December 31, 2013

The Blog in Review... a 2013 Recap

I know, right? I guess it's time to take down all the Christmas decorations!

Happy New Years' Eve, ya'll!

Are you doing anything fun to celebrate? We used to be fun...  we used to have friends and do stuff... then we had littles and our group of friends would gather and ring in the midnight hour together with games and food and all the kids in their jammies.  But slowly over the years, we have gotten less exciting! We talk of hosting a dinner party with suits and fancy dresses and appetizers and such - but really... the thought alone makes us tired and I don't even have a Pinterest Board made for it yet... so there is that?

Anyway - I am taking today to reflect back over our year and this blog and thought it would be fun (because clearly - we know what that is!) to highlight some of the posts that meant the most to me... or to you... the posts that got the most traffic (for my little corner of the blogosphere anyway!) or the ones that left me most vulnerable... open... bleeding a bit on the keyboard, as they say!  It was a banner year around here in that I finally found a bit of consistency... which was the one goal I had set for myself in 2013!

A little pondering and reflecting is good... looking back to see what the year held, and looking ahead with hope arising for whatever is next!  Join me, won't you?

On January 1, 2013 I began the day (and year) much the same! I started several years ago, waking on New Years Day settling in with coffee and my journal... waiting... praying... I ask the Lord for a Prophetic Word for the year, as well as a book in the Bible to focus on... you can read that HERE and see if it bears witness to your own 2013!  It's always fun to look back and see how He was right! (He's always right!) It was January that I also joined Holley Gerth and began to pursue my God-Sized Dream...  I also continued on with Five Minute Fridays because - well, with that Gathering of Awesome - how could I not?  I wrote about how I have always been Cherished... how I have always known it but I haven't always felt it!  That turned into a Two Parter.  

In February, I guest posted over at OneWord (on  my OneWord - which was Surprise!)  I also wrote real and honest about time spent broken on our Kitchen Floor and I also touched on the Flow of Grace!

March brought with it a step into my God-Sized Dream, and I wrote about it HERE (and HERE!) I wrote about what a day in the life looks like for me now and how I Want to Forget, and again - my Five Minute Friday post on Broken on Good Friday spoke volumes (or at least got a lot of hits?)

April featured the post that got the most traffic this year, shockingly another FMF (Five Minute Friday) post on Here.  I linked up with a friend and wrote for Concrete Words, talking about my Honey and The Sink... and I joined the God-Sized Dreamers again, writing a post to the Dreamers in my life!

Oh Sweet May... 2013 in May was Cray Cray busy... filled with Senior things like Prom and Graduation prep and all sorts of banquets and such!  I posted about Counting On, Pressing In, and Requesting Prayer... and I wrote a letter From One Mama to Another!  

In June, I attempted to Start to Write a Letter to my girlie on her Graduation day, we survived Graduation week, and we both got Etched!

In July I started to link up with Emily Freeman for her super fun "Things I Learned..." link up! (I played along for June, July, August, and November...) I also hosted a link up (and learned the hard way that when you use the free tools - the link ups go away!) I started the Weekend Recap (now known as That Thing I Do Now) - a gathering of internet awesome... and I wrote a post on the Art of Balancing Life!

August was quieter, because... you know... summer!  I posted about using Scripture as a tool and not a weapon, 10 Things You Should Know (my pre-Allume post), and gave an update of sorts on my brother-in-law Jack.

September was relatively quiet as well - prepping for the insanity of October!  I did manage to post about how Love Looks Like Something, about Community Coming Right to Your Door, about walking Hand in hand in hand, and the looming #31Days!

October was JAM PACKED ya'll! Between #31 Days of Encountering God to travel and Allume... the blog was busy.  Some of the most popular posts within the #31Days series were Day 1 where I describe what I mean by an Encounter... Day 4 where I wrote about Encountering God in His written Word... Day 6 on Listening Prayer... and Days 8 & 9 on Encountering God in Parenthood.

In November, I wrote a post-Allume post where I was still processing and in staying true - I kept it real and told the good and the bad.  I wrote about Glistening Hope and before I knew it, December was here and I was all having Coffee with Jesus, being Brave, and remembering that Miracles Happen!

What about you? What are you hearing for 2014?  What is your OneWord? (Check out OneWord365 for more info!)  I think I know mine... but I am waiting for confirmation.  I like it to come and find me!

Whatever your Word or your goals... I am praying that God shows up for you and stirs up Hope in you, and that 2014 holds blessings and happy surprises around every corner! I pray you continue to stop by here for coffee and a little chatting... let's share what He is saying... what He is doing... together as we continue to live out our Dreams and lean in to all that He has for us!   

May we each purpose in 2014 to:
Speak Life... to Be Love... to Shine On.

Happy New Year!

December 30, 2013

What I Learned in December...

This is SO my Favorite Link Up of 2013... I love Emily (and was blessed to meet her ever so briefly at Allume) and for whatever reason - I can't resist a random list of... well... anything?

However, once again (as usual!) I forgot to make a list! I plan each month to write down things as the days go by but, well - let's face it! I am busy, ya'll.  Except not really... but I AM forty three... so... there is that.

I guess now you know this list will consist of whatever random things I can remember that I learned through out December... (and by 'remember' we all know I mean what I can scroll through facebook and twitter and find, right?)  I am optimistically saying there will be 12... but let's be real... December is crazy, and we'll just have to see how it goes... 

12(ish) Random Things that I learned in December:

1. I learned that God is Awesome! No wait... I already KNEW that! But I learned that when God is in it, it only takes a couple of DAYS to raise funds for a House in Kenya!  I jumped on board with the inMercy House Projects in the Fall and I wrote about Phase One here... and Phase Five - which was supposed to be live through December, raising funds to purchase a second home the Mercy House.  However - well - this is what Kristin said over at Incourage:
You gave $74,000 to fund all five phases.
And then you gave more.
Another $25,000 to help buy furnishings for a second home, provide books and educational materials for the residents, staff training for further development, and two new pregnant resident’s medical costs that we’ve made room for in 2014.
How amazing is that? FULLY funded in just a matter of days! We made (more) Room in the Inn this Christmas! (Thank you!)

2. I learned that The Nester is right... I CAN make a List of Things NOT to do - and on that list can be 'Mail out Christmas Cards'... and I can survive, relatively guilt-free, and people will still sort of talk to me! I wasn't so sure about this one. I mean... hello? I MAKE cards?  I have been hand making cards and writing Christmas Letters (yes - I am that girl!) and signing each one by hand and mailing them off by December 5th every year. For. (like.) Years!  But we sat down as a family and discussed our holiday budget (I know, right? We sound like so much fun!) and we decided to cut way back in order to up our giving.  We wanted to be able to sow in to people and ministries and the reality is that most of our friends and family are blessed beyond measure and need nothing.  So - once that was decided, and calculating how much we normally spent on materials for making cards, and the expense of stamps alone... well - that topped our list of Things NOT To Do this year! 

This was me, a year or two ago...

See? It's like some mania of creating art and while I love it - I just didn't have it in me this year, and that is ok!  (I did still write a letter and SHAMELESSLY put it up on the blog and sent it out to cyberspace... I mean really - if you know us... you know where to find me online!) So the hard part is next year... I don't know that I want to be done - but I can say - this year, THIS December... it was FREEDOM to not have to worry about it!

3. I learned that Advent is more than a little Calendar and an excuse to have chocolate! For real though! I have been a Christian for over half of my life now and love Christmas and keeping Him at the center of everything but I have never fellowshipped in a church that really made Advent a thing... so - thanks to Ann Voskamps' new book, I had myself a TIME celebrating Advent! I got a Jesse Tree and put the gorgeous ornaments that came with her book on one day at a time and underlined nearly EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. (Oh - you think I'm joking? I am not joking! It was getting ridiculous!)

4. As much as we love to do All The Christmasy Things... turns out we all actually prefer to feel our toes! This December was SUPER COLD... I mean - literally freezing or below freezing and all the fun outdoor festivities were on the calendar and penciled in... we would talk about them excitedly but as the night would arrive, we would all three sort of shrug it off... well - it IS really cold.  Yeah... none of us are fans of that! We DID go to one of the Lighted Christmas Parades... the last one (which happened to somehow be the warmest one... otherwise, well - you know!)

Added Bonus:


5. Pan-Grilled Porkchops... I found this recipe for pan grilled pork chops because, well - you know - when you are cooking Pork, it's really best to find a healthy version rather than always frying, right? OK - whatever! I rarely cook Pork anything but when I do - I find I dry it out and this recipe is SO EASY and so delicious!  It's like a no brainer, and so moist... and You're welcome!

6. I learned about the Short Film "The Butterfly Circus" and in watching it, I learned that EVERYONE should see it... Like, EVERYONE! It's twenty minutes out of your life - but you will not be the same!  It won all sorts of awards and it has the guy who played in Bella, and Nick Vujicic who I fell in love with on Oprah... and seriously... go watch it! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

7. I (re)learned that almost always, Jon Acuff is spot on... He posted this month about the song "Christmas Shoes" and about the book "The Elf on the Shelf" ...and all I can add is a hearty Amen!

8. Surprise - my OneWord... So - my OneWord this year was "Surprise"... It reared it's head early and kept on catching us unprepared! Luckily, mostly - I saw it show up in fun and well - surprising ways! Me - who rarely wins anything... found myself winning all sorts of loot! From books to jewelry to scarves... unexpected money, unexpected joy, unexpected peace in the midst of some unknowns.  Of course - a few of the Surprises we are still praying against and believing for healing for, but even into December, the surprises just kept on coming!

9. Shopping on the Last Saturday before Christmas - at the MALL - is 'fun'... I still mainly disagree with this statement!  I have this Bossy self-imposed Deadline of sorts. My goal each year is to be DONE done with all things Christmasy by December 10th.  Things, as I have stated here before, can get a little tense hectic around here as that date approaches.  However, once it has come and gone and All of The Things are DONE... I get to relax and thoroughly enjoy the holidays! It works for me! It used to be easier when the Little was little and toys could be bought way in advance... but still - it's a doable goal and the pay off is worth it!  However, this year - even though I was all done... my girlie and Honey were not per say, so they thought it would be fun to go out to the Mall... on the last Saturday before Christmas... just to look around and 'maybe buy a few things'  (MAYBE?  As in - you still have no clue as to what you are going to buy? And this will be fun?)  They are special like that! Now - if I still had shopping to do - well... it wouldn't have been as much fun!  Mostly - when someone's kid (or someone's Mom) was having a break down, we simply left the store! We didn't NEED to be there after all and so we were free to just move along! Of course this also means we (and by we, you know I mean everyone else BUT me!) had no idea what we wanted to purchase in the first place - so anything could happen, and we could wander into (or out of) any given store! I must admit - most likely because I WAS done and felt no pressure... it was actually pretty fun!  We strolled around and helped our Girlie pick out gifts for her friends (that she paid for!)... we all went out to dinner at Famous Dave's Legendary Pit Bar-B-Que (Get the Beef Brisket, ya'll!)... we shopped until dark and then wrapped the gifts while watching a Christmas movie.  Still - you know next December, around the 7th or so - this will not sound FUN at all!

10. Duck Dynasty + Jen Hatmaker = I may be cooler than I thought... I don't watch Duck Dynasty. I know... whatever? I mean - I have SEEN it. Once. Maybe Twice. I see the appeal, but I just am an irresponsible tv watcher and there is little if anything that I actually tune in to on purpose.  Still - with all the controversy flying around, I read a few pieces here and there and many of them were good but I couldn't quite get over the lack of Grace... from both 'sides'... once I thought it had all died down, I decided to bring it up to my Honey. Now - he doesn't watch either and he also rarely gets involed with all the hype... he was aware of it - but didn't foresee how passionate I got as I got my preach on and went off a little bit on a soap box about how we need to be love and as much as he has the right to say whatever - we have consequences and more than anything - we need to be grace... Anyway... because I had been mid-sentence when Jen Hatmaker put up a new blog post, I stopped everything I was doing and saying (as is my Jen Hatmaker policy) and read her heart... which was, I pointed out repetitively nearly word for word what I had just said. So - really, I learned in December that I am maybe a little bit cooler than I suspected because, well - Jen Hatmaker and I say the same things.  But I bet she doesn't type out her whole name quite as often as I do. Which, according to this paragraph, is maybe a little bit excessive. (... Jen Hatmaker.)

11. Heads Up! an iPhone Ap... A friend told me about this Ap/Game and I was all like - whatever, I don't PAY for Ap's... but then I realized that this is the game that I keep wanting to buy for the nephews and nieces but then I'd have to be all like, "Hey - you can only play this if you invite me over first!" and the older ones may realize this is weird, so I figured that $1.99 is worth it! So I bought it... and realized that this is the game Ellen Degenerous plays on her show that is always so fun!  So - this Ap = HOURS of fun! HOURS! Go buy it! (OH - and the VIDEOS ya'll? I may need a new phone because I save almost every one... they are so hysterical! But then again - that's just us... and we're all Jen Hatmaker-like and everything, sooo... there's that! Your videos may not be as fun as mine... I'm just sayin'?) 

12. Downton Abbey... I know, right? We are like that LAST PEOPLE on the PLANET to watch this show?  To be fair... I was saving it! As much as #10 revealed about me not being responsible to remember to watch stuff - I really was saving this one! I decided early on that I would wait and I would watch it in the fetal position while experiencing the emptiness of being an Empty Nester... but then, well - God love her, she isn't gone... (she is attending college in town and living at home and we LOVE this - but how long can one really hold out and NOT partake of Downton Abbey?) Not long.  That is the answer. So - I decided in December that - you know, after December 10th - I would lay around and watch Downton Abbey on Netflix for DAYS and get all caught up... because while I cannot run, I can marathon like no one's business!  But then - the horror... Netflix doesn't HAVE DA anymore?  Anyway - we are all watching this together (because they actually requested for me to NOT watch it without them? Wait? What? But you all are gone all day?) and we are on Season 1... about episode 5 maybe?  Now I know ...I vaguely remember something AWFUL happens in Season Two... someone dies and I have blocked out that knowledge... you all survived it and still watch, right? I am pretty sure I can handle it! Now - they are ready to watch more so... I have to go! (Priorities, people!)

Oooh - and lookie... I thought of one more thing:
13. Jeanuary (vs. Dressember!)... Speaking of Priorities (or mine that are, well... not always on straight...) some of my Blogger friends were doing Dressember this month and I had considered it but I wimped out. Mostly because, well... #4. But all month long I felt like I should have just sucked it up... bought some fleece lined leggings and jumped on board! Still... the cold?  But I learned in December that my friend Amy Clary is partnering up with Freeset (who I LOVE) and they are doing a Jeanuary... in January! So - I can wear jeans everyday and maybe not be cold - and still help raise awareness and funds to help end human trafficking! Perfection!  For more info... click HERE and join us in January Jeanuary!  

So, it turns out I that 'remembered' more than I thought I would!  (Thank the Lord for my active life on all things #BossySocialMedia!)

So what about you?  What have you learned in December? (You can 'cheat' like me if you need to!) Next month, I hope to learn some actual stuff! You know, some things that enlighten and educate.  Then again... Downton Abbey?

I am Linking up with Emily over here
at Chatting at the SkyJoin us!

December 28, 2013

That Thing I Do Now - Vol 24 (ish)

So - did ya'll survive Christmas?  Well - because it was Christmas week and I didn't really read MUCH this week... many of my normal places to sit and read were a bit quieter this week, for good reason! (Family and celebrating, waiting and unwrapping!) because of all of that - I thought I would do something just a little different this week!

I considered not counting it as Volume 24... but decided it counts!

I asked my Facebook friends to share their FAVORITE Gift that they RECEIVED and their FAVORITE Gift that they GAVE... here's some of the responses:

* Kindle paperwhite and skor scrubbies for received. And gift gave was organic apples to family far away. (They love them and ask for them each year!) ~Katie

Received: Starbucks card and Gave: my daughter her favorite DVD (Gene Wilder "Willy Wonka & the chocolate factory") ~Lisa

My violin was my favourite gift received. Favourite gift given were some homemade quilted table runners. ~Leah Ann

Received: a glass candle stick cake plate from the 60's. Gave: a handmade leather Rogue Journal. ~Janelle

 Received: the scarf my daughter bought on her own.  Gave: cowbell for my daughter (inside joke) and the pants I thought were camo for my son, but ended up being PG13 and are going back!!! We laughed and laughed and laughed! ~Toni (and she posted a picture of the said 'camo' on facebook, and then I laughed and laughed and laughed!)

I received a beautiful metal star that my daughter and family got for me while we were in Leavenworth. Gift we gave was the hundred dollar tip we left our waitress at Shari's on Christmas Eve... She cried. ~Barbara

*  Favorite gift received was a new purse. Favorite gift given were copies of my book to unsaved family members! ~Barbie

* Received was a plane ticket to Texas. Given was framed photos of my girls to our grandparents. ~Kelly

* Favorite gift received: a new gratitude journal (I ran out of room in mine the day before Christmas) Favorite gift given to another: my kids stockings..those are always fun to put together and they really look forward and appreciate them! ~Rachel

My favorite gift to give was helping another couple buy gifts for their children, and my favorite gift received was a purse from my husband. :) ~Jennifer

* Received: MacBook Given: I want to cheat and say every gift I gave was my favorite, but I loved seeing my hubster playing his new guitar on Christmas Eve...redeemed talent for God's glory. ~Amy

Received: handmade Seahawk Calendar, given: Trumpet ~Sandra

* ReceivedI got a sweater to replace the 10 yr old one that I live in. Gave: my beautiful mosaic piece. ~Julie

* I gave my mom and dad handwritten letters telling them how much I appreciated all they are to me along with some photos and frames. I got (received) book shelves and desk chair for my new home office. ~Amy

For me - my Favorite gift given (other than as a family giving to The Mercy House Project) it would be the handmade Scrapbook of my Girlies' Graduation Week... Favorite gift received is harder because while we don't trade much - each gift is hand picked and I love them all! I love the unique candle my girlie bought me (It's sparkly and it looks like a Cableknit sweater!) ...the new CDs (Jack Johnson and Lady Antebellum) & I got THREE gorgeous scarves! (You know me and Favorites... I always break the rules!)

I sort of love to see what people love to give... and what they received that blessed them so!  It reminds me that it's so often really not about how much was spent and we can forget that in the midst of shopping and stress!

C'mon now - play along with me

What was your Favorite Gift GIVEN and RECEIVED?

We'll be back next week with the regular hook ups... the gathering of Awesome and live links and a Video too... but for now... comment below with your Favorites!

December 26, 2013

The slow fade of Christmas

Because it is #ThrowbackThursday and it's still a bit Christmasy around here... I am updating/reposting this because - well - because it still says everything I want to say right about now... I will be back over the weekend for a bit of a different take on "That Thing I Do Now" and then it will be quiet a bit longer around here as we prepare for the New Year... looking forward to another one spent with you, my friends! 

Until then... this:

Ah yes... whether this thought makes you giddy or sad,
- it is true either way:

Christmas is fading!

 It seems - in our culture - Christmas 'starts' in October somehow... the stores are filled with all things Christmas, WAY too early if you ask me!  Then comes the actual shopping... the stress... the joy... the family and friends and increase (hopefully!) in all things social... the decorating and baking and cleaning and cleaning and recleaning again... the crafting and caroling... the laundry and dishes... the parties and game nights and the telling and reading of stories - new and old... the breathing and slowing down in the midst of the crazy... the love and the legacy and the remembering and forgiving... the sharing and giving and receiving and thanking... and the Reason for the Season trying to shine bright in the middle of all of it!

Finally - a few days drawn out to actually TRULY celebrate Christmas... Christ with us... Emmanuel... finally... the gifts are given and unwrapped... the thank-you's and I-love-it's and hugs are given freely... meals are shared... memories revisited and made anew... gatherings trickle and come to an end... the tree looks naked minus the gifts... the stockings strung on the floor - seemingly emptier than before they were filled... and Christmas is fading!

I LOVE Christmas... even the madness and chaos... I love Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and how we normally celebrate (changes came this year as our little household got slammed with sickness and no one really wanted to share in all of THAT?)... I love the day after, which is my Honey's birthday... and then comes this week... lights are still turned on at night... Christmas lingers but you can see and feel and know the magic of it is shifting... waning... fading ever so slowly... and our tendency to press right on and plow into whatever is Next pulls at our attention!

Now - we move from the hectic rush of the holidays, to the NEWness of what comes next!  The refocusing of what our daily life is all about and where it really is that we want to be heading.  Who among us hasn't wanted - no: NEEDED - a Do Over... a New Start... a Fresh Direction?  It's in these next several days that I love to reflect over the past year, take it slow and be purposeful in the pondering... and I pray for what may be in store for 2014.

Every year, I spend New Years Day morning with the Lord... seeking direction, a word or phrase for the year ahead... a Scripture to cling to, a promise that He may whisper to my heart.  You can read last years' post here: 2013's New Year Post.  I love to reread them a year later and pray over what He said... see how He brought it to pass in pieces and parts... it's rarely ever ALL come to pass - but we can see the forward motion in so many ways!

So I have been quiet around here... drinking in all that is the holidays and now, quiet a bit longer, as I drink in all that is ahead and pray that I can catch a glimpse... get a Word... share some hope for the coming new year!  I encourage you to do the same... and then come back in early January! Join me in sharing what He is speaking to your heart for the New Year coming straight at us! I pray you, like me, can feel Peace lingering and Hope arising!


(I will be posting another Year in Review of sorts too... recapping some of my favorite posts - or some of yours, anyway! Thankful for each of you who stop by and spend a little time with me! Believing for a Happy and Healthy New Year!)

December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas Eve (2013)

Reposting an edited version of our 2013 Christmas Family Letter... praying you have a little Peace on Earth and Silent Night on this merry Christmas Eve!  May you sense Him come near... and may you prepare Him a little (more) room!

Can you feel it?  That tugging that starts down deep...  In a world spinning fast, all dizzy and blurred, I love that pull that is nearly tangible to slow it down, to stop, to breathe in deep this cold winter air. It fights within us... the drive to keep up, and the need to slow down!  There is a hunger and thirst for more than just some peace and quiet, but for Peace on Earth and a little Silent Night!

Can you feel it too?  It can go unnoticed, nearly ignored all together - we can rush right by it... push it back down and keep running around, crossing things off our bossy lists... but oh how I pray that we don't do that! No - let's not dismiss it... instead of pushing through, let's lean in!  Lean IN to the Cradle, and in to the Cross.

Let's agree together that what this weary world needs most is a Holy Night, is a Falling on our knees, is a little rejoicing!  I'm learning honestly for the first time about Advent and the glory of waiting... of expecting Him to come!

I heard Liz Curtis Higgs speak it earlier this month - how Mary departed after encountering the angel, heading for Elizabeth's and how maybe, just maybe, it was Elizabeths' greeting that revealed to Mary that she was pregnant.  She may have not even known when the Spirit overshadowed her and that got me to thinking:

Miracles often happen when we are unaware!

How many miracles... how many answers to prayer come and we don't even notice?

Advent means "Coming" and while many still wait - we know that He has come... He is coming and He is here and no matter where you are or what you are needing, He comes for you tonight.

For the 2nd year in a row, I participated in OneWord365 - my word this year is "Surprise!"

Surprise has showed up for us in some amazing ways... blessings, winning numerous giveaways, provisions and favor... it's also showed up in some hard ways: health issues with family, being faced with old fears and insecurities that I thought were conquered, and a few disappointments... but probably the most surprising "Surprise" is what God is doing inside... this shifting and awakening and I know that I am not alone in that! I know that work will continue even as 2014 arrives and a new word is brought to light.  Through the 'good' and the 'bad' - miracles have happened while we were unaware... blessings multiplied the more we tried to capture them, to count them and write them down one by one...

I know for me - looking through our year - I can see clearly now that miracles really have happened - both big and small... health has been and is being restored; grace has covered; forgiveness wins; provision has been supernatural; love has grown deeper; restoration in family and in friendships continues on.

We are praying miracles happen for you too, and as you celebrate His coming, you will find that He is always ALWAYS worth the wait, and that He is just waiting to show up for you!

He has come... and He is coming still!

Believing for miracles,
With Love,
The Aggetts

Linking up with the lovely Jennifer Dukes Lee & #TellHisStory

December 22, 2013

Jumping on the Christmas Tour Train...

I spent hours (...OK - DAYS, ya'll!) playing around over at The Nesters at her Christmas Tour link up!

So much gorgeousness and Pinterest-worthy perfection... spaciousness and divine lighting... pristine ornaments, chalkboard art and antlers everywhere (who knew?) and entryways that make you swoon

At about 50 homes in, I had the thought of grabbing my camera and playing along.  I quickly dismissed that thought even though her tagline to the link up is something like "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful!" (Right! Says the DIY blogger with the gorgeous house and a decorating budget that clearly is larger than mine has been for - well - ever.)

Still - there were some in there that were gorgeous and felt a little less staged or less like it was a professional interior designers' home... they were lived in and lovely and I saw the beauty in every post.  Then my friend Barbie got real and got brave and while she didn't link up - she DID play along and her house is filled with all kinds of beautiful because (as she reminds us!) it's not what you decorate with, but what fills your house that makes it Home!

So - at the very last minute, I stirred up some brave and grabbed my camera.  I decided it didn't matter that I live in an apartment, and I have no front porch or (gasp) exquisite entryway!  I decorated less... it's a trend over the last few years! I am more into simple and small areas that quietly stir up Christmas, rather than an overabundance of tinsel and lights.  (It helps that my only Girlie is nearly Grown!)  This year we added a smaller Advent Tree, and each room has a few small touches... the overall effect is less overwhelming, but more inviting.  What I pray the atmosphere is filled with here is O Come Let Us Adore Him... and a little O Holy Night!

So - here we go...

Our Entryway:

Our Living Room:

The Dining Room:

Our Bedroom:

Lastly, the Family Room:

We do have a few hints of Christmas in the bathrooms and kitchen, but - well... you're welcome! This was a bit much to begin with, especially since we are paycheck-to-paycheck-everyday-people who haven't bought new (or matching) ornaments or decorations in years and we 'make do'.

While all the other Tours made me want to go shopping and paint something (and seriously, ya'll - what is the deal with the antler mania?)... we cut back on our spending this year in order to be a part of something bigger.  We sowed into people and ministries and organizations that we are passionate about and as my friend Barbie reminded me in her own Tour post... it's not the decorations that make a home beautiful... it's the people who fill it up and the love that is shared!

So more than anything... that is the theme we are going for this Christmas... Love Came Down!  That is what we want friends and family to know and remember and feel while sipping something yummy and relaxing around some twinkling lights with us!

Thanks for stopping by! Oh how I wish it could be in real life, over a cup of coffee, talking slow and laughing deep!

I am praying you have a
VERY Merry Christmas
and a little
on earth!
(Did ya see what I did there?)

...and don't forget, this Christmas and always, to:

Linking up with The Nester for the
Christmas Tour of Home 2013

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