Book Review: Right Where I Belong by Krista McGee

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With Christmas only yesterday, I am certain each of us have received several wonderful gifts. My brother chose a book for me – Right Where I Belong by Krista McGee. I started it this morning and already finished it! What can I say? I love to read and am a total bookworm. 😉

***Warning: Spoilers Ahead***

The main character, Natalia Lopez, lives in Spain. Her father is not the most moral person and is definitely what one would consider a “player.” With his third marriage to American citizen Maureen, Natalia’s life begins to change. Maureen is a Christian and brings the light of Christ into the seventeen-year-old’s life. She eagerly learns about Jesus and has a thirst for him and excitement on learning his Word that is made clear throughout the book.

Sadly, the sinful habits of Natalia’s father continue and he divorces Maureen. Natalia is torn. Is love even possible? Her father has married three times – soon to be four! And he has yet to stay committed? Naturally, this ignites almost a fear of ever falling in love within her heart. Paired with the determination to never be like that, Natalia tells the Lord that she will remain single, and for the majority of the story, believes this is what God wants her to do.

When God nudges her to go with Maureen back to the United States, Natalia obeys. The two women find themselves in Tampa, Florida and a whole slew of situations occur, not the least, is Natalia’s introduction to Brian Younger.

Son of a pastor, Brian Younger loves the Lord yet has always felt that Spencer Adams is better than him being popular, smart, and good-looking. When Natalia comes along, Brian is instantly smitten. He finds her passion for learning about Jesus refreshing and soon desires to be more than friends with the Spanish girl.

Natalia, however, is afraid. She tries to distance herself from Brian. After all, she keeps reminding herself, she does not want to date, marry, or…fall in love. God seems to have other plans despite her attempts and she is unable to completely separate herself from the kind young man.

Throughout reading the story, I found myself chuckling at relatable awkward and embarrassing moments while gaining a greater understanding of the differences between American and Spanish culture. This book is a wonderful read – especially if you’re a romantic like I am – and I hope you take the chance to dive into its pages!

~ Southern Dreamer

The History of the Candy Cane

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With Christmas in only two days (how crazy is that?), I thought that it would be appropriate to do a Christmas post. And because I love history, I decided that learning about the origins of the candy cane would suffice perfectly.

During the seventeenth century, Christians in Europe began to make use of Christmas trees as part of their celebrations during Christmas. Homemade decorations were fashioned for them – many being edible items like sugar-stick candy and cookies.

The year 1670 is when the first, actual reference to the candy cane comes into play. At Cologne Cathedral in Germany, the choirmaster bent sugar-sticks into canes in order to represent the shepherd’s staff. These solid white candy canes were then handed out to the children throughout the nativity services.

This custom of handing out the white sugar-sticks during long church services, spread all through Europe and in later years to America.

Interestingly, before 1900 there is no mention of the candy cane ever having red stripes. The person who added the signature red is still unknown, however, Christmas cards after 1900 clearly depict the striped candy. During this same century, candy makers began to add wintergreen and peppermint flavors to the favorite Christmas treat. These quickly caught on and as we now know, are favorites among most people.

The meaning of the candy cane varies, but for Christians, it has special meaning. Red represents the blood of Christ, while the white his purity. Although the shape is said to be reminiscent of a shepherd’s staff, it is also told to be the “J” in Jesus’ name.

And there you have it! The history of the candy cane. I hope y’all enjoyed learning about a bit of Christmas history and I pray that each time you see a candy cane or lick its delicious sugary goodness, you are reminded of the very great sacrifice that Jesus gave: his life.

Merry Christmas y’all!

~ Southern Dreamer

Resource:

http://inventors.about.com/od/foodrelatedinventions/a/candy_canes.htm

Festive Wear

Merry Christmas y’all! I can hardly believe it is already December! The months have flown by, and now it is time to get our holiday cheer on! Fashion during the holidays can be ridiculously fun, and I have put together a list of how to show your Christmas spirit through what you wear.

1. Christmas pajamas (Don’t laugh. I am completely serious here 😉)
Everyone needs a good pair of pajamas, and the holidays are no exception. Even if no one else sees you in them, you will have done your holiday duty by wearing your candy canes, snow men, or reindeer proudly – and who knows, you may even start dreaming of sugar plums and chocolates!

2. Red or green top
You know that Christmas dinner you weren’t quite sure what to wear to or perhaps a holiday party that had you in a frenzy because there was absolutely nothing in your closet that sufficed? Well. Have no fear! For the guys, pairing either a checkered red or green top with a matching, plain polo sweater works perfectly! Or, if that’s not your cup of tea, you can pair a plain button-up white top with a fun, decorative Christmas sweater. 


For the girls, I’m personally a fan of sequin dresses (obviously paired with leggings) which come in a multitude of colors. If you aren’t the girly sort, however, that’s perfectly fine! A snug maroon or emerald top paired with a skirt or jeans and a jacket can be just as festive!

3. Christmas earrings
Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way – oops. The Christmas lyrics snuck right up on me. Sneaky song. But jingle bell earrings are particularly joy-some to wear during the holidays! Although those are my personal favorite festive earring style to wear, stores also sell ones with snow men and snowflakes. You can find some at Claire’s.

4. Christmas sunglasses
I think I will let the picture speak for itself…after all, a picture is better than a thousand words right? Or something like that…

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I hope y’all have been inspired to get your holiday clothes out and demonstrate your Christmas spirit through fashion!

~ Southern Dreamer

 

Imperfect Prayers

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Do you ever feel so much pressure to be perfect? I know that I do, and for all my fellow perfectionists out there, it can be an awful burden to carry can’t it?

Many times, I find myself praying to the Lord and as I am, any one of these thoughts could very well be flowing through my mind:

Is it too short?

This sounds terrible…

Did I already repeat that?

And the root of each comes from the fact that I feel a need to pray perfectly.

But the truth is, that Jesus does not require us to be perfect people, do perfect actions, or even, pray perfectly. The entire message of the Gospel is grace. Grace is a concept that I find so difficult to grasp and my perfectionism likely only extenuates that struggle.

Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”

Grace hinges on the fact that you aren’t perfect (I see all you perfectionists cringing ;)). And as much as we hate the thought of that, it’s true. We are not perfect and never will be.

It’s something that is so easy to say, yet rather hard to put into practice: being alright with not being perfect. And I would be a hypocrite if I said that I am 100% ok with not being perfect, and not attaining what in my mind is the “perfect” standard.

Psalm 119:96 says, “I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad.”

Right there, it says that there is a limit to how “perfect” we can get in our humanity. There is only so much we can do. And even with Christ and the Holy Spirit, we will never be perfect until we come into heaven and are given our eternal bodies.

Understanding this can be freeing, but really changing how your mind is set is much more difficult than “knowing” it. You can know anything and not change your thought habits or actions. Part of recovering from perfectionism – so to speak, is, I believe, giving yourself permission to not be perfect. And to not equate being imperfect or messing up as failure.

Because most perfectionists, myself included, see screwing up as failing. And we hate failure.

C.S. Lewis said, “Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success” (A/N: Taken from BrainyQuote website).

As you find yourself during your prayer time, thinking that yours is inadequate, remember that each fail forward is a step towards a better prayer life. And even if praying eloquently is never your gift, that’s ok. Jesus never said, “Thou shalt pray perfectly.” He did say, however, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).

I hope that we all will find the freedom in not burdening ourselves with the ideal of praying perfectly.

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~ Southern Dreamer