I discovered some favorite products this year, and I don't know that I'll never not have them lying around my house again. They are Stabilo brand pens and Papermate Flair pens. I LOVE THEM. I use them for bible study, in my journal and for doodling. And when I'm feeling extra generous, I share them with my kids.
The Stabilo brand pens I ordered from Amazon, and because of my posts about them this year, apparently, a lot of my friends bought them as well. You're welcome.
This was the year of the nonfiction book for me. I vaguely remember making some sort of resolution to read more intently this past year. I changed what I read (I only read books that were Christian fiction or nonfiction, and I added the nonfiction.) and because I share my life on social media and on this blog, I just so happen to have pictures of them all.
In order from top to bottom are:
Keep it Shut, by Karen Ehman
What Women Fear, by Angie Smith
Nobody's Cuter Than You, by Melanie Shankle
Home Is Where My People Are, by Sophie Hudson
Angels Walking, by Karen Kingsbury
I discovered that I love a good memoir, such as the ones by Melanie Shankle and Sophie Hudson. I read another of Melanie's books, Sparkly Green Earrings, Catching the Light at Every Turn and loved it every bit as much as the one pictured above. Both her and Sophie Hudson are writing books that will be released sometime in 2016. Also, in case you were curious about those two ladies, I found them through a blog several years ago. Melanie is Big Mama (Google it) and Sophie is Boo Mama.
If I had to narrow down my favorite book from 2015, it would be Nobody Is Cuter Than You.
I am excited to continue reading these kinds of books in 2016, and I'm going to have monthly reading goals, but more about that later.
I'm embarrassed to admit how many hours I wasted watching episodes on Netflix. My top three favorites were:
Army Wives placed third.
Parenthood was second.
Gilmore Girls won my heart.
I will watch these three over and over again. I'd like to own Gilmore Girls, to tell you the truth, and I might start a collection sometime in the new year.
Images from around the web.
I think one reason why I love having teenagers in my home is because when they're here, my home is filled with laughter. With laughter comes happiness. And when my kids are happy, I am happy. I tell my friends all the time that my dad gave me one piece of parenting advice when I started having kids. That was that if they ever asked for friends to come over, don't ever tell them no. Or, at least, don't tell them no very often. People ask me all the time how our home became the hang out home...well, that is how. If you're a mom to little's, consider taking my dad's advice. It works, I promise. My kids are now 12 (twins), 15 and 16, and our home seems to have a revolving door of friends. Of course it helps that our family is AMAZING and always let us bring the extras with us.
I love this above quote! I found it early this year from Christine Caine's Facebook page and shared it. I take leadership very seriously, and because of that, I hold myself to a higher standard. You will not catch me doing something I've told my kids not to do, because I don't want to be hypocritical. I am careful with what I read and I am careful about what I watch. I tell my kids all the time that if you take garbage in, garbage will come out. I am also VERY careful about my mouth. If I've said something that could be taken the wrong way, I like to know, so that I can go and make it right. I try to stay away from and refrain from gossip. I try to not let any unwholesome talk come out of my mouth (Ephesians 4:29), whatever that looks like, whether it's cursing, gossip, negative or judgmental statements. I am nowhere near perfect, but these are just things God started showing me early in 2015, and He has done a work in my heart. The only thing I can boast in is Him, because He is good and He is faithful.
Y'all know how much I love a good Bible study. I always have several going: my Thursday study for my homeschool group and whatever we're doing in Sunday school, plus over the summer, we added a Tuesday night study with some of the ladies from church. So, I've done many this year, but I narrowed my two favorites down to these:
My Precept study on the book of 2 Timothy, and The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer. The Armor of God actually takes first place in my opinion and with the amount of what I learned from within the pages.
Judging from where I have probably read the most this year and from where I keep turning back to, my favorite book of the Bible for this year is the book of Ephesians.
My favorite movie by far this year is the movie The War Room.
On my mom's birthday back in August, this movie premiered. I asked my mom and sister if we could go have dinner then see it afterward, and they were really great sports and humored me. I don't know if they were looking forward to it before we saw it, but by the time we left the movie, we were all wiping our eyes from the tears that rolled down our faces and they loved it as much as I knew that I would. I'm going to buy it today, in fact, with the leftover money I have on my Lifeway gift card.
And maybe a book of two.
Numbers six, five and four are all connected. Another theme of my year has been prayer and learning all about spiritual warfare. I believe that is why God had me stuck in Ephesians all year, and why I so loved that bible study and why I loved the movie as much as I did. (I saw it twice, in the theater, for goodness' sake.)
It is no secret that my home away from home is my beloved church. I am at almost every event and we have a lot of youth events. I've narrowed down a list of my favorites from the year.
D-Now made the list. Even if I was sicker than a dog by the end of the weekend. I got to hang out with some amazing girls and some precious friends and co-leaders.
High school summer camp. I had the honor of leading the (then) junior girls all week, and never have I been more blown away by a group of young ladies. We were all very open and honest and vulnerable with one another, and it was a sweet time for all of us. I cannot count the amount of time we spent crying. Them and me. (Go figure.)
And though this picture was taken with this sweet friend on our night off, my favorite event was Street Reach. I love the kids, I love the people who work at Street Reach, I love the memories we make each year, I love every single aspect of this amazing week of inner city mission work. The kids are precious and work their way right into the very crevices of our hearts, and every single year, I bawl like a baby multiple times each day.
Because of number three, that brings about number two~my favorite friend moments.
Sweet Abbey and her twin nieces. I've gotten extra close to this amazing lady this year, and I have heard countless tales of her twins. She has two sets of twins in her family~these twin nieces you see above, Madelyn and Audrey, and a twin niece and nephew set, Cathryn and Carter. I got to meet these two little angels over the summer and it made my list of favorites for life. They are precious and they pronounce an "L" sound like it's a "y" sound.
I got to see my best friend multiple times this year! This time trumps all other times, though. She came over the summer and we got to swim together for a whole day with her mom and her sweet little girl and my boys. It was so much fun! Later that night, we decided to have a mom's night out. We ended the night at Starbucks and the hours passed like sand slipping through our fingers. Every time we are together, we each glean so much. She is irreplaceable in my life.
My best moment this year is something so dumb to everyone but us, and will never be forgotten.
One of the girls asked us (Lori, Missy and myself) to hold her phone while we were at camp with the high schoolers, and we did this. There were over three hundred pictures taken by Missy with her phone at the end of this selfie stick. The fact that you can see the selfie stick in this picture is what cracks me up. We were having way too much fun, and we were all a little delirious from lack of sleep from the previous four nights. I can tell you that we laughed so hard that all of us almost wet ourselves.
Another moment not pictured are the moments I got to spend with my other best friend, Mandy. She and I try to get together monthly (give or take) and we have been best friends since middle school. When we're together, we never take pictures. I will have to get one before she moves in a week. I am sad to say that she and her family are moving to Florida. We're going to try and get together one last time before they leave on January eighth.
Missy makes the list, again. A favorite moment that I shared with her is something that I coined The Great Camping Excursion with Junior Girls of 2015. It rained the first night of our trip and when we finally got cozy in our tent, we laughed and laughed and laughed over the amount of rain that made its way into our tent. It was pouring outside and sprinkling inside the tent. That little statement just about made us wet ourselves. The girls complained that we kept them up way past the quiet hour of ten, and we definitely had the party tent. Life is always a part when we're together.
Last, but certainly not least, are the moments I have spent with my beloveds. (Is that a word?) We have so much fun together and we laugh all the time.
Laughing is my favorite.
This was the night before we put them on a plane to Guatemala. We went to Pyro's for dinner with Todd's parents and immensely enjoyed ourselves. At the end of this night, Drew was in our car, in the backseat, with no pants on. Just know that it was funny and crazy and we all laughed our heads off.
The boys and Missy and I went to Target one night after our Tuesday night bible study, and looked for a costume for Drew for the next night in youth. He was looking for a bikini, but tried on this ensemble instead. I am shocked we weren't kicked out of the store.
This moment that you see above still makes my dad, Sandy and I laugh ridiculously hard. For their twelfth birthday party, they had friends spend the night and then the next day they had an air soft gun war out at my dad's house. It was so much fun and before we left that day, their friend Cole knocked over a GIANT tub of pellets in my dad's driveway. I'm talking thousands. They are STILL finding these little neon orange pellets, and each time they find one, they laugh all over again. I will never forget this day and the time they spent running around and Dad, Sandy and I just sat outside with them and watched all the crazy.
I had the privilege of traveling with my mom, stepdad, sister and nephews to Colorado back in September for my niece Erika's wedding. It was some of the most fun I've ever had. I loved being with my sisters, and I cannot tell you of all the laughter that was shared. It was priceless. Here's a picture of us all from the night of the wedding.
On my birthday, we went to the Pink Palace for The Enchanted Forest. Todd was trying to take a picture of the boys and me, and just kept snapping away. I was laughing every bit as hard as it looks like I am in this picture above. I love my family so much, y'all. They crack me up.
It's been an amazing year of favorites. I look forward to keeping up this Friday tradition on my blog in the coming year. Thanks again, for always reading! Love to all.