Free Christmas Music from Amazon Prime!

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I had a life-changing revelation this week: having an Amazon Prime membership gives you access to TONS of free music, and that includes Christmas music!

I’ve had my Amazon Prime membership for several months now and have greatly enjoyed the free two-day shipping, but I hadn’t really explored the other benefits. Free music is a huge advantage to our family of music lovers!

There are literally hundreds of Christmas albums available to Prime members for NOTHING. These albums can be added to your library and played from the Amazon Music Cloud Player or downloaded as MP3s. I’ve been playing through the Cloud Player on my laptop and the Amazon Music app – super easy to use!

FreeChristmasmusic fromAmazon Prime

So, I bet you’re wondering what Christmas music I found that I’m so excited about, right? Here are some of my favorites I added to my library:

And these albums are new to me, but I can’t wait to listen to them:

There are SO many more, and you can find them by going to the Digital Music page of Amazon and clicking on “Holiday Albums Free with Prime” in the sidebar! Or just click here to go right to the free Prime Holiday Music page!

What if you don’t have Amazon Prime? Well, I have two solutions to that dilemma:

  1. Ask for a Prime membership for Christmas. Seriously.
  2. Get your 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime and experience the awesome for yourself before you decide to join!

After you’re done checking out all the free Christmas music, you can browse all the free Prime music, where I find lots more albums to enjoy!

And if you want to get your kids involved in the Christmas music fun, grab one of my free 25 Songs of Christmas printables and sing a new song with them each day!


Did you find any of your favorite Christmas albums in the free Amazon Prime music?


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Fixer-Upper: Lessons on Love from a Disney Song

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My love for the move Frozen knows no bounds, and the biggest reason is the fabulous music. I bought the soundtrack for myself the boys for Valentine’s Day and it has been playing nonstop, with everyone signing along, ever since.

By now, everyone knows the most popular song, “Let It Go.” It’s being added to my running playlist because I love it SO MUCH and want it belting in my ear as I let it all go in a race.

But another song from the movie has really captured my heart and it’s not because of the amazing vocals like Ms. Indina Menzel in “Let It Go.” Tucked away as track #9 on the soundtrack, “Fixer-Upper” might have escaped your notice, but you might want to search it out for yourself.

Fixer Upper

First of all, “Fixer-Upper” is a funny little song sung by the troll family of Kristoff. They are trying to figure out why Anna and Kristoff aren’t pursuing each other romantically and their first assumption is that Anna has noticed all of Kristoff’s flaws, which they are happy to catalog for her. When they discover that Anna is engaged, they change their tune and say that she is the one needing fixing so they can be together.

While their motives for singing may be superficial, the message the song conveys is anything but shallow.

Let’s start here:

Everyone’s a bit of a fixer-upper,
That’s what it’s all about!

One of the boys and I got into this last week when he was upset about something he had done and said he hated himself. When we arrived at the root of his feelings, I helped him realize he really hates the sin and not himself. And he needed this reminder about sin that applies even {and especially} to his mommy:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. ~Romans 3:23

We are all fixer-uppers because we are all sinners. No exceptions.

We’re not sayin’ you can change him,
‘Cause people don’t really change.
We’re only saying that love’s a force
That’s powerful and strange.
People make bad choices if they’re mad,
Or scared, or stressed.
Throw a little love their way.

And you’ll bring out their best.

I don’t agree with the line about “people don’t really change,” but I do agree that WE can’t change anyone. But we CAN love. And love does some pretty amazing things. Just ask Bob Goff. {one of my favorite books from last year}

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. ~Romans 12:10

And that whole part about making bad choices?! So much truth. I’ve spoken harsh words to my children or husband when I was stressed about something completely unrelated to them. I’ve reacted hastily when scared. If these bad decisions are something we all struggle with {and I think we do}, we should know to react with more compassion and love – the kind we would like to receive in the same situation. 

Father! Sister! Brother!

We need each other to raise
Us up and round us out.

God didn’t put us in families and communities to judge and tear down one another. He put us together to lift one another up, using the unique and wonderful giftings from Him to bless one another – to round each other out!

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. ~Romans 12:6-8

We all need fixing. We all need love. And that all comes back to our need for God.

Everyone’s a bit of a fixer-upper,
But when push comes to shove.

The only fixer-upper fixer
That can fix up a fixer-upper is true love!

The true love that transforms is not from us, but from Love himself. His love has the power to take all those things about us that need fixing – our sin, our doubts, our fears – and do a miraculous work through them…

We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. ~Romans 5:3-5

This fixer-upper right here, writing to you now, takes great comfort and delight in the hope produced by the love of God in my life. It’s my job, my calling, my joy to share that life-changing love with other fixer-uppers.

Let’s throw a little more love each other’s way and watch as God brings out the best in all of us.

And go listen to the song if you haven’t. It’s super cute and will have you singing about love the rest of the day!


*”Fixer-Upper” lyrics by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

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The Best of 2013

Ooh, 2013 was quite a year, wasn’t it?!

As I was looking back over the year to put together this post of my bests and favorites for the year, it seemed like a LONG year. We packed a lot into these twelve months and I’m sure I’ve forgotten half the wonderful things that happened! So I’m just going to apologize now for leaving some stuff out because it’s bound to happen with this mom-brain…

Best of 2013

Top Blog Posts of 2013

{according to Google Analytics}

  1. 10 Favorite Christian Running Songs {May 2013}
  2. Why a Mom’s Body Image Matters to Her Sons
  3. Less Yelling, More Praying: Bible Verses to Pray
  4. My Half Marathon Playlist
  5. Insanity Mom
  6. High Five Morning Routine for Kids
  7. The Love Dare for Parents
  8. My Experience with Stitch Fix {you can read about my follow-up experience here}
  9. 13.1 Books for 2013 {I read at least 13 books this year, but didn’t get to all of these!}
  10. Easter Week with the Jesus Storybook Bible

Rhythm of Boys

Favorite Books of 2013

Raw Emotion

Favorite Songs of 2013

  • Middle of Your Heart by For King and Country
  • Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher
  • Awake My Soul by Chris Tomlin
  • The League of Incredible Vegetables by Newsboys

Vegas Poolside Couple

Favorite Moments of 2013

Really, it was an amazing year. A year to celebrate.

And God stretched me a lot this year, as well. Most of the time I was kicking and screaming as He tried to help me grow, which left me tired and frustrated, but my eyes are much wider open to His plans for me going into 2014. He gave me a word a few months ago that I will share with you tomorrow as my word of the year and I’m holding tightly to it changing the way He works in EVERY part of my life!

I want to leave you with one thought as this year ends and a new begins…

I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us… ~David Crowder

This is not a time to dwell on the regrets of 2013, but to bask in His great love and move forward into 2014! Oh, how He loves you, friend, and has big plans for each of us this new year!

Thank you to all who have joined us along the way and those who have been here for years – I treasure each one of you and pray for you often!

Happy New Year!

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10 {More} Favorite Christmas Albums!

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It’s been a while since I posted about my favorite Christmas albums! Three years to be exact. And while those albums are all still favorites of mine, being a Christmas music fanatic, I’ve added many new favorites to the list as well!

Here are ten MORE favorite Christmas albums, in no particular order…

More Favorite Christmas Albums

Pentatonix – PTXMAS

This is a new discovery for us. Along with everyone else on the Internet, we fell in love with their a cappella version of Little Drummer Boy and I immediately wanted the whole album. I’m a sucker for a capella.

Casting Crowns – Peace on Earth

I love their versions of Christmas classics, but the real winners on this album are the original songs, Peace on Earth and While You Were Sleeping.

Chris Tomlin – Glory in the Highest

Well, our household loves anything Chris Tomlin does and this album is no exception. Just beautiful. Come Thou Long Expected Jesus is a special treat.

Third Day – Christmas Offerings

I have to admit, I wasn’t a big Third Day fan until we saw them in concert at Lifelight several years ago. Now I just love them. “Do You Hear What I Hear?” is a favorite.

A Very She & Him Christmas

Please tell me you know about this album?!?! I love Zooey Deschanel’s voice and this album is full of just plain fun Christmas music!

A Slugs and Bugs Christmas

This is a MUST HAVE for the kids, but I enjoy it as well! Happy Birthday Jesus is the most fun {replacing the song of the same name I have never cared for} and there are so many other fun ones your whole family will love!

BarlowGirl – Home for Christmas

These girls know how to rock, but they also put out a great Christmas album! Love their voices and

WOW Christmas {2013}

This is at the top of my want list right now! The WOW Christmas albums are always packed with lots of Christmas goodies!

Glee Christmas {Volume 2 + Volume 3}

Just like Volume 1, Glee continues to produce fabulous Christmas music on volumes 2 and 3! I can’t wait for volume 4 to be revealed this week!

Elf Soundtrack

Did you know Elf has been out for 10 years now?! I love all Christmas movies {currently addicted to Hallmark Christmas movies}, but Elf has taken my #1 favorite spot and the great music is one of the reasons why.

And I have to add one favorite song that will totally brighten your day…

Your turn! Favorite Christmas albums? New or classic?

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The Girl with Good Intentions {Giveaway}

I “met” Jenny Youngman through Twitter and, being a total sucker for discovering new music, was giddy to get a chance to hear her newest album and share it with you!

Jenny is a mama to four little ones {including twins!}, making meaningful music and working as an artist-partner with International Justice Mission and to raise awareness and support in the fight against human trafficking.

Her new album, The Girl with Good Intentions, just released this August, and is full of songs with which I could deeply relate. Along with a gorgeous voice, Jenny’s lyrics are moving and thoughtful and so inspiring.


The title song especially grabbed me with this chorus…

Cause I’m the girl with good intentions
With a heart of compassion I just get distracted
I’ve shed tears for this world
But Lord, your kingdom is coming
And I just want to do something good

How many times have I had these EXACT THOUGHTS?! I love the album’s focus on moving from safe, good intentions, to brave, bold movements for the Kingdom.

Later in the album, the song “To Be Brave” has this line that I can’t shake…

Somewhere along the way
We learn to play it safe
And we forget Jesus made us to be fearless
To live in the light of the day
To be brave

I don’t want to just KNOW this truth. I want to LIVE it and teach my boys to live it as well! He made us to be fearless in Him! Jenny’s words are inspiring to me as a woman, a Christian, and a mom.

If you would like to listen to any songs off this album, you can head over to Jenny’s website to hear each song, read the lyrics, and get your own copy of the album!

And Jenny has graciously offered to give away three signed copies of The Girl with Good Intentions to you! I know the winners will be so blessed by Jenny’s music!

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I was provided with a review copy of this album. I was not compensated in any other way for this post, all opinions are 100% my own!

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10 Worship Songs to Refocus Your Heart on a Rough Day

Last Friday, I wrote about the power of worship music to turn around a bad day. Whether I’m tired or frustrated or totally unmotivated, the right songs can set my heart and mind back on Jesus and get me moving in the right direction.

So what songs are on my list for those rough days? I have LOTS I love and I’m always looking for new ones, but if I had to pick just ten worship songs to have on a bad day playlist, I would choose these ten…

10 Worship Songs for a Bad Day

1. Middle of Your Heart by For King and Country – Well, you already know how I feel about this song, and it is my number one go-to song on a bad day. If you haven’t read my thoughts on it yet, check it out now. Powerful song, powerful prayer.

2. Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher -Sometimes the fix for a rough day is realizing that YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL. At least that works for me! This song does it for me every time. I need Him. Period.

3. After All {Holy} by David Crowder Band – When the day is so hard you don’t even know what to pray, focus on His holiness. Remember that it is all about His glory.

4. None But Jesus by Hillsong United – Your kids won’t behave, your friend isn’t being supportive, this world continues to disappoint…but Jesus. There is no one else for me.

5. From the Inside Out by Hillsong United – This should be pretty self-explanatory, but I need this reminder when my own choices have muddled up the day:

A thousand times I’ve failed
Still Your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
Still I’m caught in Your grace

6. Wake Up by All Sons and Daughters – I feel like this reminds me to “snap out of it” when I’m in a funk.

7. Our God is Greater by Chris Tomlin – Nothing I am facing on a rough day is bigger than my God, but it’s hard to keep that perspective in the moment. This song is my son’s favorite right now, and it continues to be one of mine, especially in the face of trials.

8. Always by Kristian Stanfill – Our foes seem many on bad days, but we have nothing to fear because He is ALWAYS our refuge and strength. He ALWAYS comes through.

9. Amazing Grace {My Chains are Gone} by Chris Tomlin – When I am crabby with the kids or disappointed in myself, I’m often missing the key element of grace. Heaping grace upon myself and those around me takes off so much pressures that weighs me down.

10. Strangely Dim by Francesa Battistelli – Maybe you haven’t thought of this as a worship song, but it speaks of the power of God to make the problems of this world fade away when we focus on Him…

When I fix my eyes on all that You are
Then every doubt I feel
Deep in my heart
Grows strangely dim
All my worries fade
And fall to the ground
Cause when I seek Your face
And don’t look around
Any place I’m in
Grows strangely dim

Ultimately, my rough days need a perspective change. Worshipping Him and surrendering all does just that for me. It really can turn a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day around.

What worship songs do you pull up on those rough days?

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LifeLight 2013!

Many years ago, The Hubby and I joined thousands of people in a cornfield on the outskirts on Sioux Falls, South Dakota for a free Christian music festival featuring some of my favorite singers and bands. It was a super fun weekend and we went back a couple of years in a row, bringing friends with us to experience the awesomeness.

It had been eight years since I last attended LifeLight. Kids and work and school had prevented us from attending and I was itching to go back, especially after hearing my current favorite band, For King and Country, would be there!

The Hubby had to work over Labor Day weekend, so the kids and I headed up to stay with my parents and get our groove on at LifeLight!

LifeLight is a three-day is a Christian music festival that has now moved out to a permanent location in the country near Sioux Falls. It is always Labor Day weekend, always free, and always amazing. Hundreds of thousands of people attend over those three days – it’s really incredible event to be a part of!

We were going to go out two of the nights, but Saturday’s heat made it a little too unbearable, especially for the younger ones. We decided to just go out Sunday night, and stayed home to watch the Huskers pull out a way-too-close win instead. It also stormed later that night, so I’m glad we were all tucked in at home!


Sunday was the day Big J and I really cared about attending anyway, with For King and Country and Newsboys on stage! The younger two stayed home and we went with my best friend from home to enjoy an evening of AMAZING concerts.

Here are a few pictures from our super fun time…

LifeLight 2013j

LifeLight 2013a

LifeLight 2013b

Big J is a HUGE KLOVE fan, so meeting JD Chandler, one of the on-air guys, was super cool for him! And they gave him a fun little radio which he has carried around ever since! I bought him the bracelet as a little reminder of our special evening together!

LifeLight 2013e

Perfect bag to take out the festival. Love my FreeSet bags!LifeLight 2013i

LifeLight 2013d

LifeLight 2013c

For King and Country was who I went to LifeLight to see and They. Were. INCREDIBLE. They really put on quite a show, especially with a wide variety of percussion. I love their heart for seeing women treated as priceless, not as objects or worthless. That was a really moving moment for me. Oh yeah, and they sang my favorite prayer right now. Just perfect.

LifeLight 2013 A

My friend came armed with homemade cookies for the whole group we were sitting with. I wanted to eat the whole bag, but we had already indulged in “the unhealthiest dinner ever,” according to Big J, so I restrained myself…a little.



LifeLight 2013 B

LifeLight 2013 C

This boy was SO excited for the Newsboys he could hardly stand it. And we had to wait a while for them to start, but it was totally worth it to be upfront when they came on stage…

LifeLight 2013g
LifeLight 2013h
We had put out a Twitter plea for the to perform The League of Incredible Vegetables theme song, but no such luck. Big J was in total awe of Duncan Phillips, the drummer, the whole time. I think his eyes were glued there. And then the drum platform started spinning while he was playing and Big J’s mind was totally blown. It was pretty darn cool. And so was hearing a bunch of favorites along with lots of new goodies from their upcoming album, Restart!


We also got to meet the guys from We Are Leo, a band I just discovered because of LifeLight and Twitter! I checked them out on YouTube and loved all of the songs I heard, and so did the kids! I immediately wanted to add several of the songs to my running playlist! They were so nice and gave us a couple of autographed CDs to give away to you!

If you are anywhere near Sioux Falls next Labor Day, you need to make your way to LifeLight. And it really is a family event, so bring everybody! It is full of worship and fun and great memories. You can even camp out there! Maybe we’ll see you there!

By the way, the best part of LifeLight? A night alone with my favorite seven-year-old who is starting to love Christian music just as much as I do! It was a really special date for us and I enjoyed every moment: signing, eating, looking around, and lots of snuggling! It was just what we needed.

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A Morning Song for Moms {+ Love Dare Check-In!}

Morning Song for Moms

I’ve listened to the song many, many times. It is on my running playlist. The music has pushed to me to keep going on a run more than once, but it’s the lyrics that are pushing me forward this morning.

If I’m being completely honest, a new week almost always starts with a list of things I need and want to get done. Planning for the week often trumps praying for the week. And I can feel our week reflecting this in its focus on tasks and schedules over experiences and moments.

This song came on during a run and, after a stressful and self-centered week, I heard the words in a different way. I heard them as a mom who needed a different perspective going into a new week. I heard a prayer for a heart more like Christ’s – full of love and surrender to the will of God. I heard just the thing I knew I needed to start each week.

For King and Country’s The Middle of Your Heart was once a super motivating running song to me, but it is now my morning prayer and motivation as a mom. Take a moment to listen today and I think you’ll know why…

Each Monday {and every other day, too!}, I find myself needing to confess and surrender…

This is where I say I don’t need to have control…
I don’t know how to handle it…
You’re my only hope…
All that I have to offer is the white flag of surrender…

And I pray this to start anew again and again…

Take me to the middle of Your heart
Lead me to wherever Your love starts
To a new day dawning
To the place You are
And if You want to take me over the edge
I’ll let you cause Your love is where I’ll land
Wanna be right where You are,
In the middle of Your heart

My morning couldn’t begin a better way than with these words. It’s a recommitment to love the way He does, start fresh, and take those leaps of faith knowing He will always catch me, full of His never-ending grace.

Specifically, I pray these things over my relationship with my children. I know that my love has its limits, but His does not, and I want to love those boys with His love.

P.S. This song is a really great one to crank up in the car as well. Just so you know.

Boys Walking Thankful

Which leads me to our Love Dare for Parents check-in for the week…

Love Dare Day 8

I feel like this week gave me a LOT to think about, even more than things on which to act. A few questions I am still pondering from this week include:

  • What life skills and life lessons do I want the boys to learn from us?
  • What positive attributes do I see in my kids that I could affirm to them?
  • What changes do I need to make to discipline them with both nurture AND admonition?

Every day is like a baby step toward better parenting for me, and sometimes I wish I even had more than one day to work on a certain dare. If you feel like that as well, feel free to hit pause and spend more time on a lesson you need or want more time to process and act on!

Love Dare Day 9

I am on Day 15 today, but it’s more about continuing the challenge than moving from day to day on schedule. Take it at a speed that feels good to you, but don’t stop! Don’t let life pull you away from this journey!

Love Dare Day 11

What dares are you still processing? Which day this week stuck out in your mind as the most important for your family?


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Sevenglory: Always Hope {Music Giveaway!}

I always love discovering new Christian music. Music that I can have on during the day that all of us can enjoy. Music to lift my mood and keep me focused on Jesus. Music makes me happy and music about Jesus, even more so.

My newest find is a band called Sevenglory. This group isn’t new, but new to me and I’m loving their newest album, Always Hope! The guys from Sevenglory are worship pastors at local churches, husbands, dads, great guys who love Jesus and singing about Him! They have toured with the Newsboys, and played alongside some of my favorites – Chris Tomlin, Matt Maher, and Switchfoot!


They also have an amazing heart for the people of Africa. In 2011, they released an album called To:Calvary, with the proceeds all going to an orphanage in Kenya. And this fall, they will be traveling to Africa themselves to lead worship, spend time with orphans, and serve the people of Africa, spreading the love of Jesus wherever they go!


Always Hope has such a great message, one I need to hear often, so it’s been frequently played in the house the last few months! I really do like every song on this album, but my favorites are “Love Has Come” and “Mighty Fortress.”

I’d love for you to hear one of their songs for yourself! Here is “Least of These”…

{If you can’t see the video, click here to watch it!}

I would love to get this fabulous album in your hands, and thanks to Sevenglory, I have TEN SIGNED COPIES to give away to you!

Just use the widget below to enter! And if you can’t wait, you can order the whole album on iTunes right now!

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Rhythm {Five Minute Friday}

Five Minute FridayIt’s Five-Minute Friday with lovely Lisa-Jo!

Set a timer and just write. Don’t worry about making it just right or not.

For me? An exercise in letting go and letting words flow. Five minutes only. {yes, I do set a timer and it quacks like a duck at 5 minutes, which totally makes me smile}

Today’s prompt: Rhythm.


And go…

As a music teacher, one of my favorite classroom activities was putting together a percussion ensemble piece. Each student would have a rhythm to learn, different than anyone else’s,  and when put together, the music was just beautiful.

Most of the time when we began, it seemed to the kids – and sometimes me – like too hard of a task to ask them to accomplish. But I believed. And then they would, too. And we would end up making beautiful music together, each beating out our own unique rhythms.

The look on their faces when they realized they had made music happen is enough to give me goosebumps even now.

And today I’m thinking about the rhythms each of us in our family are learning. God has different rhythms for each of us, none more important than another, but crafted to fit together to make beautiful music as a family.

These rhythms are still a work in progress for each member of our family, but I find myself studying each part more to see how the music will come from it all. My rhythm as the mom and wife, the rhythm of being a medical family, the rhythm of three boys, each unique, but all boy.

Rhythm of Boys

God is the conductor, we are the musicians, and each family is one of His own little percussion ensembles. The beautiful music will come when we work together to make our talents and giftings and strengths and rhythms compliment, not compete or copy, one another.

My goal in this season is to find my rhythm, study their rhythms, and find the beauty in all of those rhythms being played at the same time in this thing called family.



This Five Minute Friday thing is something to be a part of! Check out all the five minute posts over at Lisa-Jo’s and add your own!

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