Friday, December 19, 2014

till He appeared and the soul felt its worth............

Add caption
O Holy Night has long been my favorite Christmas song.  Singing those lyrics at the top of my lungs, I feel the angel choirs joining in.

Christmas is less than a week away.  December and this holiday season is almost gone for another year.  Once again, this year, it has been a different season.  My parents are gone, Stu and his family live in another state, we've changed churches, and my heart and soul are finally beginning to grasp this need for genuine rest from much of what I have filled my life with for several years.  When I allow Him, God is at work deep within.

I am officially on vacation at 5pm tonight until 8am on Monday, December 29th.  Stu, Mattie, and Augy will be in Tuesday evening and leave after breakfast on Christmas morning.  That means much of next week will be spent with just Mack and I at home. Different - yes, but I am ok with it this.  I believe it is exactly what is supposed to happen this year.   I want to go look at Christmas lights, shop without stress for a few remaining gifts, eat our favorite foods, savor being at home, and read!  I believe I am going to find moments to seek Jesus, contentment, and for my soul to find its worth.

May your Christmas be filled with great joy, moments filled with wonder, and an understanding of the gift of the birth of the Christ Child.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Still thankful.....

  “Suppose for a moment that God began taking away from us the many things for which we have failed to give thanks.  Which of our limbs and faculties would be left?  Would still have my hands and my mind?  And what about loved ones?  If God were to take from me all the persons and things for which I have not given thanks, who or what would be left of me?”

 Patrick Henry Reardon through Father Tim in Out to Canaan

November has come and gone and I am thankful for so many things.  I love that we have a month where we take the time to be much more vocally thankful for all we have, but I am sad that we need to find a month to make that plan.  It is no secret that I am a fan of the Mitford series of books by Jan Karon.  Although I read them many years ago, I have always remembered words spoken by Father Tim in one of the earlier books about being thankful.  When I began rereading the series a few months ago in anticipation of a new Mitford book FINALLY arriving on the shelves this fall, I found the above quote again.  It hits home with me every single time I read it.  I am pretty good about giving thanks to God for my home, family, work, friends, church, and even things like music and fried chicken (immensely important in my world!) but I don't often give Him thanks for the fact that I have my hearing so that the music even matters or that I can taste that fried chicken.  I have a friend right now who is going through chemo treatments for breast cancer and nothing tastes good to her.  

As I go into December, I want to continue to be so intentional with my gratitude for all that I have been given.  It is so easy during this holiday month to anticipate what we are going to get, rather than what we already have.

Early in this quiet morning on December 2nd, I am already grateful for the blueberries that God decided to create so that my BelVita breakfast biscuit would taste so wonderful, for the fact that my son called to say hello, that I have on a wonderful, soft sweater that keeps me warm as the cool air blows into my cozy office.

My plan is to write often this month.  I began "The Greatest Gift" advent book by Ann Voskamp yesterday and I want to talk a little more about that tomorrow.

For now, just a quick picture of one of my greatest blessings - my precious daughter-in-law who has struggled this year with medical issues, a miscarriage in early summer, and challenges with her son and custody stuff.  She was in a great place over Thanksgiving and wanted to take a picture with me - pure joy!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Something to write about.......

I keep waiting for something really worthwhile to right about - something that I will want to remember as I look back years from now.  Not much happening in that way right now and I am beginning to realize that I need to write about THAT!  These days are gifts and I know that much more now than I did many years ago.  You have to walk through fire in order to appreciate the coolness of the air around you at other times.  You have to see the faithfulness of God in your hardest moments in order to recognize His presence in calm days.

So, for now:

1) I am so excited that it is going to finally be sweater and boot weather this weekend.  My favorite outfit in the world is my favorite pair of jeans, one of my beloved sweaters, a scarf and boots.  I also got a sweatshirt from work that I love.  It is amazingly soft and not too heavy.  I am not normally a fan of sweatshirts - they just aren't girly enough, but when I added the plaid scarf - I was pretty happy.  The fact that it just screams fall doesn't hurt either.

2) That can also be a challenge because when you finally find your favorite brand of jeans (Vintage by Nine West), you tend to buy them frequently "just in case you can't find them in the future".  You can also be called out for having a sweater obsession.

3)  There are worse things to be called out for.

4)  I made chicken and dumplings this weekend.  They were from scratch in my book.  In yours, maybe not because I will own that there were canned biscuits and cream of chicken soup involved in the recipe but I had to flour and cut up those biscuits people. Let's give credit where credit is due.  They look pretty good, don't they?

5) God is at work within me to define what my relationships look like.  I have such a desire to love on and encourage but I don't know what that means yet - a few, a few more, or many.  Your prayers are appreciated.

6)  This week at work is pretty hard, our kids are going through a few rough moments, and yet I know, we are blessed beyond measure.  For those things that challenge me, i can name 50 more that don't so that I am not overwhelmed.  Thank you Jesus.

May this day bring joy to all and may His light shine brightly through us!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

In This Season...

While it is October 22nd and I am gently grieving that fact that Fall is quickly slipping away, I am doing better this year in slowing down enough to appreciate random moments. Doing better - just that - still so much to learn.

A few ponderings from past weeks:

1) Choosing to stay quiet about a random fact that will only bring frustration or anger to the person I am sharing with - even if it seems like a really good story.  Most of the time, i am learning that I am simply hoping that by sharing, the person i am sharing with will affirm MY views.  I want them to be frustrated or angry right alongside me.

2) Facebook - yes or no?  Greatly believing it will soon be a no for me.  Two main reasons - I learn very little good from it and what I do learn, most I could find out in other ways.  Also, it is simply a time stealer that I allow to rob me all too often of something I find precious and seldom in excess.

3) Instagram - oddly enough, I genuinely see it as a way God is allowing me to be an encourager.  That still means I need to ask daily that my "self" won't rear it's ugly head and want people to like and follow me.  Encouraging one may be all I am ever called to do.

4) I want to start sending birthday cards again - in the mail.  Real birthday cards with real writing and a pretty stamp.

5) If you pray each day for someone who has hurt your feelings, God closes that hurt in His time, not yours.

6) I really love my family - they are my whole world.  With this new little one on it's way, my boy's first baby, I am so grateful as I realize all over again, that God allowed my heart to immediately accept Augy as our own.  This will be our SECOND grandchild - God is so faithful.

I think this may be the ticket for me for a while in the blogging department.  I'm finding a peace even as I type by putting my thoughts and my heart "on paper".

If you are reading this, have an amazing day and may God richly bless your ponderings!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

If we are breathing, we are changing...........

I have been known to tell people that the only good thing about turning 50 is that you begin to become more comfortable in your own skin.  It is easier to accept who you are while understanding there are still many things you could probably work on a bit more.......

I've had six years now to become more comfortable and still keeping working.  In the last six months or so, I feel as though I've heard God speak to me about the fact that I've done a great job of accepting who I've created myself to be - not necessarily who HE created me to be.  Cooking and baking have never been something I enjoyed and I spent nine seasons with amazing young women in a mentoring/Bible study program called Apples of Gold talking about the fact that I am not a cook.  Guess what?  I am loving spending time in my kitchen these days with my Kitchenaid mixer and I am actually producing baked goods that people will eat!  I made some chocolate chip pumpkin bread last week that was really good!  Who knew!!

Instead of planning a schedule filled with time away from home, I am learning that I recharge best by spending time at home. I NEVER thought I would really enjoy spending time with little kids but there is one little boy who joined our family last year who has me wrapped around his little finger!!

Don't get me wrong, there is still a big part of who God created me to be in what I have been all these years.  I guess I am just learning not to define myself but rather allow God to continue to define and refine me.  I can enjoy cooking and baking AND still enjoy being that crazy girl who wants to have fun.  I can simply "be" and rest in the fact that God isn't done with me yet. 

I figure as long as I am breathing, He isn't done............

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why does it matter so much?

I've thought about my passion for reaching and investing in young women a lot lately.  I feel like I am in a season of life where God is leading me to dig deep into the things that I was created for.  I want to make a difference and I want to do it in a way that is honoring to God and to the way He created me.  We are in a series at church called "Life Verse" and our pastor has been talking about knowing and using our passions, gifts, and talents.  I KNOW my passion is investing and loving on young women. I even know God has gifted me with the ability to form relationships and speak into lives.  What I don't know is exactly how I am supposed to do that.

Lately I've become less and less enamored with facebook.  I can't handle the drama, the snide and pompous remarks about every possible subject under the sun, and honestly, I care less and less about what restaurant folks are eating at this evening.  On the other hand, I am loving Instagram more and more.  I think I like it because I can quickly scroll through pretty and interesting pictures.  I can get a snapshot of someone's world and most of the time, I recognize that we put the best of our world out there.  It doesn't take an emotional toll on me. :) is my challenge and a heart issue for me.  Why do I catch myself checking to see how many "followers" I have on Instagram?  Why am I frightened to see if this blog is a way God would have me reach young women?  Why do we all hesitate sometimes to do the very things we feel called to do?  I know why in my case - I am scared deep inside that no one will care and that matters to me much, much more than I want it to matter.  I am recognizing lately that the "world" has a pretty serious hold on me.  Don't get me wrong, i don't believe God has an issue with us enjoying the things of the world.  I believe the issue comes when I don't do something I believe He is calling me to do because I am afraid of what the world will think.  I think it is a sin when I choose to follow a way of the world that will gain merit in this life instead of joy in the next life.

Social media is one of the very best and the very worst things that has ever happened to us.  It allows us to connect with family and friends that don't live close by and that is wonderful and amazing.  I am SO grateful that I can see pictures of my family and friends and smile at their joys.  Social media, also though, encourages us to compete and keep up with others.  It teaches us that we need to be accepted and adored by those around us and I cannot find that anywhere in the Bible.  In fact, I am pretty sure the Bible talks about the fact that we WON'T be accepted here on this earth often when we choose to walk out our faith.

For today, I am going to continue to ponder and pray about this.  I am going to pray for God's will in my life to be carried out.  I am going to pray that what this world thinks will matter less and less.  I am going to pray for courage to reach out, to love, and to invest regardless of what comes from it.

Friday, August 22, 2014


One simple word - Home.  In terms of many of the homes that exist in this world, my home IS simple.  We've lived there since 1989 and it is a typical 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom split level, non-brick, non-regulated by covenants home in a average neighborhood in Paulding County where some of the homes are beginning to struggle to even hit the average mark.

All that said, this place is sacred to me.  I cannot wait to get there at night, struggle to leave it on the weekends, and know that in my hardest moments, it is exactly where I need to be.  I completely acknowledge the fact that decorating, re-decorating, moving furniture and accessories around on a regular basis puts me in my happy place.  I acknowledge that Mack and I each have "our" chairs and also am happy to tell you that it doesn't bother me in the least if someone chooses to sit in "my" chair when they visit.  It is a great chair and, of course, they want to sit in it.  I can tell you that Lacie, the dog, and Kitty, the cat, waiting for us when we return home in the evenings is icing on the cake.  Most of all, though, I can tell you that it is the fact that Mack is there now, Stu has grown up there in the past, and the the stories that have been written in that house are what make it our HOME.   It is also vitally important to me that my  family loves our home, feels safe and loved within the walls.  I want our friends to want to come to our house to hang out.  I want them to want to walk through the front door and feel comfortable being exactly who they are and perfectly free to go grab what they want in the kitchen.

I put all of this into words because I believe with all of my heart that we each need a place like this.  If you are fortunate enough to have a place to call home, do everything you can to make it feel like that safe haven to you.  I completely realize that decor and all those fufu things aren't important to all people but something is.  There is something that will make your home feel special and make you want to be there.

I will tell you that order and cleanliness ARE important.  Being able to eat off your floors, never find an item out of place, and no streaks on the bathroom mirror are not important but yes, kids and spouses notice what is important to you.  They will recognize that you care enough about THEM to care about what your home is to your family.   Make sure there are pictures, physical memories, and whatever else brings joy to each person visible.  Figure it out - what would make you want to be there each night?  What would make your husbands, your kids, your grandkids if you have them, and your friends want to come to YOUR house for special occasions?

I wanted to give you a few examples of what I've done in case you need ideas but remember, your own home has to totally reflect who your family is and I would love to hear what those things are.  Really - I would love that!

I'm big on wanting you to feel cozy the moment you get to the porch.  Rockers, pillows, and flowers (real ones struggle on my porch because of lack of sunlight) go a long way to help that feeling.

Pictures, lamps, and candles are items I use all over to add to the cozy and comfort.

When my mom passed away in December of 2012, I brought home the family dishes, along with some of the beautiful antique dishes she collected.  I cannot tell you the joy and comfort I get looking at those dishes - the memories from when they were in my grandparents' home growing up, watching my mom love on them, and being able to hear her say in my mind "you better not ever sell the family ones or I will come back and haunt you".  Really - she said that! :)

Make sure you let the sunlight in - it will make your whole being a happier one!

You  probably can't see my mammaw's green biscuit mixing bowl on the center shelf, or the Longaberger basket from my trip in 2003 to Ohio, or all the cookbooks that remind me of all the trips - but I can and my family can......

Quilts, pillows, and a precious dog - joy, pure joy.

This post wasn't an easy one for me only because it doesn't have a lot of real deep thought and perhaps not a great deal of knowledge to impart.  What it does have, is a very real portion of what make my heart content and at peace, along with deep, deep gratitude to God for allowing us to have such a home.  I am thankful for it each and every day.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

This season

2014 has been a season in my life where I am slowly becoming more aware of changes that I need to make in order to live in a way that allows me to continue to grow into the person God intended me to be.

If I am vulnerable I will own that it has not been a season for me of staying in His Word, of seeking His wisdom and plan for me on a daily basis.  It has been a season of life lived on the surface, of seeking the world's pleasures and "fixes" and of a schedule that has been full but not always satisfying.

God has been speaking volumes to me in the past month about how I choosing to spend my time and I am recognizing that there is urgent need to settle into a quieter, more focused and even secluded time.  These words from I Thessalonians 4:9-12 are in front of me even as I type this post:

"Now concerning brotherly love, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another...but we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands as we instructed you so that you may walk properly before outsiders.........."

Paul urges the church to love one another well, to live quietly, to mind their own affairs, and to work with their hands.  Those words ring true to me for this season.  It doesn't mean that I won't spend time with those who fill my bucket or who I feel God has led me to work to help fill their bucket.  Honestly, it means I may do that more because I will do other things less.  I want to work hard to mind my own affairs which also means that I MUST spend more time with God to know what affairs are truly "mine".  My precious daughter-in-law is going through some difficult times now physically and emotionally which also means my son is walking through those times.  This momma wants DESPERATELY to fix this for them and I just knew that if I could see her face-to-face that I could affect the situation.  We left Nashville about 9:30pm Tuesday evening and my heart was broken because I did not affect that situation.  I believe we brought our son some comfort just by being there but very little else.  That was hard for me.  I am a fixer and quite honestly, I am a pretty good one.  Failing at fixing is hard for me - but I am also pretty sure it isn't my affair to fix so I am praying that God will show me when I am supposed to step in and when I am supposed to live quietly and mind my own affairs.

I am actually looking forward to learning more about what this will look like in my life.  I know it is going to be a season of change as it has already begun as we made the decision to leave our current church and look for one that will better allow us to be part of a community throughout the week.  That is a big deal as we have loved the church and the people we are leaving but we have a peace that we are headed in the right direction. There are other changes and wonderful things coming - I know that.  God is faithful and He will lead in a direction that is good.  I would so appreciate your prayers that I will be still and listen as He speaks.

Friday, July 25, 2014

It's easy to get lost

Being lost isn't something I've experienced very many times in my life.  For the most part, I am good with directions and have a decent memory with regard to landmarks, signs, etc. Physically, I don't get lost often.  Of course, I also know that if I DO happen to wind up somewhere I don't know exactly what road to get on next, I simply push that pretty blue "OnStar" button on my mirror and some nice person will load directions directly into my car screen and all is good again.

At times, I so wish God had a blue button I could push and He would immediately answer in an audible voice.  Early this week I was having dinner with a precious young woman and talking about how passionate I am about helping her generation realize that they are enough.  Who they are is enough.  They don't need to be prettier, smarter, more popular, more trendy, thinner, better dressed, better moms, wives, or friends.  They are ENOUGH. That does not mean that we don't continue to grow into better people.  If you are breathing, there is a great chance that you have room to grow in extending forgiveness, grace, kindness, and love.  You can also continue to learn about what colors work best with your skin tone and other mighty important facts but those things should not define your self-worth. 

I have been preaching those words for the past few years and I firmly believe them.  You would think, then, that I would be better at living them myself.  My challenge isn't so much my physical appearance any longer (you do learn to live with that aspect of it as you get older) but more my desire to do what God wants me to do and to know that I am following that path on a regular basis.  However, since I haven't found God's blue button yet,  I tend to try to do many different things in order to find the right things and I wind up lost in the midst of much and unable to find my way to those few things that are my true calling.  If I am completely honest, I also struggle with things like this blog and posting on facebook and Instagram - WHY am I do these things?  Am I looking for confirmation from those around me or am I truly seeking to honor God's call on my life by putting the stuff out there and not worrying about people seeing it, liking it, following it, and whatever else denotes acceptance these days.

I continue to know that God is calling me to focus, to refine what my calling looks like in action.  I cannot be all things to all people.  I cannot encourage every hurting heart, praise every good accomplishment, teach every God principle or be everything to all people. None of us can and almost every woman I meet, no matter what age, continues to try.  I believe it is one of Satan's most effective tools.  I'm ready to call him on it.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Legacy Continuer

I used that term in my Instagram profile and yes, I made it up.  I do believe, however, that is is a very real thing.  I am a legacy continuer.  

When my mom passed away in December, 2012, I became an orphan.  Both of my parents are gone.  I am an only child.  Those are very real facts and they are amazingly real to me. Within a few months after mom passed away and I was in the midst of settling their estate, going through or having gone through the papers and things that made up their lives, and knowing that I was going to sell there house, I realized that when it is all over - I will be their legacy.  For a while, people who knew them will drive down the street past their house and remember that "Harold and Doris lived there" and those at their church will remember their "pew" :) and that fact that my mom was their Sunday School teacher for many years.  Still, after a while, those things will not be remembered.  Soon, the only physical reminder of their lives will be a cement rock at Old Salem cemetery in Nortonville, Kentucky.

I want people to remember more.  I want them to see my dad's loving heart and generous spirit, my mom's love of pretty things and her ability to manage their money in an amazing way.  I want them to see the work ethic they instilled in me and that you should always choose to do the honorable thing.  There is only one way those gifts will live on - if I choose to make them a part of my life.  They are in there, stored deep in my heart and my soul.  Some of them break through to the surface fairly easily and regularly.  I have to be careful though, because other legacies are there as well - the tendency to judge too quickly, to be impatient, to see life in a negative way instead of looking for the best.  I don't even have to work hard to bring those to the surface.  They are very happy to step forward and lead.

Mom's birthday was this past Saturday and I guess I think about her more than dad these days.  I think it might be because between the time when dad passed away in December, 2006 and mom six years later, she and I grew so much closer out of necessity.  Her health was poor and she NEEDED me.  She hated that she needed me, but she did.  It didn't make it easy and at times, it was incredibly hard, but it made a difference in my life.  I miss her more than I ever imagined that I would or could.  My dad, well, my dad was my champion and the best father in the world.  His influence on my life is one of the greatest gifts I could ever be given.

Back to mom's birthday a few days ago....I've been intentional in looking for her legacy this week.  Visual reminders are everywhere in my home, from the beautiful dishes in the dining room to the gold bracelets on my wrists at this very moment. The car in my driveway is a constant sweet reminder as I was able to purchase it after mom died.  I also know my dad would be overjoyed for me and my mom would wonder why in the world I traded in her precious Grand Marquis! :)

This week has also made me think about the legacy I want to leave.  What do I want my son and others to remember most when they thinks about me years from now?  I began writing on paper a few months ago what my core values are and I landed here:

1)  I want to live out my faith
2)  I want to be genuine in who I am
3)  I want to act in humility and fight arrogance
4)  I want to be an encourager
5)  Be generous
5)  Give grace

Those six things are tall orders and leaving a legacy to include them will only be possible through the grace and mercy of God.  I'm going to give it my best shot.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The one phrase that you should never use - unless you should..........

 Mack and I went to Nashville last weekend to see our son and new daughter-in-law.  I don't remember being more excited about a trip in a long time.  We were going to spend a few days in Nashville and then head towards Kentucky for a mini-family reunion.

When we were about 30 miles outside of Nashville, our son called and asked us to head directly to a local hospital.  They had planned a huge surprise when we got to their apartment to tell us we were going to be grandparents and instead, she was in the midst of a miscarriage.  We got there, hugged our son tightly, and I headed back to the room where our precious daughter was resting.  I had no words.  My heart was breaking and I desperately wanted to say something to make it better.  I could not think of one single thing.  I learned a long time ago to NEVER, EVER say "I know how you feel" unless I really know how you feel.  It's insulting and it is dishonoring to the person walking through that hard moment.  If you do know how someone feels, or at least something closely related, you have a valuable gift to offer.  They can open their heart to you in a way that is so precious.  I have a friend who lost her 19 year old son many years ago and she makes a point to visit parents who lose children close to that age.  She is able to offer them something unique that most of us cannot - she can offer hope for the future. Hope that the day will come when they will be able to breathe again without mind-numbing pain, hope that the world really will go on.  She can do that because she has lived it.  If you haven't lived it, you can't tell about it.

We still had a good weekend and I am beyond grateful that God allowed us to be there for this weekend.  That is one of the challenges that comes from being in different states - you can't always be close enough to hold on in the physical sense.  That said, we all need to be certain our relationships are strong enough to hold on in a distance.  You never know when you are going to need to grab and hold on for dear life.  We are firmly anchored in our little family and I am looking forward to the day when we will celebrate!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bathroom stall etiquette - this is important stuff!

One of the reasons I began this blog was to eventually share my heart with young women in an effort to help them see themselves as enough, to share mountaintop and deep valley experiences, and to teach things that my mom taught me but that many young women today have not had the privilege to learn - either because their mom isn't around or because those random learnings may have just been missed.

Bathroom stall etiquette is definitely a teaching that has been sorely lacking in many of today's young women! :)  Working in the Grand Chalet at WinShape Retreat in the summer involves sharing the Women's restroom with several college-aged young women.  There are three stalls in the bathroom - the first two are regular ones and the last one is a bit larger and equipped for physically challenged individuals.  If you go in and no one else is in there, you have a great choice - the first or the third.  Do NOT take the middle stall because if someone else comes in, they have no option but to plop down next to you.  If you come into the restroom and someone is in the first or the third stall - take the other one (first or third).  Again, do NOT take the middle stall and plop down next to someone else if it isn't absolutely necessary.  The middle stall should always be reserved for when all three stalls are in use and there are no other options.  Think about it - doesn't it drive you crazy when you are in the middle of a parking lot with open spots all around you and someone parts in the spot RIGHT next to you??  See, it is the same thing with bathroom stalls.  Think about that the next time you walk in a multi-stall facility. :)

You now are the owner of some new pretty important information!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Continuing to try........

These past days have seen a slow beginning of progress in my desire to slow down and simplify.  I still haven't figured out why my life feels so busy even now.  Stu is grown, married, and living in another state.  Our church commitment is once a week on Sunday and Thursday evenings for our small group.  There are no Bible studies, PTA meetings, parents needing care, or any other real pressing need.  Still, I feel like I seldom slow down enough to enjoy just doing exactly what I want.  My mind races ahead to what I have NOT done yet, what I need to do next, and what I would love to do if I ever had the time.  Seriously - I've got a problem, people.

I believe in seeing truth.  My truth is I am gone close to 60 hours each week for work.  Commuting 48 miles each way does add time away from home.  It's a choice I consciously made and continue to choose, but the time away is a real thing.  There is truth in the fact that in order to commute those 48 miles, I leave my house by 6:30am in morning which means I go to bed at night at 9pm.  Again, the truth is I don't have as much time at home (while I am awake) in the evenings as some folks.  Still, there should be more margin that there is.

There is also truth in the fact that I have become addicted to all things connected to my iphone and ipad.  I will look at facebook, Instagram, play games, and randomly look at other things rather than reading a book I love, studying God's Word, playing in my home, working in my flowers, or other things that bring me joy AND margin.  The sad part is I honestly don't know why.  I've prayed about it and asked God to help me change that habit.  I've prayed - but I have stubbornly refused to actually do anything about it - until now.  The truth is also that I can extremely stubborn.

I'm beginning to recognize the challenge really is mine and I am intentionally putting those "i" devices down.  I am reading the Mitford series and loving every single word.  I am going to buy some purty new flowers this weekend that include day lilies (which my daddy loved) and peonies (which my momma loved).  

Mack and I are also making a real effort to slow down our lives, our random spending, and see our blessings.  Last night we grilled chicken at home, and I CHOSE to eat outside. That is huge my friends.  Outside isn't a word I even use in the summer!  There are bugs, heat and that horrible word "humidity".  Humidity is of the devil.   But, we did it and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It took me about two minutes to try to make the table attractive with bright color because, well, that makes me happy too. Being outside also meant we were not sitting in front of the television, we didn't have our "i" devices handy, and we were forced to actually communicate.  It was awesome and so relaxing.  Baby steps but great ones.  

I read a quote many years ago that continues to grow me. "It's the journey that makes the man.  Getting to the top is an extra reward."  I am pretty sure my friend, Patti, made it up because you can't google it and find an author but still, the journey is an enjoyable one right now.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Learning to See

Good morning!

It's a brave new beginning of the week!  As I've mentioned to myself before, I have a tough time "hearing" from God at times as far as discerning His will for my life.  I know that He has given me a passion to love on and mentor young women - I just am not certain how I am supposed to accomplish this amazing gift of a passion.  I know how to encourage one on one, to do lunches and dinners together, to give hugs, and to just listen.  I know those are all part of the plan, but I don't know if there is more.  This blog is a one of the things I am uncertain of - is it another tool I can use?  I am seeking answers even now.

This past Friday, I had a returned graduation card/gift sitting on my desk as I tried to find out where I went wrong on the address.  I happened to look at the address label and immediately thought "I need to be grateful that I have a return address to print on a label."  So many do not or if they do, they barely have it - they don't know if they can pay the rent or the mortgage this month, if it is safe to go home to that address, or if they have the strength to meet the coldness they are greeted with.  In that moment, I glimpsed what I take for granted in every moment and I recognized that I am "learning to see."  I am learning to see the gifts God has abundantly given to me.  I walked through my front door - another gift.  I was walking into a home I LOVE.  I pulled the clothes out of the dryer (I HATE laundry!) and recognized how grateful I am to have an abundance of clothes to wash, dry, choose from, etc.  I moved cans around in the kitchen cabinet searching for the baked beans last night - so much food.......  You get it.  I know.  Still, I know that I get it for today but tomorrow I will get complacent again and I won't get it so this month I am going to try to focus on learning to see.  

Lest you think I spent the entire weekend being noble in thinking only about gifts, I also had a great weekend finding the most precious devotional and sunglasses that are both aviator style AND tortoise shell accented(!), baking a red and blue cake, and living life with framily which included some awesome chicken tenders and frozen yogurt.  Yes, I am that girl with the very exciting life. :))

Have a great week - I hope you are learning to see as well.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Gagging on Fancy

This past week I began re-reading the Mitford Series by Jan Karon.  I read them in the late 90s and early 2000s and loved every single book.  In a perfect world, I would live in Mitford and visit The Local for my groceries, see Winnie anytime I needed a special cake, and certainly do my best to make friends with Miss Sadie and learn from her.

I finished the first book last night and I believe I can hear a choir of angels celebrating for me.  I have loved to read since I was a child.  My first big book was in 3rd grade when I read "The Wind in the Willows" and I've been reading ever since....until the past few years.  Something shut down deep inside of me while my mom was so sick and dying, my husband was having major surgeries, my son was moving to another state and getting married, and other big ole life changes.  I lost the ability to sit still for any amount of time and concentrate on one thing.  Instead, I have stalked social media, played mindless games on my phone and iPad, and generally walked around puzzled about the whole thing but unable to figure out how to fix it.

God and I have had some serious conversations about the this condition of mine since not reading has also included pretty much not reading my Bible in depth nor other books that would help my spiritual journey.  He has been patient with me and helped me to be patient with myself and in the past few weeks, I have begun to recognize small changes and the beginning of being able to return to myself.  In total honestly, I've done something else for the past several months - I've shopped.  I've bought pretty much anything (within reason) that my little heart saw and wanted.  I have seriously indulged in abundance - enough to make you gag.  Really. Gag.  Finally, I've begun to make myself uncomfortable which has been a glorious beginning of God at work in me.

On Saturday morning, I was reading "At Home in Mitford" and came upon a comment by homeless Hobbs.  Homeless Hobbs is a former advertising exec from NYC who walked away from it all and moved to a little one room cabin deep in the woods outside of Mitford.  He lives on next to nothing and desires nothing more than he has.  When Father Tim asked him how he got to this place, he replied "sometimes you have to gag on fancy to appreciate the plain."  Something broke free in my heart when I read that.  My heart rewrote his comment to be "sometimes you have to gag on overabundance to appreciate simple and "enough" again".  THANK.YOU.JESUS.FOR.HELPING.ME.TO.GAG.

Contentment is growing, my "things" are becoming less, my heart is healing, and my God is cheering.

More soon - I need to make sure I put the second Mitford series books on a table where I can grab it tonight!

Friday, April 11, 2014

One Week Away...

....from the official beginning of the wedding weekend!  My baby boy is getting married next Saturday and the following Thursday, he will turn 29.  From the beginning of those 29 years, I've known this day would come and unlike some moms, I've looked forward to it.  I genuinely have never seen it as losing him.  I don't know why it never occurred to me - maybe because I have enough faith in our relationship to know it will withstand whatever tests come.  Maybe we have been fortunate because our family has walked through really hard moments together and we know we will finish still standing.  Don't get me wrong, there have been a few times where they only way we have still stood is by linking arms, supporting each other, and not allowing the wounds that threatened to take us down win.

Next Saturday, Mattie officially becomes a Mitchell and Augy is officially part of our family.  Family means everything to me and I believe that God brought both of them into our family very purposely.  I am praying that I will be the mother-in-law and Zannie that God wants me to be.  I want those two to know that we will ALWAYS stand with them and that we will love them unconditionally. 

But, for the next week, I am going to work very hard not to lose my mind, to stay calm as we finish up the thousands of last minute details, and most of all, I am going to try to live in the moment and celebrate each one of them.  You only get to do this once and I want to savor it.  I want to be grateful and rejoice that God has allowed us to walk through this.

I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Let the sun shine, let the sun shine, the sun shine in.............

The week of March 31st has begun and there have already been several BIG events....

1)  We used our grill on Monday evening and I forgot how much I love GRILLED chicken, assuming, of course, that it has been in a good marinade first 'cause let's face it, chicken on it's own is pretty bland.  The thought of burgers, hot dogs, steaks these next month are making me very, very happy!

2)  I started pulling my sandals out of their clear tubs under the bed AND wearing them!  I would live in sandals all year long if it were a possibility, but even in Georgia, from about October through March, it just doesn't work.  Of course, I realized that I would live in sandals but I would also want to wear my cool boots too so maybe colder weather has a purpose.  Actually, I know it has a purpose because my sandals would look rather funny with my jeans and sweaters which is the outfit I would live in all year long if I could.  In the end, I've got to give props to God - we do need all four seasons!

3)  I washed my car last night in my very own driveway.  Growing up, we always washed our cars at home but I've run mine through the car wash more times this past year than I want to admit.  The daily rain last summer was a huge issue for home washing but I still need to own the fact that I've been kind of a slacker on that front.  Last night was awesome as I realized that I realized it was even more white than I remembered once I got that bottom layer of dirt off - the one the car wash never seems to get.

I'm pretty excited that it is only Wednesday and I have a few more days of this amazing weather to figure out ways to make my heart happy in this wonderful Spring weather.  The sun literally makes things appear brighter but it also lightens my heart in a very real way.  I don't know that I've always been as affected by sunshine as I am now.  I used to love rainy days and if I can be at home, all cozy, I still feel like I would be quite grateful for an occasional drippy day.  Not often though - not too often.

Does sunshine change the color of your world?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Lord will fight for you - you have only to be still...........

This verse from Exodus 14:14 comes from Moses reassuring the people of Israel that they would make it through the absolutely insurmountably challenge they were facing - crossing the Red Sea.  In my mind, I see all these people standing at the water's edge, only able to see water for as far out as they could see, and knowing and probably hearing (at least in their minds) the soldiers gaining on them and getting ready to crash through the trees and bushes (again in my mind) in back of them.   My heart actually begins to get a little anxious even as I type this scenario.  They have done all they can do, they have run and pushed as far as they can push to get ahead, they can almost see freedom in front of them BUT there is nothing left for them to do now except wait to be captured.  

I don't know about you, but I've felt that way a few too many times in recent months.  If you haven't figured it out by now, I am one who will push and fight and go as long as I can possibly go in my own strength to make the way smooth and perfect for my family, and if I am honest, for myself.

What is more embarrassing to me is that I KNOW my own strength isn't sufficient, I KNOW how desperately I need God's strength, I KNOW trying to do it on my own is a form of arrogance and pride, and I KNOW how to counsel others to let go and let God............I just haven't figured out how to let go of my own stuff. And so, God continues to love me through it and to show me that His faithfulness is unconditional and enough.

It's March 27 and three weeks for this coming Saturday, my baby boy is getting married to girl of his dreams.  I cannot speak the words that tell you how faithful God has been to allow my heart to already adore this young woman.  I love her, I want to protect her and make her world pretty and safe.  I want her son to know that he can always count on us and that we will move heaven and earth to make sure he too is safe and loved.  I do it all on my own again.  Sigh.

So, I am getting ready to do something I haven't done in at least two years.  I am taking a four day weekend with no plans written into it except getting my new washer/dryer on Saturday which is a most wonderful thing and the only thing that will keep us from having to buy yet more new underwear, and I am going to rest and be still.  Don't get me wrong - there are many, many things I hope to accomplish but I am going to rest while I do them.  I am going to do my very best to be still and to allow God to fight on my behalf.  I am trusting in Him and believing He is able.

I will let you know how it goes.    By the way, who knew two white metal things could make one girl so very excited!! :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A New Year and a New Word - Abundance

It's a new year and we are already 22 days into January, 2014!  

2013 was definitely a year of transition......... 
A year dealing with and learning how to live without my parents here on this earth any longer and waiting for the call that meant I needed to head to Kentucky.....

A year where my only baby boy moved to another state........

My husband had hip replacement surgery 

Our home got such much needed and much loved TLC

 We went on our first cruise!

My position at work continued to ramp up with more responsibility and more opportunities to grow and learn 

A year filled with moments with young women I love

An amazing car of my dreams 

And finally, an engagement and the promise of new Mitchell family members.

There were so many wonderful moments in 2013 and some of the most difficult I have faced in this life time.  Cleaning out my parents' home and walking away from that house was absolutely as hard as burying them.  The blessing is that my home is now filled with precious physical memories that make me smile on a regular basis.  

So, back to the fact that it is 2014 and I want this to be a year full of days spent in the present, savoring what is, not what was or what is going to be.  There IS going to be a wedding in three months and there is planning to do for that, but still, I want to live in the moment now.  I want to breathe deep, recognize the abundance that is my life, and take the time to give thanks for it all.  

I'm working on it.