The Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible {Book Review}


The Illustrator's Notetaking Bible
by B & H Publishing
About the book:
The Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible combines two hot trends: Bible journaling and adult coloring. Through unique illustrations included on every page spread, readers, illustrator’s, and notetakers alike learn to engage the biblical text in a new way. The exceptional design offers a unique balance for everyone from seasoned artists to the creatively challenged, allowing for guided creativity and meaningful personalization of the Bible reading experience. From filigree, Scripture quotes, and unique images, these line-drawn illustrations are waiting to be brought to life.
One thing I've always loved since I was little is coloring.  As I got older, it changed into other artistic outlets like scrapbooking, card-making and art journals.  When I saw this Bible combined all of those things, I lept at the chance to review it!

This Bible has over 600 drawings and verses, filigree designs, swashes and doodles.  Some of the designs span two pages, while others are only one page.  It has wide, lined margins on the pages which is perfect for art journaling or note taking during sermons.  The pre-drawn designs are a light gray color and easily covered with pencils or markers.

I have used markers, watercolors, watercolored pencils and colored pencils in this Bible and the pages withstood all of it.  I was really apprehensive to use watercolors and markers, afraid they would crinkle or rip the page or bleed through.  But to my excitement they didn't!  You can see the examples of what I've done below.

Adult coloring books are a hot trend right now.  You can find adult coloring books for just about any theme.  It relieves stress, relaxes you (read this as puts me to sleep) and helps you focus!  What a better way to relieve stress than coloring in your Bible!

I have to say, the creative lettering pages are my favorite.  I'm a sucker for great fonts and love mixing them.  The lettering in the Bible is superb!

And for those of you who don't feel you're artistic enough for this Bible, don't worry, there are many designs already on the pages!  All you need to do is color them in.

B & H Publishing Group provided this book to me for free in exchange for this honest review.










TWENTY SEVEN | MOVED



Today's prompt: Something that made you laugh or cry recently. It could be a video, a picture, a post, a memory. Anything that moved you.


Last week I spent some time reading back through all the statuses, posts and pictures on my Facebook from when I was sick.  With tears in my eyes, I was reminded again how blessed I am to even be here.  I was reminded of how even on my sickest days, I felt myself surrounded by love.  I was reminded of those times I was being prepped for surgery, knowing so many people had me covered in prayer.

If you're new to my blog, and haven't heard my story, I'll share it with you.  It's a true testament to how good and faithful God is, and how He brings beauty from the ashes.

In October of 2011 I went in for a routine laparoscopic hysterectomy. One of the first cuts the doctor made hit a main artery. A 9 inch incision, 2 units of blood, 1 unit of plasma and 1 unit of platelets later I woke in ICU. I had nearly died during the surgery. And during the surgery the doctor also missed a huge cyst on my left ovary. Four months later I went in to have that removed.

During that surgery, the same doctor put a clip on my ureter and put a hole in it. Three days later I had emergency surgery for a kidney that hadn't drained in days. They installed a stent, hoping that would help the ureter heal.

Over the next 7 months, I had 8 surgeries to replace the stent. Each one would get corroded and calcified and cause a kidney infection, which would knock me on my butt. Finally the doctors at the Cleveland Clinic determined I needed a ureter reconstruction.

In October of 2012 I had a 14 hour surgery to repair my damaged ureter. While they were operating, they also found I had a partial bowel obstruction and that was fixed as well.

The surgery was a success! But sadly, my kidney had too much damage done to it. It was no longer functioning at all and was causing more harm than good. In February of 2013 I had my kidney removed. It was a routine surgery but unfortunately, I had a small stroke during it, awaking to a completely numb face on the left side.

Thankfully over time, my body healed itself and the stroke is barely noticeable. Although I do still have days where the drooping on the left side of my face is very noticeable.

I have issues with abdominal scar tissue, but that is an issue I'll always have. My body just seems to love that stuff and grows it like crazy. I've had another surgery for lysis of adhesions to fix another partial bowel obstruction and free up what it was wrapped around.

Throughout all of this, the support I had was so, so amazing.  My husband drove me all over for doctor appointments, surgeries and follow-up appointments.  The days I could only sit in a chair, he completely jumped in and picked up my slack with my littles right by his side helping.  My church family and friends brought us meals daily so I could just recoup and not worry about cooking.  The number of people faithfully praying for me still brings tears to my eyes.  

I survived all of this solely because of God's amazing grace and love. He has a beautiful, perfect plan for my life that didn't end during those scary surgeries. Now it's up to me to make sure I'm fulfilling it.

I am so blessed to have the most amazing husband, parents, children, church family and friends. I love you ALL and could never thank you enough for all you've done for us over the years!
 

TWENTY THREE | FAMILY RECIPE

Today's prompt: A family recipe (if grandma allows, of course!)


When I was growing up I was blessed to not only have a Mama that grew her own food, but canned it as well. Not only my Mama, but all the women in my family. Many family gatherings would include a circle of women chatting about their recent crops and what they were planning on canning with them. It was a given that once I had a household of my own, I would follow in all their footsteps. And proudly, I have.

This is the spaghetti sauce recipe that my Grandma, Mama and now myself use. It's absolutely our favorite and store bought sauce doesn't even compare to it.

Spaghetti Sauce
  • 1⁄2 bushel tomatoes
  • 2 bulbs garlic
  • 4 hot peppers
  • 3 lb. onions
  • 1⁄2 cup salt
  • 1 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp italian seasoning
  • 8 cans tomato paste
  • 2 cups oil
INSTRUCTIONS:

Put everything into a blender and puree. I cut the stem part off the tomatoes, quarter them and put skins and all into the blender. I also leave the seeds in two of the hot peppers to add some heat.

Bring it to a boil and cook until thick. I cook mine for 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally.

To can, pour into jars. Place rings and lids on jars, making it fingertip-tight. Place on a cloth-covered or wood surface, several inches apart, until cool.

TWENTY TWO | FALL FAVS

Today's prompt: Fall favorites. Share your must-haves for this season.


It's no secret, Fall is my absolute favorite season. So this topic is incredibly easy for me to write about. Let me be more specific...

Fall Favorites 
Leaves changing colors. Pumpkin flavored creamer. Ladies Bible Study. Knitting. 
Boots with every outfit. Truck pulls. Cozy Scarves. Pumpkin Candles. Golden light. 
Carving Pumpkins. Scary movie marathons. Burlap Wreathes. Crisp air.
Curling up with a book. Friday night football games. Chili. 
Bonfires. Dressing in Layers. Halloweentown. Mums. Thanksgiving.
Caramel Apples. Craft shows. Warm soup on a cold day. Hay rides. Pumpkin patch.
The smell. Driving through falling leaves.  Trick-or-treating.
Decorations. Boot socks.  Thanksgiving.  Fall festivals.  Apple butter.
Wearing layers.  Boot socks.  Christmas is around the corner.
Potato soup and bread bowls.  Annual family photo shoot.

TWENTY | KNOW + BELIEVE

Today's prompt: Something you wish more people knew or believed.


Empowering women to love their body, as is, is one of my passions. So many times, we let the wrong factors define our worth. We allow failed relationships, body image, abuse, past choices and health to define us. We allow feelings of being useless, ignored, ugly, overweight, unloved or forgotten to circle around us. Sadly, we repeatedly allow these factors to define us. We allow our feelings to dictate our identity.

In those moments of weakness, where the lies seem to continually circle around, refuse to give in to them. Remember that you are loved, as-is. And retraining your heart to know that is absolutely worth the fight.

I have lived life in a size 12 body and a size 24 body, and every size in between. I have been called fat, a cow and lots of other names. I have been told I have such a pretty face, if I would just lose some weight. Mean words that are said without a second thought, but they stay in my head for years. I have carried oh-so-much shame around with me over those years. And it seemed no amount of self-help books, dieting or trying to sort it out in my head ever worked. I had an unhealthy and unfortunate amount of shame and self-loathing toward my body. I could not imagine why God would give other girls perfect bodies then give me this one. And to be honest, I was a little mad at Him for that.

Learning to love myself regardless of my size was one of the most crucial turning points. 

Women today are continually exposed to what society sees as the ideal body. The perfect hourglass shape with no arm flab, a thigh gap, full lips, perfect breasts and a flat tummy. And if you don't have those, then you aren't beautiful. We believe from the time we are little girls that we must have these things. If we’re not the ideal beautiful, then we should be ashamed and not feel like we are good enough.
“I am unwaveringly ME; and the same goes for YOU. No matter what you’re struggling with, embrace what you have to offer, love yourself right this minute and start affecting positive change for yourself and others.”—Whitney
What does Jesus think of us? What does He think our worth is? Well, He thought you and I were worth dying for! And if He thinks that much of us, why would we ever allow others to degrade the life He went through so much to save? He thinks we are worth far more than rubies! {Proverbs 31:10}

Some days, without fail, old insecurities will come knocking on the doors of our hearts. We’re tempted to tell lies about ourselves to ourselves when we’re rejected or knocked down or feeling not quite … enough.

But in those moments of weakness, I refuse to give in to the lies. I will continue to tell myself I am loved, as-is, not as I think I should be.

Retraining my heart will take years. But I know it is worth the fight.

Let me speak directly to your heart. Believe it, sweet girls. Pretty please with cream and sugar on top. Know that what Jesus says about you is genuine - that you a treasure, of great worth, a woman with infinite value. No matter what size you are.  No matter what you look like.  No matter what anyone says. No matter what you've done. No matter your past. No matter how you feel. It’s true!

NINETEEN | FAV POSTS

Today's prompt: A list of your favorite blog posts you've written.


Oh, how fun this prompt was! I always love going back and re-reading past posts I've written. Here is a list of my top 10 favorite blog posts ever.

1.  Parenting A Child With Anxiety - This post is so very special to me, and so close to my heart. With this blog post, I want to give you a glimpse into parenting a child that has been diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, slight OCD and Dyslexia.

2.  Why I'm Not Raising A Feminist Daughter - This explains why we teach submission, headship and living a Christ-centered marriage. While it might not be the worlds opinion, we are following Gods word. That will bring joy, peace, contentment, fulfillment and freedom! And in turn, your life will bring glory to God. Isn’t that what it's all about?

3.  An Open Letter To My Husband On Our 20th Anniversary - Twenty years ago, we became husband and wife. At 22 and 20, we were just a couple of kids so madly in love. We didn’t know a lot back then, but we knew one thing for certain: we belonged together.

4.  Saving Your First Kiss - We need to recognize the kiss as an incredible gift that God has given each one of us to fully embrace and enjoy in the right context. Instead of lowering its value and blowing it off as just-a-kiss let’s view it as a precious, sacred gift.

5.  Dear Body - Remember when we were little and we were friends? You weren’t good or bad or fat or thin or ugly or beautiful. You were just me.

6.  Walking Through Valleys - I am walking in a wilderness right now. A wilderness full of friends walking hand-in-hand, while I walk alone.

7.  I'm Tired Of The Not-Enoughs - I had all the right words for her but I was too busy living with not enoughs, I couldn't model this truth for her.

8.  An Open Letter To Those Who Have Walked Out Of My Life - I will always love you. I know that sounds unbelievable for me to say. Especially since you're the one who chose to walk out of my life. But those words hold true.

9.  Piece By Piece - Sometimes a difficult day comes out of nowhere, surprising you with its emotions and frustrations.

10. Kindness Matters - Kindness is honestly one of the greatest gifts you can give someone. As Christians, kindness is something He expects from us.



Snuggle Time Psalms {Book Review}


Snuggle Time Psalms
By Glenys Nellist
About the book:
Did you think the book of Psalms was only for adults? Think again! Snuggle Time Psalms, written by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Cee Biscoe, is the perfect way to introduce little ones to the poetry book of the Bible. This padded cover board book uses simple concepts, rhyming text and adorable art to help children engage with the Psalms. Beginning with “Bedtime Peace” and ending with “Wonderful Me!” this collection of fifteen bedtime poems enables young children to discover the One who holds them in his arms, leads them like a shepherd, created them just as they are, and cherishes them with a love that never ends ... snuggle and see!
When my Sunday School littles hear me say I have a new book for us to read, they instantly run to my bag to see what magic it holds.  As soon as they saw this book, and the adorable cover, I heard immediate shouts of now, now!
 
This cute little board book is just the perfect size for little hands!  The illustrations are just precious. There are fifteen bedtime prayers that will bring the psalms into your little ones life.  Each page contains a psalm paraphrased for little ones. Some of the words seem challenging or difficult for young children to understand but I just took that as an opportunity to explain the word in terms they would understand.  I had their undivided attention throughout the entire story, they loved it!

This book was provided to me free of charge by Book Look in return for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Voiceless {Movie Review}


When I was contacted by Icon Media and asked to review a movie for Christian Cinema, I leapt at the opportunity.  Once I read the film synopsis, I was completely drawn in and couldn't wait to watch it.  And I was blessed to have a private screening of Voiceless!

As someone who has not only a strong opinion on abortion but also had their life spared by adoption, I can testify that the movie hits home. What they are telling us is it's time to take a stand for the voiceless! As I've said before, we must stand for life. We must be a voice to the nations. If not us, then who? Who will speak out for these little ones?

In the myriad of pro-life films, Voiceless stands out as...well, first and foremost, it stands out. Whether by accident or design, the story of Voiceless is unlike any other movie in the mini-genre of films that speak out against abortion. The recently discharged soldier who had a rough upbringing, found God and now is running a community outreach program; his wife who, in the end, has to take a step of faith and stand beside her husband; and the teenage girl that has to choose between having her baby and getting kicked out of her home or having an abortion.
 
There were so many powerful key points made in the movie.  What it means to be pro-life, taking a stand even when you're the only one standing, reaching out to broken people even when it's messy, a church more concerned with numbers and appearing politically correct and following a convicted heart.

There was one quote in the movie that really struck me and left me wondering if we as a Christian community, and myself as a Christian, are doing enough to stand for the voiceless.  
The church has become more like a lamp tucked under a basket than a pillar of light on top of a hill.
In life, we have to make choices and they aren't always easy.  In Voiceless, Jesse had to make a choice.  Is he going to take the easy way out and back off, which is what everyone wants him to do, or will he face a major confrontation which will require him to put everything on the line…not just his job, but his freedom and marriage as well.

And last but not least, faith. Voiceless is filled with the theme of stepping out in faith!  That through Him, we have strength.  The entire movie spoke so loudly of Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Voiceless is gripping, emotional, touching and quite powerful. It displays a perfect amount of love, faith, devotion, and strength. It gives a voice to those who have yet to be heard.

In theaters October 7

Voiceless is a good message-movie, and it makes its case smoothly and clearly, but it’s also an excellent drama. This is a movie that can be recommended for all ages!  I simply cannot say enough great things about this movie!  

Special thank you to Icon Media for providing me with a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review. My review is my own personal opinion.



THIRTEEN | SWITCH LIVES

Today's prompt: If you could switch lives with someone for a day, who would it be? Why?


This was a hard one and took quite a bit of thinking on my end. While my first response may have been someone famous where wealth abounds, I always kept coming back to the same person that I admire. Nicci Lynn from A Farmhouse Full.

Nikki is married to her high school sweetheart, and got married young like us. She has eight littles, just having her eighth one. She loves Jesus, she's a crafter and she lives on a farm. She has many things my heart has dreamed of...a large family with lots of little feet running around the house and living on a farm.

I admire her ability to still look gorgeous daily, having her hair and makeup done, despite having 8 kids in her home.  It hurries me to not look a hot mess daily, and I only have two teenagers that basically fend for themselves.

Nikki is full of her love for Jesus, and always points to Him in every post or video she makes. She's quick to give Him the glory for every aspect of her life. She's an absolute joy to follow on social media!

You can find Nikki here:

Website - afarmhousefull.com
YouTube - www.youtube.com/user/AFarmhouseFull
Instagram - www.instagram.com/afarmhousefull

Where Were You?


It's funny how thinking back to that day, you know EXACTLY where you were, what you were doing, what song was playing on the radio and what the weather was like. I was at work sitting at my desk when a woman came in and said "a plane just hit the world trade center". At first, we all thought it was just a stray plane that wrecked into it. It didn't take us long to learn differently. Soon after, we heard of a second plane going into the other building. We all rushed to the only office in the building that had a TV in it. I stood in that office, crammed full of people shoulder to shoulder, and watched as the towers fell. There were shocked gasps then the room fell completely silent as people tried to wrap their minds around what was really happening. We then heard of the third plane and we were told they were closing our building.

My first thought, once I realized we were under attack, was I wanted my babies in my arms. I wanted them with me so I could protect them. I wanted to hug and kiss them and keep them safe. I wanted to be surrounded by my family and have my husband’s safe arms around me. I left work and went straight to pick my kids up from daycare. I took them home and spent the rest of the day snuggling and cuddling.

My son remembers this day differently, as one of my "not so stellar" mama moments. I was in a hurry that morning and was running late for work. I had a toddler and a baby, mornings weren't my friend most days. I was rushing and shushed them in the sitters door and left, forgetting to kiss them goodbye. The thought of that now makes my eyes well with tears. The sitter had the news on, as everyone in the nation did, and my son didn't really understand what was going on. He just knew it was something bad. He spent the morning crying because his Mama didn't kiss him. Isn’t it horrible that he still, to this day, remembers that clearly? Sigh. What that did do was make me slow down and take that extra 10 seconds to kiss my littles goodbye, even if it meant being late for work. Actually, I still to this day kiss my kids before bed every night and before they go to school or work in the morning.

I was never more proud to be an American than I was that day. That evening we got out our American flag and hung it on our front porch. Nearly every home or business you drove past had either a flag hanging or a sign showing their support for America.

That day we bonded as a nation. That day we knew, as a nation, that we needed God, we needed prayer and we needed hope. But oh, how quick we are to forget. Today, remember that day. Remember how quick we were to fall to our knees and cry out to God. Take some time today to thank Him, for everything.

Ps...And kiss your littles. Always.

TEN | A DAY IN MY LIFE

Today's prompt: A day in your life! Take us through it with you by sharing a photo each hour of the day.

6:30 am - Facebook and coffee time {yes, I am cuddled up in a blanket at my computer} 

7:30 am - off to an early morning shoot

8:30 am - leaving the shoot, and extra thankful for clients who accept me in my unicorn pants

9:30 am - time to feed the girls and collect eggs

10:30 am - a quick run to town to pick up some last minute needs for our trip

12:30 pm - heading back home from town

2:30 pm to 4:30 pm - my editing buddy while I try to finish up some last minute work before I head out to shoot a wedding

4:30 pm - a little late afternoon chicken lovin' {aka...giving these spoiled girls treats}

5:30 pm - getting ready to go shoot a casual, surprise wedding.  The guests have NO idea, how fun!


6:00 pm to 10:30 pm - shoot the cutest surprise farm wedding, complete with paper lanterns being released. 

10:30 pm to 2:00 am - convert pictures, finish packing and shower

2:00 am to 3:00 am -sleep, thank the Lord

3:00 am - get up, pack the car and meet our friends to begin our 12 hour trip

6:30 am - enjoy the gorgeous  on our way to North Carolina to shoot a super sweet friends wedding on the beach in the Outer Banks. 












NINE | GO



Today's prompt: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?

Image result

I have always had a dream in my heart of visiting Italy.  Touring around to Tuscany, Cinque Terre, Venice and Capri.  Bathe in the amazing mineral baths. Eat authentic cannolis. Take pictures of the breathtaking sites. Go on a food tour of the country.  These pictures just draw me in, I can spend hours pouring over them and dreaming of going.

Image result

Tuscany, Italy:

Nesso, Italy:

Capri, Italy.:

Road To Capri Harbor, Italy:





inque ter