Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year No Matter What Time of Year it Is

Christmas festivities have ended. December seemed like a whirlwind of Christmas parties, dinners, play practice, and all the preparation for each of those activities. As the Young Adult Leader at church, my husband and I hosted the YA Christmas party. As a manager at work, I hosted a Christmas lunch for my team. I also planned and organized a separate Christmas party for our entire department. I'm also in a band called Blind Mercy, and we had Christmas dinner together (I didn't have to plan this, thankfully :) ). Additionally, I direct the Christmas program at church every year. This year, we did a combination of songs and a play. I sang and had a leading role in the scenes of the play. Plus, I ended up with the stomach flu the week before our Christmas program (yuck!). These things were time-consuming and required a lot of planning with attention to detail. But, I love it all so much! ...except the whole sickness thing; that was awful. 
In addition to all of the extra things, I have a rather large family. So, I had four different Christmases with each part of the family. My family is an awesome reminder of the blessings that I have had growing up and that still abound today; I have the best family a girl could hope for!  
As this year is coming to an end, I would be remiss to not use the time to reflect on the wonderful blessings (trials and triumphs) that this year has brought. I wrote a blog a while back about the greatest things in life being invisible: hope, joy, peace, love. For Christmas, I received many nice tangible gifts. But, if I didn't have the invisible, invaluable things, the tangle ones would only leave me feeling empty. Several years ago, when I was only five years old, I received the most valuable gift imaginable - salvation through Jesus Christ. In our play at church this year, we said, "Christmas is about receiving, not giving. It's about receiving the wonderful gift of Jesus Christ. What a gift to be given! A chance to change, to make things new." I'm so very thankful that each of us has a chance for that new beginning in Christ. If you haven't begun your relationship with Christ yet, now is the best time (no matter when you're reading this - Christmastime or not); it is the most wonderful time of the year! 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Sip & See Shower

I had the pleasure of throwing a last-minute baby shower for a sweet family a few weekends ago. Some friends got a phone call about adopting a child and got to pick up the child within 24 hours of the call. Needless to say, they are thrilled but (expectedly) a bit unprepared. So, a few of my friends and I decided to have a Sip & See shower for them. Our budget was limited, so we used our money as efficiently as possible. In total, we spent around $75 to host 45-50 people.
I was super happy with our results; it was so cute!

Here is the breakdown of our costs (not including tax):

online invitation (free)
4 dozen cupcakes from Wal-Mart ($30)
4 dozen bottles of Coca-Cola products ($20; they were on sale for $2.50/6 pack at Wal-Mart)
9 rectangular plastic tablecovers ($8)
20 balloons ($1)
2 pennant banners ($2)
6 tissue pompoms (free; I had all necessary materials to make these, so I did.)
Spool of ribbon ($2.50)
Confetti (free; I used the leftovers from making the pompoms to make the confetti)
Streamers ($2) 
Napkins ($2)
Dessert plates (free; we had these that we didn't use at a previous event)

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Invisible yet Invaluable

You are invaluable even when you feel invisible. Think about this: if I were to ask you what are three things you would like to have right now, what would you say? Maybe more money, a new pair of shoes, or a different job? You could probably think of several things that would be nice to have. But, if I asked you what you value most in other people, what would you say? Chances are your first thought wouldn’t be that their car is the best thing about them, or their new computer, or fancy shoes. Instead, what you value the most in them would likely not be “things” at all. Instead, it would be their joyful demeanor, hopeful attitude, exuberant peace, trustworthiness, integrity, or compassionate nature. There is great value in those invisible things. Can you see that just because something is invisible doesn’t mean that it isn’t valuable? 
If we read about Samuel going to Jesse’s house to anoint a new king, we will see that Jesse called in seven of his sons. But, he left David working in the field with the sheep. How invisible must David have felt? But, God doesn’t need our family or friends to see our potential; He knows who He created us to be. Keep in mind that you may be anointed for a purpose, but that doesn’t mean that you will immediately be appointed to a new position. If we look at David again, after he was anointed, the next time we see him in the Scriptures, he is back in the field with the sheep. 
When you get a fresh anointing, you may have to go right back to the same job. But, don’t do that job the way you’ve always done it. Use your fresh anointing to inspire you to go to new heights. Working in the field like David was or working in a field of ministry where you find yourself now is hard work. God was preparing David to fight giants; He is preparing you for some battles also. The field will make you fit for the fight. Don’t be discouraged if you feel invisible. Let your time working in secret prepare you for the time when God will make your works known. And, if you don’t get a crown for it down here, rest assured, you’ll be rewarded in Heaven when you hear those invaluable words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joys of the Lord.”

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Golden Perspective

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to watch the US dive team at one of their final practices before heading to Rio. The team practiced at the Georgia Tech pool, and it was awesome to see their talents in person. These athletes are amazingly gifted!
Here is a video of Steele Johnson (on the left) and David Boudia doing one of their 10 meter platform dives. 

Amazing, right?! This is the first year that I've closely followed diving. I always enjoy watching it during the Summer Olympics, but I'm usually learning names while they're in the Olympics instead of knowing them beforehand. But, this year, I somehow saw the dive trials. The trials are the competitions that determine who will advance to the Olympics. The team in that video, Steele Johnson and David Boudia, stood out during their interviews. They always mentioned God and gave Him praise, even when they didn't do so well on their dives. I particularly remember during one round that they did not get good scores. David's response was that God knew exactly where they would be at this point, and that it was all in His control. 
Whether we are in the Olympic trials or "trials" of this life, wouldn't it be great if we all came to that same realization when we face difficult times? We may think that we haven't done well. We may even think that God is punishing us for some reason. But, we should always remember that, according to Jeremiah 29:11, the Lord knows the plans He has for us, not to harm us; but, plans to give us hope and a future. 
David and Steele ended up doing very well with their dives, and they are going to be competing in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. When they were interviewed, they said that as great as making the Olympic team is, that is not where their identities lie. They said that their identity is in Christ. They also thanked their families for the sacrifices that they've made, but said that none compared to the sacrifice that Jesus made.
When we try to accomplish things, if they don’t work out perfectly, it can be easy to allow a spirit of defeat to overtake us. Or, when things go really well, it is easy for us to allow a spirit of arrogance to overtake. But, if we are rooted in Christ, and we know that is where our identities lie, we should use all opportunities – successes and failures – to glorify God and to bring honor to Him. Then, we will not be likely to fall into despair or haughtiness. 
I was recently chosen to be on the launch team for David Boudia's new book Greater Than Gold: From Olympic Heartbreak to Ultimate Redemption. It is such an inspiring book! In it, he talks about that for years, all he cared about was winning, but that win was never good enough. There was also something more to strive for, and when that next win was accomplished, it was never fully satisfying. So then, what could possibly be greater than gold? Ultimate redemption through Jesus Christ.
The book is being released today. It is about so much more than diving. I can wholeheartedly say that it was more than I hoped for. I loved the candidness of the struggles and the triumphs and the struggles in the triumphs. I feel certain that I will read it time and again. 
I think a lot of people struggle with feelings of not having a purpose or not being fulfilled by life's accomplishments. This book will bring a brand new perspective to your purpose and your happiness. It is available at

Monday, May 9, 2016

Baby Shower for Sam

This past weekend, I had the honor of co-hosting a baby shower for my sister-in-law. When planning, we hadn't decided on a theme, so our favorite invitation decided for us. These, from Vistaprint, inspired the shower theme for food and decor. 

They were the perfect fit. My sister-in-law grew up in Florida, and who doesn't love a good nautical theme anyway?!  (The one pictured is an online proof. The actual invite did, of course, include her name and the address of the venue). I knew that I wanted to create a large backdrop/centerpiece for a mantle or food table. I looked around online but didn't find exactly what I wanted, so I decided to make it myself. I'll post directions on what I did at the end of this post.

By the way, my brother brought his fancy camera for us to use so that I could get really good pictures. However, it started shooting in raw, and none of us could figure out how to make it go back to JPEG. So, we got camera phone pictures instead.

The nautical theme was carried on throughout the room with nautical pennant banners on each of the windows. Above the gift table, we had "Catches of the Day" on a red and white striped ribbon banner. The food had nautical names also: Ocean Water (blue raspberry/pineapple punch), Chicken of the Sea croissants (chicken salad), Sunset Spread (pimento cheese on toasted baguette slices), Yolk Boats (deviled eggs), Fruit Loot (fruit chunks in a boat-shaped bowl), Texas caviar, Sand and Sea cupcakes ("sand" was Fluffer Nutter and "sea" was vanilla buttercream in the cutest boat-shaped cupcake holders ever!). Here are some pictures of the wrapped utensils (complete with a life preserver) and the nautical food:

Oh, and because we didn't have enough to do that day, I also made the corsage. I called the local florist, but because it was Mother's Day weekend, they could not make a corsage for me. So, I looked up some videos on YouTube, went and bought fresh flowers and supplies, and made it myself 

I could not have done all that I did without the help of my mom, my sister, and my sister-in-law's mother. They worked tirelessly to make this an unforgettable day. Now, it's time to spoil my nephew. Gotta go!

Before I go, here are my semi-step-by-step instructions on what I did to create the nautical backdrop:

I started with foam board from Home Depot (Foamular). It is pink and ugly in the beginning. It also has a plastic film on it. 

I removed the plastic film and used Kilz white latex primer. Three coats later, it was looking decent.

Next were the nautical stripes. Standing in Wal-Mart, looking at and comparing masking tape to painter's tape, I tried to decide if painter's tape was worth the extra money. Then, I saw 2" masking tape and had an "Ah, ha!" moment. I would double it up (lined side-by-side) and use the part it covered for the white lines, greatly reducing the amount of actual measuring (and keeping straight lines) across all three boards. I used English Navy acrylic paint for the blue, and it was perfect.

The navy looks a bit darker in this picture than it actual is. I was completely thrilled with the way they turned out - especially that all of the lines were straight across all three boards. Thank God for small miracles. :) Next, I added the embellishments. The life preservers came from Oriental Trading. I handcrafted the anchor from cardboard. I used a large mug to measure the top circle, a yard stick for the center of the anchor, a hand-drawn stencil for the bottom part of the anchor, and a doTERRA bottle cap for the little circles toward the top of the anchor. Obviously, I don't know the names of the anchor parts (or, if they actually have names), but I hope you were able to follow along. After it was drawn, I cut it out using a razor blade and a pair of scissors. Next, I used the same primer as I used on the boards to paint it. Then, I brushed on Elmer's glue and glitter-ized it.

To attach the life preservers, I used anchor-printed navy blue ribbon that I found at Wal-Mart. I looped it through the preserver, then hot glued the ribbon to the back of the foam board. I used sprayed adhesive to attach the anchor. Of all of the crafts that I've done, this is in my top three favorites.