My Review of Sarah Beckman’s ALONGSIDE, and a chance for you to win! (ends 2/24/17)

Do you ever wonder how you can help those around you when they’re in need, ill, or suffering a loss of some sort?  Sarah Beckman’s Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving Your Neighbor in their Time of Trial richly answers those questions and gives so many ideas to the person who’d like to help but just isn’t sure how.  The BlogAbout Blogger Network provided an autographed (!)  copy of Alongside for me to read and review–plus a copy to give away to one of our readers!

 

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So…how to help?

Just recently, I was having dinner with two dear girlfriends.  And this very subject came up.  How do you help someone who’s suffered a huge loss?  Or is facing some significant (or even life-changing) sort of trial?  The first thing that comes to my mind is always to take a meal to the person or family who’s in need.  But what if the person has particular dietary needs you don’t know about, or can’t cook yourself?

Of course, there’s always the gift card to restaurants or grocery stores.  We were a bit stumped, though, as we brainstormed some other options.  Sometimes you want to help another person, but you just don’t know how.

 

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Alongside by Sarah Beckman

Not long after that dinner, I had the opportunity to read the book that answered those very questions, written by a woman who has both served others in their own trials and experienced challenges herself, when she was the one who needed assistance.  She also contacted trusted friends and family, and asked them:  “I’m writing a book and I need your help.  Will you tell me exactly what was helpful and not-so-helpful to you during your most difficult life experience?”

Answers poured in as Sarah interviewed those close to her via Skype, Facebook, in person, and via email.  These conversations weren’t just surface, quick answers, either.  Some of them produced tears.  But all of them brought wisdom and incredible ideas for those who wish to serve and love others in times of suffering.  In Alongside, you’ll hear stories which range from those who were helped immensely, to those who were deeply hurt by someone’s well-meaning (yet thoughtless or unkind) remarks.  And one of the reasons you’ll want to keep this book handy are 26 chapters full of wide-ranging ideas of just how you can love and serve those in crisis or trouble.

alongside-6First of all…

Sarah Beckman begins with some things to keep in mind as you help and serve others.  First, why we should love others or seek to serve them.  How can we keep our own personal motivations healthy and pure?  How can we serve others without making it about us?  What are some examples of those who might be truly blessed by our help?  Depending on the closeness of our relationships with the person in need, how intimately should we try to get involved as we serve?

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Practical ways to love and serve

As I mentioned above, I’ve found taking a meal to be a very practical way to come alongside others.  I have had several surgeries (not to mention bed rest during my pregnancy, and some broken metatarsals from a bad step off the stairs), and the meals others prepared and delivered to us made an enormous difference for us and gave us what I could not at the moment.  I do love that idea.

But, there are SO, so many more, and the author’s entire second section of Alongside (18 chapters and 137 pages) is absolutely packed with categories and ideas that can bless our friends and neighbors.  Here’s a sampling of those chapter titles:

  • be present
  • offer specific help
  • listen well
  • give good gifts
  • nourish normal
  • make them laugh
  • tap into your talents
  • choose wise words

You will find tons of ideas in this book.  Great gifts lists for men, women, children, teens.  Questions to ask.  Inside- and outside-the-house duties that you could perform.  Things NOT to say.  Ways to help that won’t put pressure on the person who’s suffering.  And so much more!

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In special circumstances…

What do you do?  What if you’ve had very similar times of suffering yourself?  What if the person you’re desiring to serve doesn’t share your faith?  How do you help when your friend has a terminal diagnosis?  What about uncomfortable social situations?  Sarah Beckman covers these and other situations where we might feel even less like we know what to do or how to help, with kindness and grace but also with clarity and wisdom.

 

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How Alongside affected me

I loved this book.  Over the course of my life, I’ve been in a position to offer help to others, and I’ve required it myself at various times.   But I don’t always know what I can do (especially if I don’t have a super-close relationship with the person in need) to help besides bring food.  Not anymore!  Now, I have a huge abundance of ideas in addition to that.  I also have more perspective on how my words might sound to the person in need; and how to take the pressure off them by offering specific things, rather than just asking, “How can I help?” and leaving them to come up with solutions when they’re already in a place of suffering.  I’ve also been reminded of other needs a person in trial might have, and things I can do or offer to offset those.

 

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Alongside could be a fantastic resource for:

  • A person who is suffering–who’ll now have a long list to answer others who’d like to help but don’t know how
  • An adult with older relatives
  • Anyone who’d like to be available to serve in times of need
  • Someone who’d like creative ideas for blessing others who are suffering
  • Youth group leaders
  • Those in ministry, whether it’s to men, women, or moms
  • Anyone!

We live in a beautiful world.  But it’s also a world where we do both see trial, and experience it ourselves.  For this reason alone, Alongside is a book which will equip you, encourage you, and help you to be ready to love and serve others.  I recommend it highly!

Enter to win your very own copy!

One reader will be blessed with his or her own signed copy of Alongside by Sarah Beckman.  Just click on the pink link below to go to the Giveaway Tools entry form to enter.  Giveaway closes 2/24/17.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

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DISCLOSURE:  From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog.  We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews.  We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products.  We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Kari Jobe’s “The Garden” CD ~ Review & Giveaway (Ends 2/15/17)

Recently my family had the pleasure of enjoying Kari Jobe’s newest worship CD entitled The Garden.  FlyBy/Propeller Promotions provided a copy of the CD for us to review, and also one copy to give away to one of you!

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Where do you go for help, for relief, when you’re in a time of struggle or suffering?  Of course, we know that we need to go to God.  You can look at the Bible’s book of Psalms and know that crying out to God is one of the first things that David and the other psalmists did.  (They’re also extremely honest about what they’re feeling, but I think that’s another post!)

Sometimes, though, the struggle or the suffering goes on after, sometimes long after, we have cried out.  How do we hang onto God when the loss is still there, when our circumstances are still challenging our hearts and lives, when the hope we’d like to feel isn’t really there?

Worship

Those psalmists amaze me.  How many times do they cry out to God about the struggle, but then they end with, “But I will worship the Lord.”  “I will wait patiently for Him.”  What an encouragement that can be–that He is still God even as we are trying to hang onto Him in troubles.

I’ve found that worship music can be another incredible encouragement to me; not only in times of struggle, but in times of joy, happiness, or just normal life.  Kari Jobe’s new CD The Garden is a beautiful and meditative collection of songs (written or co-written by and all sung by Kari) about reaching out to God.  About desiring Him, about our cry for hope and His love in the midst of sorrow, about His presence.  The Garden contains 14 songs that will encourage your soul; comfort your heart; and help you focus on the Lord.

 

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Kari Jobe’s family underwent a great loss.  When Kari and her sister were both pregnant, her sister’s pregnancy ended in the stillbirth of her baby girl, James Ivy.  In the grieving and heartache Kari and her family went through, she learned that God is there.  That He never left.  That His love is with us always.  And these songs were born out of the pain and the struggle they walked.  In the home Kari and her husband (and son) bought and moved into, the garden was overgrown and they’d been advised to just let it grow for a year.  And one day she walked outside and looked at the messy growth.  And she saw ivy; full, lush, fresh growth.  She remembered immediately her precious niece, James Ivy.  Kari said, “Ivy is the most resilient plant there is. It can grow in the harshest of climates; it can grow in the harshest of situations,” Jobe explains, adding, “I’m standing in this garden. There’s ivy growing, and I just started to realize, ‘God, You’re moving in a way that is different than what I asked for, but You are moving.’ He’s at work and doing things we can’t see.”

The Garden contains 14 beautiful songs, including:

  • “The Garden”
  • “Let Your Glory Fall”
  • “Lover of My Soul”
  • “Closer To Your Heart”
  • “The Cause of Christ”
  • “Here As In Heaven”
  • and more

How our family enjoyed this

We’ve enjoyed Kari Jobe’s singing and her worship songs for some time.  We were so excited to hear this new album!  My husband has listened to it in his car, and we’ve played the CD in our home during family worship and just on our regular homeschool days, at mealtimes or when we’ve finished school.  We’ve all enjoyed it so much.

There is so much in the lyrics that speaks to our hearts.  Kari’s singing is both peaceful and beautiful, as are the musical arrangements.  It is a wonderful reminder that God is there.  That He is loving us, shepherding us through our troubles and sorrows; but also through the good times.  That He is faithful.  And that He is worthy.

Here’s one particular portion of the first song, The Garden, that is so sweet and meaningful to me:

“Then I saw the garden, hope had come to me
To sweep away the ashes
And wake me from my sleep

I realized You never left
And for this moment You planned ahead
That I would see
Your faithfulness in all of the green…”

Because we’ve all been there, haven’t we?  In the times of suffering and sorrow.  Wondering if God was there; if He heard us; if He was listening.  We just can’t always see it…but He’s never left us to face things alone.

 

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There’s much more beauty and encouragement in the rest of this album.

I so recommend it.  If you’d like a beautiful new worship CD; if you need the reminder that God loves you and is there; if you need comfort in your struggles.  You can click through the social media links below to purchase it.

And, you can enter my giveaway for a chance to win your own copy of The Garden!  Just enter below at the pink link, which will take you to the Giveaway Tools entry page.  Giveaway ends February 15, 2017.  Blessings!

 

Enter here!

 

The Garden on social media:

Enjoy!  –Wren
Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Charming, Engaging Book: “When We Last Spoke” ~ a review & giveaway ~ Ends 1/30/17

Recently, I received a most engaging book from FlyBy/Propeller Promotions about a life in small-town Texas to read:  When We Last Spoke by Marci Henna.  (As well as a DVD with a beautiful trailer for the film version of this book, to go along with it!)  Let me share my thoughts about this book with you.  And at the end of the post, you can enter to win a copy of the book and DVD for yourself!

 

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Once upon a time, there were two little girls in Texas.  Their dad was off flying Hueys in Vietnam.  They lived with their mom in Austin.

But Juliet’s and Evangeline’s mother had other plans, plans that included fame and fortune.  She wanted to be a star.  She could sing and tap-dance.  And she had given up acting in New York when she got  married.  So one day, she packed up the girls and drove them to Fireside, Texas, in her 1960 Corvair.  When her mother-in-law Ruby met them at the front door, she told the girls to be good and for Ruby to take care of them; that she’d be in touch.

So began Evangeline’s and Juliet’s new life.  Ruby cooked, canned, gardened, and gathered eggs which she and Juliet sold in town every Saturday.  Walt took Evangeline along as he took care of the calves and fences.  And a beautiful, stable life was created for the girls, even as their hearts always felt the abandonment of their mother (would she have left them if they’d been more well-behaved? was she ever coming back?).  Walt and Ruby adored each other and loved the girls deeply, and they settled in to life in small-town Texas, where everybody knew everybody else (AND their business!).

Dr Pepper.  Skinned knees and Dippity-Do.  Elvis, Thunderbirds, and fiddle music.  Drive-in movies and banana pudding.  Sibling squabbles and sleepovers.  And every now and then, a special box comes from their mother to the girls, with special treats and a note.  They always hope that she’s going to come back for them, though.  There is intrigue that the little girls notice.  There’s the crazy lady who won’t set foot out of her house, that Ruby takes food to.  There’s fashionable Selma Davis with her go-go boots and frosted lipstick.  There’s Walt’s mean mother, who comes to live with them all.  There’s Juliet’s friend Dixie, who’s been spying on Selma and the secret she hasn’t shared with the community.  And there’s the sender of the packages, that the little girls don’t know about.

Come to Fireside and meet Juliet, Evangeline, Ruby, and Walt, and all the rest of the residents.  Author Marci Henna brings small-town Texas in all its glory to life in When We Last Spoke.  The love its residents have for each other, the traditions they uphold, and the vivid pictures of neighborliness and family life, will engage your heart.  And the food they eat–it’ll make your mouth water!  In fact, it sounded so good to me that I included some recipes!

 

Do you want to try your hand at Ruby’s Texas goodies?

I delighted in the mentions of Ruby’s culinary goodies from the 1960’s and 1970’s Texas.  These aren’t from the author or publisher, but I loved some of them as a little girl myself, and loved the idea of them as Marci wove them into her book.  I found these versions of them online, and included them here for you in case you’d like to try your hand at cooking up some Texas edible memorabilia!

Watermelon Rind Pickles (I am a Texas girl born and bred, but I have NEVER had these.  But Ruby’s sounded so good, I had to include them!)

Golden Westerner Cake (this is actually a pound cake which you can make in two ways, with white or brown sugar)

Homemade Banana Pudding from Allrecipes

 

More about Marci Henna:

Marci Henna was born in Austin, Texas and lived as a child in Kenya, East Africa with the Wakamba tribe where her parents managed a medical research station. She later moved to the Hill Country ranch which has been in the family since the 1800’s and currently lives in Austin.

Find Marci Henna on social media:

Facebook (http://bit.ly/FiresideNovels)
Twitter (http://bit.ly/twitter_MarciHenna)
GoodReads (http://bit.ly/WWLS_GoodReads)
FiresideTexas.com (http://bit.ly/FiresideTexas_URL)

 

You can purchase When We Last Spoke at:

Softcover (http://bit.ly/WWLS_softcover)
Kindle (http://bit.ly/WWLS_Kindle)

Trailer on YouTube (http://bit.ly/WWLS_TRAILER_HD)

 

And enter to win your own copy here!

Enter to win a copy of When We Last Spoke, and its DVD movie trailer, for yourself.  Just click on the pink link to go to the Giveaway Tools page to enter.  Giveaway closes at 11:59PM on January 30, 2017.  (Also, Marci will be giving away a free ebook version of the book on Amazon from February 20-24.  So keep your eyes out for that as well!)

Enter here!

 

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Gorgeous Board Book to Teach Your Kids “Bible Basics” ~ A Review and Giveaway (ends 1/26/17)

We recently received a fantastic resource for parents and their little ones; Bible Basics: A Baby Believer Counting Primer to use and review from the BlogAbout Blogger Network.  This precious, meaningful little board book uses Biblical principles and truths to teach children their numbers from 1-10.  Its artwork is incredible and its narrative, both beautiful and faithful to Scripture.  Let me tell you more…and at the end of this post, you’ll have an opportunity to win a giveaway for a copy of your own!

 

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About Bible Basics

Bible Basics: A Baby Believer Counting Primer is a sturdy, beautifully bound 7 1/3″ x 7 1/3″ board book.  Authored by Danielle Hitchen and illustrated by Jessica Blanchard, it’s designed to introduce children to principles and foundations of the Christian faith as well as to their first numbers, 1 through 10.  It uses Bible verses, hymns, prayers, history, and simple teaching to bring these tenets to life in ways that even the youngest listener can understand.  Gorgeous artwork accompanies each of the ten principles and makes them vivid and memorable.  Although the size is larger than most board books, it’s still well-proportioned for little hands to hold.  And, the size gives plenty of room for the text and illustrations, printed in readable font.

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This is truly a unique and unusual idea for a board book.  It was birthed out of Danielle Hitchen’s question:  how could she teach her babies to know God and to love Him?  What an incredible answer Bible Basics is to that question!  I don’t want to spoil the joy you’d find when you read this book for the first time, so I’m not going to tell you everything that’s in it.  But here’s just a sampling of what you’ll find in this beautiful book:

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  • The 9 fruits of the Spirit
  • The 10 Commandments
  • The Trinity
  • The 5 books of the Pentateuch
  • and 6 more!

 

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Ways you could use Bible Basics in your own home

So…I have a confession to make.  We do not currently have a baby or a toddler in our home!  (Our regular readers know that our boy is a 9th grader.)  However, I absolutely adored the idea of this gorgeous little board book and I loved that I could share a copy with one of you!  What I discovered, when I received Bible Basics, is that it’s not only an incredible resource and learning tool for little ones.  It also reinforces the beautiful tenets of Christianity for any believer, be he or she young and fresh, or more seasoned in the faith.

Here are some other ways that I know Bible Basics could bless you!

  • Read it aloud during family worship
  • Use it as a jumping-off point for a study of the Scriptural principles in it (for example, you could study one concept per week and look up related verses that go with each principle)
  • Allow it to inspire your homeschool art times
  • Prop it up on an easel in your home, and display different pages on different days
  • Purchase it for a shower or new baby gift
  • And of course, its primary purpose:  read it to your little ones 🙂

 

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What our family thought

We LOVED Bible Basics!  During our family worship time one week, I read it aloud to my husband and son.  It was so encouraging.  It really made us all think about many of the different truths that make up our relationships with God through Christ Jesus.  And, it blessed us.  I really do think that I could use this to do a deeper study on each item that the author presents, by simply doing a word or topical study in the Bible and using that with my son.

We’re also a family who loves art.  So we weren’t just blessed by the biblical truths of Bible Basics.  We were also really moved to think more deeply about each of the 10 tenets, because of the way that the art helped to unfold those truths.  Plus, they were just beautiful pictures.

My guys knew that this was a book that I’d received for both review and for a giveaway.  But my husband loved it so much, he said, “You can’t give away this book!”  (He was relieved to hear that I received a separate copy to give away to one of our readers.)

We’ll definitely continue to use Bible Basics.  And, I’m going to follow my own recommendation and display the various pages via propping the book up on a small easel, open to one pair of pages at a time.  What better way to enjoy God’s Word and art at the same time?  🙂

 

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My recommendations for you?

Get a copy of this book.  Read it to your little ones…again and again.  Use it for a basis for a deeper study.  And revel in the beauty, grace, and abundance that God offers to us in relationship and salvation through Christ Jesus.  You can find a copy and more (including art prints and a coloring book) at Catechesis Books.

Also, keep an eye out for more books in the Baby Believer Primers series.  This is the first of more to come.

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And, enter my giveaway!  The BlogAbout Blogger Network has provided a copy of this wonderful book for one reader.  Just enter below in the Giveaway Tools “Enter Here” link.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

 

Find Catechesis Books at these social media sites:

Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

Enjoy!  –Wren

Disclaimer:  From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog.  We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews.  We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products.  We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

 

 

Goodies to Keep You Warm & Colorful in the New Year Giveaway! Ends 1/16

Finch and I have some fun goodies for one reader to enjoy!

 

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This week, we’re giving away a trio of winter beauty (and warmth!) to one of our readers.

One person will win:

  • A Buxom Full-On Lip Creme from Bare Escentuals, in Kir Royale
  • A Sephora Eye Shadow in Aspen Summit No. 23
  • A navy acrylic knitted infinity scarf

 

How you can win

Simply enter via the pink link below, which will take you to the Giveaway Tools entry form.

Enter here!

Best wishes!

Enjoy–Finch and Wren

Enter to win Becky Thompson’s great “Love Unending” ~ ends 1/6/17

I have another fabulous giveaway for you awesome readers today!

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Recently, I had the privilege of reviewing Becky Thompson’s new book Love Unending.  (You can see my review of Love Unending here, and Becky’s other excellent book Hope Unfolding by clicking on the highlighted links.)  Its subtitle is “Rediscovering Your Marriage In The Midst of Motherhood.”  Does that sound intriguing to you?

When we fall in love, get engaged, and marry the man we have waited for all our lives…life is good!  Marriage is fun!  We love spending time together, going on well-planned dates, cooking special meals for our beloved.  It’s awesome!

Life can get full though.  Especially when the kid, or kiddos, start to arrive.  Our days become very full.  Our energy, taxed.  Our nights?  Sometimes sleepless.  And even though we absolutely adore our spouses, we may lose our focus on our marriages.  So how can we remedy that–and make our marriages and love for our spouses rich and full again?

Becky Thompson’s Love Unending is designed to help us do just that.  In just 3 weeks, she leads the reader through daily readings, questions, and ideas for moms to focus attention and love on their husbands and reawaken that first love.  The book is a beautiful, worthwhile exercise which will strengthen and bless moms and deepen their marital love.

I reviewed an uncorrected proof of Love Unending for Blogging for Books.  But the publisher was kind enough to send me the final copy, which you’ll also find on Amazon and your local bookstore shelves.  B4B told me that I could share my final copy with a reader via a giveaway, since my uncorrected proof is already everything I need.  So, here you go!  One reader will be selected on January 6, 2017.  So just enter via the Giveaway Tools link for your chance to win!

 

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Enter here!

Just follow the pink link below to enter via the Giveaway Tools entry form, and best wishes!

Enter here!

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

Glam It Up in the New Year Giveaway! Ends 12/30

Are you thinking about 2017 yet?  I know, we haven’t even celebrated Christmas yet.  But Finch and I have a fun giveaway for you to put on your most gorgeous face ever in 2017!

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Of the two of us, Finch is the makeup expert.  She knows all the ins and outs and tricks of the beauty trade.  And she has put together some of her favorite beauty products so that one reader can put her best face forward in 2017!

One winner will receive:

  • A fuschia-tipped makeup brush set, with these 4 brushes:  a foundation brush; a powder brush; an eye shadow brush; and an angled eyeliner brush, zipped in a gold/cream fabric bag
  • Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Illuminating Serum Mini
  • Smashbox Halo Hydrating Perfecting Powder Mini in light (to use with your new brushes!)
  • CoverGirl LineExact liquid liner pen, in 605 Smoke
  • Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss Mini, in Crystal
  • And last but definitely not least, a full-sized Chanel Infrarouge Lipstick in 23 Pretty

 

 

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All you’ll need to add is your own eye shadow and blush!

Enter here!

Giveaway ends 12/30 at 11:59P.  Just click on the pink link below to enter via the Giveaway Tools form!

Enter here!

Best wishes, and enjoy!  –Finch and Wren