Friday, December 17, 2010

merry and bright

faith always hosts a christmas card carousel every year and this is my first year to participate. i'm a little late to the party...mostly because i just mailed our cards this week (shameful, i know ;). i love, love, love making the trip to the mailbox this time of year because i love getting everyone's christmas cards!

we had such a great experience shooting our picture for our cards this year (and we wanted some up-to-date photos of hubs and me). a great local photographer, eric barker, met us in downtown charlotte and snapped thousands of shots. i only had to choose one out of 267 for our cards! he did such a great job and we had such a fabulous experience with him.

i hope you have a fabulous last week preparing for christmas (only 8 more days to go!!) and as you are busy preparing your home for guests, presents to be given, and yummy food for parties don't forget to prepare your heart to focus on the Christ child. our Messiah has come...Wonderful Counselor...Mighty God...Eternal Father...Prince of Peace.

for a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. ~isaiah 9:6

Sunday, December 12, 2010

God With Us

confession: i love Christmas. seriously, i LOVE Christmas. trees decorated and brightly lit with lights, Christmas movies, carols, hot cocoa, Christmas cookies, parties with family and friends, and {yes} even those tacky Christmas sweaters {in small doses, of course}. i think it is easy to get wrapped up in the hallmark version of Christmas and miss the entire purpose of this glorious time of year.

Emmanuel has come. Jesus has come. God's only Son, come to earth to not only save us but to give us the opportunity to know God and walk with Him every day. Emmanuel has come.

there is nothing wrong with LOVING the Christmas season and everything that goes along with it...the trees, the carols, the movies, and yes, even the tacky Christmas sweaters, but i want my central focus and purpose for this season to revolve around Emmanuel...God with us. i want to rejoice and celebrate because the glorious impossible has happened--Jesus has come and more importantly, beyond Christmas, there is an empty tomb. so celebrate with friends and family. decorate your Christmas tree, use exterior illumination to light up your neighborhood, soak up the laughter of family and friends all the while remembering that the reason we have to celebrate is that babe wrapped in cloths lying in a manger. Emmanuel has come.

"today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. this will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." ~ luke 2:11 & 12

"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." ~ matthew 1:21

"...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."~ john 10:10

Saturday, December 11, 2010

christmas tour of homes 2010

the nester and kelly are both hosting a christmas tour of homes this year and {for once} i'm actually early! i decided to go ahead and post my pictures and then monday i'll link up to everyone.

so in the meantime, grab a cup of hot cocoa or warm cider and welcome to our home!

our front porch

LOVE my wreath! :-)

our foyer

really love this tree in our foyer

dining room...fruit tree centerpiece; the table runner matches the tree skirt for the tree in the foyer and our stockings. they were birthday presents from my mom and sister last year and i LOVE them!

"the stockings were hung by the chimney with care..."

my willow tree nativity is so precious to me. it was a wedding present from my mom and my sister and i simply adore it!

one of our newest Christmas decoration additions this year is this tree in our den. i wanted it to be fun and playful... hence the colored lights, top hat as the topper, the santa bag and the "oversized" presents underneath. i also incorporated a lot of joel's ornaments from his childhood.

our kitchen table centerpiece and our gingerbread house masterpieces (hubs, bff marissa, and i worked so hard on those houses ;)

our advent calendar--this is super special because it was a gift to us from my was a family tradition in my house growing up and mom wanted to give it to us for future alley grandchildren ;). the little trinkets and toys hidden inside each day also hold special meaning to us so it's all around one of my favorite parts of our Christmas decorations!

"santa, i can explain..."

yes, we believe in santa claus in our household ;)

more importantly, though, "happy birthday, Jesus!"

if you stand in the kitchen (right behind the ledge) Ho, Ho, Ho reads like Oh, Oh, Oh. so funny and sometimes so appropriate during the craziness of the season!

i'm so excited about my "happy everything" plate because you trade out the little tile at the top of the plate according to the holiday or season.

even our little paisley was in the Christmas spirit!
thank you for visiting our home. praying you have a happy and joyful Christmas surrounded by family and friends. happy birthday, Jesus!

Friday, December 10, 2010


hubs and i just spent a week at what is supposed to be the most magical place on earth. yes, that's right--disney world. for us, it was a pretty magical week...time just for us with no schedules, no computers, no facebook, and limited texts/cell usage. it was glorious.

i had a conversation, though, with a lady while we were waiting in line in one of the thousands of disney gift shops who had not had a magical experience. in fact, the reason we even started talking had to do with the fact that a man had just blown by her to get in front of her to check out. i couldn't believe that someone would really be that rude and the lady began to tell me that she and her family had such a horrible experience...primarily due to the rudeness and inconsiderate actions of others...that if they ever come back it will be a very, very long time. i felt so bad for her and her family partly because if you're going to disney world, you should have a magical experience (hello, can we say expensive?) and because something--this vacation that had the potential to create such great memories for her and her family had been so downright disappointing.

where i am going with this? so glad you asked! while i do wish this family would have had a better vacation experience, my conversation with this lady coupled with several frustrating experiences of my own last week led me back to one word--grace.

in the moments and instances where my flesh really wanted to repay someone's inconsiderate action with a similarly inconsiderate action, thankfully the Holy Spirit would take control and give me the grace i needed to extend to others. i would often walk through the park thinking to myself, "do they see something different in you, amy?" and i'll be honest sometimes i know my flesh won in that particular instance but i'm thankful the Lord used those moments to point out my sinful nature and in His loving and gracious way give me an opportunity to turn from that attitude and surround me with His forgiveness.

i didn't expect disney world to provide such a wealth of opportunities for the Lord to dig out my selfish, sinful struggles but i'm so thankful that wherever i am, whatever i am doing, the Holy Spirit is working in my life to make me more like Christ. so as you are out finishing (or perhaps starting ;) your Christmas shopping this season...even in the stress of busy parking lots, crowded malls, the struggle to find the "perfect" gift...take a second and ask the Lord to give you the grace you need to extend to others. it is CHRISTmas, after all. what a great opportunity to really share the love of God with a mall full of crazy, stressed out shoppers.

i'm taking the challenge...will you?

but He said to me, "my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” therefore i will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. that is why, for Christ’s sake,i delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. for when I am weak, then I am strong. ~2 corinthians 12:9-10

Monday, December 6, 2010

happy anniversary

just wanted to pop in for a second to say happy anniversary to the love of my life. i never in my wildest dreams imagined life could be this sweet and this good. the Lord blessed me beyond measure and i can say those 30 years of waiting for you, my love were worth it.

thank you, joel alley, for loving me well, leading me confidently, and going above and beyond providing for our family. you really were the answer to so many prayers that were prayed over those 30 years and i couldn't be more blessed. love you forever and always!

always on the go...posted via droid incredible.

Friday, December 3, 2010

sharing secrets

thought that i'd take a second on this chilly friday night to share some silly secrets with you. thanks to babbling abby for the fun idea!
-i've secretly always wanted to be a personal shopper for a living. i think it would be so fun to shop for someone and spend their money.
-i secretly feel so behind and out of the loop {not to mention that i've gone about this next process in the wrong order}. i had never seen any of the harry potter movies {or read the books for that matter} until last week. hubs and i had a harry potter marathon every night and topped it off with a trip to the theater to see movie #7. now, i'm reading the books.
-i secretly {or maybe not so secretly ;} detest folding laundry. really. really. don't like it. sorting, washing, drying? no problem there. folding? mucho problemo. i even invented a game for hubs that i like to call the "laundry game." want to know how to play? essentially, all of your clean clothes can be found in hampers and it's kind of like hide-n-seek to find the specific article of clothing you'd like to wear that day. see? i look out for hubs...i like to keep his life fun and interesting ;). don't worry about us, though, we aren't drowning in clean laundry. we do put it away but it's not our favorite so sometimes i will bring back the laundry game for a day or two. just for fun, you know.
-i secretly would like to have an iPad for christmas. seeing as how hubs is employed by a company that is not apple {and is much, much better...think Mac vs PC ;} i feel as though i'm not being true to my alliances. hmph. oh well...i still want an iPad.
-i secretly find so much joy in cleaning my house. i know, i'm weird. vacuuming, dusting, bleaching every countertop and bleachable surface= such satisfaction and joy. yes, i know...i am a weirdo.
-i secretly have a {small} addiction to warm snuggly blankets and pajamas. i love to cuddle up on the couch in some super cute {and super comfy} pjs under a warm, snuggly blanket.
-i secretly don't remember what life without a dvr was like...even though it was only 2 yrs ago. spoiled, much?
-i've secretly asked the Lord to do some big things in our life in the coming year. i can't wait to see what He does or what His plan for us will be.
that's it, people. i'm all out of secrets.