Monday, December 07, 2015

Advent Devotional 2015

The 2015 Advent Devotional is here!

I hope you enjoy using this scriptural devotional with your family. Last year we passed it out for our families at New Life (our church) and I just kept it "branded" with the New Life logo.

If you would like to use this with your church, please feel free to do so. There are some helpful FAQ on the first page in case this is your first time celebrating Advent.

Advent 2015

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Minted Review

Everyone has their own pet peeves, but one of them on my list is the poorly executed kids' birthday party. I love it when a celebration can be a blessing to the guest of honor, and included in that (for kids) is structure. So, rarely will you come to one of my kids' parties without there being some sort of schedule. My husband has been a driving force to make me see why this is really the key to a well-executed birthday party. 

But often I get wrapped up in getting together the decor, food and invites, and scouring Pinterest for something I can print and finding matching items to go with it. I waste a LOT of time doing this. In browsing Minted, which I originally only associated with customized cards, I was elated to see that they have a whole line of party decor!

You can order banners, flags, straws, food labels, treat bags, favors, table runners and more. This would save a lot of time. I am hopeful to try this out for the next party that I am hosting. 

Beyond the parties, I got distracted and found myself on all different areas of the Minted website, especially the Art Marketplace, which I was pleasantly surprised to find! Since moving into our house about a year ago, we still have several blank walls and I am always on the lookout for the "just right" thing for those walls. I found so many options here. 


  I have seen many Save-the-Dates over the years of living in a college town and walking through many dating relationships, engagements and marriages. Many nights have been spent on our couches walking couples through premarital counseling and I have been giddy when I received those
Save-the-Dates, thinking of the future marriages and displaying them on our fridge. This line of Save-the-Dates from Minted is especially adorable.

The Minted site is a treasure trove! And for a limited time, you can get 15% off your order with the code SEVEN (expires 4/6/15). I am hoping to do just that as soon as I can actually decide between several things I am eyeing. 

( contacted me about posting a review and my words are 100% my own! )

Monday, March 02, 2015

From Good to Grace

When I hear the words “good” and “grace,” they seem a million miles apart in my mind. In the former, I picture supermom with dishes done and sparkling, laundry switched and a perfectly healthy snack offering for her well-dressed kids. In the latter I can easily picture how my kids and husband must think about me, whispering, “she needs a lot of grace,” as I apologize once again for forgetting to switch the laundry or make the beds or make lunches. If this is grace, I live in it. But, what exactly is grace? Is it this simple? And for that matter, what really is “good”?

From Good to Grace reminds me, “a good mother is one who acknowledges her need for the power of God to train and teach and change the hearts of her children...the most important thing I can do each day is not to be good or rely on myself but to trust God and acknowledge my weakness. He will take my meager offering and turn it into a miracle.”

This book has been eye-opening in its assessment of the cyclical patterns of “doing good” and feeling prideful or failing and beating myself up. When I am lacking in some area, I view myself as a failure and when I am succeeding I feel good and begin to suspect I earned it. It’s a rollercoaster with all the ups and downs and we can’t seem to find our way off the thing. She likens it to an open jail cell that we are choosing to stay and chain ourselves up in. There is no freedom in this way of thinking.

Gal. 3:3 reminds us, “are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect in the flesh?” I never set out to be foolish, so how can I continue living by faith? Christine reminds us that when we receive from Jesus and savor and allow it to well up in us, the response overflows from the inside out. Jesus’ filling up inwardly is what allows us to turn outward and serve and love.

Sometimes I’m too busy to be cognizant of the fact that the gospel has the power to inform everything I do: the reading, the praying and spiritual disciplines, but also the sacrificial washing of dishes, the laundry, the gentle response, the kindness to laugh at another undeniably ridiculous joke told by a 5-year-old. So, what if you and I lived as if the gospel were true every hour of every day? How would that change things? What freedom, what power, what openness and loving each other with abandon would ensue?

Such questions cause us to think and reconsider, so it’s not an easy, fluffy book to read but for that I am grateful and I heartily recommend this book as long as you have time to really digest it. I was pleasantly surprised that there are discussion questions for each chapter in the back as well. This gives great potential for future book studies, which are a favorite of mine. I’ll leave you with a wonderful, summarizing quote from the book:

“Let’s stop giving ourselves and others trite answers in the face of the daily struggles and realities of life. Directing people to have a quiet time, pray more, or go to church more isn’t going to change anything at the heart level. Directing people to God himself for comfort, security, and the ability to face the most difficult circumstances? That is when we invite the Holy Spirit to come alive in our hearts to mend, lead, convict and comfort. Let’s stop fighting against what we all know from experience to be true: we can’t live this Christian life. We need help. Let’s fall into our weakness, not in a giving-up sense or a self-flogging sense, but in recognition that we live only by the power of God.”
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(I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. These are all my words! )

Visit Christine Hoover's blog, Grace Covers Me, for more helpful resources 
and for more information on her new book.

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