Saturday, November 30, 2013

Small Business Saturday

Hi Friends!
Were any of you brave enough to shop this weekend? I saw a bunch of photos online and wow! I don't know why anyone would want to go out and shop that bad. I prefer shopping from my couch to crowds like that. But that's me. I'll never understand how some of you enjoy that. :) Did you get any good deals!?


So yesterday was Black Friday and today is Small Business Saturday... or shop local or however you want to look at it. I just wanted to take this opportunity to remind you all about the children's book my husband wrote. :)

You can find out all kinds of info about the book by clicking HERE.

 It would be a wonderful gift for dads to give to their children!

Amazon is currently out of stock but you can still purchase it several different ways...
1. If you are local to me I have a few copies left at the house.
2. You can ask your local book seller to order it for you.
3. You can find it on
4. It will always be available from Inspiring Voices... the publisher.

If you have any questions about the book please ask!

If you already have the book leave a comment letting me know what you think!

Friday, November 29, 2013

My New Favorite Christmas Movie

Every once in a while I come across something I LOVE soooo much that I just can't help but tell you guys about it.

Today I watched what is now my most favorite Christmas movie EVER! I laughed. I cried. It's super funny and it's super sweet. It's meaningful. It's wonderful!

It's Merry Larry and the True Light of Christmas.

Yep... VeggieTales.

No joke you guys! LOVE IT! So much. I almost asked the kids if they wanted to watch it again right away but figured I should wait for a few hours. :) And the silly song!! Oh the silly song!! It's pretty silly.

Honestly... I'm not a fan of people saying "You MUST get/read/watch this" but seriously... you might regret it if you don't. I don't care how old you are! Or if you no longer have kids at home. This movie, which runs just under an hour, was... It was just a really really great Christmas movie!

No one is giving me anything to say all this to you guys. I get nothing for pointing you in the right direction. But if you would like to buy it go to the VeggieTales website. It's only $8.99 today (Black Friday... not sure if that price will run longer) and the code HOLIDAY13 will get you free shipping through 12/2. If you miss the deals it's definitely one worth paying full price for!!

I loved it so much that I told the kids we are going to have to have a Christmas party and invite all their friends. We'll wear pajamas, eat good food, do a craft and then watch Merry Larry while eating popcorn and drinking hot chocolate. They're pretty excited... I guess that means I should pick a date and start inviting people!

Do you have a favorite Christmas movie?
We also purchased Elf this year because... well... I like to laugh! :)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The First Christmas Night - Book Review and Giveaway

 "Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

My kids love Christmas books so when I was given the opportunity to review and give one away I accepted. :)
We enjoyed The First Christmas Night! It's your typical, Biblical Christmas story and that is a story that never gets old no matter how many times or ways it is retold! As we were reading Liza said to me "that looks real!" The illustrations are amazing! Very realistic and absolutely beautiful! Two thumbs up for this book! We'll be reading it all December long.

About the Book
The First Christmas Night is a beautiful retelling of the birth of Jesus on that joyous night in Bethlehem so long ago. The poem begins with the arrival of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem and winds though Christ’s birth, the angels’ appearance to the shepherds, and the visit by the Wise Men.  The simple, yet elegant, verses will appeal to little ones and are accompanied by the rich acrylic illustrations of Christine Kornacki.
Who is it for?
Kids ages 4-8 - The rhyming language can help them develop verbal language skills and learn to read
Family story time during the holidays
Children's Ministers and Sunday school teachers
Christmas carolers could set it to a tune!

I have one copy to giveaway but if you can't wait you can just BUY THE BOOK HERE.

One lucky person will win one copy of The First Christmas Night. To enter simply leave a comment answering the following question... "Where are you at with Christmas shopping?" Done? Haven't even started? What's Christmas shopping? :) I actually went out this afternoon and got most of mine done! Woo hoo!

Make sure to use a valid email address when filling out the comment form. Giveaway is open to US and Canada. Winner will be randomly selected on Wednesday, November  27 and contacted by email.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

This World...

There are so many things I have been hearing lately that just break my heart.

Things like...

A 12 year old girl jumping to her death because she was bullied to the point that she could no longer take it. And then one of her bullies posts to facebook saying something along the lines of "Yeah I bullied her and she died. I don't care." The language was worse than that and the girl claims her account was hacked. Hacked or not... THIRTY people "liked" the status. That's just sick.

Or how about this new "game" called the knock out game where kids run up behind unsuspecting strangers and punch them in the head? The goal being to knock the person out with one blow. People are dying as a result of this game.

What about the children who are dying from abuse as a result of a "parenting book" called To Train Up A Child? A book that encourages parents to abuse their children. Ugh. 

And how about the things that are happening close to home like "revenge sites". Or let's just call them what they really are... hate sites. My town has many of these sites and I have friends who have ended up on them. It's just ugly.

I often hear the question asked "how can people treat others like they do?"

My theory?

So many no longer value others.
It's a "me me me" world.
We are told "do whatever makes you feel good."
There is no right or wrong. 
We sit behind computer screens spewing hatred and never have to look into the eyes of the person we are hurting.
We are told that it's ok to kill unborn babies.

Life is no longer precious.
We no longer communicate in real ways. We text. We email. We facebook. We have shallow conversations. We are losing touch with reality.

You guys... I just want to encourage you today. In the midst of all the ugly in this world go out and do something beautiful! Help a stranger. Hold a door for the mom who has her hands full. Buy a coffee for the person in line behind you. Hug a homeless person. Volunteer. Smile. Call someone. Send a note.

Tell someone they matter!
Stand up for someone.

Consider others.
Value human life.

Be the beauty in an ugly world.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

M. Family Photos

Whew! I finally finished editing my last family session from October. That means I get an editing break and I am looking forward to it!! Of course, that doesn't mean that I wouldn't be happy to schedule some more photo sessions but here in PA we've kind of run out of nice (warm!) weather and I'm kind of limited to the type of sessions I can do in my house. Winters are always a bit slow for me and that's ok because winter is when I stay plenty busy making hats. :)


This is a family I know from church and I was more than happy when they asked me to do their family photos.

Fun family + fun photographer = fun session! And fun photos. :)

Honestly, while I've enjoyed all the families I've photographed over the years this was one of my most fun sessions. It probably had something to do with the fact that they weren't too shy to give the big fake laugh a try. :) Or the fact that they were willing to just let me do some different things that I hadn't done before. Or it could have had something to do with the fact that I knew them. Who knows... I just know I had a really fun time and it was the perfect session to end my busy season with!

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Monday, November 18, 2013

1 Girl Nation - Music Review and Giveaway

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


When I found out that 1 Girl Nation's target audience was young girls I jumped on the opportunity to review it because my Liza loves her some good music! 1GN arrived in the mail, we popped it in the player and were not disappointed!!!

Here are some thoughts from Liza who is 7...

What do you think about 1GN?
It's pretty good!

What makes it good?
It has good dancing songs!

How often are you going to listen to it?
Over and over. Over and over and over and over and over!!!

Anything else you want to say?
The girls are really good at making the music. 

Liza loves the music! After three times through the cd she was already singing along and adding her own dance moves and movements to go with the lyrics.

As a mom... I have to say that I am beyond pumped to have some music that has great, encouraging lyrics for my daughter. And even better... I ENJOY the cd as well! Hurray for having music my kids can love that doesn't annoy me!  :)  (I may have even listened to it a time or two while the kids were in school.)

And I can't complain when Liza is dancing around singing the lyrics "We're going vertical, praying for miracles, wanna see heaven here on earth. Lifting our  hands up high, people of God unite, together we can change this world." Sing your heart out little girl!!!!!

A little more info about 1 Girl Nation...

Landing in the space where One Direction meets TobyMac, 1 Girl Nation is an exciting blend of upbeat pop music, with lyrics that are totally focused on living life for God, even while you’re young. 1GN is five girls with a passion for telling their fans about Christ through their music. Target audience is preteens and teens but adults can totally love this music tooooo!
Sound good to you!? Wanna win a copy??
Simply leave a comment telling me your current favorite music/song/artist. Anyone of those. I'm always looking for new music so I'll check out whatever you share!

Giveaway open to residents of the US and Canada. Winner will be randomly selected on Friday, November 22nd and contacted by email.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


I have so much going on inside my head and my heart. I have things I want to write about, process, share. Some of it is my life and what I am going through. Some of it is more letters. Some of it is my thoughts and ideas on things that exist in this world that shouldn't.

I have sat down to write so many times in the past few days but nothing seems to be coming out right. I start and stall. Write and delete. I want to communicate my thoughts well and not just spew angry words. I want to help and encourage instead of tearing down.

I'm just all over the place lately... in my thoughts AND emotinos.

I'm a bit emotionally depleted as well. I apologize for not responding to comments and emails. I read every single one and really appreciate you taking the time to write, encourage, share. It means a lot to me and has been so helpful! But sometimes at the end of the day I just don't have the emotional energy to "talk" about it all some more. That said... I hope you keep leaving encouraging comments and sending those emails. I will respond when I can.

And hopefully sometime soon I'll be able to pull my thoughts together again!

In the meantime...

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

T. Family Photos

This family! It was the coldest day EVER. FREEZING! But they came out anyway to get their photos done. It was cold. The wind was blowing. Hands were getting numb. Troupers you guys! And what a great family too! Heidi's dad has a potato farm so she asked if we could do the pictures there. It was a great place and they sent me home with a bag of potatoes and I made potato soup. Good stuff!

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(I think it looks like these brothers are scheming up some trouble!!)

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I really enjoyed meeting this family! So nice! And the kids were a lot of fun. Especially Alex... the little guy. His faces had me cracking up and it made editing fun because how can you not love that face!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Did you know that I make super fantastic hats!?!? 
Well I do! And it's giveaway time. But not here... you have to go to the Wix-Works Facebook page to enter.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dear Reverend

Dear Reverend,

I'm not sure if you even remember who I am because it's been at least 10 years since I last saw you... but on January 25, 2003 you were the officiant for my wedding ceremony.

I was never one of those girls that grew up dreaming of what my wedding day would be like. Instead, I was off climbing trees, playing in the mud and participating in sports any chance I got. A wedding would happen whenever and however it happened.

The details were unimportant to me. What DID matter was that I would find a guy who loved God and loved me. I did find that and when we started making wedding plans we came to you and asked you to perform the ceremony for us... partly because we had no one else to go to but also because we thought we might have your support and encouragement.

Instead, I got a phrase that has stuck with me ever since. Not because it was mind blowing... at least not in a good way. Not because it was something that would change my life. It stuck with me because I couldn't believe you would say it.

Shortly before our wedding you insisted that we weren't ready and couldn't live on Mike's roofing salary. But you didn't stop there. You looked at us and said "Usually after performing a ceremony I go home and do a happy dance for the couple. I'll do one for you in a year if you are together and still happy."


And also... you were wrong!

You see... sometimes "kids" that are head over heals in love can still be thinking straight and making good decisions. Sometimes those same "kids" know how to trust in God and know when God has brought them together. We did not walk into marriage lightly. In fact, we didn't walk into dating lightly. Instead, we remained only friends for much longer than most would. In that time we built a foundation that no one was aware of. We shared our hearts, our hopes and our secrets. We KNEW each other much more than anyone would ever know. Our hearts were becoming one long before we ever said "I do"... long before we even had a first kiss or held hands.

And we both knew we would marry the other long before we admitted it to each other or moved into dating.

I know that a couple coming to you saying "We've been dating for a month and would like to get married in seven weeks" can make you pause and wonder. But it would have been nice if you would have got out of your own head and your own ideas of how it all works and went to God asking him to give you wisdom in working with us. Had you done that you might not have said such stupid and hurtful things along the way.

We are almost eleven years in. It hasn't all been amazing but I'm going to guess your marriage hasn't always been amazing either. That's how life goes. But I can tell you that in those eleven years we have lived well off of Mike's roofing salary. We paid off school loans and car loans. We bought three cars with cash We added two kids and were debt free until we bought our house. We bought our house with 20% down and owe less than $50,000 on it. I'd say we are doing much better on that measly roofer's salary than many are doing on much more.

Here's the thing... It's impossible to unhear what you said. And it's fortunate for you that you were moved to another church not long after we married because I would have come to you for that happy dance a year later. Your phrase has stuck with me and in a sense I've been living my life to prove you wrong year after year. But I'm not going to live to prove you wrong anymore because the truth is you WERE and ARE wrong. And you will continue to be wrong. So instead of living to prove you wrong I am simply going to LIVE... and you can just know that you had a big moment of complete stupidity.

I don't need your happy dance because I have my own!

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Counseling and Healing


Back in the spring when things got a bit crazy I packed up my bags and left. I drove until I didn't want to drive anymore and then found a hotel and stayed for two nights. I didn't take a cell phone and I didn't tell anyone where I was or when I was coming back. I needed to get away... escape for a few days. Figure out what I wanted to do.

I came home and told Mike I would stay IF he gave up all use of the computer (I didn't want to have to worry about things) and went to counseling. He is an introvert and needs someone to help him dig down and get to the root of things. He needs help processing and communicating what he is processing.

Me? I process naturally. I talk. Talking helps me sort through things. I usually figure if I talk long enough I'll figure it out. :)

So we spent the money on Mike because he needed it more.

A little over a month ago I finally went along with him. That was my first counseling experience and I really appreciated when the guy looked at me and just said "I can tell you'd rather be anywhere but here and that's ok. Thanks for coming anyways." Honesty. Bluntness. I liked it.

But I didn't go back.

You see... People always use onions to talk about anything with layers. We peel onions in layers... and we always HEAL in layers. When I went to counseling with Mike I didn't really learn anything that hadn't already been spoken in some way during our years of marriage. However... it did reopen wounds and show me that I haven't healed as much as I thought I did... and in some areas maybe not at all.

Counseling left me feeling quite raw and that's when things between me and Mike took another nose dive.

I started admitting more and more how much I was stuck in anger, bitterness and the lack of forgiveness. I've been operating through heartache for far too long and I'm just exhausted. I'm broken. But I can't stay in this place... it's just not in me to do that. No matter how much I just want to give up the fight I CAN'T. I don't know how to quit.

So I opened up to EVERYONE and shared all my mess and one of my pastors read it and suggested that I go see the counselor that works at the church. Ok. I made an appointment even though I didn't really want to. Friday morning I went... a bit skeptical and uncertain. Could someone really help me? Would they just sit there analyzing me and then tell me what most of us already know... that I'm just a bit too crazy?

But you know what! It wasn't like I thought it would be at all. I walked in and it felt like I was sitting at Panera talking to a friend... sharing my heart. I got to just spill the entire story... all the details that I'm too ashamed to tell others. I wasn't judged or analyzed or told I was crazy. Instead I had my feelings validated. That alone was helpful to the healing process.

She also had some suggestions that I think will be helpful to me in finding closure with some people I need to find closure with. She suggested I write letters... ones I might not ever send or share with anyone. But write. Tell them what I need to tell them. Let it all out.

I'm going to do that. Some of those letters I might share. Some I'll probably put on paper and burn when I am done. But I'm going to write.

And I'm going to go back to the counselor again in two weeks.

I want to get better.
I don't want to live with this anger, bitterness and unforgiveness.
It's no fun.

I want life to be fun again.
So I will do the work to get back to that place.

In the end I'll be a better me and I look forward to that.

Friday, November 8, 2013


ANGER: a feeling of great annoyance or antagonism as the result of some real or supposed grievance; rage; wrath.

I. am. angry.

I'm angry that my marriage isn't what it should be.
Angry that porn has infected it.
Angry that I can't move past it.

I'm angry at the women who will take their clothes off for anyone.
Angry that they don't consider the marriages they may wreck.
Or the people that will be hurt on the other side of it.

I'm angry at the men who will continue to look at porn and buy sex from women.
Angry that they will treat women as objects to fulfill their selfish need. 
Angry that they take advantage.

I'm angry at the deeper problem with porn... human trafficking.
Because I don't believe for a moment that all those women in porn actually WANT to be doing that or CHOOSE to be doing that. There is a great link between porn and human trafficking. 

I'm just angry.
I'm stuck in this anger.
I know anger is part of the grieving process and that I need to process through this. Because I am grieving. I'm grieving the loss of a good marriage. The loss of trust.

I can still smile, laugh and enjoy life most days. I'm not faking those things. But underneath it all is just this constant, simmering anger.

I need to do something about this.
Help me Jesus.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

B. Family Photos

October is definitely the month of family photography. I'm still working my way through the sessions I had. (Only two more to goooo!)

This family was referred to me through a friend and can I just say... they were so nice! One of the things I love about my job is that I get to meet some really great people that I would never run into anywhere else.

As the day approached we found out that the park we were going to was having a Halloween event for kids at the same time our session was scheduled. It was either go somewhere else or change the time. Hooray for flexible people! We changed the time and headed out on a beautiful COLD day! The sun did come out for us to warm things up a bit and we were definitely thankful for that!

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(She. is. BEAUTIFUL!)

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Pretty sure that every little girl needs a great picture with her daddy!!

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