Tuesday, July 25, 2017

P365 Reboot

My Dad passed away July 2, 2016, and since then, the only writing I have done is in my journal. I haven't felt like expressing myself on a public platform.  However, after the first anniversary of his death, I've been feeling down and unmotivated. After googling, second year of grief, it seems common to have a "what now?" phase. It was acceptable to be caught up in grief during the first year, getting through each "first," but the second year you realize your loved one is truly gone and you have to make new memories, find a new path. It's sad.

I was uploading photos from my phone to my computer and realized I am enjoying life and making memories, but I'm struggling to recognize the beauty and vitality of life right now. Make sense? So I thought I'd reboot the P365 - where I take a picture each day and share it with you. Maybe that would help me see the blessings that surround me each day. What do you say? Want to help me enjoy life again?

Hope you enjoy the pictures...

 peonies from Trader Joes - divine!
Can you smell them? Mmmm

 yummy classic!

pecan toffee from Charleston - a gift for Mark (and me!)

looking forward to a new study

I read a sweet article in Magnolia Journal
and purchased some Alabama Sweet Tea

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Quilty Peek and An Amazing Sermon

I have thought about you, my blog readers, several times over the last few days. I have a yearning to write, to share my life, although I often worry about over-sharing and/or grammar.  Many issues hold me back from sharing, some right, some not-so-right, but when I do share it fulfills a need within me. I just love making connections through the written word.

I have had a great weekend! What a blessing to have a few quiet days while my girls were away. It truly filled my empty tank and I'm ready to face August and get some things done. It's just what I needed.

I spent the last four days working on this

It's a queen-size quilt I had hoped to make for my daughter and son-in-law for their wedding five years ago. Yes, five!  Over the past 4 days I pieced the top. I now have to add borders and a backing and then it will be sent away to be professionally quilted. I would love to show you the whole thing; it's pretty spectacular, but I don't want Ashley to see it until it's complete so a corner is all I can show you. I hate keeping secrets!!  It's one of those projects I can't even believe I've accomplished! Very fulfilling.

While I was working on the quilt, I listened to a message by Matt Chandler on YouTube.   He preached a message in 2014 entitled, "Motivations for Obedience." If you have the time to listen to it, click the link on the message title.  This message was timely in it's application for me.

The gist of the sermon is that our primary motivation to obey the Lord should be our love for Him. He then gave points and an illustration that went something like this.

So what keeps me from cheating on my wife? You would hope I would say that I love her so much I would never cheat on her. But if you’ve been married for any length of time, you know that your feelings of love can wax and wane. You may not always feel in love with her and you may be tempted by another woman. However, there are secondary motivations that keep me from cheating on my wife, as well. I only have a Master’s of Divinity degree which isn’t too valuable in the business world so if I cheated on my wife, I would also be out of a job. That’s somewhat motivating, but other men have given into temptation and were willing to throw away their jobs. 

I also have three children. If I cheated on my wife, it would potentially destroy my children’s lives. They would have issues for decades and probably have trouble in their own relationships when they became adults. I don’t want to do that to my kids. So when I’m in a desert place, so to speak, in my marriage, my secondary motivations are there to help me through it. The same is true in our relationship with the Lord. I should be motivated by my primary motivation, my love for Him, but sometimes I’m in a dry place and I’m not feeling it. Sometimes I need secondary motivations to help me through those times.

One secondary motivation is the fear of the Lord. God is in control of everything from the sub-cellular level to the exploding stars in the universe and everything in between. He is terrifying! In the Bible everyone who encountered an Angel of the Lord or experienced God himself fell on their faces and were terrified. We should be afraid of Him! We make God into this nice guy who wants to do nice things, but He is a Mighty God and He wants His children to obey Him. He will discipline those He loves. That should motivate us to obedience!

Another motivation is that the Lord brings things into our life that are for our benefit, our good. He does not give us things to harm us. What He asks of us, He asks because it will bring us LIFE- ABUNDANT LIFE. He is all about giving us things that bring us life, not robbing us, not taking things away from us that we think are good. (Me-our addictions, if we admit in our heads, we know are not life-giving, yet we hang on to them for their instant gratification. That’s death in so many ways. He came so that we could have abundant life – give up your own will/way and trust that He wants to give you life!)

Now, you don’t want to live in the desert place forever. I wouldn’t want to stay married to my wife just for the kid’s sake for the rest of my life. No, you want to get back to your primary motivation – your love for that person. When you are motivated by your primary motivation, then obedience is easier. If you are in a desert place, use your secondary motivations to help get you through it, but get calloused knees asking God to restore your primary motivation, your love for Him.

Isn’t that amazing! It seemed like perfect timing for my efforts in self-discipline during August.  I could certainly relate to his example! There's more in the actual video, of course, but I wanted to share the main points. I hope you will be motivated to seek the Lord, long for His love and live abundantly in Him!


Friday, July 29, 2016

Half A Year Down and an Olympic Strategy

My girls have gone on a mission's trip for the next four days and I have the house to myself during the daytime. Bliss!

I posted in January that I wanted to get back to blogging on a regular basis, but since that was only three posts ago, you can see it didn't happen as I had hoped. I had health issues and travel throughout January, February and March. Then in April and May, I went to my parents' house in Virginia to help out as much as I could.  I returned in mid-June to help care for my Dad in the hospital, which I did for over two weeks, but sadly, he passed away on July 2nd. I then spent a couple more weeks with my mom helping her through the funeral, with events in two states, and then in transitioning to living alone. I came home this past weekend. At this point, 2016 has been a blur.

Have you ever had years like that? I'm weary. Weary, but not without hope or peace. My father was a strong believer in Jesus Christ and longed to go to heaven. I miss him desperately; we were kindred spirits and he was the one person in my life who "spoke my language."(meaning "blunt!")

I know grief takes time and that the amount of crying will diminish, but I came home with the desire to LIVE.  I journaled today that I'm tired of my procrastination, excuse-making and apathy. I'm tired of the sabotages, by others, but mostly by myself. I'm tired of my sinful disobedience. I've thought that I'm being too hard on myself during this time of grief, but I don't think so. I think I need to use it as a wake-up call. If not now, when? I am giving myself grace each day; I'm not striving for perfection, but I am striving for growth. Striving for more self-discipline. Praying for His help in this area since it is a Fruit of the Spirit.

Life is short. I don't want to waste it.

My husband and I put together a video montage of my dad's life. He accomplished a lot and went to many places around the world. His life was full. If I had to put together a montage of my life so far, would I be pleased? In some ways yes, in other ways, no. I know we'd all say that, including my Dad, but I'm just hungry for purposeful living. Not for hanging out on the couch watching tv. Not for playing computer games because I don't want to dust, mop or clean a bathroom. Can anyone relate?

I had to laugh to myself, because while I feel this way, I do acknowledge that the Olympics begin on August 5th. When the Olympics are broadcasted, the tv is on every night in our house (and sometimes during the daytime).  We sit and watch other people strive for their dreams and fight for the goals they've sought to achieve. While we S-I-T.  I just don't know if I can do that right now, but my youngest daughter has just entered the world of competitive gymnastics and I certainly can't put a ban on watching Gabby Douglas or Simone Biles. Those female athletes fuel the dreams of my child! So, what do I do?

As you can imagine, being away from home for over a month has made my to-do list insanely long. I am overwhelmed by all the tasks screaming for attention. I've been methodically plodding away (more often than not trying to check the urgent ones off the list), but I've felt like I don't have any time for me. When you are in the first stages of grief, you need ME TIME, for sure. Yesterday I spent 1 hour working on the to-do list, then 1 hour doing something that filled my spirit. When I hit the month-long mail pile that took 2.5 hours to get through, I turned on a DIY show as background noise. It was hard not to enjoy the mail while watching Vanilla Ice doing crazy things to a house!  The idea of going back and forth really worked for me and I'm going to try to employ that give and take until we get back into our school routine for the fall.

A long to-do list is still a lot of mental pressure for me. I can feel sick to my stomach. So today I came up with a question to ask myself when looking down the list, "If this task had to wait, what's the worst that could happen?" I just need to prioritize and I think that question will help.

Back to the Olympics...sometime before the 5th, I'm going to dig out a highlighter and mark what tasks can be done while sitting with my family watching the Olympics. Crocheting is nice, but I need to get some things done.  Thank you notes can be written, email can be cleaned out, photos can be edited and saved, bills can be paid, magazines can be looked through, ironing can get done. (blech!) If I purpose to do what I can, I can still enjoy watching others reach for their dreams without guilt!

Do you have any tricks/ways that help you live with purpose? I'd love to hear about them.

Thanks for stopping by,

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Scripture Writing

Have you tried Scripture writing?

The only time I've ever written out passages of Scripture was as a aide to memorization.  The act of writing helps me, as a visual learner, "see" the verses in my head. Anyone else?

A friend of mine, Amy, and I teamed up as partners in the 2015 Siesta Scripture Memory plan hosted by Living Proof Ministries. Beth Moore has hosted a Scripture memory plan every other year so we needed to come up with something on our own for 2016. Amy introduced me to a scheduled Scripture writing plan hosted by the Sweet Blessings blog. You can read about it here. (She has a cute printables too!)

I've written out the passages in my prayer notebook for the first 3 days of January. After that, I used the rest of my page to record a prayer that flows from what I just jotted down. It's been very encouraging!

If you're looking for a fresh new way to have the Scriptures come alive for you, you may want to give Scripture writing a try. I'm glad I did! 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Take a Snapshot of Christmas

We haven't started putting away Christmas decorations around here yet, but when we do, I've taken pictures of all the holiday displays I created this year so that when the Christmas boxes get pulled out NEXT year, I don't have to reinvent the wheel.

It's a little trick I learned while moving. I took pictures of how I had filled my bookshelves so that in the new digs I wouldn't have to organize and rearrange bookshelves all over again. Worked like a charm!

Here's a few of our Christmas displays.

(I love the little clear reindeer in front of the tree!)

I didn't realize how minimalistic I am until looking at the pictures.  A little bit of knick knacks is all I can handle, really. I enjoy the added decor, but I'm also looking forward to putting it away in the next few days.

How do you feel about Christmas decorations?

Friday, January 1, 2016

A Fresh Start

Fresh starts. How we all need them at various times in our lives, right? I always look forward to the turning of the calendar year with a renewed optimism which I find funny since most people would describe me as a glass half-empty kind of girl. There's just something about a NEW year filled with hope, possibility and change. I love it!

In the past 18 months I have posted only 10 times.  It has been a difficult 18 months, some of the hardest of my life. I've felt defeated, discouraged, ready to give up and certainly not in any mood to write about it. I've often thought of taking down my blog, but I could never quite do it. I hoped there would be brighter days ahead that I could share with whoever was willing to listen.  In the last 18 months I've faced scary health challenges, a terminal diagnosis for a parent, a child running away from the Lord, a move to another state, my mother-in-law moving in with us, the loss of work for both my husband and I, months of unemployment and unexpected deaths of extended family members.  It's been hard. I was so ready to put 2015 to rest last night. Good riddance! Hasta la vista! It's silly how much joy I get out of saying good-bye to 2015!

I have a hope and that is why I look forward. That is why I don't want to give up writing. I have a future that's prepared for me and I want to walk through it with my eyes on the Lord. He has never left me alone.  He's carried me, walked with me, propped me up, given me strength, taught me, guided me, quieted me, sat with me, held me. He is my everything. I have never known it more than I do today. I may be stripped of everything, but He will never leave me and that is enough. Truly.

Many of the circumstances mentioned above haven't changed. Life is still hard, but I have a hope. I place my trust in the One who is trustworthy.  I have no idea what 2016 will bring. Will it be filled with even more faith-stretching challenges? Will it bring a respite? Who knows? Who cares, really. It's not about the circumstances; it's all about His story. I'm just a part of it and I want to reflect Him well.

During some of my darkest days this year, a pastor spoke on Psalm 77:19, "Your way went through the sea and Your path through the great waters, but Your footprints were unseen."  When you are in the middle of God's will with your back against the wall, God is still with you, but His path may be unknown.  He will provide for you today; be quiet and see what He will do. (Ex. 14:13-14)  Your message, despite any circumstances, should always be "God is good and I still love Jesus" no matter how it turns out. Why? Because it's true. No sacrifice on my part compares to what the Lord has sacrificed for me.

While listening to the reading of the Christmas story in Luke 1, I sensed the Holy Spirit say to me about verse 37, "For nothing will be impossible with God," "this is what you are to focus on in 2016." Nothing is impossible.  I then wanted to respond like Mary did in verse 38, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."

The most discouraging part of the last 18 months was how often my faith wavered, how many times I wondered if God was going to come through. What I've learned most is that He is not in the business of fulfilling my expectations, but in fulfilling His own. Faith is not about getting what you want; it's about trusting the Giver of all good things.

So I leave you with what I hope to be the first of many blog posts of 2016. Trust Him. He is faithful and He can do the impossible.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

2015 Catch Up (Hollywood Studios)

Hollywood Studios!

 Streets of America

 Tower of Terror - one of the girls' favorite rides

Toy Story! My favorite ride!

Fantasmic! The best show in the park!

I love Mickey!

The Christmas decorations were still up! 
So magical!

Friday, May 29, 2015

2015 Catch Up (Epcot)

Epcot is our "return to" spot. 
We have eaten in almost every country in the park 
and some of the countries, more than once. Such a yummy place!

You don't get to see my hubs and I very often so here we are. 
Wish you could see my Minnie Mouse bag - so cute!





Tara's knee was hurting so her sister pushed her around in the rain.
There is a body attached to those legs...somewhere.

Sick of the rain, sick of getting my picture taken...
yep, one for the album. Scary!

Good night, Epcot! You make us full and happy!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

2015 Catch Up (Animal Kingdom)

Several years ago we spent a few days at Disney World and we've wanted to return ever since. In January we took time off to enjoy the Florida theme parks once again! What a treat! We walked 49 miles that week, and although we were tired and achy it was totally worth it!

The excitement began...

We enjoyed staying at the affordable All-tar Movies Resort.

We put on our armbands; we're ready to go...

Animal Kingdom -
We've never been to Animal Kingdom before 
and it was by far, our favorite park.

We saw lots of animals on the Kilimanjaro Safari.

We saw A Bug's Life show in the Tree of Life. 

We had breakfast at the Rainforest Cafe.

My family assured me that Expedition Everest was a smooth roller coaster and that I could handle it! Ha! That's me in the blue with my eyes shut! Katie is beside me, trying to talk me through it, and Mark and Tara are behind us acting like they're bored. Sheesh! 
I bought the picture to capture my VERY LAST rollercoaster ride. 

It got a little rainy, but ...

We still had a roaring good time at Animal Kingdom!