Kristen's Cookies!

One day I'll return to the world of blogging and contribute something of my own....

...but until then...

My sister is SO talented - check out her new cookie blog, Kristen's Cookies! And call her for your next shower, party, or event of any kind - she's done it all - baby showers, golf tournaments, housewarming gifts, Christmas cookies, football cookies, and I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting!

"Taste and see that the LORD is good." Psalm 38:4
Eat some cookies!


Daily Resolutions - try it!

First post of a new year! Don't know about you, but I was welcoming January! I  l o v e  Christmas time, but I always end up looking forward to the new year and the slower pace that January brings. All of the holiday madness settles and life regains some normalcy. I was definitely ready for a slow-down, and to have some "me" time again!

This year I refused to make a new year's resolution - because who really keeps those all year? You're setting yourself up for failure. (Am I being pessimistic? Maybe. But realistic? For sure.) Instead, I'm gonna try taking a piece of advice from a magazine I read recently. I get "Working Mother" magazine at my house....weird, I know. (The subscription is for the girl who used to live there...but she's not a mother either. Huh.) Anyways, I picked it up mainly to look at the design (because I'm a nerd like that) and saw this suggestion: Instead of making one whopping new year's resolution, try making a little resolution each morning for that day only. I'm sure I'll do this for a while, and it will fade, but it's a great idea I thought! That way, you have a daily commitment, not a daunting year long commitment. Simple. And I love simple! So far, some of my resolutions have been: to complete my 'to do' list for that day (I'm a list maker), to say 'no' (Because I always spread myself too thin), to play my piano, and to do something nice without reason (Pay it Forward, if you will).

I'm having fun with my mini-resolutions - you should try it!

Peace & Blessings for a healthy, happy, and joyful new year!


Christmas Extravagan-za

Meet Dave Barnes. Extremely talented, simply hilarious. I discovered his Christmas Extravagan-za videos in college...and This year he put out his 5th video (thank you Wiksells for enlightening me on the newest one!)

The dude is hilarious. Here's the newest one, but parts 1-4 are also on youtube. (You may want to watch this one on you-tube too, because I can't figure out how to get it to fit in my blog right... Click Here)

Not to mention, he's probably at the top of my list as a favorite singer/songwriter. All of his songs are beautifully written with some of the sweetest lyrics I've ever heard!

If you're interested, my favorites are:
Close Your Eyes (For when you feel blue)
Nothing Fancy (amazingly sweet)
Grace's Amazing Hands (so true)
On a Night Like This (there's a great version on YouTube with Hilary Scott from LadyA!)

...well, actually I really do love all of his songs!
Check out his "Brother, Bring the Sun" album first :)


"We were made to be lovers bold in broken places..."

Two local High Schools. Two suicides. Two Days.

I didn't know these students, but still I write with tear filled eyes. My heart aches for those involved. The students themselves, the parents, the friends, the witnesses, all those who are sorting through mixed emotions of "what happened" and "why" and sadness.

If you know me, you know God's given me a passion for raising awareness for suicide prevention, namely among teens. Since I work so closely with student ministry, I've seen the effects of suicide. I've felt pain, helped others cope with their pain, led a friend to help, and researched, prayed and studied. I know statistics, numerous charitable organizations and causes, and events that have helped raise awareness and given people hope. But it continues to happen. 

My heart is so heavy about these deaths, and that the threat of suicide (and attempts) still spreads among high school students. The most common phrase I hear after a tragedy like this is "I had no idea this was coming...he/she seemed so happy." Which begs the fact that it could happen to anyone. Best friends and family members of these students had no idea. "I would have never thought they'd do something like this". But it continues to happen.

As for those who feel hopeless, I yearn for them to know that suicide should not be an option. I yearn to give hurting students hope. I yearn for students to love other students, so these unnecessary deaths don't occur. But it continues to happen.

So what do we do?

My thought is this. Love. It might seem impractical, simple minded, or juvenile even, to think a solution to this problem is just "love". But I deeply feel it to be true. We can state statistics, and create organizations to raise awareness, and host benefit concerts, and wear red, and all of those physical things....but at the end of the day, those things won't bring back a life. They won't bring someone from the edge. What will, is love. Loving people. Deeply. As Christ loved us. Whether someone knows Christ or not, love them anyway. Show the "outcast" at school that you care for him. Show your grumpy neighbor kindness. Show that mean professor mercy. Give that negative co-worker an optimistic thought. Parents, talk to your kids. Teachers, talk to your students. Students, talk to your friends. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Don't be shy to talk to someone new.

People need to know they're not alone. That there is a reason for living. That people love them.
If you know of someone who needs help, or needs prayer, or love, please, please help them out. The danger and threat of suicide and self-injury is a lot closer than we may realize. A girl in our youth group took her life a few years ago. My neighbor's father in law took his. My ex-boyfriend's best friend took his. Another friend of mine's best friend took his. One of my oldest friends almost took hers. You think suicide will never affect you, but it might.

The gravity of this situation is often brushed off with "Oh, that was terrible" then simply returning to our normal daily lives. I know it's not something that happens everyday, but still, it happens far too often. The solution is going to be a change in our daily lives. A small change of making sure people feel wanted, and know you're there for them. There is hope. There is help. LOVE is the movement. Love is going to be the answer.

"We often ask God to show up. We pray prayers of rescue. Perhaps God would ask us to be that rescue, to be His body, to move for things that matter. He is not invisible when we come alive. I might be simple but more and more, I believe God works in love, speaks in love, is revealed in our love... We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don't get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won't solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we're called home." 
-To Write Love on Her Arms

I couldn't agree more.

P.S. to those who helped support my walk to raise awareness last month, times like this are exactly why your support matters. So, thank you.

To help out a worthy cause, visit either of these sites:
To Write Love on Her Arms
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention


"Alas, The Christmas Playlist" (reblogged from themeltingblog)

Found this on Emily Lynch's Blog, which she had found from themeltingblog. Happy listening!
This was a little harder to narrow down than I originally expected. However, I feel confident I’ve made a no-fail, varietal, soul-warming, classically contemporary playlist of all my holiday favorites. Ok, so maybe the classical and new music worlds seem more of a clash for some..but I’ll let you weed out at your discretion. Now go buy or Grooveshark.com these gems.
The point of doing this was to keep you from buying every Christmas album on the market or for those of you who’ve just become overwhelmed by the holiday selections and want some suggestions. Have no fear, my very narrowed-in list is here. I put my favorites from specific albums, the ones I feel are most worthy of investing in; the best are here in my vote.
Merry Christmas!
Blue Christmas by A Fine Frenzy 
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Barenaked Ladies
Jingle Bells by Ben Rector
Auld Lang Syne by Ben Rector
The Heartache Can Wait by Brandi Carlile
The Night Before Christmas by Brandon Heath
Rockin Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee
Angels We Have Heard on High by Casey Darnell
Have Yourself a Merry Christmas by Chinua Hawk
O Come O Come Emmanuel by The Civil Wars
Tracks in the Snow by The Civil Wars
Mistletoe by Colbie Caillat
Christmas Lights by Coldplay
2000 Miles by Coldplay
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas by Coldplay
Family Tree by Dave Barnes
The Christmas Song by Dave Barnes
Very Merry Christmas by Dave Barnes
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by David Archuleta*
Joy to the World by David Archuleta
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Deathcab for Cutie
This Christmas by Donny Hathaway
Baby It’s Cold Outside by Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors
Everything Changed by Eddie Kirkland
Sleigh Ride by Ella Fitzgerald
Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley
White Christmas by Frank Sinatra ft. Bing Crosby
Frosty the Snowman by Fiona Apple
Silent Night by Gloriana
Merry Christmas Baby by Hanson*
Do You Hear? by James David Carter
Winter Wonderland by James Taylor
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by James Taylor
Jingle Bells by Jim Reeves
Auld Lang Syne by Jesca Hoop, Butch Walker, Greg Laswell, etc. (from The Hotel CafĂ© presents Winter Songs album)
A Little Bit of Love by Joy Williams
More Than I Asked For by Joy Williams
White Christmas by Katy Perry
Boots by the Killers
All I Want for Christmas by Mariah Carey
Charlie Brown Christmas by Mariah Carey
Christmas Just Does This to Me by Matt Wertz
Let it Snow by Michael Buble
I’ll be home for Christmas by Michael Buble
Grown-up Christmas List by Michael Buble
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays by Nsync*
O Holy Night by Nsync*
I Never Knew the Meaning of Christmas by Nsync*
Winterlove by Parachute
Winter Song by Sara Barielles and Ingrid Michaelson
Go Tell It on the Mountain by Seabird
All Creation Sing (Joy to the World) by Seth Condrey
Glory Be by Sojourn
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel by Sojourn
Amen, Amen by Sojourn
What Christmas Means to Me by Stevie Wonder
What Child is This Anyway?  by Sufjan Stevens
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing by Sufjan Stevens
Holy Holy Holy by Sufjan Stevens
Put the Lights on the Tree by Sufjan Stevens
That Was The Worst Christmas Ever by Sufjan Stevens
You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch by Thurl Ravenscroft
All That I Want by The Weepies
No Christmas for Me by Zee Avi
*The asterisk was to let you know I’m not ashamed of these particular picks. I may even argue that Nsync’s “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” made all of my childhood Christmas dreams come true. Also, Archie may be several years younger than me, but his pipes are golden. I’m not even a little mad at his Christmas album.
Hope these carry you through a wonderful Advent, friends!


Romans 12...Glory!

One of my former high school students (now a Clemson Tiger - woot!) posted this on facebook yesterday - and I LOVE this translation (The Message) of Romans 12! The language is beautifully written to cater to this day and age:

Romans 12
1 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.2 Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
3 I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.
4 In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around.5 The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, 6 let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else;7 if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching;8 if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
9 Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good.10 Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
11 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master,12 cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder.13 Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
14 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath.15 Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.16 Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.
17 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone.18 If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody.19 Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
20 Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. 21 Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

Glory. Beauty. Amen.