Project: Advent Ornaments

Growing up, my Nana would always purchase Advent Calendars for me and my siblings.  Every year it became a bigger complication of what kind to get: ‘Well Brice is too young for chocolates but Brooke and Bailey want chocolate’, ‘The piece of paper ones are boring’, ‘But we want candy!!’ Finally, my Nana just gave up and stopped buying them as to avoid this RIDICULOUS commentary between all the grandkids.  This year, I was reminiscing on our old Advent Calendars, and I started thinking about how insane we were to be so picky.  We were taking something that should have been pulling us into The Word and turning it into a bicker-fest, which is totally the opposite of what should have been occurring.  I was pondering this right about when I was pulling out my ornaments and preparing to decorate my Christmas tree, and I had a sort of epiphany.  Why not make the advent calendar related to decorating the tree, and why not make myself go into The Word every day of the advent season?

I’m sort of minimalistic when it comes to decorating my tree.  I don’t like too many lights or ornaments or garland because I truly like to see that there’s a tree in my room.  I don’t have huge flashy ornaments, most are actually just plain plastic, chalkboard or wooden (minus a couple mickey mouse ornaments).  I actually really like to buy the little decoration pieces from Michael’s and turn those into ornaments.  Very plain, but to the point.  This season is ALL about the birth of our King.  As I was pulling out these plain brown paper ornaments, I started to think, well what if I used these and wrote numbers on the front and bible verses on the back?  The whole process took a few days to come together, but I ended up with my perfect Advent Calendar.  The best part was, it was super cheap ($7 for 25 paper ornaments and twine), so I could change it year after year to include different bible verses.  PERFECT!!

Then I had a friend over for dinner, and after telling her my bright idea, she says, “Well, what are you going to do with them after the day is over?  Leave them on the tree?”  And this brought up a new series of questions… It would look weird to leave these up with numbers, but the tree would be SUPER bare if I took them all off…  And here we have epiphany #2!  We’ll just replace them with other ornaments!  So I went off back to the store and bought 25 more ‘decoration’ pieces and some red and green spray paint.  I made them into colored ornaments and put them in a decorative box next to our stockings.  This way, each day I take one advent ornament off, I can replace the plain brown ornament with a pretty colored ornament!

In the same way as we prepare ourselves for the birth of Jesus, we are slowly removing the ugly essence of the world prior to our Kings birth, and replacing it with the glorious revelation that we will live forever in paradise because of him.  I love absolutely every part of my ‘Advent Calendar’ this year.  I am in the word every single night, and usually just opening my Bible leads me to reading more than those two or three sentences.  Of course, I read them all out loud to Cooper every night because he should be aware of what is happening too (Lord help me when I have human children).  Usually he just stares at me and flops his head from side to side, but I tell myself he knows what’s going on and is really listening.  I’m sure I am not the first person to think this idea up, but I was so excited I was able to make it happen in a low-cost, maximum result kind of way.  I had to share for anybody else out there looking for a better alternative to the paper or candy advent calendars!!

When he answers ‘Yes.’

I have been perpetually single my entire life.  I’ve had the occasional boyfriend here or there, but nothing has ever really ‘stuck’.  My family is pretty used to me taking care of myself and not bringing anyone to family affairs.  Now, I am truly not complaining at all.  I actually work really, really well by myself (well with Cooper).  It’s just never been something in my life that I’m willing to push for.  I am not one to desperately search for a male companion.
Since graduating High School, I have had two ‘serious’ boyfriends.  I guess that’s what you’d call them.  I dated one guy in college for about three years.  I guess we were serious simply since we dated for so long.  At that point, I believe we both felt like it was just the right thing to do: Stay together and eventually get married.  We were just comfortable with each other. I prayed and prayed for guidance in the relationship, and that brought me to a brick wall with giant bolded letters on it saying “NO!”  At the time, I wasn’t just upset I was MAD. Why on earth would I waste this much time on one guy that I’m not even going to spend my life with? Of course now looking back, so much of it made sense.  I met so many different people because I dated him. Friends I have to this day are because of him. Years later when I moved to Houston one of these girls also moved to Houston, and I do not know what I would have done without her.  So in one way, God was giving me a hard, huge, No, but in so many better ways, he was saying “Just wait because you will be blessed for your obedience.” 

Fast forward three more years, and I managed to re-connect with a guy I had gone to High School with.  Perfect family, perfect guy, perfect friend group, perfect little area.  A whirlwind, long distance relationship quickly ensued.  After about 8 months in, we decided Cooper would be a great addition to our little family, but the responsibility of a dog proved to be a little much for him.  In the end a “it’s me or the dog” brought me to realize it wasn’t going to work out.  Although talks of marriage had happened,  it was a mutual feeling that it just simply wasn’t going to work.  In the midst of everything, my constant praying for guidance went a different route than previously. Instead of saying “God please show me your will and allow me to accept your plans,” it was more like “God please make this work because it’s what I want.”  And yet again, God simply said,”Not this time Brooke.”  However, the things I was blessed with from that short relationship are completely immeasurable.  It brought me Cooper, who has shown me a love I didn’t even know was possible. It brought me to re-connect with many of my old high school friends.  It even brought me a new friend, who I consider one of my absolute best friends now.  Again, God was working his own plan in the midst of my romantic implosion. He was showing me that although some roads lead to No, there are so many more Yesses along the way.

Sometimes I, we, focus on that final No way too much and oversee all the little Yesses he is also saying.  I truly trust in God’s plan for my future.  I know that once I do find my ‘Happy Ever After’, I will be shown an earthly love just like God’s heavenly love.  I believe every single ‘No’ I receive in my life will lead me to the next ‘Yes’.  Every time I bow my head, I ask God for guidance in his plan, and to allow my heart to trust in his will rather than my own.  I constantly thank God for each NO in my life, and pray that I am able to see every single YES, as small or large as it may be.  For the lord will never lead me into a place I am not supposed to be.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to  harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”                       Jeremiah 29:11


                                             

                                    

Thankful, Grateful, Blessed❤️

On this day of thankfulness, most people spend time reflecting on what they have been blessed with.  I think it would be nearly impossible for me to list out all of my blessings. A simple ‘Thank You Jesus‘ is the phrase constantly running through my head today.  Out of all years, I believe this year my heart is in a different place, a much better place, and I can step back and simply say ‘Wow.’ All the things I used to think I needed, I looked over SO many things I already have. I hope and pray for everyone today.  That you are able to just take a step back and say Wow. Instead of focusing on what you might want, you are able to see every single blessing in your life, and I hope you are in awe just like I have been.

To you and your family, I hope you have the most amazing Thanksgiving and start to the holiday season.  I pray for safe travels and happy times,  lots of delicious food and even more radiant laughs.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!

Prayerfully Yours

To state the painfully obvious, today is the dreaded election day.  I have debated posting something about this for a couple of weeks now.  Clearly, I’m not gung-ho for any of the candidates.  I despise how a right that should be heralded has turned into a trashy reality TV show (y’all I watch the Kardashians and enjoy it, so this is saying a lot).  I was talking to my younger sister this weekend at my parents house.  This will be the first presidential election that she is old enough to vote in, and she does not even want to participate.  I, myself, was extremely close to not forcing myself to pick between the two evils.  She was telling me how she really, really hated how this ‘thing’ she had been looking forward to her entire life has become such a ridiculous display.  It is so true too!!  I am saddened for the younger generation that see this and believe this is how things work in this country.  Regardless of which candidate you support, the “system” has seemed to fail this time around.

The last couple of days, I have opted to forego any sort of news output.  News on the TV and radio, internet sites that might contain more drama-filled articles, and primarily Facebook.  It has just become way too much.  I know myself along with many others simply cannot wait for all this nonsense to finally have an end.  Either outcome, one thing will remain, we seriously need all of God’s blessings and glory upon our nation in this time.  It used to be “One nation under God,” but now it seems that it is “One divided nation under many different people because we can’t say God’s name in case it might offend somebody.”  I am not one to push my belief’s on anybody else.  Each person has their own right to form their own opinion.  Luckily, we have that constitutional right here in America, and most people forget it is a right, not a requirement.

As my right, I choose to lift it all up to God.  I prayed prior to casting my vote, that I was following what God would want me to do.  I was voting through his will, and his will only.  At the end of the day, it does not matter who wins the election.  It truly, truly does not, and as of right now, only one person knows what the outcome will be.  He has already chosen a candidate to win.  He has already decided our country’s fate.  He has already planned out not only the next year, but the rest of eternity.  Instead of worrying and dreading who will or will not be chosen, I choose instead to trust in God’s plan.  I trust that he will take care of me and my family.  I trust that if his plan is not what I would prefer, there is a very good reason for it.   I will pray for those voting today, and that they also vote according to what God would want.  I will pray for all those involved in the electoral college, that they would not be swayed easily.  I will pray for all members of our government, that they will choose to lead by God’s will, and I will pray for the candidates and their families, that they will find peace with whatever decision is made.  I will also pray that our next President of the United States will lead with God in mind.  Because at the end of the day, all I can really do is pray.

“Do not be anxious about anythings, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
-Philippians 4:6-7

My All Hallows Eve

I have never been a fan of Halloween.  Even growing up, I was never that into it.  The scary movies and people dressed in costumes, I just do not fully understand the allure of paying somebody money to be scared out of your mind in a haunted house.  I don’t watch scary movies because I have been plagued with nightmares my entire life.  The Great Mouse Detective is about as scary as I can get and still have a good nights sleep.  I do enjoy carving pumpkins, but that is pretty much it.  10518837_10203322489246078_4280092586229398038_n(You can see my clever sarcasm.)

Recently, I’ve been wondering why on earth would we have this huge world-wide “holiday” of people running around being scared.  So, naturally, I decided to do a little more digging into the origins and meaning of Halloween.  What really is this holiday and why was it started? I’ve always known the Mexican origins for Halloween or Dia de Muertos.  Really I learned about it from Miranda on Lizzie McGuire.  Only one of the best episodes of the series.  Disney doesn’t make shows like this anymore.mcguire1

  I digress…  So it turns out in other countries, Halloween or All Hallows Eve is celebrated as a national day of remembrance for those who have passed on to paradise.  Halloween was NOT originally a Pagan thing; it actually was a very religious and Christian holiday to simply remember our loved ones and the good they did while on this Earth.  WHY IS THIS NOT TAUGHT IN AMERICA!  Why on earth did we Americans have to turn such an amazing thing into a commercialized scare-fest filled with candy?!  Maybe the original intention by God for Halloween was to take a minute to reflect on our loved ones, and remember them prior to the things to come in November and December.  Maybe All Hallows Eve was meant as a time of reflection and preparation for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This month we spend time in remembrance, so next month we are able to spend extra time being grateful for all we do have and all we have been promised. Come December that promise is fulfilled with the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I’m honestly still trying to figure out where the costumes and candy come into play, but the nonsensical and unnecessary amount of scary involved in the New Halloween is just something I don’t think I will ever be able to participate in.  Rather than that, I will spend All Hallows Eve in remembrance and reflection of my loved ones who I absolutely cannot wait to see again.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”   – Romans 12:2