12/23/2015

Finding the Christmas Spirit

There's something about the holidays that makes everything a little something special. There's the lights, the movies, the red lipstick, and the Christmas carols (links all posts from this month). I know that for me the break seems hardly long enough for me to get all of the fun Christmas traditions done. I must make sure that I bake lots of cookies, purchase and wrap every present, watch many Christmas movies, go to all of the Christmas parties, and somehow also rest in Christ.

The task of Christmas is almost too much for me.



The load of accomplishing every Christmas joy weighs on me sometimes. I want to do everything this Christmas break and made a very long list of the things to do. But with every passing day, I don't do all that I thought that I should do. Things take longer than expected, and new events come up that I didn't plan on. How can I do everything when these little "nothings" keep taking up my time? How can I celebrate Christmas just like I want to when it is only two days away and I still haven't done everything on my list? The pressure of making Christmas extra special makes me feel a little bit empty. The need to get everything done ruins my joy.

I remember that as a little girl, I loved the "Christmas Spirit." I loved ohhing and ahhing over the glossy American Girl catalog. I loved dancing around the house and taking lots of pictures when we put up Christmas decorations. I loved making gift lists and baking cookies, assembling gingerbread houses and seeing my whole world dress up in lights. And of course, I loved opening presents!

But as I grew older, I found the "Christmas Spirit" harder and harder to feel. I lost the wonder and the childlike joy, and so I just kept trying and trying to get it back. I would do all the more Christmas crafts and traditions, and I listened to Christmas music galore! But it didn't always work. Granted, sometimes it did, and the happiness that came with those treasured Christmas memories still makes me smile. But many other times, I felt disappointed at how I grew too old for the "Christmas Spirit."

Do you ever feel that way?

Something occurred to me this past week, though, something that changed the way I thought about Christmas and timekeeping in general, and something that sounds a lot like the title of my blog.

I may not be able to do everything this Christmas, but in everything I do, I can be with Christ!

And that, my dear friends, is the real Spirit of Christmas. It is Immanuel, God with us!

Because, let's face it, we can't go back to the way Christmas was, and we can't control the way Christmas is. Joy can't be forced, and peace isn't necessarily a clean schedule. Christmas is so much more than we give it credit for.

It is Christ with us!

And this changes everything!!!! 

When we live with the Spirit of Christ, we can have joy even in the mundane car rides and bumper-to-bumper traffic. When we visit with Christ, wrapping gifts and making cookies takes on a new meaning and joy! When we walk in obedience and love of Jesus, the One born for us, true peace and community form in even the most difficult places.

Guys, I think we've found the Christmas Spirit! And it is Jesus!

And so, as Christmas waits for us in two days, let us embrace the Christmas Spirit. Let us embrace Jesus! Talk to Him, be with Him, for He is always with you! He has come! Immanuel!

MERRY CHRISTMAS! I love y'all so much!

Princess Hannah

12/19/2015

Christmas Carols

 When I think about Christmas, I think O Holy Night, 
how the stars were brightly shining. 
And I look at the skies, seeing all the bright lights, 
And their shining is still reminding.
Reminding me gently of the Joy to the World, 
how heaven and natures sings. 
They sing to the Lord who is come down to us,
that we may receive our King. 
This King that has come, so tender and mild, 
Upon a silent and holy night. 
With Him comes a dawn of redeeming grace, 
He's Son of God, love's true light. 
He gives us all victory, vict'ry over the grave
To ransom captive Israel.
Rejoice all ye people, he's come now to thee, 
His name is Emmanuel





There's something about Christmas music that speaks to my soul. And I feel another poem coming up...

It's the classic tunes that I wait all year to hear. 
It's the gospel truths proclaimed in every store. 
It's the lilting melodies that make my heart rejoice. 
It's the Christmas spirit, which is really the spirit of Christ. 


Make that two more poems...

Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel, let earth receive her king. 
Born is the King of Israel, let heaven and nature sing. 
God and sinner reconciled, a newborn King to see. 
Oh come let us adore Him, oh come, fall on your knees. 

The stars are brightly shining, join the triumph of the skies. 
Star of wonder, star of light, dancing in the night. 
Joy to the world, the lord is come, silent and holy night. 
Glory to the newborn King, Son of God, love's pure light. 

There is just so much truth and grace in Christmas carols! I just... They are just... Well, how about you listen to a few of my favorites! Without further ado, I present to all ye readers with not one, but TWO Christmas playlists made by yours truly.

Playlist Number One: Classic Christmas Joy

Oh how much I love the songs on this playlist! I didn't follow a particular pattern for these songs, only that they represent the classic Christmas spirit so dear to me! My absolute favorite Christmas songs are the ones centered on Emmanuel! Oh how much worship can happen to the well-known songs of O Holy Night, Joy to the World, and O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (my current favorite)!

Many of the artists I chose appear more than once on the playlist, and my go-to Christmas album is the David Crowder Band Oh For Joy album. Seriously, go and buy it! I also sprinkled in some classics, some Charlie Brown, some a cappella, and some upbeat twists! And we can't forget about our good friend of Christmas music, Mr. Michael Buble!



Playlist Number Two: Soft Christmas Melodies

These artists are not artists that I usually listen to, but after exploring some new music, I found that I loved the acoustic vibe and gentle Christmas melodies found in these songs! My favorite is Oh Come All Ye Faithful by Jonnyswim (that song actually made it to both playlists). I must credit Abbie and her Christmas playlist for a couple of these songs!



Let these songs envelop you this week in worship of Emmanuel! Shout them out and whisper them in your heart. Let them sick in deep and come out with joy. Be still if need be, and dance around if need be. Just don't pass up the truth and joy of Emmanuel this week. Don't forget to rejoice in the Lord who is come!

Merry Christmas and much love to you all,

Princess Hannah

12/15/2015

YOU Can Wear Red Lipstick


Is is okay if I live in red lipstick this month?

It is? Well then that's splendid, because I already used up many a red lipstick day and feel many more will arrive in my near future!


One of my first red lipstick days this holiday season came when my family and I went to a Christmas tree farm. I love going to the Christmas tree farm, a place which actually grows Christmas cheer! I thought that I'd dress up for the occasion, and since I live in the South, a place that doesn't know the definition of the word "winter," I decided to sport some holiday cheer by donning some red lipstick paired with a simple knit dress and vintage accents. And I topped it all off with a hat! 

Many people I know fear the power of the red lipstick. In fact, many women live their whole lives under the impression that they can't pull it off. It feels too bold. It could easily go wrong. They can't find the right color. 

Let me give you some encouragement: 

YOU CAN WEAR RED LIPSTICK. 

It's not that hard. It doesn't look too harsh when styled correctly. And you can find a good shade for your face, even as you search for the elusive perfect shade. 

I don't pretend to be the expert of red lipstick, as I've only worn it for a couple of years and seem to have trouble actually spending money on makeup, but I do have five little tips that will help you to pull off the look effortlessly! 

Red Lipstick Tip #1: Be Confident 


I really believe that the most attractive thing about red lipstick is the confidence boost it gives a girl. Somehow the bold color emboldens us to walk with a bit more spring and smile with a bit more gusto. So even if everything else goes wrong with your red lipstick, wear it with confidence and most people won't even know! 

Red Lipstick Tip #2: Find a Good Shade

Notice that I didn't say "Find the perfect shade." That's not possible for the normal human being. But finding a shade of red that compliments your skintone and eyes can make wearing red lipstick much more fun! So far, I haven't found a shade that I don't like on my skintone, but I tend to go for a shade somewhere in the middle between an orange shade and a pink shade. 

I combined two colors for these photos: 

Rimmel London Kate Moss in 001. I love this shade because it is not too orange or pink but a poppy red. I goes on smoothly and smells like roses! 

Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella. This color is darker and deeper. Although I love the color, I'm not sold on the matte consistency, which dries up eventually. That said, it does last a long time. 

I also just received Bite's Mix and Mingle Lipstick in Pomegranate/Polimino. I haven't worn the pink shade yet, but I love the red! It is much more pink than my other red lipsticks and very creamy! In fact, my lips feel like I just applied lip balm, and I haven't reapplied for about three hours! 

My favorite makeup artist, Lisa Eldridge, made a video solely on red lipstick that is very informative and helpful for both find the the right shade and applying the lipstick. 


Red Lipstick Tip #3: Pair it with Simple Eyes and Face

Just because we put on red lipstick doesn't mean that the rest of our face needs to don loads of dramatic makeup! I find that the simple route is oftentimes best. One way to pair red lipstick is the do a simple eye, a dramatic eyebrow, and just a hint of cheek definition, as shown in these pictures. I believe that filling in your brows balances out the red lipstick splendidly because it creates a structure to your face while not drawing attention away from your red lip! 


This is not to say that we can't pair red lipstick with more dramatic makeup looks, and I plan on doing a golden smokey eye with a red lip sometime soon. But do not feel that because you want to wear red lipstick that you must apply a lot of other makeup. 

When wearing red lipstick, I do want to say that you should also wear foundation. The red of the lip can make your face appear more flushed and pink, so you want to create a smooth backdrop to your festive lipstick! 

Red Lipstick Tip #4: Be Careful

I know that I spent this whole post debunking fears of red lipstick, but I do want to offer a friendly warning. Check your lips periodically when wearing red lipstick, especially when eating. I once forgot about my beautiful lipstick when I ate an apple straight from the fruit, and let's just say that didn't end well. The lipstick smeared onto my chin and made a mess everywhere! So pull out your phone or ask a trusted friend when wearing red lipstick and eating at the same time! 

This page contains tips on how to apply red lipstick and make it last. I haven't followed every rule, but I do like to conceal my lips in nude beforehand, and the finishing powder also seems to work! 


Red Lipstick Tip #5: Keep Exploring 

The most exciting thing about red lipstick is that you can wear it in so many different shades and in so many different ways! I don't pretend to know everything about applying and wearing red lipstick, and that is just the point! I have so much fun wearing the bold color even though I don't know everything and haven't watched twenty YouTube videos about it. And if I can do it, I know that you can too! 

So embrace the holiday season this year with a little bit of red lipstick! Be fearless, be fabulous, and be fun! 

Much love and holiday joy (with more Christmas posts coming soon), 

Princess Hannah

12/08/2015

A Little Something Special

There's something about December that makes everything a little something special. The way the world shines a bit brighter and sounds a bit more cheery. The way friends and family connect over traditions done every year and yet different each time. The way the house wraps itself in holiday colors. The way Christmas coffee cups start off the mornings with a bit of festivity.

But mostly, Christmas lightens up our souls because of the way Christ comes to change everything about our lives. The way the message of joy seeps through the artificial happiness sold at half-price at Target this weekend. The way the Story of Jesus is proclaimed and natural to talk about. The way the world unites together to celebrate something bigger than all of us. That's what makes December special.

And I love it all!

I love Christmas time and I cannot help but squeal a bit when my favorite holiday traditions come around each year! The familiar events and the loved ones sharing them with me makes my heart smile from the memories of the past and the ones forming now. I love the way that Christ makes everything a little something special. And so, I want to share with you some of my favorite Christmas traditions in hope that you rejoice in the little and big things alike this month. God is the giver of good gifts, and this year, like every year, He gives the gift of Christ with us, Christmas. Let us rejoice!

12 Ways to Make Christmas a Little Something Special: 

1. Decorate the Whole House

I love decorating, but Christmas decorations are a step above the rest. In my house, we go all out, covering every surface with Christmas figurines and swarming our tree with as many ornaments as we can fit on the branches! In my room, I use white lights, a little silver tree, and pink Nutcracker-themes ornaments and figures. The day during which we put up the tree is simply wonderful because it just feels like Christmas as we unpack the numerous boxes and dance around the house to Christmas music!



We also love to craft some decorations, and I've made this wreath (I used an embroidery hoop and real pointe shoes) and these ornaments last year! I think I want to paint some canvases and make a pinecone garland, but I love new Christmas craft ideas if y'all have any!

2. Listen to Christmas Music

This simple act can change any day into a little something special, and look for my Christmas playlist coming to the blog soon! (Hint, it contains David Crowder Band and Micheal Buble.)


3. Make Gingerbread Houses

Again, I love to decorate for Christmas and make crafty things, and so let's just say that I take my gingerbread house seriously. My family buys the pre-made package that comes with five little houses so that we each decorate our own, and each year they get better and better! Making gingerbread houses is a fun activity to make any day a little something special (especially if you listen to Christmas music)!


4. Wear Christmas Colors

I've planned it out, and I will wear something Christmas-y to church every Sunday from Advent on. Although I don't wear much red and green during the year, it makes an day a little something special during Christmas. And I'm falling in love with red lipstick, so also expect a post on that coming soon!



5. Use Christmas Household Items 

How do we make breakfast, texting, and driving a little something special? Use Christmas things! We have so many Christmas dishes at our house that it's a bit overwhelming! But the festive plates give each meal a little something special.



Lately, I've really liked Christmas wallpapers for my phone! I'm currently using She Reads Truth's scripture memory prompts as my lock screen and this simple one as my homepage.

6. Go Christmas Light Seeing

This tradition is one of my favorites, although I will say that about every tradition! My family will go Christmas light seeing at least once a year, but we don't just go and see lights, we must dress in our pjs, listen to Christmas music, and eat ice cream on the way home! The quirky feel of this tradition makes it a little something special!


7. Christmas Baking

Seriously, what is December without cookies, cupcakes, and chocolate! Okay, Jesus makes it special regardless, but holiday baking is super fun! We love to decorate cookies every year. A couple of years ago we made these cookies from The Pioneer Woman, and this year I think we will try our hand at some Royal Icing techniques.


My favorite Christmas cookie recipe is our great-grandmother's sugar cookie recipe. I think I might do a post on that as well!

8. Watch Christmas Movies

I crave Christmas movies this time of year almost as much as I crave desserts. Every year we watch at least Elf (the funniest), a VeggieTales Christmas movie (what is Christmas without talking vegetables), and an old Christmas movie (Christmas in Connecticut this year). But I want to organize a Christmas movie marathon full of sappy Hallmark movies and cheerful classics!


Another great Christmas movie is Nativity, a movie which reminds us all of the power of the Christmas story!

9. Make Christmas Cards

As many of you know, I love to make a good card, but nothing can compare to a beautiful, homemade Christmas card! I try to outdo myself every year, but this year I think I may go for the simple approach. Last year I did several different kinds, but I made a couple that looked like these and loved them! Do you guys have any card ideas?


10. Buy/Wrap Christmas Gifts

It is pretty exciting to walk into Target and buy a gift for someone! I love when I get something that the other person wasn't expecting too! But I don't just buy a gift, I must wrap it, tie it with a bow, and make sure all of the wrapping paper matches!

11. Receive Gifts

My family never did Santa, and I'm perfectly fine about that. I love being able to thank my family for their love shown through gifts! We open our gifts of Christmas Eve for a couple of reasons. One, we don't like waking up early in the morning. Two, it leaves Christmas day free to spend worshipping Jesus!


12. Focusing in Immanuel

I do not put this last because it is the last thing that I thought of, but I wanted to show everyone how God's grace can intertwine with every aspect of Christmas. Yes, I love spending time doing an Advent study (this year I'm going through She Reads Truth's study and last year I read Ann Voscamp's book The Greatest Gift), but putting Jesus as center is more than the few minutes of time we read His Word.


It is decorating the house with reminders of grace.
Listening to music that shows us God's holiness,
Using creativity to honor God,
Wearing colors that point to joy,
Involving Jesus in everything we do,
Marveling in His light all around us as we see the lights of houses,
Taking part in the yummy food all around with thanksgiving,
Watching movies and identifying how God's Story is in them,
Making cards that give encouragement,
Giving gifts that send love,
Receiving gifts with gratitude and joy, knowing the the Greatest Gift of all is Jesus!

Join with me in celebrating the little things this December and embracing the traditions and festivities that we love! And let us keep each other accountable to not forgot why everything is a little something special this time of year: Jesus!

Comment below your favorite Christmas traditions and what you want to try this year! Also, do you have any Christmas craft or card ideas? What about your favorite Christmas movie?

Merry Christmas, and expect many more Christmas posts in the future!

Princess Hannah

12/02/2015

Gratefulness

Gratefulness. I know that Thanksgiving was last week, but a lifestyle of giving thanks never ends, and since the ever-lovely Grace from Totally Graced nominated me for the Gratitude Tag, I want to continue to think about gratefulness.




So let's see what these five questions and my rambling mind will reveal about gratefulness!

1. What is your favorite quote or verse that reminds you to be grateful? 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 are go-to when it comes to verses about thankfulness.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 


2. Who are you grateful for? 

Oh, I am grateful for so many people! But I remember thanking God for my family on Thanksgiving, as I do many times, but this time the thanks bloomed a bit more inside of me. I heard the laughter coming from the living room, coming from the joy of togetherness. I thought about how safe and loved and excited I feel about spending time with my family, and I just started crying. What did I do to deserve such a life? How did I earn so many blessings?

Just a moment ago I had felt discontent with life; I felt it to be petty and consumer-oriented, ruining Thanksgiving. But this moment of truth, the moment in which I thought, what if life didn't look like this, changed my day. For I suddenly knew that God gives good gifts, that He is the good gift, and that right here and right now hold so many blessings, blessings that I, in my self-righteousness, would have missed.

So I am grateful for my wonderful family, but mostly for God who reveals Himself to us in little and big ways, turning around the binoculars through which we view life, so that instead of just seeing one spot, we can witness that big picture or His Story all around us!

3. What life events are you thankful for? 

I'm not sure if I ever told this story to the blog, but a few years ago, Dad started a church. He had big dreams and we had great hearts, but for some reason, it didn't work out. For two years, we met in coffee shops or apartment meeting rooms, never more than 40 people, very rarely anyone near my age.

It was a hard time, because I felt isolated. I was home-schooled and now I went to a home church? I didn't give up, but I often wondered why God didn't move the way I thought He should move. I prayed almost every day for those two years that a girl my age would come, be my friend, and encourage me in the faith. But God answered in another way, and we stopped the church and started going to an established church where I learned much but still didn't make friends.

It's taken me a while to be truly thankful for that time in life, and I'm still not completely there yet. I don't regret it, and I trust God's story, but I've realized lately that I haven't thanked God much for that time in my life.

But I should.


Because during that time I learned, or rather, God taught me, so much. He taught me how to trust Him. He taught me how to let Him be my friend even when I didn't have many other friends in my life. He taught me how to be myself independent of a crowd of friends.He taught me more about the church's mission. And those lessons, those two confusing years, shaped me and brought me into this next part of God's story in my life, college.

And so I'm grateful for the two years where we didn't have control and couldn't see the end because God taught me that He can see the end, and that His plan is best.

That was a long answer.

Another!

4. What is something that you are grateful for but oftentimes don't think about? 

I could say the obvious answers like health, food, and housing, but I actually do think about those things, and so I'll go a bit deeper.

Lately I've been very thankful that God is a God who reveals Himself to us. The ability to know God's character amazes me, and reading C. S. Lewis' book Till We Have Faces, made me appreciate a known God even more. Even more than that, God's character never changes! And so who He was in Genesis is the same today. The God who parted the Red Sea led Dad to start a church. The God who rose back to life by His own power is with me!



5. What are you going to do to show people that you are grateful for them? 

Tell them so.

In the form of a lovely little Christmas card, of course! I love making cards (see my go-to way for DIY cards), and this Christmas I want to make lots of cards for everyone in my life! The outside of the card is fun to craft, but the inside is where I love to pour my heart out and remind that person how much they mean to me and to God!

But I have another idea too! I want to show gratitude to everyone who reads this blog, because I truly am thankful for y'all! And so, to everyone who comments on this post or regularly comments on the blog, check your inboxes, because I will write you a little virtual Christmas card just to say hi and get to know all of you a bit more!

So comment below and make sure to let gratefulness bloom a bit more inside of you today! Have a splendid rest of the week and good luck on any tests and finals coming up!

Princess Hannah