Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010...Welcome 2011!

PhotobucketStart a blog. check
Read the entire Bible. check
Step out of my comfort zone and make new friends. check
Learn a new trait. {knitting} check
Cook more wholesome, homemade, meals. check

These are the goals I accomplished this year. Did I start out the year intending to complete all of these? No! But, as the year progressed, I discovered new challenges and made them my goals to learn and accomplish.

This was a good year for me. I honestly can't complain. But I am looking forward to starting fresh in the New Year. A clean slate, if you will. New challenges to partake in and new adventures to embark on. I enjoy doing so many different things and I love the fact that I have a whole new year to try and do them all.

This year I am going to be starting a prayer journal. Journaling as part of my Christian walk has not always been a strong suit for me, but that is all going to change this year. I bought my crisp, clean, leather journal and am ready to start on January 1st. Turning verses into heartfelt prayers to the One who has blessed me with so much. I am looking forward to being drawn closer to Him and having my relationship grow. Falling deeper and deeper in love, with Him!

I want to spend this year reading. Books have always been my passion, but since having kids I have let that passion slip away. I don't spend nearly as much time reading as I used to and I miss it, a lot! So, making more time to read is high up on my list. I plan on visiting the classics as well as reading a few Christian Historical Fiction books that have been on my TBR pile for way to long.

Getting healthy and staying healthy. {isn't this one on everyone's list?} I want to exercise more and make healthier eating choices. Buying more fresh foods and staying away from the processed junk! I am going to try, very hard, to get up earlier and spend time excercisng; my soul first, then my body! Health and fitness are both something my husband is very passionate about. He gets up every morning and heads to the gym. He eats no sugar and drinks no caffeinated beverages. {well, except for an occasional cup o' joe!} I am hoping and praying to develop his practices so we can both be in shape and healthy, not only for ourselves and each other, but for our kids too!

My husband and I have also been talking about doing family devotions in the evening. My youngest is getting old enough to sit and at least listen and my oldest has been ready for quite sometime. {it's my husband and I that have been slacking} I believe that a firm foundation starts at home, first. Then the church helps aid in building that foundation up. But, if your homelife is lacking in devotions and Christ-centered talk and activities, your childrens foundations are sure to slip. I don't want this for my children. I want them to have such a deep and passionate love for Jesus. I want to be the one to teach them and show them His love and just how much He loves us! I am heading out tomorrow actually to purchase a kid-friendly version of the Bible and we are starting this resolution asap!

Lastly, I want to spend more time being creative. I enjoy knitting and sewing as well as writing my heart out to all of you! {thank you for listening by the way!} I want to knit my kids some new hats, mittens, and scarves for next winter as well as some blankets and socks and cute little knitted dolls and animals. I want to sew more dresses for my daughter and make some pants and fleece pj's for my son! I have so many ideas swirling around in my head and I am hoping to get to them all this year! I also want to make my blog great! I have had so much fun coming here on a regular basis and "speaking" to all of you! I have met some amazing people through my blogging journey and I cannot wait to see what 2011 has in store for me, here, in my comfy, little, internet, home! So, thank you, again, for coming here and reading what I have to say. I hope I have blessed you just as much as you have blessed me!

There's my list of resolutions for 2011! I may or may not keep all of them {hoping I do}, but I feel better knowing I have set some goals for myself. It will keep me challenged throughout the year. {and we all know how much I love a good challenge!}

Praying you all have a wonderfully blessed New Year!

No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. ~ Philippians 3:13-14

Happy New Year from my family to yours!


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

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Don't forget to come back tomorrow and link-up for the Jane Austen 2011 Challenge!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Word-Filled Wednesday! {Matthew 10:32-33}

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Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. ~ Matthew 10:32-33

This verse is straight to the point. There isn't any doubt what Jesus was trying to say. Let your light shine ever so brightly for Jesus Christ and let the world know you are changed because of Him!
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Linked up at:
iFellowship

Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. ~ 1 Chronicles 22:13

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bliss

What a wondeful Christmas weekend! I hope and pray you all enjoyed your family and friends this weekend as much as I did!

I hosted Christmas this year in my tiny, little, home, but we were all together and it was quite cozy! The kids received such wonderful gifts and the hubby and I got so many gift cards to use towards date nights that we can't wait to start using them!

The greatest gift, for me, this year, was time with family and the fact that both sides of my family {mine and hubby's} were under one roof getting along. It was beautiful! More than I could have ever asked for.


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My family!




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My side of the family. My sister and her husband and their dog, Kona. My Mom and Dad {my dad is holding Little Man and my mom is holding Busy Bee}! My Grandma and Uncle and the hubs and I holding our "other" children, Gracie and Lillie


Now as we start preparing our hearts and minds for the New Year, I wanted to remind you of a few things that you can get involved in. {i know i probably sound like a broken record, but these are great challenges that I don't want you to miss out on!}

I really hope you will consider joining in all or at least one of the above mentioned challenges with me! I like a good challenge to help hold me accountable for things I have set out to do!

I am looking forward to spending this year reading, knitting {which I haven't mentioned at all lately}, sewing, blogging, and getting to know you, my readers, all the better. Thank you for making this so fun for me! I love blogging and look forward to what the new year has in store!


[Jesus said,] "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." ~ Matthew 11:28

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!


“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.'" ~ Matthew 1:23

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ~ Isaiah 9:6

Praising God for the Perfect Gift of His Son Jesus Christ!

Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas! May you experience the Love of Jesus this Christmas Season...the most beautiful of gifts!

You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. ~ Luke 1:14

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jane Austen 2011 Challenge! UPDATE {a small change and some fun news!}

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I am so excited for this challenge to start, but at the same time I am extremely nervous. Being that this is my first time hosting a reading challenge, I really want it to be a success and a lot of fun for all who sign-up.

I considered shortening the challenge to 3 or 6 months, but decided against the idea for the simple fact that, if you are anything like me, you are taking on several reading challenges for the New Year and just don't need them to be all crammed in at the beginning of the year. This way, you can enjoy reading other novels and joining in other challenges {like the Lucy Maud Montgomery, Reading the Classics, and Bible in 90 Days Challenge(s)} and still read and enjoy a little bit of Jane, or Jane inspired novels, throughout the year.

So, all that being said, the official sign-up linky will go live Saturday, January 1st and stay open until Friday, January 7th at 11:59 pm {est}. {Sorry for all of you who already linked up to the other post! The wheels just kept turning with this one! :) }

On the 2nd Friday of every month, I will have a check-in post where you can come and link-up your progress, discuss some fun questions that I will have posted, as well as enter for your chance to win some fun giveaways! I am planning on a giveaway once every three months for the entire year of the challenge! {i just LOVE giving stuff away!} But, you must be signed up with Mr. Linky between January 1st-January 7th to enter to win throughout the year! Anyone can join in on the challenge at anytime of the year, but only those participants that are signed up initially can enter for a chance to win the prizes. I am only doing this so that the people who stay true to the challenge get the chance to win and not just someone who happens to stop by my blog that day I am hosting the giveaway! Sound fair? I think so! :)

{To check out the basic rules of the challenge visit this link!}

With that being said, would you like a sneak peak at what the prizes will be? I knew you would!

*A copy of one of Jane's books! {winner chooses which title}
* A DVD copy of Pride & Prejudice {with Colin Firth!}
* An i-clips gift pack from Peter Pauper Press {thanks to Carrie at Reading to Know for introducing me to these cute little bookmarks and a lovely shop!}
* And the GRAND PRIZE!! *drumroll please!* A $25.00 Gift Card to use at Amazon.com!

I hope you will spread the word about this challenge and help me make my first reading challenge a success! Don't forget to come back January 1st-January 7th to sign-up! {sign-ups from December 10th will not count towards winning the prizes throughout the year. Again I apologize to those who already linked up to that post!}

Thanks again to all who enter! Looking forward to a fun year of reading with all of you!


"You, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." ~ Micah 5:2

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Word-Filled Wednesday {Luke 2:12}

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This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. ~ Luke 2:12

I found this nativity scene while pulling out my Christmas decorations a few weeks ago. I have no idea where it came from and how it got into my box of Christmas stuff, but there it was, my sign to remember why we celebrate! 

I have a nativity scene that I put out every year right underneath my Christmas Tree, but this particular set is a little more special. When I saw it in the box I knew I had to find a place for it in my home, even though I was, and still am, puzzled on where it came from.

When I look at this nativity scene throughout my day, since it sits on a main table in my home, I am reminded, constantly, of the true meaning of this season. It has helped me to focus on what Christmas is all about. To slow down and enjoy all that this Celebration is meant for.

The Celebration of the Birth of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The greatest. day. ever!

It is easy to let all that this time of year brings really weigh us down, but if we all just stop and truly listen and appreciate the joy and amazement, our hearts will be so full.

As Christmas quickly approaches, I encourage you to take a moment to stop and thank God for the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. To read a few chapters in Matthew, Mark, and Luke about the amazing birth and all that led up to it.

Don't let Christmas slip on by without enjoying the true reason of the season!

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linked up at:
iFellowship

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. ~ Luke 2:14

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fall Into Reading 2010 {wrap-up}



I cannot believe fall is ending and winter is beginning. {although it has felt like winter here for quite sometime!}

Earlier this season I signed up for the Fall Into Reading 2010 Challenge hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days. I am very happy to have taken this particular challenge on. It held me accountable to read through my initial list of books before December 20th.

I did read eight books over the past 3 months; three were from my initial list, five were not. To me, that is a huge accomplishment. I haven't read this many books in a 3 month span in a long time! I am very pleased with my progress and am hoping to continue making time to do what I love and to try and read just as many, if not more, each month.

My initial list was as follows:

The Help by Kathrynn Stocket
Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See {which I started but had to stop reading because some parts were just too disturbing and unacceptable for me!}
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

Review Copies on my list were:

Captured by Grace by David Jeremiah {which I am actually currently reading, but just didn't finish in time!}
Catching Moondrops by Jennifer Erin Valent {linked to my review}
Amy Inspired by Bethany Pierce

What I ended up reading:

The Help by Kathrynn Stockett
Amy Inspired by Bethany Pierce
Betsy, Tacy, and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill by Maud Hart Lovelace
Catching Moondrops by Jennifer Erin Valent {linked to my review}
A Dog Named Christmas by Greg Kincaid
The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson
Christmas at Harrington's by Melody Carlson

I am one book short of my initial nine books wanting to have read by today. All in all, I did pretty good and am actually sad to see this challenge end.  But...

I am really excited about the reading challenges starting in the New Year!

If you haven't already, please swing on by and sign up for my Jane Austen 2011 Challenge. I love Jane and am looking forward to this challenge with all of you! {I have another post set to go live this Thursday explaining some exciting news about prizes...stay tuned!}

Another challenge that I cannot wait to start is the Lucy Maud Montgomery Challenge hosted by Carrie at Reading to Know! I have been anticipating the start of this challenge since finding Carrie's lovely blog a few months back and am looking forward to January 3rd!

There is also the Reading the Classics Challenge 2011 hosted by Butterfly Wishes and Wonderland Dreams.

But, if you don't sign-up for any other reading challenge in the New Year, I highly encourage you to join in with me as I read through the Bible In 90 Days! Like I have said before, you will not regret it!

Thanks again, Katrina, for all the fun questions along the way and really making this challenge so enjoyable! Looking forward to doing it again in the Spring!


And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~ Romans 8:28

Monday, December 20, 2010

Just the Two of Us! {gratitude community #37-46}

She's been asking and asking and I have been promising and promising.

"Can we go mama, please?"

"Yes, dear, I promise, as soon as I get some free time."

We headed out one afternoon last week, just the two of us!

Bundled in coats and scarves we braved the cold and enjoyed a hot, delicious, lunch, just the two of us!

With full bellies, we walked, hand in hand, to the theatre.

My mama insticts aside, we walked through the snow covered lawn.

No sidewalks for us.

Kicking up snow and laughing together, just the two of us!

We paid the man for our tickets, ordered a popcorn for just the two of us!

Full of giggles and smiles, we climb the steps to the tippy, top, row, and found our seats.

We settle in, all cozy, just the two of us, and enjoy a wonderful movie!

Afterwards, the hugs, kisses, thank you's, and I love you's, were too much for this sensitive mama to handle!

Buckled into the car, we head home, tears of happiness and complete joy rolling down my face.

Promises kept and hearts full of joy; memories made that will last us a lifetime!

Just me and my little girl! {oh, if she could only stay this little!}

We spent the day, doing what she loved, just the two of us!

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"For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him." 1 Samuel 1:27

#37 Moments spent with my children
#38 Time alone with my hubby
#39 Christmas Sugar Cookies
#40 The babbling from my son
#41 The laughter from my daughter
#42  A generous, loving, earthly, Father
#43 My pastor, and...
#44 ...his wife
#45 Memories captured in a picture
#46 The comfort and relaxation my dogs bring


Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. ~ James 1:22

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mary Did You Know?

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of going to see the B.E. Taylor Christmas Concert with my Mother-In-Law at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least, how enjoyable and entertaining the concert was. If you have never heard of B.E. Taylor, or ever been to a concert of his, I encourage you to check him out.

This is one of my all time favorite Christmas songs, Mary Did You Know? I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!



Have a blessed weekend!


Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. ~ Isaiah 7:14

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Catching Moondrops by Jennifer Erin Valent {review}

I had the pleasure of receiving an ARC copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers. I haven't yet had the pleasure of reading the author's other books, Fireflies in December and Cottonwood Whispers, but after reading and highly enjoying Catching Moondrops, I am going to definitely check it out!


{Description from Tyndale}: Jessilyn Lassiter no longer has to convince people she’s not a child. Having just turned 19 in the summer of 1938, her love for Luke Talley has never been more real. And Luke is finally beginning to care for her in the way she’s always dreamed of. But their budding romance is interrupted when Tal Pritchett—a young, black doctor—comes to Calloway, stealing the heart of Jessilyn’s best friend, Gemma, and stirring up the racial prejudice that has been simmering just beneath the town’s surface. The tension starts to bubble over when Jessie’s elderly neighbor Miss Cleta becomes the first white townsperson to accept Tal’s treatment. And when a young black man is lynched, Calloway is brought to its knees once again as Jessilyn realizes that her anger can make her heart as full of hate as the klan members who have terrorized her town and her family.

Catching Moondrops is filled with characters, whom from the beginning, are easy to fall in love with. Jessilyn and Gemma are the unlikeliest of friends in this novel set in Calloway, Virginia,1938. Being that Jessilyn is white and Gemma is African American, most of the townspeople look down upon this type of friendship, but the girls do not care. They have been friends for as long as they can remember and once tragedy struck Gemma's family, their friendship became even stronger.


The two girls are forced to face even more tragedy and loss as the story unfolds, but in the midst of it all, they find forgiveness, forever friendships, and love everlasting!


I loved this story and think the author painted a beautiful picture of love for one another, despite our differences. She talks about the love of Jesus Christ and how, even though we are sinners, he loves and forgives us as well.


Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:


"My Daddy says the moon fills up a little more every day until it just gets too full and starts to spill out. Then those moondrops fall to earth until the moon disappears altogether and has to fill up all over again. And if you're lucky enough, you'll catch one of those moondrops, because moondrops can make you see the whole world brighter." ~ pg. 65


"I'd grown quite fond of the wind since Miss Cleta had taught me the secrets of it. 'It's the breath of God, Jessilyn,' she'd say, lifting her face to greet it. 'Just listen to it talkin' to your soul.'". ~ pg. 74


"You're right, baby, there ain't nothin' like seein' a man hangin' dead from a tree, all beaten and bruised. You're right, that don't leave you the same. That's what I've been tellin' you for all these years. The day I realized that's just what my sin did to Jesus Christ didn't leave me the same neither. Jessie, you think on that. That's all I ask is that you think on what I'm sayin'. Right now you're feelin' like you'll never heal. Right now you're all full of anger and sadness. And right now's when you need to think more about what I'm sayin' because there ain't nothin' none of us can do to help you. Not even you can help you. You need help from somewhere that you refuse to turn to. But, Baby, whenever you're tempted to think of Noah hangin' from that tree, you think of Jesus there. You think of that, because He did all that willingly, and He did all that for you. Noah Jarvis knew that, and if you want to make his death worth somethin' , then you do what I'm tellin' you." ~ pgs. 164-165

I really hope you conider to get a copy of this book. You will not be disappointed!

{Thanks again to Tyndale House Publishers for providing me with a ARC copy to read and enjoy!}


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Word-Filled Wednesday {Isaiah 11:1-2}

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A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD - Isaiah 11:1-2

This Christmas, my family and I have been spending the evenings reading Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree Advent Devotional. I have to be honest here; I never knew this much about the Jesse Tree let alone it's involvement with Christmas until reading this devotional every night for the past few weeks! Then, I get this verse sent to me via The Daily Bible Verse.  This Christmas I have spent a lot of time in my Word and trying to focus more on the true meaning of Christmas rather than the "celebrating" surrounding it! I have been trying very hard...and succeeding...at getting my Spirit where it needs to be this Christmas. It has felt amazing to be right where I need to be...wrapped in the loving arms of Jesus Christ; the Author of Life; the reason we celebrate Christmas at all!

Oh, to be that tree...rooted ever so deeply in the Spirit of the LORD!

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Linked up at:
iFellowship


Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. – James 1:27




Tuesday, December 14, 2010

So, Are You In?

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to be taking part of the Bible in 90 Days Challenge again. This time as a mentor and I am beyond excited about it.


When I first signed up 6 months ago, I honestly was not sure what to expect. I knew I wanted to read my entire Bible. I knew my heart was longing for a deeper, more intimate, relationship with my Heavenly Father. My daily quiet time was, well, non-existent, and I was hoping this challenge would give me the jump-start I needed.

I can say that after 90 Days, it did all those things and more! It showed me and taught me things about the life of Jesus Christ that I never fully learned growing up. Reading through my entire Bible also showed me and taught me things about my own life that I needed to change or appreciate more. I fell deeper in love with Jesus and want Him to be more a part of my life now than ever before! And that is by far the best thing that could have come out of me doing this!


It was challenging at times and I almost gave up. I got so far behind that I thought I would never catch up. But I kept reminding myself why I was doing this and I pressed on. I finished, in 90 Days and I am so glad that I did. Am I telling you this to scare you away from doing it? No! I am telling you this because I am a real person just like you and if I can read my Bible in 90 Days even through all the challenging moments the devil threw at me, So. Can. You!

Tears of joy were streaming down my face when I closed my Bible in Revelations that last day! The feeling that came over me was so wonderful, I can't even begin to put it into words, but I pray that it is a feeling you will soon feel for yourselves, if you decide to join us in this challenge!



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I am wearinig my "I Did It" tshirt in this pic! :)

I pray that some of you have prayed about this and have truly given it some thought. I pray you will head over to Mom's Toolbox and sign-up. If you choose to do so, request me as your mentor. I would love to know you are doing this with me and will love the opportunity to pray and encourage you.

So, what are you waiting for? This is one reading challenge you do not want to pass up on! I promise!

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Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation. ~ 1 Peter 2:2

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The winner of the CSNStores $30 gift card has been chosen and emailed and it is Dee! Thank you to all who entered!

Monday, December 13, 2010

I Belong to Them {gratitude community #26-36}

He is screaming at the top of his lungs for what seems like the 100th time today.

She says to me over and over again, "I'm 'firsty'. I'm hungry. I have to go to the potty." all day long!

They fight over the same toys when hundreds of other toys surround them to play with.

By the time the clock strikes noon, I am ready for bed!

I sit sometimes, wanting to run out the front door and never return, thinking to myself, "is this what I signed up for?".

I wonder why they don't listen to me and why when I just start to do something, they need me for everything!

It is stressful, exhausting, frustrating, and not-so glamorous to some, but for this stay-at-home mom, it is the life I have always wanted; my dream come true!

Sure, our bank account suffers at times and we don't have all the latest and greatest of everthing out there, but we do have two smiling, happy, faces, that get all the love and attention from me that they deserve without any interruptions or competing with a job for my time!

I know this is where God wants me right at this particular moment in time. Will I be a stay-at-home mom forever? Who knows! I would love for it to be this way forever, but if God leads me in another direction some day, I will follow.

But, for now, He has blessed me with these. I am their mother for a reason. He entrusted them into my care and I am determined to do the best job that I can. I will love them and teach them the love of Jesus Christ. The sacrifice He made because of His undying love for us. That, in itself, is a full-time job. The greatest job with the highest pay. Seeing my kids fall deeper in love with Jesus Christ and have a relationship with Him. That is the greatest gift we can give to anyone. It lasts forever. Never goes out of style. You take it with you when you leave this earth; and the best part! It's free! He already paid the price, for us! {John 3:16}


I hear the Savior say

Thy strength indeed is small
Child of weakness....watch and pray
Find in me....thine all in all


Chorus:
Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin hath left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow


Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone
Can change the leper's spots
And melt the heart of stone


For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim
I'll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calvary's Lamb


And when before thy throne
I stand in Him complete
Jesus died my soul to save
My lips shall still repeat
~Written by Elvina Hall

Now am I saying that if you are a mother and work a full-time job you can't give this same gift to your kids? Of course not! I am just simply stating my life and my role right now as a wife and mother and what I feel God leading me to do. He has blessed me with the perfect job, for me. And I am going to enjoy every second of it because who knows where He may lead me in a year from now!

Despite all the craziness my life at home may be, it carries so much more joy, laughter, and love, than my heart could ever hold!

So, today I give thanks to my Heavenly Father for blessing me with the "job" of motherhood and allowing my dreams to come true!

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#26 The glowing peace that my Christmas Tree brings
#27 Freshly baked, warm, chocolate chip cookies
#28 Making those cookies, and memories, with my daughter
#29 Walking into the library, by myself, and seeing the book I went in looking for right in front on display!
#30 Cuddling up with a freshly, bathed, babe, and kissing their sweet, smelling, head!
#31 The sweet, smell, of candles illuminating my home at night.
#32 Someone 'handsome' to cuddle with.
#33 Jesus' sacrifice for me
#34 Motherhood
#35 Freedom to teach my kids about the love of Jesus Christ
#36 Children who give me more joy than I ever dreamed or imagined!


The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness" ~ Jeremiah 31:3

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Winner Announced!

I wanted to send out a Congratulations to Samantha at The Kelley Eight! She is the winner of The Blue House Dog by Deborah Blumenthal. Please stop by and say hello! She has a wonderful homeschooling blog and is a fellow Bible in 90 Days Graduate!


Don't forget that you still have time to enter my CSNStores.com $30 giveaway! It ends tomorrow!

Thanks again to all who entered!


Have a blessed Sunday!!


“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” ~ Galatians 4:4-5

Friday, December 10, 2010

Jane Austen Challenge 2011!

If you have been a follower of my blog for any amount of time, you should know that I love to read and I love books and I also love a good challenge! I enjoy readinig all the bestsellers topping the lists today, but  deep down I am a lover of all the classics works of fiction.


When I started seeing all the reading challenges popping up on Twitter over the past month, I, of course, couldn't resist participating in a few of them. {check out my sidebar to see which one(s) I chose.} But, one challenge that I never saw come up was a Jane Austen challenge.


I, personally, love anything Jane. Have I read all of her books? No, which is another reason why I decided to host this challenge.


Starting January 1, 2011, I will be hosting a Jane Austen Challenge here at A Faithful Journey. I am so excited about this!

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The rules of this challenge are easy and as follows:

  • Starts January 1, 2011 and ends December 31, 2011
  • Can be any Jane Austen published novel or a novel inspired by one of her works.
  • Read as many or as little as you like. There are no "limits" to this challenge.
  • I'm planning on having monthly check-ins where you can link-up letting us know how you are doing in your initial goals for the challenge. {thinking of doing this on Fridays, but at the moment this is tentative}
  • Hoping to have prizes offered along the way for those who stick with it. {details are still being worked out for this as well}
  • Any movies inspired by her novels are welcomed too!
  • You do not need to have a blog to join in on all the reading fun!
  • Have fun and get as much of Jane in 2011 as you possibly can!
I searched the web and compiled a list of Jane Austen title's and inspired titles, just to help you out a bit.

Jane Austen Titles

Inspired by Jane Books


There are a ton more, but I figured this was enough to get you going. I have to admit that I'm just as excited to read Jane's novels as I am some of the inspired ones!

Will you join me? If so, grab the button for your blog, write a post stating what books you would like to read by the end of 2011, and come link-up on January 1st-January 7th!

The titles I am hoping to have read by the end of 2011 are all six of Jane's published works as well as a few inspired novels such as Jane Austen Ruined My Life and Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, and Becoming Jane Austen.

Looking forward to a fun year reading some classics and not so classics together with all of you!


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ~ John 1:1

Thursday, December 9, 2010

CSN Stores $30 Giveaway!

When Jamie, from CSNStores.com, contacted me about working with them through giveaways and reviews of their products, I was beyond excited. I have not yet personally shopped from CSNStores.com, but have heard a lot of positive buzz about them throughout the web.

They are really becoming quite the go-to online store for all your shopping needs. They have items for your kids like these super cute snow boots for little girls. Or these awesome cowboy boots for little boys!

They have items for your home like some gorgeous home bar furniture, or my personal favorite, this stunning bookcase!

Whatever you are in the market for, I am sure you will be able to find it at CSNStores.com.

So, would you like to win a little something to use towards a future purchase at CSNStores.com?

CSNStores.com has generously offered up a $30 store credit to use in their online store for one of my readers! All you need to do to enter is head over to CSNStores.com and tell me what you would love to spend your $30 on.  That's it! Pretty easy, right?

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED! CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER, DEE!

{This giveaway is opened to US residents only and will end on Monday, December 13. Winner will be chosen at random and announced on Tuesday, December 14.}

Good Luck to all who enter and thanks again to CSNStores.com for offering this giveaway opportunity!


All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Word-Filled Wednesday {Colossians 2:6-7}

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 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. ~ Colossians 2:6-7


Are your roots planted deeply in the soil of Christ? Or are they becoming weak and starting to break away?

If you are starting to become uprooted, get your roots back to where they need to be by reading in God's Word. Water them with His words. The Holy Bible is our roadmap; our GPS, if you will. We are literally lost without it!

Spend some time watering your roots today and read the Greatest Book ever written!


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Linked up at:
iFellowship

"We love Him because He first loved us." 1 John 4:9-10

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Blue House Dog {review and giveaway}

I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of The Blue House Dog by Deborah Blumenthal from Peachtree Publishing for review. This is a heartwarming story of friendship and love.


A boy without a dog—and a dog without an owner—find each other in this powerfully moving story of loneliness and redemption.

Day after day, Cody watches Bones roam the streets. No one else thinks the old stray is special, but Cody does. He knows the dog is alone now. He watched them tear down the blue house where Bones used to live with an old man. Cody knows how it feels to lose someone, too. Slowly—cautiously—Cody opens his home and his heart to the scruffy dog with one blue eye and one brown.


We first meet Bones, a lonely German Shephard who is looking for someone to love him again. His owner had died leaving him all alone. He roams the streets looking for food and a warm place to sleep.

Cody, the young boy in this story, has also suffered loss, so can relate well to Bones. Cody had a dog of his own once, Teddy. But Teddy got sick and later died, leaving Cody very sad.

Cody begins to watch Bones and observe where he goes and what he does. He realizes how kind Bones is and that all he is looking for is a loving home again. Even when others in the neighborhood turn their head to this stray dog, Cody sees something special in him, and wants to show him love.

Cody begins to take care of him by leaving food out for him and eventually Bones warms up to him and lets Cody pet him and get close to him. Cody then starts to open his home to Bones. Bones hesitates at first, but after some time, accepts the invitation and begins to stay in Cody's basement. Cody has made it a home for him by providing him with food, blankets, and water.

Their friendship grows, as well as the trust, and they begin to go on walks together and play at the park. Cody knows that Bones misses his original master, but a place for Cody has grown in his heart. The same goes for Cody. Teddy can never be replaced, but Bones is filling that hole in his heart.

Bones eventually becomes a permanent member of Cody's family. He has adopted him in and has decided to change his name to Blue, because of his one blue eye.

Bones is no longer a stray and Cody is no longer a boy without a best friend. They have found love and friendship again in the hearts of one another.

Being a dog lover, this book really touched my heart. I loved the heartwarming feel all throughout the story. The author does a wonderful job and building up their friendship and trust. The illustrations are beautiful as well. The detail drawn into Bones is so life like. It is absolutely stunning.

This is a book that can be enjoyed by any dog-lover, young and old. I read it to my 3-year-old daughter and she kept saying, "mama, I don't want Bones to be sad". It is a wonderfully told story and I highly recommend for it to be added to the shelves of your home library.

I leave you with my favorite quote from the book,
"Dogs find their way inside you and you want to keep them there."
{Thank you Peachtree Publishing for allowing me to review a copy of this delightful story.}

And now onto the giveaway! Peachtree Publishing has also offered me a second copy for me to offer to one of you! All you need to do is fill out this attached form and you are entered to win. A winner will be chosen randomly on December 11th. US residents only please.

This Giveaway is Now Closed! Thanks to all who entered!



Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Making Construction Paper Ornaments {for kids}

{Note: I have been in no way compensated by Disney's Family Fun Magazine. The reviews and opinions expressed are simply my own!}

I love to craft, but I especially love to get crafty with my kids! I subscribed earlier this year to Disney's Family Fun Magazine. It has all sorts of fun craft ideas as well as recipes for kids. I love this magazine. It has been a life-saver for this stay-at-home mom!

In their latest issue, {December/January 2011},  I came across this craft for making ornaments that I knew my 3 1/2 year old daughter would simply love. {and I knew it was easy enough for her to enjoy!}

Here are my own step-by-step directions: {the magazine makes stars, but I decided to make snowflakes, snowmen, and Christmas Trees. You can honestly make whatever you want with whatever shaped cookie cutters you have available! :) }

Homemade-Paper Ornaments


You will need Construction Paper, Cookie Cutters, Glitter, Ribbon, Glue, a Blender, and a Baking Sheet.

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Some of our supplies
First you need to gather three sheets of construction paper, {we used two sheets of blue and one sheet of white for the snowflakes}, and tear them into domino sized pieces. {kids will love this part!}

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Once you get the Construction Paper all torn up, you then want to place it into your blender.

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Next, you want to take 1 1/2 cups of very hot water and pour it into the blender with the construction paper and let it sit for 5 minutes.

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While you wait, take a plate and line it with a folded coth towel and top it with a paper towel. Then add whichever cookie cutter you choose to use first.

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Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Pulse the blender until the mixture is pulpy, about 30 seconds. In a strainer set over the sink, drain the pulp, then spoon some into the cookie cutter filling it to the top. Make sure to fill in every point of your cookie cutter.

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Next, add the glitter to make your ornament shiny against the Christmas Tree lights!

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Gently press the ornament out of the cookie cutter and place onto the baking sheet. Repeat to make the next ornament.

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Bake them for 2 hours or until the moisture has evaporated {they should be firm and lightweight}. Let the ornaments cool, then glue on ribbon loops to the backs for hanging!

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And that's it! You made cute ornaments with your kids that look great on the Christmas Tree! {and I know you had fun doing it!}

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What types of crafts do you do with your kids during the Christmas Season?



Amy
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ~ Isaiah 9:6

Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010...Welcome 2011!

PhotobucketStart a blog. check
Read the entire Bible. check
Step out of my comfort zone and make new friends. check
Learn a new trait. {knitting} check
Cook more wholesome, homemade, meals. check

These are the goals I accomplished this year. Did I start out the year intending to complete all of these? No! But, as the year progressed, I discovered new challenges and made them my goals to learn and accomplish.

This was a good year for me. I honestly can't complain. But I am looking forward to starting fresh in the New Year. A clean slate, if you will. New challenges to partake in and new adventures to embark on. I enjoy doing so many different things and I love the fact that I have a whole new year to try and do them all.

This year I am going to be starting a prayer journal. Journaling as part of my Christian walk has not always been a strong suit for me, but that is all going to change this year. I bought my crisp, clean, leather journal and am ready to start on January 1st. Turning verses into heartfelt prayers to the One who has blessed me with so much. I am looking forward to being drawn closer to Him and having my relationship grow. Falling deeper and deeper in love, with Him!

I want to spend this year reading. Books have always been my passion, but since having kids I have let that passion slip away. I don't spend nearly as much time reading as I used to and I miss it, a lot! So, making more time to read is high up on my list. I plan on visiting the classics as well as reading a few Christian Historical Fiction books that have been on my TBR pile for way to long.

Getting healthy and staying healthy. {isn't this one on everyone's list?} I want to exercise more and make healthier eating choices. Buying more fresh foods and staying away from the processed junk! I am going to try, very hard, to get up earlier and spend time excercisng; my soul first, then my body! Health and fitness are both something my husband is very passionate about. He gets up every morning and heads to the gym. He eats no sugar and drinks no caffeinated beverages. {well, except for an occasional cup o' joe!} I am hoping and praying to develop his practices so we can both be in shape and healthy, not only for ourselves and each other, but for our kids too!

My husband and I have also been talking about doing family devotions in the evening. My youngest is getting old enough to sit and at least listen and my oldest has been ready for quite sometime. {it's my husband and I that have been slacking} I believe that a firm foundation starts at home, first. Then the church helps aid in building that foundation up. But, if your homelife is lacking in devotions and Christ-centered talk and activities, your childrens foundations are sure to slip. I don't want this for my children. I want them to have such a deep and passionate love for Jesus. I want to be the one to teach them and show them His love and just how much He loves us! I am heading out tomorrow actually to purchase a kid-friendly version of the Bible and we are starting this resolution asap!

Lastly, I want to spend more time being creative. I enjoy knitting and sewing as well as writing my heart out to all of you! {thank you for listening by the way!} I want to knit my kids some new hats, mittens, and scarves for next winter as well as some blankets and socks and cute little knitted dolls and animals. I want to sew more dresses for my daughter and make some pants and fleece pj's for my son! I have so many ideas swirling around in my head and I am hoping to get to them all this year! I also want to make my blog great! I have had so much fun coming here on a regular basis and "speaking" to all of you! I have met some amazing people through my blogging journey and I cannot wait to see what 2011 has in store for me, here, in my comfy, little, internet, home! So, thank you, again, for coming here and reading what I have to say. I hope I have blessed you just as much as you have blessed me!

There's my list of resolutions for 2011! I may or may not keep all of them {hoping I do}, but I feel better knowing I have set some goals for myself. It will keep me challenged throughout the year. {and we all know how much I love a good challenge!}

Praying you all have a wonderfully blessed New Year!

No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. ~ Philippians 3:13-14

Happy New Year from my family to yours!


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

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Don't forget to come back tomorrow and link-up for the Jane Austen 2011 Challenge!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Word-Filled Wednesday! {Matthew 10:32-33}

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Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. ~ Matthew 10:32-33

This verse is straight to the point. There isn't any doubt what Jesus was trying to say. Let your light shine ever so brightly for Jesus Christ and let the world know you are changed because of Him!
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Linked up at:
iFellowship

Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. ~ 1 Chronicles 22:13

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bliss

What a wondeful Christmas weekend! I hope and pray you all enjoyed your family and friends this weekend as much as I did!

I hosted Christmas this year in my tiny, little, home, but we were all together and it was quite cozy! The kids received such wonderful gifts and the hubby and I got so many gift cards to use towards date nights that we can't wait to start using them!

The greatest gift, for me, this year, was time with family and the fact that both sides of my family {mine and hubby's} were under one roof getting along. It was beautiful! More than I could have ever asked for.


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My family!




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My side of the family. My sister and her husband and their dog, Kona. My Mom and Dad {my dad is holding Little Man and my mom is holding Busy Bee}! My Grandma and Uncle and the hubs and I holding our "other" children, Gracie and Lillie


Now as we start preparing our hearts and minds for the New Year, I wanted to remind you of a few things that you can get involved in. {i know i probably sound like a broken record, but these are great challenges that I don't want you to miss out on!}

I really hope you will consider joining in all or at least one of the above mentioned challenges with me! I like a good challenge to help hold me accountable for things I have set out to do!

I am looking forward to spending this year reading, knitting {which I haven't mentioned at all lately}, sewing, blogging, and getting to know you, my readers, all the better. Thank you for making this so fun for me! I love blogging and look forward to what the new year has in store!


[Jesus said,] "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." ~ Matthew 11:28

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!


“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.'" ~ Matthew 1:23

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ~ Isaiah 9:6

Praising God for the Perfect Gift of His Son Jesus Christ!

Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas! May you experience the Love of Jesus this Christmas Season...the most beautiful of gifts!

You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. ~ Luke 1:14

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jane Austen 2011 Challenge! UPDATE {a small change and some fun news!}

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I am so excited for this challenge to start, but at the same time I am extremely nervous. Being that this is my first time hosting a reading challenge, I really want it to be a success and a lot of fun for all who sign-up.

I considered shortening the challenge to 3 or 6 months, but decided against the idea for the simple fact that, if you are anything like me, you are taking on several reading challenges for the New Year and just don't need them to be all crammed in at the beginning of the year. This way, you can enjoy reading other novels and joining in other challenges {like the Lucy Maud Montgomery, Reading the Classics, and Bible in 90 Days Challenge(s)} and still read and enjoy a little bit of Jane, or Jane inspired novels, throughout the year.

So, all that being said, the official sign-up linky will go live Saturday, January 1st and stay open until Friday, January 7th at 11:59 pm {est}. {Sorry for all of you who already linked up to the other post! The wheels just kept turning with this one! :) }

On the 2nd Friday of every month, I will have a check-in post where you can come and link-up your progress, discuss some fun questions that I will have posted, as well as enter for your chance to win some fun giveaways! I am planning on a giveaway once every three months for the entire year of the challenge! {i just LOVE giving stuff away!} But, you must be signed up with Mr. Linky between January 1st-January 7th to enter to win throughout the year! Anyone can join in on the challenge at anytime of the year, but only those participants that are signed up initially can enter for a chance to win the prizes. I am only doing this so that the people who stay true to the challenge get the chance to win and not just someone who happens to stop by my blog that day I am hosting the giveaway! Sound fair? I think so! :)

{To check out the basic rules of the challenge visit this link!}

With that being said, would you like a sneak peak at what the prizes will be? I knew you would!

*A copy of one of Jane's books! {winner chooses which title}
* A DVD copy of Pride & Prejudice {with Colin Firth!}
* An i-clips gift pack from Peter Pauper Press {thanks to Carrie at Reading to Know for introducing me to these cute little bookmarks and a lovely shop!}
* And the GRAND PRIZE!! *drumroll please!* A $25.00 Gift Card to use at Amazon.com!

I hope you will spread the word about this challenge and help me make my first reading challenge a success! Don't forget to come back January 1st-January 7th to sign-up! {sign-ups from December 10th will not count towards winning the prizes throughout the year. Again I apologize to those who already linked up to that post!}

Thanks again to all who enter! Looking forward to a fun year of reading with all of you!


"You, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." ~ Micah 5:2

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Word-Filled Wednesday {Luke 2:12}

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This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. ~ Luke 2:12

I found this nativity scene while pulling out my Christmas decorations a few weeks ago. I have no idea where it came from and how it got into my box of Christmas stuff, but there it was, my sign to remember why we celebrate! 

I have a nativity scene that I put out every year right underneath my Christmas Tree, but this particular set is a little more special. When I saw it in the box I knew I had to find a place for it in my home, even though I was, and still am, puzzled on where it came from.

When I look at this nativity scene throughout my day, since it sits on a main table in my home, I am reminded, constantly, of the true meaning of this season. It has helped me to focus on what Christmas is all about. To slow down and enjoy all that this Celebration is meant for.

The Celebration of the Birth of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The greatest. day. ever!

It is easy to let all that this time of year brings really weigh us down, but if we all just stop and truly listen and appreciate the joy and amazement, our hearts will be so full.

As Christmas quickly approaches, I encourage you to take a moment to stop and thank God for the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. To read a few chapters in Matthew, Mark, and Luke about the amazing birth and all that led up to it.

Don't let Christmas slip on by without enjoying the true reason of the season!

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linked up at:
iFellowship

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. ~ Luke 2:14

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fall Into Reading 2010 {wrap-up}



I cannot believe fall is ending and winter is beginning. {although it has felt like winter here for quite sometime!}

Earlier this season I signed up for the Fall Into Reading 2010 Challenge hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days. I am very happy to have taken this particular challenge on. It held me accountable to read through my initial list of books before December 20th.

I did read eight books over the past 3 months; three were from my initial list, five were not. To me, that is a huge accomplishment. I haven't read this many books in a 3 month span in a long time! I am very pleased with my progress and am hoping to continue making time to do what I love and to try and read just as many, if not more, each month.

My initial list was as follows:

The Help by Kathrynn Stocket
Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See {which I started but had to stop reading because some parts were just too disturbing and unacceptable for me!}
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

Review Copies on my list were:

Captured by Grace by David Jeremiah {which I am actually currently reading, but just didn't finish in time!}
Catching Moondrops by Jennifer Erin Valent {linked to my review}
Amy Inspired by Bethany Pierce

What I ended up reading:

The Help by Kathrynn Stockett
Amy Inspired by Bethany Pierce
Betsy, Tacy, and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill by Maud Hart Lovelace
Catching Moondrops by Jennifer Erin Valent {linked to my review}
A Dog Named Christmas by Greg Kincaid
The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson
Christmas at Harrington's by Melody Carlson

I am one book short of my initial nine books wanting to have read by today. All in all, I did pretty good and am actually sad to see this challenge end.  But...

I am really excited about the reading challenges starting in the New Year!

If you haven't already, please swing on by and sign up for my Jane Austen 2011 Challenge. I love Jane and am looking forward to this challenge with all of you! {I have another post set to go live this Thursday explaining some exciting news about prizes...stay tuned!}

Another challenge that I cannot wait to start is the Lucy Maud Montgomery Challenge hosted by Carrie at Reading to Know! I have been anticipating the start of this challenge since finding Carrie's lovely blog a few months back and am looking forward to January 3rd!

There is also the Reading the Classics Challenge 2011 hosted by Butterfly Wishes and Wonderland Dreams.

But, if you don't sign-up for any other reading challenge in the New Year, I highly encourage you to join in with me as I read through the Bible In 90 Days! Like I have said before, you will not regret it!

Thanks again, Katrina, for all the fun questions along the way and really making this challenge so enjoyable! Looking forward to doing it again in the Spring!


And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~ Romans 8:28

Monday, December 20, 2010

Just the Two of Us! {gratitude community #37-46}

She's been asking and asking and I have been promising and promising.

"Can we go mama, please?"

"Yes, dear, I promise, as soon as I get some free time."

We headed out one afternoon last week, just the two of us!

Bundled in coats and scarves we braved the cold and enjoyed a hot, delicious, lunch, just the two of us!

With full bellies, we walked, hand in hand, to the theatre.

My mama insticts aside, we walked through the snow covered lawn.

No sidewalks for us.

Kicking up snow and laughing together, just the two of us!

We paid the man for our tickets, ordered a popcorn for just the two of us!

Full of giggles and smiles, we climb the steps to the tippy, top, row, and found our seats.

We settle in, all cozy, just the two of us, and enjoy a wonderful movie!

Afterwards, the hugs, kisses, thank you's, and I love you's, were too much for this sensitive mama to handle!

Buckled into the car, we head home, tears of happiness and complete joy rolling down my face.

Promises kept and hearts full of joy; memories made that will last us a lifetime!

Just me and my little girl! {oh, if she could only stay this little!}

We spent the day, doing what she loved, just the two of us!

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"For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him." 1 Samuel 1:27

#37 Moments spent with my children
#38 Time alone with my hubby
#39 Christmas Sugar Cookies
#40 The babbling from my son
#41 The laughter from my daughter
#42  A generous, loving, earthly, Father
#43 My pastor, and...
#44 ...his wife
#45 Memories captured in a picture
#46 The comfort and relaxation my dogs bring


Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. ~ James 1:22

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mary Did You Know?

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of going to see the B.E. Taylor Christmas Concert with my Mother-In-Law at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least, how enjoyable and entertaining the concert was. If you have never heard of B.E. Taylor, or ever been to a concert of his, I encourage you to check him out.

This is one of my all time favorite Christmas songs, Mary Did You Know? I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!



Have a blessed weekend!


Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. ~ Isaiah 7:14

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Catching Moondrops by Jennifer Erin Valent {review}

I had the pleasure of receiving an ARC copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers. I haven't yet had the pleasure of reading the author's other books, Fireflies in December and Cottonwood Whispers, but after reading and highly enjoying Catching Moondrops, I am going to definitely check it out!


{Description from Tyndale}: Jessilyn Lassiter no longer has to convince people she’s not a child. Having just turned 19 in the summer of 1938, her love for Luke Talley has never been more real. And Luke is finally beginning to care for her in the way she’s always dreamed of. But their budding romance is interrupted when Tal Pritchett—a young, black doctor—comes to Calloway, stealing the heart of Jessilyn’s best friend, Gemma, and stirring up the racial prejudice that has been simmering just beneath the town’s surface. The tension starts to bubble over when Jessie’s elderly neighbor Miss Cleta becomes the first white townsperson to accept Tal’s treatment. And when a young black man is lynched, Calloway is brought to its knees once again as Jessilyn realizes that her anger can make her heart as full of hate as the klan members who have terrorized her town and her family.

Catching Moondrops is filled with characters, whom from the beginning, are easy to fall in love with. Jessilyn and Gemma are the unlikeliest of friends in this novel set in Calloway, Virginia,1938. Being that Jessilyn is white and Gemma is African American, most of the townspeople look down upon this type of friendship, but the girls do not care. They have been friends for as long as they can remember and once tragedy struck Gemma's family, their friendship became even stronger.


The two girls are forced to face even more tragedy and loss as the story unfolds, but in the midst of it all, they find forgiveness, forever friendships, and love everlasting!


I loved this story and think the author painted a beautiful picture of love for one another, despite our differences. She talks about the love of Jesus Christ and how, even though we are sinners, he loves and forgives us as well.


Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:


"My Daddy says the moon fills up a little more every day until it just gets too full and starts to spill out. Then those moondrops fall to earth until the moon disappears altogether and has to fill up all over again. And if you're lucky enough, you'll catch one of those moondrops, because moondrops can make you see the whole world brighter." ~ pg. 65


"I'd grown quite fond of the wind since Miss Cleta had taught me the secrets of it. 'It's the breath of God, Jessilyn,' she'd say, lifting her face to greet it. 'Just listen to it talkin' to your soul.'". ~ pg. 74


"You're right, baby, there ain't nothin' like seein' a man hangin' dead from a tree, all beaten and bruised. You're right, that don't leave you the same. That's what I've been tellin' you for all these years. The day I realized that's just what my sin did to Jesus Christ didn't leave me the same neither. Jessie, you think on that. That's all I ask is that you think on what I'm sayin'. Right now you're feelin' like you'll never heal. Right now you're all full of anger and sadness. And right now's when you need to think more about what I'm sayin' because there ain't nothin' none of us can do to help you. Not even you can help you. You need help from somewhere that you refuse to turn to. But, Baby, whenever you're tempted to think of Noah hangin' from that tree, you think of Jesus there. You think of that, because He did all that willingly, and He did all that for you. Noah Jarvis knew that, and if you want to make his death worth somethin' , then you do what I'm tellin' you." ~ pgs. 164-165

I really hope you conider to get a copy of this book. You will not be disappointed!

{Thanks again to Tyndale House Publishers for providing me with a ARC copy to read and enjoy!}


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Word-Filled Wednesday {Isaiah 11:1-2}

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A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD - Isaiah 11:1-2

This Christmas, my family and I have been spending the evenings reading Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree Advent Devotional. I have to be honest here; I never knew this much about the Jesse Tree let alone it's involvement with Christmas until reading this devotional every night for the past few weeks! Then, I get this verse sent to me via The Daily Bible Verse.  This Christmas I have spent a lot of time in my Word and trying to focus more on the true meaning of Christmas rather than the "celebrating" surrounding it! I have been trying very hard...and succeeding...at getting my Spirit where it needs to be this Christmas. It has felt amazing to be right where I need to be...wrapped in the loving arms of Jesus Christ; the Author of Life; the reason we celebrate Christmas at all!

Oh, to be that tree...rooted ever so deeply in the Spirit of the LORD!

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Linked up at:
iFellowship


Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. – James 1:27




Tuesday, December 14, 2010

So, Are You In?

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to be taking part of the Bible in 90 Days Challenge again. This time as a mentor and I am beyond excited about it.


When I first signed up 6 months ago, I honestly was not sure what to expect. I knew I wanted to read my entire Bible. I knew my heart was longing for a deeper, more intimate, relationship with my Heavenly Father. My daily quiet time was, well, non-existent, and I was hoping this challenge would give me the jump-start I needed.

I can say that after 90 Days, it did all those things and more! It showed me and taught me things about the life of Jesus Christ that I never fully learned growing up. Reading through my entire Bible also showed me and taught me things about my own life that I needed to change or appreciate more. I fell deeper in love with Jesus and want Him to be more a part of my life now than ever before! And that is by far the best thing that could have come out of me doing this!


It was challenging at times and I almost gave up. I got so far behind that I thought I would never catch up. But I kept reminding myself why I was doing this and I pressed on. I finished, in 90 Days and I am so glad that I did. Am I telling you this to scare you away from doing it? No! I am telling you this because I am a real person just like you and if I can read my Bible in 90 Days even through all the challenging moments the devil threw at me, So. Can. You!

Tears of joy were streaming down my face when I closed my Bible in Revelations that last day! The feeling that came over me was so wonderful, I can't even begin to put it into words, but I pray that it is a feeling you will soon feel for yourselves, if you decide to join us in this challenge!



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I am wearinig my "I Did It" tshirt in this pic! :)

I pray that some of you have prayed about this and have truly given it some thought. I pray you will head over to Mom's Toolbox and sign-up. If you choose to do so, request me as your mentor. I would love to know you are doing this with me and will love the opportunity to pray and encourage you.

So, what are you waiting for? This is one reading challenge you do not want to pass up on! I promise!

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Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation. ~ 1 Peter 2:2

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The winner of the CSNStores $30 gift card has been chosen and emailed and it is Dee! Thank you to all who entered!

Monday, December 13, 2010

I Belong to Them {gratitude community #26-36}

He is screaming at the top of his lungs for what seems like the 100th time today.

She says to me over and over again, "I'm 'firsty'. I'm hungry. I have to go to the potty." all day long!

They fight over the same toys when hundreds of other toys surround them to play with.

By the time the clock strikes noon, I am ready for bed!

I sit sometimes, wanting to run out the front door and never return, thinking to myself, "is this what I signed up for?".

I wonder why they don't listen to me and why when I just start to do something, they need me for everything!

It is stressful, exhausting, frustrating, and not-so glamorous to some, but for this stay-at-home mom, it is the life I have always wanted; my dream come true!

Sure, our bank account suffers at times and we don't have all the latest and greatest of everthing out there, but we do have two smiling, happy, faces, that get all the love and attention from me that they deserve without any interruptions or competing with a job for my time!

I know this is where God wants me right at this particular moment in time. Will I be a stay-at-home mom forever? Who knows! I would love for it to be this way forever, but if God leads me in another direction some day, I will follow.

But, for now, He has blessed me with these. I am their mother for a reason. He entrusted them into my care and I am determined to do the best job that I can. I will love them and teach them the love of Jesus Christ. The sacrifice He made because of His undying love for us. That, in itself, is a full-time job. The greatest job with the highest pay. Seeing my kids fall deeper in love with Jesus Christ and have a relationship with Him. That is the greatest gift we can give to anyone. It lasts forever. Never goes out of style. You take it with you when you leave this earth; and the best part! It's free! He already paid the price, for us! {John 3:16}


I hear the Savior say

Thy strength indeed is small
Child of weakness....watch and pray
Find in me....thine all in all


Chorus:
Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin hath left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow


Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone
Can change the leper's spots
And melt the heart of stone


For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim
I'll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calvary's Lamb


And when before thy throne
I stand in Him complete
Jesus died my soul to save
My lips shall still repeat
~Written by Elvina Hall

Now am I saying that if you are a mother and work a full-time job you can't give this same gift to your kids? Of course not! I am just simply stating my life and my role right now as a wife and mother and what I feel God leading me to do. He has blessed me with the perfect job, for me. And I am going to enjoy every second of it because who knows where He may lead me in a year from now!

Despite all the craziness my life at home may be, it carries so much more joy, laughter, and love, than my heart could ever hold!

So, today I give thanks to my Heavenly Father for blessing me with the "job" of motherhood and allowing my dreams to come true!

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#26 The glowing peace that my Christmas Tree brings
#27 Freshly baked, warm, chocolate chip cookies
#28 Making those cookies, and memories, with my daughter
#29 Walking into the library, by myself, and seeing the book I went in looking for right in front on display!
#30 Cuddling up with a freshly, bathed, babe, and kissing their sweet, smelling, head!
#31 The sweet, smell, of candles illuminating my home at night.
#32 Someone 'handsome' to cuddle with.
#33 Jesus' sacrifice for me
#34 Motherhood
#35 Freedom to teach my kids about the love of Jesus Christ
#36 Children who give me more joy than I ever dreamed or imagined!


The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness" ~ Jeremiah 31:3

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Winner Announced!

I wanted to send out a Congratulations to Samantha at The Kelley Eight! She is the winner of The Blue House Dog by Deborah Blumenthal. Please stop by and say hello! She has a wonderful homeschooling blog and is a fellow Bible in 90 Days Graduate!


Don't forget that you still have time to enter my CSNStores.com $30 giveaway! It ends tomorrow!

Thanks again to all who entered!


Have a blessed Sunday!!


“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” ~ Galatians 4:4-5

Friday, December 10, 2010

Jane Austen Challenge 2011!

If you have been a follower of my blog for any amount of time, you should know that I love to read and I love books and I also love a good challenge! I enjoy readinig all the bestsellers topping the lists today, but  deep down I am a lover of all the classics works of fiction.


When I started seeing all the reading challenges popping up on Twitter over the past month, I, of course, couldn't resist participating in a few of them. {check out my sidebar to see which one(s) I chose.} But, one challenge that I never saw come up was a Jane Austen challenge.


I, personally, love anything Jane. Have I read all of her books? No, which is another reason why I decided to host this challenge.


Starting January 1, 2011, I will be hosting a Jane Austen Challenge here at A Faithful Journey. I am so excited about this!

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The rules of this challenge are easy and as follows:

  • Starts January 1, 2011 and ends December 31, 2011
  • Can be any Jane Austen published novel or a novel inspired by one of her works.
  • Read as many or as little as you like. There are no "limits" to this challenge.
  • I'm planning on having monthly check-ins where you can link-up letting us know how you are doing in your initial goals for the challenge. {thinking of doing this on Fridays, but at the moment this is tentative}
  • Hoping to have prizes offered along the way for those who stick with it. {details are still being worked out for this as well}
  • Any movies inspired by her novels are welcomed too!
  • You do not need to have a blog to join in on all the reading fun!
  • Have fun and get as much of Jane in 2011 as you possibly can!
I searched the web and compiled a list of Jane Austen title's and inspired titles, just to help you out a bit.

Jane Austen Titles

Inspired by Jane Books


There are a ton more, but I figured this was enough to get you going. I have to admit that I'm just as excited to read Jane's novels as I am some of the inspired ones!

Will you join me? If so, grab the button for your blog, write a post stating what books you would like to read by the end of 2011, and come link-up on January 1st-January 7th!

The titles I am hoping to have read by the end of 2011 are all six of Jane's published works as well as a few inspired novels such as Jane Austen Ruined My Life and Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, and Becoming Jane Austen.

Looking forward to a fun year reading some classics and not so classics together with all of you!


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ~ John 1:1

Thursday, December 9, 2010

CSN Stores $30 Giveaway!

When Jamie, from CSNStores.com, contacted me about working with them through giveaways and reviews of their products, I was beyond excited. I have not yet personally shopped from CSNStores.com, but have heard a lot of positive buzz about them throughout the web.

They are really becoming quite the go-to online store for all your shopping needs. They have items for your kids like these super cute snow boots for little girls. Or these awesome cowboy boots for little boys!

They have items for your home like some gorgeous home bar furniture, or my personal favorite, this stunning bookcase!

Whatever you are in the market for, I am sure you will be able to find it at CSNStores.com.

So, would you like to win a little something to use towards a future purchase at CSNStores.com?

CSNStores.com has generously offered up a $30 store credit to use in their online store for one of my readers! All you need to do to enter is head over to CSNStores.com and tell me what you would love to spend your $30 on.  That's it! Pretty easy, right?

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED! CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER, DEE!

{This giveaway is opened to US residents only and will end on Monday, December 13. Winner will be chosen at random and announced on Tuesday, December 14.}

Good Luck to all who enter and thanks again to CSNStores.com for offering this giveaway opportunity!


All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Word-Filled Wednesday {Colossians 2:6-7}

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 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. ~ Colossians 2:6-7


Are your roots planted deeply in the soil of Christ? Or are they becoming weak and starting to break away?

If you are starting to become uprooted, get your roots back to where they need to be by reading in God's Word. Water them with His words. The Holy Bible is our roadmap; our GPS, if you will. We are literally lost without it!

Spend some time watering your roots today and read the Greatest Book ever written!


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Linked up at:
iFellowship

"We love Him because He first loved us." 1 John 4:9-10

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Blue House Dog {review and giveaway}

I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of The Blue House Dog by Deborah Blumenthal from Peachtree Publishing for review. This is a heartwarming story of friendship and love.


A boy without a dog—and a dog without an owner—find each other in this powerfully moving story of loneliness and redemption.

Day after day, Cody watches Bones roam the streets. No one else thinks the old stray is special, but Cody does. He knows the dog is alone now. He watched them tear down the blue house where Bones used to live with an old man. Cody knows how it feels to lose someone, too. Slowly—cautiously—Cody opens his home and his heart to the scruffy dog with one blue eye and one brown.


We first meet Bones, a lonely German Shephard who is looking for someone to love him again. His owner had died leaving him all alone. He roams the streets looking for food and a warm place to sleep.

Cody, the young boy in this story, has also suffered loss, so can relate well to Bones. Cody had a dog of his own once, Teddy. But Teddy got sick and later died, leaving Cody very sad.

Cody begins to watch Bones and observe where he goes and what he does. He realizes how kind Bones is and that all he is looking for is a loving home again. Even when others in the neighborhood turn their head to this stray dog, Cody sees something special in him, and wants to show him love.

Cody begins to take care of him by leaving food out for him and eventually Bones warms up to him and lets Cody pet him and get close to him. Cody then starts to open his home to Bones. Bones hesitates at first, but after some time, accepts the invitation and begins to stay in Cody's basement. Cody has made it a home for him by providing him with food, blankets, and water.

Their friendship grows, as well as the trust, and they begin to go on walks together and play at the park. Cody knows that Bones misses his original master, but a place for Cody has grown in his heart. The same goes for Cody. Teddy can never be replaced, but Bones is filling that hole in his heart.

Bones eventually becomes a permanent member of Cody's family. He has adopted him in and has decided to change his name to Blue, because of his one blue eye.

Bones is no longer a stray and Cody is no longer a boy without a best friend. They have found love and friendship again in the hearts of one another.

Being a dog lover, this book really touched my heart. I loved the heartwarming feel all throughout the story. The author does a wonderful job and building up their friendship and trust. The illustrations are beautiful as well. The detail drawn into Bones is so life like. It is absolutely stunning.

This is a book that can be enjoyed by any dog-lover, young and old. I read it to my 3-year-old daughter and she kept saying, "mama, I don't want Bones to be sad". It is a wonderfully told story and I highly recommend for it to be added to the shelves of your home library.

I leave you with my favorite quote from the book,
"Dogs find their way inside you and you want to keep them there."
{Thank you Peachtree Publishing for allowing me to review a copy of this delightful story.}

And now onto the giveaway! Peachtree Publishing has also offered me a second copy for me to offer to one of you! All you need to do is fill out this attached form and you are entered to win. A winner will be chosen randomly on December 11th. US residents only please.

This Giveaway is Now Closed! Thanks to all who entered!



Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Making Construction Paper Ornaments {for kids}

{Note: I have been in no way compensated by Disney's Family Fun Magazine. The reviews and opinions expressed are simply my own!}

I love to craft, but I especially love to get crafty with my kids! I subscribed earlier this year to Disney's Family Fun Magazine. It has all sorts of fun craft ideas as well as recipes for kids. I love this magazine. It has been a life-saver for this stay-at-home mom!

In their latest issue, {December/January 2011},  I came across this craft for making ornaments that I knew my 3 1/2 year old daughter would simply love. {and I knew it was easy enough for her to enjoy!}

Here are my own step-by-step directions: {the magazine makes stars, but I decided to make snowflakes, snowmen, and Christmas Trees. You can honestly make whatever you want with whatever shaped cookie cutters you have available! :) }

Homemade-Paper Ornaments


You will need Construction Paper, Cookie Cutters, Glitter, Ribbon, Glue, a Blender, and a Baking Sheet.

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Some of our supplies
First you need to gather three sheets of construction paper, {we used two sheets of blue and one sheet of white for the snowflakes}, and tear them into domino sized pieces. {kids will love this part!}

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Once you get the Construction Paper all torn up, you then want to place it into your blender.

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Next, you want to take 1 1/2 cups of very hot water and pour it into the blender with the construction paper and let it sit for 5 minutes.

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While you wait, take a plate and line it with a folded coth towel and top it with a paper towel. Then add whichever cookie cutter you choose to use first.

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Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Pulse the blender until the mixture is pulpy, about 30 seconds. In a strainer set over the sink, drain the pulp, then spoon some into the cookie cutter filling it to the top. Make sure to fill in every point of your cookie cutter.

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Next, add the glitter to make your ornament shiny against the Christmas Tree lights!

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Gently press the ornament out of the cookie cutter and place onto the baking sheet. Repeat to make the next ornament.

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Bake them for 2 hours or until the moisture has evaporated {they should be firm and lightweight}. Let the ornaments cool, then glue on ribbon loops to the backs for hanging!

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And that's it! You made cute ornaments with your kids that look great on the Christmas Tree! {and I know you had fun doing it!}

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What types of crafts do you do with your kids during the Christmas Season?



Amy
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ~ Isaiah 9:6

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