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Springtime Fun List – Update #1

Springtime Fun List – Update #1

Hello!  It’s time for an update on my Springtime Fun List!

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A few weeks ago I shared a list of the things I want to do this spring.  Here’s the list:

  • Go to the beach at least twice.
  • Try two new restaurants in downtown Savannah.
  • Go to Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
  • Take a trip to Alaska.
  • Buy a new Easter dress.
  • Get a new, official (professional) picture of Gene and me.
  • Focus on Easter by observing Lent.
  • Make and put up some springtime decorations in the house.
  • Go kayaking in a new location.
  • Write at least one REAL letter or note to a friend each week.

Thanks to a little head start (since spring starts EARLY here in Coastal Georgia), I’ve actually made a lot of headway!

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What I Read – December 2016

What I Read – December 2016

December is a perfect month for some fun, lighthearted reading, am I right?  Of course, right!  And what a bonus if the books are ALSO powerful, funny, well-written, and clean.  I recently discovered new-to-me author Chautona Havig, and I’m just loving her stuff.

She summarizes her writing as “Christian fiction without apology or pretense — lived, not preached.”  That PERFECTLY describes her books!  Check out her bio and blog here.

I’ve been binge reading her Christmas stories.  So far I’ve read Carol and the Belles, 31 Kisses, and Christmas Stalkings.  The first of her books that I read was Corner Booth.  That one’s not a Christmas story, but it’s a good one!  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of them!  I posted a review of Corner Booth here.

Christmas Stalkings is one of the four novellas in Christmas Lights: A Collection of Inspiring Christmas Novellas.  The other three stories in this collection are:

  • The Heart of Joy by Vikki Kestell.  This one reminded me of a Grace Livingston Hill book; a little old fashioned but nice.
  • Snow Angels by Cathe Swanson.  A great story that begins with a misunderstanding and good intentions.
  • Trip the Light Fantastic by April Hayman.  What’s not to love about a clumsy FBI agent with a big heart?!?

Chautona JUST released her new book, New Year’s Revolutions, and it’s a joy to read as well.  One thing I love about her books is that each book is unique.  No formulaic stories for her!

I did read some non-Chautona books too!  Here they are:

The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry.  Oh my goodness, this one is FUNNY!  I dare you to try to read it out loud to your family!  I read this one every December and chortle every time.

Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien.  My daughter and I listened to the audiobook, and we recommend it in print!  The letters are great, but the music on the audiobook bugged us.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  I read this years ago when I was growing up and didn’t like it at all.  I recently decided to give it another go, listened to the audiobook, and loved it. It’s painful in some spots, but boy is it good.  Sissy Spacek narrated this book and  gave a great performance.  Looking back,  I bet the book must have shocked me when I originally read it; I think I would have appreciated it more if I had discussed it with my parents.

Do you have any reading goals for 2017?  Have you ever revisited a book that just wasn’t right for you the first time you read it?  Do you like Christmas books?!?  Leave a comment and let me know!  I love talking about books!

 

 

 

DIY Advent Wreath

DIY Advent Wreath

Christmas is coming!  Christmas is coming!  It’s a wonderful time of year, and it can also be a hectic time of year.  Several years ago our family began observing Advent as a way of  slowing things down and focusing on Jesus, the REAL reason for this amazing season.

Here’s a great little video that gives a quick overview of Advent.

As you saw in yesterday’s post, we got our Advent wreath set up and lit the first candle yesterday, the first Sunday of Advent.  Our Advent wreath is not very traditional, but I like it a lot.  Here’s how I made it.

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I used a glass pie plate (some years I use a white dinner plate) and poured some glass stones on it.  Since I happened to have a mix of clear, blue, and green stones, that’s what I used.  While these aren’t traditional Christmas colors, I like them.  For me, the clear stones represent Jesus’s purity,  and blue and green seem like regal colors.  I added one red stone as a symbol of His sacrifice.  You could choose different colors if you’d like.

Sometimes churches use candles of different colors, one for each week of Advent.  Some use purple and pink, and others use blue.  Usually there is one white candle in the middle of the wreath to represent Christ.  I like to burn the candles every evening, so I opted for four tea lights instead of regular candles.  That way I can easily replace them and keep burning them.  I snugged four little glass tea light holders into the stones and placed a tea light in each of them.  I do have one white candle in the middle.  It sits in a candle holder that sits a little taller than the tea lights.  We’ll light that one on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.

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Typically you light one candle each Sunday of Advent.  (The second week of Advent we’ll light two candles, and so on.)  Each week has a different focus.  The candles might represent Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace.  Or Expectation, Joy, Hope, and Purity.  Or Prophets, Mary, Joseph, and Shepherds.   You get the picture!

The materials for this kind of Advent wreath are easy to find and not expensive at all.  Look around your house first.  You may have everything you need already!

The Advent wreath acts as a reminder to remember what Christmas is all about.  I need visual nudges like that!  To take it all a step further, I like to read Advent devotions each day.

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This year I’m reading God Is in the Manger:  Reflections on Advent and Christmas by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Bonhoeffer knew a thing or two about waiting.  A large part of this book was written when he was in prison in Germany during World War II.  I’m looking forward to reading his thoughts on the season.  He lists the focuses of each week as being Waiting, Mystery, Redemption, and Incarnation.

Another book I’ll be picking up during Advent is Max Lucado’s Celebrating Christmas with Jesus: An Advent Devotional.  This book uses passages from several of the many books he’s written.  (God Came Near is my favorite Christmas book ever!)

A great, FREE, online resource for daily readings is d365.

If you have kids, I highly recommend reading Jotham’s Journey with them during Advent!

Does YOUR family observe Advent?  What special things do you do to keep the potentially chaotic Christmas season under control?  Please share in the comment section below!