Christmas Traditions

It’s almost Christmas!

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Our Christmas Tree

I love this time of year. I don’t think there’s anything more beautiful than Christmas lights, and I love all of the decorations. My husband even put my engagement ring under the Christmas tree in his apartment when he proposed to me. I just love that we get to celebrate Jesus’ birth each year with all of the beautiful decorations, Christmas cookies, and family. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Some of my favorite decorations are the houses that make up my mom’s ceramic Christmas village. Every year we set it up under their tree, and I love all of the beautiful lights. I don’t have a ceramic village myself, but I do have my Lego Christmas village.

I love to bake, so making Christmas cookies is always a lot of fun. My family have always made these butter cookies that we call Silver Bells, and they’re delicious.

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Silver Bell Cookies

But my favorite of all of our Christmas traditions is what my family does on Christmas Eve. We go to see a movie in the afternoon, eat Chinese and chicken for dinner, and then open presents while watching A Christmas Story. Then my dad always reads The Night Before Christmas before we go to bed. Sadly my husband and I will have to miss the movie this year because we won’t be able to make it over to Columbus in time after church (it’s okay though, we’ll have already seen Star Wars twice by then), but I can’t wait to do everything else with my family and celebrate with his family on Christmas day.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?

Our Second Wedding Anniversary

Tuesday, August 1st was my second wedding anniversary. I can’t believe my wonderful husband and I have already been married for two years. It feels like just two days ago that I met the cute boy next door and realized we worked together at our university’s writing center, and it feels like yesterday that I married him.

I’ll never forget how wonderful our wedding was. Our parents threw us the best wedding I could have imagined. We decided to get married at Wright State, since that was where we met and fell in love, so we had our ceremony and reception at Wright State’s Nutter Center’s beautiful Berry Room.

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These past two years have been the best years of my life. We have been truly blessed by God with a wonderful life together, and I can’t wait to see what plans he has in store for us going forward.

This week we celebrated our anniversary by recreating part of our honeymoon, just like we did last year for our first anniversary. On Monday we went to the Ohio State Fair to see one of our favorite bands, For King and Country. And on Tuesday we took a river cruise on the Ohio River and had a wonderful meal while looking at Cincinnati’s beautiful skyline. I had so much fun on the cruise and at the fair that I hope we continue our tradition of doing this for each of our anniversaries.

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My husband is my rock. He supports me more than anyone and is always there for me. I love him so much, and am so grateful to have him by my side.

When I’m Not Writing: Coloring

I wrote last month that one of my favorite things to do when I’m not writing is make jewelry. One of my other favorite hobbies is to color.

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Matthew 11:28

I mostly choose to color Christian coloring books, because when I’m coloring something with scripture it becomes a much more fulfilling experience. Reflecting on God’s word while doing the relaxing activity of coloring helps me draw closer to God.

Since my last post on coloring, I’ve gone even more coloring crazy. I now have 12 books. I also now have a big set of markers and an electric pencil sharpener for my colored pencils sitting on my coffee table next to my coloring basket.

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Some of my coloring books and my favorite coloring markers

Coloring is one of the most relaxing activities I’ve found. I love creating anything, and I love getting to work with my hands, so coloring is the perfect thing for me to do.

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Philippians 4:8

Coloring God’s Word

Coloring books for adults have been trending for a couple years now. Coloring is a great way to relax and give your mind a break, and it also helps you be more creative and have fun.

I liked the idea of coloring for a while, but I didn’t really get into it until a couple months ago. That was when I found coloring books that included God’s word. I do think coloring in general is a relaxing experience, but when I found coloring books that included scripture, it became a much more fulfilling experience for me.

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Some of my favorite coloring pages

I have two regular Christian coloring books and one that is a devotional with a coloring page related to each week’s devotion. Some of the pages have scripture on them, some share God’s promises, and others have spiritual quotes. I love these coloring books because not only do you have the stress–relieving activity of coloring, you have God’s word included in it, and so while you’re coloring you are reflecting on the good messages.

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His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.

I usually color when I’m watching TV with my husband. I don’t watch that much TV to begin with, but now I no longer feel like I’m wasting time when we do so. I like to have something to do with my hands, and I’m thinking about God’s word while doing it, so it is a very enjoyable experience.

The pictures in this blog post are some of my favorite coloring pages I’ve done. I’m not an expert artist or anything, but coloring is something I really enjoy doing and I highly recommend it.

Top 10 Reasons I Love My Husband

Today is Valentine’s Day, and I am so excited to celebrate it with my wonderful husband, Jacob. I was never really a fan of Valentine’s Day growing up because I think you should make an effort every day to show how much you love your significant other. But now that I’ve been married for a year and a half I’ve come to appreciate this holiday as a chance to go a mile extra than the normal extra mile to show each other how much we care for and love each other. So, to help me celebrate, here are the top ten reasons I love my husband.

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Our favorite engagement picture. We don’t remember what we were laughing about, but we were so glad the photographer snapped this shot!
  1. He always offers to help around the house.

Jacob is always willing to help out with daily chores. He takes our dog out, takes out the trash, dusts because I’m allergic, vacuums because I hate it, and will always ask if there’s something I need done. He’s not much help in the kitchen though, but that’s okay because I love to cook for him.

  1. He’s not picky.

I’m a really picky person, both about food and about having things done a certain way. Jacob is one of the most easy-going people I have ever met. Together we make a good team. He’s easy to please with my picky tastes.

  1. He loves our dog.

Jacob used to not be a dog person. (Gasp!) I’ve always connected better with animals because of my introverted nature, so I had to fix this right away. His parents got us our dog, Molly, as a wedding present, and it wasn’t long before I saw Jacob transform into a dog lover. He’s so loving towards her, and is always willing to help take care of her.

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Jacob and Molly the day we got her
  1. He’s great with kids.

I love kids. I’ve been babysitting for half of my life, and I always love taking care of kids. I would like to have four kids of our own eventually. I love watching Jacob interact with children. He’s always so playful and caring. I can tell he is going to be a fantastic father one day.

  1. He’s fun to be around.

When I’m with Jacob, I am always having a good time no matter what we’re doing. Our favorite activities together are to go do work at the library on Saturday mornings and to go window shopping. We don’t have to be doing anything exciting, but we always have fun when we spend time together.

  1. He’s fine with spending Friday nights on the couch with me.

I’m a very introverted person. I do like going out and doing things occasionally, but by the end of the week I’m always exhausted. I love spending Friday nights on the couch watching movies, and, though extroverted, Jacob is always willing to be there with me.

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We got to visit Florida for a family wedding
  1. He supports me.

No matter what we’re going through, Jacob is by my side. He never gives up on me and never loses faith in our relationship. And when it comes to my writing, Jacob is my number one supporter. When I’m doubting myself, when I feel guilty about not having a “real” job, when I hate everything I put down on paper, and when what I’m writing makes me too emotional and I want to quit, he’s there to remind me that this is what I’m meant to do and that I’m good at it.

  1. He supports me financially.

Every day I think about how blessed I am that my husband’s career allows me to stay home and do what I love—writing. Jacob works so hard to support our family, both in his career and now in grad school, and I am so thankful for that.

  1. He’s a strong Christian.

Jacob loves the Lord, and that love and devotion flows into our marriage and makes it strong. He makes me want to be a better Christian. He’s always had this unshakeable faith, and he has become my role model for faith.

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1 Corinthians 13:7
  1. He shows me he loves me.

Doing the little things to show we love each other is something we’ve had to learn in our marriage, but now Jacob is always going the extra mile to show me he loves me, whether it’s making sure I get my coffee, bringing me home a little treat, or leaving me a note on the fridge every day when he goes to work. I always know that he cares and that I am loved.

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My favorite wedding picture

I love you, baby! Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

The Little Things that Inspire Me

I love my desk. My husband and I never used our kitchen table as an actual table, so, since we live in a small apartment and I didn’t yet have my own space for my writing, I claimed the table as my own. And now that I’ve gotten used to my big table, I don’t think I could ever go back to a normal, small desk.

Having my big table gives me plenty of space to spread out with my computer and notebooks, but what I love most is that I have lots of room for little trinkets and things that inspire me. I thought I’d share some of the little things that inspire me and explain how they help my writing process.

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My Desk

 

Writing Textbooks: I have a lot of writing textbooks and references on my desk. Some are from college, some I’ve read after school, and others I haven’t gotten to yet. I have everything from a book about outlining to a baby name book. I don’t read from these every day, but just having them there in front of me reminds me of the helpful information they contain and inspires me to do better.

GenZ Publishing Swag: I love my publisher. If you haven’t check them out yet, you definitely should. They’re looking for young, new, and innovative writers. It is so hard to break into publishing, but GenZ is giving new writers a chance to share their stories with the world. So of course I have to have my GenZ bookmarks and business cards on my desk so I can remember how awesome they are every day.

Faith Reminders: My two wooden block signs are probably the most important things on my desk. One says “You are Loved,” which is something I need to remember every day. Writing is a very solitary thing, and often leaves you feeling alone. But God is with me, and I am loved. The other sign asks, “Did you think to pray?” Writing is also a very hard thing to do. Along with feeling alone, writing can also make you frustrated and make you doubt yourself. I keep this sign here so that whenever I get frustrated I can stop and remember to pray about it. And I always feel better when I do this.

Jacob: A few of the things on my desk are from or remind me of my husband, Jacob. He’s the most important person in my life, so I need reminders of him on my desk. I have a picture frame that he gave me for my birthday a few years ago, a stack of encouraging sticky notes that he’s left me, and a little jar of M&Ms from our wedding that have our names on them.

Les Misérables Lyrics Book: Of course I need something on my desk that reminds me of my favorite story ever, so I have a lyric book to the musical Les Misérables. This story inspires me so much and has had an influence on everything I’ve written, and so I have to have the lyrics close to me when I write.

Buttons: I have three buttons on my desk. One says “A Whopper of a Writer,” which I got back in middle school when I won a writing contest, and the other two are Wright State University buttons that I got when I won their 2014 writing contest and placed in their 2015 contest. I like having these reminders of times I’ve succeeded as a writer.

3D Printer Items

My husband is an engineer and works with a 3D printer. He gave me these little test pieces that he didn’t need. Two are butterflies and one is a rook, and all three have intricate designs. I know there’s a story in them, and so I keep them on my desk so I can one day find their story.

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3D printer test pieces

Somewhere Only We Know Cover: I have a framed picture of my book cover on my desk. I love to look at it and remember how blessed I am to have published this story.

I love everything about my desk. It is so important to surround yourself with little things that inspire you. I keep things that remind me of my books, my husband, my faith, and my sources of inspiration. What do you keep around you that inspires you?

 

The Power of Worship Music

On Saturday I got to go to the annual Christian music tour called Winter Jam for the third time. When my then fiancé took me to this concert back in 2015 I wasn’t sure what to expect. I hadn’t been listening to this kind of music for very long, and I didn’t know any of the artist’s songs very well. What I found then and at the subsequent two concerts I’ve gone to was amazing performances, inspiring speeches, and thousands of people standing together and worshiping our wonderful God.

I grew up Catholic, and so I thought Christian music consisted only of the boring hymns you sing in church. I had no idea that there was modern, exciting, and amazing music out there. I didn’t know that there were artists out there proclaiming the word of God and sometimes even revamping those hymns into modern songs. Now those songs are all I listen to.

Of course I still need my movie and musical scores blasting through my head phones when I really need to concentrate and get some words out. But most of the time I have this worship music playing on the radio in the background. I listen while I read, do the dishes, play with my dog. I’m listening to it now as I write this blog post.

Having this music on changes you. Even if it’s just in the background, the songs have a way of pushing God’s word, promises, and love into your mind and heart. Worship music is powerful. I can tell when I go a day without listening to it. When I don’t hear this music, I’m not as close to God and I have trouble focusing and getting my work done. For me, music has always been a big part of my life, and so worship music is the easiest way for me to spend time with God.

Across the three years I’ve gone to of Winter Jam I’ve gotten to see some of my favorite artists—Matthew West, Skillet, Crowder, Lauren Daigle, and For King & Country. I’ve gotten to sing worship songs with thousands of people. And I’ve gotten to experience all of those people proclaiming the name of Jesus. If you’ve never been to Winter Jam before, you have to check it out. See just how powerful worship music can be. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.