Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Lately I've been paying more attention to things around the house and yard, that I enjoy.
I think it's so easy to wake up each day and begin a mental list of everything that needs to be worked on or fixed, so those thoughts needs to be counteracted with things that make you smile when you walk by.
For instance, this pinwheel.
The cost was hardly worth mentioning, but every time I walk by it, I can't help but smile.
I stuck it in the flower bed for our Open House a few weeks ago and it has earned it's keep, way more than I anticipated.
These fresh flowers (who are slowly fading), have really livened up our table. I enjoy seeing them every time I walk by and am contemplating buying more on my weekly grocery trip, just to keep the fun going.
These little gems are a gift from friends. Aren't they adorable? I think they might have intended for me to put them outside, but for now, I have them in the kitchen window so I can look at them regularly.
I snapped this picture yesterday. It's nothing really to look at, but right now, it's a place that I enjoy. This is an old, green table that I've had in the kitchen and now in my office.
I needed a place that was separate from my regular desk, because that's where I work.
But, this little green table is where better things take place, like my early morning Bible reading and some creative writing. I have some of my favorite magazines stacked there, along with a few of my favorite books that I like to have close by.
It's nothing fancy that would catch anyone else's eye, but it makes me smile just thinking about sitting there with a hot cup of coffee and my own thoughts.
And, last but not least, this Ivy. This little plant has grown so much over the months and I treat it like it's royalty.
History will show that I'm not good with plants. I'm not really that much of an outdoor person, so basically I forget they are outside dying of thirst!
However, I went shopping one day, specifically to find an Ivy, because it's the only plant I've ever had a good track record with, so I figured we could be friends.
I found this little starter plant and I am happy to report that it proudly hangs to the floor now and I haven't dehydrated it even once!
If you know me, you know that this is a BIG deal!
My point today is not to show you some random things around the house or my plant that has miraculously lived for months now, but to share something that's been coming to life with me for a while now.......place things in your path that make you smile!
Life is stressful, life is hectic, life is hard and draining at times. But, we can find the joy in little things that may not seem like anything special to someone else's eye, but to us, they make all the difference in how we see things.
It's not hard to do, so maybe you could start today......
Look around you.
Throw away something that stresses you, every time you see it.
Buy a $5.00 bouquet at the grocery store.
Buy a $1.00 pinwheel at Hobby Lobby.
It's not a matter of money.....it's just a matter of seeing something small that can make a big difference.
So....until next time....
Saturday, August 13, 2016
So, I guess the title of this post says something......maybe a Blog Series or Collection of Thoughts of sorts.
For some reason, 50 has been a year of revelation (as I just wrote about in the last post).
Not only have I found my voice in some aspects, but I've discovered something about myself that has (or is in the process of) simplifying my life.
Not surprising to those who know me - I like change. I change my hair, change my furniture, I've even changed cars a time or two.
Living without change is boring.
But, sometimes change can bring about unnecessary stress. Totally self-inflicted, mind you, but stressful all the same.
For instance, I have a cycle with HAIRSTYLES - long, short, bangs, no bangs, curly, straight. It's always been a thing that has driven me crazy and caused a lot of discussion between my husband and I (he likes it long, big surprise).
But, this year, I started looking back at pictures and discovered that the only time I felt like I looked good in pictures, was when my hair was a certain length. I began thinking about some of the women I know that have kept the same hairstyle for years and I wondered why I wasn't like them.
I realized that I've been putting undue stress on myself by going back and forth, when I could clearly see that there was a certain style that fit me best.
So, on some certain day, a few months ago, I made the decision to get my hair cut and vowed that from now on, this would be "my style" - the one that other women, years down the road, would associate with me.
There ya go - simplified!
The second area of simplifying came in the form of LAUNDRY.
Years ago, I tried to get fancy and bought a laundry sorter, which allowed me to divide the clothes into colors, supposedly making it easier to just grab out of one section and throw in the wash.
However, what I found was that it gave me too much room for dirty laundry!
The laundry was piling up (albeit sorted nicely) and I felt like I could never get ahead.
So, true to these revelations that keep coming to me - I woke up one day and decided that what I needed was not some fancy laundry sorter. What I needed was an old fashioned, super simple clothes hamper. One like we had growing up - just a few feet tall, with a lid. One that gets full fairly quickly and therefore, empties pretty quickly.
I made an agreement with myself to do two loads per day and never let the hamper get overflowing with clothes.
I haven't succeeded 100% - some days you just don't have time for laundry - but I would say I'm looking at a 90% success rate, which is good enough for me.
These simplifying revelations are such a welcomed visitor to my life!
I'm discovering that having too many choices does nothing for productivity or decision making; in fact, too many choices just slows you down and leaves you in constant confusion.
I think that's why MINIMIZING has become such a THING.
People are realizing that we don't need 100 choices of meals and laundry sorters. Our hair only really looks good in certain styles and when we find what that is, we should just go with it and put that energy toward something else.
Right now, I'm working on minimizing my menu. I've tried and tried to perfect this area of my life, but I've always tripped over how many good choices there were. Then, when I really started thinking about what we eat on a weekly basis, I realized we like to eat the same meals all the time.
So, why do I stress over making meals new and exciting when my family has their favorites and that's what we like?
Did I mention "self-inflicted"?
I'll be sure and share any MEALTIME revelations, if they develop.
In the meantime, at least I don't have to worry about my hair or my laundry and that sure feels good!
Until Next Time,
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
If someone would have told me, many years ago, that it would take me turning 50 before I would learn to take control of some things, I would have been devastated. I mean it takes a long time to get to 50 years old!
I remember watching the Oprah show, way back when, and her declaring that 50 was her best year ever. Well, in some ways, that may be true for me, as well.
I mean, I turned 50 this year and I've got a granddaughter and a new business. But, not only that, I found my voice in some matters and that's important stuff too!
I've learned that turning 50 means I'm not willing to give in to certain people anymore. A few weeks ago, God gave me a revelation about something I've been dealing with, that really had a hold on me. He lifted the burden off my shoulders and opened my eyes to the fact that I am not responsible for someone else's happiness.
Why in the world would anyone put that burden upon themselves or allow another person to lay that burden on them? That's called crazy!
Are you dealing with this? Can you relate?
Has someone made you feel like you're a slave to their demands? Like you are responsible for filling up their days and making them happy, because they're too lazy to do it for themselves? (This is not about my marriage, by the way!)
That is a heavy burden to carry!
I finally stood up and let my voice be heard. I finally said things that should have been said years ago and I finally made decisions for my own good, not theirs.
Oh my gosh, it felt right and good!
I finally felt free and whole and not torn apart by something that should have never been about me in the first place.
I know this all sounds cryptic and it's a story without a character, but I'm sharing the slim details in case someone else is carrying around the burden of being manipulated by someone else.
Some people are pros at making others feel obligated to them.
Some people thrive on having others take care of their needs, because it gives them the attention they crave so desperately.
Some people always put themselves first, with no regard to the other humans on the planet.
Y'all, let's just call it like it is......manipulation and abuse. Enabling and ridiculous. Selfish and conniving.
If you're in a situation like this - get yourself out.
Of course, there are so many scenarios that I have no way to put enough disclaimers on here, but I'm not advocating divorce or abandoning anyone.
This is not about my marriage, so I'm not speaking to that kind of situation (abuse, etc.)
This is about someone in your life who has a hold on you emotionally, through manipulation or guilt.
This is about you allowing someone in your life to control what you do, in regard to them, because you don't know how to tell them NO.
Well, I'm here to tell you that every time you say YES, when your heart is screaming NO, you are feeding the problem and making it worse.
Stand up for yourself! Quit giving in to manipulation.
If this person is ever going to be healthy, people have to start saying NO to them and allow them to stand on their own and fall on their own. People like this will never pull themselves up because they always have others doing it for them.
I can't tell you how much lighter I feel and the burden that has been lifted. I know that I will have to continue to fight this battle, because this person has had a lifetime of practice in their behavior. But, the freedom is so amazing that I'm not willing to fall into the trap again, so I will stand strong.
If you can relate to any part of this....
If your spirit jumps as you're reading this.....
If just thinking about being free from manipulation has you feeling hopeful....
Please start praying for God to reveal this to you even further! Pray for open eyes and release from this burden.
Pray for strength and wisdom; for the right words and a definite voice to say "NO MORE"!
Think about what you've been giving into and how it has affected your life.
If need be, break your connection and move on.
No one has the right to hold you captive!
Stand up and be free and start protecting yourself from manipulation.
You're never too old to find your voice.
Until Next Time.....
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Have you ever been burned out? I mean absolutely burned out on something that, at just the mention of it, you groan and get this feeling of dread?
That's something I've experienced the past few YEARS and I'm here to tell you how I've handled it and hopefully offer you one tip on what to do when you start experiencing that same feeling.
Are you ready?
Walk away from it.
Yep. That's it. Just walk away.
Now, of course, because we are a society that needs disclaimers and completely spelled out instructions - this does not include your family, home, marriage, or any other vitally important aspect of your life!
I'm talking about things in your life that you've indulged in, pushed yourself in, done too much of, challenged yourself too much, and various other degrees of TOO MUCH.
Blogging would be one of those things, believe it or not and here's why:
Because the blogging world has become insane!
Blogging is hardly about writing from your heart anymore; it's more about LISTEN TO ME BECAUSE I'M AN EXPERT AT EVERYTHING! Or, DO THIS AND YOU'LL BE SUCCESSFUL or so many other DO THIS topics that you barely get to know anyone through blogging anymore, except to know what thing they want to teach you.
And, sometimes you just want to know a little more about the real THEM.
You want to know about their daily life and how they work and live and survive hard times.
You want to know about real life issues and how to survive grief and children and kitchen disasters.
Blogging is rarely about that anymore.
And, I fell into that trap over the years.....more than once.
So, I got burned out and I walked away.
I quit writing and I quit reading blogs (with a few exceptions) and my life is a lot less crowded in the brain region.
And, I haven't regretted it one bit, because now when I come here, it's because I really want to connect, not just teach.
Now when I get that urge to write, I really just miss doing it and miss sharing. Nothing more.
So, even though I'm here less often, just know that I'm really not that far away. I'm just not at the computer as much.
You can still connect with me on Facebook and Instagram, where I'm sharing little snippets of real life and enjoying friends and family who do the same.
I'm out building our business and having a great time of learning and growing and connecting and afterall, isn't that what blogging used to be about?
Take care and see ya soon!
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Hello! I have missed posting here the past few weeks, so I wanted to come in and let you know what's been going on in my life lately.
David and I have been busy working around our land, trying to get ready for a Photography Open House, which we are having in August.
We've invited about 10 local photographers to come and take a look around, hopefully to get a feel for what kind of pictures they could take with clients here.
We're so excited, but right now the work is constant and HOT!
I mean, who lives in Southeast Texas in the summer? A very cold retirement house, somewhere in the Northeast, is looking really good about now!
However, that's not happening, so here we are, mowing, fixing things, building a sidewalk, mowing (lots of mowing in the summer around here) and realizing why some cultures take naps in the middle of the day and work at night!
The great thing is, we are accomplishing things that we have put off for so long!
You know how you put off cleaning something until company is coming and then you frantically go into a cleaning frenzy? Yeah, that's basically what's been going on around here.
In addition to the physical work and upkeep, I've been learning a lot about the business side of things - such as DBA's, invoicing, working on websites, brochures, business cards and marketing.
I love the administrative part of opening a business - all the paperwork and ordering - but the marketing - ehhhhh - not really my thing. Glad I'm married to a Marketing major! That helps a lot!
But, aside from business, we've been keeping our baby Emmy about once a week, which is absolutely the highlight of my days! She's growing so fast and changes right before our eyes, it seems.
Ted and Alex are expecting their second baby in January, so we will be doubly blessed by then!
Collin is about to start an internship and will be starting school as well, which I'm completely not ready for.
"Back to school" is on my list of To-Do's, but not on my mind, just yet. Hopefully by September I will have a better attitude.
I'm writing about once a week over on The White Front Porch, so I would love for you to visit me there and catch up on the progress we're making.
If not, I will still be checking on things around here, as much as I can.
Hope your summer is going great!
Leave me a comment and tell me what you've been up to! I would love to know!
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Well, it's official! I can finally announce our new business adventure - The White Front Porch Photography Venue!
This idea has been stirring in my mind since last year and somehow, it finally started coming together within the past few months and we are super excited!
Over the years, we have heard so many comments about the land and house, so as we were thinking about what we could do during this next phase of life, we decided that using what was right in front of us, would be the best option for us.
The great part of the story is that we are actually meeting a need in our area, for a photography venue!
We are very excited and have already begun booking appointments.
Our prayer is that this would be something we enjoy and that we can bring enjoyment to others as they make memories with their families.
So, there it is - the big news!
You can find all the information on the new website:
The White Front Porch and a blog about the farm.
Look for us on Facebook too!
See you soon!
Sunday, June 26, 2016
A few days ago I wrote about starting a new adventure and what that would entail for my writing here. I want to continue writing here and sharing things that the Lord has placed on my heart. It's what I feel I'm supposed to do with the lessons I'm learning every day.
On the other hand, I'm embarking on a new adventure; one that will surely take some time and attention.
David and I are starting a photography venue here on our little piece of land, called The White Front Porch!
It's just in the planning stages right now, but it's exciting and a little scary and yet, when I think about the possibilities, I squeal with excitement!
I've been busy working with a website designer, gathering ideas, advice, paperwork, business cards and doing other time consuming things that already have me convinced that owning your own business is a busy task!
But, I'm ready!
However, this post is not just a post to introduce you to our new business, it's more of a piece of encouragement for your near future.
David and I have been talking about worry lately. Then our pastor touched on this in a roundabout way and so did our Bible study class, this morning.
When subjects come together in groups like these, I'm always going to give the glory to God for speaking to us in ways we can understand.
Folks......He wants us to lay down the worries!
He's got your future planned out! He really does.
And, in my own life, the way that looks is this:
When I think I'm ready for something, I'm usually not.
When God thinks I'm ready for something, it starts flowing like a natural spring that won't stop!
I'm truly speaking from experience.
There have been times I've stepped out on my own to do something and it didn't take long for me to realize that God wasn't in it.
On the other hand, the things that seem to come out of nowhere and yet, come together in ways that I can't explain......those come from a different place and source; namely God.
I don't know if this is how it works for other people, but for me, I can look back and see the evidence.
We can worry about so many things and most of those things are out of our control.
We can fret over the future; wonder how God will provide, wonder if we'll have enough money, a long lasting job, good health, etc. But, really, we are just worrying away today!
And, to get right down to it, worrying means we don't think God is big enough, strong enough, smart enough, equipped enough or more than enough to handle our situation!
But, the reality is.....God is more than enough!
He knows you need to eat, work, play, sleep, love, be loved, live and rest.
He's counted your days before you were even here and he's made the plans for your future.
You can trust Him!
Things may not happen when you think they should. They may come quicker or they may come later, but they will come when God thinks you're ready.
So keep dreaming and praying and asking, but just hold everything loosely because ultimately, it's God who orders the steps.
would you want it any other way?
Thank you all for reading and checking in and leaving comments and approaching me in church.
I'm so blessed to know that God takes mere words and touches someone's heart with them.
More blessed than you know.
Until Next Time......
Friday, June 10, 2016
So the other day this happened......Emmalyn came over for a little visit and I was transported back to a time when books were new and babies were my world.
That seems like a lifetime ago.
I guess I'm weird compared to others. I don't feel like it was "just yesterday" with my boys. I feel like it's been a very long time that I've spent savoring all the moments; all the memories.
I feel like I've lived every second of their lives and here we are, 23 years later, and I feel the fullness of motherhood.
Now, with this new season called Grandparenting, I get to live out new moments - moments of watching my child be an amazing daddy. Watching my Daughter-in-love be the sweetest spot of comfort and security for her baby.
I get to sit back and watch as David plays the role of PawPaw and basically melts every time he looks at Emmy. And how she smiles and thinks and takes in the wonder of it all.
As Uncle Collin (who's only 17) holds her like she's about to break and Emmy looks at him with curiosity, I can't help but think about how Collin was the baby and this is his first real chance to hold a little one this small. He does better than he thinks and Emmy is just taking it all in. Kids are always drawn to other kids and I see it when she looks at him.
I love the squirming when Banjo (the dog) tries to lick her toes. She's not really fond of it but she doesn't cry. She just looks annoyed, more than anything.
And, when we take her out to see the horses and she actually reaches out her hand, unafraid, yet not too sure, and PawPaw gently helps her pet one. She honestly just thinks on every moment that's new to her.
We often say that we would love to know what she's thinking because it seems so deep, at times.
And then, I lay her on the floor and tell her that we're going to give Millie's arms a rest (that's me), and I turn on her daddy's song on the computer and I watch for a sign of recognition.
The song begins to play and she stops wiggling for 2 seconds - long enough to cock her head and really hear that voice coming through the speakers.
And then it happens.......she says, very softly......"Dada"......and my heart melts and I'm too excited to grab my camera because I'm fascinated. Fascinated that this little 8 month old baby knows her daddy's voice, as much as she knows her mommy's comfort.
It's precious beyond words.
I finally snap out of it and grab my phone and start recording the moment and I manage to capture another sweet second, when you can see by the look on her face and the way she is listening that she knows that voice is his.
And, just like that, I'm heart deep in this baby and the wonder of all that a baby brings.
The newness of life, the thrill of wonder, the moments of discovery and then the sweet cries of wanting the only two people who really matter in her life - mommy and daddy.
And, at that time, I am happy to hand her back to her comforters, because I want her to feel that way about them......for all time.
When they take her in their arms and say her name and her cries stop and her body relaxes, my heart does the same because I know her world is going to be ok.
Babies are amazing and scary and delightful and so many things, wrapped up in such small packages.
Grandparenting is sweet.
I think I'm going to like this season of life.
This is Emmy at the end of her daddy's song. You can see the look of recognition on her face.
Thursday, June 9, 2016
Earlier this week, I found myself experiencing one of those days where the world felt like everyone was passing me by.
Every blog I read seemed better established, every Pinterest board I clicked on seemed magazine ready, every Instagram photo seemed better quality.....basically every woman in the world seemed better than me, at whatever it was that she was doing that day.
And, I felt the sting of all my shortcomings and all the things I want to do, but haven't.
It's not a good place to be.
For some reason, I decided to share my feelings on Instagram, in a moment of just being real with myself and others.
Sometimes you just have to get the words out, in order to feel better.
To my sweet surprise, a friend came along and told me that she had been having those same "inner thoughts" that morning and proceeded to share a scripture with me that changed my way of thinking that day.
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."
Her encouragement was two-fold.
First, that anyone "stopped by" to take time to minister to my heart, was such a blessing. Secondly, I love that she pointed me back to God's word, which is healing in and of itself, so just hearing God's word shared, blessed my heart (as we say in the South).
And, the great thing about what she shared, was that it was exactly what I needed to hear.
You see, as I was scrolling past everyone else's pretty pictures that day, I was feeling like I was missing out, missing my mark, missing my dreams, missing something that I obviously didn't possess.
But, instead of spending time looking at what everyone else was doing or staging or sharing, I should have been thinking about all the things in my life that are worthy and focusing on all the blessings that have been poured into my own life, over the years.
I should have been looking through my own pictures, marveling at the people and places that God has blessed me with.
I should have walked around my own house, thankful for our story and how it all unfolded, right before our eyes.
I should have taken the time to sit with the Lord and let Him feed me and minister to me.
But, instead, I kept scrolling and looking and feeling all the things that the enemy wanted me to feel - defeat, unworthiness, envy - and my mind went to the exact place he wanted it to go.
There's an old hymn called "Count Your Blessings" (name them one by one) and it's so simple, yet so profound.
When we are feeling like everyone else has that "thing" that we don't have, we need to start counting our blessings and naming them one by one.
There is no way, you or I, could stay in a funk, if we are walking room to room, thanking the Lord for all we have and all he has done! No way!
God gives so much and the evidence is all around us, we just have to choose to see it.
But, I don't want to miss the other factor in this story.....being a friend.
I'm so thankful my friend took a moment to write me a little note on Instagram, encouraging me and admitting that she had been struggling too.
Can we all just put down the camera, the selfies, the perfectly staged food, kids, clothes, decorations, and all the other perfectly arranged stuff and take some moments to be real?
We can't be so busy making our lives look Pinterest worthy and yet, neglect those people in our lives who need a word or a kind gesture or a hug or God's word in their day.
We can't keep posting our picture perfect lives (and we all know it's temporary), and keep passing by those who need a human that day.
We need to be more present with people and we need to get back to being real.
We need to spend less time in lala land and more time having lunch with a friend, talking to a neighbor, hosting a get-together or just walking around counting our blessings.
And, we need not neglect those moments when we are on social media and someone needs us.
Take time to be that voice. Be that one person who reaches through the phone or the computer and ministers.
If you're not going to do it in person, at least be present where you are.
I'm so thankful my friend was real with me that day, because she gently prodded me back to reality, which is exactly where I needed to be and it was comforting to know I wasn't alone in my struggle.
But, the flip side to reaching out, is US being real with one another.
We seriously need to stop making our lives out to be some magazine cover!
We need to be truthful about our struggles. Maybe not on social media, but at least talk to people about what we're going through.
I think one of the downfalls of our picture perfect society is making others feel like we're not struggling with something.
This couldn't be farther from the truth!
We are struggling! We are in need of a friend! We aren't all that our pictures show us to be!
We need to get back to just being real.
Real struggles, needing real friends, and needing to know that others are in the trenches too.
Basically, we need each other.
So, today......either be a friend or be real and admit you need a friend.
Either way.....just be real.
Until Next Time.....
Friday, June 3, 2016
I wish I still held some of that enthusiasm these days, but I'll admit, cooking seems more like a chore now, than it did back then.
So, I think that's why I'm always searching for a way to make meal time easier and more interesting.
Besides just wanting a good meal, I want things that are easy and convenient, so I won't be tempted to eat out (which I can 100% blame on myself and no one else).
One solution for curbing my temptation to eat out, is having packets and mixes in the pantry, ready to go. This cuts down on having to think of an entire meal plan and gives me the main dish at my fingertips. All I have to do is add the sides. It also eliminates having to drag out all the ingredients every single time. (Hey, I need to eliminate all the excuses I can!)
So, I found this great blog, Little House Living, and bought her book a few months ago. Inside the book and also on the blog, she offers numerous recipes for homemade mixes, that you can make ahead of time and have on hand for convenience.
I recently spent some time in the kitchen, making up a few packets and testing some of the recipes and let me say - I was pleasantly surprised!
The amount of spices were generous, so everything had a great flavor (I guess I might have been expecting to have to add my own touch, as sometimes recipes tone things down to please the masses).
I made a batch of brownies, amazing muffins and a big pan of homemade hamburger helper. Oh, yum! I could eat all of them again - they were that good!
In the book, as well as on the blog, Merissa offers a wide variety of mixes that you can make ahead and have on hand.
But, in addition to the basic mix, she offers variations on the recipes (mostly add-ins) which means you are actually getting a bunch of recipes in one.
For instance, she offers a basic, sweet muffin mix. I made a batch and added some melted cinnamon butter on top. In the book, she makes suggestions for adding berries or chocolate chips to the mix. I am going to add some coffee one day and make some mocha flavored muffins. Yum!
To the brownie mix, she offers a few suggestions of adding chocolate chips or even jam, which would probably be delicious!
The Hamburger Helper mix was so simple and inexpensive to make and the best part was knowing what my ingredients were! No names of things I cannot pronounce and not the loads of sodium that has to go into store bought boxes.
And, the bonus was......it was so delicious!
I also made a Chicken Helper packet and a jar of Taco Seasoning for my spice rack.
If you dread spending time in the kitchen or even if you love it, these mixes will make your time there so much easier.
Go get the book on Amazon or check out all the recipes on her blog.
You can thank me later :)
Until Next Time.....