Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Concert that Blew Me Away

This summer I mentioned that my sister-in-law, JQ, and I went to a Christian concert. One of our local Christian radio station put together a 2 day music and worship festival. They brought in 16 major Christian recording artists and they had speakers, worship sessions, and workshops for youth leaders and music leaders. It was really nice because you could get tickets for exactly what you wanted, the whole weekend, just one day, VIP tickets, etc. As soon as they started advertising it on the radio and telling who would be there, I knew that I really wanted to go and JQ had been mentioning it too. I would have loved to see all of the artists, but the second day was the one I really, really wanted to see. The Saturday evening lineup featured Mandisa, 10th Avenue North, and Casting Crowns. JQ loves, loves, loves Mandisa and almost every time we talk about music she is mentioning her. I happen to love Mandisa as well. I find her music motivating and uplifting. I also love Casting Crowns, really who doesn't? So, insert really long story of how I decided to buy tickets that is boring to everyone else, but means jumping up and down joy to JQ and I here and let's just say I decided to buy tickets and that we couldn't wait to go to save time and me boring you. Anyway, the day finally came for the festival and we were super excited, but didn't quite know what to expect. We got there and saw Clayton King speak. He was an amazing speaker. He was funny but very clear about his message for Jesus. At the end of his message he gave an invitation and hundreds of people responded. Later in the evening they said that over 400 people chose to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior that day - Praise the Lord! After that Mandisa came on the stage. Let me just say WOW!!! She has an energy that is contagious and she is just on fire for God. She sang every song we hoped she would sing and she presented a message that felt like she was talking just to me. JQ said the same thing. Mandisa's message was about removing the masks and being real, accepting who you are because God accepts who you are, and that the only thing that matters when we look in the mirror is that we see a child of God. I can tell you this message still lingers in my thoughts because it was so clearly what I needed to hear and it was truly like God was using Mandisa to speak directly to me. I love Mandisa and her music even more now and if you ever get the chance to see her in concert, GO! The next band that came on was 10th Avenue North. I have to admit that I didn't really know much about them other than the handful of songs I had heard from them on the radio so I truly didn't know what to expect from them. I didn't know if I would know any of their music or (being completely honest) if I would like them. They took the stage and they ROCKED! I recognized most of the songs they sang and then felt silly for not knowing if I would like them. I loved them, they were great - a little loud but great. They also had a wonderful message about forgiveness and grace. Who doesn't need reminders about those topics? I certainly do. God spoke through 10th Avenue North that day too. They spoke about how we need to have grace to forgive others and forgive them even when we don't think that we can because Jesus gave us grace by dying on the cross for us. They also spoke about it doesn't matter who we are (successful business person, stay at home mom, singer, actor, etc.) in life, it truly only matters that we are children of God and have a deep personal relationship with Him. One song they sang that still is in my head said something to the fact of "Father help me have the grace to forgive them even when I feel like the one losing." I don't believe that is the exact line (it is a new song for them from their album that will come out this fall), but it was the message of it and it really just touched my heart because sometimes I do struggle to forgive because I don't want to lose or be hurt, but if we ask God can help us work through it. The closing act for the evening was Casting Crowns. WOW, WOW, WOW!!! I love so many of their songs and I think they sang every one I loved. They were fantastic! Their message they shared was that everyone is messed up and has issues, but it doesn't matter to God because He can help you and change you if you just let Him into your life. The festival was a true blessing. I felt God speaking to me through the entire evening and really used the messages to renew my commitment to God. I opened my heart and let God speak to me about the things I need to change and how I can serve Him. I walked away from the evening renewed and refreshed in God and I am so happy that we ended up going to the festival since it was such a blessing.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Still a Slacker Part 2

Yesterday I started a really long post about how I am a slacker here. So here is the continuation of my rambling about what we have done so far this summer.
(6.) WFRN Friend Fest - One of our local Christian Music Radio Stations held their first annual Friend Fest this summer. It was a 2 day concert venue with speakers. My sister-in-law (JQ) and I went for the second day. We got to see (16 rows from the stage) Mandisa, 10th Avenue North, and Casting Crowns. Talk about an AWESOME concert!!! I will be writing a post about the concert, but let me tell you, it was the revival my heart needed. I can't wait until next year's concert and I don't even know who they are bringing in.
(7.) Crafts, crafts, crafts - I haven't gotten to do as much crafting as I planned on so far this summer, but I have been steadily working away. I am almost finished with the kids' cruise autograph albums from our Disney cruise last year. I am about 3/4 of the way finished with my Thomas Kinkaide cross stitch. I have scrapped a little. I am in the process of finishing my first project with chalkboard paint. I have Baby Bear's dress that I started about 3/4 of the way done.
(8.) Summer Reading - I have finished a couple of more books and finished up my summer reading for the library that I participated in. I even won a prize in our summer reading, a free pizza from one of the local pizza restaurants, which is awesome because now I have an excuse to go out to eat sometime.
(9.) Games - This summer we have played lots of board games. The main one is Monopoly. Even though the game takes a while it is fun. There is even a documentary about Monopoly that is pretty interesting (at least it was interesting to geeky me).
(10.) Pinterest - I decided it was time to start trying the things I have been pinning. So far we have tried about 4 of the recipes I have found on there and we have really loved them. They will definitely be made again at this house and go into our menu rotation. I also made a marshmallow fondant recipe from Pinterest and it was easy to make and tasted fantastic. Now if I can get myself in gear so I can try some of the crafts I have pinned.
Well, that pretty much sums up our summer so far. We have a few more things planned and then it will be time for school to start. I am pretty excited for school so we can try out our new curriculum and I even sat down yesterday and planned out our school calendar. I promise to try to stop slacking and start posting. I guess my brain was on summer vacation too, but I will try to do better. Thanks to my loyal readers who put up with my slacking. :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Still a Slacker

I completely and totally apologize for being a blogging bum this summer. I admit that I had great expectations to post a couple of times a week, put up some great tutorials, and just be an awesome blogger. See, I had great things planned for you? Then I went and let you down. Okay, some of it is just me and my lack to completing my to do list each week because blogging is on that list (EVERY single week) and the other part is due to my lack of techie knowledge. You see we upgraded to an IPad2 and Safari (the Apple browser) doesn't want to play nicely with Blogger (my blog host). I have tried figuring it out a little bit, but not enough, I really need to do some more reseach on this whole topic. Then our big dinosaur computer (the big, giant, old desktop) decided to crash and not turn on anymore. So while we work on fixing that, I have to either not post pictures or have access to a different computer (other than my Ipad) which I have not had lately. I hope that and my laziness explains some of my absence. The other part of my absence is that my brain is on overload. Here is my proof or a list of great things we have done so far this summer (in no particular order even though they are numbered)....
(1.) A road trip to Ikea - so well worth the long drive in the ol' mini-van. The nearest Ikea is about 2 1/2 hours away. We planned our shopping (for weeks...okay, okay, months), made the list, checked it twice, and only purchased a couple of unplanned items. They were unplanned as far as the list goes, but they were planned for eventually. It turns out that eventually ended up being that day. My very loving and very patient hubby thought I had set up the sets in our mini van right and that we could move them around once we got there and had the van all loaded (including the kids), but turns out that our seats are as interchangeable as I thought. So we had to unload everything, do a lot of praying, and start reloading the van. I am positive God helped everything fit just with only inches to spare, but we made it back home safe and sound and with one extremely packed mini-van.
 (2.) We finally got around to re-doing Buddy Bear's bedroom. I admit I had a hard time choking back the tears as I saw my step-dad trimming out room with the new paint color. I had one of those flash back moments where you can see everything so clearly. As I stood and watched my step-dad paint for a few moments, I could see him and I painting that room 7 years ago and preparing it for an almost 2 year old. I could see the look on Buddy Bear's little toddler face as he walked in and saw his very own room for the first time. So yeah, this really sentimental Mama had a hard time seeing the new brown color being put on the walls. We tore off the wallpaper border, painted the room, removed the carpet, installed a floating floor (hardwood floor overlay), put in a new bed, and put up decorations. It took about a week, but Buddy Bear finally has a brand new room that has a hunting lodge theme. I am really happy with how it came out and when I can post pictures, I will.
 (3.) Helped with Vacation Bible School at church - This year our church did something different and had family fun nights every Wednesday in June instead of having a week-long VBS. The Wednesday nights were pretty sucessful and we ended up having a lot of salvation and assurance decisions over the month of June.
(4.) Hosted Buddy Bear's birthday party - A lot of fun with friends and family.
(5.) Heat wave - we have been having a seriously HOT summer here in the Mid-west. A couple of weeks ago it was in the hundred's (straight temperature) for several days in a row. That meant the heat index was well over 100. I believe the one day it was as high as 110. We haven't had a summer that hot for awhile now. It was 100 degrees by 10:00 in the morning and didn't cool down each night until well after midnight. It made for a really long couple of weeks and a lot of time hiding in the cool of our basement. We don't have air conditioning (by choice) and we spent our days playing in the basement, hanging out at the library, going to the pool, and shopping. Our basement stays nice and cool in the summer and that is where you can find us when it is too hot out. This week is threatening to be another hot one, but this time we are prepared. Some friends gave us a little above ground pool and while it isn't huge, it is plenty big to cool off in and hopefully teach Baby Bear to swim in. Along with the heat wave, we are in the middle of a drought. It hasn't rained here since before the 4th of July and then it was only for a couple of hours. Some places in this area saw rain on Saturday, but we just watched the clouds roll through. It was pretty cool because we could see the storm front and got to watch it develop as it moved to the north of us. I could keep going, but that would make this post even longer, so I think I will create a part 2....stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Creative Chaos (A Book Review)

It is no secret that I LOVE to read. I have posted quite a few times about my love of reading. I also love scrap booking. It is one of my favorite creative outlets. I have been scrapping for almost 15 years. So imagine my delight when I was checking out e-books on Amazon one day and found a book called Creative Chaos by Kate O Lynch that features scrap booking. I couldn't download this book fast enough because I couldn't believe that I finally found a book that featured one of my favorite hobbies. The book's main character is Jill Wilson and it opens with her attending a job interview. She is out of college and entering the real world. Jill's life is already pretty good as she is blessed with wonderful friends, family nearby, and a hobby she loves, but she is still looking for Mr. Right. Through the book we get to experience Jill's life from day to day as she goes through the joy and frustrations life brings. Throughout the book, Jill shares her love of scrap booking, from carrying a camera around with here at all times (what scrapper isn't guilty of that) to attending crop nights, to spending free afternoons scrapping and reading scrap book magazines, and even doing some scrap book retail therapy, just as any real scrapper does. Jill's life gets pretty interesting when she starts dating an office co-worker, runs into her college boyfriend, and re-connects with a high school friend. What will she do and who will she choose? Creative Chaos is a fun book to read. Just when I thought I could find a stopping point, I would turn the page and find I had to keep reading to see what would happen next. Kate O Lynch, the author, does a fantastic job of describing the characters, scenes, and situations so that the reader feels like they are right there with Jill. She does such a wonderful job of describing Jill's scrap booking (from planning layouts, to reading magazines, to taking pictures, to crop nights, to shopping for supplies) that the reader (if you are a scrapper) feels like they are right there with Jill as she creates her layouts. I really, truly enjoyed this book. I was so happy to finally find a book that featured scrap booking that was so well written. It was very evident that the author is very familiar with scrapping, which I learned from her bio in the back of the book that she has a major scrapbooking background. I was also super impressed that the author, Kate O Lynch, self published her book. Kudos to her for setting a goal and accomplishing it. I can't wait for her next book. You can find Creative Chaos over at Amazon by pasting this link into your browser You can learn more about the author, Kate O Lynch, by checking out her website by pasting this link into your browser. **I was in no way compensated for this post. I read a book I enjoyed, read the author's bio and saw that she was self published, and decided to support her by writing a review of her book and getting the word out to others. I also sincerely apologize for not being able to put live links into this post for you. Blogger does not want to cooperate with my Ipad so it will not let me put in live links. As soon as I am able to, I will fix them so you don't have to copy and paste.** Thank you Kate O Lynch for a great book and I can't wait for your next one!