Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. I love the smells of cinnamon, pine, egg nog and wonderful things baking in the kitchen. I love the look of wrapped presents under the tree (and picking out cute wrapping paper!). I love the simplicity of white lights. And then I think about what happened on the first Christmas. Of all the ways for God to send His Son, He chose the form of a baby. I have a hard time truly understanding all of it. How Mary must have felt and all she went through. How she trusted the angel's words instead of doubting. How God's plan to save humanity took place…in a stable. I love how unassumingly beautiful the Christmas story is. 

"And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” - Matthew 1:21

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

give thanks

Today is a day for being thankful…but I'm striving to have that attitude every day. I remember watching a message by Steven Furtick's wife, Holly. She said whenever she was feeling ungrateful she would take the bracelet she was wearing off and switch wrists, naming one thing she was thankful for. She would continue switching her bracelet until her attitude had changed. I like the idea of that. Of stopping and taking time to think about all the things I have to be thankful for. The small things. The big things. And the things on the way. I'm thankful for my family, my church, and my job. A warm bed. A car to drive. That I'm healthy. And I'm thankful for a God who is never late in His timing. Who always answers my prayers. May we never forget to be thankful. 

"Enter with the password: “Thank you!” Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship him." - Psalms 100:4 (Message)

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

recipe: crockpot chicken and dumplings

Life is busy right now and blogging has sadly fallen to the wayside. I'm almost halfway through my second year of teaching and it's very exciting…but I'm still working on making time for everything else :) A goal for the new year! However, I've been doing a little cooking and wanted to share this great recipe! I made a few changes but it's super easy and the perfect cozy dish! This was a Pinterest recipe and I'm very excited to add it to my #pinterestsuccess list - because that doesn't always happen!

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I bought a rotisserie chicken, let it cool, and shredded it)
2 Tbsp. butter
2  (10.5 oz.) cans cream of chicken soup
1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
1/2 onion, diced OR you can use 2 Tbsp. dried, diced onion (I used neither)
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
4 Grands flaky refrigerator biscuits (the can I bought had five biscuits but I liked having more dumplings)

You can click here to read the full directions but since my chicken was already cooked, I did things a little differently. Add everything but the biscuits and cook on low for about an hour and a half. Add the biscuits and turn on high for an hour, stirring occasionally. 

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

book review: "the mason jar" by james russell linger felt

What if your old college roommate called, raving about a book someone sent her, calling it the most beautiful book she's ever read? "But," she said, "i's about you." The author is your college ex.

In The Mason Jar, Clayton Fincannon is a Tennessee farm boy raised at the feet of his grandfather. He and his grandfather leave letters for each other in a Mason jar on his grandfather's desk; letters of counsel and affirmation. When Clayton attends college in Southern California, he meets and falls in love with a dark, debutante from Colorado. However, when an unmentioned past resurrects in her life and she vanishes, Clayton is left with unanswered questions.

Clayton goes on to serve as a missionary in Africa, while he and his grandfather continue their tradition of writing letters. When Clayton returns home five years later to bury his grandfather, he searches for answers pertaining to the loss of the woman he once loved. Little does Clayton know, the answers await him in the broken Mason jar. 

A story about a girl who vanished, a former love who write a book about her and a reunion they never imagined.

I wanted to read this book for several reasons. I have a current obsession with Mason jars, I'm a Southern girl myself and understand the draw of another country. I liked the story within a story, wondering how Finn would react when he saw Eden again and if they would have another chance to be together. There are so many lessons in this story, solid truths in Grandpa's words. Lessons about not being afraid to love and living life. And I couldn't help but think about my mission trips to Guatemala as Finn spent time in Africa, helping the children he met and the people find a better way of life. I think I liked the story so much because of being able to identify with Finn in so many different ways. I also liked Eden. I loved her excitement for life and I mentally sighed when she gave Finn the painting she had made. Oh goodness. I like happy endings and though both Eden and Finn had endured a lot of pain and frustration in their time apart, I'm glad they found their way back together!

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. You can read more reviews on the tour by clicking here.

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Monday, October 13, 2014


Hope. I went to Guatemala this summer and that was the word that kept coming to mind as I prepared for the trip. We took hope to the people we met; some of who had never heard of Jesus and the salvation He won for us so long ago. The trip was ten days full of ministering, loving and sharing the gospel with precious Guatemalan people. We visited a hospital and had the chance to pray for those who were sick. Looking at the children in the beds, with the parents sitting by helplessly, they needed hope. We went to six different schools, performing a few dramas and playing with the children. They were all smiling and excited to see us. We brought them hope. At one school, all the children wanted us to sign their shirts. It became a frenzy of children tugging on us and pointing to their shirt. I went to Guatemala last year and was so excited to go back. The people there stole my heart; especially the kids. I teach kindergarten and those little faces got to me. I met a little boy named Paco and once I picked him up, I didn’t want to put him down. The trip was amazing and I know there’s more to come I’m just not sure what.

And then there’s my own life. Becoming a teacher has been a process. I’ve had to cling to the hope that God would work things out for me, aligning things so I would be where I needed to be. Last year I was a teaching assistant and there were moments when I doubted. I wondered if I was wrong about my calling and it should be something else entirely. But I held on to hope. I kept believing God, knowing He’s faithful and would fight for me. I'm teaching kindergarten this year at the same school and God is so good. My principal called me over the summer to ask if I was interested in a teaching position. She told me, "The Lord kept putting you on my heart." My prayer had been that whoever hired me would keep coming back to my name. Her phone call totally confirmed that prayer! We can never lose hope as we wait. 

"And now, Lord, what do I wait for and expect? My hope and expectation are in You." - Psalm 39:7 (Amp)

You can learn more about Dayspring's Letterpress Blocks by clicking here.
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Sunday, October 5, 2014

book review: "the sacred year" by michael yankoski

Frustrated and disillusioned with his life as a Christian motivational speaker, Michael Yankoski was determined to stop merely talking about living a life of faith and start experiencing it. The result was a year of focused engagement with spiritual practices - both ancient and modern - that fundamentally reshaped and revived his life. By contemplating apples for an hour before tasting them (attentiveness), eating on just $2.00 a day (simplicity), or writing letters of thanks (gratitude), Michael discovered a whole new vitality and depth through the intentional life.

I read Michael's book, Under the Overpass, several years ago and liked it. I remembered that book when the opportunity came to review The Sacred Year. Michael talks about being dissatisfied with the direction his life was going - constantly moving and multi-tasking. I admit I'm guilty of having too much going on myself. And not just multi-tasking but multi-tasking in regards to phones, social media, etc. "Carr points out that our habitual electronic multi-tasking between smartphones, websites, news feeds, and social media is dramatically rewiring the neurological pathways in our brains. According to Carr, all our browsing and liking and streaming and retweeting has conditioned the ability to focus right out of us." I feel like my phone is part of me and am I the only one who has to have it nearby all the time? So Michael took a year to re-focus and I want to make some changes in my own life. I want to live more intentionally and not be so busy that I can't enjoy the small things or notice them. Michael talks about the beauty of an apple. How it has so many colors and how complex it really is. I want to notice things like that. I know I need to slow down and this is just another reminder of that. Michael says the way to attentiveness is to not focus on everything but "…on the singular. The precise. The particular. The One." By focusing on God, all other things come into focus as well. I liked this book and want to start living intentionally. 

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. You can read other reviews on the tour by clicking here.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

it is well

I love how songs can really resonate with you at different times in your life. Either a verse or the chorus or maybe the whole song grabs you at the right moment and the song becomes your "theme song." My theme song right now is a song called "It Is Well" by Bethel Music. I love it because the song is really my prayer. To be able to say - no matter what I'm going through or have been through - it is well. To know God is working things out, is beside me and has a plan. I want that confidence that is so trusting. To not have to need the details in order to know God has everything under control. To be able to surrender my desires and plans to the One who has my best interest in mind. It's just a really great song that I'm listening to over and over and over...

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

book review: "when i fall in love" by susan may warren

Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she'd vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in paradise, she is pulled - or maybe yanked - away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime. 

Maxwell Sharpe may make his living on the ice as a pro hockey player, but he feels most at home in the kitchen. Which is why he lives for the three-week culinary vacation he takes each year in Hawaii. Upon being paired with Grace for a cooking competition, Max finds himself drawn to her passion, confidence, and perseverance. But just when Grace dares to dream of a future beyond her hometown, Max pulls away.

Wrestling with personal demons, Max fights against opening his heart to a love he knows he should never hope for. And as his secrets unfold, Grace is torn between the safe path in front of her and what her heart truly desires. If love means sacrificing her ideal happily ever after, Grace's faith will face its toughest test yet. 

I've been a fan of Susan May Warren and I wasn't disappointed with this book! I love the way Grace finally let go of her reservations and jumped life. I love the way she could throw things together and make amazing dishes - I want to be a confident in the kitchen like that. I liked how Grace and Max had different cooking techniques but it was those differences that made them such a great team. I love the journey that Grace went through in the book. She let go of her fears and gave them to God. One of my favorite parts was when she came across the church service on the beach and was baptized. Surrendering to God and His plan is such a beautiful thing. There are so many other stories going on at the same time and I want to know how those turn out - Casper, Raina, Owen, and Amelia! This was a fun story but also serious. Max was facing some big fears...but finally realized he wasn't really living by playing it safe. This was a good read and I'm looking forward to the next Christiansen novel! 

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group for my honest review.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

book review: "the butterfly and the violin" by kristy cambron

"Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl - a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes. 

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover - the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul - who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting's subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron. 

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy of 1942, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: the grim camps of Auschwitz and the inner recesses of her own troubled heart."

It took me a few pages but it wasn't long until I was pulled into both the story of Adele and Vladimir and Sera and William. I liked how Kristy switched back and forth between the two stories even though my heart broke at what Adele suffered through and the harsh reality of Auschwitz. I can't even begin to imagine what the people in the concentration camps endured. I'm not sure of the two couples which love story I enjoyed more. And I especially liked the fact that Adele and Vladimir were able to find each other again! I was surprised by how they ended up together and the connection with William's family - I kept trying to figure that one out myself! And then there was William and Sera. I thought they were cute together. I smiled at them going to the beach and how nervous Sera was and then when William said he came back to see her before leaving New York but Michael showed up - I liked how he pursued William pursued her even when she didn't think he would. And oh my, when he came to Paris for her? My heart melted :) This was a great read with history, romance, excitement and faith. 

You can find out more about the book by clicking here.
I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. 

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Monday, July 28, 2014

book review: "woman of courage" by wanda e. brunstetter

Jilted by her fiance, Amanda Pearson gives up on romance and turns to her Quaker faith for reassurance. She becomes determined to follow the Rev. and Mrs. Spalding into the western wilderness to minister to the Nez Perce Indians. 

But a three-thousand-mile journey in 1837 is fraught with danger for anyone, and soon Amanda finds herself recovering from near death in a trapper's cabin. His Indian wife becomes Amanda's first convert - and friend. But the trapper and his intriguing half-Indian friend want nothing to do with Christians.

Buck McFadden has received nothing but pain from white men who claim Christ as their lord. He wants only to be left to his solitary life, but he can't seem to walk away from Amanda.

Amanda fears she'll never reach the mission in the Lapwai Valley. This journey has become life-changing for her - and those she meets - and the choices she must make are almost unbearable. 

It took me a few chapters to get into the story but I eventually was on Amanda's journey to the Lapwai Valley. I was surprised by the loss she suffered along the way - and especially when Mary's husband died. Amanda indeed had courage to continue on despite all of her setbacks. I admire her for sticking to her desire to teach others about God - even when she wanted to give up. Sometimes the dream we have isn't easy but that doesn't mean it isn't exactly what we're supposed to be doing. I liked how Mary's story turned out - that Gray Eagle wasn't really dead. And then there was Little Fawn. It only seems fitting that she and Amanda found each other. I thought the last few pages seemed a little rushed but overall a good read.

I received a copy of this book from Handlebar Publishing for my honest review. 

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Saturday, July 26, 2014


Life is busy right now! I had the amazing opportunity to go to Guatemala and got back two days ago. I can't even begin to truly describe how great it was and how God moved. As I was preparing for the trip, I knew I'd be hitting the ground running after getting back so I'm in run mode. I was hired in June to teach kindergarten this school year! This job is something I've been praying for since I took a teaching assistant position at the beginning of this past school year. I attended training for my new job yesterday and Thursday. I've been functioning on caffeine and naps :) This upcoming week is a mad dash to get my classroom ready and the week wraps up with another two-day training. And on August 4, staff reports back to work in my district! SO, there's lots going on but it's all exciting. God did some great things in Guatemala - I know the trip will be a defining moment in my life. My heart is drawn there but I'm not sure what the reason is...yet. So I'm in the middle of looking at pictures from the trip, searching Pinterest for classroom ideas and first thing Monday morning, I'll be in my classroom, getting everything ready :)

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Monday, June 23, 2014

book review: "rival hearts" by tara randel

Molly Henderson and Ben Weaver are rival magazine writers for the same publishing group. When both come up for the same promotion, they find themselves in an unexpected competition to win the spot. Molly, editor of Quilter's Heart, and Ben, editor of Outdoor Adventures, must switch roles for one month, then submit an article at the end of their quests.

Can girly-girl Molly survive the outdoor adventures that Ben has planned? Can Ben navigate the dramatic social dynamics of quilting events? More importantly, will Molly and Ben give in to their attraction and fall in love, no matter who wins?

I thought this a cute story. I liked how completely opposite Molly and Ben was the contrast that made the story fun. I feel like I was able to identify with Molly. She was quiet but had an inner strength she wasn't quite aware of. It took Ben's cocky attitude to make her rise to the occasion. But then Ben won me over when I learned about his background and why he wanted the promotion. I couldn't help but smile at the thought of him walking into Molly's quilting group for the first time! And I'll admit I was surprised by who finally won - and the offer that was made before Masterson announced his decision. This was an easy and fun read!

You can learn more about the book by clicking here
I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

everything is awesome

I just want to take a moment and share about some amazing things God's doing right now! He's answered two of my biggest prayers at the moment, giving my faith the boost it needs as I continue to believe for the third thing. 

1. I'm going to Guatemala for a missions trip next month and didn't know how I was going to pay for the trip (which is another story entirely). I knew I was supposed to go and just trusted that God would provide. He completely exceeded my expectations! I did some fundraising and God blessed my efforts. It was hard work but not only did I pay my trip off five weeks before the final payment deadline, I had enough to cover my expenses for the trip!

2. I'm teaching this fall! I was a T.A. this past school year (which is also another story) and have been believing I'll have my own classroom for next school year. I'm super excited and know everything will come together with moving in, getting set up, planning and attending trainings between now and the beginning of August. 

It's been so amazing to see how God has taken care of these things! I'm excited about everything going on right now and what God is continuing to do! 

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

book review: "adventures under the mango tree" by lillian ann klepp

"'Sell all you have and give it to the poor," He said. Acting in faith and with a heavy burden for orphans, author Lillian Klepp and her husband, Dennis, sold everything they had and moved to war-torn Yei, Sudan. There they opened Harvesters Orphanage and Christian School in a place ranked worst in the world for women and children's well-being. Together, in the midst of a civil war, they battle chronic malnutrition, poor schooling, cancer, malaria, and poverty.

Adventures Under the Mango Tree is Lillian's journal of touching stories with heartwarming photographs of the precious orphans they help, the dedicated people who love them, and the often life-threatening struggles they face together."

I liked this book! I liked the short chapters...though I found myself wanting to keep reading after I would finish a chapter! As I'm preparing for a missions trip next month, I was drawn to Lillian's story. I can't begin to imagine what Lillian must have been thinking as they moved to Sudan. "Once we got to Yei, we had to stop and get official documents that allowed us to be there. When we went into the documents office, one of the soldiers asked me, "What are you doing here?" I told him I had heard all about the orphaned children and wanted to see if we could help. With tears in his eyes he said, "Preach the light to my people." Lillian recounts story after story of how God protected and provided for both her and her husband. God brought them people to work alongside them and help them in their vision to make a difference in Sudan. It strengthens my faith to read of Lillian's faith and her firm belief in God and His plans for her. I like what she says in one of the final paragraphs: "As I reflect on our time in South Sudan,  can see that God has taught me so many amazing things, especially how to trust Him. Who would have ever thought Harvesters would be what it is today? It's funny to think how in the past I thought about our limitations and how we wouldn't accomplish what has been achieved, but God is limitless. He has taught me not to plan around what I think Harvesters can afford, but rather around what He has put in my heart, and to let Him provide for it. It is true that He who calls us will equip us. In fact, if our vision is small enough that we can provide for it, it probably is not God's vision. And I know I would not want any other life than the one to which God has called me." 

I received a copy of this book from The B & B Media Group for my honest review.
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Friday, June 13, 2014

book review: "somebody like you" by beth k. vogt

"Haley's three-year marriage to Sam, an army medic, ends tragically when he's killed in Afghanistan. Her attempts to create a new life for herself are ambushed when she arrives home one evening - and finds her husband waiting for her. Did the military make an unimaginable mistake when they told her Sam was killed?

Too late to make things right with his estranged twin brother, Stephen discovers Sam never told Haley about him. As Haley and Stephen navigate their fragile relationship, they are inexorably drawn to each other. How can they honor the memory of a man whose death brought them together - and whose ghost could drive them apart?

Somebody Like You is a beautifully rendered, affecting novel, reminding us that while we can't change the past, we have the choice to change the future and start anew."

I could not put this book down! As soon as I started reading it, I was pulled into the story, wanting to know what happened next! Beth did a great job of writing a story that's serious but also funny and an overall good read. One of my favorite scenes was when Haley's water broke and she was yelling for Stephen. It took her using his full name before he finally heard her and came running up the steps: "A quick pounding of footsteps preceded Stephen's appearance. "Did you just use all three of my names?"' I laughed out loud just picturing it! I really liked Haley and Stephen together - even though it took them a while to finally be willing to risk their hearts. They fell in love without realizing it and so many of Stephen's actions were because he cared for Haley, making them sweet. Like the way he slept in his car with the baby monitor so he'd hear Kit if she woke up or when he brought Haley flowers. Oh, I want a guy like that! I haven't read any of Beth's other books but I'm adding them to my "to read" list!

I received a copy of this book for my honest review.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

making a list...and checking it twice

I'm preparing for a missions trip and wanted to pass along some things I learned from last year.

1. Three words: space. saver. bags. I've been on two other mission trips but last year was my first trip out of the country. And as I'm preparing for a trip back to Guatemala, space saver bags are a girls best friend! I was amazed at how compact my clothes were. 

2. Splurge on a sleeping bag. Last year, I found a sleeping bag at a local thrift store for less than ten bucks. I washed it and crammed it in a space saver bag. I ended up leaving it in Guatemala, knowing I couldn't fit it back in a space saver bag. This year I invested in a compact sleeping bag. It comes in a compression sack and is only three pounds; about the size of a football. I did some shopping around, wanting to get the best price and ended up at Walmart. I paid forty dollars and am pleased with how comfortable the sleeping bag itself is. It's a mummy style - which wasn't my first choice - but I still have room to move around. 

3. Dry shampoo. For as long as I can remember, I've faithfully washed my hair every night. Until going to Guatemala last year. Dry shampoo was something I hadn't heard of until then and it's changed my life. I use it now between washes - because I've even read it's good not to wash your hair every day. 

4. Disposable items. I'm all about travel size and disposable items. I really like the travel size plastic bottles you can get so you can just fill them with shampoo, etc. you already have. Anything I can use up and then throw away, I'm all about. The less I have to unpack, the better. 

What I have to keep telling myself: this trip isn't about me. As hard as it might be, keep it simple. Try not to overpack. I usually make a list of everything I'll need and then decide if there's anything I could stand to not take. It's a little harder for me to do that when going out of the country because I know there won't be a Walmart nearby - it helps me justify taking a few extra things :) 

And as far as making everything fit in your suitcase, there are some great ideas on Pinterest! What did we do before Pinterest??

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

book review: "crash the chatterbox" by steven furtick

The voice you listen to will determine the future you experience. Inside your head and heart is a chatterbox. Its lies are keeping you from realizing your God-given potential. But what can you do about them?

In Crash the Chatterbox, Pastor Steven Furtick focuses on four key areas that are most debilitating: insecurity, fear, condemnation, and discouragement. He asks, "What great deeds are in danger of remaining undone in your life because of lies that were planted in your past or fears that are looming in your future?"

With personal stories, inspiring examples, and practical strategies, Pastor Furtick will show you how to silence the lies and embrace the freeing affirmation of God.

I have Steven's other two books but this is the first I've read...and I'm moving Sun Stand Still and  Greater to the top of my reading list! This is one of those books I needed to hear right now. I highlighted all through it, knowing I'll probably flip through it when I need a reminder. Steven is very honest about his own struggles with the chatterbox and that makes the book all the better. I love the illustrations he used and the easy way in which he writes. This is a good book for anyone because we all have a chatterbox  and it's vital we defeat it! There are so many "oh wow" things that Steven says through the book but here's one: "When the internal dialogue of discouragement starts in your heart, remember - the Enemy's goal goes way beyond putting you in a bad mood temporarily. He's trying to talk you out of trusting God's plan for your life at a foundational level. And he's not just trying to derail you. He aims to limit the impact God wants to make through you and beyond you." I like that I didn't have to struggle to understand the book - I've read some books that were just wordy and I had to really focus to grasp the point. This is a book on a serious subject but written in a simple way. 

I received a copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah for my honest review. 

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Sometimes I get on my nerves. Like when God goes beyond my expectations in an answer to prayer and then five minutes later  I'm doubting how He'll take care of this other thing. Ugh. How ungrateful is that? And I mean God totally took care of me! I'm going on a missions trip this summer and was doing some fundraising. Long story short, not only did God provide all the money I needed, I have enough to buy all of the things I need for the trip plus I was able to help a few other people going. I felt like the whole "super abundantly" of Ephesians 3:20 was happening right in front of me and yet, I turn around and wonder where the answer to this prayer is. When clouds start to block the sun, that's when doubts creep in. But, "beyond the clouds, the sun is shining" - and that's a total Avalon reference, by the way. So I'm working on it. Working on thanking God for what He's done and what's on the way. And until the clouds move, I'm seeing what shapes they look like :)

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

faint not

This is my verse right now. And I wanted to share it with you. Whatever that thing you're believing for, don't give up!

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book review: "meant to be mine" by becky wade

"Ty Porter has always been irresistible to Celia Park. All through high school - irresistible. When their paths cross again after college - still irresistible. This time, though, Ty seems to feel exactly the same way about Celia. Their whirlwind romance deposits them at a street-corner Las Vegas wedding chapel.

The next morning they wake to a marriage certificate and a dose of cold reality. Celia's ready to be Ty's wife, but Ty's not ready to be her husband. He's a professional bull rider, he lives on the road, and he's long planned to settle down with the hometown girl he's known since childhood.

Five and a half years pass. Celia's buried her dreams so that she can afford to raise her daughter. Ty's achieved all of his goals. Or thought he had, until he looks again into the eyes of the woman he couldn't forget and into the face of the child he never knew he had.

How much will Ty sacrifice to win back Celia's trust and prove to her that their spontaneous marriage can still become the love of a lifetime?" 

I liked this book and being able to read about another Porter brother's story! I read Undeniably Yours a while back and was excited to read another of Becky's books. This was an easy, fun read. I liked Ty and Celia together - the way they bantered, the nicknames and how he showed up every day at Cream or Sugar whether Celia wanted him to or not. It took them over five years to realize their love for each other and to be able to let go of all the hurts they'd been holding onto. And Addie was adorable! I loved the way she never wore anything but her cowboy boots! She had this knowing that her parents would be together - it just took them a while to listen. I'm hoping there will be another book so I can see what happens with Jake Porter :)

You can read other reviews in the tour by clicking here. I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group for my honest review.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

book review: "living whole without a better half" by wendy widder

"For many, "single" is not just a filing status on a tax return but a public declaration that they are disappointed, discontented, and waiting around to start life. Whether single by choice or circumstance, they may find, like Wendy Widder did, that well-meaning advice and platitudes about God's care are less than helpful when they're just trying to figure out - like everyone else - how to live life well. 

Singles will find the unvarnished truth here. Instead of cherry-picking biblical "promises," Widder turns to Hebrews 11. She examines the lives of biblical heroes such as Abraham, Moses, and Jacob to show readers how to embrace singleness as a God-given gift that can provide abundant life. Wendy has learned, relearned, and then learned yet again that God's plan for us is better than any we have for ourselves and she makes her case with wit and a wry humor. Now with study questions and a new preface, Living Whole Without a Better Half makes a great Bible study or small group resource."

I really liked this book! Just being able to relate to someone who understands the desire to be married but still waiting for that guy to come along can't be overstated. And, one of my favorite things were the quotes at the beginning of the chapters - apparently we have similar taste in movies! I liked how she pulled out stories from the Bible, showing how some of the great men of faith trusted God despite their circumstances. And she also shared from her own life. I think we sometimes feel as though we need to be with someone but my life is good right now! Marriage is something I definitely want but not something I'm putting my life on hold for.

"I want to press on because I'm so in step with the Creator of the universe that walking a difficult road is an opportunity to sidle a little closer to Him, to hold His hand a little tighter." There are a lot of weddings going on around me right now and while I am super happy for all of these couples, I can't help but wonder when my walk down the aisle will come. Reading this book in this season of my life was definitely a God thing. I needed to be reminded of God's timing. 

"The unpopular truth is that God often does His greatest work while we wait." I think about what all I've been able to do while single - especially in this last year. I've been able to invest in an amazing group of middle school girls at my church, I went to Guatemala last summer and am going back this year, I made it through my first year of teaching and the long hours it required. All of these things would've been hard if I was balancing a relationship as well.  

I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications for my honest review.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

book review: "a bridge unbroken" by cathy bryant

"Letting go to build a bridge...Dakota Kelly wants her painful past to disappear. A plan to start afresh is derailed when she co-inherits her late grandfather's farm with Chance Johnson, the man responsible for the scars on her heart. But Chance isn't the only ghost from the past. Someone else is out to get her and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Will Chance and Dakota lay aside their grudges to restore the old farmhouse and bridge, or will evil forces sabotage their attempt at forgiveness?"

I liked Dakota and Chance's story! Their relationship was a journey - both of them letting go of past hurts so they could move forward. It didn't take me long to get pulled into the story, wondering and hoping Dakota and Chance would end up together. It was very sweet how protective Chance was of Dakota - even when he didn't fully understand why. I laughed at the banter between him and Matt when he spent the night in his truck to keep an eye on Dakota. I also liked the other characters in the story. Chance's friends welcomed Dakota into their lives and at times it seemed they sided with her! This was a story full of love, action and forgiveness. I haven't read any of Cathy's other books but I may have to check them out! 

I received a copy of this book for my honest review.
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Saturday, May 3, 2014

crash the chatterbox!

I'm currently reading Steven Furtick's book, Crash the Chatterbox. And wow, it's such a good book! It's about drowning out the lies the devil will try to tell you and to focus on who God says you are instead. You can also listen to his related podcast on Elevation's website. Here are just a few things I've highlighted:

- "Winning the war of words inside your soul means learning to defy your inner critic."
- "When lies are not confronted, callings are not fulfilled."
- "The voice you believe will determine the future you experience."
- "When we link a biblical understanding of God's authority with our personal experience of His intimacy, it melts down the mainframe of the chatterbox."
- "And she [Mary] demonstrated how an understanding of God's favor makes God's children unstoppable in the face of situations that seem impossible and obstacles that seem immovable."

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

book review: "mended" by anna white

Mended is a collection of essays inspired by kintsugi, the Japanese art of beautiful repair. Kintsugi is based on the idea that broken things can be repaired, and once that process is complete they are even more beautiful than before. 

I've been broken. I know what it's like to feel shame at my weakness, to starve myself to be worthy, and to want to sleep forever. If I had to guess, I'd say you might be a bit broken too. 

But being broken is not the worst thing. We can be mended. Our cracks can become beautiful. We can be even better than new. 

This collection of essays focuses on the struggle of living with anxiety and depression, and how to also live with grace and faith in the midst of darkness. It is raw and honest, and does not provide any easy answer or gloss over the pain. It is a narrative of struggle, but also of prayer, of hope, and of rescue. 

There's an honesty in Anna's words that draws you in and makes you want to keep reading. Each section - while seemingly unrelated - flows in such a way to weave a story about healing and having the strength to get up each day. Anna mentions several times about being "enough" and being worthy. I think that's something we can all relate to. Of knowing we have God's love and don't have to do a thing to earn it. We just accept it. There's one line that stands out to me: "This is the great challenge: to be seen, accepted, and loved, I must first reveal, offer, and surrender." And I think there's great truth in that. We don't like to be vulnerable because we don't want others to think less of us. But it's through that vulnerability that we allow others to truly see us. Anna allows herself to truly be seen in Mended. Overall, I liked this book! It was a quick read but one to be savored; not rushed. 

I received a copy of this book for my honest review.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

recipe: brownie frosting

I made some brownies the other weekend and added some frosting. I've never put frosting on brownies before. I wasn't sure if you use regular cake frosting or if there's a special "brownie" frosting. So I googled it. I bought a box of brownie mix (and added some mini chocolate chips) and then put together this frosting. It was super easy. I added the rest of my chocolate chips to it before spreading it over the brownies. I made the brownies for a church event and wasn't able to see how they turned out. But several people told me the brownies were really good! I'll have to make them again so I can see for myself :) You can click here for the full recipe.

What you need:
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons cocoa
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup or 1 tablespoon honey (I used honey)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons milk (I used 2 tablespoons)

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

recipe: cookie dough fudge

I've never made fudge but this looked too good to pass up! I've heard stories about how tricky fudge can be and...they've proven true. I don't think I let the fudge base get hot off before adding the powdered sugar but it still tasted good! I took it to work and we ended up just eating it with a spoon :) Cookie dough is good in any form! What I like about the recipe is that - except for the half-and-half - I already had all of the ingredients. I think this could be one of those "I feel like baking" recipes that can be done on a whim. I'll try again to get the consistency right but again, what I made tasted pretty awesome! You can click here for the full recipe. I found another recipe that's the same but the I like the picture better :)

What you need:
Cookie Dough:
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons half-and-half
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Fudge Base:
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup half-and-half
- 4-5 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla 
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used the mini ones)

What to do:
"Line an 8-by-8 in baking pan with buttered aluminum foil. Combine butter and sugars in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Mix in vanilla, salt and half-and-half. Add flour and mix until incorporated. For the fudge base, combine brown sugar, butter, salt and half-and-half in a saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until butter is melted and brown sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Slowly stir in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until mixture is smooth and sugar is completely mixed in. Stir in vanilla. Add cookie dough and stir together. Let mixture cool to room temperature. Fold in chocolate chips and spread fudge into the prepared pan. Chill until set, about 3 hours."

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

a chat with habbakuk

I have a current favorite verse. It's Habbakuk 2:3. I did a little research on the background of this verse to help me better understand. And wow. Habbakuk is someone we can relate to! A lot of bad things were happening around Habbakuk - "he lived when there was great national corruption and distress, when the nation and land was filled with violence, with hatred, and with outbreaks of evil" (source). So God has told Habbakuk some things would happen but he's waiting on those to come about. This is where 2:3 comes in:

God's saying "hold on. It's coming. Wait for it." I like this verse! I have a few things in my life I feel God has promised me. I don't have them yet but I'm waiting on them. I've written them down and look at them, thanking God for them before they've yet arrived. And I know they're on the way! "...wait for it; it will surely come;". 
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

book review: "10 days without" by daniel ryan day

A rebellion against apathy. A strategy for action.

     Daniel Day could tell you all about his love for God and his desire to live as a follower of Jesus. Yet it took a simple but radical experiment to move from merely talking about it to actually living it. For ten days at a time, Daniel chose to abandon a certain "necessity" - a coat, his voice, shoes, media, furniture, legs, touch - and to blog about it to raise funds and awareness for organizations that are doing amazing things to make a difference in the world. And then he invited others to join him in the experiments and spread the vision. Together they served God and others - and experienced significant personal change in the process. Ten Days Without is the account of their life-altering adventures. 
     This compelling story and practical guide will equip you and your friends to break through walls of convenience and indifference. Join a movement that is confronting apathy and ignorance around the world to make an impact on people's lives in a God-honoring way. Ten Days Without is where good intentions end and making a difference in the world begins.

"Action must follow awareness." This is a book to challenge you to give up what's comfortable in order to make a difference. I liked this book and reading about Daniel's journey. I can't believe all of the things Daniel gave up! And it didn't just affect him. His wife and friends helped him along the way. His wife joined him on his Ten Days Without Shoes challenge. His kids tried to understand why he couldn't talk to them or hug them. And then there was how people responded to him. All of it comes together to tell one amazing story! Daniel has done what so many of us only think about doing. He saw need and actually did something about it. He chose to make time for things he saw as important. I think we all can learn from that. It's one thing to "like" a non-profit on Facebook whose goal is to help others but it's something else entirely to join them as they help others. Ten Days Without will help you think outside the box and get creative as you strive to make a difference for God. This was an easy read and one that will stick with me. 

I received a copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah for my honest review.

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