a new tradition

I’m a big fan of meaningful traditions. But sometimes it’s hard to just ‘come up with’ a great tradition to start, right?

Last year, we started using a new advent with our kids. We did it in the evenings before bed and everyone loved it. We’re definitely going to use it again.

But I’m also going to try out a new {to me} advent resource called Truth in the Tinsel. Last year, I kept seeing it around the web and I was about to buy it. And then – lo and behold – I realized I had already bought it! A couple years ago, I bought an e-book bundle and Truth in the Tinsel was one of the books inside! I love it when you discover happy things like that, don’t you?


Every day, there are Scripture passages to meditate on, talking points for the kiddos, and an ornament craft. The whole thing is designed to last 30 minutes or less. I’m planning to do this with my kids in the mornings after breakfast. Anna Grace is totally into creating things, so I know she’ll be all over this.

This resource is designed for kids in preschool to early elementary. If your kids fit into that age category, definitely check out this resource for your family!

Let’s have a quick giveaway for this Truth in the Tinsel e-book, okay?

We’ll make this really simple! Just leave a comment – any comment – and I’ll pick 1 winner at random.
{If you’re reading via email, click here to leave a comment.}

This giveaway is only open until Saturday, November 29 at 12 PM EST. That way the winner will have a day to download the e-book and prepare to do it with their family. May the best random candidate win!


Affiliate links are used in this post. That means, at no extra cost to you, Brown Sugar Toast may get a small commission from your purchase. Thanks for your support in this way!

I’m In a Book. NBD.

I’m in a published book.

So yeah.

Wait, what?

Ah yes. All the rumors you’ve heard about my increasing rise to popularity, fame, and great wealth are true. Don’t feel left out if you haven’t heard them yet. Sometimes things take a while to circulate.

ANYWAY. Last week, I received a package in the mail with the aforementioned book enclosed.
And now – I present to you my reaction. In picture form.

my reaction to being in a book...

Did you catch the title of the book? Craft Fail. I got published in a book entitled Craft FAIL. I am such a winner.

Some bloggers get in Better Homes. Others in HGTV. And still others have their words plastered on HuffPost.

I like to think that this book has increased my humility status.

In full disclosure, I was the first one to label this project a fail. I wrote about it {and why sometimes you should not DIY} right here. So it’s not as heartless as it might originally sound. I even gave the link to Heather Mann, the compiler of this new book.

In honor of my DEcreasing fame, popularity, and fortune, I would like to propose a giveaway of this book to 2 of you lovely people.
You know, in case you want to be able to share the failure with your friends.

We all fail sometimes. Thankfully, all our failures don’t get published in books. That only happens to a few especially lucky people.
Like myself. Naturally.

Failers unite!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jehovah Jireh :: My God Provides

jehovah jireh

2 weeks ago, I packed the 3 kids up and we headed to Salvation Army to look for tops for Anna Grace. I was specifically searching for hooded sweaters. However, since it’s kind of a hit-or-miss store, I didn’t find any I loved. We walked out with some super cute stuff {like the sweater she’s wearing here for…wait for it…$1.99!} – just not exactly what I was hoping to find.

On Wednesday, I was talking with Anna Grace about some of the names of God. I explained the name Jehovah Jireh to her:

“It means ‘God provides.’ God provides things for us – like our home, food, and clothes.
But He also gives other things like love, adoption, and forgiveness.”

Thursday morning, I was going through a bag of clothes a friend had outgrown and passed on to us. Can you guess what was inside?
Along with some other cold weather essentials like hats and gloves…3 lovely sweaters that fit Anna Grace perfectly.

Jehovah Jireh. My God provides.

The timing wasn’t an accident. It was God’s planning.

Incidentally, on Wednesday I was working on some ‘financial loveliness’ related to my husband’s doctoral degree. There were some details I had forgotten to factor in during our budget planning. The timing of the sweaters was just a reminder to me that God provides for everything.
He provides for sweaters and school bills, right?

I love that the story of Jehovah Jireh comes right at this moment of faith. And always right at the moments that require faith in my life too.

He knows. There aren’t any details that He’s forgotten.
He cares. There is nothing that’s too small for Him.
He provides. Jehovah Jireh.

what’s your filter?

The internet is a loud place.

If I ever doubt the validity of that statement, all I have to do is think through how many times I’ve used it in the past 24 hours:

  • got my dinner recipe
  • read blogs
  • sent messages via facebook
  • tracked spending with Mint
  • uploaded a pic to instagram
  • shared a notebook with my husband via Evernote
  • listened to Pandora
  • tracked a run with Nike
  • browsed Craigslist for a chair
  • listened to a sermon

The point is: in all these things, I’m opening up my mind and dumping information inside. Sometimes I even use the internet to dump info inside of other people’s minds. Like now, for example.

What is your mind’s filter when you use the internet?
When you read blogs? Or check social media? How do you process the information?

If I’m not careful, sometimes I just start reacting based on what I read.

If I disagree with a post, I get angry.
If I want that outfit, I become jealous.
If my house doesn’t look like that, my kids don’t act that way, or my marriage, body, schedule, cooking, _______ doesn’t measure up, I feel discouraged.

So what’s the solution?

The solution is not to abandon the internet. Because even if we stay at home surrounded by nothing and nobody, our hearts are loud enough to cause anger, jealousy, and discouragement all by themselves. Happy thoughts, right?

The solution is to filter everything through the grid of God’s Word.

Every blog post. Every instagram pic. Every status update, tweet, and news article. Yeah, even the songs on Pandora.

It’s a lot easier said than done.

It’s a whole lot easier to just use my feelings as my filter. If that makes me happy or loved, I’ll believe it. If it makes me feel sad, depressed, or angry, I’ll stop thinking about it.

The thing is – my feelings are always changing. And so is everything else.

In everything that is read, the foremost thought in a Christian’s mind must be:
“Does this line up with God’s Word?”

“The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.”
Isaiah 40:8

God’s Word is constant and unchangeable. Use it as your filter.



31 Day Simplify Series :: A Recap


Over the past month, I have written the word “simplify” so much that it’s begun to look like a weird word. You know how that happens? You stare at a word so long that you begin to wonder if you even spelled it right?

I just wanted to give a little recap on what I learned from writing this series:

I Greatly Value Simplicity.

I knew I liked it before. That’s why I chose this topic. But wow – when I wrote about it for 31 days? I realized I like it more now than I did last month. It’s like when you start to work at a restaurant and you eat there every day for the first month. If you still love the food after that, you’re
a) either crazy OR
b) that’s some pretty amazing food.

I’ve discovered that simplicity is pretty amazing, not because of the things it takes out of your life – but because of what it makes room for after you’ve purged your life/schedule of clutter.

I’m in a less-is-more stage.

I currently have 3 kids ages 4 and under. I crave simplicity. Part of that is probably because everything else is so not simple. So my husband and I are cool with eating the same meal twice a month since it means that part of our lives is totally simplified. I sometimes miss cooking new recipes. And so if I have time, I’ll throw a new recipe into the mix. But the bottom line? At this stage of having littles, I prefer having less variety in meals and more time to devote to other things. Like laundry. Seriously. It’s been bad lately.

[sidenote: that post I wrote about 6 ways to make laundry fun? dumbest.post.ever. laundry is not fun. <—– period. these were the thoughts that coursed through my mind as I sorted through a bajillion clothes last week. you’re welcome.]

Goals are awesome.

I am a goal-oriented person. As long as they’re semi-reasonable, thought through, and have been given the stamp of approval by my psychiatrist husband. Okay, scratch the semi-reasonable. I like making crazy goals sometimes.

You know what I learned over this series? I can do a lot more than I think I can. I know, I know. That sounds like a children’s book. But it’s true. There’s absolutely no way I would have taken time to write blog posts 31 days in a row unless I had made the goal to do it. No way, Jose.
But I did it! Yippee! Party! Fireworks! Ice cream!

And so now I’m all – hmmm…what other goals shall I make for myself? {said in a sinister, low tone while stroking non-existent beard. thank goodness for the non-existent part.}

You guys are awesome.

Thank you for reading. I don’t really even know who you are. So that feels kinda weird and non-authentic to say. But thanks anyway. I really wrote this to help someone else like it’s helped me. And some of you have mentioned to me via email or facebook how you enjoyed this series. And that makes me so very, very happy.

So, thanks. Another 31 day series is now history.

I would absolutely love to have you sign up for email updates so we can stay connected!
And you can definitely find me – and all my random thoughts – on facebook.


Simplify Series // a 31 day journey via BrownSugarToast.com