Thursday, September 29, 2016
This week has surely found us in the heart of Fall - at least in decorations - if not the weather.
It's still not cool, but it is definitely cooler and we'll take all we can get in Texas!
We've had a great beginning to our Fall photo venue lineup!
Sunday we had a big family gather here to take a family picture and have a reunion of sorts. They came from towns that were 2 and 3 hours away, just to meet up with cousins, grandparents and siblings, for a big family photo.
We were so delighted that they would choose our place to make those memories!
That same evening, we had a special photo shoot for a little girl who wanted to take her picture with a unicorn. Her mom made the "outfit" for the horse and David did the honor of dressing the horse.
I haven't seen the final pictures, but I think the little girl will be pleased with her time with the unicorn
On Tuesday, my daughter-in-love, Alex, came over with Emmy and we had a great day of visiting and relaxing, while being entertained by this precious baby, who is now walking.
We took her outside that afternoon and tried to get some pictures of her with all the Fall decor.
We had a great laugh at trying to put little boots on her feet. She was not having it, so we finally gave up (after much laughter).
She wasn't too fond of the hay, but she was "ok" with the pumpkins and flowers.
We've got a busy lineup for the month of October, combined with just the regular events of family.
I look at my calendar and have two thoughts: Wow! We're busy! and Wow! We're blessed!
I guess it's all a matter of how you look at things.
Are you busy or blessed or both?
Have a great week!
Until Next Time.....
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
So today the thought hit me....what if I quit reading all of those great books that are on my shelf?
What if.....for an allotted amount of time, I didn't pick up a self-help book?
What if ......I didn't place someone else's experience above my own?
What if.....I didn't seek guidance or wisdom from one of those "professionals" and I just followed my own instincts?
What if.....I quit subscribing to all the expert emails, websites and blogs and I merely spoke to friends or family or even acquaintances who have lived their lives fully or who are still on their journey?
What if.....for a while, I quit basing my friendships off social media? How many "friends" would I really have?
What if.....I didn't feel the need to "share" every little detail of my life online, but instead turned to my people?
What if we took a walk or had coffee or what if we all just enjoyed the quiet for a while?
What if....my only source of advice and wisdom came from God's word?
What if....I believed all that God said about me and I based my confidence off that love?
What if....I quit comparing myself to others and just gave myself permission to be ME and gave you freedom to be YOU?
Would I have more freedom to just be who God is shaping me to be?
I think the answer is a huge YES.
What if....we all just quit searching and just lived in that freedom?
Friday, September 16, 2016
Mornings are my favorite.
I love the quiet and the day shifting from dark to light.
I love that everything is waking up and the promise of a new day.
Morning is when I do my best work - my most creative thoughts, my heartfelt prayers - they all seem to be right there, waiting for permission to be turned loose, whether on keyboard or paper.
It's when I sit, coffee in hand, reading and gleaning and discovering what others have to say. Blogs and books and devotions - all a part of my week, at one time or another.
This morning my companion was a beautiful magazine, in my favorite chair. Heartfelt stories, gorgeous pictures and a few questions here and there, about my dreams, your dreams and saying "yes" more.
There was a phrase....."makes your heart flutter" that caught my attention.
So I indulged the author for a moment and thought about what makes my heart flutter and composed a short list.....
These things make my heart flutter:
My husband in a suit.
My granddaughter's smile.
My sons and their musical gifts.
My daughter-in-love's sweetness.
A really good song.
The dream of seeing my words in print.
An amazing photo.
Stacks of books.
Late night TV with my husband.
A room full of guitars and voices.
The first cool front.
By far, this list is not complete, but it's something to start with.
The truth is, I need to focus on these things more and on worries, less.
I need to notice things that make my heart flutter. I should be looking for these things, all the time.
Because in noticing these little things and feeling my heart flutter, I feel alive and by all means, this is what keeps us going.
The simple and normal things, mixed with a little bit of dreaming.
These are the things that make my heart flutter.
What makes your heart flutter?
Go on - give it a try.
Until Next Time.....
Thursday, September 15, 2016
For as many years as I can remember, David has talked about wanting a garden. His grandfather had a garden here, when David was little and David gained his love of "greens" from the food his grandmother would fix, straight from the land.
I, on the other hand, didn't even know what a "green" was until I moved here and I can proudly say, I've still never eaten one!
But nevertheless, David has talked about having his own garden and this year he finally put in the work and carved out a little space all his own, in the hopes that fresh veggies would miraculously pop up out of the ground.
And they did.....sort of.
Gardening is a lot like life..... you sow the seeds and hopefully you will reap the goods, when the time is right.
But gardening is not easy and there are things that have to be tended to, like weeds and water and bugs and things that could potentially ruin all of your hard work and keep you from reaping the reward.
Life is like that too.
You have ideas and dreams and goals, but they take work.
You have to sow and tend and separate the weeds from the goods and give things room to grow. You have to nurture and study and learn and watch and gain wisdom you never knew you needed and it's all a risk you're willing to take, in order to get the prize.
And sometimes you start out with only small rewards, so you're faced with the question of whether to keep going or give up.
Is the small beginning worth more hard work?
Is the small reward worth trying again?
I think it is.
Your end result may not have been the big prize you dreamed it would be, but you grew something!
You nurtured something, did something, tried something and in the end, even if just a small token....you were rewarded.
Because a small start is better than no start!
Because a small effort gets you farther down the road than no effort.
Because starting small is better than never starting at all.
Are you contemplating starting something?
Is there something you want to try, but you keep talking yourself out of it because you don't really have enough faith that it will turn out the way you want?
The truth of the matter is that you'll never know and you'll never reap anything, if you don't even take the first step.
Whatever it is - go ahead and try it today!
Starting small is better than not starting at all and you just might grow something small into something great!
Until Next Time.....
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Oftentimes, when you follow bloggers or writers, you will notice them talking about feeling vulnerable and how hard it is to let yourself be seen. I have to echo that sentiment......it is not easy! For those who think deeply and want to share their heart with the world, it can be scary and uncomfortable and many times, we duck and hide and tell ourselves that no one wants to hear what we have to say.
I've been writing all my life, but blogging is one of those platforms that can open up new avenues for you or it can stifle your authenticity because you're so "out there" for all to see and it's uncomfortable.
Some of us come and go - writing from our deep passion and then disappear behind the screen for awhile, in order to catch our breath and discuss with ourselves why we do this, day after day - the putting our personal thoughts and feelings down for everyone to see.
We look around and admire those who seem to type and publish without a visible care in the world and wonder what makes them different. My guess is that they struggle too - in secret - but maybe not.
Maybe they believe in themselves more.
Maybe they have thicker skin.
Maybe they are the kind who don't care what others think.
Recently, I was sitting in a youth service at church. I went there to see my son play guitar, not really expecting to receive a personal message that night.
A young lady, just graduated from high school, spoke about finding our purpose and how the real question is not about searching for what God wants us to do, but just simply searching for God and knowing what His purpose is and in searching for that, we will find our own.
Then the youth pastor spoke about "obedience over embarrassment" and that phrase caught me right in the heart.
How many times have I chosen embarrassment over obedience? Too many to count, I would guess!
But, in that moment, I felt God speaking to me and reminding me of this gift he's given me and pushing me forward to do this thing that he's commissioned me to do, which is write from my heart and point everything toward Him.
I'm rusty at it, I'll admit.
It used to come so natural and then I got sucked up into the world of short sentences and snippets and social media that doesn't amount to much.
I lost my way and it showed in my writing.
Gone were the pieces of encouragement and devotions that move me like no other.
Gone were the posts that felt spirit-led and hopeful.
And, gone was my passion for writing.
Because, you see, writing is about something on the inside coming to the surface.
Writing is about sharing a piece of your heart, your self, with those you want to reach.
Writing isn't just words on paper......it's so much more than that.
Writing is what God has given me to do and it has a purpose - to glorify Him.
Writing is what helps me stay close to the Lord, because I never want to point someone else toward Him, without pointing myself there first.
So, that night at church, I knew I needed to go home and pray about my direction, my writing, and this blog.
I knew, without doubt, that this was the circle that God had placed me in and it's where I'm meant to share those things that I'm learning from Him.
I don't know the audience or anyone specific who needs it, but He does and I have to trust that He will draw them to these messages, just as he drew me to Himself, years ago.
God can do that, you know.
The beautiful thing about just being obedient is knowing that God will bless it.
Embarrassing or not, vulnerable or not.....it's the right thing to do.....for me.
So, today, I encourage you - seek Him.
Instead of searching for your purpose and getting lost in a world of possibilities, just search for Him.
Because in finding Him, you will discover all that He created you to be.
And I mean that, from the bottom of my heart......all the way to yours.
Until Next Time.....
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
I recently finished Ruth Soukup's book, Unstuffed and while I thought I was getting a book about decluttering, she actually adds so much more into these pages; turning a decluttering book into some great life lessons.
Ruth does start out by sharing the detriments of too much stuff and the toil it takes on our homes; reminding us that there is really no victory in decluttering if there continues to be a constant flow of new stuff coming in.
She offers tips on how to clean, declutter and even how to handle unwanted gifts at Christmastime and birthdays.
But then Ruth begins to offer her best advice on decluttering other areas of our lives, such as our schedule, our inherited goods, friends, our minds and our spirit.
Not only does she walk us through the process of paring down our stuff, but she walks us through paring down relationships that bring us stress. She shares her own stories of friendships - those that were deep and those that were toxic - and how to hold on to one and get rid of the other.
She helps identify stress triggers and how to slow down and rid your mind of things you have no control over.
But, the biggest surprise comes at the end of the book when Ruth gets very personal about her own life and how she went from being very dark and in need of help, to finding hope in God's grace.
This book is an easy read and will bless you across the board, in many areas.
*I was given this book by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.*
If you would like to review books for FREE, click on the box on the sidebar of this blog and sign up for your own BookLook account.
Thursday, September 1, 2016
So, back in May I wrote about the experience of getting braces at the age of 50. You can barely see them here in this picture - that is, if you can stop looking at my adorable Emmy for a few seconds!
Let me be honest and tell you that I've hated every second of having braces on my teeth!
With every bite of food, every meal in front of other people, every type of food that I was afraid to bite into (or couldn't), every fear that I would break a wire and every time my granddaughter would look at me and see silver teeth......I cringed and hated my braces even more.
It wasn't the pain (although the first few weeks were tough), but it was more the humiliation of hearing people say "Wow! You're brave to have braces at your age!" (That isn't a compliment, by the way!)
I had trouble talking and singing in church. Suddenly, I had a lisp!
My mouth was always being poked and stuck by brackets and wires and I even had a spring pop one morning while I was eating breakfast.
Then there was the humiliation and annoyance of not being able to eat in front of people. Eating became a real chore, complete with running to the bathroom to rinse all the food out of my braces before talking with anyone.
Recently, at a business dinner with a group of women I was just meeting for the first time, we were asked to introduce ourselves and talk about our business. I had been sitting across from two of my very good friends, eating chips and salsa, not thinking about the possibility that I would have to address the entire table of strangers. I'm pretty sure I talked with my hand in front of my mouth the entire time. Who knows if they even heard a word I said!
Funny enough, having braces opened my eyes to several things that I had taken for granted before, such as the fact that getting one piece of pepper stuck in one certain tooth is nothing compared to having a mouth full of food stuck under your wires!
Also enlightening was how ridiculous I was to never want my picture taken - pre-braces- due to maybe my hair not being perfect or my weight or various other aspects of my 50-year old self not being what I thought it should be.
Then I got a mouth full of metal! At the age of 50!
All of a sudden, things that I used to worry about and criticize about myself, seemed so insignificant and small!
All of a sudden, I would gladly take a picture with my family - if only my teeth weren't being held hostage by wires and brackets!
It's funny how it takes something extreme to make you appreciate what you already had.
When I thought about whether or not I could really do this for 24 months, I decided that I couldn't.
When I weighed the pros and cons; the things I could live with and the things I could not, I decided that having perfect teeth wasn't worth 24 months out of my life - at this age.
Maybe when I was much younger.
Maybe when I had peers that were in the same stage of life.
Maybe when I didn't have a baby girl staring at my silver teeth for the first two years of her life!
Little things, maybe, but to me they were huge!
And so....today I had my braces removed and it was something akin to getting out of prison (not that I would know, but I can imagine), at least for my teeth!
I have smiled more today than I have in the last three months!
I would take selfies, if only I knew how!
I ate a salad for lunch and nothing green lingered and I didn't have to whip out the flossing sticks at the table!
I feel normal again.
I feel human again.
I feel free from bondage.
Yes, this is dramatic and yes, maybe too much information, but you never know when someone 50 or over is contemplating taking their teeth hostage and I want them to know the truth, because the truth will set you free......at least your teeth will be free!
And, that is a big deal....when you're 50!
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Well, here we are, one more day before my last year of homeschooling. I've got mixed emotions, as you might imagine. Part of me is in disbelief that I have successfully graduated (almost) two children from homeschooling and part of me is wondering how I'll fill my days once this is over.
I will definitely be asking for my grandbabies to come and let me teach them, when the time comes!
I can't imagine not teaching - even by default. It's something I've done since my earliest memories of wanting to write on the chalkboard.
But, I'm also looking forward to a little free time to pursue other interests.
When God called me to start educating my oldest son, He also called me to lay down my own pursuits of women's Bible studies, teaching and attending. I had to squelch my endless desire to get together with friends over coffee and grown up conversation (unless it involved kids and a play date) and I spent nearly every Sunday evening writing out lesson plans.
My Springs were filled with the endless pursuit of curriculum and my Summers were filled with endless hours pouring over books and research and going to conferences.
To say I've been a working woman is an understatement!
Homeschool moms are some of the hardest, most research savvy women I know!
They should seriously hand out degrees for the moms, when they graduate their kids.
But, when our days are done, having spent so much time with our kids, we are left with a feeling of what to do, where to go, and feeling a little bit out of place.
I'm so thankful that I've got a business and grandkids to focus on for the future. I think they all came at the perfect time! God is good that way, isn't he?
But, what's never changed, is my love for my home and taking care of my family.
I think that's why I could homeschool for 20 years and not go crazy! I have always loved being at home and God gave me the perfect job for being right where I wanted to be.
So, tomorrow I will put on my Teacher hat once again, print out schedules and lessons and poke and prod my teenage boy to get out of bed.
I will make lunch, do laundry, answer calls, have coffee with my husband, work on household things and business things - all the while, listening to Collin tell me about his school work and helping him navigate his time.
I might squeeze in 30 minutes of reading my book and sitting for a bit, before getting up to start supper.
It will be a typical day in the life of a homeschool household - wearing all the hats, all at one time.
But, I will wear my Teacher hat with pride, all the while knowing that it has made all the difference in our lives.
One more official year of teaching and then retirement, but until then, I'm just going to enjoy the chaos a little longer.
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,