Friday, December 30, 2016

'Tis the Season of Giving.....and Greed

A lot of nights at bedtime it is just my son and I, so we listen to Keys for Kids on my phone (a short devotional) and sometimes Adventures in Odyssey through Tonight, after my boy fell asleep, I started scrolling through Facebook and came across this video:

Tears silently fell down my face. Not just because of the story itself, but because of an incident that happened yesterday in my own life, with another person. 

My son and I had just left one of my OB appointments, and usually when I'm in the cities I grab groceries at my favorite stores. One of those stores is in Vadnais Heights, so we were headed there. I saw a man at the corner with a sign right off of the exit and saw the car next to me give him something and in my head I was so negative. I hate admitting any of this, but since moving here it is such a common sight and not knowing whether or not the person truly is in need or if they are just panhandling does eventually make me stupid when it comes to helping those in need. Beyond the point. I was being a jerk in my head.

Matthew 5:42New International Version (NIV)

We turned towards the store and there was a young man at another intersection with his dog and a sign as well. I have seen him before in the exact same spot, but this time I really felt I needed to go into the store and grab something from the deli for him and when we left, hand it to him. I KNEW I was supposed to. But instead, I let my mind go negative - why does he have a dog when he can't take care of himself, clearly! - he had a Wendy's cup so he must've already eaten - he was here last time, so he must find this a good spot to catch people for a hand out. Evil, I know. Makes me sick about myself to actually be writing this for the public eye!

I walked into the store and ignored the tug on my heart the WHOLE TIME. That's how cold I was to it. I didn't listen to the still, small voice. I totally ignored it. When we left the store, there he was, standing in the freezing cold. Not making eye contact with anybody. Why would he? Here we all are judging him from inside our warm cars while all he was doing was trying to survive. Who am I to lay judgement on him? I'm a nobody.

That is the story. I ignored when I should have helped. I was getting ready for bed tonight and I literally heard the Holy Spirit tell me, "The times it is necessary will be the hardest." I have been asking God to give me his love for people. To show me when I should help out and show his love. During the Holiday's the need is out there more than ever, or it shows more than ever. I have been asking, and yet when the time came, I ignored it. I ignorantly ignored my mission. I actually prepped a meal one day and brought it with when we made a trip to the cities and sure enough didn't spot a soul who could use it. Then the day I am greedy, cranky and just plain mean, the time arrives, and I am not prepared. God forgive me for my complete ignorance. I hope this post helps you see that it isn't easy and it won't be easy when it is necessary but isn't that the true test? I think so. And this last time I failed. I hope my failure can help someone else fulfill their mission in the future. God bless.

Matthew 25:35-40New International Version (NIV)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Spectacle of Glory by Joni Eareckson Tada

A Spectacle of Glory by Joni Eareckson Tada with Larry Libby is a daily devotional that is meant to be encouraging, especially to those living in hard times or going through them. Each day starts off with a verse to look up and read, followed by the author's take on it or a story relating to it and then a short prayer. 

I found that a lot of these have come from Joni Eareckson Tada's own life experiences. If you don't know anything about her, she is a quadriplegic and is founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, a Christian organization that is an outreach to the disabled community. She is a great inspiration seeing all that she has been up against in life and I find great respect in her ability to overcome the obstacles that have been thrown her way.

The devotionals don't really inspire deep thought and are very simple and to the point. The short prayers are also more her prayers, which I would suggest saying a prayer that means something to you, these just help end the devotional in my opinion. A Spectacle of Glory is a good option for a quick devotional read, just make sure you have a Bible or Bible app handy to look up the scripture with.

*I received this devotional from BookLook Bloggers for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes is a widely popular New York Times Bestseller. Given the chance to actually read such a popular book I have heard so much about, I had to take it! 

The edition I received is the 20th Anniversary Edition with a new afterword - some thoughts from Frances Mayes herself on the book she wrote 20 years ago. I have to agree with everyone, that it is a beautifully written memoir that really brings you into the life in Italy, the remodeling of an original home, and my favorite - the food. I absolutely adore that she included recipes in the book. There is actually a chapter called Winter Kitchen Notes that contains quite a few recipes including Wild Mushroom Lasagna, a variety of Bruschette and Chestnuts in red wine. 

Under the Tuscan Sun is said to have inspired many into taking journey's of their own. To take a risk and travel and learn about something out of their own ordinary. I really can see that through the beauty of the pages and how detailed she is in her own experience purchasing a home in Italy. 

If you are looking for an out of the ordinary book to read, Under the Tuscan Sun is right for you. To visit someone else's life through their own eye's is definitely unique and a fun, light-hearted experience.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Devotions For A Deeper Life by Oswald Chambers

I thoroughly enjoy devotionals that make me think. Devotions For A Deeper Life by Oswald Chambers does just that. The author, Oswald Chambers, is a world renowned theologian and well known for his other book, My Utmost for His Highest, which is also a great read. 

Devotions For A Deeper Life by Oswald Chambers is a beautiful hardcover devotional book with an attached ribbon book mark for keeping one's page very easily. This is a daily devotional, starting with January 1st and ending on December 31st. Each devotion starts with a scripture, followed by a short devotional and ending with a prayer thought and suggested reading from the Bible.

Whether keeping for yourself as a beautiful devotional, or giving as a gift, I really think anyone looking for a great devotional would enjoy this as much as I do. It really is gift ready and perfect for the nightstand, whether doing devotions in the morning or evening. You can purchase it here 
Zondervan Publishing or at your local bookstore or favorite online shop.

*I received Devotions For A Deeper Life by Oswald Chambers free for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Christmas Card Season ~ AdoramaPix Has You Covered

AdoramaPix is an amazing company that lets you create beautiful, extremely high quality Christmas cards. The prices are fabulous and the quality! I cannot say enough about the beauty of these cards. This is our second year getting them and I couldn't be happier. Photo cards can look cheap and quite frankly, can be pricey for the quality you get. These will not disappoint! I have never been disappointed with anything I have purchased from AdoramaPix, so I can put these on mythe "I highly recommend this" list!

I was more than thrilled to open my cute little AdoramaPix box this afternoon when the mail came. I LOVE sending out Christmas Cards, and it is the only time of year we do family pictures. It has become a tradition for us, so I was definitely looking forward to it. The experience to create the card was a good one. It is so easy to create your own personalized cards, whether using a template they already have on the site or making your own from scratch.


There are four Trim's you can choose from: Square, Side, Bracket or Ticket. We chose Square this year because it just looked best with our format and pictures. There are also four papers to choose from: Classic Linen, Royal Matte, Royal Felt or Pearl. We chose Classic Linen for our cards. From there, you upload which photo's you want on your card, add additional text or fun stickers or borders if you want to personalize it even more and most important DON'T forget to change the names to your families name :)

This is the front and back of our cards

The ordering process is extremely easy too. Just choose the amount of cards you want/need and checkout! I chose standard shipping, which was only $5.95. I ordered in the late evening on November 17th and received them today, November 21st. That is really fast in my opinion and now I can start sending these out!

Zoom in to look at the quality of the paper and envelopes

There cards are not the only beautiful things you can purchase on their site. I have gotten the metal prints, which are amazing quality, framed pictures and picture books. They also have other gift idea's like calendars and photo collages as well as canvas prints. I don't think anyone could possibly be disappointed in the price and quality that AdoramaPix offers.

Find the full review here: AdoramaPix ~ Capture the Moment

Find the full review here: AdoramaPix ~ Capture the Moment

Find the full review here: AdormaPix and Metal Prints

To start your card project go here: AdoramaPix Greeting Cards and you may even get lucky and find a discount code on their site. As I type this they have 40% off Greeting Cards with code PXCARD40 I don't know when they will pull this off of the site, so hurry and order now!

*I received these cards as a promotion in exchange for my honest opinion and review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Monday, November 21, 2016

KidCreate Studio ~ Introducing Kids to the Wonderful World of Art

I am always looking for fun things to do around the city, whether it be cultural, educational or just plain fun. One of the most recent Fun and Educational things I have found is Kidcreate Studio - not just any art studio, but somewhere that children can express themselves through their own creations.

My son and I participated in a Thanksgiving Craft Party class and had so much fun! The kids made their own clay turkey - just in time for Thanksgiving - as well as some Goo Gunk, which was a fun science lesson.

The class was led by Kendra, along with her helper Linnea. Upon walking in, the atmosphere was bright and happy. Kendra was extremely welcoming to the parents and their kids, which is a great way to set any environment for learning.

She started us off by having the kids sit on a mat while she went over the simple and easy to follow rules of the class and introduced us to Ferdinand, her clay turkey (who was just adorable!). As an ode to Thanksgiving, she also asked each child what they were thankful for, which was such a blessing to listen to. Answers included, "My mom taking care of me and loving me", "My big brother" *awww*, "My self", "My cat", and my favorite because it was Benjamin's "My mom and dad" *blushing* He is the sweetest.

After this short session, the kids were all presented with their blob of brown clay that would eventually turn into their own turkey masterpiece. Kendra sat right down at the table with the kids, instead of hovering over them, which I truly appreciated. She took the time to tell each child how she liked their unique turkeys and if questions were asked, she patiently helped and answered them. I was very impressed by her patience and kindness with all of the kids.

It was neat to see each child's individual self come out in their little clay turkeys. Between the shapes of the turkey themselves to the tail feathers used, each child ended up with their own unique clay turkey. Benjamin named his turkey "Sunny" which I thought was a great name for such a cute little turkey.

Once all of the turkey's were finished, Kendra brought out the ingredients to making Goo Gunk; a fun substance made from Borax, glue and food coloring. At first Benjamin wasn't quite sure about the texture and feel - it was kind of yucky - but after the water was squeezed out, he really liked it and ended up taking home his own bag of it.

Our experience at Kidcreate Studio was definitely a good one. As I said before, it was a very positive environment and I think all the kids had a lot of fun. They have a studio in Eden Prairie, which is where we were, and in Woodbury. Both locations offer a large variety of classes and parties for kids starting as young as 18 months old. 

One of the programs that caught my eye was the Homeschool Program. As a homeschooling mom I love a variety of activities to keep Benjamin's education and skills budding into the best he can be. The program has a few options, which include Weekly Classes, Masters in the Morning Workshops and Private weekly classes for your co-op group. You can find the brochure for the Homeschool classes here at the bottom of this page: Homeschool Program

They also do Birthday parties , Ladies Night Out Parties and an On-The-Go Studio as well as many other programs. Make sure to check them out at to book your class, party or workshop today!

*I was invited to the Thanksgiving Craft Party in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bedtime Read and Rhyme Bible Stories by Bonnie Rickner Jensen

Bedtime Read and Rhyme Bible Stories is a beautifully illustrated book and is the perfect addition to the family night time routine. I keep this on my son's dresser and we read a few stories every night before bed. They are short and written in poem form so are easy to read and fun for kids to listen to. 

As you would imagine, the stories aren't thoroughly detailed but are great to get your child started on a variety of Bible stories, or supplement one's already known to the child. Stories include the Creation, The Ark, Daniel and the Lion's Den and Queen Esther for the Old Testament stories among many others. The New Testament stories go beyond the life of Jesus and into the gift of the Holy Spirit, Saul's change of heart and even touches a little bit on Heaven in the book of Revelations. Each story/poem (over 90 altogether!) ends with a short prayer, so this can be a complete, short devotional for kids before bed. 

The illustrator, Robert Dunn, does a fabulous job keeping the pictures matching the stories so children can easily imagine the stories and they are bright and fun. The book is a gorgeous hardcover that has a golden ribbon to easily keep your place and also includes a To, From, Date page towards the front of the book to make this a great gift. 

Bedtime Read and Rhyme Bible Stories  can be purchased at a variety of bookstores and online. Purchase here: Tommy Nelson Publishers This is the perfect Christmas gift for that special child in your life. 

*I received this book complimentary from Book Look Bloggers for review. All opinions are 100% my own. 

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