Monday, December 29, 2014

Quick Encouragement #43

Moriah Peters - Well Done

This is such a cool song! I saw her in concert.. it was awesome!

"I'm so glad I get to serve you Lord, You're the only one I'm living for!"

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Quick Encouragement #42

Britt Nicole - Have Your Way

"Even if my dreams have died
And even if I don't survive
I'll still worship You with all my life
My life, yeah."

Friday, December 26, 2014

Book Review: Dear Mr. Knightly

Review by Marianne
Title: Dear Mr. Knightly
Author: Katherine Reay
Rating: 5/5

Plot: Sam is, to say the least, bookish. An English major of the highest order, her diet has always been Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. The problem is, both her prose and conversation tend to be more Elizabeth Bennet than Samantha Moore.

   But life for the twenty-three-year-old orphan is about to get stranger than fiction. An anonymous Dickensian benefactor (calling himself Mr. Knightly) offers to put Sam through Northwestern University's prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.

   As Sam's dark memory mingles with that of eligible novelist Alex Powell, her letters to Mr. Knightly become increasingly confessional. While Alex draws Sam into a world of warmth and literature that feels like it's right out of a book, old secrets are drawn to light. And as Sam learns to love and trust Alex and herself, she learns once again how quickly trust can be broken.

   This was definitely one of the best books I have ever read. I'm afraid this is going to be a longer review than usual because I enjoyed Dear Mr. Knightly so, so much! The plot was so interesting, exiting, and relate-able, I really couldn't put it down! For three days, when I wasn't doing school or eating, I was curled up in my comfy blue chair reading this!

Characters: Ok, I don't want to give any spoilers... so I'm just gonna say that Mr. Knightly was my favorite character. This whole book is Sam's letters to him and I really loved that about it. Sam was an amazingly strong young woman. After coming into foster care at young age for the worst reasons imaginable, she was passed from foster home to foster home until she finally ended up in a group home called Grace House when she was a teenager. She had the worst experiences and they changed her in a bad way. They made her bitter. They made her afraid to share her past with others. She lived in constant fear. It was wonderful to see how God patiently used His people to make a good impact in her life and help her to see the light.

Emotions: This book had me laughing and tearing up at numerous different times. The author so vividly and truthfully portrayed foster care, that it really broke your heart. My family fostered through DCS for several years, and while I don't pretend to know everything about foster care, there were some things that couldn't be shielded from my naive eight-year-old ears. The things that happen to children in foster care really can't be understood unless you've had some sort of experience with it. And even then there is a lingering question of "why?". I think that just from the way she wrote it, the author must have had some sort of involvement with foster care.

My Thoughts: This was my favorite read of 2014. It was a book that I think everyone should read at some point. There are, however, a few things I think you should be aware of before reading:

-The author was brutally honest with the foster care situations (which is a good thing). This means that you did get a glimpse of what went on with Sam's parents, particularly her father. She was severely abused (near death) and there was scene in which Sam recalled everything that he did to her.

-Sam had a boyfriend who continually pressured her to spend the night at his place or let him spend the night at her place. She never allowed either, but it was clear what his intentions were.

-Sam had a friend who had grown up in foster care, and when she aged out, began living the same lifestyle that her parents had. Later she gets abused by her boyfriend and ends up in the hospital. The book goes into a little description, but not much.

All of these things I felt were necessary to the story, but they were difficult to read. Altogether, I would say that this was a hard story to read. There was enough humor, though that it balanced it out and I would highly recommend this book to basically anyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Countdown - 2 days

Rend Collective - Ding Dong Merrily on High (The Celebration's Starting)

2 more days, everyone! The week has flown by!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

November 27, 2014!

Hey, guys! Marianne made two "Happy Thanksgiving" pictures and couldn't decide which one to post so... as you can see... we just kinda put up both. Which one is your favorite?

We hope you have a great Thanksgiving... we'll try not to give ourselves stomach aches tonight. ;)

What is your favorite part of Thanksgiving?

What is your favorite thing to eat on Thanksgiving?

Do you typically go Black Friday shopping?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Book Review: Look and Live

Title: Look and Live
Author: Matt Papa
Rating: 5/5
Age Recommendation: 12+

Plot: Matt Papa was a "professional Christian" in full-time ministry, ready and determined to change the world. All the while he was depressed, addicted to the approval of others, and enslaved to sin. But then everything changed. He encountered the glory of God.

  All of us live in the tension between where we are and where we ought to be. We try our best to bully our desires into submission. And all we know, this is exhausting.
  Are you tired? Stuck? Still fighting the same sin you've been fighting for years? The call in these pages is not to work or strive, but to lift your eyes. You don't need more willpower. You need a vision of greatness that sweeps you off you feet. You need to see glory. 

  Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Copied from the back of Look and Live

This book is centered on God's glory, and worshiping Him. It is about turning from your idols and false gods and worshiping the Glory that is so much better. Looking and then living.

Quality: I thought that this book was written in a very understandable way. I loved the blunt-gentleness in the way that Matt Papa gets his message across. He made sure you understood how despicable your sins were, but it didn't end there. He went on to describe the beauty of the cross and how despite our sins Jesus love us. He died for us. I really learned a lot from this book, and I highlighted it like crazy (which means it was awesome:)). Although the beginning was a little slow, I think it was mainly so because Matt was setting the foundation for the chapters to come.

My Thoughts: I don't know about you, but I am generally a "proper worshiper". Meaning when I worship, I don't really dance, lift my hands, or even close my eyes for fear of what other people will think about me. I sing in a quiet, un-passionate (yes that's a made up word, don't judge!) voice that just blends into the background. Don't get me wrong, I totally adore God and I really do enjoy worshiping Him, I just... keep it together. I don't loose control. I don't forget about what other people are thinking. I dwell on thoughts like this: "Well, I'd like to sing louder, but I have an awful singing voice and the person next to me is gonna be like 'man alive! she can;t sing a not can she?'" Or "I would lift my hands, but no one else is, and they might think I was weird if I did." But you know what? I really just need to think "This is for Jesus, dude! And Jesus is juts so beautiful and glorious, I can't help but sing loud and lift my hands!" This book really helped me see that Glory. The Glory so great that I can't help but forget about all my surroundings. It was beautiful. There are so many things I'd like to tell you about this book, and I just don't have time! All I can say is this: Read the book. It is totally worth it! The one thing that I would think you need to be aware of before purchasing Look and Live would be that in my personal opinion, each chapter was kind of like a great sermon. But like a sermon, it is best understood if you're able to read it (or listen to it) all in one setting. Meaning this wasn't really a book that you could just read a paragraph, then get up, come back and read another paragraph. And my life is a little busy (FYI, I wouldn't trade it for anything) so it's hard to get undisturbed time to read a whole chapter. Aside from that I say GO FOR IT. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT. EVER. NEVER. EVER. :D

Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of Look and Live from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed above are my own.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's Almost Here!

   We are quickly zipping through November and on in to December which means... Christmas is almost upon us! Here's one of our favorite songs of the season to spread the cheer.

Michael Buble - It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Friday, November 7, 2014

Watercolor Cards...

  Hey guys! Marianne here! Just wanted to let y'all know that during the months of November and December, all profits made off of my cards will go to Elinor's Cow Project instead of just $3.00.

Here are pictures of some of my most recent cards...

Please, do go over to my page to get all of the Watercolor Card details!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Quick Encouragement #40

Francesca Battistelli - He Knows My Name

By Marianne

This song has really meant a lot to me lately. I've been struggling with accepting the fact that He accepts me just because He loves me. I've had trouble accepting that He adores me and loves me for who I am. The thoughts that I have been letting Satan throw into my head are along the lines of "Why would He want me?" or "With all these other awesome people in the world why does He take time for me?" and "I'm such a sinful person, why does He even bother with me?" It's really put a sort of barrier between God and I.

    Yesterday my youth pastor was preaching a sermon, and he really stressed the parts about how Jesus loves us. And He wants us. He died for us. Tears swelled in my eyes and I had to fight to keep them from streaming down my face and making a scene. I guess I never really stop to think about the fact that He loves me so much that He gave His life for mine. I truly am saved. God has slowly but surely been pouring understanding and peace into my hopelessly broken and stubborn soul. And I thank Him for that. When I started this post I didn't expect it to get this long... I just expected to put a little music video on there because it's time for another post... ;) Y'all know how that goes! 

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Review: The Hobbit

Review by Elinor
Title: The Hobbit
Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
Rating: 5/5

Plot: Bilbo Baggins was a completely normal hobbit. He lived in his cozy hobbit-hole and all he wanted was to live the simple, quiet life of any other hobbit. He never asked for the adventure that he is quickly thrown into (thanks to the wizard, Gandalf). He embarks on a journey to assist a group of dwarves regain their kingdom by being their "burglar"; and along the way brings into his possession The One Ring of Power. 

I thought the plot of this story was absolutely amazing! It had so many twists that were completely unexpected, and Bilbo's over-all situation was quite funny. Tolkien truly knew how to weave a story together, and how to relate fantastical things to our own lives. 

Characters: I loved the way that there were so many different characters, who each seemed to represent a different part of ourselves. There really wasn't a way to relate to only one of them, because I was able to see a bit of myself (whether I liked it or not) in each one of the characters (ok, so Gollum was a bit harder to relate to, as was the Master of Lake Town :)). The depth that I got to know each of the characters is actually making me miss them now.

Emotions: Tolkien did a brilliant job of capturing nearly every emotion. Happiness, sadness, joy, anger, victory, defeat, fear, love, guilt, loyalty, and the odd feeling of coming home again after an indescribable adventure. One was truly able to feel each of these things with the characters, and Tolkien's writing style towards these feelings is so different than anything I've read before.

My Thoughts: This book is quite possibly the best fiction I've ever read, and I know it's one of those stories that I will always love. It truly awakened my imagination, and Middle-earth has become one of those places that I deeply wish was real (maybe not, if we're counting the dragons, goblins, and Necromancer ;)). I would probably recommend it for ages 12+, just because the writing style was so deep (which, by the way, was one of the main reasons that I loved it so much), at some points it felt like you almost had to translate it. I just think it would better hold the attention of a 12+ audience, unless you're just way above your average reading level. Thank you so much Mr. Tolkien for sharing your incredible imagination with the world!

Favorite Quotes: 

"Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking stick"

"I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging,"

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world"

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Quick Encouragement #39

Owl City - You're Not Alone

Just a quick reminder for all of us today.
We are not alone. He is always there and always ready to listen to whatever you have to say. He even understands every struggle your going through. He loves you.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Book Review: To Everything a Season

Review by Marianne
Title: To Everything a Season
Author: Lauraine Snelling
Rating: 5/5

Plot: Trygve Knutson is devoted to his family and his community. With his job on the construction crew, he is helping to build a future for the North Dakota town of Blessing. Though he loves his home, he sometimes dreams of other horizons--especially since meeting Miriam Hastings.

   Miriam is in Blessing to get practical training to become an accredited nurse, She's been promised a position in the Chicago women's hospital that will enable her to support her siblings and her ailing mother. Although eager to return to her family, Miriam is surprised to find how much she enjoys the small town of Blessing. And her growing attachment to Trygve soon has her questioning a future she has always considered set in stone. 

   When a family emergency calls Miriam home sooner than planned, will she find a way to return? If not, will it mean losing Tygve--and her chance at love--for good?
Copied from the back of To Everything a Season

I really enjoyed this book. I had never read any of Lauraine Snelling's books before and was pleasantly surprised! The plot of this book was very good and it kept me interested all the way through.

Characters: All of the characters in this book were perfectly portrayed, and I grew to love each and every one! I was rather grateful to Ms. Snelling for putting the family tree in the beginning... there were very many characters and it seemed that all of them were related somehow! :) I especially loved Trygve's Aunt Ingeborg... she had a faith in God that was so strong and beautiful... definitely a good role model for all of her nieces and nephews and children and grandchildren etc.

Emotions: This was generally a light-hearted and sweet story, though there were several scenes that were more heavy than others. And talk about a cliff-hanger! I don't want to give anything away, but, wow! This author certainly knows how to keep you on your toes waiting for her next book to release!

My Thoughts: Over-all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was beautifully written, and I am now a big fan of Lauraine Snelling! There is, however, one thing that I think you should be aware of before purchasing this book. The description of the book makes it sound like a romantic story centered around Trygve and Miriam. I didn't even meet Miriam until the second half  of the book and even then it took her a while to actually get to Blessing. This isn't by any means a problem, I just felt that To Everything a Season was more centered around Trygve's family and their stories than the romantic relationship of Trygve and Miriam. The romance was more of just a side-story than the actual plot. Aside from that, I say go for it! This was a great book that I would very highly recommend! There wasn't anything inappropriate or anything that made me uncomfortable, and as I said before, I can't wait for her next book to come out!

Favorite Quote:
"God never leaves His children alone, especially when He is bringing them home."

Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of To Everything A Season from Bethany House Publishing Company for the purpose of this review. All opinions and views expressed above are my own.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Elf Painting...

   Hello guys! I know that it's a little early to be thinking about Christmas, but I have to get some cards ready to sell at an event in November to support Elinor's Cow Project. Therefore, I was practicing for some Christmas cards that will need to be made between now and November. Even though this Elf painting will not be able to be on a card (due to several errors), I still thought I'd share it with you...

Step One:
I painted a small circle to be my elf's head... I should have placed it up a little higher. Later (as you will soon see), my Elf's legs interfered with the writing of "Merry Christmas" along the bottom of the card.

Step Two:
I painted a hat, shirt, and arms on my Elf. I probably should have shaped the top a little differently, because it ended up look a little too box-y. I also painted the words "Merry Christmas" on the bottom of the card.

Step 3:
I added a skirt and mouth to my painting. I also put red embellishments on her outfit. This was about the time that I realized I should have painted her a little higher up and made the words a little smaller.

Step 4:
My painting really came to life in this final step. I gave her hair, eyes, a nose, legs, shoes, and fingers. As you can see, however, her legs were far too low and messed with my "Merry Christmas". 

The only reason I painted this was really just to test my abilities and see if I could paint people. I hadn't really intended to put it on a card, which turned out to be good because if I had, I would have been quite frustrated with the numerous flaws. She turned out better than I thought she would, though! And that made me smile.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Book Review: Before You Meet Prince Charming

Title: Before You Meet Prince Charming
Author: Sarah Mally
Rating; 5/5
Age Recommendation: 10+

Plot: Before You Meet Prince Charming is all about remaining pure, and how you can do that right now, wherever you are in your life. It discusses how to prepare for your future husband, the dangers of our society's dating system, and provides examples of ways to get to know a young man while still remaining pure. 

We felt that this book did just what it set out to do - which was to help young ladies understand just what purity is, and how to exercise it in the world that we live in. We found it very encouraging, helpful, and biblical. We liked that Sarah didn't give you a list of standards she had already set, but presented many different approaches and allowed you to set your own standards.

Quality: This book was very well-written and clear in its message. Something that was very appreciated was that it perfectly explained purity, while still being age-appropriate. It is a book that we would recommend to any girl or woman over 10 (not because of any mature content, but just because it would be more interesting for that age).

Elinor's Thoughts: I enjoyed this book greatly, as well as learned quite a bit! It helped me to find ways that I could be more deeply committing my life to Christ, and it opened up some conversations with my sister, mom, and dad that were very meaningful. It made me excited for finding the man that God has for me, but it also helped me to remember that God should be my focus, more than anything else. This is one of those books that one day (Lord willing) I will want to have my daughters read. 

Marianne's Thoughts: I loved reading this book with Elinor! It really helped me to better understand what it means to "prepare" yourself for your future husband, and how I can do that now. Something else that Sarah explained was what it really means to "wait upon the Lord". She shared that that didn't mean just sitting around staring at the TV and waiting for God to bring some perfect young man to your door, but that you should wait upon the Lord the way a waitress waits upon the customer... you should serve Him. It was an analogy that will stick with me for a while :). It was a great book that I would recommend over and over again!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Throw Back Thursday #1

Hey, y'all! I'm re-reading my favorite parts of Elizabeth Camden's Into The Whirlwind. Definitely one of my all-time favorite novels! It is the perfect mixture of romantic suspense, and realistic scenarios. It was one of the first book reviews on our blog. I can hardly believe it's been almost a year since I last read this book! I still get the same contentment from reading it that I did then!

If you want to read my book review on Into The Whirlwind, you can do so HERE!