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Sunday, November 30, 2014

One Year Ago

One year ago today, we headed out, much, much later than planned, for our new home in NC.  Because of our late start, we spent the night on road in a hotel about an hour and a half away from our new home.  That was okay, because we didn't even have a key to get in (although it turns out the door was unlocked) and would have had to unload the truck at 2AM just to have something to sleep on...possibly in a cold house because we didn't know if the heat was running since no one was living there.  That was a wonderful decision, and we awoke refreshed on December 1st ready to begin our adventure-even if it was below freezing outside.
We took a one year rental because I thought our house would surely sell in a year, right?  Not so much.  Combine a still recovering economy with a very quirky old house that was built in the 1880s and you get a ton of showings, and even 3 contracts, but nothing that has made it through to the final purchase stage.  They all seem shocked to learn at inspection that it is indeed an old house, LOL.  We updated it a TON as needed while we lived there, but there will always be more to do, and there is no escaping the fact that the kitchen was a porch that was enclosed and measures 7'x 33' wall to wall (part of the length is the laundry area).  When you put cabinets into the 7' you are left with about 2 1/2 feet of space to walk in.  It's a galley kitchen to be sure.  So we are waiting on God to bring the perfect buyer, and have extended our rental by 6 months.  This is what we call home now:

We were blessed to have found this house.  You'd cringe if you saw the wallpaper inside.  It's stuck in the 80s to be sure.  But it meets our needs, and gives us a roof over our heads, and most importantly, we have been able to afford it and an still carry the FL house.  That is a testimony to God's faithfulness for sure!
For all our FL friends, we miss you to pieces. And we miss the theme parks too.  But we love it here.  And as I look at this week coming up and it's full of a birthday party (Sari's friend) and a Christmas party (Mimi and TJ) and the Hub's work Christmas party, I think we are finally starting to be "plugged in".  I'm so thankful for that.
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Thankful Day 30

Today, I'm playing hooky from church because I'm still not well. I'm thankful for KWAVE, which I can listen to online and on my phone. It features Calvary Chapel pastors almost around the clock, and I love it. That's church for me today. So today, I'm thankful for KWAVE.
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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thankful Day 29

I'm sick :(. So today, I'm thankful for a husband who gives me alone time all day long to just be. I can just lay here and be miserable and knit and watch TV and be miserable and do some online shopping and sleep and be miserable and not be interrupted by the needs of my kiddos for the most part. Being sick also reminds me to be thankful for the times when I'm NOT sick. I'd hate to feel like this everyday. My throat is raw, and my nose is runny, and I have a fever on and off, and it's just no fun. I'm so glad on days like today that I'm not living in a covered wagon crossing the prairie or working in a mill town where not going to work one day would mean losing your job for good. There are many, many blessings to living in the time in which we live to be sure!
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Amazon's Cyber Monday is starting already!

I went on Amazon to do some ordering, and BOOM! Cyber Monday sales are starting already. Looks like "Fashion" is the first up. (aff)
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Friday, November 28, 2014

Thankful Day 28

These kids.  I'm thankful for these guys.  I know the Bible says blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them, but I feel pretty blessed too.  I love them, and I'm thankful for them.
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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful Day 27

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Today, I woke up totally sick.  My throat was raw, my nose was runny, and I felt awful.  I was SO thankful that I had pre-made so much of our meal.  Here are some other things I'm thankful for:

1)  My good china.  I love our china, and we didn't use it for a long, long time because our kids were young.  But we have started using it for special dinners, and today the two youngest asked for it specifically.  I love that.

2)  Thanksgiving dinner turned out awesome.  Like really, really good.  I'm a great baker.  I'm a good cook if I'm following a recipe.  But today, this dinner?  It was really good.  Everyone loved it.  The kids really liked the dressing.  They were wondering why it was better than usual.  I told them they didn't want to know.  Mimi thought the strange blackish things might be mushrooms.  I told her she didn't want to know.  Giblets.  They add great taste, but really, you don't want to know.  It's good that they had completely finished off the dressing before they found out.

3)  I got to chat with all my family today.  I love that.  I miss them, and it is always nice to catch up. 

4)  Mimi and I went "Black Friday" shopping.  But it's not really Black Friday is it's on Thursday.  She was a HUGE help since I'm not feeling great, and we had lots of great quality time together.  I'm really, really proud of her and the young woman she's become.  One department store we went in was SUCH a mess, and she went along and cleaned everything up as we walked.  She said the poor people who had to work on Thanksgiving in that craziness were working hard enough, and the mess wasn't their fault, so it was the least she could do to help out.  I love her.  We also talked about the inappropriateness of so much of the clothing out there for her age group (WOW, some of those shorts are short!) and a laugh about a lot of the clothes in general.  We are both fans of the Pinterest board about the imaginary toddler, and our shopping trip through one store led us to begin dreaming of a spin off board where we dress our own imaginary toddler via the clothes found in a department store.  That led us to discuss these dresses:

Really, the blue ones are very pretty, but I said something along the lines of, "Look, you can dress so that you and your imaginary toddler match.  They are even the same length."  To which Mimi replied, "That's not exactly true."  And I said, "You are right, the toddler dress is a little bit longer."  Lots of giggling commenced, and I just might have needed a Depends drawn the attention of all the other shoppers who clearly weren't having as much fun as we were.  I'm so thankful for my girl and her company and her help and how we can laugh together.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  If you are reading this, the final thing I am thankful for today is YOU.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful Day 26

I'm thankful for 3 things today.  That's allowed, right...I mean, it is the day before Thanksgiving.  Today, I'm thankful for:
      1) having some of my Thanksgiving cooking done already.  I'm on my own this year since all our family is on FL and none of them came to visit, so I have the mashed potatoes, the sweet potatoes, and the cranberry sauce already made and will just need to reheat them.  I also (don't judge) bought the pumpkin pie.  Trader Joe's has awesome frozen pumpkin pie and an even more awesome pumpkin caramel sauce that you can put on top of it that makes it out of this world yummy.  Since my kitchen is small (5x5) and my fridge is tiny, and my oven is a single oven, and I have no microwave, anything I can do ahead or compromise on and buy makes the meal that much more do-able.
    2)  finding the most awesome recipe for mashed potatoes and getting and embellishing my m-i-l's cranberry relish so that it is seriously good (like my 9 year old was eating it tonight out of the pot good).  I'm thankful for that because usually I "wing it" and I really want to have recipes written down for duplicatable results not just for me, but to hand down to my kids someday.  I've found a winner with the potatoes for sure, and mostly the cranberries (if only I measured how many raspberries I added instead of just dumping what seemed right).
     3) Lastly, I'm thankful for a nice chat with my sister tonight that didn't involve me having to beg her for a favor.  So often, she is my "go-to girl" for anything concerning our FL house, and my phone calls involve asking her if she would mind swinging by there for this or that.  But today I managed to catch her at a good moment just to chat.  It was nice :-).

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thankful Day 25

I'm thankful for Christmas shopping done early.  I think I've managed to pull off a surprise for my husband, and it's already ordered (yay!).  He's also allowed me to get out a few evenings lately and do a bit of shopping so that I won't have so much to do in the rush before the holidays.  I'm thankful for that because the stores have been quiet but many of them have started their "black Friday" sales early so I have gotten a few good deals.  My kiddos have super specific lists, but the stocking stuff and gifts for nephews, etc. are what I am looking for mostly.  So today, I'm very thankful for any Christmas shopping I can get done before the rush begins.
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Monday, November 24, 2014

Thankful Day 24

Today, I'm thankful for the works of my hands.  I know, that probably sounds weird, but I love to make things, like crafting and sewing and knitting and canning and baking, etc.  Too often, I feel like those creative outlets are the first to go when the pressures of my life build and the lists of to-dos extends beyond the number of waking hours in a day.  But I do best as a child of God when I am being the person He made me to be, and for me, that's a creative person.  I get to express that largely in my photography, but also in other creative endeavors.  Mostly, when it comes to crafting and cooking, I'm a tweaker.  I take other people's framework and change it to make it work better or more in line with what I want or need.  Right now, I'm knitting a hooded cowl.  I love the pattern, but I wanted the cowl to go a bit longer, so I just extended it a few more stitches.  I'll post a picture when it's done, but I'm excited about it.  So the opportunity to be crafty, in stolen moments, that's what I'm thankful for.
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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thankful Day 23

Vacation...I'm thankful for vacation.  Specifically, my husband's vacation.  For SO much of our marriage, he has had his own business, and with that came all the responsibility that came with it, including the fact that you don't get paid if you don't work.  He did take about one week off a year for us to travel to our family reunion, but other than that, it was work, work, work.  Now, he has so much vacation time, we literally don't know what to do with it all.  It's such a blessing.  He's taking this whole week coming up off, just to hang out around the house, and he will have the whole week of Christmas off too...and he's still rolling 40 hours over to next year.  What a blessing vacation time is, because it will let us get things done that have just been waiting for us to have a chunk of time available to get them done. So vacation time is what I'm thankful for today!
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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thankful Day 22

I'm thankful for our homeschool group in NC.  I'm not a big "joiner" because I'm such an introvert, yet I recognize that they only way to meet up with like-minded people is to put yourself in places where they are, and with this move, that meant joining a local homeschool group.  I have to admit it's nice to be just a member, and not be any part of the leadership process ;-).  But more than that, it really is nice to be part of a group and to be slowly be surely making friends.  Today was my park day-the one I am responsible for as my "what I do for the group" sort of thing, and so even though it was only 40 something, we went and sat and chatted, and had a nice time, and that's something I had completely stopped doing in FL because my older kids were, well, older, and their days have to count for more, and so my littlest lost out.  So today I'm thankful for this group of Christian folks who send me emails and teach me to crochet and share my love of Publix (2 others have recently moved from FL too) and just generally have been a blessing to me.
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Friday, November 21, 2014

Thankful Day 21

I'm thankful for our co-op.  Wow, those are words I wasn't sure I'd ever say.  I'm such a rebel, and being part of a co-op means giving up control of my schedule and taming my wild-hair self to the routine of someone else's school plans.  But really, this has been such a blessing to us.  First, Sari's, just wow.  Amazing ladies.  I could never be like them, even when I grow up.  For my FL friends, one is like Steph K and the other like Tracy Lee, and they both are amazing, and they love my little girl, and she's doing great despite this newly developed super-intense separation anxiety.
And my TJ?  He's found a friend.  His friend's sweet mamma is not quite sure how to take me and my tendency to just say whatever I'm thinking and to not have nearly the social filter that the rest of polite society has, but she is really trying for the boys' sakes to make it work, and I admire her for that..I am, I know, and acquired taste.
Mimi has made a friend or two as well, and they even like anime, so that's a huge bonus.  She took a fabulous acrylics class this semester, and a health class based on Lifepaks that she LOVED because she loved the teachers, so that was a huge win too.
Anyway, the co-op had they end-of-semester family night last night, and it was really, really impressive, and I thought, "I love this."  I especially loved seeing all my little 2 year olds all around the room.  They would see me and smile shyly.  They melt my heart.  I think I may just have to ask to work with them again in the spring.
So tonight, I'm thankful for our co-op and for all the volunteers who work so hard to make it run like a well oiled machine every week.
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thankful Day 20

I'm thankful I'm not homeless.  And I don't say that lightly.  There is a woman I pass every week on my way home from aqua fitness. She is older than I am, but not by much, and she is homeless.  She has a cardboard sign asking for money on the ramp coming off the interstate near my house.  Aqua fitness wasn't always at this same pool, so I didn't pass her before, but now I try to make sure I have money to give her.  It's my intention to put together a bag also for her and to try to see what she might need and see if I can help her out.  Our church has a weekly food pantry with a hot meal, but I don't know her situation to know if she could get there, etc.  Today it was 32 degrees as I was driving home.  She told me she was wearing 6 layers of clothes, but that it was really cold at night.  There but by the grace of God go any of us...So today, I'm thankful that I'm not homeless, but that I have the ability to help someone who is, and that God allows my youngest daughter to be part of that too, since she is with me.  I always try to support people in need because it's the right thing to do, and I want my children to see that and know that, and not be afraid to do the same, or worse to judge someone for their situation.  I know along the way there will be a scam artist or two, but I also know God will get them for that in the's just up to me to behave in the way He commands. and be obedient to Him.
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thankful Day 19

I'm thankful for our town.  I was driving around the other day and I realized that when I told people we were moving, I'd always tell them we were moving to the neighboring city that everyone recognizes.  But the truth is, we don't live there, although the boundary line is walking distance from our house.  We live in a neighboring "town" that is 7 times the size of the city we moved from.  And as stringent as they are about their guidelines and keeping the town beautiful, I've come to love it.  It really is a beautiful place to live, and the convenience of it's proximity to everywhere we want and need to go it just fantastic.  When God finally sells our FL house and green-lights our buying a house here, I'm not sure what He will have for us, but I'm thankful today for the town we are living in now.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thankful Day 18

This boy.  I'm thankful for this boy.  He is our sponsor child through Compassion International.  He lives in Thailand, a country near and dear to our hearts as we have a close family friend from there.  Our sweet young man is the same age as our Sari- in fact their birthdays are a month apart.  What a blessing it is to be able to be part of changing someone's life, of teaching them about Jesus, of loving on them from half a world away by providing for their needs and the needs of their family too.  We love to receive his sweet letters and his drawings that show skill well beyond his years.  So today, and everyday, I'm thankful for this young man and I'm blessed to be able to be part of his life.
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Monday, November 17, 2014

Thankful Day 17

Is it shallow to be thankful for my boots?  I'm loving being somewhere where I can wear boots more often.  And I really, really like these boots.  I got them at some teenie-bopper store that I was at with my legitimate teenie-bopper daughter sometime last year.  I love them most of all because they are flats, so they are comfortable to wear, but they also feel a little sassy because they go over my knee, or I can fold them down to knee height.  Fun!  Boot, and boot wearing weather, that's what I'm thankful for!
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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thankful Day 16

I'm thankful for our church.  We are currently working through Nehemiah, and I thought Sam, our "Associate Campus Pastor" did such a good job.  We are blessed to have really great teachers as pastors, but beyond that, they are really great people.  Our "Lead Pastor" is in our life group (what we call our small groups) and we've loved getting to know him and his family.  I can't sing the praises of our youth leader enough.  I love her.  She is full of energy, and on fire for the Lord, and just so COOL.  You can't help but like her.  And the kids all know she really cares about them.  She even will attend their events like swim meets, etc.  So I'm thankful for our church because they are pointing people to Jesus in a genuine way.
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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thankful Day 15

Today I'm thankful for 2 year olds who aren't my own :-).  At our co-op, you spend one hour in Bible study, and one hour helping in a class or teaching a class, etc.  Being new this semester, I just got put where ever they needed help.  That turned out to be the 2 year old room.  There are 16 of them, and 3 of us, and BOY do I come home exhausted.  But over the course of the semester, I've come to really love these little guys.  Especially this little guy above.  He went through a bout of not feeling well a few weeks back, and decided I was the one he was going to snuggle with for that whole class period.  Since then, every week, he's sought me out whenever he needed a little respite from the crazy that is a room full of 2 year olds.  He couldn't get enough of the camera last week, but since I don't know his mom very well, I'll stick with just this picture that blocks his sweet little face.  So two year olds that I can love on and then send home with their families-that's what I'm thankful for today.
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Friday, November 14, 2014

Thankful Day 14

Today, I'm thankful for time I got to spend outside-just me, my camera, and God- capturing the beauty that is fall.  I'd love to show you some of what I captured, but I haven't even begun processing those pictures yet.  But that time I spent this afternoon?  It was therapeutic to my soul.  I'm always in my happy place when my camera is in my hand, and even more so when I'm just free to wander and photograph whatever strikes my fancy.  Since I can't share with you one of those, I'll share a picture from a recent field trip because it expresses how today made me feel on the inside.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thankful Day 13

Today I'm thankful for my review opportunities.  God has really used reviewing to bless our family with curriculum and entertainment opportunities we wouldn't have otherwise.  But beyond that, I have this amazing network of cyber-friends.  While for the most part we have never met in real life, we have reviewed together for years, and I know I can trust their opinions.  But I also know them.  I know their lives and their kids, and there is a sense of friendship there that I would not have if I had not had these review opportunities.  I've been very blessed, and even when reviews are tough because they aren't easy to write, I'm thankful I have the opportunity to do them and I'm thankful for the friends I've made along the way.
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Saving Christmas Review and Giveaway

"Sure, don't max out your credit cards," Kirk says. "But remember, this is a celebration of the eternal God taking on a material body. So it's right that our holiday is marked with material things."

Say what?  Oh, how I wanted to love this movie.  I want to love every Christian movie.  I want every Christian movie to prove to the world that Christian movies can tell an awesome story AND be entertaining AND glorify God at the same time...and yet...many fall short.  

Enter Saving Christmas.

I want to say upfront that I got the chance to preview this film in my home before it was released in theaters.  I also want to add that I got the chance to be part of an awesome phone conference call with Kirk Cameron himself about the movie, and his life, and his family's traditions, and I liked so many of the things he had to say.  But I would be remiss if I let that wonderful experience sway me from being balanced in this review, so will be nothing but fully honest about my thoughts on Saving Christmas.

Before I go any further, here is the official "blurb" about the movie, in case you don't know much about it: 
This Christmas, have your family join with Kirk Cameron’s family and dive headfirst into all the joy, dancing, celebration, feasting, imagination, and traditions that glorify the true “reason for the season.” KIRK CAMERON’S SAVING CHRISTMAS is an engaging story that provides a biblical basis for our time-honored traditions and celebrations, and the inspiration to stand strongly against a culture that wants to trivialize and eliminate the faith elements of this holy season. So take in the splendor; take in the majesty; take in the story. Take it all in… and let’s put Christ back in Christmas! KIRK CAMERON’S SAVING CHRISTMAS is in theaters for a limited engagement beginning November 14 for two weeks only!

The general story line is that Kirk (who plays himself) is at a Christmas party at his sister's house.  Her husband is having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year, and in fact ends up leaving the party and sitting in the car.  Kirk seeks him out, and as the brother-in-law protests about the materialism of the "stuff" and the paganism of the symbols, Kirk provides "Biblical" basis for them to show his brother-in-law that those things really DO "belong" in our Christmas celebration.
His brother-in-law is converted, regrets his bah-humbug ways, and joins the party.  He caps it off with an elaborate dance number to show he really "gets it" now.

Soooooo...this is what I thought.  I thought parts of it were brilliant.  I thought parts of it weren't.  I thought a lot of the explanations were huge leaps, which is unfortunate, because they then cast doubt on the factual things for people who don't know their history well.  And I think that presented differently, presented as "this is how you CAN explain these things" instead of this is how they are Biblically justified would have really, REALLY been a more accurate way to do it.

So let me give you some examples.

The first symbol they tackle is the nativity, which really, I think, no one questions is a natural part of the holiday celebration.  The brother-in-law is jaded by the fact that the one true symbol of Jesus's birth is cast to the side to make room for all the other things.  Instead of addressing that specific concern, Kirk goes into a cool "make you think in a way you haven't before" story about how Jesus was wrapped in swaddling cloth at birth and then again at death.  Interesting concept? Yes.  Does it have anything to do with the nativity not being front and center of the family Christmas celebration?  Nope.

Then there's the tree.  This was a HUGE leap to me.  Ask some Christians, and they'll tell you, unashamedly, that the Christmas tree comes from pagan roots.  Others will tell you what I always was told-that Martin Luther was taking a walk one snowy evening, saw an evergreen with snowy boughs and the starlight sparkling through them, and was so struck by the beauty that he went home and cut down a tree and brought it inside his house.  He used candles as lights, and voila, the first decorated Christmas tree was born.  Either way (explained here), that's not Kirk's explanation.  He says they are Biblical.  That Christmas trees have their root in the trees in Genesis-the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life.  And that the first Christmas tree (and this is where he lost me, and I couldn't go back and get the quote because I was watching with my family and we could only watch it once) was the menorah in the temple?  Except that the menorah was made of GOLD.  He said something about it having fruit (like our trees have ornaments), but it didn't.  It have cups shaped like almond flowers, and maybe that's what he meant? And then it had lights, obviously, being a menorah, like our trees have lights.  There was also this thought process about the fruit that Adam stole in the garden being put back on the tree when Christ hung on the cross, but what that has to do with Christmas I do not know, unless the tree really does symbolizes the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Below is a quote from near the end of the movie where he talks more about the tree, and describes the presents around the tree as the skyline of the New Jerusalem and tree as the tree in the middle of the city, which I'm pretty sure is the Tree of Life, so it can't be the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, right?  One analogy works or the other, but they can't both be true...they are two different trees...but I digress.  Here's the quote:

So that quote?  That's the redeeming value right there.  If this movie presented these ideas, not as Biblical truth, but as ways of using the symbols and traditions we have today to tell the story of Jesus, THAT would be a more correct presentation of fact in my perspective.  Nothing in the Bible says the lights on our Christmas trees ARE the stars announcing Jesus's birth, because nothing in the Bible even mentions US celebrating a holiday called Christmas, let alone decorating an evergreen tree for it.  BUT, nothing is stopping us, as individual Christians, from telling our children, "See there lights?  They remind us of the star that appeared over Bethlehem the night Jesus was born."  Or, "They remind us that Jesus is the light of the world."  

Another tradition the movie tackles is Santa.  If you don't know the story of Saint Nicholas, he is indeed, on our side.  And he is indeed the origin of Santa Claus.  Go on, say Saint Nicholas as a Dutch or German immigrant...Sint Nik-lous (phonetically)...say it again...and again.  He became Sante Claus here in the early 1800's.  And then Santa Claus.  So if that little tidbit is new to you, the movie provides much more detail about the life of Saint Nicholas that might make Santa more palatable, if you find yourself in the anti-Santa camp.  

So for that reason, I'd recommend Saving Christmas.  It will make you think.  Think of the why behind your holiday decorations and traditions.  I'm not sure I'm drinking the Kool-Aid about all the justifications.  In fact, I know I'm not.  But I did come away with some good ideas for ways to put Jesus into, say, a nutcracker, that I had not thought of before.  My husband thought the movie was boring and my teenage daughter left the room before it was over, so I want to be fair and say that as movies go, it's not super entertaining.  It's informative, and unapologetic, and I think it is heavy handed on the "materialism is not a bad thing" message because all this stuff is just stuff and it's storing up treasures where thieves and rust can destroy, and I love hot cocoa as much as the next person, but I don't need special mugs with reindeer on them to drink it out of just because my Savior took material form.  So when I say the movie will make you think, it will make you think about the things you agree with, the things you disagree with, and the things you never thought of before.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, as too often today, our entertainment doesn't challenge us to think at all, but do your homework-search the scriptures and know them for yourself so that you can take what works for you and what is "sound", and leave the rest.

Saving Christmas opens November 14th for a 2 week limited engagement in theaters across the country.  You can find Saving Christmas on Facebook or see what theaters it's playing at on Saving Christmas's website.  

And now...the GIVEAWAY!  This one is awesome.  I want the CD!!!  You guys are so lucky.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thankful Day 12

I'm thankful for Precept Ministries and for Kay Arthur.  I've learned SO MUCH as a Christian because of Precept's inductive Bible studies.  I love them.  They keep me accountable to being in God's word and to studying it and accurately dividing it and really help me to know WHY I believe WHAT I believe.  I think everyone should do them.  I'm so passionate about them, I became a Precept leader, but I've never gotten to lead a class because most churches require you to be a member there to be a leader, and I've never attended a church that has Precepts- I always to my studies at a church that isn't even "my" church.  But I love that we are all one in the family of God, and God really pushes my little introvert horizons by making me step WAY out of my comfort zone to go to a church that isn't even my own and learn about and discuss His word with ladies who initially are total strangers.  But those strangers soon become friends, and that's another thing I'm thankful to Precept for.  Tonight, I'll go to my Leviticus class, and I can't wait.  Precepts-it's what I'm thankful for today.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thankful Day11

I'm thankful for my nephews.  Today is B's birthday.  Next month will be Bam-Bam's.  But for this one brief moment-almost a month each year-the three (youngest) cousins are all 9 years old.

My kids and B-My husband's sister's son

My kids and Bam-Bam-My sister's son

For a long time we weren't sure our kids would have cousins, so I'm very thankful for the two that they have.  In both families, these will be the only cousins they ever have (unless my sister remarries someone with kids), and my brother and his wife are not planning to have kids, so I'm very thankful for these two guys!

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Thankful Day 10

Tonight, I'm thankful for our Sabbath week.  A few years ago, after reading about the idea on a fellow reviewer's blog, we adopted the 6 weeks on, one week off school schedule.  The week off is our Sabbath week, and it allows me to do all the planning for the next 6 weeks (or in this case, all the planning through our Christmas break) and gives the kids a bit of a break.  I love this schedule, and it works really, really well for us.  And I love our Sabbath week.  Today was dentist appointments, but we will try to do some fun things later this week, and daddy may even surprise them with a day off.  Sabbath week-that's what I'm thankful for today.
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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Thankful Day 9

Today, I'm thankful for unexpected FB love and check-ins from "home".  I posted a picture on FB of me wearing a headband I had knitted for my daughter.  She decided she didn't want it because it doesn't have any blue in it, so I guess I'm keeping it for me.  When I posted the picture it prompted a few very kind "we miss you" comments and a few "when are you moving back" comments too.  It's always nice to be reminded that you are loved.  Then today we got a phone call from our neighbors who live behind our FL house for part of the year (they are "snowbirds").  They saw that we had interest in the house and that there were other cars there and had met the people who made an offer on the house, and they wanted to check in with us and give us an update on how they were doing and how some of the other neighbors were doing.  It was really nice to hear from them today.  I love our new home state, and unless God leads us somewhere else, I have no intention of leaving-we are very happy here.  But it's nice to be reminded that we are loved and missed.  That our decades in FL touched more than the circle of our longtime friends and family.  So I'm thankful today for unexpected expressions of love from afar.
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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Thankful Day 8

I know this is going to sound terribly shallow to some of you, but today I'm thankful for Publix.

When we moved here, I was excited to have Kroger nearby again.  But our closest Kroger is an old store and horribly, horribly organized.  They just reorganized and made it worse instead of better.  I've been shopping as the keeper of a home for a few decades now.  I'm not new to this.  But that store?  AWFUL.  It takes me FOREVER to find anything.  And Harris Teeter is slightly better organized (although they keep the bottled water on the wine aisle, and I don't think it's a Jesus thing), but way higher priced.
So ever since the day we moved here and found out that there was a Publix under construction about 15 minutes away, I have been waiting...and waiting...and waiting.  Well, last week they opened, and yesterday my baby girl and I went.  They have been SOOO busy since they opened.  Even at 3:30 the parking lot was full.  But I got a rotisserie chicken, and spinach dip, and buffalo chicken dip, and BOGO cereal and miracle whip, and White Mountain bread, and some Santa's White Christmas Yogurt because, well, I just couldn't pass THAT up.  And all I really went for was milk.  And the spinach dip to take to a neighbor's party last night.  So today, I'm eating well, and I'm thankful that Publix is in town-even if I did drive past FIVE (seriously, five) other grocery stores to get there.
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Friday, November 7, 2014

Thankful Day 7

Friday.  It's Friday.  And that's what I'm thankful for.  I know, it's cliche, but it's true.  I'm thankful for the end of another week, and the beginning of a weekend.  The opportunity to have my husband home with us for 2 days straight.  Even though the weekends tend to be filled up with their own craziness, I'm thankful for Fridays and the shift from the normal day-to-day of us doing school and daddy going to work to all of us doing whatever the weekend brings.  And this particular weekend is looking blissfully empty beyond church, youth group, and serving at the food pantry.  I'm loving that!
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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thankful Day 6

These girls.

 Sari's never had her own friends.  Not that she hasn't had friends...but they've always been the younger siblings of HER older siblings' friends.  Now, she has two sets of sister/friends in our neighborhood.  One homeschools, and they were our first friends here.  Sadly, I have no good pictures of the 3 of them together.  These other girls live a few houses down, and they've become like sisters to Sari.  That's the 3 of them huddled under blankets on our driveway this weekend as a cold front rolled through.  They saw me taking a picture and quickly buried themselves so they were invisible.  I'm so thankful Sari has friends of her own, developed independent of her siblings-just girls whose company she enjoys.  And the one set has also turned into babysitting opportunities for Mimi, so that's nice too.  So girlfriends for Sari-even when it means that Monopoly stays spread out all over our front room floor for over a week as they play through their game-that's what I'm thankful for.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Thankful Day 5

Today I'm thankful for old friends.  The ones whose kids I have watched grow up...the ones whose kids I have known since they were just glimmers in their respective parents' eyes.  Losing out on physical proximity to them is one bittersweet thing about moving out of state, but thankfully, all this technology we have access to today allows us to stay in touch with each other.  I had a great chat with my friend Marie just yesterday (sometimes it can take us weeks to catch up on the phone), and I was reminded again how dear my friends are to me.  So in this season of my life where I find myself having to make "new" friends in our new home state, I'm very thankful for my "old" friends.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Thankful Day 4

Remember yesterday's post about the offer on the house?  Well today I'm thankful for our church family right before we moved from FL.  We were only at that church about a year, but in that year they were such a blessing to us.  Such a balm to my soul.  Such a beautiful example of the church in Acts truly doing life together, and holding each other accountable in a loving way.  I love them all.

The most recent offer on the house gave me a reason to have to contact my former pastor's wife (to get a phone number which it turns out was actually in my cell phone's contact list the whole time) and we had a nice chat.

Then I needed to make a difficult call.  A wonderful sister in Christ had asked to have the piano that we had not been able to move from FL.  It's still sitting in our FL house.  I truly was beyond happy to be able to tell her YES, you may have it, I'd love for you to have it!  But then she wasn't able to get it out of the house.  It's big, and heavy, and she's a single mom with very, very limited means.  She appealed for help, but no one (or two or ten guys) was able...and so the piano just sat there in our house.

Well the people who made the offer?  They want the piano.  And the pool table.  And a few other things.  But the piano was the issue, since I had already promised that to my friend.  So I needed to call her.  And my friend, she could not be more gracious.  She saw God's hand in it all.  Oh course, she said, if they want the piano, let them have the piano.  That must have been the reason I could never muster the help I needed to get it out of there...God had a different plan.  Her faith is so beautiful to me.  She really, really has a "hard luck" story.  But never has she wavered in her faith, and always has God provided for her.  Not always when she thought...or what she thought.  But always what she needed, and sometimes in crazy abundance.  I've been blessed to know her, and all that church family.  Rarely do you make bonds so deep in such a short comes only from living the way God commands and truly caring for each other head of your own needs or wants.

We came there broken and needy.  God knew that, and used them to restore our faith, not in Him, because that hadn't wavered, but in His people.  So SNL (as they were known when we went there), the church that gained national notoriety for their "Scumbags Welcome" billboards- that's who I'm thankful for today.

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Their Name is Today Review and Giveaway

About the book:  “If you want to glean insights into how to raise and influence children to be more compassionate and considerate, more courageous and confident, more independent, secure, and unselfish; if you want your children to be more loving and joy-filled, then get reading!” —excerpt from Mark K. Shriver’s Foreword (President of Save the Children Action Network)

Despite a perfect storm of hostile forces that threaten to deny children a healthy, happy childhood, courageous parents and teachers can turn the tide. Yes, we can reclaim childhood, says Johann Christoph Arnold, whose books have helped more than a million readers through the challenges of education and family life. In Their Name Is Today, he highlights drastic changes in the way our society treats children. But he also brings together the voices of dedicated parents and educators who are finding creative ways to give children the time and space they need to grow. Cutting through the noise of conflicting opinions, Arnold takes us to the heart of education and parenting by defending every child’s right to the joy and wonder of childhood.
About the author:
A noted speaker and writer on marriage, parenting, and end-of-life issues, Arnold is a senior pastor of the Bruderhof, a movement of Christian communities. With his wife, Verena, he has counseled thousands of individuals and families over the last forty years, as well as serving as an advisor at several innovative private schools. Arnold’s message has been shaped by encounters with great peacemakers such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Dorothy Day, Cėsar Chavez, and John Paul II. Born in Great Britain in 1940 to German refugees, Arnold spent his boyhood years in South America, where his parents found asylum during the war; he immigrated to the US in 1955. He and his wife have eight children, forty-four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. They live in upstate New York.

OBM says:  I don't know that many of my friends in the homeschooling, super-invested as parents, community would find this book very insightful, as most of what it has to offer is exactly the wisdom behind what we do and why.  But for my family members who think I'm crazy for doing what I do, and for those who are watching their children's childhood slip by in not-at-all the way their own childhood was spent, it might be very informative.  Some of the suggestions include understanding the need for children and their value to society, valuing play as their work, letting kids experience trying and failing and trying again, spending time away from "screens", taming materialism, being consistent in discipline, meeting the needs of difficult children by discovering how to support them, and showing children how to treat everyone with respect.  While it's written in a positive, affirming manner, and it makes references to God, it's not overtly Christian, and even non-Christians would glean wisdom from it.  The resources quoted through the book come from a myriad of sources, none of which is the Bible, but rather are other books and articles on childhood development.
You can read more about or purchase Their Name is Today on the Plough Publishing House website.

If you'd like to win a copy of Their Name is Today, and you are a resident of the U.S. or Canada, just enter the giveaway below.

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Thankful Day 3

We have an offer on our house in FL.  Well, actually, we have a third offer on our house, because the first two couldn't actually afford our house.  We are praying this is the right one, but mostly praying God's will be done.  So and offer on our house?  That's what I'm thankful for today!
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A Lifelong Love Review and Giveaway

Can I be honest?  I've been a Christian for, well, as long as I can remember.  And I've been actively pursuing God and His word for a long time now.  But other than the Bible and some Christian biographies, I don't tend to read a lot of Christian-ese books, especially self-help books.  So usually, I have no idea who popular authors are, and what they've written, and whether they are scripturally sound or not.

So I honestly had no idea who Gary Thomas, the author of A Lifelong Love, was.  I can be totally shallow and say part of me was intrigued by the fact that he was the Second Baptist Church in Houston.  See, my friends and I have often talked about how you never see "Second" Baptist churches.  They usually take some other name.  But there Mr. Thomas was, from the Second Baptist Church of Houston.  Love it.

But it was more than that.  I felt like God was saying, "You need this book."  See, the subtitle is, "What if Marriage is About More Than Just Staying Together?"  Because my husband and I, we are committed to our marriage, to staying together, but lately...we've been going through one of those times.  Those times that leave you feeling like there MUST be more.  Like you've lost something in the translation of kids, and bills, and jobs, and sleepless nights, and the worries of this life.  And I really, really want it to be different.  And then this review came along...

About the book (Hardcover, 316 pages):
Discover how to live out a sacred marriage. You believe your marriage has eternal purposes. you long for it to reach beyond your home and encourage others. But what does it look like to have a spiritually intentional relationship in the midst of dirty dishes, work deadlines, and car pools? In Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas showed us that God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy. Now, in A Lifelong Love, Thomas gives us the practical tools to craft our marriages into inspiring relationships that breathe spiritual life to others. Whatever season of marriage you are in, A Lifelong Love gives your the practical help you need to infuse your marriage with a spiritual passion that will not only change you but will change the world around you.

OBM says:  I loved this books from the moment I opened it.  There is so much wisdom to glean here, and not just for me, but for me to try to communicate to my children as they mature and will one day be looking to marry.  Because the book talks about (very appropriate, Godly, within marriage) sex, I wouldn't just hand it to a teen to read, but there are ideas I want to communicate to them like this one:
Divorce rates testify that spouses who were once enthralled with each other--gripped by an infatuation so intense they could scarcely stand to be apart--eventually get bored with each other and now can't bear to live in the same house.  Such shifts testify to the reality that none of us is so enthralling that we can keep someone enchanted for five of six decades.  No one.  Five or six dates?  No problem.  Five or six years? That's a challenge.  Five of six decades?  Good luck with that.
His premise is that we must individually have a singular focus, and that that focus must be God, our "magnificent obsession."  If we are focused on God and loving Him, then as that love deepens, it will deepen our love for our spouse because we will love the presence of God in them.  But that's just the first chapter.  He provides practical application throughout the rest of the book to make that a reality.

I LOVED this description of God as your Father-in-Law in the book, which also appears as a blog post on the author's blog and I liked this quote.

 It's a challenging read whether you are the husband or the wife, because he takes both to task, and as often as I found myself thinking, "I wish my husband was reading this" I also though, "Ouch!"   But as convicting as it is, I think it's vital.  If you are committed to marriage for the long haul, you are (God willing) going to have decades together.  Just co-existing isn't going to cut it, and it isn't the relationship God talks about when He speaks of marriage in the Bible. Marriages take work, and sacrifice, and they take three, with God in the center.  And if you want practical advice on how that works, A Lifelong Love is the book you need.
(By the way, I haven't read Sacred Marriage, and I don't think that was a hindrance at all.)

You can read more about the book on A Lifelong Love's website or Gary Thomas's Facebook page.

Want to win a copy of the book?  Just enter below!  Open to U.S. and Canada residents only.

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Thankful Day 2-Fall

Today, I'm thankful for fall:

Yes, it might mean that my hands are freezing, and that my nose is running, but it's SOOOO pretty.  Color is exploding everywhere:
This is my drive to the grocery store on a rainy afternoon, and still beautiful color everywhere, even when the skies are dreary.  I don't have to drive to a destination to see it, I just have to look out my windows.

This is the street across from us:

I'm so thankful to God for giving us eyes that can see the colors of fall, and for making tree leaves change color at all.  Our world is pretty beautiful as is, but seasons each have their own splendor and make you appreciate God's creation and attention to detail even more.

So fall, I'm thankful for fall.  And as soon as I'm feeling better, I'm going to be out collecting some of those gorgeous leaves.

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Three Things Thursday- on Saturday, because I never know what day it is

1) It's November 1st, and I've got so much to be thankful for...I'd love to blog everyday about my blessings, so I'm setting that as a goal.  We will see how that goes ;-).  I'll start with this- We are at a church that has different levels of "commitment"- serving, life groups, and then core groups, or small accountability groups.  Yesterday I joined a core group.  For my FL CCOTL friends, it's kind of like Salt and Light, except we S.O.A.P. through different books of the bible, and we all do the same chapters.  Two of the ladies in my core group are in my life group too, so I already knew them, making the work a little easier for this introvert ;-).  So core group-that's my first thing I'm thankful for.

2)  My poor kids, I started this blog with the intent of chronicling our live, but we get so busy LIVING them that I never do.  So, TJ played soccer this fall.  His team had 30 kids on it, and they just broke those kids up into 2 teams to play 11v11 games each week.  I love watching him play, but I'm also glad at the end of the season to have my Saturday mornings back, as his games were at 9:15.

3)  I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.  I love that it lets me lurk into others lives and keep up with them without requiring a lot of energy-an introvert's dream.  But I hate the way people expect you to know all about their lives because they posted it to FB.  I don't live on FB, and I miss things all the time.  People just assume you know because they posted about it on FB, but FB changes every second, and if you aren't there that second to read it, poof! it's gone.  I mean, I know it's still there, but how am I to know I need to go to your wall to read something earth shattering that happened to you last night while I slept?  Anyhow...I guess my point is too often we left FB do the job of disseminating information that really would have required a personal phone call or letter or something even a decade ago.  But I digress.  My #3 has to do with something I read on FB.  It was a post about being a "Highly Sensitive Parent".  It linked to this blog.  That post isn't the one the FB post linked to, but another on the same thread.  But I thought, "Hey, that's me."  I LOVE my children...but they overwhelm me.  I can't handle their noise.  I can't handle the chaos.  It physically and mentally makes me tired.  I have to take quiet time every day.  My own little time out after lunch because my cup is overflowing.  I've heard and experienced all I can, and I need time to decompress.  We resume after about an hour, and I feel much better.  Like all things in life, I'm not sure having a name for it changes anything, but I do find solace in the fact that I am not alone.  That there are others out there like me who love their kiddos but need a break from them to be able to love them some more later.  So that's me, the highly sensitive parent.

To link up with Three Things Thursday, just visit Heidi's blog.

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