Monthly Archives: December 2013

Seasons of Love: Happy New Year!

Happy New Year’s Eve!  As I was thinking about ending the year, one of my all time favorite songs came to mind and as I reflected on it, decided it was the perfect way to end this year.  The song is “Seasons of Love” from Rent.  (Below is a picture from the musical – I love how they stripped it down and just sang in spotlights – gives me chills!)

Rent is also one of my favorite Broadway plays, I think I’ve seen it 3-4 times.  The subject matter may not quite be happy and God may not be mentioned amid the sex, drugs, paying bills, AIDS, death, but He is there.  And in the song “Seasons of Love” is it quite clear that love conquers all, it never fails, and in the end is what matters, sound familiar, who told us that?

“Love Never Fails”
1 Corinthians 13:8

In efforts to keep this short, I’ll just say I’m thankful for this year, all 525,600 minutes of it.  For the ups, the downs, the laughter, the strife.  The opportunity to find an online voice and explore a new interest and share a glimpse of God’s love to you.  I’m thankful for the LOVE in my life, first and foremost my Savior, then my husband, kids, family, friends, neighbors, and ofcourse puppies.  Each and every event and person has helped shape who I am and who I hope to be as I strive to live with more purpose glorifying and praising the One who provided it all.

So thank you to everyone for your love and support – Happy New Year – may 2014 be filled with purpose driven by the One who first LOVED us.  And take time to enjoy your seasons of love.  Take a listen below and meditate on this great song.  Amen and God Bless!

Seasons of Love
Jonathan Larson

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love

Seasons of love
Seasons of love

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned
Or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned
Or the way that she died

It’s time now, to sing out
Though the story never ends
Let’s celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends

Remember the love
(Oh, you got to, you got to remember the love)
Remember the love
(You know that love is a gift from up above)
Remember the love
(Share love, give love, spread love)
Measure in love
(Measure, measure your life in love)

Seasons of love
Seasons of love
(Measure your life, measure your life in love)

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Book Review: The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine


The Girls at the Kingfisher Club
by Genevieve Valentine
Available to public 6/3/14
Provided free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Finish Time: 7 nights.  I’ve always enjoyed books about the roaring 20’s, thus why I was drawn to this particular book.  It’s about a wealthy family, the Hamilton’s, in Manhattan consisting of a father and his 12 daughters.  The mother passed away and their father has basically banished them to fend for themselves on the top floor of their home with little or no communication, except for through the eldest sister, Jo, aka “The General.”  Many of them have actually never even met their father.

As you could imagine, sounds like an awful situation for 12 girls in the prime of their lives, I think their ages were 14-27 at the time of the story.  So they began sneaking out almost every night to hit up the local speakeasies (actually they began when Jo was 19).  Never giving out their real names, and careful not to get recognized, the sisters become known as the twelve princesses around town.

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The book begins with introductions of the sisters, detailing some of their adventures, and how they ended up at their “home”, the Kingfisher Club.  It was interesting but it took about a third of the way into the book to hit the story line and figure out where the story was going.  The girl’s father decides that it is time to clear house and begin marrying the girls off through a series of dinner party introductions.  This comes after he becomes suspicious of the girls and places and ad in the local paper for any information regarding these “princesses” and offers compensation in exchange.

From there the action picks up and does not disappoint.  While Jo is the main character, the author did a surprisingly good job at introducing the reader to all the sisters, and by the end I think I could name all 12 for you (maybe not in order but close!)  You got a glimpse at each of their personalities, through dances they enjoyed, company they chose to keep, and how others perceived them.  It was fun to think about the reactions of others as 12 girls entered the clubs each night.

The action peaks towards the end and the last few chapters were quite intense.  I thought the book ended well and definitely left it open to a sequel (or many.)  Which I would enjoy as there are so many possibilities with this group of girls.  Glad I was able to preview – look for it in June!

And here are just a few fun images of the 20’s – looks glamorous  doesn’t it?

 enjoy-drink-nyc-speakeasy.gif images

flappers

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Merry Christmas! (Conclusion of Advent Series)

How could I forget about the Christ candle?  The 5th candle in the center of the Advent wreath, which we light on Christmas Eve.  We’ve made it to the long-awaited day, the day the Christ was born.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:9-14

I cannot think of a more beautiful song to leave you with to conclude this season.  “O Holy Night”  Although my husband claims each and every year that Eric Cartman (from South Park) ruined this song for him (sorry if I just did the same for you – you can view it here, although I highly advice against it!), it is still one of the most beautiful and most meaningful songs of the Christmas season for me.

Please enjoy this version and carry with you this knowledge each and every day of the coming year.  On this Holy night, many years ago, a baby was born who changed it all.  Amen and Merry Christmas!

O Holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees

O hear the angel voices
O night divine!
O night when Christ was born
O night divine!
O night, O night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains He shall break, for the slave is our brother.

And in His name, all oppression shall cease

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name
Christ is the Lord!
Their name forever praise we

Noel, Noel
O night, O night divine
Noel, Noel
O night, O night divine
Noel, Noel
O night, O holy night

See the first 4 weeks of Advent here:  (Thanks for keeping up for my very first blog series!)
HOPE
PEACE
JOY
LOVE
And one last favorite Christmas song!

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Love this Christmas (Advent Series Part IV)

There are three things that remain—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

Love.  So much to say, but I’ll keep this short today.  All we need is love, according to the Beatles.  And there is truth in that, God says it himself, it’s the greatest!  It’s mentioned anywhere from 500-700 times in the Bible.  So I’d say it’s pretty important.  It’s what we all seek, it’s what we all want to give, without it, life just wouldn’t be worth living.  And God showed us the greatest LOVE at Christmas, and it is the candle we light today for the 4th Sunday of Advent.

I picked a sort of unlikely song to represent LOVE, but I keep coming back to it, “Little Drummer Boy.”  The lines that get me are “I have no gifts to bring.” and “I’ll play my best for him.” So this little boy plays his drum and he plays his heart out, for the KING!  And then the song concludes with “Then he smiled at me…”  Those lines sum up so much.  Especially this time of year when everything is about presents and stuff,  all God really wants from us is our LOVE, to give the best with what we have, even if it is just a drum.  The little drummer boy simply had just that and was asked to play for our new Lord, so he did, and did it proudly.  AND it made the Lord smile.  Isn’t that all that should matter?  And isn’t that love at its core?

May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
Number 6:25 (NLT)

To me that struck a chord this Christmas.  I’ve mentioned in my other posts, and I’m just as guilty, but it is so easy to get lost in the shopping, presents, baking, parties, whatever it is, and forget about why we are celebrating.  We are celebrating simply because God loved us, the world, so much to send us the best gift of all, His son (sounds familiar – John 3:16?).  So love him back with everything you have.  Love your family, friends, neighbors, everyone as God loves us.  Love truly is a gift, so embrace it, share it, and thank God for it!  Amen.

Enjoy a fun, A Capella version of this beautiful song here:  (by Pentatonix)

See my first 3 messages and songs here:
HOPE
PEACE
JOY
And one bonus one and a last one coming for Christmas!

And once again, a few pictures of LOVE in my world: (Although to be honest, every picture I take of my family is LOVE to me, so it was hard to just pick a few – good problem to have!)

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Book Review: Far Gone by Laura Griffin


Far Gone by Laura Griffin
Available 4/15/14
Provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Finish Time: 10 nights.  Unfortunately for this book, also being a kind of crime, thriller, I just came off of reading a crazy one (The Widow File), so in comparison, this one didn’t hold up.  That’s not to say it isn’t good but I may have enjoyed it more on it’s own, my head was so twisted from the last read, it’s almost unfair to this book.

It was fine.  There was nothing wrong with it, it just didn’t hold my interest as I felt it was slow moving at times.  It was a bit mystery, a few action-packed scenes, and a little bit of love thrown in.  Andrea Finch was a likable, yet frustrating main character.  And by frustrating, I believe that was intentional, as many of the other characters found her that way as well.  Her interactions with the other lead, Jon North, were full of fun banter that is a bit predictable.

The story begins with a “defining moment” in Andrea’s life and career.  The story was brought back to it a couple times, but I would have liked maybe a little more?  Not that they story line needed it, just a few unanswered questions there.  The book then goes on to the “meat” of the story when Andrea receives a cryptic phone call from her brother, Gavin, asking for money.  She goes to find him and ends up in the middle of an investigation.

It was well written, kept me turning pages, just a bit slower than I would have liked.  Again, just coming off of a more intense book, I feel biased.  Not bad, not exceptional, we’ll leave it at that.  Now on to something different from a crime book!



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Winter Snow (Bonus Christmas Song!)

“But you came like a winter snow, quite, soft, and slow.  Falling from the sky in the night, to the earth below.”

In addition to my Advent Song Series (see last one here), I wanted to through in one bonus song.  Actually I wanted to throw in a bunch, but this is one of my favorite, so I thought I would do a special mid-week post just for it.

I first heard it at church by the beautiful Abby Akins a few years ago.  I woke up singing it the other day and asked Abby at church if it was on the agenda for any of the Advent services, and much to my delight (and spoiler alert!) I was told it may be performed on Christmas Eve at our newly named Evergreen Church!  (Here is our flyer below for anyone local – we would LOVE to have you at our Community Wide Christmas Eve service at 5:30pm at Starrs Mill High School!)

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But back to the song.  It’s just beautiful with a simple, yet powerful message.  Jesus could have come blazing into the world, like a storm or hurricane, you know those grand entrances (think royal baby this past year?).  Couldn’t you just picture it today? It would be the buzz on Facebook, Twitter, on every news outlet, camera crews outside the barn, pining for that first picture.  But Jesus came like the winter snow, paints a beautiful picture in your head.  Quiet.  Soft.  Slow.  In the middle of the night, in a barn, so humble for our King.  The King of Kings.  Our Savior.  Our Lord.

Meditate over this song.  Close your eyes and let the words sink in.  Beautiful.  I hope you enjoy as much as I do if you haven’t heard before (or even if you have.)  Thanks for stopping by, and stay tuned for a post on LOVE coming this 4th Sunday of Advent!  Amen.

Winter Snow (Feat. Audrey Assad)
Chris Tomlin

Could’ve come like a mighty storm
With all the strength of a hurricane
You could’ve come like a forest fire
With the power of Heaven in Your flame

But You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

You could’ve swept in like a tidal wave
Or an ocean to ravish our hearts
You could have come through like a roaring flood
To wipe away the things we’ve scarred

But You came like a winter snow, yes, You did
You were quiet, You were soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Ooh no, Your voice wasn’t in a bush burning
No, Your voice wasn’t in a rushing wind
It was still, it was small, it was hidden

Oh, You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Falling, oh yeah, to the earth below
You came falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

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Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (Gift Idea)

This is actually not a book review, rather a gift I am super excited about giving to my kids this year.  They’ll love the book, as Dr. Seuss books are some of their favorite (like Green Eggs & Ham for my LM and they’re both loving How the Grinch Stole Christmas! this time of year.)  But I’m taking it a step further and hoping it is something they will come to cherish.

I purchased two copies, one for each child, wrote a letter to them on the inside cover, and then made the back into a travel log.

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The letter includes our prayers for them as they grow up and that God will be their ultimate guide in life and that we pray they come to know Him personally and trust Him as their guide.  Some of the scripture I included (and I’m sure there are so many more good ones) are:

the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121:8

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. Proverbs 3:23

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. Psalm 91:11

Then the back is to record all of our travels as a family, and I hope they continue to record their travels when they (tear) are on their own.  I’ve listed the date, place, and reason/who we were with.  It’s something I would have loved, and I hope we can bring out each year to update and reminisce.

I’m sure others have done similar things.  I do this in addition to a yearly photo album, which in the back I try to record what we did each month (where pictures were taken.)  I’d love to hear of any unique way you record things for your kids!

Here is another item that I was thinking about getting for the family someday too – a map to do something similar:

1020392National Geographic ”My World” Personalized Map

What gift are you most excited about this year?

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Joy for Christmas (Advent Series Part III)

Joy: a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.  Who wouldn’t want that?  Joy is another amazing gift and one that I’d have to say makes everything else worth it.  Don’t you live for those moments of pure joy, for me it’s through my children.  And as they get older, the JOY in Christmas is even clearer.  (Stay tuned for my post about meeting Santa!)  And here is my LL when I told her to show me joy this morning:

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Then the angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid, for behold,
I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
Luke 2:10

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
Habakkuk 3:18

Joy is mentioned so much in the Bible, it’s hard to narrow it down, so I picked a common Christmas verse and another great one from Habakkuk.  I try not to do “too much” research when composing my posts, I don’t want to ever be guilty of stealing anyone else’s thoughts and ideas.  I try to pour out my raw emotion as I pray over and think over each topic, song, or verse I choose to include.  But I came across this article that includes tons of scripture and thoughts on JOY.  The author hits the nail on the head when he mentions that true joy cannot be fabricated and can only come when we feel secure, have direction in our life, are honest with God and ourselves, and live each moment in God’s presence.

I know I try to thank God and praise him even more in times of JOY.  Don’t get me wrong, I praise Him through my storms too, but it’s hard when you’re in them.  But the joy that will come will be amazing.  Time and time again, God comes through.  And it’s in those moments of JOY that I feel free, I know my God came through and I feel His presence and loving arms around me and I want to shout it to the world.  My goal will be to keep that joy in my heart always.  If not the JOY, but maybe the HOPE for it, or the PEACE that may precede or follow it.  Three beautiful gifts (and spoiler alert – the best one comes next week!)

It was hard for me to pick a song this week as so many songs exemplify JOY to me.  I did go with the most obvious, Joy to the World.  I’m sure it’s becoming overplayed, but not to me.  Chris Tomlin has a way with songs, that I can just never tire of.  He took this song, in a similar way that he took Amazing Grace (My Chains Have Gone), and added the catchy “Joy – Unspeakable Joy”, that has me singing as loud as I can when I hear it!  (A close second and one for you to check out as well is “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” by Barenaked Ladies – LOVE this version!)

Enjoy this song.  Sing it out, LOUD, to our GOD, who wants us to experience JOY, during the Advent season and throughout the year.  It will have to be earned, much like peace, but it will be so good.  Amen!

Joy to the World (Unspeakable Joy)
Chris Tomlin

And like last week – here are a few glimpses of JOY in my world:

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See first posts in this series here:  (and stay tuned for LOVE next week!)
Part I – HOPE
Part II – PEACE

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Book Review: The Widow File by S.G. Redling


The Widow File
By S.G. Redling
Click book for description
Available 1/1/14

I am trying something different for a change.  I’ve been loving NetGalley but decided to switch it up this time and try out a new feature offered to Amazon Prime Members (such as myself – proud member for 2+ years!) called Kindle First.  Each month I am offered a few pre-release titles, where I can pick one to read (and lucky for you all – review it too!)  So here goes my first one!

Finish time: 5 nights.  Again I probably could have finished this in one sitting.  It is the first book that I can honestly say I did not want to put down.  I am tempted to use profanity to emphasize just how crazy this book is, but I don’t do that – so let’s just say it is INSANE!!  Non-stop action from the first page.  I was seriously holding my breath and each night this book entered my dreams as I could not stop thinking about it.

Dani Britton is a great main character.  So well described, that I could just picture the short, spunky, dark-haired, little firecracker that she was.  I can only hoped if faced with a similar situation that I have half as much smarts and sense as she did.  Not that I ever hope or expect to be in that kind of situation.  She takes paranoia and planning to an extreme that I can’t even touch.  Seriously, at the end this is just solidified (as well as many points throughout the book.)

She keeps coming back to something her mother told her about being careful v. clever.  An interesting question that gets the reader thinking throughout the book.  At each and every challenge Dani is presented with, she is quickly able to read the situation, assess it, and act fast.  She never knows who she can trust and has to go solely on her gut instinct, which in her case is usually pretty good.

As a reader, you don’t know who you can trust too.  You don’t know what is going to be thrown at her and the book keeps you guessing to the very end.  And the ending is good, and maybe left open to a sequel?

Read the description, as I don’t want to give away any details, but the book is definitely an action-packed thriller, mystery, suspense, and I even see love story thrown in there in one description.  It’s not like any book I have read recently, but it removed me from my comfort zone and transported me into this crazy chase of a book and I enjoyed every second of it.  If you want a book that is hard to put down, challenges your thinking, and really enjoyable, read this book!

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Peace this Christmas (Advent Series Part II)

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
Luke 2:14

Happy 2nd Sunday of Advent.  Today we light the candle of Peace.  As I spent time the last few days and this AM thinking about peace a few common phrases came to mind.

Peace be with you (and also with you).
A common call and response in church, I’ve repeated many times in my life.

Peace and quiet.
As in, I need some!  (And a prayer for all the moms in my life!)

World Peace.
A common pageant answer to “What would you wish for?”

Give Peace a Chance.
John Lennon anyone?

And ofcourse there are the non-verbal signs:

peace and   1-IMG_0912

But what is biblical peace?  Without looking it up, to me it is a calmness of my spirit or soul that only God can bring.  Through knowing Him, loving Him, trusting Him, talking to Him, I can truly feel peace.  God wants us to be at peace, but not without making us fully appreciate that peace.  How would we know peace without the trials of this world?

Peace is truly another gift from God and one that should be celebrated this Advent season and all year round. Rest in Peace, although associated with death and dying, should be a goal for all of us.  To truly be able to be still and rest in the gift of peace that God has graced us with (while still on this earth!)  I know it’s hard for me to shut down my brain and the world around me but I strive to just rest in knowing that God loves me and whatever it is – God’s got it, He’s got my back, and if I seek it, peace will come.

So this time of year when you hear the verse below (and above), think about the gift of peace that our Lord gives us and try and find some amid the craziness.

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Luke 2:14

As I am reflecting on what peace means to me, I think of angels.  (Not anything new that I am staking claim to!)  And this can be a topic for another post as angels can come in many forms (in our house we have doggie angels), but this time of year I like an angel to adorn the top of our tree.  Here she is (and here is a link to this talented man on Etsy that hand crafted it for us last year.)  She watches over us and our household and symbolizes the peace of the Christmas season for us.

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My first thought for a song was “Silent Night”, it’s calm and quiet melody and it’s message of “sleep in heavenly peace” is, well, peaceful.  But as I was reflecting on angels, a song came to mind that speaks of angels singing “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”.  And in this version, that message is proclaimed by the voices of children that brings me to tears (listen towards the end – it’s so worth it!)  The innocence of their voices and the message brings me peace, and when I looked up this song I found that it is  “all about the message of peace that the angels proclaimed on the first Christmas, when Jesus Christ was born. The song looks forward to a time when people will respond to the angels by living in peace with God and each other, and, in the last verse, likens doing so to offering the angels’ song back to them.” (copied from here)

May PEACE be with you this week.  Amen.

Caedmon’s Call
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

Read Part I on HOPE here!
and stay tuned for more!  Thanks for stopping by.

Peace to me:

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Nothing personifies peace to me more than a sleeping baby or child (and dogs in our house too!)
Amen!

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