Friday, December 13, 2013

My favorite party of the year


 I shared this pic last night on instagram and the reason behind it and so many of you shared you were inspired to do the same thing next year soooo…. 
I thought I'd repost a post I wrote about it a couple of years ago to make it easier for y'all to find on my blog.  When you get to the end I'll share a pic or two from last year's party and last night's.
Oh…and excuse the weird editing of pics I was digging two years ago. Geesh. 

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Y'all know I love a party!
If you know me personally or been following my blog for any amount of time, then you know we throw parties around here for just about anything. I don't know if it's my Louisiana roots or what...but I don't need much of an excuse to whoooop it up big time!

But this past Tuesday, I hosted my favorite party.  I look forward to it all year!
I call it my "Keepin Jesus the Reason for the Season" Party.

The Lord birthed it in my heart many years ago when my husband was pastoring our first church. I was working in a friends boutique a couple days of week to help her during the holiday season. Her store was a-maz-ing. It was one of the very first of its kind and it was filled from floor to ceiling with quirky, trendy, one of a kind, amazing GORGEOUSNESS!!  I mean everything in there sparkled and glittered  and it all screamed.."you know you want me...you gotta have me...you know you can't live without me" in every corner you turned in this shop!

Well, don't get me wrong...I don't think there is a thing wrong with sparkly, pretty things....but as I was surrounded by it..saturated with it..  seeing the hunger of the people each day wanting MORE and spending SO much money to get it...well the Lord began to work in my heart that year about reminding me of getting back to the basics of Christmas...
back to the TRUTH of Christmas...
HIM!

** I didn't share when I first wrote this post, that part of what inspired me was a particular customer who had come into the store on a regular basis and would spend money like water on decorations and gifts.  She had come in one day and was wanting a gift for a Christmas party where they would be exchanging Dirty Santa gifts….you know…where you can steal a gift from another person.  Well she said she wanted to get THE gift that everyone would want to steal.  She told me she had to have the best and didn't care what she spent on it…to just  make sure it was to die for.  Well….that resonated in my heart and just burdened my heart.  I still think about her 13 years later.

So... I threw my first "Keepin Jesus the Reason for the Season Party" that year.
I invited all the ladies and asked them to bring a simple gift that represented their walk with the Lord during the year...something that would reflect what He was doing in their lives and how He was at work in their hearts.   Well, let me tell you...that night rocked my world!!  
What a blessing to hear testimony after testimony of what the Lord had been doing!

As the ladies came in with their gifts, I would put a sticker with a number on it and put it under the tree.  After we ate and fellowshipped awhile, I  have each lady draw a number from a bag (one number for however many gifts were brought).  The lady who drew #1 would then open it and then the lady who had brought that gift would then share the meaning behind it and why she chose it.   We do this until each gift has been opened and all the ladies have shared.

The creativity of the ladies was incredible!  
One of my best friends, who is like a tenacious little bulldog when it comes to her boldness for the Lord, ...well, she brought a turtle one year (not a real one!) and it represented how the Lord was teaching her how important consistency was in her walk..to be slow and steady like the tortoise and not to be super fast and burn out while serving Him. 
 Consistency....
to finish her race WELL.
I now can't see a turtle and not think of her and that spiritual nugget of wisdom!

I could go on and on with examples of the creativity over the years but it would take forever, so I am gonna take you to my party this Tuesday...

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Did you read the letter I wrote to myself?
Well, you can {here} if  you want to..
Ironically, my cake DID flop! lol
But, it didn't matter...I knew the night wasn't about my baking skills (or lack of them).
I stayed true to the talk I had with myself and kept it on track with WHO it was about...

When my 3 layered cake began to slide....
I just made it into a "dump cake".
As my husband and daughter were witnessing the whole thing,  I said, "No problem..we will just have what classy people call a "Trifle dish" and then Lydia said, "well, what do WE call them?"  Then my husband said "Dump cakes"....  we got a good giggle. 
Guess we are more Country than Classy :)


I kept the menu super simple...homemade potato soup out of Styrofoam bowls...

..a few chicken salad sandwiches with chips and dip and we were all set and ready to get on with the GOOD STUFF!!...


There were thirteen ladies so I can't share all of the awesome and creative gifts that were brought. 
 But I will share what I received.

 This was from last year but I have it sitting out and I love and treasure it.
It was from Ms Pat.. she shared that she wanted to desire more and more of Lord..to pant for Him as the deer pants at the water brooks as Psalm 42 says.

She made it herself and I love the vintagey feel of it.
It's a such a great reminder to me as to what I am desiring most...


 This year, I received this...

 A planner from Janet. She told us she almost brought a plate to represent that how "full her plate" is but went with the planner cuz the Lord is teaching her about prioritizing her time...only saying yes to things HE has designed for her...learning its OK to say no if she hasn't heard from Him on a matter...and desiring to fill her calender with things that have eternal value.

Well, the Lord in His sovereignty made sure the planner AND the meaning behind it ended up with me!  As I dive into this new year..I want the same thing! To quit wasting time on what He hasn't ordained for me and do what will last throughout eternity!!
(Plus, I have a wedding to plan..my daughter has chosen APRIL.
 Yes I know that is only 4 months. sigh.)


It was a wonderful night. A refreshing night.
We shed tears...lots of them.
We laughed....really hard.
And we cried some more.
We ended the night in prayer, thanking Him for transforming our lives and that He would choose to come to this world so many years ago and humble Himself so that we can experience the freedom and joy of salvation in Him.
  WOWZA! How incredible.

As I said,  this is THE party of the year for me.  
I love hearing how great our God is and how He is at work. 
 Seeing the ladies growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord  is the best gift ever.
(2 Peter 3:18)

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This was from last years party.  This gift that someone brought just blessed me so much. It represented the freedom from years and years of unforgivness she had harbored in her heart toward someone and how when she repented of that, through God's grace in her life, she felt like a bird being set free from a cage!   I loved it!  And it had been such a blessing seeing the Lord restore this relationship!  


This was the gift I received last year and it was one of my all time faves.  I'm not gonna lie, when I opened it I was like, huh?  A silver walnut?  
But then Kate began to share the meaning behind it and oh my goodness.  I loved it.

She and her husband were newly married last year and she shared that celebrating family traditions had become so important to her. She was wanting to start some new traditions with her husband but also carry on some old traditions she had growing up.   Her granddad always gave them a painted walnut each year.  She said the first year he did it, she was six years old and she was so upset because it was a measly little walnut.  But little did she know what was inside…  

A $100 dollar bill!
He wanted to teach them the value of not judging everything by what you can only see on the outside.  And that it's what is on the inside that counts.  This wise old grandpa kept up the tradition until he passed away in January of 2006.  

Kate didn't have a $100 dollar bill inside hers of course but the impact was the same.
Such a great lesson.
And such a great tradition.


This years party we were few in number but God's presence was so strong.
This was my gift that I brought. I forgot to take a picture of it before I wrapped it.

 But what was inside was a mirror
The kind of mirror that magnifies stuff 10 times. The kind that exposes all the blemishes and nothing is hidden from sight when you look into it. It can startle you when you see yourself that up close.  And that's exactly what God did recently  to me using an indecent in my life.  It cause due to look closer at my hear and it really exposed some gross and yucky stuff and attitudes that I needed to see  for what they really were… sin.  It made me think of Hebrews 4:12-13… "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit and joints  and marrow, and it is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."   I am so thankful He doesn't leave me to myself but in His mercy He exposes my sin and pours grace into my life and changes me to be more like Him.  Hallelujah!   (I also had it wrapped in a dish towel because part of what He revealed to me is that I need to be more of a hands on_get dirty washing the feet of the disciples _ kind of servant.) 

And last thing before I go…
This is the gift I received!
A mini flashlight!

Sweet Mama Rob who brought it is one of the greatest examples of a servant I know! She is always doing for others. Always.  She is always asking how she can help…she doesn't wait until you come to her.  I want to be more like her.   I pray I am even half as active as she is when I am 78 years old like her.


What blessed me is the verse that prompted her to choose a flashlight as her gift.
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."  Matthew 5 :16
Aghh.. So perfect.  It couldn't have been more perfectly chosen for me.
I so want to make Him known with all that I do.

And the sweet thing about these fellowships…year after year…Each lady goes home with a gift that ministers to her heart and has a tangible reminder of the message every time she looks at or uses the gift.  It's sooo good.  We always close out the night in prayer thanking the Lord for the work He is doing in our lives  with great anticipation of the year ahead.

Well there you have it!  I hope this helps those of you who said they wanted to try this too. I  would love to hear about your time of fellowship and testimony if any of you used this idea this year! Such a joy indeed!


 


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Noonday {Giveaway!}

{This giveaway is closed.  Winner announced below.}

Every now and then you run across a company that strikes a chord with your heart strings. 
Because first you like their stuff….where everything you see is gorgeous and has your name written all over it.  It's so "you".  And then you find out the story behind all the beauty and well….you are sold.  Hook, line and sinker.

That's what happened to me with Noonday Collection.
Have y'all heard about them?

Noonday exists to bring hope to those in the poorest places around the globethrough dignified work. 

They get their name from Isaiah 58:10 
"When you satisfy the needs of the oppressed your night will become like Noonday sun"… 

I absolutely love that.


This is such a great opportunity to finish up Christmas shopping! You are not only buying incredible, high quality jewelry and accessories but also changing lives in the process.  It's a win win.

These are my faves…The Annies.  I can't wait to wear them.
Annie's Feathered Earrings

Eeep! Look how beautiful these look on!

Here are some more of my faves!



My friend, Emily, is one of their ambassadors.
I was so intrigued with the company but didn't realize I knew someone personally who was a part of the company.  I asked her to tell me about how she got involved and this is what she shared…

"I work as an ambassador for Noonday Collection. Its pretty much the most awesome thing I do right now, besides raising a tribe of arrows and loving my husband.  I've been with them for a little over a year and have met the most incredible people and have helped some amazing families raise funds for their little ones to come home. When I started there were 30 of us total, spread out around the country. Now there are 350. God has totally blessed the dreams, sacrifices and obedience of our founder." 

Oh gosh I love that.  And Emily.  She is a prime example of how Noonday not only helps those around the globe by employing them to make jewelry but Noonday also helps women right here by giving them opportunities to raise their children while helping support their family.  I love it.

And get this!….Emily is graciously giving away a $50 Noonday credit to one of you!
You can use it to finish up some Christmas shopping or treat yourself to something amazing!
And if that isn't enough, she is also giving anyone that places an order over $50 between now and Saturday some hand stamped stationary as a gift!  Just make sure you order through this specific link, Noonday,  so that  Emily can register your  purchase for the stationary! 

Eeep!!  I'm so excited for one of you to win this!  Can't wait to see what you pick out!

Congratulations LaTanya!  Have fun shopping girl!




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Friday, December 6, 2013

My Fourth Fix {and a lesson learned}


My, my, my.  I can't believe I'm already sharing my fourth fix with y'all.
This month was interesting.
I was soooo excited about this receiving this fix.  I envisioned it having something sparkly or holidayish in that beautiful little box.  I don't know why I thought that because I don't think I requested it…but I still had that in my head.  
Red.  Sparkles.  Fancy.
My poor stylist, Catherine, was being set up for failure and didn't even know it.

So I get my box ( a day earlier than promised too!  woo hoo!) and I rip into it expecting Holiday glam only to find snooze city.
I ran back to the bedroom and tried on each piece and turned my nose up to each one.
I didn't like any of it except for one shirt.  And I threw it on immediately to wear that same day.



…to visit the newest little member of our church.
Ain't he a cutie?


I had plans to return everything else that was in the box.  In fact, I got on line and filled out my return survey and critiqued each piece and then checked out.  
It was a done deal…or so I thought.

 I knew I still wanted to snap a few pics to share with y'all of what I had gotten in my fix before I bagged it up in the handy dandy postage paid bag they give you and threw it in the mail box to ship back..
I was gonna show y'all why I decided not to keep all the goods…

But, here is the lesson I learned this month.
Don't be too quick to say you don't like something your stylists chooses  for you until you give it a real chanceas in try it on and style it  with stuff already in your closet.  And for heavens sake…brush your hair and if you haven't washed in five days and put on a little make up.   SPRUCE UP.
 The day my fix arrived in the mail, I was still in PJ's and looking quite beastly.  So when I tried on the pieces that sweet Catherine chose for me, everything looked terrible and I "hated it" before I even gave it a chance.. but once I  got myself presentable, the more I tried on everything with stuff I already had in my closet,  the more I liked everything.

Besides the striped shirt that I instantly loved, there was this red sheer blouse that had a tribal print on it.  I did actually like this one but wasn't gonna keep it because I had so much of the tribal stuff already.  
But once I saw it in pics, I realized you don't really notice the tribal stuff….
You notice the RED.  And I loved that.

Then I tried I threw my trusty denim jacket on and….BAM.  I loved it. 
(a denim jacket is like cream cheese….you can throw it on top of anything and it becomes fabulous)


Then I changed it up a bit with this sweater over it and that was it…the deal was sealed.



Another top in the box was this really edgy shirt that I despised before I tried it on.

It has the really long sleeves with a little hole for your thumb and I was not feeling that detail at all.

But then I tried it on with a different sweater and….BAM. 
I loved it.

 The sleeves actually began to grow on me because they stay put and don't ride up the sleeve of your sweater.  Can I get an amen?!
(and I also discovered you don't have to stick your thumbs through the holes…and then they will just be regular old long sleeves on days I'm feeling not so "high fashion". lol) 


If you haven't noticed my necklace yet, it is the fourth item that was in my fix.
I totally dismissed it at first sight.  I even thought it looked "cheap".
And then I started mixing it with stuff I owned and once again….BAM!
I loved it.  It's the perfect touch of classic with a little funky feel.
It looked good with SO much in my closet.


There was one ore piece in my fix but I didn't take pics because it didn't fit.  It was a classic khaki trench coat that would give a very similar look as the sweater I have on in all of these pics.

So in the end, I loved this month's fix.  I decided to keep them all.
Even the trench coat that didn't fit.  Why you ask? Because they give you a 25% discount if you keep all five pieces and the discount (which was $45) was more than the cost of the trench coat (which was $28)  So it was like getting something for free plus $17 dollars towards the other stuff!  BAM!
So I was able to bless my daughter, Lauren, with a fabulous little coat.

I hope my stylist, Catherine, gets a chance to read this.  She was right and I was wrong. 
This month's fix is a prime example of why Stitch Fix is so great and having a personal stylists is so much fun.  I would have NEVER picked these pieces myself. I would have walked right past them in a store.  But after trying them on, I discovered they are great basic pieces that I will be able to mix up with what I already own and make many many outfits. I didn't get a chance to try any of these on with skirts but I already have a few things in mind. That makes my dollars stretch and I am just tickled over it.  They also flattered my body type which is what I  value most about having a stylist….she doesn't just send me cute stuff, but cute stuff that she thinks will work for me.    BAM.

If you're interested in checking it out for yourself just click here.
If you have any questions about it just holla.
And you can read about my other three fixes here, here and here.


Monday, December 2, 2013

J.O.Y. {repost}

Most of my friends and family know this story and why the word JOY means so much to me. I wanted to share this again though.  I posted it two years ago.  Some of you may remember it.  But I need to remember it too.  I need to be reminded of how God cares about the little things in our lives.  I need to be reminded of His faithfulness to His children.  I need to be reminded of His tenderness and how He comforts like no other can. 

I pray as we enter into this beautiful season of celebrating the birth of our Savior, you will see the word JOY with a fresh set of eyes and be reminded of His great love for you.

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Joy.

I love that little three letter word.  It is rich with meaning.
Some people are so good at spreading joy.
Some are simply full of joy.
Some people are aching for a little joy in their life.

No matter who we are, we all want to experience joy.



Joy is something we experience because of Jesus.
He alone is where lasting joy comes from.
Anything else is fools gold... It may look good for a while but eventually the "pretty" wears off and we are left empty and discontented.
We can experience joy in the midst of terrible circumstances.... Even spread joy during those times.


The word joy is special to my family.
The reason goes back several years now. August 2004

My brother, Greg, was killed in a car accident at the age of 39.
As so many of you can testify to,  when a tragedy strikes and death interrupts our lives it turns your world upside down. A normal day turns into a nightmare with one phone call and we are left forever changed. Different. 
Never to be the same again.

My brother was a character. He was always into something... Often trouble.
He had a smile that would light up the room and a laugh that was infectious. If he made you mad, you couldn't stay that way for long.
Spiritually, we never knew for sure where Greg stood with the Lord. He would profess one thing, but lived his life a whole other way.

But three weeks before his accident my husband preached a revival in our home town in the church my other brother pastored. Greg came every night and was under much conviction. He talked with me and my husband about his salvation and he felt like that week he "got things right" with the Lord as he surrendered his life to Jesus.  (little did we know what was to come just weeks later).

What gives me hope that this was genuine is that we talked a couple of times after the revival and he had been reading God's word ... Even asking us questions about scripture. When we packed up his house and things, his bible was open by his bed with things underlined and hi-lited. 
This has given us a peace.

One of the nights after revival services, we were all walking across the parking lot and Greg noticed a licence plate with the letters j.o.y..... He said "look... The word joy. You know,  we have joy whens Jesus Owns You."  Well, we were floored at his insight! (Romans 6)  It probably wouldn't have been as profound if my preacher husband or my older preacher brother had said it... But coming from Greg we were so excited.

Well, flash forward several months after his death and my mom was trying her best to deal with the pain and her grief.  She had been reading books on grief and had recently read one that told of man who was missing his adult daughter who had died.  He was aching for her presence and went for a walk to just be "doing something".  While he was walking, the scent of jasmine overwhelmingly surrounded him which was odd because it was not the season for jasmine to be in bloom.  Jasmine was his daughter's favorite flower and he instantly felt as if the Lord had heard his broken heart that was filled with the ache of missing his daughter.  He felt the "out of season jasmine" was straight from the heart of a loving God sent to comfort him in a unique way.  

 Now back to my mom.....she was having a particularly difficult day where her grief was heavy and she remembered that story and cried out to God..."If You can do that for him, why can't You do that for me?!"  And at that very moment she glanced at her shelf where she had the word JOY sitting out with her Christmas decorations that had been there for weeks.  But this time she saw them differently as the Lord reminded her of what Greg had said.... J.O.Y.  Joy comes when Jesus Owns You.  

That was like balm to her hurting heart.  It was enough for that day to carry her through.  She shared that with us and now we all see the word JOY in a different light.  Our God is so faithful to make His grace abound in our lives....and it is ALWAYS sufficient.


I'm so thankful for a God who hears us and cares for us and knows just what we need at the exact moment we need it.
His grace is always enough.



Do you know the J.O.Y. I'm talking about?
It really is what Christmas is all about and why we celebrate.
Jesus was born to deliver us from our sin so that we can follow Him. 

Only then do we experience J.O.Y....the real stuff.




 
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