Dec
28

Book Review of All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes

I headed south for the holidays this year to visit my family and was eager for a fun and easy. Booklook.com provided me with All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant in exchange for an honest review.

blog photo - book reviewKat loves to experiment in her baking, pairing flavors to create unique tastes. However, she works in her aunt’s cupcake bakery where she’s only allowed to bake vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Her best friend, Lucas, secretly signs her up to compete on a reality TV baking competition and a new door is opened for Kat.

The book is an easy read, perfect for the beach or holidays when you want to unwind and turn off your mind. The story is predictable at times but I enjoyed the characters. A bulk of the book is during the bake-off competition and it’s fun to ready what goes on behind the scenes of reality TV.

I’d recommend the book to anyone enjoying Chick Lit or if you’re looking a leisure read.

Dec
14

Celebrate Like Jesus

I love Christmas time! The lights, the music, the parties, the gifts. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s also the most busiest time of the year. The decorating, the noise, the packed schedule and shopping. It steals our time and we lose our focus.

So much to do, so little time.
Family traditions, office parties, church activities. They’re all part of the way we celebrate the season but it requires time and energy. These limited resources are depleted quickly in the holiday season.

Each year I tell myself that I’ll cut back and focus my Christmas season solely on God, however, in doing so, I’ve found God saying, “Live life. Celebrate with family and friends. Just be sure to take Me with you.”

Jesus shared meals with friends. He went to weddings. He turned water into wine. He kept the party going.

A way of loving God is sharing life with the people He placed in our lives.

But Jesus also pulled away. He proactively withdrew from the group to pray and commune with His Father. He didn’t allow the busyness of life steal His focus on what is most important.

There is so much good we can do this season with the numerous volunteer opportunities, invitations, family traditions and church activities. It is all good stuff, but is it “God-stuff” and by that I don’t mean does it involve going to church.

Maybe God wants you to invite a friend over and share a glass (or bottle) of wine because this friend is carrying a burden alone. Only time one-on-one will reveal it.

Maybe God wants you to attend the Ugly Sweater office party because He needs you to drive home your colleague who took a few too many dips in the punch bowl.

Maybe God wants you to stay home with a cup of tea and sit in front of the Christmas tree with your family and just breathe and be in the moment.

There are so many opportunities in the holiday season. How do we know what to cut out and what to keep?

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  1. Does it cause me internal conflict? Don’t allow guilt to manipulate you. God doesn’t guilt us into things, He guides That said, if your heart is conflicted, prayerfully ask yourself the next questions.
  2. What or who will it take you from? Will a night smoozing up to your boss take you away from much needed family time? Or have you been so kid-centric lately that a night out with your spouse and co-workers be just what you or your marriage needs?
  3. Who will you be sharing it with? Are they people who will build you up or will they bring you down? Is a night of fun worth days of regret?
  4. Is it worth it? Is it worth fighting traffic to have one more stocking stuffer? Or is having the house decorated immaculately worth the stress (and potential knock-down, drag-out fight with your spouse)?

Celebrate like Jesus

Jesus went to weddings. He ate meals with friends. He slept. He prayed. He was present with those around Him.

One occasion He and His disciples stopped at the home of Martha. She worked like crazy to prepare the perfect meal for Him as her sister, Mary, sat as His feet, listening to His teaching. When she complained He told her that Mary had made the better choice.

There is a time prepare. There is a time to celebrate. There is a time to sit at God’s feet and absorb His presence.

God has given us everything for our enjoyment (I Timothy 6:17). Celebrate. Prepare. Enjoy. But first, begin it sitting as His feet. It is here He’ll let us know what to add and what to cut out.

He is the Reason for the Season!

Cheers to a God who want us to enjoy life with Him!

Dec
08

Tips For A Christmas Of Less Stress And More Fun

It’s the second week of December. Christmas is around to the corner and if you’re like me, your “to do” list is growing and the days to do it all are shrinking. It’s the most wonderful and happiest time of the year but it can also be the more stressful time of the year.

blog photo - ice stormGrowing up in the south, I lived through many ice storms. Instead of white fluffy snow, we’d often get freezing rain that put a layer of ice on everything. It made driving treacherous and walking to your car a contact sport that could land you in the hospital.

Trees and their limbs drooped due to the weight of the ice and could snapped unexpectedly causing damage and sometimes injury. If a storm hit early and the trees still had their leaves, the risk of this happening was even greater.

One of the purposes of a tree losing its leaves in the fall is to prepare it for the storms of winter.

Christmas is the time of year many of us snap due to all the added pressure of shopping, party planning, Church programs, travel, family visits, etc.

The last thing I want to do this holiday season is snap under pressure and self-inflicted expectations and be the drama mama…again. I mean there already are enough embarrassing family stories involving me. It’s not quite the legacy I want to leave behind.

I came up with a few guidelines that might help us all make this be a season of less stress and more fun.

Worry less and laugh more. Drop the idea of perfection, believe me it’s a myth. Give your best not someone else’s idea of it. And don’t forget to laugh off your flubs. Laughter is the best medicine.

Volunteer less and say “no” more. Carefully pray through what you are to say yes to. When you say yes to the right volunteer opportunities, you have the joy and energy that makes it fun for everyone. If it’s not what God’s asked of you, it stresses you out and fills you with resent.

Text less and talk more. Be in the moment. Make everyone around you feel they are the most important person in the room. Be sure to model this for your children.

Expect less praise and give more thanks. Too high of expectations have probably caused more family meltdowns. Don’t look for the praise of others to fill your needs. Instead look at what others have done and give genuine praise.

Complain less and compliment more. This piggybacks off of the previous point. If the turkey is dry, remember you have a plate full of food and compliment the host on the gravy. Focusing on the positive makes everything taste better.

Eat less and move more. Enjoy the blessings of food but don’t stuff yourself sick. You’ll be more likely to get out, go for that walk or run and fill you body with good endorphins.

Do less and enjoy others more. You may want to make the house look perfect, your tree to shine like a star and to buy everyone that perfect gift but it’s more fun to be in a house full of joyful people than a perfect house filled with exhausted people.

Buy less and love more. The pressure of buying the perfect gift often steals our time and energy to fully love those around us. Love takes time and effort and if we expend it in the mall, we come home over-stimulated, stressed and broke.

Schedule less and pray more. Be still before God. Pray. Meditate and ask God what you are to say “yes” to. Remember He is the Reason for the season. We are celebrating the Gift He gave us…Jesus.

So shed off those extra leaves that may be weighing you down and focus on what matters. Love those God has placed in your life. Give to those in need. Express thanks and truly celebrate the Reason for the season.

Less often gives you more.