Wednesday, January 28, 2015

These Trees - Then and Now


I took a walk around our property yesterday and looked up just in time to see the sun peeking between these trees.....these very tall trees.

As I look at these tall pines, I'm reminded of a trip I took with my family, when I was probably around 14 or 15.  

Growing up in the Hill Country, I had never seen trees as tall as Pines.  I was used to Oaks, Cedar, Mesquite, and other types and though they could be massive and mighty, they were never gigantic like Pines.

So, I remember traveling down the highway, looking out the window and feeling like I was enclosed in a forest!   The trees lined both sides of the roads, for miles and miles.   Little did I know, we had entered into the Piney Woods area, with actual forests all around.

They fascinated me and I never forgot those amazing trees, although I had no idea where they were, once I got back home.   Obviously, I was directionally challenged!

Fast forward 8 years and I meet my future husband.   He tells me where he lives and after a few months of dating, I go to visit him in his hometown and whatdoyaknow?

There were the trees!

Tall and majestic; just like I remembered!

Now I live among these trees and they still take my breath away with their size.

I guess that was God, giving me a little glimpse of my future.

I think that's pretty cool.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I Want To Go Home


The past week has been a strange string of days.

Stress about work, stress about school, stress about illness, stress about upcoming events and responsibilities.  Lots of stress.

It all bundled up into a big ball and met me as I lied down to go to sleep last night.

I wanted to be done.

I wanted to get up from my cozy pillow and sit at this desk and write to anyone and everyone and tell them that I'm done.   I'm off.   I'm not coming, not showing up, not doing anything but retreating back into my comfortable little box and hibernating until the world gets quiet again.

Thankfully I fell asleep instead.

Home is my safe place.   It's where I create and work and make others feel safe and welcomed and find my rest.

Last week, before everything got crazy, I set aside a day to focus just on my little home.

I put on my old jeans and a t-shirt and my sole purpose that day was to love on my home.

I scrubbed and cleaned, threw out old things, polished the new, rearranged some items and thoroughly enjoyed pampering my little farm house.

It felt good to get back to the basics.

That's what I need today, but it's not going to happen unless I squeeze it in sometime between this and that and going here and there.

This makes me crazy and crave the stillness and the joy of just being at home.

The funny thing is.....I don't work outside the home.   These are all things that have come up, that other people have created for me to do and some I have asked for.

Why do we humans think we have to do it all?   Then we cry out to the Lord to fix our messes.

So, this week I will finish my duties, show up for my responsibilities, please those who need to be pleased.......

But next week, I want to go home.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Review - Still Life by Christa Parrish



Still Life by Christa Parrish has just melted my heart!

It is literally one of the best books I've ever read!

This book would have to be described as hauntingly beautiful.

Mrs. Parrish uses a style that I found very appealing, by making the two main characters so vastly different from one another, and alternating their stories from chapter to chapter.

Katherine - the modern day wife, who lives with shame and guilt and Ada - the innocent child-bride who is brought into the modern world because God told her husband to marry her.

Tragedy strikes both of their lives when Ada's photographer husband, Julian, dies in a plane crash - in a seat that was actually meant for Katherine.

This is a story of unconditional love, forgiveness, friendship, bravery, new beginnings and closure.

I know that I have found a new author to be inspired by!  I'm looking forward to reading more of Mrs. Parrish's work in the very near future!


***I was given this book in exchange for my honest review.   No other compensation has been received.    Thank you BookLook for great books!**

Hard Questions


Sometimes you have to ask the hard questions.

Hard questions don't find pleasure or smiling faces waiting on the other side.   They usually find anger and pride and back-up-against-the-wall kind of responses.

But, they need to be asked at times.

Hard questions are only looking for one thing - TRUTH.

Why is truth so hard?

Why is communication so hard?

Hard questions peel back layers that weren't meant to be seen or discovered.

The answers come in layers too.   First, reluctant, then hesitant, then they angrily release piece by piece, until full blown madness prevails and giver and recipient feel no satisfaction at all.

But, at least truth is freeing.   At least with truth, one can begin to move on; move forward.

Yes, sometimes hard questions need to be asked.

And only the brave will ask them.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Do Something Brave!


My Passion Planner accompanied by my latest purchase from Sara at The Rosy Life.

Wow!  What a week!  It's amazing how you can start your week with plans and expectations and end the week having done things you never thought you would do and that were certainly NOT on your to-do list!

First of all, I was waiting on a special item to come in the mail this week.  Actually, I've been waiting on it since November.    This item......the Passion Planner.   It's an awesome planner for 2015 that helps you map out goals, plans, steps to those plans, and your daily life.   Because it was a kickstarter project, the orders were huge and the wait was long!  But, regardless, I finally got mine and began to use it by Wednesday.

One of my goals was to start exercising on a daily basis.   Not a resolution - just a goal.   Little did I know that by the end of the week, that exercise would actually become a requirement - not just a goal written in my planner.

I have been having some neck and back pain and it was starting to affect my right arm with numbness.   For some reason, the pain was relatively bearable, but my arm was just annoying and getting more worrisome by the day.

I'm not a go-to-the-doctor kind of person, so I've put off going, thinking I could somehow fix this myself (had no idea how) which was just dumb.

But, by the end of this week, I realized it could be serious and I needed to just grow up and get brave!

So, I called a friend who has had a lot of back problems and got her advice and the name of her chiropractor.

Then I got brave and made an appointment.

So, by Thursday, I was sitting in the chiropractor's office explaining my problem and feeling really stupid when telling him how long I had been letting this go on.   Thankfully, he was a very gracious man and didn't agree with my stupidity!

He took some x-rays and told me to come back the next day to discuss any treatment I might need.

So Friday I headed back to his office and was feeling a bit nervous.  God showed up in my radio though, and gave me some great reassurance on the way there, so I was feeling pretty confident when I made it to his office.    I could do this!

All in all, the results were not horrible and I was definitely a candidate for being fixable.  Yay!

Basically the muscles around my lower back and neck are tight (can you say stress and worry?) and need to be loosened because they are putting pressure on my spine.    This is causing other problems with bones and such and it can all be fixed with much stretching and then some adjusting.

Oh boy!

So, now......my "goal" of exercise just went up a thousand notches to a "requirement" about an hour a day!

Isn't it funny how God has a way of getting you to do something?

I really think I should listen a little better!

He's done this to me before, when I needed to pay attention to my cholesterol.   He got my attention then too.

To which I am very and extremely thankful!

So, in my handy dandy Passion Planner, I have written (in ink) my daily stretching hour and will be doing this, starting today.

Oh, and one other thing......
I get to write down the word BRAVE in there, as well, because I was BRAVE this week and did something I really didn't want to do.   I'm proud of me.

What about YOU?

Have you been putting off something, because you're just not feeling BRAVE right now?

I encourage you to just do it anyway.

Then you can document how brave you were and it can spur you on to do that next thing you need to do!

You can do it!  I believe you can!

Now, I'm off to do my stretching......






Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Book Review - Inseparable by Ashley Linne



I'm such a book lover that, when I have to give anything less than a positive review, it makes me a little sad.

However, I'm reviewing in exchange for "an honest review" so that is what I am bound to give.

Inseparable by Ashley Linne is not an unlikable Bible Study, however, it does not appeal to my personal style of what I like in a study format.

A study based on the book of Romans, Inseparable has some great insight into our identity in Christ.  I actually gained some great pieces of wisdom from the first few chapters.

The problem arises in the format of the book, which is not the typical Bible Study style, such as having a passage or small devotional writing, then question and answer spaces.

Inseparable is written in more of a novel design, with long stories mixed with scripture passages, which take up most of the chapter.  Toward the end of the chapters, the author has provided space for notes, prayers, observations and reflections, which is what I normally want placed methodically throughout the passages.

In my opinion, the format is just not broken down into bite sized (or daily) pieces the way I prefer, but that in no way, means the content is not of great value.

All in all, Inseparable will be a great study for someone who can make their way through more of a book format, rather than a daily Bible Study.


***I was given this book in exchange for an honest review.  No other compensation was provided.   Thanks BookLook for this opportunity!***

Monday, January 19, 2015

Little Boys Do Grow Up



Little boys do grow up.

First they play with Tonka trucks,
 then they move on to Hot Wheels, 
then they want to ride their bike, 
then they ask to drive the tractor, 
then they volunteer to mow with the cool, new mower, 
then the next thing you know......

they get their permit and they are asking to drive everywhere and you feel like you're going to lose your mind and your sanity and your tears, all at the same time.

Can it really be that time again?

That time in a parent's life when you have to start letting out the rope a little more than you're ready for.

That time when you have to lean on God to watch over your child, because they are about to venture out into the world on their own.......at least for a few hours.

Yes.....we are there.....again.

And, yes, it's really true......

Little boys do grow up.





Thursday, January 15, 2015

War On Debt - Groceries




So, I was thinking that I needed to update our progress on the War on Debt that we've been working on and I'm happy to say......it's going great!

I'm pretty sure I said this in one of the previous posts, but it merits repeating, so here goes......different people speak to you in different ways.

What does that have to do with debt?

Well, it doesn't just apply to debt.  It can actually apply to any kind of teaching, be it a class you're taking or someone you go to for advice.   It can even mean a doctor or a pastor.  Different styles, different approaches, methods, systems - whatever you want to call it - everyone has their thing that will be effective in teaching someone else.   You just have to find that person that appeals to YOU!

So.....all that to say that Dani Johnson has a style that totally appeals to me and therefore, I'm learning from what she has to say.

She is straight forward and takes no excuses, but everything she teaches is backed by scripture, which makes all the difference.

My point being that you should check her out online, buy her books, put her cd in your car and invite your friends over to do the same!   She will enrich your knowledge of how to spend, save, give, and even how to deal with people from a godly standpoint.  

And, she laughs a lot, so what's not to like?

ANYWAY.........

So, one of the areas in our budget we are trying to reduce, is the area of FOOD.  

In the past, it was an area where I would not cut back, as far as "beans and rice" as Dave Ramsey always says.    I would cut back in other areas, but when it came to groceries, I pretty much just went to the store and bought whatever we wanted.   

However, since listening to Dani Johnson's view on food, I've realized that it's a waste to pile up food and I could be so much more efficient if I would buy smaller amounts and eat intentionally, instead of finding comfort in a full fridge and full pantry - just for the sake of having stuff.


This is a picture of my grocery trip this week.   I was shooting for $75.00 and walked out having spent $71.00!  Pretty good, huh?   I only bought what I needed to replenish and nothing extra.  
The secret is that I took inventory of what I already had, before ever stepping foot in the store.

Normally I would make out a tentative meal plan, make out a list, then get to the store and end up buying all of that, plus anything else that I thought we could use.   Sometimes I would buy meat, even when I already had meat at home.   Sometimes I would stock the pantry, just "in case" I needed it later.   

Not that stocking up is a bad thing and it definitely has it's place in the kitchen.

However, if I'm planning on going back each week anyway, it's much easier to plan on a smaller scale and actually use up what I already have on hand, than having an over abundance of food and continuing to buy more and more.

By taking inventory each week (the night before my shopping day), I can then spend money on what we actually need for the next week, leaving the rest free to pay off debt or go to another area of the budget that is also in need.  

This definitely isn't rocket science!

Budgeting in the food category is not anything you haven't heard before, but the way Dani teaches the concept of hoarding food "just because you have the money" is new to me and it makes perfect sense in my mind.

Let's face it......we like stuff.... and food is no exception!

We hoard in other areas of life as well.......just look around your home and you will see that it's true!

So, this week, before you step foot in the grocery store, ask yourself what you need to replenish a week's worth of food for your family.   

I doubt it will be as much as you think, if you've been stocking up.

Take inventory, make a list, and take your calculator to the store with you.   I used my phone and each item that went into the basket was added to my running total and kept me on track.  

The cool thing about keeping a smaller amount of food on hand, is that I am not throwing away wasted food.    We tend to be using everything all the way to the end, even if it's just one portion and someone eats it the next day.   

Not having a crowded fridge and pantry allows me to quickly see what our needs are and keep a running list of what to buy on the next trip (which is only once a week).  

Like I said, this isn't hard and it isn't brilliant, it's just what is working for us, so it's AWESOME!

Let me know if this is how you shop or if you have other secrets to saving on groceries.   I would love to hear how you save (without coupons) in the category of food. 

Happy shopping!





Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Bloom Where You're Planted


One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in Genesis 13:14, where Abram and Lot separate and Abram is left standing on the land that Lot didn't want.  

The Lord spoke to Abram and said, "Lift up your eyes from where you are......." then proceeds to tell him of all the promises Abram has to look forward to; promises of land and offspring - too numerous to number.



I've always loved that passage because it speaks to me of  blooming where you're planted, as the saying goes.

In other words, so many times in my life, I've wanted to get to that place of the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect circumstance - in order to feel I was where I needed to be.  

In fact, if that were me standing on the land that I gained by forfeit, I would have most likely been pouting that Lot chose the best and gave me the leftovers!

But, God doesn't need the perfect scenario in order to bless you, prosper you, grow you and take you to the next place on your journey.



All He needs is for you to trust Him and bloom where he has you, in the moment.



If you have any ambition at all, then your mind is always thinking about doing more or having more or experiencing more and there is really nothing wrong with those dreams.

However, if the dreams of "better" leave you constantly pining away and therefore, you aren't really living out your best life with what God has already provided for you......well, do you see the problem here?

Abram could have voiced his disappointment over the land he had been given.   He could have made excuses about how now he wouldn't have the best land for crops or livestock or to build his house.

But, he trusted God to bless him, right where he was and by being satisfied in God's provision, he gained so much in return.

Sometimes God doesn't lavish us with great lands, tons of money, the perfect job or house, the best friends, or even an easy family, because he's trying to teach us something.

He's trying to teach us to be faithful in the little things.

Luke 16:10 says, "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much...."

When we can praise God for the exact thing he has given us, at this very moment, then we will be counted trustworthy.

Have dreams, have goals, have ambition.......

But, more than that.......at this very moment in time........




Bloom where you're planted!

Then God will see your faithfulness and begin to add more to your journey for Him.


Monday, January 12, 2015

A Saturday Adventure

 

Saturdays are always a toss up......work or have fun?  So, when I found out that a local store would be having a moving sale, I debated getting up early to go on a cold Saturday morning, but I'm glad I did and I'm glad I drug my husband along with me!

We had a great day!



I love that our new truck has the perfect spot for David's hat.  


We got to the store just a few minutes before she was supposed to open and of course, she had opened the doors early (I was afraid she would).   She had previewed a few items online and I had my eye on one thing specific that I wanted and thankfully, all the early birds were looking for other things, so it was still there when we arrived.

This is why we drove 40 minutes up the road ......(Ignore goofy photo bomber)



This picket fence section!

Have I mentioned I love picket fences?  Who doesn't?   Seriously.....

It was still there, so we grabbed it up first thing!   It will be used to beautify an ugly part of my yard....when it gets warm enough to work outside.

Then I found this......


for $5.00!!!!!!!!   That's FIVE dollars!   So, yes, I grabbed that too!

Brought it home and now it's in my office looking like this.......


Oh my gosh, I love it!

But, anyway, back to our adventure......

David and I wanted to grab some lunch at our favorite BBQ place on the way home, but it was still early so we needed to kill some time.

We decided to drive around and look at some old neighborhoods where people that we know used to live.

We came upon this one friend's property and I loved it, so I snapped some pictures......





A little lake property tucked into a neighborhood.   I was so happy we stopped here.


Well, we moved on to the BBQ shop and loaded up on food to go.  

The rest of the day was spent working around the house and enjoying some movies.   Not much else  you can do when it's rainy and cold.

I'm glad we chose to take a little drive that day and opted for some fun.

Even the little moments of junk, lakes, and good food can give you that boost you need to take on another week.

I hope you had a Saturday adventure!  If not, why don't you plan one soon?