Wednesday, November 30

a hershey holiday

i'm finally ready to share my thanksgiving weekend adventures! [or should i say, prepare for picture overload. (: ] fortunately i was too busy eating on thanksgiving to take any pictures, so i only have the rest of the weekend to show you. i spent thursday with john and his family, and on friday, i drove down to new jersey to visit mine. we woke up super early on saturday and drove to hershey, pa. there were seven of us, in one van. good times, friends, good times.

the trip was special for my family because my parents used to take us to hershey on thanksgiving night when we were younger. we hadn't gone in about 10 years, so it was nostalgic to see it all again. and yes, things really do look bigger when you're younger (:

we started off at chocolate world, where we took a tour of the chocolate making process, did a little shopping, ate some lunch and went on a trolley ride. i think heather, laura and i were most excited about the trolley because it had been one of our favorite parts of the trip. each trolley has a tour guide who tells you about the history of hershey. throughout the ride, multiple stops are made as "characters" (a factory worker, milton hershey's mother...) join you to sing christmas carols. the big finale? the trolley picks up santa claus, who has a list with your name on it and gives you an early christmas present. the first time that happened to us as kids, we were so surprised that santa knew our names! we couldn't wait to see kaylee's face when it happened to her.

another thing we were pleasantly surprised to find out? all of the characters you meet on the ride are clearly played by one person. one thing we were never sure about was how they got all around town to meet up with the trolley at the right time. as luck would have it, this time around another trolley crossed the road in front of us and we were able to see. the person rides on the back of the trolley and does all of his costume changes there! kind of a crazy sight! but woot woot! we finally solved that mystery. (:

after chocolate world we went to hershey park. there were rides to be ridden and kettle corn to be eaten. we waited until it got dark and took a ride on a monorail above the park to see it all lit up with christmas lights.

after a very full day, we my dad drove us home. he's such a road warrior.

the holiday weekend flew by, but i'm so thankful i got to experience hershey with my family this year. and so was kaylee...

on sunday morning during breakfast, she turned to my dad and said, "the chocolate factory was awesome, pop pop!"

i don't think it gets better than that.

Monday, November 28

a reminder

as responsibilities add up day after day, year after year, i find myself rely more and more on writing to-do lists and penciling in dates on a calendar to help me remember to do something or be somewhere.

i'm not that old, but it's pretty easy to forget even the basics sometimes. [anyone with me on this one?!]

things like making sure i pay my bills on time, return a phone call, or meet a deadline.

life gets busy. i allow too many things to have my attention. and before i realize it, i've forgotten something.

or how about remembering things like His faithfulness? His goodness... His love.

i had to take my car in to the mechanic last week for the fourth time in four months. i was stressed, angry, and overwhelmed by it. i was frustrated at the financial strain all of this has caused me and was feeling defeated by at the thought of ever getting out of debt, especially if things just keep happening.

the autobody shop called yesterday to say that the car was done. the moment of truth. how much would i owe.

the total? $26.98.

on top of that, i'd rented a car over the weekend to visit family and kept it for an extra day when my car still wasn't done. instead of charging me the normal $50 + taxes for a daily rental, they charged me the weekend rate, meaning i only had to pay an extra $20.

amazing. He is so amazing.

He sends me reminders, day after day, year after year. He speaks loud and clear of His desire to provide for me. He pours out His love every day.

reminders encourage and keep us pointed in the right direction.

which is why i immediately fell in love with this wooden caddy from dayspring:

it is gorgeous and a great piece for entertaining, but it is also a reminder. the gold piece on the front is stamped with this verse:

give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love. [psalm 107:8]

every time i see it i am reminded of His unfailing love. i am reminded to give thanks. and i am reminded of His provision as it holds silverware and sits among dishes and cups and food on a dining room table in an apartment, all gifts from His hand.

*i received this product in exchange for this review from the lovely folks at dayspring and (in)courage. all opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 24

give thanks thursday [happy thanksgiving!]

:: we only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks. because how else do we accept His free gift of salvation if not with thanksgiving? thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to His grace.
-ann voskamp


happy thanksgiving, friends!

i hope your day is filled with family, friends, laughter, love and gratitude [and turkey and stuffing and pie!]

Monday, November 21

in all circumstances [re-post]

i reread this post i wrote two years ago at thanksgiving and wanted to share again to encourage anyone who might be going through a trying, difficult time as we are upon the holiday season...

'give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.' (1Thess 5:18)

this thanksgiving, i wanted to share something i heard regarding this verse and one small throughout my life, i think i've interpreted this instruction to read - give thanks for all circumstances. i think sometimes as Christians, we may be encouraged to give thanks for our circumstances, no matter what they may be. which is real easy to do when things are "going our way". but what about when they aren't? when you lose your job? when you can't afford your mortgage and your house is foreclosed? when yet another person you know is diagnosed with cancer? when your 9 day old niece dies unexpectedly? when you've been praying about something for weeks or months or years and God seems silent? when you feel like you just can't take any more bad news? 

when my mindset is that i should be giving thanks for my circumstances, i start questioning God. i question His love, His goodness, His kindness. i ask why? i get angry, my attitude turns bitter, and i start to doubt Him.

but that is not at all what God is asking of me. He has told us to give thanks in all circumstances. this one little word makes a world of difference in my heart. our circumstances are going to be trying and, at times, unbearable. but our hearts can give thanks. we can choose a posture of gratitude. today, i'm giving thanks for my salvation, for a beautiful family and lovely friends who stand by one another in the face of tragedy, for a man who loves and supports me, and for a God who loves me, just as i am.

my circumstances are out of my control. the posture of my heart is up to me. 

today, i'm giving thanks in my circumstances.

Thursday, November 17

give thanks thursday [week three]

this week i am so very thankful for time with my sister. heather is not only my family, but we joke that we are soul mates. we understand each other in that finish the other's sentences, grab the same shirt at target and hold it up for each other to see, and don't have to describe the way we're feeling because the other one just gets it. it was so awesome to have her here for the weekend.

i'm thankful for my strongman stud. (: i lost the key to my storage unit. the storage unit holding all of my christmas decorations! and i've been planning for a few weeks to decorate for christmas this weekend because i will be out of town for thanksgiving weekend. i got a quote from a locksmith for $65(!!!). that evening i received this:

a half hour later john was at my apartment with those very same, huge pliers. i held the lock in place for about .2 seconds before i realized that if and when this thing did break loose, things would be flying. sharp, metal things. so i stepped back and my strongman stud pulled those arms together til, sure enough, SNAP! i'm able to get into my storage unit and am ready to decorate! my man takes care of me! i'm so blessed.

i'm thankful for my mom and her desire to take care of her kids. she sent a huge care package with my sister this last weekend filled with all kinds of things that are amazing when you're living on your own and have a tight budget. (: she even bought all the brands that i usually get. i love the way she remembers those details.

and lastly, i'm thankful for thanksgiving dinners! i have apple crisp finishing up in the oven and then i'm off to a thanksgiving dinner for a church group. let the holidays begin! i hope you are all counting your blessings today, friends.

linking with alex

Tuesday, November 15

young dumb and in love

things got a little crazy around here this weekend. crazy but good. [isn't that the best kind? (: ] my sister arrived thursday evening to visit for the weekend. three days filled with peppermint mocha lattes, lots of laughter, catching up, a work event all day saturday, a clothing swap girls night, shopping at target, and, oh yes, seeing mat kearney on tour!

mat kearney rocked our socks off. so, so incredible. i've loved his music for years. i saw him do a show for the first time in akron, ohio where it was him and just one other musician. on this tour he had brought a band. it was one of the most fun shows i've been to. probably because i can't resist dancing to his latest album. here are a few pics of the night [photo credit: first: me, two - five:, last: me]:

his set was amazing. it was simple, rustic and earthy. they burned incense throughout the show. the two small upright pianos were so sweet. and i'm already convinced that creating something similar to the big lighting piece in the background would be great for a reception. (:

we danced, we sang, we laughed. they played all my favorite songs. mat was so engaged with the audience. you could see that he was having just as much fun as we were. and john was impressed with him as a songwriter and musician. he went to the show because i wanted to go and came out a fan. if you have a chance to see mat kearney, go! you won't be disappointed. (:


Thursday, November 10

give thanks thursday [ten on ten]

ten photos. ten hours. ten reasons to be thankful.

guess who's camera battery died when they got to work? [gah, it's hard being so awesome sometimes.] i'm sure it's terribly disappointing to not get to see pictures from my workday in the office (:

[1] a morning full of his mercies [2] a new dunkin express at the gas station across from where i work! [how are gas prices in your neck of the woods?]  [3] home sweet home  [4] crackers and cheese for dinner. i love being an adult (:  [5] prepping for a work retreat this weekend. i love event planning!  [6] pumpkin spice candle. i love the smells of fall  [7] books i bought at an estate sale last weekend. the new book of etiquette? i die.  [8] a kitchen makeover for under $8 thanks to some new towels and mitts from the christmas tree shoppe. i am in love with this print.  [9] fleece blanket my love gave me for christmas. one of the warmest and coziest things i've ever owned.  [10] my sister drove up from jersey to spend the weekend with me! it's a little late, hence the blur (:

ten on ten button small

Wednesday, November 9

dining room update [inspiration workshop]

this week's prompt for gussy's inspiration workshop is dining room! you can see an earlier post of mine about my dining room here, but i thought i'd share some more pictures because i've made a few additions.

[and no, i'm not talking about the air conditioner (: ]

the mirror clock was a gift from my sister. the pictures on the wall were taken by my talented friend, elizabeth jones.

i also picked up a tall vase from target on clearance and filled it with some sticks i found outside. i think it's a nice complement to my yarn wreath.

john said he'll find me more "substantial" sticks (:

and of course, there's still this big lonely wall. or as i'm calling it for now, the bike room...

but i'm slowly but surely making progress on the frames for it! my goal is to have it done by the holidays [whichever one that means ;) ]

it's been such a blessing to have this dining room. it's the place we gather with friends to play card games and board games. it's where we spread the fixings for pizzas all over the table and assemble our own personal pies. it's the place i sat for hours with some of my lifelong friends and caught up on life, shared our hearts and our dreams, and laughed over old memories. it's where john and i eat meals together, work together and play scrabble together. it's a place of nourishment, of the body, soul, and heart.

Gussy Sews Inspiration Workshop!
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