Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Adios 2013...

Holy cow, Batman, where did 2013 go?? It's just crazy to think the entire year is G.O.N.E. I mentioned before, I'm not sad to see 2013 go, but there have been some really wonderful moments that I wanted to remember. 

January: Pinned It/Did it - Love canvas.  This was made for my sister from the kids for Valentine's Day.  The baby's feet and the preteen's hands.  :)  I thought it was cute! 

February: I am going to toot my own horn about the racing scrapbook I made for my friend, Paulene.  It was an honor to be part of her racing memories! :)  

March: 500th post!!!   And it just happened on a Muffin Monday. :) 

April:  Friday's Letters in April.  What can I say, I was boring in April.  But here is Sweet Niece and she's adorable. :) 

May:  I blogged roughly "Every Day in May."  - my Favorites and my Struggles

July:  The annual Family Beach Trip! WOOP WOOP!  And lots of scrappin'

August:  A Monday Muse on a Wednesday with lots of pics pics pics (and one picnic). 

September:  It's My Birthday!! Thanks to everyone who contributed to the USO! 

October:  The NOTEBOOK: It's not what you think, it's better! 

November: Friday's Letters - just a snippet of my life. Love it. 

December:  My column for YC Magazine.  

So there you go! :) A review of 2013!!! Thanks for reading, for being my "imaginary friends," for commenting and caring (because I know some of you do!).  Happy 2014!!! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ho Ho Ho

Good gracious, where have I been in the last week+?  Sheesh, I've just been a slacker, I guess.  Lots going on with Christmas and everything that revolves around it.  

We've had the celebration on my Dad's side of the family, several parades, most of us have trees up, cookies have been baked, a few gifts swapped, cards mailed (just a few more to go), and one Christmas pageant.  Gifts need to be wrapped, but maybe that will happen this week after work.

I'm getting excited! Especially hearing Macy say, "Santa, ho ho ho... toys!"  She's getting excited, too, even though she doesn't REALLY understand why it's exciting.

A few pics of the reason celebrations - ya'll enjoy!

Clay & Angela's beautiful Christmas tree! 

Macy after the Christmas play.

Katie as Aunt Bethany from Christmas Vacation. 
Snow Village in Clay & Angela's House

Santa stopped by my office for a surprise visit. Thankfully, we were being good!

If I don't get back online until after the holidays - ya'll have a very Merry Christmas!  Take time from the gifts to give thanks for the greatest gift of all - our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! :)  

God Bless you and your family! 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Pictoral Review

I love photos and take MILLIONS of them everywhere I am. Driving to work, shopping, birthday parties, holidays, whatever the occasion.  So enjoy some pics from 2013 - LOTS of pics from 2013. :)  My everyday blessings and not even a drop in the bucket.  Thanks to all my family, friends, blogger peeps, - I appreciate you all so much! And mainly, thanks to the Lord above for everything good and loving in my life. :)


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Looking into 2014

As I mentioned earlier, this post will be my article for the newspaper/magazine I write for each month.  I'm supposed to have the service column, but seriously - they let me write whatever I want to write about.  You wouldn't think it would be tough to come up with 12 different columns a year, but after many years of writing, it's getting tougher. 


Adios 2013, I’m ready to see the back of you.  I can’t remember wishing away a year quite as much as I have 2013.  Well, not since I was a little kid wanting Christmas to hurry up and get here.  This year, however, I’m ready to have 2013 behind me and welcome 2014 with open arms.  I’ve had this attitude of, “Just-let-2014-get-here-and-it-will-all-be-ok.”  I long for a fresh start, clean slate, and new year.

As I was discussing my thoughts on 2013, it was like all the bad things from the year came to mind.  And trust me, 2013 brought with it plenty of negative drama – enough to hold me over until 2015, in my opinion.  Those events seem to create big dark stormy clouds over the sunny days, making it hard to remember the good things of the year.

In preparation for Thanksgiving, I pulled out my thankful journal and refreshed my memory on the things I’d prayed for and thanked God for over the past year.  I reread the worries and sadness, the fears and concerns – but I also saw all these great things that have happened and were forgotten in the drama. 

Why are we like that as humans? It’s like we are predisposed to elevate the negative and forget the positive?  It’s like we give the bad things in life power over us, impacting our happiness, our health and our mental well-being. Kind of a crazy way to live life and not a really pleasurable one, if you ask me. 

Each year I take one word to apply to my life in an effort to concentrate on one aspect of improvement.  The first year, I chose “Appreciation.”  I did pretty well at implementing appreciation into my everyday life.  I started a Thankful Journal, was more conscientious about thanking people and sending notes.  Several years later, I feel like it’s more ingrained in me to be appreciative in general.

Every year after that was a colossal failure. Every word I chose just got tossed to the wayside and nothing changed. I even tried changing words mid-year once, thinking that would help jump start me into changing my ways.  Nope. It got tossed aside, too.

This year, as I welcome 2014 with open arms, I’m returning to the basics of “Appreciation,” with a bit of a twist. 

We all have drama in our lives.  Sometimes our drama is silly and blown out of proportion.  It doesn’t stand up to the test of, “Is this really going to matter in 5 minutes, 5 days or 5 years??”  You know the type of drama I’m talking about.  Running late, the store is out of your favorite comfort food, your husband bought the wrong kind of shampoo kind of drama.  It’s ok. Life isn’t going to be impacted drastically by this type of drama.  Take a deep breath and put it into perspective.

Then there is the other kind of drama that is DRAMA with a capital D. Yes, it is going to matter in 5 minutes, 5 days and 5 years.  Life is changed in a serious way for the foreseeable future. Maybe forever.  It’s never going to be the same. There aren’t words to address this kind of drama. Maybe your heart aches, you grieve, you are swamped with sadness and sorrow. You worry. You are scared. Your anxiety is shooting off the charts and it’s with good reason. But even this drama must be put into perspective.

It’s with this in mind that I am bringing back my word, “Appreciation.”  Or “Thankfulness.”  Life is going to happen.  Sometimes life is more difficult than other times but regardless, it’s only made worse without appreciating the good things. Was 2013 a rough one? Yup.  But it was also a beautiful one with so many blessed memories and moments. It’s so wrong to let the bad drama blank out all the precious moments and gifts the year brought to me and my family.  So 2013, thank you for innumerable blessings that outnumber the bad 1,000 to 1.  If 2014 brings me half as many good things, I’ll still be blessed beyond measure.

Merry Christmas to all the YC Magazine readers and I am wishing you a very happy 2014! Thanks for joining me each month and I wish a million good things for you in the New Year. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Catching Up.

Goodness Gracious I'm behind in my blogging.  That's what happens with holidays, right? I had a very wonderful Thanksgiving filled with lots of family.  That's what happens when your mom is one of twelve and all but two still live in the area.  Actually, one of the two was in town, as well! So it was a great time with family, tons of yummy food and then relaxing at my quiet peaceful house. 

Enjoy some photos of the holiday - pics of my family. :) 

My brother, Clay and his wife, Angela

Dad and Mom on the front porch of my aunt's house

Me and Sweet Niece #1. She had the whole week+ with us! 

My sister's family - hubby Roger, Sweet Niece #2, Sweet Niece #1 and Katie.

Me and the Sister (or as she likes to say, Seester)

I finally finished my article for the column I write in a local newspaper/magazine.  I really struggled with how to wrap up the year, reflecting on 2013 with sad eyes.  I just keep saying over and over how tough 2013 has been for me and the family! But after some discussion with a coworker, I realized it was up to me to change that outlook or I'd just drown in the negative.  Blah.  So that article will post tomorrow. 

Hope ya'll had a great Thanksgiving and are gearing up for the Christmas season. I'm ready! The tree is UP.  I'm mostly done shopping but I don't have that many to shop for, so it's become easier over the years.  This week is a bit cray cray with all the holiday events (Staff Christmas Party, Parade, Sweet Niece #1's Chorus Concert, Dad's Family's Christmas Get-Together...) But it's all good. Because it means we have places to be and holidays to celebrate. Woop woop!

Ok, ya'll come back and see me tomorrow so you can read my article and get a sneak peek before the publication hits the stands!  :)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankfulness before Thanksgiving

I have two people still posting their thanksgivings in Facebook for the month of November. Go girls!! I decided not to do it this year, but don't mistake that for be not being extremely grateful. 

I spent quite a bit of time last night reviewing my thankful/prayer journal from this year. I wrote up a long blog about it, only to have this app Bloggo, eat it. I'm not sure I'm thankful for Bloggo right at this moment. 

I am thankful for the many answered prayers. My immediate family is here for another year. Dad is doing ok with his bladder cancer and so many people have shown their love & support of my family. Prayers have gone up in a fierce way. We are waiting for his biopsy results in December. Regardless, seeing the love and support from so many has impacted us in great ways. Thank you. 

To look back and see prayers answered: all the sick I've prayed for, from the young to the old, the simple requests and special requests. Not all were answered how I would have liked but I also know God's ways are greater than mine and His understanding is much greater than mine. Those I lost this year hurt my heart but God is always there. 

I prayed in ernest about my finances. Out of the blue I checked www.fpu.com and found a Financial Peace University  class being held five minutes from my house. This doesn't happen-I live in the middle of nowhere!!!  I'm moving so very slow but I feel good again. What a blessing!!

I've had my share of ouchies and lessons learned. People have let me down and disappointed me. People I care about. But that was also a blessing as it taught me to turn my troubles over to God and let Him judge and decide how to handle others' issues. 

I've often thanked God for the Christian bloggers, photographers, shop owners, friends, and pen pal!!  Y'all have no idea how wonderful and inspirational you are!! Ladies of Faith, you are so appreciated and a great blessing to my life! Thank you so much!!!

And last but so not least, I'm thankful for this relationship God is creating between me and Him. I have really enjoyed reading His word and learning how to be more like Him. I won't say it's always comfortable but it is beautiful. 

I have a loving family, peaceful home, good job, wonderful friends, blessed church family and God. Life is good. Here's to another year of thankfulness!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday's Letters

Dear Friday, I greatly enjoyed my downtime today. Thanks for giving me great weather. Dear God, THANK YOU! Thanks for taking care of my Dad. :)  Thanks for placing wonderful Christian people in my life :)  Dear Sweet Niece #1: You are a joy, so smart and so energetic. Love the hat on you!  Dear Sweet Niece #2: lol holy cow, girl, you are wide open! Love watching you grow and learn. :)  Dear hot chocolate, some nights I just need you. Dear seester, I love you!  Dear Baby Lane, I saw you three times this week!! And you are so stinkin cute!!! 

Choose Joy!!! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mike Mike Mike - What Day Is It?!

Oh ya'll, when I went to see Sweet Niece #2 this morning before work, I was accosted with sweet kisses! Is that not the BEST way to start your day?  Loved it!

In our office, SOMEONE does the whole Hump Day commercial (what are they advertising again? I don't even remember) every Wednesday.  And leading up to Wednesday. Oh heck, we are always acting like a bunch of camels in our office. :)

So my message today is what I keep seeing in all my devotionals: FAITH and APPLYING FAITH.

Like this, " But without faith no one can please God.  We must believe that God is real and rewards everyone who seraches for him."  Hebrews 11:6

I really like this verse,
"But it is just as the Scriptures say, 'What God has planned for people who love Him is more than eyes have seen or ears have heard. It has never even entered our minds!'"
1 Corinthians 2:9

FAITH! Do I have faith in the plan God has for me? Or am I trying to go it on my own?  Well, as we learned in Sunday School this week, even though we often muddle up the plans, God is so amazing He will still prevail and His plan will still come to fruition.  Yes, we may create some painful detours, but He will always see His plan come to be. So that's nice to know. I can't screw it up so bad that it won't happen!

AND - to know His plan for me is so great that I can't begin to wrap my hands around it because it is beyond my eyes or ears.  It's never entered my mind, the plans that God has in store for me! Amazing!

Yes, so amazing. So wonderful.  So blessed we are.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Muses.

The weekend was a good one! Saturday morning I texted a friend until she mentioned - you know, we could talk. HAHA! So we did and it was great. She gives good business advice and I'm thankful for her.  :) I spent Saturday day at a pottery show with my mom and sister - our annual outing.  All three of us found someone we knew, so it was even better having our joy spread between friends.  I adore pottery and picked up a few pieces for gifts.  I could have gone hog wild, but didn't really have the funds (or the need) for all that in my house.

Sunday I met a sweet little boy, Lane, 3 weeks old and oh my gracious he is a cutie. How can you not fall in love with newborn babies? I think it's impossible.

One thing that keeps coming back to me over and over is how attitude plays such a large factor in our daily lives.  Like - Yes, I'm tired, still sick, butt draggin', etc etc. I could complain and moan about how TIRED I am, how BAD I feel, DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA. Play it up, get more sympathy, wallow in my low points. 

OR - I can get in the floor and marvel at how wonderful it is to play with my niece, notice how quickly she is learning her nursery rhymes, watch how she plays with her blocks and laugh at her silliness. Live life instead of letting life lead me around by the nose and suck out the joy.


Yeah, it doesn't always work.  Saturday evening I let things get to me a little too much and my feeling were hurt. Which pissed me off. Oh woe is me. (Seriously, get a grip!)  But it didn't last long and I was feeling ok again. Because SERIOUSLY - how blessed am I? Abundantly.  Amazingly.  Wonderfully.  God is so good and I am so ungrateful and being so childish.  By not taking care of myself (going to bed on time!!), I'm making it more difficult to love life. Bad Bethie. So my goal this week is to get back on track. 

And since I just snapped another person's head off... maybe I should go to sleep about 8 p.m. and see if I can restore my relatively good nature.  It's slipping quickly.  :)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday's Letters

Dear weekend, I'm very excited about the pottery show you have in store for me!! Fun time with my mom and sister, too, so Come On Weekend, Let's Get Started!!  Dear Sweet Nieces, last weekend was wonderful with you both home. I'm so very thankful God brought both of you into my life. Dear Pintrest, I'm really happy to see so many felt food tutorials posted on your site. Sweet Niece #2 will have a Felt Farmer's Market before I'm done! (for her Christmas present!). Dear Crafty Coworker, your hats are looking so adorable! I love them so much and can't wait for Sweet Niece #1 to try her bright colored hat on next weekend! Dear cold weather, I hate you. Just an FYI.

Dear wonderful pen pal and friend, Thanks for the GREAT pick-me-up ... and for Macy's bows! What a special person you are to be so thoughtful! And it arrived on my doctor day, so it couldn't have been any better timing. Dear Minute Clinic, I love you and your speedy visits. I'm hoping I like your price better than my regular doctor, too. Dear #SheReadsTruth, I can't express how much I am enjoying (in a very painful way b/c my toes are being stepped on!) this study in James. Thank you for your efforts for all of us. Dear Private Prayer Request - I could really use some help from our Prayer Warriors. I am not at liberty to say why, but God still hears and knows. Thanks for your help.

Have a good weekend! :) I'll share mine with you next week. :)

{Review}: CampusBookRentals.com

I was approached by Angela  of Campus Book Rentals to partner with www.CampusBookRentals.com  by posting something on my blog.  I would be compensated.  First - I don't think I have many college aged kids reading this blog, but maybe some parents? And Second - I've never done this and heck if I know how legit it is, but I'll give you my review of what I learned through some research. 

1) Campus Book Rentals is a partner with Operation Smile. I'm big into supporting non-profits, having a non-profit background myself and knowing what beneficial work some of these organizations do within our local communities, and throughout the world, such as Operation Smile is doing. 

A little bit about Operation Smile from their website:  
  • Every 3 minutes, a child somewhere in the world is born with a cleft lip or cleft palate. One in 10 children born with a cleft will die before their first birthday. 
  • During FY 12, 73.2% of all donations went directly to programs, while 20.6% was spent on fundraising and 6.2% for administration expenses. 
  • Operation Smile and its more than 5,000 medical volunteers are working every day around the world to provide safe, effective and free cleft lip and cleft palate reconstructive surgery for children all over the world.  We are an international medical humanitarian organization that works in over 60 countries that is dedicated to raising awareness of this life-threatening issue and providing lasting solutions. 
Please feel free to learn more about Operation Smile on their website.  Their focus is on the Philippines at the moment (understandably!).

2)  From the www.CampusBookRentals.com website - They are one of the original companies with the concept of renting college textbooks instead of purchasing them, then trying to sell them back to the campus book store at the end of the semester.  They been in business since 2007 and have over 1 million folks renting books from 5,800 colleges across the nation.  

If I understand it correctly, you can either rent books from them, or if you own books, you can rent your books to other folks via their website.  As a student renting a book, you may highlight in the book and treat it as if you own it.  (Down side - that means if you rent a book, it may be really marked up from the people ahead of you, as one person complained). However, for the cost savings over purchasing the books may be worth it to you.  Shipping is free both directions! 

So I asked someone who has one graduate and one still in college to help me compare this program to what she's been doing on Amazon.  She purchases the books used from online Amazon vendors. Once she is done, she sells the book on Amazon to recoup some money back.  We pulled two books from her recent inventory to see how it compares to www.CampusBookRentals.com. 

The Human Record Vol1 Sources of Global History to 1700. 
To Rent for 130 Days:  $58.49                     
To "Lend/rent" this book to other students:  $36.15 - $19 for their expenses = $17.15 in your pocket  
(Expenses: $11.70 in shipping, $3.30 markting, $2.20 Labor & Processing, $1.80 Profit for Campus Book Rentals)

The Human Record Vol1 Sources of Global History to 1700.
Purchased used: $48 + 3.99 ship = $51.99
Amazon Trade-in program:  $43.67 + free shipping = $43.67 (which she received as Amazon Credit for ANYTHING)
Total money spent to use the book: $8.32 

I personally think the Amazon deal is a better deal, however, if you don't want to deal with all that, maybe the www.campusbookrentals.com is the way to go.  I have no idea what it would cost in your local campus book store.

I did try to check on other recent ones, not wanting to get too far out of date with the comparasions, but Campus Book Rentals werent accepting those from students for rent at this time.  My guess is there isn't a demand for them, but it doesn't allow me to compare. 

BOTTOM LINE: I think if you use your noggin, there are less expensive ways to get the books you need for college, however, I don't feel like this is a bad program.  And I'm glad to see companies partnering with non-profits to help give back and make the world a better place.  Who knows if they'll pay me for this review or not; regardless I have to be honest in how I feel. 

Do you have any dealings with college book programs like this or others? Feel free to comment below, I'm open to learning more about the process. :)  Thanks Ya'll! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

{Review} Minute Clinic... and other fun stuff.

Find the closest Minute Clinic to you!

Monday I was in such a great mood! Then Wednesday I ended up at the Minute Clinic with this ... whatever this is. The crud? The evilness? You know, the coughing, hacking, sneezing, feeling like you've been run over by a truck... yeah. That. I must say, I love the Minute Clinic! In and out quick, no waiting, no appointment needed, Ohhhh Yeahhh. AND they are running it through my insurance and billing me. Since my regular doc runs about $97 a visit, this should be cheaper and quicker! Let's all cheer! She was very knowledgeable, thorough and

A bright popcorn treat! 
How wonderful of a friend do I have that sends random gifts for no reason - and I receive it on my Doc Day!? LOVE IT! :) I thank God for my friends over and over because it's such a blessing to have these people in my life.

(On a side note:)
I gotta tell ya'll, right this minute I'm watching my co-worker go bonkers trying to run away from yet kill a spider at the same time. It's awesome entertainment (but I'm so thankful it's on her side of the room and not mine.)  Oh my, she has found success and is now celebrating the squished spider. Teehee!

OK, I'm hoping ya'll can help out a fellow blogger - her daughter needs at least 100 people to take a quick Google Survey - like 5 questions? - as part of her 8th grade science project.  Who wouldn't want to help out for that? You'll stay anonymous, so no worries. Just click the link below and help a chap out.  Thanks!

Consider this the good deed of the day.  Her mom's blog is Mice in the Kitchen, so check her out, too. 

I'm off to write letters (I know, real letters with stamps and everything!) and do some work.  I hope ya'll have a great Thursday and are getting ready for FRIDAY! WOOP WOOP!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lazy Wednesday Morning

I decided to take today off with grand plans of sleeping in late this morning. Of course, that didn't happen and never happens unless it's drug induced. So I woke up before six, laid in bed and finished Susan Branch's book, "A Fine Romance."  I didn't really want to finish it because then it would be over!! But I did and I'm so thankful to her for making lil' ol' me feel like a part of something so much larger. You'll just have to read the book, cover to cover, and experience it yourself. 

It's now after seven and I'm kicked back, listening to slow and dreamy Christmas music, enjoying a down today. Later this morning I plan on visiting a Minute Clinic to get some antibiotics for this dreadful sinus mess, hopefully making me feel better by Thanksgiving. I've stubbornly refused to spend the $90+ for a month now. Since it's moving into my chest, I decided to go ahead and get some help and feel human again. 

This was my view on the way to work yesterday. Beautiful!! I said I looked like snow clouds and I must have been right - we had flurries last night! Unheard of in South Carolina in November. I shudder to think of an icy cold winter. :( but I can't deny it's beautiful to see, just not fun to drive in. 

I suppose I should get up and be productive while I have a free moment. Y'all enjoy your Hump Day and be thankful for the blessings! :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Monday!

For a Monday, I'm pretty dang happy today.  Maybe because I came into work a tad bit late today, so I wasn't running around all rushed this morning. And I overslept with no worries, so that definitely contributed to my happiness level today. :)

I had the sweetest comment from Gayle at Miss Kopy Kat. Ya'll, if you don't follow her, you really want to start.  She is the Craftiness Queen! LOVE her tutorials and great ideas.  Seriously, check out this wreath, which is what she is featuring right now.  Admit it, you all want to go buy a wreath form and some mesh and get this awesome wreath rocking on your door.

I told her I wish she were my neighbor because I'd ask for some one-on-one remedial wreathing making.  In case you don't remember it, you can see my wreath #fail here.  My crafty talents do not extend to wreaths.  So maybe I'm glad Gayle isn't my neighbor, because she'd be really showing my house up and it would make me look like a crappy neighbor.

Anyway - all this to say, she asked me what I ended up doing with my weekend! I had THE BEST weekend, and it wasn't because of anything special, just the time with family.

Saturday I went shopping with my Mom, something we haven't done in ages! At one time, we shopped every weekend, all day long, until we were exhausted.  My bff would call just to ask if I were in Belk with Mom, because she pretty much knew that's exactly where we were. So Mom and I actually skipped Belk and went to the outlet mall about 30 minutes from the house. Started on our Christmas shopping for the girls (aka Sweet Nieces). Good times.

Sunday, went to church and headed to Mom & Dad's for lunch with Katie & the girls. AH was super snuggly, which is one of those cherished things because at 11-years-old, she isn't quite as snuggly as she was at one point. She's growing up!!! What the heck do you buy an 11-year-old for Christmas? Any suggestions?

Anyway, Macy was SO HAPPY to have her sister home. She just kept kissing and hugging on her, it was just precious.
Here is big sister waiting patiently for her kiss from little sister

Then little sister attacked, trying to get her arms around AH for a hug, but wasn't quite able to reach like she wanted.  So she kept burrowing her face into her big sister's neck, trying to share the love. It was hilarious! 

So yeah, there is a lot of text for you. :)  Last but DEFINITELY not least, please hug a veteran today.  Where would we be without these brave men and women?! I can't imagine! So thankful to them and to their families.  Thank you so much. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday's Letter

Dear Weekend, I'm looking forward to you, although I'm not sure what my plans are for you yet. Maybe I'll make some more felt food for littlest Sweet Niece's Christmas present.  Dear Lord, just today I've seen the circle of life in the birth posting from one blogger and another losing a family member unexpectedly.  I've been getting the message:  In all things give thanks (even during our suffering). I'm not sure how to do this, so please work in my heart on this one?  Dear Self, Girl, you make some stupid mistakes.  Looks like one could be catching up with you. Dear Praying People, please include my Dad in yours - thanks.  Dear Sinus Sickness, I've battled with you for over a month. I simply refuse to give the DR another $97 when I haven't finished paying off the last visit. Can you please just give me a break and GO AWAY?  Dear Sweet Nieces, I'm soooo happy to have ya'll together this weekend. :) I'm looking forward to the day when both of you are old enough to spend the night at Aunt Bethie's house!

63 more minutes until quitting time! :) Woop Woop! Hello weekend, here I come! :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Choose Joy!


Do you feel like I am screaming at you yet? Because I totally am.  It's been one of those days where God is pouring this message over my head in various ways and means, so I thought I'd share it with you.

My morning began with a devotional shared by a dear friend that is about the Debbie Downers in life.  You know know who I'm talking about - heck, I'm one of them way too often.  It's like they present a laundry list of bad things that are happening.  The grumbling, the complaining, the grousing... And it rubs off on everyone around them so that now you have a room full of people grumbling, complaining and grousing. Oh happy day! Doesn't this sound like fun!

To quote the Girlfriends in God devotional: "When you think about it, ingratitude is a casual despising of God’s sovereignty. It’s like saying we don’t like how He is running things and think we could do it better."

Holy cow!  I don't want to be the person who thinks my way is better than God's way! But you know what, I quite often am that person, and it's so shameful.  So, instead of grousing and complaining, I want to CHOOSE JOY. I want to trust in God and appreciate what He has given to me, because I know He has plans created specifically for me that are for His glory.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
     Jeremiah 29:11

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
     Romans 8:28

Here it is, in black and white, spoken directly from the Lord God Himself and written down by His people. He is telling us IT WILL BE OK because I AM WITH YOU.  Through anything we face, God is with us.

"But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength."   2 Timothy 4:17

I think Joy is all about FAITH.  Our grousing is because we think it should be different, better.  But if we have FAITH, we know God is with us. (any thoughts on this?? share please!)

This may be my word for 2014.  I haven't decided yet, but I do feel like this would be a great word to focus on for the new year.  (Was this my word for this year that I've tossed aside and not focused on at all? Hmm. maybe I hsould go back and check.) Oh good. I chose Simplify - #fail. So maybe this would stick a bit better. :)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday's Letters

Ya'll, it's one of my favorites times of the week - FRIDAY'S LETTERS!

Dear Macy Mae, (1.) you are toooo cute. You were so much fun during Halloween, loving on your pumpkin, sitting on your pumpkin, you even dressed a little pumpkin-y for Halloween. And you discovered you liked getting loot just for being cute (like that doesn't happen everyday...).  Dear Family, (2.) I'm so very blessed to have all of you right around me. This picture of mom and her sister, both with their grandkids, just reminds me of growing up with all my aunts and uncles close by.  Love it.  Dear Lord, (3.) I have really appreciated and enjoyed your sunrises and sunsets lately.  Thanks for giving me a heart that can see Your beauty. Dear Christian Friends, (4.) you are so very encouraging to me - to see your faith and your success, you have no idea! Paulene, thanks for sharing this today on IG. :) Dear MJ, (5.) What a WONDERFUL surprise to bring me Susan Branch's book! I stayed up late last night reading it, I've taken small breaks throughout today and WOW, it's like you are right there with her for every step! It's just wonderful. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

I'm so glad the end is here for 31 Days.  :)  I enjoyed it, I'm very thankful that I'm actually back to feeling like blogging again instead of it just making me a touch sad.  31 Days really pulled me out of that funk and made me notice and appreciate God, my heavenly Father, so much more. So thanks for going on that bumpy ride with me (where I skipped a few days here and there).

I'm NOT doing the 31 Day of Thankful, but I'm sure I will blog more about things I'm thankful for in November.  So many blessings, so so many.  So I'm sure I'll share some this month.

But for now, since I'm already late turning in my article for the local magazine I write for, I better go focus on that for a while.  Have a great weekend and I'll see you back here soon!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

31 Days

I've given up on counting what day I'm on because I haven't been writing much lately.

One of the things that has really stuck out to me about faith and God is how powerful His word is. As I've been scrolling through Facebook or Instagram or looking into my devotionals, verses just jump out at me for various reasons.

Sometimes, is the healing words and sometimes is the call to action.  The words of encouragement and the words of direction.  So many wonderful powerful messages to be found. So here are a few from this past week:

James 3:9-10
My dear friends, with our tongues we speak both praises and curses.  We praise our Lord and Father, and we curse people who were created to be like God, and this isn't right.

Isaiah 26:4
So always trust the Lord because He is forever our might rock.

Proverbs 12:25
Anxiety in a person's heart weighs him down, but an encouraging word brings him joy.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

(A quote by Marian Jordan Ellis)
God's best is worth fighting for, worth waiting for and worth praying for.

I'm so thankful for those of you who post quotes and verses that are speaking to you because often those are hitting me right in the heart as well.  :)  That's the way God works at times!

Monday, October 28, 2013

31 Days - and a little frustration.

Ya'll, I have been furiously trying to post my 31 Days this weekend, only to be evilly blocked by my BlogGo app.  My BlogGo wouldn't Go. It was stopped. So if you have any suggestions for better apps, please let me know.

Now, on to my 31 Days, which is dreadfully late.

My post for this weekend was about the wonderful support I receive from online Christians.

It's funny, as long as I've been an Internet junkie, I've only just noticed how flooded the net is with Christians and Christian resources.  God is so amazing how He is using social media to reach out to a new generation and to encourage people like me.

Yes, the Internet can be bad.  But it can be so wonderful, too!  I love seeing all these successful Christian women with great companies and talents and skills - to see their openness about love and needing God - what an example.  What a support! What a testimony as to what God can do in some one's life.

I see these blogs and Instagram accounts showcasing the trials and troubles and the great faith folks have had through the tough times.  Seeing communities praying, worshipping, loving - people who have never met are brought together through Him!  It's just amazing how God works.

I know my own relationship with the Lord has depended as I see how these open people love and live for God.  It's a great encouragement and I'm so thankful to those of you who are living wide open - the good, bad and ugly - and sharing how God is working in your life every step of the way.  He is using you to help others like me, so keep up the great work. :)  You are appreciated!

So there. I'm not an every day blogger and I knew this 31 Days challenge would be a toughie for me to complete properly.  But when your app to post is evil, it makes it a bit more challenging! Thanks for stopping in for a read.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday's Letters

Dear weekend, I'm so looking forward to you and to my mountain day trip with Dad. It will be cold, but fun. Dear Angela, I'm so glad you and Clay made it up for your birthday! We just don't get to see you often enough.  Dear Sweet Nieces #1 & #2, you two are so very loved. You are surrounded with so many people who want to see you happy, healthy, successful, and we will move any mountain possible for you. Know how incredibly loved you are. Dear teeth, please break through and give Sweet Niece #1 some relief before she gnaws her fingers off.  Dear Hello Kitty boots, yes, I'm 38 years old. And you make me happy. And my toes toasty.  You are a good thing.  Dear Tiny Dancer, your Monster Mash dance was the best ever. I enjoyed seeing you after missing you for so long!

PS: I'm a slacker when it comes to my 31 Days... But I'll post more today, I promise. :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

31 Days - thanks

One thing I haven't done enough of here is give thanks for the blessings. You know I'm like everyone else and I'm always asking for something. Lately it's been prayers for my aunt who had serious surgery last week. While it went well, her heart did odd things resulting in an emergency pacemaker. Scary stuff. God has her doing much better today, out of ICU and into a regular room. More surgery scheduled for Wednesday.

Another aunt is going through reconstructive surgery tomorrow after her breast cancer surgery. But she is doing well and hanging in there. Another answered prayer. Dad is doing well, mom's foot is healing. Answered prayers. 

Of course I get nos sometimes, and a quiet spell sometimes. And looking back, most of the nos I'm thankful for today. Others I realize I can't see the bigger picture and have to have faith in God. 

Is that easy? No, not always. Sometimes I'm holding on to the thought that God is forever by my side and that's what pulls me along. Other times I lose sight of Him and need a reminder that I'm not alone. Ever. 

But even when my vision gets blurry and I lose sight of Him, God picks me up ad keeps on carrying me. Thanks goodness. If our relationship was dependent on MY faithfulness, I'd be in trouble! 

Saturday, October 19, 2013


"Count it as a blessing when you suffer for being Christian. This shows that God's glorious spirit is within you. But you deserve to suffer if you are a murderer, a thief, a crook, or a busybody."  1 Peter 4:14-15

After being very hurt by a busybody friend, I read this passage and realized it applied to me, too. I can't say I don't regularly stick my nose in other people's business - which is exactly where it doesn't belong. I also equate busybodies with gossips...spreading about tidbits of information try have no business spreading. 

It's shocking to see busybodies mentioned in the same breath as murderers, thieves and crooks. But I believe busybodies can do more damage than thieves and crooks. Their meddling into affairs that do not concern them hurt us to our core, where it sometimes never heals. It's so much more painful than stolen materialistic items. 

This is one of those things I'm constantly struggling with, to be honest with you. It makes me a very ugly slimed person when I stoop to gossiping and meddling. I pray about this often. This verse makes me realize I open my mouth far too often: 

"Be beautiful in your heart by being gentle and quiet. This kind of beauty will last and God considers it very special." Peter 3:4

If this something you struggle with, too, I pray you'll seek God's guidance and strength in overcoming this weakness. :)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday's Letters... Woop Woop

Ohhh ya'll, it's time for FRIDAY'S LETTERS! Woop woop! :)

1.) CASSEROLE COMA!  So glad Sweet Niece #1 was home for the family reunion where we devoured mucho yummy Southern food, which always includes casseroles! 2.) & 7.) PUMPKIN PATCH.  So thankful to have both Sweet Nieces looking cute and in good moods for photos at the PP.  Unfortunately, it didn't last long, but we did manage a few good pics.  Maybe Christmas Card worthy? 3.) Dear Sister - I'm so sorry you & your hubby were sick all weekend. Sinus + migraines are never fun.  But this family pic on the hill is still adorable, despite the fact you are wearing jammies. 4.) Dear Lord, thanks for the beautiful drives to and from work. It's so inspiring to see your work every morning and evening. 5.) Fru Fru Pumpkin, you make me happy.  Here is a psudo tutorial if you'd like to make one for your house, too. 6.) Dear Santa, you are totally freaking me out saying things like, "Only 10 Fridays before Christmas!" - holy cow, Batman! Where did 2013 go? But when you show me who is on your Nice List, it makes me smile - Susan Branch is definitely Nice List Worthy.

Ya'll have a great AUTUMNAL weekend! :) :) :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

31 Days - Day 15 : Courage

Oh my.  I'm confessing I'm more of a cowardly lion that a courageous beast.  I do not use the word, "Courage," to describe me in the least.  I'm one of those that usually will take the well-worn path over trying something new because of the fear of failure.  It's not very exciting on my part.

But a friend of mine has had to look uncertainty and confrontation in the face lately.  She's prayed a lot, tried to find God's path for herself and leaned on Him during a trying time. The Bible verses she shared with me spoke of a woman that is very different than myself.

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do no panic before them.  For they Lord your God will personally go ahead of you.  He will neither fail you nor abandon you."
           Deuteronomy 31:6

"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."  Proverbs 31:25

"But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded."  2 Chronicles 15:7

"This is my command - be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you."  Joshua 1:9

Do you see a theme here? I mean, seriously, God doesn't want us to let fear hold us back but to have faith and trust in Him! If we are talking to God, listening to Him and asking for His guidance in every decision we make, we should feel confident in our ventures and have faith that God will never leave our side.

I'm realizing by holding back and being afraid, I'm limiting what I allow God to do in my life and what He can do with my life.  So hopefully I can let go of the reigns, where I pretend like I'm always in control, and hand them over to God to use me as He wills.

Start at the beginning! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

31Days-Day 14 : Cha-Ching!

Usually when I get into my car at night, I have to readjust all the mirrors. My best time is morning time and I'm sitting up taller in my seat. Afternoon/evenings are evil to me and all the mirrors have to be moved down.

Tonight was different. Tonight I had my final Financial Peace University class and I was energized afterwards. Even sick as a dog, I was excited! The last session was a smack to the face and an abrupt change in my thinking. 

See, all this time I've thought about how hard I work for my money. I'm worth more money. I need more money. I'll never make ends meet in this money. 

And the reality is this:It ain't my money. 

This is God's money, every penny. He has given me the responsibly to take care of his money for Him. 10% off the top for my church. Not "Christian related ministries," but for my church. Above that are offerings which are also good. 

But bigger than the 10% is the fact wasteful spending of my money is wasteful spending of God's money. 

God has a very specific plan concerning finances. This isn't a program that's taking a shot in the dark. It's very Biblical based and it's about following God's instructions. 

And it isn't about hoarding the money you have, but becoming able to give it away. I am so wanting to hit that point - to be able to better impact others lives thanks to the Lord's blessing. 

As Dave Ramsey put it, God is a giver. He gave us His only son. What could be a bigger gift than that? So we, who are made in His image, should be givers, too. 

I hope if you are in a church, you are tithing. It's a direct instruction from God. It's the first item out of the paycheck. Don't skimp on this one. 10%. 

And I hope you'll consider the Dave Ramsey class, to learn how to prioritize so you can give back some of what has been given to you. 

With much love, 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

31 Days - Day 13 : Pray


Prayer.  We all do it, even if you aren't a Christian. The first sign of major trouble and even the non-religious will be uttering a prayer under their breath, hoping it will reach the ears of someone they don't really understand, but want to believe in for just that moment. 

I'm not much better.  Rough waters come ashore and I'm asking God to bail me out! Help me, Lord! Please help! Help my Dad, help my Mom, Macy is sick, so please help! My finances are in trouble, help Lord, help! I'm scared in the storm, Help! Help!  

In reality, the main purpose of prayer isn't so we can read off a laundry lists of wants or "Helps!", but to develop our relaltionship with God. If you aren't praying, you are drifting away from Him and His path for you.  If you talk to Him, develop a relationship where you share yourself with God and listen to Him in return, you will grow and He will use you for His kingdom. 

Yes, prayer is good for asking, for guidance, for all this and more.  But it's really for relationship building.  Just like any other relationship, if you do nothing but ask ask ask for things, the relationship becomes one-sided and will disenegrate.  Don't do this with the most important relationship you can possibly have. 

(Great reminder for me, too. Want to know more? Listen to Dr. Charles Stanley and his comments on prayer here.)  

Did anyone else grow up with the ACTS prayer method?  Adoration, Confession, Thanks and Special Requests. Just curious. :)

31 Days - the beginning

Monday, October 14, 2013

31 Days - Day 12 : Rest

Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest."  Mathhews 11:28

This verse is one of those comforting verses.  God knows we have heavy burdens on our shoulders. He knows we are always thinking, fretting, worrying - even though we shouldn't be, He sees it anyway.  And here He is telling us - come to HIM. Bring it to Him and he will lift our burdens and give us rest.  He just wants us to come to Him and He'll take it from there! Doesn't that put your heart at ease and settle your soul? 

Our Lord, we belong to You. 
We tell You what worries us and You won't let us fall. 
Psalms 55:22

In times of trouble, distress, worry, concern - don't forget who is waiting for you to ask Him to help.  He's the most powerful force to be called upon (not your friends, not your coworkers, not the hairdresser or the bartender ... ) Call upon God, tell Him your troubles and ask for His help. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

31 Days - Day 11 : The Basics.

Sorry I missed yesterday but just wasn't happening. I did start a new devotion about Peter, which is really good so far!

Tonight, I just can't get a conversation out of my head that Dad and I had about folks who get lost in the details and miss the most important parts. 

This happens a lot with religion. All the different denominations have little details that differ and people get all feisty and very lost in translation, missing the top proprieties.  

Jesus. God the Father sent Jesus, His only Son, to Earth as a baby. The baby lived, grew, worked, made friends and became a great teacher. He lived a perfect life. 100% man. 100% God. He was put to death in the cross, paying for our sins. He was buried and descended to Hell. Three days later, He rose from the dead and His tomb was empty. He now lives back in Heaven with The Lord. 

Because of Jesus living a perfect life, dying and triumphing over death, we have a way to Heaven. No works we do can be enough. The only way is to accept Jesus as the way and believe in His perfect love, life, and resurrection. 

Are there lots of details outside of this? Yeah. But let's make sure the basics are in place before we worry about them. 

Just a quick prayer: Lord, please use this blog as a way to touch someone's life, to open a heart to You and change one person's entire future. Please help us all understand the basics and give You our faith. Thank you for the way You work in our lives. In Jesus' name, Amen

31 Days

Friday, October 11, 2013

31Days-Who knows What Day I'm On

Ohhh y'all, I'm really bad at this one. Like, really bad. And I'm not sure why but my tolerance level has gotten worse instead of better. It's not that I don't like the person, or think they are great. But some things they do make me see red and it's on like Donkey Kong. 

I'm so trying to work in this aspect if life. I totally realize there are many faults being overlooked on my behalf because I'm truly not a very good person. I mean, I like to think I'm good but in reality I'm a very large sinner, a baby Christian trying to find my way in all the wrong places and making large mistakes along the way. 

But the cool thing is with every mistake and every wrong turn, God is carrying me out of the darkness and bringing me back home to him. He is forgiving me of all the hurtful and disappointing moves I've made. 

"But, our God, You are merciful and quick to forgive, You are loving, kind, and very patient. So You never turned away from them."  Nehemiah 9:17

So shouldn't we follow this example and love despite the flaws? 

31 Days

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