December 24, 2011

The Night Before Christmas

It was the night before Christmas and all through the world
Everything looked like business as usual
Shepherds sat on a hillside looking up at the stars
While the world fell asleep unaware just how deep
Was the darkness the night before Christmas

And the night before Christmas it seemed to be just a night
But the wind blew like something was coming
And like children with secrets that they're bursting to tell
The cedars danced in the breeze while all of nature it seemed
Held its breath on the night before Christmas


And hopehope long awaited
The hope of the ages
Would break with the dawn
And the song that all of creation was anticipating
Would start with a baby's first cry

And on the night before Christmas Mary laid down to rest
While Joseph, he paced the floor praying
And in an everyday stable, in an everyday town
In the hours to come God would wrap Himself up
And come down from heaven and the world would forever be changed
After the night before Christmas

December 14, 2011

1000 Things I'm Thankful For: Part 3

41. Hot cocoa

42. A pastor with a heart for the nations

43. Hobby Lobby

44. The smell of balsam fir

45. A new job that I can't wait to start

46. My current job that has taught me so much

47. Hot showers

48. Fuzzy, comfy socks

49. Sunrises

50. When I get all green lights on the way to work

51. My cute little Christmas tree

52. Mexican food

53. Celebrations of the birth of Jesus

54. Promises kept

55. Christmas movies

56. Mercury glass

57. Yard sales

58. The JOY of the Lord

59. Skype

60. My coffeemaker

December 12, 2011

2011 Christmas Tour of Homes: Merry & Bright

Merry & Bright


Clockwise from top left: Ceiling medallion as a modern wreath; festive lights; 
Christmas, y'all; the reason; table setting. 

Merry Christmas, Y'all! 


December 7, 2011

Christmas Q&A

I saw this Christmas Q&A on Amy is the Party and thought I'd do it, too!

Egg nog or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate with a little hazelnut creamer mixed in.  And, marshmallows, of course!

Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? I think this is the first year Santa won't be visiting me. Sniff.  All our gifts will be wrapped under the tree.  But, usually Santa's gifts are unwrapped.

Colored or white lights on tree/house? White!

Do you hang mistletoe? Nope. No one to kiss.

When do you put your decorations up? The week of Thanksgiving. I leave town for Thanksgiving celebrations, so I try to have it done before I go.  That way when I get back home, it's already Christmas at my apartment!

What is your favorite holiday dish? I love Mama's sweet potato souffle and Grannie's cornbread dressing.  

Do you remember your favorite gift? Gosh. So hard.  My sweet mama's love language is gift giving. My parents are always very thoughtful and generous in their gift-giving. They gave me a place setting each Christmas of a beautiful white everyday dish set.  It started when I was about fifteen and carried on until I had ten settings.  I love them, and I get to think about the gift-givers as I use them everyday.

What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you? Celebrating when God became flesh and dwelt among us.  Recognizing the importance of His coming and reminding myself to eagerly expect His second coming.  Also, spending time with my precious family.

What is your favorite holiday dessert? A new favorite is a caramel snack mix that my friend Eliz makes.  I plan on posting the recipe in the coming days...

What is your favorite holiday tradition? Getting a new pair of Christmas pajamas.  It's the only gift we are allowed to open on Christmas Eve.  I also love our traditional Christmas Day breakfast with our grandparents consisting of sausage casserole, biscuits, Mayhaw jelly and coffee.

What tops your tree? Lots of colorful and sparkly picks and stems from craft stores.

Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Both! I love picking out the perfect gift for the people I love and wrapping them beautifully.  But, I also love when someone has taken the time to think through the perfect gift for me.

Candy canes: yuck or yum? Depends.  They have to be a good brand...and they have to be used as a stirrer for my coffee.

Favorite Christmas show/movie? All of them! My top four: original Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone, Elf and The Nativity Story

Saddest Christmas song? All I Really Want by Steven Curtis Chapman

What is your favorite Christmas song? The Christmas Song (Bing Crosby), The Night Before Christmas (Steven Curtis Chapman), O Holy Night (Celine Dion)

December 5, 2011

What's Crafting? Take 2.

This weekend I had some glorious time at home to finish decorating for Christmas, clean my apartment and do a little crafting.  I accomplished a few projects over the weekend including DIY mercury glass and painting a yard sale ceiling medallion to create an unconventional Christmas wreath.

First, I'll show you the mercury glass.  I followed this tutorial that I found on Pinterest using Krylon Looking Glass spray paint.  It was fairly easy.  The hardest part was mastering the spray paint.  It is very thin and runny so it was hard at first to figure out just the right amount of pressure to put on the spray nozzle for perfect application.  

The Inspiration:

My Version:

You can't really tell how well they turned out from the picture.  I didn't think to take pictures of them with candles lit inside like the inspiration photo.  I had most of the glass pieces already, but I bought the medium-sized ones at The Dollar Tree the other day.

The second project was this neat "wreath" made from a ceiling medallion that I bought at a yard sale.  I think I got the idea from a Better Homes & Gardens e-mail and stored it away in my memory to do later.  I had the medallion and the paint already...just had to motivate myself to do it.  I love how it turned out! I'm not thrilled with the ribbon choice, but it was all I had on-hand.  I think I'll try to get some bright green to replace it this week.

I haven't gotten around to doing any of the three projects that I intended to do from my last post.  I have all the supplies for the Christmas pillows and have already cut the fabric.  But I have yet to pull out my sewing machine to finish the task.  I also have most of the items I need for the starburst mirror and Mod Podge letters.  I should have at least one of those projects finished to post soon.  Stay tuned!

December 3, 2011

A List: Things I Love About Christmas

  • Family gathered from near and far
  • Traditional breakfast casserole
  • Lights!
  • Roadside Christmas tree stands
  • Christmas music and hymns
  • Hot apple cider
  • A child's wide eyes when visiting Santa
  • Decorating my little apartment
  • The smell of balsam fir
  • Wreaths on every door
  • Starbucks Christmas blend
  • Most everyone is in a good mood
  • Christmas cards
  • New Christmas pajamas
  • Celebrating when God became man

What do you love?

December 2, 2011

Even More Christmas Gifts That Make a Difference

After I posted ideas for Christmas gifts that make a difference, a friend sent me a message with information about another organization that gives women living in the slums of North India an opportunity to learn a trade, earn income, and gain confidence from working.  This organization is called Ergon Handicrafts.  They make beautiful journals and note cards from handmade paper made in Jaipur, India.

Please visit the Web site and view their items! Perfect stocking stuffers! Also be sure to check the "About Us" section to read the bios of the six women that hand-make each product.

December 1, 2011


As the calendar flips to December 1, it's hard to believe that Christmas is upon us and the year is coming to a close. I absolutely love this time of year, and I anticipate its arrival for months.  It's such a sweet time.  There is something about this season that puts everyone in good spirits.  Is it the decorations and lights? Is it the lovely Christmas music and hymns? Is it the time spent with family and friends? Is it the parties and food? Is it the gifts beneath the tree?

When I think about my childhood excitement surrounding Christmas, I realize that it wasn't necessarily those things that made me so excited. Yes, I loved those things, but I think that the true joy and excitement I felt came from the anticipation that Christmas was coming! Even now, as an adult, I get giddy with the anticipation of Christmas' arrival! I anticipate the family fun, the decorations, the music, the gift-giving, the holiday parties and the like.  More importantly, I also anticipate the opportunity to celebrate the reason that we get to celebrate! The first advent of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The dictionary defines advent as "the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event." Most of us simply think of advent as a countdown to Christmas.  It is so much more.  I think that the reason why we anticipate the arrival of the Christmas season has something to do with the anticipation surrounding the first Christmas.  Many anxiously awaited the arrival of the Savior King.  Yet, only few realized the timing was so soon, and only few recognized it when it happened.  Still, He was prophecy and promise revealed! He was reconciliation for our souls in the flesh.

For me, Christmas is now a time when I think a lot about the second advent.  Like the first advent, no one can predict the timing, yet unlike the first advent, all will recognize and understand when the clouds roll back and our Lord descends.  It will be prophecy and promise revealed! It will be complete fulfillment in Him for those who believe! Every knee will bow and every tongue confess...

So as we begin this Christmas season, let's reflect on the first advent and the glory that was revealed.  Let's also foster a spirit of anticipation for the second advent and the glory that is to come!

Come, Lord Jesus!

November 28, 2011

:: Thanksgiving ::

So much to be thankful for...

Crazy Family

Writing Letters to Santa

An Annual Girls' Trip...14 Years Running!

November 25, 2011

Christmas Gifts That Make a Difference

Since today is "Black Friday" (dun, dun, dun), I thought a shopping post would be appropriate.  However, instead of giving you lots of advice and gift ideas that you can get from your everyday women's magazines, I thought I would share with you some gift ideas that make a difference in the fight against human trafficking.

Many organizations that work "on the front lines" with women and children in commercial sex work offer vocational training to the girls under their care.  Many learn sewing, jewelry making, paper crafts, etc.  Then these organizations offer the items to the public to raise funds.  It's a win-win.  The girls are learning skills and being paid for the work while the organization is raising funds to be able to impact more enslaved women and children.

Click on the text below each picture to be linked to the Web site where you can purchase the item as well as learn about the organization that is offering it.

Broken Bangle Cuff Bracelet $18

Indian Jewelry Bag $9

Christmas Card Set $12.99

Cozy Indian Throw $39.99

Henna Bag $14.99

God is Love Bag $14.99

Check out these sites and organizations to see all the items that they offer.  Let me know if you find something you like!

November 24, 2011

1000 Things I'm Thankful For: Part 2

My Thanksgiving edition of 1000 Things...

21. My amazing family that is gathering together today

22. An annual girls' shopping trip with one of my oldest friends

23. SEC football

24. The Word

25. iPhone fabulousness

26. Boiled peanuts

27. Accountability

28. Grannie's cornbread dressing

29. My pup, Bailey $100 I ever spent!

30. The friendship I share with my little brother

31. Friends & fellow believers who are sacrificing holidays with their families to serve on the mission field

32. The Taj I can get my Indian food fix

33. New Christmas music (Bublé, She & Him)

34. Crisp, fall air...when we have it!

35. Rebecca Bouldin, my teammate and roommate while in India

36. Facebook

37. Family traditions

38. Diet Coke

39. Turquoise

40. My church

November 23, 2011

Trafficking News from Around the Web

Everyday, I see more and more news coverage and more and more organizations forming to bring light to the global dilemma of human trafficking and sex slavery.  This is so encouraging! Raising awareness is key in fighting this issue because most people think "slavery was abolished long ago" or "stuff like this doesn't really happen here or anywhere anymore." We've got to raise awareness and force people out of the American cultural bubble that teaches us to ignore very real issues in the U.S. and throughout the world.

Today I want to highlight some of the freedom fighters that I have recently stumbled upon through Twitter friends, YouTube videos and newspapers.

  • Unearthed Pictures is a very neat organization that uses films to educate people about social injustices worldwide. Currently their focus is the fight against sexual exploitation.  They want to encourage demand reduction by "going after the men who perpetuate the cycle of sexual brokenness all over the world."  This video testimony of Jacob is powerful. It shows that what men need to overcome sexual temptation and what the world needs to end human trafficking is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • The A21 Campaign is an organization that seeks to "abolish injustice in the 21st century."  They recently created a short film called "In Her Shoes" that shows that human trafficking can happen to anyone, anywhere.

Please visit these organizations and articles and check out their stories. Then, do something.

Having seen all this you can choose to look the other way, but you can never say again, 'I did not know.' -William Wilberforce

November 19, 2011

A List: Things I Love About the South

  • Hospitality
  • Home cookin'
  • Big emotions and strong devotions
  • Accents, y'all
  • Sundresses
  • Manners
  • Smiles and "Hey, how's your Mama?"-s
  • SEC football
  • Pride
  • Sweet tea
  • Monograms on everything
  • Southern Gentlemen
  • Dinner on the grounds
  • Antebellum architecture
  • Traffic jams caused by tractors
  • Small town festivals
  • Hearts always being blessed

November 16, 2011

Getting Serious About Getting Healthy: Phase 2

On my quest for better health,  I have already completed my first phase: drink the proper amount of water daily. I have been drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day for about three weeks now, and I feel so good! It has definitely become a habit.  The weekends are the hardest, but I don't push myself too much.  As long as I drink water to quench my thirst between meals, I allow myself to have a Diet Coke or sweet tea at mealtime.  Since drinking water is now a habit and part of my daily routine, it's time to move on to phase two...

EXERCISE four days a week for at least 30 minutes.

I go through periods of time when I love to exercise.  I end up doing it everyday, and I always feel fabulous.  But, then, something schedule is thrown off, I have to travel, etc.  I fall out of habit and become less and less consistent until I stop altogether.  I make excuses, I plan to "start again Monday," I say that I will walk the dog longer to make up for it.  Lame.  Anyways, it's time to get back on track and fall in love with exercise again.

So, I will push through the excuses.  I will find a workout that I love to do.  I will do cardio.  I will do strength training. I will love exercising.  I will make it a habit.

I will.

November 15, 2011

Nectar of Life

I have confession to make.  I'm an addict.  A coffee addict.  I (seriously) joke that it is the nectar of my life.  I can't live without it, and I don't ever intend to give it up.  It is one of my daily motivations to get out of bed.  My coffee pot is set on a timer, and it starts the minute my alarm goes off.  Some of favorite moments with friends, with family and with the Lord are had over a cup (or two) of coffee.  One of my dreams is to run a coffee shop.  I love the stuff, and I cannot function without it.  

Lately on Pinterest, I have been finding lots of funny and truthful sayings about coffee that completely apply to my life and to my love of that fabulous, delicious stuff.  I thought I'd share some of my favorites.

I don't mind if I do...

November 12, 2011

November 8, 2011

1000 Things I'm Thankful For

The first installment...

1. Grace

2. Coffee

3. Autumn, my favorite season

4. My Nalgene

5. Cool co-workers

6. Crunchy leaves

7. Lovely-smelling candles

8. My MacBook Pro

9. Sunsets

10. Growing up in small town Georgia

11. Planned spontaneity with Mary Ellen

12. Glass bangles

13. My fully-stamped passport

14. Wonderful small group peeps

15. Pinterest, really

16. My junking buddy, Anna

17. Weekends in Georgia with the fam

18. Sermon podcasts 

19. A reliable car

20. People who care for orphans

November 7, 2011

The Nut Fest

National Peanut Festival Fun

Greased Pig Scramble

The Corndog Man!
So worth the wait in the long line.
I had hoped for lots more from the night, but my phone battery went dead. :-(
(Also, pretend like these are good Instagrams.)

November 5, 2011

A List: Things That Make Me Feel at Home

Home is

  • Southern drawls
  • My puppy's kisses
  • Coffee in the mornings
  • Isaiah 43:1-3
  • Christmas music
  • Daddy's fried egg sandwiches
  • A warm bed on a chilly morning
  • Eliz and Dana
  • Riding in an auto rickshaw
  • Mornings with my parents at my childhood home
  • Talk time with ME
  • Grannie's cornbread dressing
  • Psalm 139 
  • My brother's truck
  • Saturdays in Athens
  • Conversations with Reba
  • The smell of peanut dust on Papa's farm

November 4, 2011

What's Crafting?

I love to be craft-tastic.  It makes me feel all domestic and creative.  Thankfully, there's this handy-dandy little social media tool call Pinterest where you can collect inspiration photos and tutorials.  Not only this, but you can "pin" all sorts of things including fashion, home decor and recipes.  If you haven't gotten addicted to Pinterest yet, you should.

I have found tons of craft projects that I want to try, and I plan to feature my creations on the blog from time to time.  My first Pinterest-inspired creation was a fall wreath.  I ended up making several for friends.

The Inspiration:

My Version:

I learned how to make the rosettes from a tutorial I found here.  It's a video tutorial and very easy to follow. I painted the letters with basic acrylic paints and then spray painted a polyurethane coat to help seal the painted letter.  The rosettes are hot glued on and the letters are attached with ribbon (with a little help from hot glue and a staple gun). If you're interested in getting one, let me know and I'll send you the details.

For my next project, I hope to do one or all of the following projects: 

                             source                                                 source                                                          source

November 3, 2011

Getting Serious About Getting Healthy: Phase 1

One of the items on my list of Thirty Things is to get serous about getting healthy.  This is important to me and on the list because, as I get older, I want to make sure I'm maintaining good health despite health conditions that I already have.  I think it is important to treat your body well, not only so you are able to do more things for a fun/active life but also because we are instructed to in Scripture to "treat our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit." I believe if we work at this and make every effort to keep our vessels healthy and fit, we are even more available to carry out God's purposes for our lives.

I will, eventually, share with you some of the health struggles I face, but for now, I'd like to simply introduce you to phase one of my plan of getting serious about my health.  I decided to break it down into phases so that each thing I need to work on would be more manageable to tackle.  My plan is to work on each phase until I have it down pat-- at least three weeks since that is how long it takes to form a habit (according to some random research I found after I googled it). So, phase one is...

Drink the proper amount of WATER daily.

I'll admit it. I'm a Diet Coke junkie.  I'm addicted to it and to coffee.  Now, I can't bring myself to give up my coffee (yet), but one of my goals is to definitely drink more water than I do Diet Coke.  I pulled out my trusty 32-ounce Nalgene and decided to drink at least two bottles of water from it a day.

I have been doing this for about a week now, and it has been fairly easy, especially at work.  I drink one bottle before lunch and one bottle after.  However, the weekend was a little more challenging because of going out with friends, having leisurely mornings to drink more coffee, etc.  I am not completely cutting out the DC, but I am planning to reserve it only for special occasions like parties and when I eat Mexican food.  I have to have Diet Coke with lime with my burrito!

I'll let you know when the habit is formed and I'm ready to move on to phase two.

November 2, 2011

Obedience Leads to Revelation

Many times in my life, the Lord has shown me the importance of my obedience to Him even if I don’t know what the end result will be.  Sometimes He even waits to give me the confirmation that I am doing the right thing until after I take what I believe to be the step the Spirit is prompting me to take.  The times when I am trusting that what I am doing is what He is calling me to are some of the times that I feel most connected and most intimate with Him.  It’s funny how obedience works.  It’s one of the most important things we can do to worship God and show him our love, but it is often one of the hardest things to do. 

The tried and true Oswald Chambers daily devotional book My Utmost for His Highest highlights obedience in its November 2 devotional. I received this book as a gift for Christmas my freshman year of college (Thanks, Stef!) and have read it every year since.  I highly recommend it. 

In today’s writing, Oswald (we’re on a first name basis) speaks to the importance of obedience.  He says that “Our Lord never insists upon obedience; He tells us very emphatically what we ought to do, but He never takes means to make us do it.  We have to obey Him out of a oneness of spirit.”

Our sermon Sunday echoed this.  Am I doing what God is calling me to do? Am I living out His plan for my life by seeking Him daily to discover what my step of obedience should be in that day, in that moment? My sweet friend Mary Ellen often talks about moment-by-moment, circumstance-by-circumstance obedience.  Obedience in each and every situation, no matter how small it may seem.

Oswald says, “Jesus Christ will not help me to obey Him, I must obey Him; and when I do obey Him, I fulfill my spiritual destiny. My personal life may be crowded with small petty incidents, altogether unnoticeable and mean; but if I obey Jesus Christ in the haphazard circumstances, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God, and when I stand face to face with God I will discover that through my obedience thousands were blessed.”

The Lord wants to use us.  He wants us to live the abundant life He has planned for us.  We so often strive and stress over how to be used, how to have a more abundant life, how to know Him more.  Simply obey.

Oswald concludes, “If I obey Jesus Christ, the Redemption of God will rush through me to other lives, because behind the deed of obedience is the Reality of Almighty God.”

Obedience leads to revelation.  The more we seek to obey Him, the more He reveals His character and His plan to us.  We become more in tune to His desires for our lives and for our role in the lives of others.

Are you doing what God has called you to do? How are you seeking to obey Christ today?

October 31, 2011

Ethiopia: International Crisis Aid

Earlier this month, I had the joy and privilege to go with my church to Ethiopia on a trip with International Crisis Aid (ICA).  ICA is my featured Freedom Fighter until the end of the year, and all donations made on the blog will be given to ICA.

ICA is very active in Ethiopia.  They have several programs including a feeding program, a medical clinic, an orphanage, a ministry to women in the red light district of Addis Ababa and safe homes for women and girls who have been rescued from trafficking and commercial sex work.

The first thing we were able to do was help enter families into the feeding program and distribute flour.  Currently, there is a severe famine in East Africa, the worst in over 60 years according to USAID.  We weren't expecting to have many new families come to be entered into the program, but, to our surprise there were many new families.  They heard Americans were coming.  

The process of determining if a family is eligible for the program is heart-wrenching.  Basically, we had to measure the babies' upper arms to determine their level of malnutrition.  Twelve is the measurement for malnutrition. That day, around thirty families were entered in the program because their babies measured eleven or below, some even with measurements of eight and nine.

ICA also runs an orphanage for girls who have lost both parents to HIV/AIDS.  We were able to help with a much-needed paint project at the orphanage and spend time playing with the girls and giving them gifts.  We were able to take them to Addis and help them pick out new shoes, eat at a restaurant and play at a theme park.

Other days we participated in ICA's ministry to women and girls in the red light district of Addis Ababa.  We were able to walk through the RLD one night, and it was a sobering experience.  The spiritual oppression and darkness was so heavy that it literally felt like a ten pound weight was resting on my chest.  But, our God, being the amazing God that He is, made a way.  There was no fear for my safety, and He continually reassured me that we were walking where He wanted us to.  Practically being the hands a feet of Jesus.

The smell is indescribable, the streets are dirty and poorly maintained and the girls live and work in shanties that are about the size of a phone booth.  Provocative images of scantily-clad women adorn their shanties, though most were dressed as a normal teenager would.  It seemed to me that these girls were simply the object for the men to use to get what they wanted.  I was struck profoundly by the thought that my smiles and tender, kind touches might be the only ones they ever encounter.

We invited them to join us for a party a Mercy Chapel, a former brothel that ICA has transformed into a place of hope and light.  There, the girls are offered vocational training (computers, hairstyling, sewing, etc.), counseling and an opportunity to attend church there on Sundays.  The day the party was held, we lost count at about 500 girls when we started having to turn girls away because there was no more room inside.

We went to one of the safe homes for girls rescued from the RLD.  In the safe homes, they are mentored, mothered, vocationally trained, given an opportunity to finish their primary education, loved and led to love Jesus. In preparation for the trip, one of the members of our team felt the Lord asking us to wash the feet of the thirty plus women in the safe home that we would visit.  We washed the feet of the girls as Jesus humbly washed the feet of His disciples as a symbol to them of our love, respect and support for them.  They, in turn and without being prompted, washed ours.  It was the most humbling, encouraging and memorable moments of the trip for me.

The trip was spiritually challenging, sobering and amazing all at the same time.  I will never be the same.  I have lived in areas of such poverty before.  I have worked with women and girls who have been rescued from sex slavery before.  I have loved on sweet children in orphanages before.  This experience with ICA only solidified my desire to be a voice for these people, no matter their race or religion.  ICA fights for freedom.  Will you join them?

To learn more about the programs of ICA, how you can sponsor a community or orphanage child or how you can be a part of a future trip to Ethiopia, please visit

Donate to International Crisis Aid:

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