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.....
Thursday, June 2, 2016
Does anyone else get their "ah-ha" moments while driving? Maybe it's because that's the one place where I am alone with my own thoughts, without the dogs barking or people sharing their own thoughts with me.
It's where I have some of my best talks with Jesus and some of my greatest moments of sheer joy that He saved me, all those years ago.
So this week, on my way to town, I was listening to a radio show and a woman was talking about being good with whatever God is doing in your life at the moment. No, this is not a new concept; in fact I've written about it many times.
But, for whatever reason, the Lord spoke to me at that moment and showed me something that I needed to see.
He gave me a glimpse of what he has me doing right now; I'm serving him, through serving others.
You see, sometime life is not about us or fulfilling our own dreams and goals.
Sometimes our life is about being available to help others fulfill theirs.
Sometimes our season is about getting someone else where God wants them to go.
Can you get that?
I'm reminded of a friend of mine who told me she was willing to work so her husband could live his dreams, at this time in their lives.
When she said that to me, I was so blessed by her unselfish gift to her husband. It really touched me and inspired me.
Her season of life had changed from one of staying home, to one of working with a purpose.
For someone else's dreams.
I've had two meetings this week, with two different ladies on two very different paths.
One is starting her homeschooling journey and one is starting a blog that she feels inspired to write and they both personally asked for my help.
In my own eyes, I feel only moderately qualified in either area, but the Lord must feel differently.
He must feel that I have something to offer and for that, I'm thankful.
You see.....God is using me and it's such a blessing.
Ladies, I come here each day, hoping to help you in your daily walk of life. Not that anything I say will be so profound or amazing; but hopefully it will be inspiring and yet, normal.
I'm no preacher and I'm not even qualified to be any kind of speaker (and this is no joke! Have you seen the video?)
But, what I am qualified to do is pass on the lessons that the Lord whispers in my ear each day.
Because really, if I kept it all to myself, what good would I be doing?
So my point is, don't begrudge the season of helping others.
The Lord has plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11), but sometimes those plans are for others to be inspired by you, by your walk and your life and your skills.......
just by being YOU.
Just be you.
Until Next Time.....
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
I don't know how breakfast goes around your house, but around here, it's usually a toss up between cereal, pop tarts or the on-the-go-breakfast bar. Not very nutritious or impressive, but this mama doesn't cook a full course meal in the morning.
And, now that summer is here and the kids don't have to wake up at the crack of dawn, breakfast happens at all times of the morning, so it's great to have something prepared that doesn't require a whole lot of effort or time, but still provides a filling breakfast.
Our favorite ready-to-go breakfast is Breakfast Tacos. In fact, if these are in the freezer, the cereal and pop tarts are usually put on hold, until these disappear. And, unfortunately, they disappear all too fast!
The easy way to prepare these is to put them on the menu for dinner one night and just make extra while you're already standing there.
That's actually the easy way to make all of your freezer meals, so you can apply this rule to anything you're having for dinner!
What You'll Need:
1 lb breakfast sausage, browned and drained
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar (about 3/4 of a bag or more if you prefer)
8 eggs, scrambled and seasoned
1 bag frozen tater rounds (like tots, but flat) (or use cubed hashbrowns), baked at 400 for 20-25 min.
Snack sized baggies or plastic wrap (1 per taco)
Brown sausage in a skillet until cooked thoroughly. Drain and set aside.
While sausage is browning, pour potato rounds onto a cookie sheet and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes (until crispy).
While the sausage and potatoes are cooking, crack your eggs into a mixing bowl, whisk, season and set aside.
Once you've removed the sausage from the pan, you can remove the excess oil and use this same pan for scrambling your eggs.
When the eggs are ready, take the sausage (drained) and add it to the pan with the eggs and mix well.
Spoon the egg and sausage mixture into each tortilla and add 3 tater rounds, cheese, and salsa if desired and roll up, burrito style.
Place each taco in a baggie and it's ready for the freezer!
I actually put the individually wrapped tacos into a larger ziploc bag, for extra freezer protection.
I made 20 breakfast tacos for about $10.00, which came to $.50 per taco! That's a huge savings over grabbing one through the drive-thru somewhere.
Once they're frozen, just grab one out of the bag and pop it in the microwave for 1 minute (time may vary according to each microwave).
In the summer, I love having items that Collin can just grab anytime he's looking for a quick meal. This makes it easy on both of us!
Hope you enjoy the tacos!
Until Next Time.....
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
How do you plan out your summer?
Do you look at the next few months and rejoice over the blank spaces on your calendar or do those blank squares give you anxiety?
Is your phone or tablet full of reminders of what comes next or have you cleared everything that resembles work and declared your calendar off limits for the next two months?
I will admit that a big, blank calendar excites me and yet calls me, at the same time.
I love the unscheduled time of not having a school schedule hanging over my head, but I'm also the kind of person that has to have a project going or mama goes a little bonkers!
I'm not a sitter.
To sit and do nothing, for hours, would leave me feeling all kinds of squirmy, which means I am always working on something and when that something is fixed and over with, magically something else will appear. Yes, it's a vicious cycle, but someone's gotta do these things!
But.......I have learned to treat my summers a little differently than the rest of the year, when we are busy with holidays and school.
I've learned to assign one project per week, which gives me a little more breathing room.
In other words, I will look at all the weeks in June and July, and assign a project for that week.
Whether it's reading a book for review or cleaning out clutter, each item gets assigned to it's own week.
The beauty of this kind of scheduling and planning is that I know what my goals are each week, but I'm not bound by any certain schedule on any certain day.
So, for instance, right now I have a book that is due for a review. I've scheduled the review for next week, which leaves me this week to complete the reading portion. I know how many pages I need to complete each day, in order to be finished by the weekend and have my review ready for the blog by next week.
In addition to reading, I've also got a humongous stack of school books and items that need to be sold, so this is on my calendar for this week, as well.
For next week, I will most likely be decluttering one of the many closets that need purging or working on my poor office, which is in desperate need of something. I haven't actually decided which project is bugging me most, but most likely it will be my office, since I have to sit in here each day and I can hardly stand the mess right now.
Every summer I schedule a deep cleaning of Collin's room for the week that he is off to camp. I promised him I wouldn't change anything (like I usually do) this time, but it's definitely time to get rid of some things (and sometimes it's better for mom to do it, because said child is quiet sentimental and agonizes over every decision!)
So, while I don't stress over what project goes where on the calendar, I keep a list of things I want to accomplish over the summer and I choose one, as the weeks come up, according to what else is going on around me.
If the family has some events going on that I need to be a part of, I will choose a project that can be done in little time slots. If the schedule is basically a clean slate one week, I will choose a project that is more involved, so I can accomplish it before the next week rolls around.
The worst thing to do is schedule one of your major projects during a week that will require you to be gone a lot, because you'll pull everything out, and won't have time to put it all back, leaving your house in chaos, which leads to stress, which leads to meltdowns and well.....you get the picture!
So here is a little hint of how to use the summer months to be productive around the house:
1. Go from room to room and write down anything that needs to be worked on or cleaned out.
2. Go ahead and pencil in, on your calendar, any vacation or camp that you know is happening on certain weeks. Also write in VBS or any other dates that are scheduled for a certain time, that require your assistance or presence.
3. Now, look at your list of projects and pencil in the bigger ones on weeks where your calendar is empty and save the smaller ones for your busy weeks. You can also wait and choose your projects each week as it comes up, and avoid having to erase and move things around.
Be flexible about your projects because the last thing you want is to be stressed out all summer!
If you start something and then you get pulled away to do something else that comes up, you can always extend that project into the next week, if time allows.
But, be protective of your time, as well, because everyone else's "emergencies" can all of a sudden become yours, if you don't know how to say NO!
It's been proven that we function better when our homes are in order, so while you want to be open to things the Lord might bring your way, don't get pulled into other people's lack of planning or other's "urgent needs", just because that's how they function.
And believe me.....this will happen!
Leave some wiggle room in your week, but be intentional about how you manage your time, as well.
You don't want to look back, at the end of the summer, and wonder where all the time went and why you didn't get anything accomplished.
You really don't.
The truth is, we were created to work and we feel better about ourselves when we accomplish tasks.
Even if you are spending your days and weeks teaching your kids new skills or teaching them how to enjoy life, you are still accomplishing something important, so schedule that kind of time too.
My point being, that summer is like an open book, waiting to be written by you. Fill up the pages with things you'll be proud of and things that will enrich your life.
At the end of the season you will be able to look back and say you lived your summer well and not have any regrets.
Until Next Time......