Sunday, December 29, 2013

"Not I, But the Grace of God.."

A few weeks ago, I got a message from my coach saying that our top 5 girls need to be at the Knox News Sentinel between such and such times on that Wednesday for pictures.  "Makenzie needs to be there at 5:45 and wear her shoes and uniform for runner of the year photos."  Well I was totally confused.  This whole thing went right over my head.
  First off, I thought it was that day (Monday), and I could not figure out why I was the only one who needed shoes and a uniform and a specific time either.  So here I was, at home by myself, calling to no avail my parents that would not answer.  I was freaking out because I thought that we had to leave for Knoxville in the next few minutes, but no one was going to be home to leave.  So a few minutes later I went back and very carefully re-read the message from Coach Farmer.  Oh.  "Thank goodness; it's Wednesday, not today," I thought.  "OH MY! WHAT? OH MAN! OH MAN!" was about all the words that would come out.  Yeah, that said runner of the year.  I finally realized that I had been chosen for the PrepXtra Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year by the Knoxville News Sentinel, the main East Tennessee newspaper.
I remember being younger, just really getting into running, my dad would show me these guys and girls selected for this, and I would think, "Whoa, that would be the coolest thing!  These people are awesome!"  I never would have thought it would be me.  That's kinda why it took me so long to figure out what was going on when Farmer just flat-out told me.  I have always admired runners who receive awards like this and many others.
I knew this season was a blessing; more things happened than I would have ever imagined possible.  Winning a state championship by a very wide margin, for example.
God set all these things into action for one purpose, His purpose.  I always pray a lot for God to take my life and use me in whatever ways He sees fit for His glory.  He has presented so many opportunities for our team to be in situations for others to see Him working through us.  "Nothing is impossible with God."  (Luke 1:37)  We worked so hard all season with the goal of a championship on our mind, pushing us forward from race to race.  More importantly than everything, we had faith in God that He would prepare us for whatever we may be challenged with.  Yes, there were painful days, sickness and soreness, defeats in races, and competition within the team.  All of that made us stronger.  I believe that God brought the girls, families, and coaches of our team together to encourage each other to be bold in sharing what we are here for.  We have been given talents by God and for God.  We must "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for [us] in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18
I cannot find words to say how blessed I am to have this opportunity to share with so many others how God gives so much strength, rewards the faithful, and is just flat-out good and loving.
It's not me; it's Him at work.
Like I had said earlier in the season, one of my all-time favorite Bible verses of this season is
1 Corinthians 15:10, "By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.  No, I worked hard...yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me."
That's why I titled this post with part of that verse.  It just means so much to me and is a daily reminder of why God's word tells us to be humble.  "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."  1 Corinthians 6:19-20.  I am not my own.  Another way to  put the verse above (Luke 1:37)--without God, I can do nothing.  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing."  John 15:5
There is a piece of the article on my school system's Facebook page, and the whole thing is in the Knox News Sentinel.
My coach, Raymond Farmer, was also one of the two selected for Coach of the Year.
(The other 4 girls from our team were on the PrepXtra first team.  They got an individual picture taken and placed in the sports section with around 10 other girls from the area.  That Wednesday, I did the same photo and went to the pro photographer for the pictured-above shoot.)

New Protein Bar Treat

This is one of my favorite brands of all protein bars.  Luna is by the same group as Clif Bars, just made especially for women.
This is a brand new flavor, Carrot Cake!  It is more like eating dessert than a protein bar!  It is sweet and satisfying, with icing on the bottom, and the bar is filled with grains, nuts, cinnamon, and raisins!
I often do eat protein bars for dessert with frozen and regular yogurts.  It's a great sweet treat!

A Typical Day of my Christmas Break

These are the days that I think of as a stereotypical Christmas Break day for me.  Sleeping in, exercise, a nice breakfast, computer time, playing Wii, reading, and dinner.
Yesterday was just that!  Except we went to Walmart, too.

After I did a morning workout, I got to try out one of my new Christmas presents, a griddle!  I'd been asking for one for a while, so that I could have friends over and make us a bunch of pancakes and maybe even eggs.  These were some more pumpkin ones.  I had one lonely Kashi waffle left in the freezer, so I also added the toppings to it and ate it, too.  Pumpkin, pumpkin butter, spices, honey, and sugar free syrup are just the right toppings.

I found this at Walmart, and it is so tasty!  Just the right balance of eggnog and vanilla to make it not-too-strong, but right to my taste.  Healthier, too!

I got the Just Dance for Christmas and bought the Zumba the previous day at Target.  I love these dancing games, because I enjoy having fun while exercising, so dancing is the fun.  This is how I pass extra afternoon time I have before dinner on breaks from school. 
I put my new eggnog drink to good use after dinner!  I made my own vanilla eggnog protein shake using the eggnog of course, vanilla extract, protein powder, vanilla almond milk, vanilla bean frozen yogurt, and boston cream pie yogurt, adding in some cinnamon and nutmeg.  Delish!

This is the next book I have started reading after I finished Jantsen's Gift by Pam Cope. This is the book I bought and got autographed at the concert a little over a month ago.  A fairly different story, it is still hitting me hard!  I love reading about true life stories.  Jeremy came from a background that you would not expect.  His faith in God is so amazing and admirable, and the way he trusts God through struggles and the unknown is so inspiring.  He really has put to use the gifts that God blessed him with.  His love for others and his wife is also something to take note of.  This is the kind of man I want for my husband.  Jeremy is a fantastic role model for all men out there!  Hearing his story and knowledge of God really hits my heart, and I believe it will yours, too.

Shopping Day with Mom

On the Friday after Christmas, Mom and I went to Knoxville to shop.  Last year we also went on December 27th, so I told Mom that we should make this another tradition.  I really enjoy the days that we spend shopping together!  Occasionally, shopping brings us to arguments because we have such different styles, but we have been doing good lately!
Our first stop was at a store where I could spend all my money, and this is no joke.  There is always SO much, and I can even just walk around and look at everything for hours, too.  This place is Dick's Sporting Goods.  If you're an athlete, after I said the store name, you know why I love it so much.  Two shirts my mom had gotten me were a size too small, and we were lucky enough to find the exact shirts in the right size.  How often does that happen?  Dick's also has great sales after Christmas, I have come to find out, so I also bought a pair of spandex shorts and some gray half-tights to run in on cooler days.
Next we headed to another one of my favorties:  Panera Bread.
I'm the kind of person who loves to go to these fancy little places, because I don't get to much.  When Mom takes me (I actually got Dad to take me and a friend and her mom after a cross country meet once), it is a treat!
I know that I can always count on Panera to have yummy, fresh, healthy, and satisfying items on the menu.  They also have seasonal items rotating all year to keep things new!
Here I had a cup of vegetable soup with a roasted turkey harvest and wheatberry salad with hummus.

The bakery in Panera is also great!  I got a coffee, hazelnut blend, with a pumpkin muffie!
I also love how they have it set out for you to fix your own coffee with cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey; I added it on top of my muffie!  Honey makes everything better.  Mom got an apple crunch muffin, and it was fantastic as well!
Next we headed to the mall to exchange some socks, find a shirt or two, get some pajamas for mom, and look around.  Even when I don't buy things, I love to go to the West Town Mall.  However, malls have become a very disturbing place for those with modesty and morals...I thought I might be blind by the time I left.  
Store like Hollister, Abercrombie, and others have sales such as 50% off entire store this time of year!
Afterwards, we went to another one of my favorites (yes, Knoxville has lots of my favorties), Target!  Here I got a new game for my Wii.
Finally we went to SAMS so mom could renew her membership and we could pick up some food that is good to buy in larger quantities.
Today was another great day of Christmas vacation!
**But I also learned a couple things:
1. If you're trying to quickly get the frost off the windshield of your car, remember when you crank it, turn on the defrost.  It helps speed things up...silly me.
2.  If it is super cold, and your hands don't like cold, don't run if you aren't fully prepared.  Then you may not be able to text your mother or even crank the car.
3.  Don't let your hands get so cold that when they sense warm and begin to thaw, you get horrible pains to where you cry more than you have in years.
Yes, I did these things this morning.
Learn from your mistakes!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Celebrating the Savior

This was the day, the day we'd all been waiting for!  I think it is so neat that each Christmas,      Hobby Lobby puts a full page ad in the paper about what we are truly celebrating-Jesus's birthday.  I just wanted to put this picture first, because it is truly the source of all life's joy.
As I've gotten older, I have noticed that I don't look forward to the gifts so much, but find myself getting more excited about the little things, like get-togethers with friends, moments with friends and family, smiles and laughs, and just relaxing and taking in the beautiful world God has blessed us with.

Mom just had to let Sophie in for Christmas!  She just loves her kitty.

Here is our lovely tree before we left for Christmas Eve!  Christmas morning, it looked a little different, because the gifts to and from grandparents weren't there, but a stack for me from "Santa" had appeared!  Mom has our entire living room matching.  The wrapping paper each year also must color coordinate.  She also won't put an ornament on the tree that doesn't match, no matter who it came from.  (I even have an anniversary ornament on my tree because it matched mine better.)  I do love to look at Christmas decorations!  Not a bit of ba humbug in our house!
Our stockings also match, mine (which you cannot see here) hangs in the middle with a reindeer on it, and Mom and Dad's are on the ends with Santas.  Since this dress I got "would not fit in any sort of wrapping,"  Mom just hung it up with my stocking.  Cute idea I thought!  So I quickly "opened" my first gift upon walking into the room.
I got so many great gifts, some of which you will see in later posts of me putting them into use, but I don't want to elaborate on the gifts I received.  I already have everything I need because of Christ.  Although this Christmas has been super busy, it has been amazing.  I have enjoyed it so much!  I am so blessed to be living this life.
Last year, I got a Garmin GPS watch (the one I am wearing in this picture.).  I was so excited, wanting to try it out asap.  Remember how when you are a little kid, Christmas Day is spent playing with all your new toys?  Well that's what we did, play with my new toy.  (Meaning, we went for a run.)  This year, Mom and I (mostly mom) got Dad a GPS watch!  So we had our second annual Christmas Day run!  As you can see in the above picture, I had to show him how to use it.
We have a couple more Christmas Day traditions with our food.  Breakfast is cinnamon rolls and breakfast casserole made by Mom, then dinner is spaghetti made by Dad!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Another morning to sleep in!  I wanted to change up my exercise today, so Mom and I went to the Jefferson City Community Center.  While I swam for a while then ran 11 minutes on the treadmill, Mom sat in her Yukon in the parking lot and occupied herself.  We then headed back toward town and met Dad at Taco John's for lunch.  This is also a festive restaurant!  They even add "Nachos Navidad" to their menu each holiday season, and they also put up decorations.
When we got home I finished what I had planned for lunch and tried something new.  I am very frustrated that I could not find any Christmas candy corn this year, because it makes an amazing snack with nuts.  Instead, I mixed some almonds, pistachios, and peanuts with honey and cinnamon.  YUMMY. 

Let the fun begin!
You have no idea how much I have been looking forward to this night.  It is my favorite night all year.

This is my lovely Granannie.  She is my dad's mom.  I just love how sweet and cute and beautiful she is.  We have so many terrific memories!

These are my cousins Matt and David from my mom's sister.

These are two of my favorite people in the whole wide world!  My mom's parents aka Mamaw and Papaw.  Their house is where we spend every Christmas Eve.  Mamaw says she feels like she feeds us the same food all the time, but I LOVE IT.  I could literally sit and eat all the vegetables she makes all night.  However, I had to stop myself to save room for dessert.  On Christmas and Thanksgiving she gets a ham, and other times she makes meatloaf.  Her fudge and peanut butter fudge and sweet potoato and pumpkin pies are also phenomenal!

After leaving Whitesburg (the little country town where my grandparents live), we went back to Jefferson City to my friend's house for a party!  We stayed until after midnight.  Here's some of the adults breakin it down...literally rockin around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop!

This is my good and crazy friend Danny.  His parents are the ones who host this yearly party, but he was tired from and early basketball practice and refused to let go of his blanket.

This is another one of my friends from Jeff, Alexandria.  Believe it or not, she is actually a grade younger than me.  Yes, I am short, I know.
Every Christmas Eve, I read the Christmas Story to Mom and Dad before we go to bed.  Because of the partying, it was 2 am before we got into bed, but we are celebrating Jesus here, not ourselves! 
Here is another passage of scripture that I have become very fond of this year.  It is in Isaiah 9, a prediction of Jesus's birth.
*He was born for us.
*All decision-making and governmental principles should be based on him.
*He is here to give us guidance.
*He is stronger than any earthly power or struggle.
*He never fails or ends.
*He gives us peace that cannot be reached through our own strength.
*There is no end to His rule and peace.
This is where the true joy of Christmas comes from!

Garmin Connect - Profile Information for makenzie_jones

Garmin Connect - Profile Information for makenzie_jones

I didn't know I could "share" this, but here is my profile from Garmin Connect and my GPS watch!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Monday the 23rd Already?

Shew, I cannot believe yesterday was already the day before Christmas Eve.  It was a great fun day, though!
After I slept in and laid in bed for the first time in what seemed like forever, I worked out downstairs for an hour and a half.  Then I fixed a breakfast of all new things I have been waiting since Thanksgiving break to try!  I wanted to wait so I could sit and enjoy it.  I got these things at Target-the wonderstore!
Archer Farms Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal-I love creating pumpkin spice foods, so I decided to try a premade version, since I know that Archer Farms is a top, trustworthy brand.  It was a success!  I mix my oatmeal using Silk Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk then topped it off with cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, ginger, and nutmeg...perfect!
Kashi Chocolate Almond Butter Cookies are something I don't even consider a dessert.  I ate a Kashi Oatmeal Raisin Cookie before almost every race this cross country season, too.  They are so healthy, you just can't feel bad about eating these cookies!
Added to my coffee was another Target treat-a Dark Chocolate Espresso stirrer. I can't find an internet page for these, but there are multiple flavors available during the holiday to add some flavor to hot cocoa, milk, or coffee.

Dad took our sheltie, Frisco to get a bath!  Thank goodness...if you had seen (or smelled) this dog before he got bathed, you would not think it is the same dog.  He enjoys to bark at the rain and roll in the mud, so he is always a mess.  But, precious puppy cleans up nice!

Even the most spastic of all dogs we have had is such a lover.  He starves for attention.  Frisco wouldn't hurt anything!  He "plays" with bunnies that get into the yard.  He will hold them down, but gently, while he licks and pets on them, then he lets them go.

I can't believe that I got him to look at the camera!  He was about to clobber and lick me to death, because he was so excited to see me!  Dad told me to get some good pictures of him while he was trapped on the deck, because once he got down, the fluffiness wouldn't last long.

Here is the cutie again, with his "sister," who is now an outdoor cat since she decided whenever she got made she would pee in the laundry baskets.  When the weather gets cold, all she wants is to come back inside!  Our family believes that they think they are of the same species, because they look out for each other so much.  Frisco hardly ever leaves Sophie alone!  She may not admit it if she could talk, but we even catch Sophie snuggling with and chasing Frisco around, too.  Pets are such a wonderful gift from God!  Although they can't speak, they touch hearts and lift spirits.
As of this day, I still was not done delivering or even wrapping gifts.  So my afternoon and night was spent doing just that.  After leaving Ingles, Mom and I drove to a friend's house to take her a gift from me.  At home, I worked on additions to my parents' gifts and took treats to the neighbors.  After dinner and a shower, I headed downstairs to wrap the gifts from me to Mom and Dad while watching Charlie Brown Christmas for at least the 4th time this year.  Mom and Dad were upstairs watching one of the funniest Christmas movies, in my opinion, Four Christmases.  I caught the last 45 minutes and still got a ton of laughs.  I must say, however, my dad's laughter at certain scenes made me go into uncontrollable laughter more from him than the movie!  It has to be good to get my dad tickled like that, and I love to see it!  He is so funny; I just love him.
Today was full of so many things I love about Christmas:  sleep, exercise, breakfast, gifts, shopping, wrapping, doing crafts, and spending time with the pets and family, and laughter and love!

Monday, December 23, 2013

No Ba Humbug.

My mom is fed up with all these televisions channels, public places, and pretty much everything has become all ba humbug, showing no Christmas spirit.  Not wanting to cook dinner, Mom suggested that we should go to Cookout and grab a bite.  We walked in, no Christmas decorations, and Mom completely changed her attitude and said, "What is this?  Not even a Christmas tree?  Yeah, we're not eating here.  Let's walk over to Buddy's; I could see a tree through the window."
Buddy's is where I wanted to eat in the first place, which combined with a good atmosphere, made for a happy Kenzie.  It did seem rather strange for Mom to do that, though. 
She made a good choice!  The inside was decorated so nice, and Christmas music was playing!  The fire and not-fluorescent lights also made it feel all nice and warm-cozy.

I could have this meal all the time!  It'd been a while since I had eaten at Buddy's BBQ, and I forgot just how yummy it is.  Last night I got a turkey plate with green beans and potato salad.  The meals come with hushpuppies, too, but I'm not a fan.
In time for the holidays, they added eggnog to their list of old-fashioned shakes.  Made with soft-serve ice cream and Mayfield eggnog, topped with nutmeg, it was tempting me all through my meal.  So, I got one and split it with Mom!  This was a good decision, and I may have to go get another one before long.

Pal's always has good, simple little thoughts to share.  Our Pal's is also right with these other restaurants.  I just LOVE to give, so I had to snap a picture of the sign.  You can also follow @palsweb on Twitter to see their daily words of wisdom.
"...We must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said:  'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"  Acts 20:34

Chick-fil-a also has a cute little set up for Christmas!  I took this picture one Wednesday morning before Bible Study.  I am actually very glad that Mom made such a random decision to walk out of Cookout!  I am all for supporting places that display some Christmas spirit!  This is a time to celebrate, and I intend to celebrate. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

We are Never Alone

During different holiday seasons, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, I love to look at the comics.  During these times, there seems to be more funny, cute, and meaningful ones.  This morning, I really liked the simple and true fact behind today's Mutts. 
We really are never alone.  We would not even have this holiday to celebrate if God never sent us His son to live and die for us.  Ya know, we wouldn't even be celebrating "mas" because nothing even would have started a holiday.  Even when we feel completely deserted by family, friends, teachers, coworkers, and more, God is always there.  He promises us that many times in His word.  This verse in Hebrews says it plain and simple:  "...God has said, 'Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.'"  (Hebrews 13:5)
Never forget that, not only during Christmas, but every moment of every day.

It's Beginning to Feel a lot Like Christmas

I have been so busy, I am totally exhausted and not ready for Christmas at all!  However, now that I'm out of school, things are starting to feel more like Christmas!  It's just a shame that we didn't get out of school earlier so that we could all enjoy the pre-Christmas excitement more fully.
Friday, school let out at 11:15, and I headed home.  I cleaned/organized some stuff then worked out.  This is part of my lunch I had after that.  I had pumpkin and cream cheese-topped waffles with this "almost smore."  It's some Bee's Knees peanut butter on graham crackers with some fudge in the middle!

After having a breakfast for dinner (turkey sausage, egg whites, feta and goat cheese with hummus bowl and a serving of quinoa with Planter's Cinnamon Raisin Granola PB, extra raisins, and a banana-talk about protein) I drove to church to enjoy some Christmas music and worship.  These are two of my friends Kristen and Mattie.  We matched with the crimson!

Latte Moon was also in operation for this event, and I topped my decaf with marshmallows and whipped cream!

This is our contemporary worship leader Brooks.  He is so great at what he does!
"Oh come, all ye faithful
joyful and triumphant
Oh come ye, oh come ye
to Bethlehem"
Mom and Dad had gone out to dinner with some friends from their Sunday School class and brought them home for dessert that Mom and I had made the day before.  This pie (that we've made twice this Christmas already) is easy to make, so it's great for a last minute party dessert.  And you can't go wrong with cream cheese!  Called "Heavenly Caramel Pie," it sure lives up to it's name.

This is what I have been wanting to do for a long time!  I have several alarms pre-labeled that I use for repetitive events, but this is not just a joyful run; it is a run to Starbucks!  I saw that the weather was going to be great and warm Saturday morning, so I texted my friend Katlyn (with whom I often do fun runs with) to see if she could come "on a surprise breakfast run with me."  It would be a surprise because we had never gone here before, and I did not tell her where we were having breakfast.  I didn't tell her to bring money either, so she didn't know whether we were even eating out or if I was cooking for us again!  I was super excited!  I had two Starbucks gift cards, one new and one partially used.  Starting from my house, we ran on the highway and through various neighborhoods and made a 180 degree turnaround, all of which confusing her breakfast guesses.  When we arrived at Ingles (where our Morristown Starbucks is located), she knew then!  We went in and ordered.
Starbucks in general makes me think of Christmas.

Here we are with our breakfast at a table in the little Ingles cafĂ©.  We both got oatmeal-theirs is my favorite!  I add honey, blueberries, and a seed/nut mix they have as options.  I also mix in from the "drink decorators" the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate powder.  Those went in my coffee, too.  Katlyn did the same, except she got a peppermint mocha.  When Mom came to pick us up, she also brought Katlyn's Christmas present from me.  I enjoyed catching up with Katlyn, as I hadn't seen her hardly at all since cross country had ended!  We talked and laughed so much, a great way to start my morning.

After lunch, Mom, Dad, and I headed to Knoxville to finish the final Christmas shopping.  Now I am disappointed because I have recently found things that I would like for Christmas, but it is too late.  That's what happens when you're too busy to look for gift ideas until the week before.  However, Dad and I walked around while Mom shopped for me (which I have no idea what I may get!).  We had dinner at Chili's then went to my favorite dessert place which is conviently two stores down from Chili's on Kingston Pike, Yogli Mogli.  I was super excited about this, too, especially with seasonal flavors!  I feel bad, because Dad got super mad at me.  I am embarrassed to say that this was over $19.00...BUT I have decided that I am going to make better choices with my money, so this is most likely my last one of these unless someone else treats/takes me.
It looked a lot prettier before I put the whipped cream on, but oh well. 
The flavors:  Cheesecake, gingerbread, red velvet, dulce de leche, cake batter, praline pecan, cake batter, peanut butter
The toppings/layers:  cheesecake, Recees, Heath, Butterfinger, brownie, and some little "unidentified" things that looked like brownie/chocolate cookie dough shaped bites that were super tasty!
(I eat very large portions of this stuff, so do not fear; I highly doubt, even if you get the largest size bowls like I did, that anyone else's dessert will cost this much.)

On our way home, we drove through Chilhowee Park to look at the lights.  This was the best-looking part in my opinion.  These lights go over a bridge that crosses a large pond.
Today, I was finishing my final Christmas odd-and-in gifts.  I love to decorate and make cards and crafty things, so on this envelope for the letter to my aunt and uncle, I made it real Christmasy!
I'm so excited that I have finally had some joyful and more relaxed feelings!  Better late than never, right?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Jantsen's Gift--A Book that will Change Your Heart

I started reading this book quite a while ago, but with my classwork, I've just now started to get into it more.  It is really capturing my heart!  The story of Pam, Jantsen, and the adopted children is really working in my heart.  It makes me so sad to imagine the terrible situations people, especially children, are forced to live in in countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Haiti, and many more.  I have really begun to think more about how I spend my money, and how I should appreciate things more.  I am truly blessed with so much that God has given me to share with others.  So far, this book has been a blessing to me, and I hope it is to anyone else who reads it!  Hopefully I will have more to share about it in the near future.

The family also has a foundation that helps suffering children, Touch A Life.

Honey-Maple Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

My TNN (Trojan Nation Network, a usually 2-day-a-week half hour like a homeroom) class had a little Christmas party where we could bring in goodies to share.  I found this recipe in a Family Circle magazine and was super excited to try them!  They turned out great-not crunchy!  They're healthy, too, so this is a great Christmas time treat.

Here is a picture of the recipe from the magazine.  However, I used whole wheat flour, added some cinnamon and extra raisins, used honey, and left off the glaze.  Many recipes can be changed slightly for your specific taste!

A Charlie Brown Christmas Night

I have finally delivered all my presents to school.  Wednesday night, I spent some more time downstairs wrapping gifts for friends and teachers.  And what is Christmas wrapping without Christmas movies?  My mom got me the holiday set of the Charlie Brown movies, so I have now worked my way through the Great Pumpkin to Christmas.
My friends Abby and Noah gave me two of the Snoppy stuffed animals from Khols Cares above, and my mom gave me the other one, and they didn't even know what each other got me!  (This was for my birthday in October.)  I had to bring them with me to complete the atmosphere.  Some of my wrapping paper (which is sadly gone now) is even Peanuts!
However, I am sad that this part of the season is over.  I get out of school for Christmas Break in an hour and 10 minutes.  It's already December 20th.  I am not ready for this.  On my way to school this morning, the song Come on, Christmas by Matthew West played from my CD.  One verse says, "I wouldn't mind if you're early this time.  So come on, come on, come on Christmas."  I thought well that's usually how I would feel, but this year it cannot come early; I'm not ready for this!  Time has flown by too fast, but I am just praying for peace to enjoy every moment.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mandisa- It's Christmas

Another one of my favorite artists is Mandisa, and she also has a Christmas album with classic and her own original songs.  Two fo my favorites that I have downloaded are It's Christmas and Somebody's Angel.
"We could be that shining light
To show the heart of Christmas time
People need love
And we all are able
So take some time and start today
To give some joy and hope away
'Cause you might be
You might be
Somebody's angel"
This is the chorus of Somebody's Angel.  Christmas doesn't bring the same joy to everyone, because some people don't have enough money to give to others, buy special decorations or food, and some can't even do anything to celebrate.  This song makes me think about how much I am blessed with, yet how ungrateful I am.  Thinking about all the unfortunate people across the world, from my own neighborhood to across the oceans, it makes me want to give.  People like that often find the greatest joy out of small thoughtful gifts from the heart.
You never know, you may be the one to make someone's year.

It's Christmas is a very upbeat, celebratory song!
"But let's not forget
In the middle of the busy-ness
Remember this
Jesus is the reason for
This time of the year
We're gonna celebrate

It's Christmas
Oh Let me hear
That joyful noise in the air
Wanna hear it everywhere
Heaven and earth proclaim
Come on let's celebrate
It's Christmas"
This is probably my favorite part of this song.  Right now, I am definitely feeling the business.  There is no way that this time next week Christmas will be over.  I feel like I have done nothing, because it has all just gone too fast.  But let's not think about that; it's too sad!  When we become overwhelmed, we just need to remember that Jesus didn't come to stress us out--No Way!  He came to save us from our sins, give us peace, joy, and eternal life.  This is what we are to truly celebrate!
"...what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins...The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel--which means God with us."  Matthew 1:20-21, 23
"For to you a child is born, to you a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders.  And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6