the road to sin is often wrapped in virtue

Sin isn't always easy to see. Like the Bible says, some are easy to spot, and some will be revealed later. For me, the Lord has slowly revealed that my sin is almost always wrapped in what looks like virtue.

** what it appears to me: I love shopping, it's a way to relax. I love putting new outfits together, or finding the perfect item
** what it really might be: greed, covetousness, the need for happiness outside of Christ, addiction to the adrenaline of finding something new and having the best or newest things

Body Size
** what it appears to me: I want to be x size or y weight because it is a good stewardship of my health, I don't want to indulgent, I want to be self-disciplined
** what it really might be: jealousy, selfish ambition, the desire to be desirable by the standards of the world, comparison to former days or others

Clothing Choices
** what it appears to me: this outfit is really cute, this is the style right now, I just want to look nice and presentable, and not out of date or terribly untrendy
**what it really might be: immodest, revealing, a showy outward display of my selfish inner indulgence and unbeknownst revealing of my true foolish desires- to be approved of by man more than God

And believe me, I could go on and on with lists of ways I can blind myself to sin by wrapping it in virtue.

Can these things sometimes be beneficial and necessary and approved? I'm sure, but as Matt Chandler says for me they can become ultimate. I'm not doing them to please Christ- in my heart I covet, I crave, I long for things outside of Him to please me. This is where my sin can be so deceptive. It can look shiny and good and virtuous, but in the end it's all filthy rags and I'm a whitewashed tomb.

This is why I need Jesus so desperately to change the desires of my heart. Through His Holy Spirit, given to me through faith in Him, I can see my sinful heart for what it is, and be made new. I'm a sinner {beyond words}, and I will never be able to overcome my sin without the hand of the Lord God Almighty.

For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great. 
Psalm 25:11

Hide Your face from my sins And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Psalm 51:9-10

15 fun gifts for women {$25 or less!!}

The women's Christmas gift guide may be one of my favorite things to gather up each year. Even though I spend hours and hours looking for these, girlie gifts are still way easier to find! :D
Every gift on this guide is from Amazon, and I'm so excited that most of the items on this list are actually under $15! I also added the shipping price into the numbers below so you know the total cost. {I know we're all probably shopping on deadlines so I tried to only list things you could get shipped free or prime before Christmas, but please double check price and ship date of course because it might change! :)}

Here are this year's favorites- I hope you enjoy! :D
{affiliate links are used below, thank you for supporting this blog! :D}

$25 and under favorites

1/ stainless steel large rose ring, $1.99 {+ $6.95 shipped}
This James Avery look alike ring is big and bold and gets amazing reviews! I couldn't believe it was so inexpensive and highly rated!

Feathers, $3.55  ////  I Love You to the Moon and Back cover  $2.92   ////  Elephant  $3.02
Compass Pillowcase $3.28 /// Arrows cover  $6.98 /// Vintage deer cover $3.20

2/ ridiculously cute pillow covers. They need an insert of course {you can get an 18x18 here}, but the low prices were crazy! I think these would be perfect for a friend, a teenager, or a little one!

If you have a runner friend, they might love you for this. I've used one and it's so nice not to have to carry your key!!

4/ clothespin laundry sign, $7.84 {shipping included!}
I think this would be so fun for a mom, grandma, aunt, or anyone who loves vintage/farmhouse decor!

5/ Pro Beauty Foundation Sponges, $9.99 {for 2 shipped}
These are supposed to be awesome for applying makeup evenly! I've always wanted to try one but wouldn't pay for the name brand. These are a generic brand {the real one is $15+ each!}, and would be  a great stocking stuffer!

6/ Botanicals Notebook Collection, $10.92 {for 3 shipped}
I've had these for years {and they were even on an older gift guide}. I loved them so much I used nearly every page in all 3. They're light and perfect for your purse!

7/ funny tea towels
These made my day- especially this one. :D 
Every homeschooler/teacher mom needs one of these!!

8/ bohemian tapestry 85x95, $12.66 shipped

These are popular with the teenage/college age girls for their rooms. I can't believe the price for a bed coverlet/ huge wall piece! Or if you wanted that lovely anthro/urban outfitters boho look, throw this over your bed! 

I loved the detail on this. I'm a sucker for rings with unusual texture!  

10/ blanket scarf, $13.99. 
I've seen girls wearing these big luxurious blanket scarves just like this and they look so comfy!

I just thought these were adorable!

I thought this would be perfect for a someone who loves traditional style decor, but the price is what amazed me the most. Where can you get a blanket like this for $15 shipped??

I don't know if you know this, but I'm a ridiculous list maker and I can't even tell you how happy it makes me just to look at this book. I already do this for fun on my own. :) This book prompts you with topics like, "List the Ways You Get Energized," "List Everything You Love to Do Outdoors" and  "List the Words that Define Your Personality."

Everything Anna Rifle does is beautiful, and this calendar is no exception. I'm all heart eyes for this one!! :D

This might be an odd one for a gift list, but this little wardrobe accessory will change everything!
If you love dresses but hate how short they are, this will be your new best friend. I have a similar one and use it with any dress that feels too short! I would give these to my sisters, my mom, my friends, my daughters... pretty much anyone who wears dresses ever! :D

This one could technically be for a girl or a guy, but I love this word and it would be awesome to see it while you're running or doing every day life. It would be an encouraging gift for any mom to just keep going and doing what they are called to do! :)

a bonus find I couldn't keep to myself:
This company gets really good reviews for their throw quality, and this beautiful white ruffle one {for less than $35} would be something you could keep forever. I really love this one {hint, hint honey ha!}

And that's it! {okay. I really had more but I had to stop myself!} :D 

Do you have any favorite gifts you're giving this year? Any great finds you can share?

the 2015 men's gift guide {$25 and under}

I'm SO excited about this year's manly finds. I can spend hours scouring the internet for just the right gift, and it always makes me happy to share what I find with you! Guys are THE hardest to buy gifts for, so we girls have to help each other out right? :D

Most of the best deals I find come from Amazon, especially for the little items! I tried to pick only things with free shipping that would arrive before Christmas, but always double check to make sure! {p.s. Amazon affiliate links are included in this post- thank you for supporting this blog!!}

Here are my 15 man faves for 2015:

{depending on when you need it- it could be $6.99 shipped before Christmas}. These were the #1 best seller in hand tools on all of Amazon with over 11k reviews!! :D

2/ PUT ME DOWN Decal, $1.73 for the funny guys in your life. :)
 I'm dying over this- oh my goodness I laughed! Maybe only give this to your guy/brother/dad if he has a good sense of humor! :P 

It won't replace a real set of course, but this little screwdriver is apparently great for keeping around the house or carrying in your pocket! {I'm grabbing one for my boys too!}

4/ the cutest World's Greatest Dad Parking Only 8x12 sign, $8.50 {what?!}. 
I fully intend to install this at my dad's place on the sly... :D

A must-have according to Rob. "Don't ask what it's for- he'll know," he said. You got it straight from the horse's mouth here at our house. I still don't know what it's for!

 So Rob insisted I MUST add this headlight to this year's gift guide too, and he even instructed me to quote him directly?? First the paracord, then this? The man is serious about his gifts this year. :) He said "it's the best headlight I've ever owned. It points exactly where you want it to, it's very bright, and has good battery life." 
{and there it is- possibly his first ever written review for Amazon?!}

Okay, this is one of the coolest gifts I've seen in the longest! You pay a little more than you would normally for a bar of soap because it has REAL money in it! It could be anywhere from $1-$50!! The anticipation would kill me! :) It would be great for one of those really tough-to-buy-for or minimalistic kind of guys since it's consumable.

My husband got a Amazon gift card for his birthday and he ordered this right away. He LOVES it, uses it all the time, and then tells people about it every chance he can get. :D

9-11/ This Escali 100% Pure Badger Shaving Brush, $12.95 gets awesome reviews. 
We stopped at a fancy shaving store the other day for fun and the prices for sets were quite high {like almost $200 high!}- I REALLY want to get this combo for my husband this year since he shaves daily but I know he is reading this so I'm NOT honey. ;)  I imagine this would go over even better if you put in a sweet little coupon promising to give him the first shave... {:DDD}

This shaving cream was #1 on all of Amazon: 

and this was the cheapest/best reviewed razor I could find: 
Magnus Heavy Duty Double Edge Safety Razor {+ 2 free blades}, $14.95

12/ I asked my brother to tell me one of his very favorite gift/man items ever and he said he loves a good pair of leather work gloves like these Wells Lamont Premium Heavy Duty Leather Work Gloves, Leather Bound for $11.97.

He said he really likes the cinch aspect, but I also found these had excellent reviews! Carhartt Men's Grain Leather Work Glove with Safety Cuff, $16-21:

My dad purchased this Bible for himself and he raves about it. {Do you see a pattern? Apparently the men in my life only ever speak up about things they LOVE, ha!}

14/ If you have hunters in your life like I do, maybe they'll love this
The reviews were almost 5 stars because they say it really works as a good thermos!!

I love fleece vests for myself and we keep our house pretty cold in the winter so I'm thinking this might be perfect for Rob this year. Plus vests look nice with lots of shirt styles if you ask me. :)

Since it's not Christmas yet I won't tell you all of the ones I'm buying, but I will say I'm very happy with the man gift options this year! :D What's on your man list? :)

a little jaunt to ol' San Antone {and Magnolia Market!}

A couple of weeks ago we had the chance to go to San Antonio for a little getaway slash training weekend. :D I teach the group fitness classes BodyCombat and BodyPump, and after two intense days at a Gold's Gym I'm now allowed to teach BodyAttack, a sports-conditioning/cardio class. :D While we were there I spent most of my time in this room doing 8000 plyo lunges:

I was super sore after 2 full days, but after the training I hobbled we walked through the Alamo for a homeschool field trip:

In case you were wondering, this is how we do homeschool field trips in Texas-- guns and all:

We also had the chance to see the Riverwalk. It was the first time the kids could remember it, and the first time I realized how hard it is to have excited toddler boys on a sidewalk next to an open river... 


But Alamo, schmalamo....while we were down south we got to see a real landmark of our modern day:

The Magnolia Market in Waco was everything I hoped it would be...

and more crowded than I ever expected. :D 

I'm not a crowd person anymore, but it was fun to see it in real life. :)

It must have been a vacation for mama or something, because two days of working out and then Pottery Barn/Williams Sonoma outlet? AHHH.

Out of everything there, I spent my birthday money on French wooden spoons, sturdy measuring cups, and my new favorite cleaning tool I hope to tell you more about asap.

I guess I'm not as much of a shopper as I used to be {either that or 7 people shadowing your every step makes it a little challenging?! ha}, so when the Black Friday sales hit online I was all over it:

Cozy bed, PJ's, and baby cuddling for hours? There is no other way to shop. :)

What have you been up to lately? 

Have you been to the famous silos yet? ;)

Pottery Barn or Williams Sonoma- if you had a gift card would you rather have cooking utensils or decor?