Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 10 Posts of 2013

Here are the blog's top 10 most-read posts of the year!

2013 in One Word

Here we are. Today marks the final day of the year. Tomorrow we step into 2014; a new year; a new chapter; a new beginning.

This time last year, I was anxious to leave 2012 behind with all of its cares and pains. Looking ahead one year ago, I thought 2013 was sure to be spectacular and, dare I say, easy.

Oh that I might learn to accept, with grace and joy, the uneasy! May I crave the difficult, the painful, and even the sorrow because it is only by fire that the hard can be made soft. I understand this more now. 2013 softened me. It broke me. And I am better because of it. 2013 was a wonderful year, but it was sprinkled with a lot of pain and unrest in my soul. Some of my struggles, I have shared. Others, I have not and never will. All things considered, I am thankful for everything 2013 held for me because I am entering the upcoming year with a newfound knowledge of Jesus and a renewed love for my Savior.

Last night on my Facebook, I asked for my friends to describe 2013 in one word. I saw a lot of different descriptions of what the year had held for them.


I thought about it for hours. What one word could I find that would sum up the year? After some soul searching and praying, it came to me. If I had to describe 2013 in one word, it is:


The Dictionary defines "upheld" as:

to support or defend, as against opposition or criticism.
to keep up or keep from sinking; support.
to lift upward; raise.

Matthew 14:22-31 tells the story of Peter walking on the water. Verses 29-31 say:

"And he (Jesus) said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"

We tend to look down on Peter, don't we? Oh faithless Peter...if only you hadn't doubted....

But at least Peter got out of the boat! Even though he took his eyes off of Jesus - as we all do - and became fearful - as we all are - he did walk on the water, which is more than any of us have done. He stepped out on pure faith and complete trust. And even when his humanity surfaced and he faltered, Jesus did not let him sink. Does that resonate with you? For me, it does.

There were plenty of moments in 2013 when I took my eyes off of the Lord and literally began sinking in my own fear and worries and cares of the world. Yet He upheld me. He reached down, grabbed my hand, lifted me up, and kept me from going under. He upheld me all the way through.

And He will continue to do that. Forever.

As 2014 dawns, my prayer is not "Lord, give us a good year" like it has been so many years before. Instead, my prayer is, "Lord, give me more of You." Totally and completely, I want whatever He wants for my life. As the great hymn writer, Fanny Crosby, wrote, "for I know what'er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well." If I truly believe that He does all things - the painful, the glorious, the fun, and the horribly lonely things - well, then in 2014, I will get out of my boat and walk on water.

I pray in the coming year that you will draw ever nearer to the cross and to the Savoir who loves us so.

Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas from the Lee family

It's half-past the day before Christmas Eve, and I am scurrying around doing last minute things. We had such a blessed year. It was an exhausting, exciting, soul-wrenching, busy, and absolutely beautiful year filled with all the things that teaches us so much about the Lord. 

2013 began with the arrival of Selah, in February. We were, and still are, so thankful for a smooth and easy delivery and for, now, two healthy children. In April we sold and then packed up our cozy little home and moved in with family while the building of our house began. Then in October, we moved into a beautiful house and we praise God for His provision! 

My husband, Grant, keeps busy with work, his prison ministry, various Church activities and events, and leading our family. I, of course, am consumed with raising my little ones, keeping my home, writing, and teaching children at our Church.

Our Nathan is two and a half and is a precious little boy. He can usually be found donning all kinds of hats, dragging his kitten, Abby, around the yard, or deeply involved in whatever is in front of him - be it books, a movie, a game, or puzzles. He is steadily learning bits of Scripture and showing interest in all things "Dee-zus!" (Jesus) and we are praying he will come to know Christ at a very early age.

Little miss Selah is our 10 month old bundle of energy and fun. She has truly fulfilled her name and has brought such a joy to our family. She began walking at eight months old, so I am so anxious to see how God will use her determined spirit for His work. 

We want to wish you and your family a beautiful, bright, and blessed Christmas season. May we draw ever nearer to the heart of Christ in 2014.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Enjoying Christmas Through the Chaos

I'm sitting here, coffee in hand, basking in the stillness of naptime. :) I'm looking around at the twinkling lights on the tree and all of the ornaments hanging from it. Our first Christmas ornament with our wedding picture hangs in the center. And now we have TWO "Baby's 1st Christmas" ornaments on our tree! We have some that go back to when my husband and I were little that our families have given us. And there are new ones that are already so meaningful to me - even after only four short years.

There are presents wrapped under the tree. Special gifts for all the ones I love so, so, so very much.

Nathan and I have read from his "Countdown to Christmas" book and we have marked out today's date on the advent calendar.

Selah has been walking around in her cute little "my first Christmas" onesie and, I daresay, I don't think I've seen anything more adorable.

There is a candle burning and I have cookies in the oven for tonight's desert.

My precious little ones. I think they get cuter every day.

There is always so much going on during the holidays. Shopping, Christmas concerts, Christmas plays, Church events, office parties, baking, family gatherings... a lot of chaos can be found this time of year. And a lot of stress. This past month has definitely been full and busy. I'm actually kind of sad that one week from tomorrow it will all be over.

That's why I'm writing this. That's why I have stopped what I'm doing, I have sat down, and I'm just enjoying the moment. You've got to do that, you know? Sometimes it's good to tune it all out, say "No" to some of the things that pull you and just simplify. Just hold your little world tight and cherish it. Otherwise, if you're like me, you lose yourself in the goings and comings of all the festivities surrounding Christmas Day.

So stop.

Light a candle.

Sit down.

And enjoy.

It's Christmas. :) Have a merry one!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

10 Gift Ideas for Women Under $50

Can you believe we are nearly two weeks away from Christmas?!? AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

{{ Okay, I'm good. }}

With two little ones, I do most of my shopping online. It's just easier that way, and I do love it. I can take my time, check reviews, compare the price, and have it delivered to my door without having to find shoes, put on coats, stock the diaper bag, scout for a good parking spot, and brave other shoppers and their tantrum-like antics holiday spirit. ;) Today I thought it would be nice to compile a list of gift ideas for your mothers, sisters, friends, co-workers....whoever! So here they are in no particular order...

1. Scripture Coasters. I fell in love with these coasters from the PrayerNotes Etsy shop. Aren't they just beautiful?? A set of 4 is $20 + $5.95 shipping.

2. Willow Tree Figurines. I collect these and my very first one to receive was from one of my dearest friends. Each figurine has a name (i.e. the one below is "friendship") and there are lots to chose from in the collection. They range in price from $14.00 to $45.00.

3. Diamond Candles. These are my new obsession. I have always loved candles but these are something quite a bit different. Inside every candle is a ring worth anywhere from $10 to $1000. These make excellent gifts that last long after the candle is all burnt up. :) $24.95 + $5.00 shipping.

4. Personalized Infinity Bracelet. This is just beautiful and I love dainty jewelry, especially jewelry that is meaningful. This can be personalized with husband and wife initials, children's initials, or even sibling's initials. $39.00 + $3.95 shipping.

5. Hind's Feet on High Places. This book, by Hannah Hurnard is my all-time favorite book! Written in allegory form, it is about a young girl named Much Afraid and her journey following the Shepherd to the High Places. I fall more in love with Jesus each time I open it. $8.49 + $3.99 shipping.

6. An apron. This apron from Jessie Steele makes me smile. I love baking in a little cute apron and Jessie Steele sells all sorts of vintage-style aprons and accessories. They even have a holiday collection which is oh-so-jolly! $35.00 + $6.95 shipping.

7. Music. This CD by Keith and Kristyn Getty was released last year, but I didn't stumble upon this duo until this year. And this is my favorite of all their recordings. If you like worship music with Celtic elements and a hint of bluegrass style, you will definitely enjoy this. $13.26 + $3.98 shipping.

8. Spa/Bath set. Okay, so who doesn't love Bath and Body Works?? They have shower gels, lotions, perfume, candles, car scents, hand soap - pretty much anything. :) And I love how you can purchase a ready-made set ($8.00 - $47.00) or put your own together!

9. Monogram Pullover. Who doesn't love pullovers in the winter? These monogrammed pullover sweatshirts are a great gift (and help keep the wearer toasty all winter long!) $33.95 + $6.95 shipping.

10. Wrist bag. These wrist bags from Made By Survivors are made by women from Nepal, India, Cambodia, and Thailand who have been rescued from trafficking. I encourage you to Google search websites like this and help support these women. $28.00.

What about you? Do you have any great gift ideas?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Teaching Little Ones How to Make a Christmas List

With Christmas nearly here, there is lots of anticipation from the children about digging in to the gifts under the tree. This year, Nathan understands what getting presents means to him and he is all-too-thrilled about tearing off that wrapping paper, come December 25th. :)

Every day, I seem to stop and think of what kind of people I want my children to be. We live in such a materialistic world. When I was 10 years old, my Christmas list consisted of some lipstick, a couple CDs, and maybe something big - like a walkman. Now 10 year olds have iPhones, iPads, and $200 UGG boots and they seem to want more and more each year. We adults are, sadly, not much better. It seems like I have to constantly catch myself and remind myself that I don't have to have this or that. Hebrews 13:5 instructs us to be content with what we have. We would do well to live this way and teach our children to do the same.

A tradition my parents started several years before I married was to take me and my siblings to a dollar store every year with $20 and a list of 20 people in our family. Our mission was to find the best gift and/or meaningful gift we could find for each person. My little sisters had a ball and I love what it taught us - that Christmas is not about selfishly hoarding up all the goodies you can. And it isn't about getting the latest item or most expensive present. It's simply about giving with a cheerful heart. As I've grown older, I've become giddy about picking out gifts to give to others. And isn't that what Christmas is all about anyway?? GIVING. I plan to start that tradition this year with Nathan and I simply cannot wait!

So I sat down with him today and we made a list of gifts he would like to GIVE for Christmas. His answers were priceless!! I asked, "What would you like to get Daddy?" His answer? A bed. :)

For his little sister, Selah, he said "a game." For me, a book (he knows me well!). For his grandparents, he said a picture and a game. It was precious to watch him stop and think and then excitedly give an answer on what he thought was the best gift to give.

It's so important to teach our children not to continually covet more and more stuff, but to covet more and more of Jesus. Every year, at Christmastime, I want to emphasize that we don't get presents, we give presents...and we do that because God gave us the very best gift - all that He had.

Let's remember that.

Luke 12:15
"And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth."

1 Timothy 6:6-10
"But godliness with contentment is great gain."


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