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Oct 31, 2014 Announcing the Great Christmas Exchange!



i can't believe that tomorrow is november!  it still feels way too early to think about christmas shopping to me (even though we've been planning our christmas services at church since the summer!).  but it's here and it's starting!  christmas decorations are starting to pop up in stores, and i've even heard some holiday music playing on the radio!

i don't know about you, but i'm a strictly no-music-until-after-thanksgiving kind of girl.  i love the holiday season, but i also think that thanksgiving deserves it's day, ya know?

anyway, i'm especially excited for the holidays this year.  there are so many fun things planned both in my personal and work life, but also in the blogging world!  and one of those things is the great christmas exchange by oak + oats & elah tree!  samantha and beth have teamed up together to organize this entire exchange...you'll get paired up (secret santa style) and get to send a fun christmas surprise package to a new friend!  anyone can participate, you don't have to be a blogger!  but hurry...sign-ups close on november 12!  (get all the details and sign up here or here!)

i'll be participating in the exchange because you all know how much i love sending snail mail!  and christmas time is the perfect time to surprise a new friend with a gift hand-picked just for them!



and because we want as many people as possible to join in, i've partnered with a few of my blogging besties to pay for someone's participation and also pitch in to help with all their other holiday shopping! we want to give you the chance to walk away with $125 in paypal cash! it is easy, just sign up for the exchange and then enter the giveaway through the rafflecopter below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Oct 30, 2014 A Few of My Favorite Drugstore Mascaras



i'm a bit of a mascara addict.  i've probably tried no fewer than twenty different brands and kinds of mascaras in the past five years and if you ever see me in the beauty aisle at target, i'm probably buying mascara.

see, i have these huge eyes, and then no eyelashes.  i'm not being dramatic...i literally have the shortest, stubbiest eyelashes known to man.  my brother has better lashes than i do.  (when he was little, his were so long that they actually would hit his glasses and then bend.  so not fair.)

i didn't hop on the mascara train until i was almost out of high school, because it always kind of scared me.  but once i discovered it's magical lash-giving powers, you bet i hopped on that train and never hopped off.  you know how every gal has that one beauty product they won't leave the house without?  the one thing they put on, even if they wear nothing else?  well for me, it's mascara.

so the other day, i pulled out just a few of the mascaras i had floating around my makeup drawer (and my purse, my desk....you get it), and decided to do a little round-up of a few of the drugstore mascaras that i'm currently toting around.



covergirl // lash blast clump crusher
i've purchased this mascara more times than i can count.  i have a tub in my bathroom counter drawer, a tube in my purse, one in my desk at work, and one in my gym bag.  to say that i love the lash blast collection is an understatement.  it's a great drier formula, is totally build able, and comes in a bunch of different varieties (length, volume, fusion (length + volume), and clump crusher.  the plastic-bristled brush does a great job of coating each lash and then separating them.  it's a great every-day mascara.



l'oreal // voluminous million lashes excess
i'll be honest and say that i'm a bigger fan of just the voluminous million lashes mascara than i am of this excess version...this one is a bit more wet than it's original counterpart and the contoured brush just doesn't do it for me.  that being said, i get great length out of this mascara...whether it's the original formula or an updated version.  i love building this with a few coats of lash blast, as they work well together to add volume and separate lashes.



rimmel london // lash accelerator endless
so i've only been using this one for about two weeks, but it has given me bolder, longer lashes than any other mascara i've used in quite a while!  it's similar to voluminous million lashes, in that it's a pretty wet formula and a plastic-bristled brush, but it's brush has tons of little bristles and it's tapered so that you can really grab every lash.  it's so dark that i almost felt like it was too much to wear to church (but then i remembered that no mascara is too much for my sad tiny lashes, and wore it anyway).  and bonus!  lash accelerator boasts a lash-growing formula, and claims that if you use it consistently, you'll see improvement in the length and volume of your lashes in 30 days.



physician's formula // organic wear
besides coming in a pretty cool tube, this is the one organic mascara on my list.  it's a lighter formula than some of the others in this post, but it's also the only one that is completely free of parabens, dyes, and fillers.  this mascara leaves my lashes soft and flexible.  it's not overly heavy, but still gives some definition.  the brush has shorter plastic bristles and is pretty fat, which for me, can be tricky (because my lashes are so short!), but for someone with longer lashes, could be perfect!



have you tried any of these mascaras?  what's your go-to?

Oct 29, 2014 Community Brew // Invest & Invite



today i'm joining in with madison over at wetherills say i do and rachel of oh, simple thoughts for their community brew link-up!  community brew is a monthly link-up that is designed for bloggers to be "open, honest, and vulnerable, and to build community with others."  november's prompt is open-ended, so whatever is on your heart, feel free to join in!

right inside the front doors of our church's worship center atrium is a small table with a sign on it that says "invest and invite."  it's topped with invitation cards for our services and events and upcoming sermon series that our congregation can pick up and hand out to friends and family, making it easy to invite them to church.

for me, the investing part is the easy part.  i'm an extrovert; a people-person, so i can do the occasional coffee date or relationship-building texting conversation or whatever it is.  but the invite part?  that's always a little harder for me.  i've never found it easy to ask someone for help, and somehow, inviting someone to wake up early on a sunday and come to church feels like i'm asking for a favor.

but i think that the fear of asking too much of someone in inviting them somewhere...especially somewhere as important as church...is, at the heart of it, doing them a disservice.  when you consider the idea that the invitation that you're extending could save someone's life, then that invitation takes on a whole new weight.

paul starts off romans 10 with "brothers and sisters, my heart's desire and prayer to god for the israelites is that they may be saved."  i love that.  paul's heart's desire was for his brothers & sisters to be saved.  i don't know about you, but it can take work for me to have that same mindset.  it's not always at the forefront of my thoughts, but it should be!  and it doesn't take outright evangelistic conversations to practice the concept of investing and inviting.  it just takes being there, being consistent, building trust, and showing the love of christ to others through your words and actions.  

and the concept of invest & invite isn't just confined to the face-to-face parts of our lives, but our online lives too.  no matter where you're active...by writing a blog, just being present on twitter or instagram or pinterest, whatever...you have opportunities to be salt and light, and to invest and invite in those spaces too.  your words, your posts, your pins and repins...they all matter, and they all mean something.

if you're joining in on the hospitality study with she reads truth that started on monday, you know that this idea of investing and inviting is at the heart of this study.  (to be perfectly honest, that fact didn't even occur to me until i was halfway through writing this post)  yesterday, logan wolfram wrote an awesome devotion about how we need to love like jesus loved, and then follow his lead in inviting others into the journey with us.

she talked about how that love and invitation needs to stem from the heart.  a heart that is full of the love that god has for us will brim over and spread that love to others.


we posture our hearts to welcome others in response to the invitation 
we have been given through the gospel of jesus christ.
-logan wolfram

it always comes back to this, friends:
jesus loved us, so we could love others.  we often teach in our children's ministry at gt that every commandment jesus ever gave us fits into two categories:  love god, or love others.  christ made the ultimate sacrifice in death on the cross, and he didn't do it so we could keep it to ourselves.  he loved us, so we could love others.

in what ways is god asking you to invest in and invite others into his kingdom?  is it a challenge for you?  how so?

Oct 28, 2014 Man's Best Friend




about a year ago, we picked up this (not so) little pup and brought him home to his forever family.  it was my dad's 50th birthday and we were surprising him with a new addition to the family.  i'll just start off by saying that goldendoodles are the best dogs ever.  hands down.  (don't even try to argue)

after we got ollie home, we quickly learned that he was a really curious pup.  he was also super smart, and was housebroken really fast.  but that curiosity was often a bit of a problem.  since the first season he experienced was fall, he learned rapidly that there were lots of fun things he could attempt to eat!  beyond the multitude of toys that we showered on him, he also developed a love of leaves and sticks.

so a few weeks after bringing ollie home, we brought home our christmas tree, which presented a whole new slew of challenges.  our curious little guy found his way under the tree on many occasions, and always managed to find a twig or trimming that had fallen off of the tree to be his newest chew toy.  so, we kept a careful eye on him.  but one time, even after removing the twig from his puppy jaws, it was clear that something was wrong.  ollie seemed to be choking, and we quickly realized that he must have swallowed a smaller piece of the twig.

if you have ever had a pet in distress, you know the panic that immediately sets in.  you need to figure out what to do, and fast.  googling "my puppy is choking" left me with a lot of pretty unhelpful information, and so i ended up doing a sort of puppy-version of the heimlich, at least as best as i could manage!  fortunately, it worked, but it made me realize that i really needed a good go-to website for all things puppy-health related.

as any pet owner can tell you, it's incredibly important to keep your furry friends healthy and happy...that includes regular vet visits.  and like any doctor visit, it can be confusing to navigate the world of knowing what to ask the vet and what your pet needs at each check-up or when you should make that sick appointment.  enter royal canin.  royal canin is now my go-to for any and all questions i have about ollie's health.   royal canin takes a look at all aspects of pet health through a scientific lens, and can help you make the best decisions about how to best care for your pet!  their complete pet-reference guide should be bookmarked on any pet-owner's computer.

no matter what kind of accident your puppy may have, whether it's using your living room carpet as a bathroom or being a little too curious for their own good, you can definitely trust royal canin to be the go-to for advice on keeping your pet happy and healthy!



do you have any pets?  have any "oops!" stories to share?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Oct 27, 2014 Starting today with a Grateful Heart



it's been a while since i joined in on ember grey's grateful heart monday....mondays around here have just been crazy with meetings and not feeling great, and blogging has fallen to the wayside.

but my heart has so been needing this...a moment to focus on some of the little (and big) things that i'm grateful for!

boots & scarves, and that it's (finally) chilly enough to wear them!
pumpkin carving with the fam this weekend
roasted pumpkin seeds (yum!)
a fall harvest party with my class this thursday!
getting back into running after a few weeks off
fun times with friends planned
exciting things happening at work
taking some time to relax and get work done this weekend
booking a good number of photoshoots for the fall!

and just to make your monday a little sweeter, here's a chance to win a $120 target gift card!

check out a few of these lovely ladies and their blogs, and then enter to win below!
Facebook Like Giveaway

giveaway runs from 10/27 at 12am set to 11/4 at 12am est. available to us residents 18 years and older. no purchase necessary.

i hope you'll join in with us and tell us a little bit about what your heart is grateful for this week!  head on over to ember grey and link up with us!

what are you grateful for today?
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