Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I hope the end of 2011 finds you happy and content.  And I hope that 2012 becomes your best year ever.  Do you have plans to make 2012 better than 2011?  Are you setting any New Year's Resolutions?

I have never been very good at keeping New Year's Resolutions.  By February they are out the window and my old ways have resumed.  It's kind of depressing, really.   But I do use New Year's as a time to refocus my priorities. And trust me, they need a lot of refocusing right now!  

On a similar note, I received an interesting devotional from Purpose Driven Connections the other day.  It talked about making a 'things not to do' list this year.  The devotional went on to say that so many things - even good things - can sidetrack us from our purpose in life. We can't achieve our goals, or do what's most important, because we're so busy with other things.  That is so true for me, a person who loves too many different things in this life.  So I plan to refocus on what's important and cut out some of the other stuff. I'm not sure how I'm going to do it, but I am definitely a work in progress!  I so often find myself tired and stressed, and I know that some of that is because I stretch myself too thin.

One thing I'm doing is decluttering.  My hubby and I are taking this week to declutter as much as possible.  We are sorting closets, cleaning the basement, and getting rid of old toys.  We have way too much stuff!  Stuff takes time to manage, organize, and clean.

I suppose I also need to give facebook the heave-ho.  Okay, not.  I love facebook because it gives me the chance to connect with friends that I don't get to see often.  But I think I'll try to keep account closed until the kids are in bed.  Or something like that. It's a great time stealer, that's for sure.

I'm going to keep my family at the forefront, as well as my daily devotional time (which I hate to admit has been sorely neglected!).  Thankfully, I can talk to God as quickly and easily as I can pick up my cell phone. But I do need to spend more, solid time in the Word of God, and not just read a few verses as I'm nodding off at night (although, falling asleep with God's Word on my mind is not a bad thing in and of itself).

  I need to do something about the food issue in our house, too.  We found ourselves so tired by dinner that we hit the drive through instead of making something good for us.  The problem with that, as you know, is the more fast food we eat, the more tired we become.  When we focused on all -natural, healthy food (think no preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, etc) we were much more energetic.  Food for thought, I suppose.

So maybe these are resolutions, but I try not to think of them that way.  I try to think of them as a return to my values, a time to take inventory of what my family needs, and I time to re-purpose myself.   And I'm looking forward to making 2012 my best year yet!

Happy New Year's and thanks for reading!  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

The presents are wrapped, the Christmas groceries purchased, stocking stuffers ready to be squeezed into the stockings that are never nearly big enough.  My piano music is practiced, Christmas Eve outfits are picked.  The house is decorated and nearly clean.  I even baked a few Christmas cookies this week.  It feels good to be so prepared for Christmas!  

But those things are all meaningless if I haven't prepared my heart.  Tonight I'll be spending long hours at church, playing piano for a number of Christmas Eve services.  I'm excited about the chance to serve.  I'm also looking forward to the time of getting my heart ready for Christmas.  Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, born in a dirty, humble stable is the best gift we could ever be given.  As you enjoy Christmas day, sharing gifts, eating fruitcake, and having fun with your family, I hope that you will receive Jesus as your best gift.  

Merry Merry Christmas to you and your family!  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Be a guardian angel.



I don't feel like I have a lot to brag about.  My house is not fancy, nor is it big. In fact, I find it a little embarrassing at times.  I don't wear designer clothes.  My idea of fine dining is a few appetizers at Applebees.  I'm just a regular, ordinary person.  But if I stop comparing myself to the other folks in town, and instead, look at the rest of the world, I'm a lot embarrassed.  I have so much.  My kids don't lack for toys, clothes, or food.  They barely know what it feels like to be hungry.  They're never alone.  I often think our budget is so tight, but their stockings will still be stuffed to overflowing on Christmas morning, the heat will be on, the coffee brewing, and Santa will have eaten his cookies and left plenty of presents behind.  And we won't even talk about the feast that Daddy and PopPop are planning to prepare.

Come to think of it, I often drive through a nearby city, with my windows tightly rolled up in my minivan, the doors locked, the Christmas music blaring, and the kids eating snacks in the back.  I am secluded from the poverty - this city I drive through is the most impoverished city in the United States.  I see it several times a week.  And I lock myself away, protecting myself from its pain and brokenness.  I busy myself with my own family so I don't have to take notice.

And then I get an email about Hope for AIDS Orphans.  Millions of children in Africa have been orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.  They have no food.  No shelter.  No clothes.  And no one to love them.  I can't imagine my little ones without a mommy to give them love, and it breaks my heart.  In steps Hope for AIDS Orphans.  They have a mission to feed, clothe, shelter, and love these impoverished children.  They want to share the love of Jesus with them.  And we can help.  A small donation will go far in helping these children.  Compared to the cost of Christmas toys or books or videos, the amount it takes to rescue a child in need is so small.

Want to help?  Here's how.
You can Express Your Care by signing the Angel Mosaic.
You can Share Their Story by sending a short video to friends.
You can Give Them Hope with a donation of any size.  Every little bit can help.

Please take a moment and share the Christmas spirit - and God's never failing love - with the children who need it so much.  You can be their Guardian Angel during a time when they need it most.  Thank you. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Drink coffee. Help villages.


It's no secret that I adore coffee. I'm sure that I drink more than my fair share. I love the smell, I love the taste, and I love it first thing in the morning to help me get my day started. I've never met a cup of joe I didn't like!  My love for coffee is what inspired me to read Nicole Johnson's book, A Fresh Brewed Life.  And it also inspired me to get involved with Pangeo Coffee.   Now, at least my passion for good coffee can be put to good use.  If you drink coffee, you can help villages by ordering coffee from www.pangeocoffee.com.  They are a group of humanitarian aid workers who help the poorest of poor in Africa learn techniques and skills to overcome poverty.  And they love coffee.

Pangeo Coffee has generously offered a special discount code for The Beautiful Blog readers. Just visit www.pangeocoffee.com and enter the code, beautiful, at check out.  You'll receive $2 off per bag through the month of December.  In fact, I'm going to go order some for myself right now!

Have a beautiful day and a great cup of coffee!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Deadline


I rarely bother going to the movies anymore.  There just isn't anything worth seeing, so I'm usually disappointed.  But that's about to change in early 2012.  The movie "Deadline" is a family friendly flick, based on a true story, about a cold-case murder, family ties, race, and redemption in a small town in Alabama. But don't take my word for it.  Watch the trailer, and visit www.deadlinefilm.com to sign up for email updates.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

6 ways to look prettier on the outside. (Even though you don't need it.)

Six articles to help you look better on the outside.  
But I know you don't need to. 


What to wear when you don't know what to wear.   Suggestions on how to dress for any occassion.
Wake up prettier.  How to look a little more appealing when the alarm goes off. 
Perk up your smile with these simple steps.  Easy steps towards a whiter, brighter smile. 
7 beauty products for $7 and under.  Great products for cheap.
Is navy the new black?  All about navy blue.
How to wear gold makeup.  Be totally on-trend in gold.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Praying expectantly.




 1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. 

2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. 

Psalm 116, NIV



Twice in the last few weeks I've felt frustrated, anxious, and scared.  I didn't know which steps to take next. And I didn't know if I could handle what the future would bring. So, I cried.  I cried a lot. Probably a few buckets worth.  And through my tears, I desperately prayed to God to have mercy on us, and to move swiftly on our behalf.  

Well, I really should not have been surprised that God made things happen the very next day. I mean, it was me that asked Him to work fast, right? I received a phone call in the early afternoon that turned my entire day upside down.  I was stressed by the task I had to face.  I hate to admit that I tried to find a way out of it.  And it wasn't until later that I realized that although the day was mixed up and inconvenient, it was God answering my prayer.  He moved fast and He moved big.  Why was I so surprised?  In the end, I was grateful for the answer that I needed.  But I wish I had my eyes open to see how God was moving that day.  I could have faced the upheaval with a lot more excitement, anticipation, and joy if I had only been expecting God to answer me. 

The second time I prayed that prayer, the answer happened nearly the same way.  The only difference was it took a few more days for me for things to come to fruition.  Again, my eyes were closed to God's work in my life.   Why didn't I learn this lesson the last time?  

Through these two experiences I learned a few things about me, about God, and about my faith.  I learned that God is faithful even when we're not.  I really didn't show very good faith that He was going to answer my cry.  I should know God better than that.  But He answers our prayers, always.  Even when we don't fully expect an answer.  

My prayer for today is that I will have my eyes open to all He is doing around me.  And that I won't just ask for God's help, but that I will fully expect the answer and pray expectantly.  

Have a beautiful day!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why you never had to worry about a bad hair day again.

Bad hair days.  Ugh.  Even us hair stylists get them.  It's no fun, is it?  And it usually happens when you're getting ready for something important, like a job interview, family pictures, or a class reunion.  I think I have more than my fair share.... probably because I hate to spend more than five minutes styling my hair. It's hard for me to wake up that much earlier than my kids!  If I wouldn't look weird without hair I probably wouldn't even have any.  :)


But I suppose there is hope for me, yet.  While I may stress when my hair isn't doing what I want it to, what I really need to recognize is that I don't ever have to worry about a bad hair day.  Why?  Because God's opinion of me won't change with how I look.  No matter if my hair is perfect or punky. 


1 Samuel 16:7b (NIV) reminds me: "For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." 


And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing, indeed.  Have a great day!  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Do you tweet?

Are you a fan of Twitter?  I love tweets - such short snippets of thought that can be chock full of encouragement and hope!  Here's a few of my favorites.  Who do you follow?

womenoffaith Women of Faith - encouraging women everywhere.

KayWarren1  Kay Warren, wife to Rick Warren.  Her tweets are profound and full or God's love.

RickWarren  Rick Warren, pastor, author, and funny, too.

lensweet  Leonard Sweet, Speaker.  And just because he's cool.

OfficialSanta  Santa will tweet his location all night long as he delivers toys.

JoyceMeyer  Joyce Meyer Author, speaker, spreader of hope

beautifulmanda That's me!  :)



Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Beauty Wish List for Santa

If I could write Santa Clause a letter, I would send him my beauty wish list.  Santa may never read my wish list, but you can.

10.  To be able to wake up in the morning, already dressed, coiffed, and with perfect makeup.

9.  For a never ending supply of Sephora Black Glitter Waterproof Mechanical Eye Liner.

8.  For a Magic Eraser for pimples, varicose veins, freckles, wrinkles, and scars.

7.  For a bigger closet.

6.  Instant Dry Nail Polish that really does dry 'in an instant.'

5.   Rock star hair.

4.  Another Magic Eraser that removes muffin tops, crows feet, and arm jiggle.

3.  For more of the purple sparkly eyeshadow from Tarte's Glamour to Go palette.

2.  To find a cotton ball substitute that doesn't take up space in landfills.

1.  To feel beautiful all the time.  And for other women to feel the same.

Thanks, Santa, I hope you can fit that all in my stocking!
If you're reading, please share your beauty wish lists for Santa, too!  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Fresh-Brewed Life, by Nicole Johson


Fresh-Brewed Life by Nicole Johnson
I admit it.  I love all things coffee and I certainly can’t get my day going without a cup.  Or three.  So when I saw the title of Nicole Johnson’s book, Fresh-Brewed Life, I was hooked.   In her book, Nicole calls us to wake up from our hum-drum, dazed, and sleepy approach to life.  She encourages us to reflect inwardly, discover our weaknesses through the act of journaling, and turn them over to Jesus.  He, and only He, can set us free from those damaging issues, like hidden anger, that wear us down.  In it’s place, we’ll have a refreshed, revived approach to life and a renewed relationship with Christ.  Nicole uses interesting, heart-wrenching, and funny examples from her own life to illustrate this book.  

I love the coffee references in Fresh-Brewed Life.  I love the coffee trivia, and the thought of curling up with a good book and a hot cup of Joe.  What’s not to love?  The book is interesting to read and spiritually challenging.  I love that Nicole calls us to journal our lives.  Not only is it cathartic, it helps us see patterns, prayers, and God’s answers in our lives.  She even gives great tips on how to incorporate journaling into an already busy life.  While this book is a great read, and Biblically accurate, I would have loved to see Nicole go even deeper spiritually.  But I’ll take it as a bonus that her words left me hungering for more, both from her writing and especially, from God’s Word.   If you’re a woman who needs a boost, a coffee lover, and someone looking for some insight into another woman’s journey, then this book is for you.  Drink it up!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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