Thursday, December 18, 2014

My Top 5 Christmas Songs

Here are my top 5 always-on-repeat Christmas songs for the year (they didn't necessarily come out this year) in no particular order:

1. All Is Well - Carrie Underwood & Michael W. Smith - can you really ever go wrong with Carrie Underwood? Beautiful lyrics and beautiful harmonies

2. Nothing Like Christmas - Anthem Lights - I've had a new-found appreciation for these talented guys since I started listening to their covers this summer. I love the thoughtfulness of these lyrics!

3. Emmanuel - Love & The Outcome - These two nail it every time and this one is absolutely no exception! Beautiful vocals!

4. December 25 - Francesca Battistelli - A cute, upbeat song to put on in the background while you're Christmas cookie making!

5. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy - Pentatonix - Seriously... how talented can you get? Mind. Blown! 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

SOTW - Resolution

As mentioned here I love new Christmas songs. Yes, the classics will always be... classic, but there's something about an artist being able to dip into that Christmas magic and creating something new that I find really special. 

Here's one that I found recently! Their whole Christmas EP is playing as we speak, but this one really caught my attention (although their rendition of the beautiful Silent Night is also an attention getter)!

Song: Resolution
Artist: Everfound

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Song of the Week - Wanted Man

To be honest, I never really liked these guys until I saw them live. That was a few months ago and I am just now getting into their stuff (and by getting into it I mean it's been on all. the. time.). This one is my current favorite:

Song: Wanted Man
Artist: Needtobreathe

Monday, December 8, 2014

Top 3 Faith Books of 2014

Here's my list of top three faith books for the year (in no particular order)!

1. Restless by Jenny Allen
To be honest, the start of this book took me a loooong time to read. Once I got about halfway, however, the honesty and openness of Ms. Allen's words really drew me in. The book is all finding how your gifts, passions, places and relationships weave together into the purpose that God has given us. The writing was refreshingly honest and powerfully convicting. I would recommend this to anyone who is in a stage of their life where they feel like they are moving but don't know what they are moving towards.

2. Chasing God by Angie Smith
This book was a soul-convicting, life-changing one for me. The openness and friendliness that Ms. Smith writes with drew me into a book that changed my perspective drastically. As the title implies, Ms. Smith writes about how she has spent her life chasing God and why that's not the way to go - why we need to stop living with a faith like that. Her honesty and candor make the words she writes refreshing and convicting all at the same time. I would recommend this to anyone.

3. Loveology by John Mark Comer
This book was a bit of a curve ball for me... It's not a book that I would usually pick up, but the cover and the name definitely intrigued me. Just like the title suggests, the book is a study of Godly and Biblical love - how it applies to marriage, to singleness, to being gay, and everything in between. He carefully unpacks each of these areas in a way that convicts but is still loving. I would recommend this one to anyone over the age of 18, but especially to anyone who is engaged or newly married.

Currently reading: The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst - so far so good!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Death, Lamentations & Hope

Disclaimer: this post is a little heavier than my usual ones... 

Oh death, where is your sting?
Oh hell, where is your victory?
(1 Corinthians 15:55)

It was almost two years ago to the day. I have never had my emotions swing in such an insane way in such way ever in my life, and I doubt that I will ever feel that way again.

I was with my favorite group of ladies – ones that I had had the opportunity to live with and learn with, laugh with and cry with over the past few months – and we had just won a competition that we had been working hard and strategizing for for over a week. It was a big deal. Like mega big for us. We walked into our common living space, expecting the next few hours to be full of excitement and celebration, and instead were met with the news of the death of a family member. It was quite literally like being punched in the gut and having the joy sucked out of me all at once… a feeling that I hope I never have to feel again, but that I felt regardless of the fact that I didn’t even know the person who had passed away. I can’t even imagine how I would have felt had I actually known the person.

The reality of death sometimes is that the hope gets sucked out of the lives that are left behind. We get so focused on Earthly things that death is sometimes a crushing blow. As I sat in my room crying for someone I had never met, his new wife and his family, all I could think about was “what if that had been my brother?” … “What if that had been my cousin?” They were sobering thoughts. It’s a moment in my life that I think will stay with me for the rest of my time here on Earth.  

Lamentations has become one of my favorite books (not something that people say often, but if I’m being honest my favorite of all the books of the Bible is Job, which is definitely not a usual favorite), not because of the dreariness that it can bring but because of the hope. Throughout the whole book the author is opening up his heart and kind of laying it all out on the table – it’s a depressing book, sure, but the hope that he finds is a bright star in the midst of a pitch black night. In chapter 3 he writes: “For the Lord will not cast off forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone” (3:31-33, NIV).

I guess what I’m trying to get at – and the place that I got too months later, a few weeks after one of my friends tried unsuccessfully to take their life – is that though death seems hopeless, we have the greatest hope. And when death seems to punch us in the gut and kick us while we’re down, that doesn’t have to be the end; we don’t have to stay down. God has not left us on this Earth without Him. He has not left us here with no love, with no hope and with no way out. He will show compassion because His unfailing love is so great.

David writes in Psalm 56:8 a promise that is very powerful and beautiful: “You [, God ha]ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book” (MSG).

God has conquered death but it’s still a part of our life while we live here on Earth. It’s normal but often earth-shattering. Don’t ever lose hope. He has conquered it and He is a comforter. He will not leave you to deal with it on your own.

P.S. As a self-diagnosed feeler, it’s easy for me to take on other peoples’ emotions and to have them sit heavily on my heart. I’ve learned (and continue to have to learn) that I can’t hold on to them for too long or they will weigh me down. God can take those. He is literally The Comforter. Don’t take that for granted.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

SOTW: What It Costs

From Tim Foreman's beautiful, raw vocals to the phenomenal way the instruments create a mournful mood that somehow fits with the thoughtful lyrics in a way that's so powerful, this song is definitely in my top 10 of all time. 

Song: What It Costs
Artist: Switchfoot

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fall Beauty Buys

For me, fall is all about easy make-up and good moisturizers, because with busy post-summer life starting up again having go-to's for those two things help smooth out the rest of the transition into waking up a little bit earlier and moving a little bit quicker. Here are my four beauty favorites that I've found this year:

1. St Ives - Cranberry Seed & Grape Seed Oil body lotion
With just a hint of a sweet cranberry smell that's not too over-powering, and a formula that allows for quick absorption and no sticky residue (not to mention it's made of natural ingredients!), this lotion is perfect to slather on morning and night. Plus, it won't break the bank (I bought it for under $5).

2. Avon - Moisture Effective Eye Makeup Remover lotion
I think the thing that's the worst about actually taking the time to put makeup on is that it's pain to take off. This remover is super easy to use (rub it in using your finger tips and wipe off with a damp cotton ball) and takes seconds. Works for me!

3. Almay - Intense i-Colour Eyeshadow
I have this one in the shimmer-i kit for blue eyes and I tried it out for the first time today. It's wonderful! Three colours that blend together nicely and are already laid out for you in a way that makes it super easy to apply quickly and be out the door!

4. Nivea - Lip Butter in Vanilla & Macadamia
For me I don't like anything sticky on my lips, but a good, creamy lip balm is hard to find. This one goes on creamy and stays that way, with just a hint of a scent that reminds me of Hawaii.