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The end of Daylight Savings Time combined with the ever-shortening days of fall throw my internal clock for a loop. I circle the house in the morning opening blinds to let in the sun’s rays, but close them again come early evening.

At this time of year my husband only sees daylight at home on weekends.

These mini days mess with my mood and my mind and often my patience shrinks like the daytime.

I miss the light: it makes me happy. It gives me life.

But God’s grace shines brightly in a dark world. As His blood-bought sons and daughters, it is our purpose to reflect that light, regardless of the season.

” . . . ye shine as lights in the world.” ~Philippians 2:15

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“In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” ~John 1:4

Everlasting Light Collection

DaySpring’s fresh new Everlasting Light product line features products that emphasize God’s creation: stars, constellations, light. Although I’m excited about the full collection, it’s the jewelry that first caught my eye. I love the mixed metals and the sparkle! I wear the stacked rings almost every day and I love to layer the Shine and the North Star Pendant Necklaces (affiliate product links below).

“. . .for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light . . .” ~Isaiah 60:20

Comment to Win!

Leave a comment on this post for your chance to win a $50 coupon code for the Everlasting Light product(s) of your choice. What’s your favorite item in the collection?

Featured products:


 

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SNCatlanta

[Contest has ended: Charlotte is the winner!}

 
Straight No Chaser and I connected at the perfect time. Perfect for me, that is. I met the group in 2009 and have seen them every time they’ve performed in Atlanta, from Center Stage (twice) to the Cobb Energy Center to the Atlanta Civic Center to Chastain Amphitheater and now—to the Fabulous Fox!

Leave a comment at the bottom of this post for your chance to win tickets for two to see Straight No Chaser at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre on Friday, November 14!

Straight No Chaser, a men’s a cappella group founded in 1996 at Indiana University, reunited to perform at their 10 year reunion. Afterward founding member Randy Stine posted a 1998 video of their adaptation of the 12 Days of Christmas to YouTube. It created a stir online—currently exceeding 17 million views—that lead to a recording contract with Atlantic Records.

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SNC held a blogger meet & greet when they first visited Atlanta in December of 2009 and thankfully, I was on the guest list. They were relatively unknown at the time: although everyone had seen the YouTube video, it took time before people connected it with the group or knew that they’d reunited and gone on tour.

Getting downtown on a weekday afternoon isn’t easy and the members of the group outnumbered the bloggers; I think there were three of us. But they fed us, invited us on stage, sang to us, and asked about us and our blogs. I was impressed. After hearing and meeting them, I knew I wanted to come back that evening for the concert, but I had a girls’ night out scheduled with my three best friends.

I couldn’t convince my girlfriends to change our plans and go to the concert, so I ate appetizers with them and then my husband picked me up and took me to see the show. I haven’t missed SNC in Atlanta since that night.

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Straight No Chaser unites our family. Sometimes my kids and I barely tolerate each other’s music, but SNC appeals to us all in a roll-down-the-windows-and-sing-loudly kind of way. They perform covers of songs both old and new and I often prefer their renditions to the originals.

Because the group performed (and still performs, now under another name) for years at Indiana University, enough original members exist to replenish the group when marriage, parenthood, or change of career reduces its numbers. I’ve watched Dan Ponce leave for a career in journalism; “liked” SNC members’  wedding photos on Facebook; and cheered Ryan Ahlwardt as he and his wife decided to devote their lives to mentoring teens through Young Life and gave birth to a precious baby girl.

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Straight No Chaser establishes a rapport with their audience and loyal fans are called Chasers. During concerts, the group takes pictures of the audience to post to Facebook, inviting fans to tag themselves. Even when they play venues that ordinarily prohibit photography and video, SNC allows it. After all, they were discovered on YouTube.

Here’s a video I took (while juggling my camera in the other hand) at the 2009 blogger meet & greet when I first met SNC. [Email subscribers click over to the blog for video content.]

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What started it all—the 1998 video of the 12 Days of Christmas:

Find shows and tickets to Straight No Chaser’s current tour here.

See Straight No Chaser in Atlanta!

What a great time of year to hear Straight No Chaser—they’ve recorded three Christmas albums!

Leave a comment for your chance to win tickets for two to See Straight No Chaser in Atlanta on Friday, November 14! What’s your favorite Christmas song?

[Disclosure: Tickets provided both for me and for giveaway. Albums links are paid affiliate links.]

 

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November2014

My husband and I visited a winery and vineyard on our anniversary and thankfully we found a few clumps of grapes still on the vine. Although it wasn’t the best time of day, photographically speaking, I was able to crouch down and get some backlit images.

I’m still doing that only-a-tiny-sliver-of-this-image-is-in-focus thing with my macro lens, but I love the detail in the grapes. And did you see how I emphasized the backlight and then used a verse with light in it? Yeah, I can be clever that way.

Download November’s Desktop Calendar!

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So 31 Days of Daily Grace begins with a desktop calendar and ends with one, too. I pray this one warms your soul as you ease into the cool of November. Enjoy!

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{This is day 31 of a 31 day series, 31 Days of Daily Grace. Find all posts in this series here.}

 

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We all have gifts. Some naturally sing, write, run, cook, or throw better than others. But no matter the amount of talent, there’s a level of performance you won’t exceed without practice.

Today’s daily grace uses an alternate definition of the word:

Grace noun : simple elegance or refinement of movement

As the 2014 baseball season ends, here’s to three classic plays that embody this kind of grace. [Email subscribers click over to watch videos.]

When I saw this first one, I told my husband, “That play started on a little league field when he was five years old. Years of practice makes that play happen.”

Enjoy!

Yes, practice makes perfect is more than a catchy phrase! (Pun intended.)

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{This is day 30 of a 31 day series, 31 Days of Daily Grace. Find all posts in this series here.}

 

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hospitality

Hospitality was the overriding theme of last week’s Allume conference: both hospitality in your home and on your blog. But the final night I received a visible lesson in where its home truly lies: in your heart.

One of the attendees, Amanda, planned an after-party, but the guests she invited didn’t come. You know that feeling when you’ve prepared for company and no one shows? Yeah, I think she felt it, too.

Instead of feeling sorry for herself or embarrassed that the employees had set up an area especially for her group, Amanda—determined to share her hospitality with someone—stuck her head out the door and invited my friends and me to join her in a cozy restaurant on Main Street in downtown Greenville, SC.

She treated us to drinks and appetizers as if we were her intended guests and welcomed us like a host sharing her home. Her heart inclines toward hospitality and she made a place for it to happen. We spent a delightful evening around an extended table swapping stories, seasoned fries, and smiles.

I even got to share my encounter with Harry Connick Jr. with a new audience. :)

Amanda’s family practices hospitality on the road as a way of life; they call it Digital Tentmaking. They paid off their debts; sold their home; and travel the world homeschooling their three small children and connecting with other believers.

Tonight I discovered that Amanda (who loves Jane Austen and banjo music, just like me) has also written about the evening from her point of view. {Don’t you just love hearing both sides of a story?} Click over to read it and meet her here!

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{This is day 29 of a 31 day series, 31 Days of Daily Grace. Find all posts in this series here.}

 

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The Gift of Reasonable Expectations

My sister asked me to photograph her wedding just two months after I got my first DSLR. Boy, was I nervous. I carried Scott Kelby’s digital photography books in my camera bag and read them every spare moment; drove to Nashville to attend a NAPP (now KelbyOne) one-day seminar tour; and studied like I was back in college because this was a test with stakes higher than any I’d taken.

I crafted a DSLR photography crash course and these were my Cliffs Notes.

Thankfully it was an outdoor wedding, which saved me because I didn’t know my camera well enough to be shooting a wedding much less for someone that I would face for the rest of my life. Somehow I pulled it off in spite of botched settings and not fully understanding which lens to use in which situation.

I got some shots that I’m still happy with six years later, when I know more, like the moment my brother-in-law saw my sister for the first time: the look of awe and wonder on his face while his dad (who passed away too soon after) smiled in the background.

What set me up to succeed instead of fail—nerves and all—was the knowledge that the jitters were all mine. My sister wasn’t worried; she trusted me and put no pressure there.

In her eyes I could only succeed.

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Now two of my sons are engaged and I feel the pressure again, like I need a crash course on how to be the mother of the groom. I fear failure at whatever it is I’m supposed to do and whatever it is I’m supposed to be.

But one of my sons told me last week he appreciates my and my husband’s easy nature in this wedding business and I wanted to cry. In that moment I knew the expectations upon me are self-imposed and not from him.

It’s the gift my sister gave: love, acceptance, trust.

To grant someone the grace to do their best without crippling expectations is a gift, one they might not extend to themselves. The acceptance of that gift—well, that’s another story—but there’s generosity in offering it.

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{This is days 27-28 of a 31 day series, 31 Days of Daily Grace. Find all posts in this series here.}

 

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