Count it all joy

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Happy spring, everyone! I’ll be bringing you some fun spring ideas here in the next few weeks, but today I thought I’d share something I’ve been learning recently.

I made it my goal this past fall to memorize the book of James and I’ve gotten through most of the first two chapters. And I have to say, it’s been very rewarding to really know God’s Word…even if it is only two chapters so far! But, I was listening to a sermon the other day and the pastor mentioned that you can memorize, read, and study all day long but if you don’t actually apply it and let it change you, then it’s worth nothing. Oops. That’s exactly what I had been doing…memorizing the verses in James without really stopping to think about what I needed to learn from them. So I decided to go back through what I had already memorized and really look for ways I could apply those verses to my life.

Well, my friends, it didn’t take long! In the very beginning of James, it says “my brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” Originally, I just glossed over those words. I thought, yep, those words are applicable when facing major trials…financial difficulty, a marriage that’s on the rocks, grief, sickness, persecution. You know, the “big” trials in life. But when I went back over those verses, I noticed something. James doesn’t say “major trials”, he says “various trials”. Big trials, small trials, and the trials somewhere in the middle. So it got me thinking…do I count it all joy even in the small trials? Or do I have a bad attitude, throw myself a little pity party, and complain?

Here’s a few example of the little trials I’m talking about-

when my baby wakes up multiple times in the middle of the night for no reason

when my husband doesn’t meet my expectations

when someone doesn’t respond the way I want them to

when things don’t go according to plan

when I can’t fix a problem

when my little boy wakes up from his nap early and I don’t get to finish whatever it is I’m doing

when someone lies about you

when a family member says something hurtful

when I’m tired and just don’t feel accomplishing anything

when I don’t get my to-do list done for the day

when you’re dealing with a sick kid (or husband)

when I feel like I “deserve” more…more time to myself, more romance from my husband, more money, more clothes, more sleep

All of these things are minor when compared to the major trials so many people have been or are going through right now. And yet we are told to count it all joy no matter the size of the trial. It’s hard! Whether the trial is big or small, my first natural response certainly isn’t joy. It’s frustration, anger, anxiety, annoyance, resentment. And yet, with God’s help, we can choose joy. It’s a choice. A choice not based on feelings or on our own selfish desires. And that’s why it’s just so darn difficult. But let me remind you as I have to often remind myself…we were never promised easy! I failed to choose joy so many times yesterday that I hesitated to even post this today. But just as God gives us the grace to choose joy, he also gives us forgiveness and the chance to start over if when we fail.

When we’re tempted to respond with something other than joy, remember that every trial provides an opportunity to glorify God. The end of the verse says “knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience, but let patience have it’s perfect work that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” Let those little daily trials serve their purpose…to transform us more and more into the likeness of Christ.

I created a “count it all joy” printable for all of you, because sometimes it just helps to have a visual reminder as you go about your day. Just click on the link below! I hope you enjoy!

Happy Thursday!

Count it all joy printable

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30 last minute Valentine’s Day ideas

Happy Monday everyone! I can’t believe tomorrow is Valentine’s Day already. It totally snuck up on me! I know that there’s quite a few people who would disagree with me, but I think that Valentine’s Day is such a fun holiday. It gives you a reason to celebrate the love you have not just for your significant other but for your children, family, and friends, too! There are so many fun ideas out there in Pinterest land for Valentine’s Day. Heart-shaped food, handmade cards, chocolatey desserts, crafts for kids, gift ideas, and on and on it goes. If you’re anything like me, however, you didn’t plan ahead and here you are on the day before Valentine’s Day searching for some last minute ideas. Look no further! I’ve created a round-up of some last minute ideas for you from crafts to food to gift ideas. You can still make the day special, it’s not too late! All of these ideas are super easy, very low cost, and won’t take too much time. Enjoy!

FORHIM  

Root Beer Float Kit – Super easy to put together! Add a DVD to the basket and you have a fun stay-at-home date night!

5 Guys Gift Card – For the husband who loves a good burger!

Movies and Milkduds  – Gift your movie-loving husband a free Red Box movie with this cute idea.

Valentine Snack Notes – Pack your husband a lunch on Valentine’s Day and add a few of these fun notes to some special treats.

Top 5 Things – Not giving gifts this year? Take some time to write down 5 things you really appreciate about your husband (or wife). They’ll love it, trust me!

Valentine’s Search and Find for him – I love this unique idea from The Dating Divas! He’ll love this one!

12 months of pre-planned dates – Plan out date nights for the rest of the year. Be creative. You could even include gift cards. You’ll both enjoy date nights more without the “where should we eat” or “what should we do” question every time! (or is that just me and my husband?!)

Quite the Catch – An inexpensive but cute idea. For the guy (or girl) who loves Swedish Fish.

Candy Bar Bouquet – Perfect for any candy-loving husband! He’ll appreciate this as much as you appreciate the bouquet of flowers he gets you (or maybe you’d rather have candy bouquet than a floral one, too!)

52 things I love about you – Take the time to tell your husband why you love him. An inexpensive but very meaningful idea!

FORKIDS

Valentine’s Day Jenga – A fun game to play with your kids on Valentine’s Day.

A-Doh-Able Valentines  – A great idea if you need something quick for your kid’s friends and even something you can give your own kids!

Bubblegum Valentines – Another fun idea for kids to make for their friends or for you to give to them.

Valentine’s Day Lunch Box Printables – Add a little love to your kid’s school lunches on Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day Slime – A fun project for Valentine’s Day! What kid doesn’t love slime?!

Secret Messages – Leave your kids some secret messages on these sweet valentines. Put one in their school lunch, under the bedroom door, or on their plate at dinnertime.

Valentine’s Search and Find for kids – I love this idea! Hide a few gifts (candy, trinkets, whatever!) around your child’s room or the house while they’re sleeping or at school and then send them on a scavenger hunt.

Valentine’s Day Yahtzee – another fun game to play with your kids on Valentine’s Day.

Printable Bookmark to color – print out these fun bookmarks for your kids to color. They can give them way to grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends!

Heart Attack – This is such a sweet idea! Write down what you love about your child(ren) on hearts and attach to their bedroom door. What a fun way for them to wake up on Valentine’s Day morning!

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Easy Heart Cinnamon Rolls – SO easy yet sure to be a crowd pleaser!

Valentine’s Day Pancake Kabobs – An easy to way to turn breakfast into something special.

Valentine’s Day Snack Mix – A perfect after-school snack or little gift for your nieces and nephews, students, or grandkids!

Heart-shaped Rice Krispie treats – For any Rice Krispie lover that you know!

Heart Pretzels – Super cute snack that’s also quick and easy.

Strawberry Brownie Kabobs – Need a fast dessert for Valentine’s Day? This one looks very impressive but yet takes very little time and effort!

Brownie Trifles  – Again, this dessert looks quite fancy without the work most fancy desserts require! I think warm brownie sundaes served this way would be delicious, too!

Easy Valentine’s Day Cookies – This is a fun snack for you to make for or with your kids!

Heart-shaped Fruit Kabobs – Who says Valentine’s Day treats can’t be healthy?

Mini Heart Pizzas – A fun way to add a bit of Valentine’s Day fun to dinnertime. It’s easy and your kids will love it. You can even turn it into a “make your own pizza night” complete with a fun movie and some popcorn.

 

Enjoy your last minute planning! Happy Valentine’s Day!

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beating the winter blues

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Hey there friends!

It’s February which means we’re only SIX Fridays away from Spring! Yay! It might be a little longer than that, however, before warmer weather officially arrives. Wintertime can make one a bit stir crazy after awhile. Especially as a stay at home mom…the days and evenings can get pretty long when you’re cooped up inside. So I’m here to bring you 10 ways to beat those winter blues and bring some fun to the monotony of these cold and dreary days!

1) Get out of the house: Yes, it’s cold and you’ve got to get the kids all bundled up and buckled into their carseats. But it’s quite amazing the difference just one outing can make in your day. My little guy loves people and new places and things to look at. You could go to the library (look into what programs your local library has for kids this time of the year), the grocery store, a local museum, grandma’s house, a craft store, a local coffee shop, or a friend’s house for a playdate. We like to take lunch to my husband at work this time of the year…we get out of the house and B just loves to see daddy. And since evenings can get long trying to entertain a 9 month old with the same toys he’s been playing with all day, we often will come up with something to do after dinner. We grocery shop as a family, run errands, hang out with family, or get coffee at our local Starbucks.

2) Music: Music can be a great way to bring some joy to your days at home. Play some upbeat music and dance around with your kids. Play your favorite tunes while you eat lunch or fold laundry or do the dishes. Buy some new songs or a new album on iTunes. Music can boost your mood and add fun to your daily routine.

3) Pick a project: Give yourself some purpose this winter. Pick a project or two you want to accomplish this winter. It could be creating a photo album, redecorating a room, starting a blog, or organizing your cabinets and closets. You’ll feel so much better when you’re getting something done and not just watching Netflix or scrolling Facebook in your free time.

4) Toy rotation: Our baby is the 1st grandchild on my side of the family so he received a lot of Christmas presents. Instead of giving them all to him at once, I put about half of them away in a box. So now when he seems to be getting a bit bored with his current selection, I can pull out something new he hasn’t seen before. Didn’t do that at Christmas? Just put away a few of the toys and games your children have now and pull them back out in 2 or 3 weeks! 

5) Winter getaway: When we were young, my parents always took us away to a hotel with a pool for a weekend in the wintertime. We loved it and looked forward to it every winter. We still continue the tradition and look forward to introducing our little boy to it this year! It doesn’t have to be a hotel far away…as long as it has a pool, I’m sure your kids will be more than happy. Don’t have the funds or the time to do a whole weekend away? Just find a local indoor pool and go for an afternoon!

6) Puzzles and GamesEvenings can get long. My husband and I get tired of trying to find something to watch on TV every night after the baby goes to bed. Maybe you get tired of trying to find something other than TV to entertain your own kids before the magical bedtime hour. We recently pulled out a puzzle and work on that in the evenings instead of scrolling through our phones while half-watching something on TV.  Are you trying to find a way to entertain your kids in the evenings with something other than TV? Pull out those untouched board games in the closest or pick out a puzzle together. The time will pass quickly and you won’t regret the quality time spent together!

7) Work out: I can’t necessarily claim to be the most consistent in this area but I can tell you that I feel so much better when I fit a work out into my morning. Just being active for 30 minutes gives me energy for the rest of the day!

8) Read a bookThere’s no better time to pick up a good book than the dreary days of winter! Fit in a half hour of reading before bed or during nap time. I made it my goal this year to read one book a month. I snuggle my baby for the first 20 minutes of his nap while reading a chapter or two on my kindle. Now I really look forward to that time every day! 

9) Initiate get-togethers: Weeks go by so much faster when you have something to look forward to and one thing I love to look forward to is getting together with friends and family. It’s so easy to throw yourself a pity party…you never get invited anywhere, you have no friends, no weekend plans. But step out of your comfort zone! Call that mom from church who has some kids and see if she wants to come over for a cup of coffee while the kids play or see if the couple you met the other week wants to go out to dinner with you. Invite family and/or friends over for some games or a movie and dessert. Don’t worry if they’re a little older or younger or have kids that aren’t a different age than your own. I often find myself second-guessing and thinking “maybe they don’t want to hang out with us” or “what if they just say yes out of obligation?” but then there’s the other possibility…maybe they’re feeling the same way as you! You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain! 

10) Break Routine: Plan a date night with your husband. Pull out the paint and let the kids go crazy. Create a discovery box for your baby with kitchen utensils and other “toys” from around the house. Write letters or make cards for someone who needs encouragement. FaceTime a friend or family member that lives far away. Bake cookies with your kids to give to your neighbors. Pick out a project on Pinterest. Have a pizza and movie night. Build a fort. Try out a new recipe. Have a family camp-out. Let your kids pick out something at the Dollar Store. Find an indoor play area. Get manicures or paint nails with your little girl. Have a craft or game day. The options are endless! 

Here’s to six more weeks of winter (thanks, groundhog) and making them the best ever!

Happy Friday!

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Favorite Friday: January edition

Happy Friday! For today’s post, I’m bringing you a round up of my favorite things from this past month. January tends to be a kind of “blah” month in my opinion…cold and dreary days spent cooped up in the house while getting caught up on post-christmas to-do lists. Even so, the month has flown by, and here are a few things that have brought some cheer and/or made my life just a little bit easier this January.

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ONE) This ridiculously comfy hoodie from Target. I added this hoodie to my Christmas list after seeing it online just because I was looking for something somewhat stylish to throw on with sweatpants. But, seriously, I had no idea how soft and comfy it would be. And it’s got just enough flowiness to hide those post-baby inperfections. I would wear this thing every day, all day if I could. Also, it’s on clearance today so go buy one (or two or three) before they’re gone!

TWO) This dust buster from Black n’ Decker. You can roll your eyes all you want, but this thing has made my life so much easier. All the little dust bunnies that collect in the corners or those inevitable crumbs after mealtime with a baby…this thing gets rid of them in five seconds flat. Instead of pulling out my broom or the corded vacuum, I just walk around with this thing for a few minutes and DONE. Be gone dust bunnies and never ending crumbs.

THREE) This wallet from 31. Not only is this wallet super cute (and comes in lots of fun colors), it fits all of my credit card, gift cards, store cards, etc. while still leaving room for my phone. I love this thing because I can throw it in my diaper bag and just pull it out if I’m going somewhere without my baby.

FOUR) My new straightening brush…I LOVE this thing. I commented recently on my cousin’s very smooth yet still very natural-looking hair. She credited the look to this straightening brush and I knew I had to have one. At over $100, it’s a bit pricey, but it goes on sale every once in awhile and I scored mine for just $39. This thing straightens my [very thick] hair in less than 5 minutes while keeping a soft look (not that unnatural stick-straight thing a straightening iron usually does). Best purchase of the month, hands down!

FIVE) This book about the group of people we know as the Pilgrims that sailed to America on the Mayflower. Lover of history or not, this book is incredibly interesting and provides so many details that you never learned in school. I credit this book, right here, to keeping my life in perspective this month. Anytime I was tempted to complain about having to chase around my way-too-busy baby all day or the dog hair on my couch, I thought about the characters in this book. Except they weren’t characters but real live people who lived through the victories but more often horrors and sorrow recorded in One Small Candle.

SIX) The Lose it! App. January began a quest to eat healthier, work out more constistently, and get rid of the last of this baby weight. This app has proved to be quite helpful in that quest. You input your height and weight and then your goal weight and the time frame in which you’d like to lose it. It then comes up with a calorie count per day to coincide with that goal. You log your food each day along with any exercise. It has made me much more aware of what I eat throughout the day knowing that I need to enter it into the app later. My mom, sister, and I all use this app. We screenshot our calorie count and text it to each other at the end of each day. It’s been great accountability! So if you’re working on some healthy goals this winter, download this app and then convince some friends to do the same!

SEVEN) These baby food pouches from Aldi. I make my own baby food but it’s a lot of work to bring homemade purees along when we dine out or go somewhere. These pouches are super easy to throw in the diaper bag and baby B loves them. They’re all natural, organic, and BPA free. And bonus: these are about half of what I pay at the grocery store for something similar.

I hope you enjoyed reading about a few of my favorite things! Enjoy your last weekend of January!

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What we can do

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I am so tempted this morning to write my own commentary on everything that has transpired over the weekend. I feel like I could go on forever with examples of some of the absurdity and hypocrisy we have seen. It just makes me so mad. It feels so obvious, doesn’t it? Women march for freedom and inclusivity and yet ban pro-life women from marching. People say Trump is full of hate all while spewing hateful words over social media at the artists who were willing to perform at the inauguration events. Women call Trump sexist while Jay-Z headlined a concert as part of Hillary’s campaign. Yes, Jay-Z. I can’t even give you examples of his lyrics on here, they’re that bad…but guys, they are literally the epitome of sexism and misogyny.

I think somewhere deep inside I feel like if I could just write a really convincing blog post or provide a few articles with the actual facts or somehow clearly reveal the blatant hypocrisies, it’ll make a difference. But guess what? It won’t. The people who agree with me will like it, share it, and rejoice that someone else feels the same way as they do. The people who stand in the opposite camp will comment with passionate disagreement while feeling frustrated that people like me just don’t get it. I’m not going to miraculously change these people’s minds, as much as I wish I could.

S0, today, instead of continuing my rant in a fruitless effort to convince people of their error, I’m going to give a you a list of things I (and you, too) can do in light of recent events.

1. I can continue to strive to be the best wife, mom, daughter, friend, and sister I can be. None of what’s going on effects my day to day life. I can still choose to respond to my husband in love, choose joy in the mundane tasks of chasing a baby around, doing laundry, and cooking meals, and choose to speak words of kindness to my family members.

2. I can choose not to respond on social media with the same hatred many others are displaying. I refuse to sacrifice my reputation on the altar of politics. Choose your battles, friends. What if, a year from now, someone who you responded to with hate and sarcasm is now looking for answers in the face of some trial or crisis? You have a solution for them…the hope and peace that can be found in Christ…and yet do you really think they will come to you in their searching after your hateful remarks?

3. I can choose to extend grace. Grace for those who don’t agree with me, who don’t understand, who stand on the opposite side. Choose to show people love and kindness despite our differences. Do I still speak the truth in that love? Of course. But the truth of God’s Word, not the “truth” about the inauguration attendance, Trump’s real policies, Hillary’s past, or the biased media.

4. I can pray. Pray for Trump and his advisors and his cabinet (1 Timothy 2:1-4), knowing that whether I like him or not, he is now my President. He deserves my respect as an authority ordained by God (Romans 13:1). I can also pray for the souls of those who disagree with me, even those who spew hateful words at me or the people I support (Luke 6:28).

5. I can remember who I really am. I am a sinner saved by grace. Different in only one way from the women who cheered when Madonna said she’s thought about blowing up the white house, from Jay-Z and his horrendous lyrics, from the reporters, from the the people breaking store windows and trashing the city streets. God saved me out of my sin, out of that darkness and brought me into his marvelous light. It’s none of my doing and all of His.

6. I can have an eternal perspective. This is the world, we’re talking about. We shouldn’t expect them to agree with us or see it from our viewpoint. The world has hated Jesus all along and we are told many times to expect that same hatred (Matthew 10:22, Mark 13:13, among others). Don’t be surprised by this. Instead, let it fuel your desire for Jesus’ return and your passion to see others come to Him before it’s too late.

May this encourage you in what feels like a very discouraging time. Remember that God has placed you on this earth at this very time with a purpose. A purpose to glorify Him and make Him known. Don’t let politics, self righteous anger, and pointless debate get in the way of that purpose. Happy Monday!

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favorite soup recipes

I don’t know about you, but around here the weather has been quite gray and dreary lately. The kind of weather that makes you want to cuddle up under a blanket with coffee and a good book or movie. (and also makes you feel completely unmotivated to accomplish things like cleaning, laundry, and other such tasks…or is that just me?) I’m not really a fan of cold weather, personally. I much prefer the mild temperatures of spring and fall or the sunny days of summer. One of the few “good” things about this weather is the chance to make soup! A hearty, warm bowl of soup seems to bring comfort to the dark and dreary days of winter.

When I first got married, the idea of making soup kind of overwhelmed me. I had never tried it before and every recipe seemed complicated with a very long list of ingredients. But when I finally gave it a try, I was surprised to find that making soup is quite easy. And my favorite part is that while the soup is simmering on the stove or in the crockpot, you can do the dishes so that there’s virtually no clean up after dinner! That’s a big win in my book. Pair with some garlic grilled cheese or homemade rolls and you’re done.

So today, I bring you some of my favorite soup recipes. I’ve tried each of these out (with a few tweaks that I’ve included below) and love them all. Pick one out for dinner this week!

1. Slow Cooker Sweet Tomato Basil Soup

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This recipe from 365 Days of Crockpot is one my favorites because it’s SO easy to throw in the crockpot in the morning or afternoon. I’m actually making this recipe for dinner tonight! I pair it with garlic grilled cheese (a bit of garlic powder and oregano sprinkled onto the buttered bread before you grill it) instead of croutons. I use dried spices and often leave out the fresh parsley since I don’t always have it on hand.

2. Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup

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This recipe from Savor the Senses is packed full of veggies and has incredible flavor. Since it also has sausage and tortellini, this soup is really a meal all by itself! I’ve made it both with and without the red wine and it tasted great both ways. I usually buy carrot sticks to save some time chopping veggies and I usually only use one or two zucchini chopped into small chunks. You can also substitute a 1/2-1 tablespoon of dried basil and parsley if you don’t have fresh on hand.

2. Stuffed Pepper Soup

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This stuffed pepper soup from cooking classy is hearty, filling, and seriously delicious. This is probably my favorite soup recipe. It might seem like a long list of ingredients but don’t be overwhelmed! You simply throw them all together and let it simmer. I don’t typically make any changes to this recipe. I always add the rice to individual bowls rather than the pot of soup. Otherwise, the leftovers would be thick and mushy. (and this soup makes a great lunch the next day!)

4. Corn and Cheese Chowder

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This recipe from Pioneer Woman (seriously, who doesn’t love the pioneer woman?!) is SO good and super easy and quick, too! I made this in the summer with fresh corn on the cob. We loved it but my husband thought I was crazy serving hot soup in the summertime. So now I just make it with some fresh corn we froze at the end of the summer. You can make it with frozen sweet corn from the store, also. I’ve never served it in bread bowls but I’m sure it would be delicious!

5. Loaded Baked Potato Soup 

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What soup recipe list would be complete without a good potato soup? Well, here’s some news for you: my husband hates potatoes in his soup. Such sad news for this soup-loving girl. But this recipe from The Recipe Critic is very good and quite similar to what my mom made when I was growing up. You can’t go wrong with a soup loaded with potatoes, bacon, and cheese! It’s the perfect comfort food. Now I just have to make it for lunch when my hubby is at work.

 

I hope these recipes give you a little winter meal planning inspiration! I promise, you can’t go wrong with these 5 favorites of mine! What are your favorite winter meal recipes? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Wednesday!

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a new moment

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Happy New Year! I wasn’t really planning on skipping the entire month of December, but it’s now January 9th and I haven’t blogged since the end of November. Oops! Life got the better of me in December…get-togethers, shopping, a teething baby with what seemed like a never ending cold (which turned my happy boy into a cranky little bear who wouldn’t sleep or be put down), and special times with my sister who was visiting from Texas for the month! It was very busy but so much fun. I’m still in denial that Christmas is over. How did it go so fast?! I blinked and here we are in January. Gone are the Christmas decorations, holiday excitement, neatly wrapped presents, and family gatherings. In their place comes routine, long winter evenings, and new year’s resolutions.

Ah, resolutions. There is, of course, something about a new year that makes one evaluate what in their life needs changed or improved. This year I have a long list, as usual. Eat healthier. Be more consistent in my Bible and prayer time. Exercise more. Be more intentional in my relationships with people. Put my phone down more often. Waste less time. Blog more consistently. Become a better listener. And on it goes.

There’s isn’t anything necessarily wrong with making resolutions. It’s a great time to reevaluate, begin healthy habits, and make a few changes. But here’s the problem. How many of you actually keep the resolutions you so enthusiastically make on January 1st? Not me. Nope, I’m the one you might find  skipping my work out while eating chocolate and mindlessly scrolling Facebook on January 30th despite my best intentions at the beginning of the month.

It’s so very easy for me to fall into a pattern of giving up. Well, it’s the middle of January and I’ve only worked out a few times so there goes that resolution. It’s just too hard to disconnect from social media so maybe I shouldn’t have made that resolution in the first place. Oops, I ate a few too many cookies and fast food on Monday so I guess I’ll just eat whatever I want this week and start new next week or maybe the next or the next.

But here’s something I’ve been learning recently in my quest to make some good and healthy changes in my life. We aren’t stuck waiting around for a new year if we mess up. We aren’t even forced to wait for the next month or week! Each and every day welcomes the chance to start anew. The Lord’s mercies are new every morning, every hour, every moment. We can ask forgiveness if necessary, pray for strength and help, and begin again.

So I ate a donut for breakfast on Monday? I don’t need to wait until the next day to start eating healthy. I can begin again at lunchtime. So it’s Friday and I haven’t worked out all week? I can work out on Friday instead of telling myself to wait until Monday to try again. So I’ve found that I’ve wasted quite a bit of time lately scrolling through nothingness on my phone? I can begin again that very moment by making a choice to put the device down and do something wiser with my time.

So let’s not fall into the trap of giving up. Of waiting around for the next day, the next week, or the next year. Jesus transforms our lives moment by moment, day by day, year by year. I certainly wish we could just make the decision to change something about ourselves and then boom! the next day we’ve been transformed. But that’s just not how it works. We have to fight our battles each and every day. Make a choice in every moment. Start over and over and over and over again.

And then at some point, almost without notice, after many daily battles and do-overs (and with much help from the Lord), you’ll look back over the year and realize you have changed. The choices that you made each moment slowly add up to reveal that you really did keep some of those new year’s resolutions after all.

And so that’s my encouragement to you (and challenge for myself!) in this new year. Don’t give up on those resolutions. Keep at it. Start over the millionth time if you have to. Change doesn’t happen in one day. We’re given the chance to begin again with each new moment. What a beautiful thing!

One of my favorite quotes (from one of my favorite movies) says:

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” – L.M Montgomery in Anne of Green Gables

Let’s all remember that as we go about keeping our resolutions! Happy new year once again!

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Thanksgiving Countdown Day 3: Table Games (Free Printables)

Hello and happy Thanksgiving Eve! Here’s one last post for you before the big day arrives in just a few short hours…

I created two fun activities for our family this year and I thought I might share them with you. Both of these activities are a fun way to keep guests at the dinner table just a little longer. They are super simple and easy. A way to connect and learn more about each other, reflect on what we’re thankful for, create quality conversation, and have fun.  Turn off the football game for just a few minutes and try out one of these activities. I don’t think that you’ll regret it!

1 – THANKSGIVING SCATTERGORIES

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There are two ways to play this game…guests can write down things they are thankful for starting with letters A-Z or things having to do with Thanksgiving. You can set a time limit if you’d like. Once finished, have everyone cross items off their list if someone else wrote the same thing. The person (or people) with the most words left wins! Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the free printable version.

2 – THANKSGIVING CONVERSATION STARTERS

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This activity is self-explanatory. You can set out a conversation card at each place setting and answer them over dinner or you can put them all in a basket and pass it around while guests are munching on dessert. You can even read the question and have each guest answer before moving onto the next one. Lots of ways to play! It’s a very fun way to learn about each other and focus on what Thanksgiving is truly about. Scroll to the bottom to find 6 printable pages…24 total questions.

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving filled with friends, family, and special moments! There is truly so much to be thankful for!

Click below for FREE printable versions! Enjoy!

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Thanksgiving Countdown Day 2: Place Settings

Goodmorning!

As some of you get busy planning your Thanksgiving festivities on this blustery and cold Monday morning, I thought I’d provide some table setting inspiration for you! Many of these ideas I’ve used in years past and some are new ideas I’ve found from other creative bloggers. I tried to pick simple designs that need little expertise and materials…something you can easily conquer while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or maybe while listening to Christmas music on Thanksgiving Eve. I hope one of these 8 ideas inspires you to bring a little fun to your table this year! Enjoy!

1- Childhood Pictures

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I created these for our family Thanksgiving table about three years ago! It’s very easy, an extra fun way for guests to find their seat, and a great conversation starter! I found or requested childhood pictures of everyone attending our Thanksgiving meal and then printed them on photo paper. (although you could easily use plain old cardstock, too!) Then I cut and glued them on some dark colored paper. This is a great option if you need something quick and easy but still makes an impression and adds some fun!

2 – Thankful Booklets

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Pardon the quality of the photos…I actually had to dig into my “memory box” to find my own thankful booklet from a few years back! This is by far one of my favorite ideas. Each person gets a booklet with their name written on the front. First, use them to help guests find their seats. Then, at the end of dinner, pass the booklets around the table. Each person should write down something they’re thankful for about the person whose name is on the front. Keep passing until the booklets have made it all the way around the table! At the end of the evening, each person gets to take home a special keepsake full of kind words about them.

3- Burlap & Glitter

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Super simple to make yet bringing a touch of the season and glitter (who doesn’t love glitter?!) to your table! I love this idea from typicallysimple.com. Just cut a few squares of burlap, trace leaves from a leaf template (just google leaf template and you’ll find yourself with plenty of free options!), and clip them together with a glittery clothespin. Click on the picture to go the original tutorial!

4- Thanksgiving doodles

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How fun is this idea from Clarita over at Skies of Parchment? Just buy some kraft paper and either cut out some placemats or use a long piece as a runner on each side of the table. Use a sharpie to create a space at each setting for guests to write down things they’re thankful for! You can even write the guest’s name somewhere on the placemat. Provide pens, crayons, or colored pencils. Fun for kids to doodle on, too, before or after dinner! Click on the image for more details.

5- Golden leaves

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This idea is perfect if you’d like to add a touch of beauty and elegance to your Thanksgiving table that will wow your guests. (it’s okay, we won’t tell them just how simple they were to create!) Find some pretty leaves in your backyard or buy fake leaves at your local craft store and spray paint them with something metallic. She uses gold but silver would be equally pretty! Use a paint pen or sharpie to write your guest’s name once the paint has dried. See the full tutorial over at Wendy’s blog by clicking above.

6- Something Sweet

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I used this idea from Good Housekeeping a few years ago! These double as a place setting and a goody for your family to take home! Just whip up a batch of your favorite sugar cookies and cut out pumpkins (plain old circles or squares work, too). Use some royal icing to cover the entire cookie and then, once dry, pipe your guest’s names on top.

7- Painted Pinecones

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Check out this idea from stampington.com. Just paint the tips of pinecones (send your kiddos out to collect some for you or buy a bag at your local craft store) with some orange, yellow, and red paint. Stamp, write, or print the names of your guests onto tiny slips of paper and stuff into the top of each pinecone. I love this woodsy look! Click the image for the full tutorial.

8- Cornucopia Treats

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You can grab everything you need for these delicious treats when you’re out grocery shopping for your thanksgiving meal! All you need are ice cream cones, chocolate chips, and some fall candy to stuff inside. Once again, these double as a favor for your guests to take home. You can attach little place setting cards with a some chocolate on top if you have assigned seats or just set one at each plate without names. See the details from caramel potatoes by clicking above.

Happy Thanksgiving day planning! Check back tomorrow!

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Thanksgiving Countdown Day 1: FREE Printable

Goodmorning friends! It’s so hard to believe that Thanksgiving is less then one week away! I have to say that this is my most favorite holiday of all. I love Christmas, of course, but Thanksgiving day marks the beginning of all things Christmas and, as a result, all of my favorite things! Christmas movies and music, family time, shopping, traditions, holiday lights and decorations, and on and on the list goes. There is just something so fun and special about this time of the year and it all begins, in my opinion, on Thanksgiving day!

To celebrate the beginning of the holiday season, I’m kicking off a Thanksgiving Countdown. From now until Thanksgiving day, I’ll be featuring 3 posts about Thanksgiving…ideas, crafts, recipes, activities, and even some free printables. Get ready!

Today, please enjoy this free digital print. I hope that it brings a little Thanksgiving cheer to your home. I recently came across this quote and I just love it. It perfectly encapsulates what this season (and every season, hopefully) is all about. Both being grateful to God for His many blessings and giving in return. Giving back to God with our obedience, our time, and our possessions. Giving to friends and family to show our love and appreciation. And giving to others to show them the love of Christ and to make their holiday just a little bit brighter.

Just click below to save and print. Enjoy! Don’t forget to come back and check out day number 2 tomorrow! Happy weekend!

 

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