Merry Christmas!

Tomorrow is the big day! It’s Christmas! Christmas Day! The day that we celebrate the birth of Christ. The day that God took on human form. This is the day that we set aside to celebrate the miracle of a God who loves us so much that He sent His son to earth to redeem us from our sins.

In honor of this day (and since it’s Friday), I want to share with you one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs, put to this amazing video. Enjoy Downhere singing How Many Kings? and ask yourself how many kings would do what God did to romance this world.

Only one.

A holy God loves you so much that He gave His only son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everylasting life. That’s the message of Christmas, and the good news of the Gospel.

You have good reason to be merry today and every day!

Merry Christmas!

Dave Barnes cracks me up!

dave-barnes-christmasAs you’ll all likely recall, I recently saw Brandon Heath (my favorite!) at the Bluebird here in Nashville. He was excellent. We met. Yada yada. Anyway, I went to the show with my sweet friend Katie, who really went to support me and my desire to see BHeath. But as she so eloquently put it–she only had eyes for Dave Barnes.

Dave was delightfully funny and ridiculously talented, as he often is. Which prompted us to see when we might be able to see him next. Turns out that was this weekend at the final show of his A Very Neighborly Christmas Tour.

So on Saturday night we got all gussied up. (I mean, I put on my mascara, and I can’t even remember the last time something rated me risking putting my eye out with that evil little wand.) First we went to a lovely Christmas party, hosted by some of Katie’s friends. I met a fun lady who works at the same place I do, but he had never met! We thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas conversation and festivities, but soon we were off to see Dave, who was sharing the stage with Drew Holcomb and a litany of special guests.

One of the reasons I love Nashville–there were musical guests gallore! Including a very fantastic duet by none other than Brandon Heath and Matt Wertz, singing an original Christmas song. (Love you guys!)

Between the Christmas tunes and the standards from thier regular albums, Dave and Drew had the Tennessee Performing Arts Center theater rocking for almost three hours. But the best part–well … the best part of any Dave Barnes show–in my opinion–is the comedy routine Dave sneaks in there. Like how he joked about the crowd getting together before the show to practice the audience participation parts. Or how he had me nearly falling out of my chair as he told the story of singing (or rather lip synching) his hit God Gave Me You on All My Children.

Both Katie and I were laughing all the way home, just remembering the silly things he said. What a fun night!

So in honor, of the Very Neighborly Christmas Tour, here’s one of my favorite videos of Dave singing some really special Christmas tunes in his first annual Christmas Extravagan-za.

Christmas Cookie Rules

Confession: I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Christmas cookies this year. I’ve made some of my own. I’ve snagged some from office gift baskets. They’ve been oatmeal raisin. Chocolate chip. Even cherry cordial with a brownie cookie base. (Good stuff!)

And I hope that I’m the only one who’s been indulging a little too much. But given other blog posts I’ve seen lately, that may not be the case. So I’d like to share a blog post from a friend and fellow-writer Ane Mulligan, where she shares all of her very special Christmas Cookie Rules here.

A few of my favorites:
If you eat a Christmas cookie fresh out of the oven, it has no calories because everyone knows that the first cookie is the test and thus calorie free.

If you drink a diet soda after eating your second cookie, it also has not calories because the diet soda cancels out the cookie calories. (I knew there were extra benefits to loving diet Dr. Pepper!)

Any cookie calories consumed while walking around will fall to your feet and eventually, fall off as you move. This is due to gravity and the density of the caloric mass.

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So enjoy your cookies this holiday season. And if, like me, you’ve had a few too many cookies so far, hang in there. Keep eating your fruits and veggies and try to sneak in a walk whenever you can (and not just because your cookie calories are dropping off with every step).

30 by 30 check-in

Well, it would seem that the calendar year is quickly coming to a close. And with that, it seems like a good time to check in on the good, ol’ 30 by 30 list. A little over 4 months in–over a third of the year gone–so how far along am I? Well, let’s see …

  1. Complete the Nashville Rock and Roll ½ Marathon – The training was going well. Then not well. Thankfully I have 5 more months before the race. 🙂
  2. Write 2 novels – Umm … let’s skip this one right now …
  3. Read all of Jane Austen’s Books – I read Pride and Prejudice and am afraid the rest will be as painful. But I’ll keep it at it.
  4. Go to an NFL game – Well, I had a ticket to go to see the Titans and Colts play last week. And then I remembered I’d be out of town for work! Whoops! Not sure if I’ll get to do this one.
  5. Save $1500 toward a trip to Scotland/Ireland – Hmm … I should get started on this.
  6. Finish Caleb’s fire truck cross stitch – About half way there. Gotta keep working on it.
  7. Visit 3 Civil War battlefields – So far, I’ve visited the Carnton Plantation and the Carter House. Both key locations in the Battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864 I was supposed to go see Shiloh with another author friend, but that may have to wait until the weather warms up a little bit.
  8. See Brandon Heath in concertDone and done. LOVED him at the Bluebird!
  9. Visit Boone Hall in South Carolina (Mount Royal Plantation) – Haven’t made my plans yet, but I think I can get a cheap plane ticket out that direction and will likely do it in the spring.
  10. Donate $1000 to World Vision for Micro-loans – Working on it. Penny by penny. Nickel by nickel.
  11. Get a contract for a 3-book deal – I’ve talked to my editor about my 3-book series idea. She said she likes the idea and can’t wait to see the proposal. That makes two of us. 🙂 Guess I better get on that.
  12. Find a place to serve at my new church – This is always so hard. Well, I’m just trusting that the new year will bring new opportunities.
  13. Take a cooking class at Whole Foods – My sweet friend Katie Bond is on board for this one. Looking for just the right opportunity.
  14. Give away 20 of the books on my shelvesDone! I gave away 12 books in my Great October Book Giveaway (congrats to all you winners), and another 10 to a friend who LOVES to read. Feels great to share the love.
  15. Buy flowers for a friend for no reason – Not yet.
  16. Eat something with mushrooms – Someone suggested pizza because it masks the taste. Good idea!
  17. See a show at TPAC – Planning to buy my tickets this week to see Les Miserables in May. Can. Not. Wait.
  18. Read the Bible in a Year – Working my way through. Among other books have thoroughly appreciated the lessons in the book of Ruth.
  19. Take an adult beginner dance class – Next summer, methinks.
  20. Visit the Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios in Orlando – Jess Lacy and I are making plans even now.
  21. Catch up on the TV show Chuck – Not doing so well with this one yet. But I’m optimistic. Captain Awesome needs some company.
  22. Volunteer at least 10 hours at a local food bank/shelter – Not yet.
  23. Read a #1 New York Times Bestseller when it’s #1 – Well, I thought that I was reading Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins at the right time. But I think I was wrong. Will have to try again.
  24. Go a week without eating outI did this back in August without even thinking about it. I just looked up one day and realized that I hadn’t eaten out in 8 days. Funny how something that you think might be hard actually ends up being no test at all.
  25. Host a dinner party for at least 4 friendsYup! Katie helped me host a very fun, very yummy pajama party in honor of Heather Cadenhead’s book Inventory of Sleeping Things. Get it? Sleeping things … pajamas. So fun!
  26. Write a Christmas short story – Well, considering that I’m on contract for one now, I best have it done by February 1.
  27. Drop 2 dress sizes – Working on it. Right along with that 1/2 marathon.
  28. Sing karaoke in public – Not yet.
  29. Drink only water for 2 weeks straight – I keep forgetting about this, but it seems a wonderful idea. Note to self. Get on this.
  30. Vacation on Prince Edward IslandIt was AWE. SOME. So much fun! If you missed the pictures, go here.

Well, by my count that’s 5 completed. Only 1/6 of the way done. Guess I should get rocking and rolling. How are you doing on the goals you set for yourself this year?

Yuma Ballon Festival

On the Sunday morning before Thanksgiving, I joined my mom, sister, and 2 nieces at the morning balloon launch from the Yuma West Wetlands Park. We bundled up in sweatshirts and tennis shoes (it wasn’t exactly snowing) and headed out for the park. It turned out to be a little chillier than we expected, but we sure had a good time watching the balloons billowing with air and lifting off the ground. While Rachel was easily scared by the huge balloons, we all offered our “oohs” and “ahhs.” Here’s some pictures from our adventure.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year …

Rumor has it that it snowed in Nashville this week. I personally saw about half of a flurry. Seriously. This was not snow. But it has been awfully chilly. Scarves and winter coats-chilly. Which has put me in the mood for Christmas!

And that means decorating! So here’s a picture of my tree (tiny though it may be) and the colorful lights adorning my back window.

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And if you’re counting, I’d say that about half my ornaments are either pictures of my nieces and nephews or made by them.

What are you doing to get into the Christmas spirit?

Monday Movie: Tangled

There are fewer things sweeter to me than spending time with my favorite three nieces, tangledJulia, Rachel, and Emily. When I was home at Thanksgiving, I invited my nieces, their moms, and grandma to go see the new Disney movie Tangled with me.

For Rachel and Emily, this was their very first movie in the theater. And I got share it with them!

We all loved it! It’s such a cute, funny Disney movie for the whole family. This retelling of the Rapunzel tale includes the dashing thief, Flynn Rider, and the wildly funny dog-horse Maximus.

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I’m not sure if my favorite moment was the release of the floating lanterns in the movie or when Emily ate popcorn off the floor, and her mom freaked out! It was such an adventure. The girls loved the movie, and I loved getting to take them. What a great part of my trip home!

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