Wednesday, December 17, 2014

#5Favs: Christmas Albums Edition

Linking up with Jenna!

We all love Christmas music. But let's admit it - with every pop singer ever to grace this earth releasing a Christmas album, some Christmas music is absolutely terrible. Lucky for you, I've scoured near and far to weed out the bad and find the good. Here are my five favorite Christmas albums, that I can pretty much listen to straight through, from start to finish.

*1*

You know how when you've listened to a CD too much, it gets all scratched up from too many plays and then doesn't play anymore? Well, that happened to this CD. After about a year. Because I listened to it year-round. I love MercyMe's music, but their Christmas album is absolutely amazing. They take many classic Christmas tunes and introduce more upbeat tempos ("Silent Night"), a different musical tune ("Gloria"), spine-tingling harmonies ("O Holy Night"), and/or beautiful instrumentals ("It Came Upon a Midnight Clear", "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", "Little Drummer Boy"). Don't miss their heart-warming original - "Joseph's Lullaby" - either. Actually, you should probably just start on track one and listen the whole way through.

*2*

Amy Grant has many Christmas albums out there, and I have to admit that I haven't listened to them all, because I love this one so much. I grew up listening to this album, making sure to listen to "The Night Before Christmas" on repeat on Christmas Eve. Other note-worthy songs include "Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)" (perfect for Advent and even year-round!), "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year", and "Joy to the World/For Unto Us a Child is Born".

*3*

Like most of their albums, Relient K's Christmas album is very punny, which means it's especially fun for the young and young-at-heart. Many of your classic favorites are also given a fun and upbeat spin, a la Relient K style. My personal favorites include "Angels We Have Heard on High", "We Wish You a Merry Christmas", and "In Like a Lion (Always Winter)" (perfect for Advent).

*4*

This is a classic, people. Just click play and sit back and soak up the joy of the season. I especially love the always wonderful "White Christmas", the fun and upbeat "Jingle Bells", the classic "It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas", and the timber tones of "Silver Bells".

*5*

I've tended to notice that Christian artists make really great Christmas albums. Casting Crowns' album is no different. "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day", "O Come All Ye Faithful", and "Joy to the World" are some of my favorites that are on repeat, while "Christmas Offering" and the gorgeously instrumental "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" may soon join the constant-repeat list.


What are your favorite Christmas albums? 
Tell me now so I can soak up all their goodness this season!

*Links provided are for Amazon Smile - select your favorite charity and start shopping!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

#5Favs: These are a Few


I'm going to keep it simple for my first time linking up with Jenna, and just share with you all a few of my favorite things...

~ 1 ~

(Source)

~ 2 ~


~ 3 ~

(Source)

~ 4 ~

(Source)

~ 5 ~

(Source)

~*~

If I could pick one more, it would probably be snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes...


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Be a Window - Over at Ignitum Today!

I am so excited to be working now with Ignitum Today! I will be editing posts as well as writing some posts of my very own from time to time. Please head on over to my very first post over there, and give me some love! Here's a little sneak peak...


Have you ever met someone who just seems to radiate Christ with every fiber of his or her being; where you can just see their love for God reflecting from their bodies? It's a sort of aura, a glow, that just emanates out and has the profound power to draw people in. It's a joy that is shown in a wide smile, loud laughter, a twinkle in the eye, a warm hug, finding happiness on even the darkest of days.

This kind of love is so much more than glorifying God with your body. As St. Paul wrote, this kind of love is glorifying God in your body (1 Cor 6:20)...

Read more at Ignitum Today...

Westminster Cathedral, London, England

Sunday, September 7, 2014

What I Wore Sunday: "Why Can't I Get a Decent Picture?!" Edition! (*Now Updated!*)

Hello hello to the three people who still read this here blog! It's time for another WIWS! Head on over to Fine Linen and Purple for the link action!

The lighting in my home is terrible. Well, I guess I don't need to tell you that because these photos are enough evidence.

Original: Boo Lighting!

Original: So you can actually see my smiling face



















Thanks to Katie for some suggestions, I went in search of a well-lit corner and a makeshift camera stand to try again... I'll let you decide but I think these are much more decent!

Update: Using a hobo-esque camera stand...
...to get some decent lighting!




















Dress: Merona c/o Unique Thrift Stores for $4!
Cardigan: c/o TJMaxx
Belt: c/o an old skirt in my closet
Shoes: Croft & Barrow, c/o Kohl's (similar style)
Necklace: c/o Kairos Retreat, Fall 2008!
Frizzy hair: c/o my hair dryer and the hair straightener's inability to keep up with the humidity
How about those readings today, huh?  If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death." (from Ez 33:7-9) and “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone... If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector." (from Mt 18:15-20)  As my priest said today... no one likes the IRS!

These readings certainly go against the whole "do whatever you want, whenever you want, and don't tell others what is right and wrong" kind of culture we live in today! How can we possibly live up to being our brother's keeper in a world that decries anything like this as judgment?

I think the key here is the reading second from St. Paul's letter to the Romans (13:8-10). The answer, as always, is love. We are called to be each other's keepers because we love each other, and want what is best for that person and his or her soul (the best being Heaven, of course!). It's definitely not easy for the world to see us lovingly calling each other out as a manifestation of love, but true love puts the good of the other first. This is what our Church does, and she is persecuted for it; and this is what we are called to do as well, even if we are also persecuted for it.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Weekly Roundup


What I'm Reading: The Maze Runner by James Dashner and Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves by Jason Evert.

I have to be honest. I am not really enjoying The Maze Runner. I have heard so many people recommend it, so I'm a little surprised, but I am just having a really hard time getting into it. I won't give up though (yet)!

On the other hand, I am really enjoying soaking up Evert's book on JPII. It wasn't even on my radar until Miriam graciously sent it to me in the mail, hand-wrapped with a prayer card and saint medal. She is the sweetest! I am not too far into the book as I want to take the time to savor it, but so far I am really enjoying reading about JPII's life before he was JPII! It is so beautiful to read about little Lolek's life when he was growing up, and to see how that shaped his life-changing papacy. I first fell in love with JPII when I discovered Theology of the Body and the documentary Nine Days that Changed the World, and I have a feeling that this book will cause me to love him even more!
Thanks Miriam!
What I'm Watching: It's summer finale season! Already? Where has this summer gone? I am soaking up some of my favorite summer shows, including Rizzoli and Isles, Perception, Graceland, Royal Pains, and Suits.  Are there any new shows in the fall that you just can't wait for? I am intrigued by Scorpion, but otherwise haven't seen too many previews for new shows I want to check out.

This Week's Roundup: Last weekend, I went to my fatherland to celebrate my cousin's wedding. I went a couple days early to spend some much-needed quality time with on of my best friends from college and her 2.5 year old son. We spent a couple of days playing board games (our favorite!), taking walks to the farmer's market and park, and enjoying the nice weather at the zoo! Then it was time for the wedding weekend! My sisters and I are like the von Trapp family singers, except with instruments, so we played the music in my cousins wedding. Overall, it was a beautiful wedding and a fun party. I also got to sit down with my Grandma and Poppy to show them some pictures from my trip to London. It was fun re-living those two weeks with them (and brings back the fever to go back to England for Round 3!).

At the Rehearsal dinner, my Poppy walked up and said,
"Let me get a picture with my favorite granddaughters!"
You must know it is a competition between all us grandkids as to who is the favorite.
This is photographic evidence that we are the winners!

New Things:  I chopped a lot of my hair off this week! I went back to the bob haircut I loved in college and beyond... now that it's starting to cool down as we make our way into fall, I don't have to pull my hair up all the time. Maybe when it doesn't look like the ratty mess that it is right now (sleep is a beautiful thing... just not for your hair), I will consider posting a picture of the new 'do!

Link It Up:

The Corner With A View - I could probably link to a million of Julie's posts, but I am loving everything she writes lately (and all the pictures of Gracie!), so I will just link to her blog. Go say hi!

How to Pray with Kids - Yes, I know this post is technically written to help you pray with children, but I need to learn to be more child-like in my spiritual life, so I've been doing this myself every night.

The NCBC Response to the ALS Challenge - Some alternative charities that are morally and ethically a-ok if you want to make a donation for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Threadflip - I'm addicted to Threadflip, which is basically so thrift-a-holics (like me!) can thrift without ever having to leave their couch (well, you have to go to the mailbox, but that's easy most days...). If you wanted to sign up using my referral link, I would be ever so grateful! You should also get some site credit for signing up with my link, so basically, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain (or buy)!

Laughs: In honor of all the kids going back to school and officially making me feel older than old...
What is the difference between a buffalo and a bison anyway? (Source)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014

My Favorite Charities


Charities and Tithing: How Do You Choose?
Trista @ Not a Minx
Amanda @ Worthy of Agape
...and YOU! Join us on Facebook!

I have to be honest with you all. I don’t financially donate 10% of my income. I have something called student loans that are oh-so-pesky that just never seem to go away. I decided in the long run that it is better to pay off my loans as quickly as possible (2 years! It will happen!), which will free me up financially to be able to save up more for the big things in life as well as be more giving with my charitable contributions. So, until then, I am very much a proponent of the Time, Talent, and Treasure tithing, and so I try to “donate” my time and talents in whatever way I can, whether it is playing the flute with the community band or helping to lead a high school retreat.

But, as my loans will be paid off in the not too distant future, I have been on the lookout for some new charities to support financially. It’s important to me that the charity is Catholic friendly – they do not have to be Catholic, but I will not financially support an organization that blatantly contradicts the Catholic faith. It’s also important to me that the charity is using my money wisely. I’ve found that Charity Navigator is a pretty good resource for finding out how an organization spends its money, but you still have to use your best judgment, especially for smaller charities which will have to spend more money on fundraising and administrative costs.

Here's where I've been sending my charitable contributions lately...

Dawid! Doesn't he have the cutest smile?
Connected in Hope – This is my latest find. I was introduced to them via Camp Patton and fell in love with not only their gorgeous scarves but their mission behind them. They provide holistic services to families in one of the poorest areas of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They offer a weaving and sewing program for 70 widows, women with HIV and other vulnerable women in the community, allowing them to generate the income needed to lift their families from extreme poverty. The gorgeous scarves (and now jewelry!) are hand-made by the women, and every penny from the sales is re-invested back into their programs to benefit the women and their families. They opened up a Montessori preschool that now serves 51 children, and they provide the kiddos with education, healthy snacks during the day, basic health care, uniforms, and social work services. I recently started sponsoring a little boy, Dawid, and I love getting updates and pictures on how he is doing. They still need sponsors for a few more children, so head on over here to find out more information.

FOCUS – College can be a trying time emotionally, physically, and spiritually. FOCUS is a great organization that sends teams out to college campuses to engage the students and encourage them to grow in their Catholic faith. I have experienced first-hand the impact that FOCUS missionaries can have on the lives of college students, and so I know how important this ministry is. While I have yet to support a missionary directly, it’s something that I’ve been thinking about doing once my loans are paid off.

GW Newman Center – The Newman Center was where my faith life was set on fire when I was in graduate school, and it’s important to me to support them financially so they can keep providing activities, fellowship, and free food for every student that walks through their doors. Consider supporting your alma mater’s Catholic student center, or even the Catholic student center in your town, either financially or by volunteering your time.

Catholic Answers Live – I came across Catholic Answers Live podcast many years ago and fell in love. I have learned so much about the Catholic faith from their ministry, and have been a Radio Club member for a couple of years now. My favorite shows are the Q&A open forums for non-Catholics, but they cover a wide range of topics that are always so interesting. You can check out their show live from 6-8pm EST on your local Catholic radio station, or check out the podcast here.

What are your favorite charities to support? Be sure to link up with us over at the Facebook page!
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