B" by Pete Wilson
* "Outlive Your Life" by Max Lucado
* "Dining with Joy" by Rachel Hauck
* "City on Our Knees" by Toby Mac

I've surprised myself for only one fiction book to be on this list. All of these books are ones I'd definitely recommend if you're in need of a new read :-)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

year in review: movies

I've seen quite a few movies this year but there are only a handful I'd watch a second time or more. I know there are more for this list but here are a few...
* Toy Story 3 - I love the humor in the movie! I feel like most of it was actually geared toward adults or maybe I just find random things to be funny. My brother got the dvd for Christmas and we watched it again the other night. Since we have a similar sense of humor, we laughed at the same things but again, maybe that's just us. Out of the three movies, I like the third the best.
* Despicable Me - this movie was just fun. When I went to see it, it was mostly kids crammed in the theater but I still enjoyed it. I think Agnes was my favorite - she was absolutely adorable and yes, I laughed at the "It's so fluffy" line :-)
* Letters to Juliet - I wasn't sure I would like this movie but I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it has some cheesy moments but it was cute.
* When in Rome - again, I don't know if it's just my sense of humor but I laughed a lot when watching this. And since I was at home, I didn't have to worry about others hearing me :-) There were times when I felt Beth was just being too wishy-washy but still, a cute movie.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

year in review: songs

Several songs have become my theme songs for this year. Some were released this year and some just finally meant something to me. The one that stands out to me is "With Everything" by Hillsong United. Oh my. This was the song at youth camp that was THE song. It was the one that stirred all of us up - especially when the bridge hits - and I get chills even now. SUCH a good song!

Francesca Battistelli's whole "My Paper Heart" album is amazing but "Beautiful, Beautiful" would have to be my favorite (the acoustic version is very cool). "Behind the Scenes" became a soundtrack for me this year because I love the message. It talks about how God is working in our lives even when we can't see evidence of it. "Someday Soon" makes me smile - I look forward to being able to live out the lyrics when I get married someday :-)

I'm not a huge country music fan but I really like Rascal Flatts. Their song "Unstoppable" is about, to me, not giving up even when everything inside of you wants to quit. It's about refusing to go back and continue moving forward. I also finally heard their version of Matthew West's "The Day Before You" this year and it's pretty amazing too.

Some Honorable Mentions would go to "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon and"Show Me What I'm Looking For" by Carolina Liar (we actually used this in our Easter program at church). I've also discovered OneRepublic this year and "Passenger" might be my favorite.

There are way more songs I could list that have impacted me this year but these would top the list...

Monday, December 27, 2010

year in review: music

In just a few days a new year will be upon us. I always like to reflect on the past year, looking at things I wanted to accomplish (and did) and things I didn't do but will work that much harder on for the coming year. I also wanted to reflect on things that have influenced/impacted me this year. Today I'm looking at music. This year I've had the amazing opportunity to not only be introduced to new music this year but I've finally seen people in concert I've listened to for years.

The latter occurred when I went with some friends this summer to see Toby Mac and Chris Tomlin together for their "Hello Tonight" tour. I saw Toby a few years ago when he was a part of Winter Jam but this time not only was I seated much closer (thank you Alicia for the awesome seats) but since it was just him and Chris Tomlin, he had more stage time. It was a very cool concert and the highlight was definitely when he walked past our row and my brother freaked out :-)

Some new-to-me artists I've seen this year are all thanks to Dave Barnes. I've been listening to him for about three years but finally saw him in concert this year (again, thank you Alicia). He often has friends of his with him and I've become fans of all of them. I love Dave because he's so real. Not only is he a great songwriter and singer but he's absolutely hilarious (if you've never been to his comedy show, go). Ben Rector, Drew Holcomb and Steve Moakler are the others I'm just now listening to because of Dave. Ben is just amazing. My favorite song is "Moving Backwards" (which I posted about the other day). I love the fact that the first time I heard it was live. I remember he began singing and I looked at the people I was with, a look of amazement on my face. Drew Holcomb has more of a folksy sound but what I love is that his wife sings with him. Together they are amazing. They sang "Baby It's Cold Outside" (Christmas tour) and I loved it!! Steve Moakler is hard to describe. He has this intenseness (I'm not sure what the right word is) about him. My favorite song of his would have to be "All the Faint Lights."

It's been sooo much fun being introduced to new music this year! We'll see what next year holds...

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Christmas 2010 is almost over. I'm back home after spending the day at my grandparents. All of the presents that were once under the tree have now been opened. The tree doesn't look quite the same without colorful boxes underneath. While some of the gifts I received were things I had asked for, others were surprises. It's been a good day. Tomorrow marks the last week of this year and we'll soon be welcoming in 2011. I don't want to ever forget why we celebrate Christmas. I don't want to ever place more emphasis on the things I hope to get than on the One whose birthday we celebrate. And to top it all off, we had a white Christmas this year. It's been a while since we've seen snow in my corner of the world on Christmas and it was like adding sprinkles to a cupcake - the perfect final touch. I'm looking forward to next year. It's going to be full of amazing things...

Thursday, December 23, 2010


So I plan on doing another post on some amazing artists I've had the pleasure of seeing in concert for the first time this year but this song has been running through my head this week and I couldn't keep it to myself any longer. The song is called "Moving Backwards" by a guy named Ben Rector. He's not hugely known (yet) but I have a feeling he'll one day get there. And what's really cool about this song is that I saw him perform it which somehow makes it that much better in my mind.

I tried researching the story behind it because I think it interesting to hear the inspiration. My digging didn't turn up anything so I'll give my own take on the song. To me, it's about putting faith in God even when it doesn't make sense. Others may not understand why you choose to believe - to them the Bible may just be a jumble of stories - but it's more than that to you. Life is always moving and we're constantly making choices...

Here's a promo for the video...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

book review: "the clouds roll away" by sibella giorello w/ contest!

Raleigh Harmon has just returned from a transfer with the FBI back to her hometown of Richmond, Virginia. On the heels of her homecoming, Raleigh finds herself in an investigation centering around a cross burning at a famous rapper’s home. Her boss is pushing her to solve the case as soon as possible and the deeper she digs, the more complicated things become. Raleigh also begins work on a gang task force. The lines between the two seemingly separate cases start to blur with each new development, leaving Raleigh working frantically to uncover the truth. While looking for those responsible, Raleigh is also juggling her widowed mother and an old boyfriend who wants a second chance. Can she solve her cases and manage to not get her heart broken again?

I had no idea what to expect with this book but I was quickly pulled in. Giorello threw in several unexpected twists, leaving me thinking “no way!” as I read. My only complaint with the story would be the lack of romantic interest. The attraction between Raleigh and her old boyfriend is told in such a cut and dry manner that I found myself wanting to read about those tender moments. Other than that, it’s a definite page turner that will keep you guessing.
Read more reviews by clicking here or go here to buy the book.
I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity and was not required to write a positive review.

Sibella’s celebrating the release of The Clouds Roll Away by giving away a KINDLE prize pack worth over $150.00!

One Grand Prize winner will receive:
Latest Generation KINDLE with Wi-Fi
$25 gift certificate to
To enter simply click here! Then tell your friends! Winner will be announced January 3, 2011 on Sibella's blog:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

trendsday: photo op

This picture immediately stood out to me - the colors just seemed to grab me. It reminds me of a small city where you get to one place to another by walking - cars are optional. I love the idea of that!! I have a secret wish to move to such a place, relishing the "small town" feel of it. This picture also makes me think of any number of movies (though I can't think of a single one at the moment) where there's a street chase in Italy or any other European locale. Someone's either on foot and can feel the bad guy following them or they're in a car and trying to evade said bad guy. Ooh, the Bourne Identity would be a prime example (whichever of the three is applicable - I've only seen bits and pieces of each).

I also love the simplicity of the picture. It's a snapshot of an abandoned street but at the same time, it's so much more than that. Who knows what history transpired in that exact place? The idea of not knowing the sum total at what you're really looking at is fascinating to me. I love the idea of everything having a history and every photo telling a story...

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

fa la la la la

Sometimes we need to take a break. We need to momentarily lay down our responsibilities and the plate that's piled high with things we must accomplish. And we need to laugh. I went with some friends this weekend to see Dave Barnes and Drew Holcomb (if you've never heard either of them, google their music - that's all I'm saying) in concert. What I love about Dave is that while you go to hear him sing, he's also incredibly funny (most often in a cheesy kind of way but I like that) and you end up laughing as well. This weekend was no different. He played some songs from his new Christmas album as well as some of his other stuff and he made us laugh. I don't know if we laugh enough. We can be so focused on what we need to do that we forget to find the humor in situations (sometimes that's the only way to deal with what you may be going through). Thank you Dave for giving me a brief respite in this hectic Christmas season. And the "fa la la la la" comes in because he sang "Little Lies" (off his newest album "What We Want, What We Get"). He had the audience sing the chorus which begins with "la la la la la." One of the girls I went with had us singing "fa la la la la" instead since it's Christmas time which actually I liked better :-)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

book review: "fall to grace" by jay bakker

Though Jay grew up in the church, he reached a point in his life when he was through with faith and God. He couldn’t understand why everyone who had once rallied around him and his family were turning their backs on them in 1987 when scandal erupted in the Bakker home. Jay dealt with the upheaval by taking up smoking, drinking and doing drugs. It wasn’t until years later that Jay would return to the message of grace. “Paul’s message wasn’t about guilt and punishment. It was about acceptance; it was about forgiveness; and it applied to me! What I felt instinctively about God – that He must be loving and understanding of human frailty – was right after all.” He had thought he was too far gone for God to still love him. He had messed up one time too many for God to want to take him back. “Grace taught me that I don’t have to run from failure, that God hasn’t abandoned me even when things get tough. I don’t think you ever arrive, fully, at grace. You have to keep it front and center in your mind. You have to remind yourself every day that God’s love for us is complete, irrational and unrelenting.”

I was disappointed in Jay’s message. While grace is key to understanding salvation, I disagree with Jay’s views on a few things, homosexuality being the main one. Jay’s theme is that God loves everyone, regardless of lifestyle, the color of your skin or economic status. I agree with that. Where I have a problem is that since God loves everyone, he’s basically saying it doesn’t matter how you live your life as long as you love God and accept His grace. What he seems to be missing is the point of leaving your old life behind you when you begin a journey with God. He also talks about the apostle Paul a lot, quoting from Galatians over and over. Paul seems to be his basis for Biblical references. What also bothered me was the mild use of language by Jay. Overall, I didn’t care too much for the book.

I received a free copy of this book from FaithWords Publishing group and all opinions are my own.

Friday, December 3, 2010

more than one teacher

I'm a substitute teacher and am constantly reminded of the simplicity of kids. To them, the highlight of the day is recess, no one's a stranger and everyone is their best friend. I was watching my class of kindergartners on the playground today and couldn't help but smile as they ran around, free to be as loud as they wanted. Every so often a few would run over to me, wanting to show me something or tattle (if they only knew I don't respond to tattling) and would then go play some more. I feel like there's so much to learn from kids - teaching is a major give and take because with as much as I teach them, they teach me a few things as well. I think being open minded is one of the most important things for a teacher. Not being there to merely cram information into students heads but taking the time to actually listen to them as well. I love the predictable unpredictability - though you have a lesson plan you have no idea what the day actually holds. No day is the same - every day brings with it a new set of circumstances and new chances to learn. It's pretty cool.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

trendsday: december 1

Today is special for many reasons. It's the first day of the last month of the year bringing us that much closer to Christmas (I've yet to start my shopping) and 2011. Today is someone's birthday (including Woody Allen and Lou Rawls) and there's some historical significance to the day as well but the one thing that I found really interesting is that in 1982 at the University of Utah, a dentist named Barney Clark becomes the first person to receive a permanent artificial heart, prolonging his life for another 112 days. This may not grab your attention but my dad underwent heart surgery a few months ago and it's eerily fascinating how they're able to "rewire" the heart.

Today also marks my wishing a "Merry Christmas" to the cashier/server when going to the store or anywhere else. The window for such a greeting is so small when compared to the rest of the year (I guess you could tell someone "Merry Christmas" in June but it just wouldn't be the same) so I want to take advantage of it. And that reminds me, I need to find my jingle bell necklace :-)
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