Saturday, December 31, 2016

Welcome 2017!

It is hard to believe it is here!  Do you have big plans to welcome the magnanimous 2017?  I will be slipping into a beautiful black velvet dress, new heels and spending the night on the town celebrating like a big girl.  Last year I think I slept through the New Year! 

Although I am not ready to get back to the grind on Monday, I am ready for 2017.  I have spent a lot of time looking at my world and my life and I am ready to start making me the best version of myself this year.  I know I won't be perfect, but I want to stretch my talents and God given gifts and use them in a way that He intended.  I am a strong lady and when I look back on my life I realize I never gave that much value.  Boy,  I was wrong to discount that trait!  No more...I am going to begin writing my story right here and now and though it won't be perfect, it will be beautiful.  I hope you can decide to start a new Chapter....or even a brand new book... in your story and create the life you want!

Happy, happy New Year and I hope you find abiding joy through all of life's ups and downs. 


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Bringing back Frugal Friday!

I used to do posts on Southern Somedays for Frugal Fridays, but obviously since I have had trouble even posting regularly and my life has changed quite a bit since those days, I haven't kept up with that.  No better time that the New Year to bring back "Frugal Friday!"  Hopefully, that will encourage me to at least post regularly, not to mention help me keep my focus on living more simply and living more with less.

As 2017 is upon us, part of my New Year's commitment is to continue to grow in my financial knowledge.  I freely admit that I have been a complete and total flop with finances...but, I am learning, growing and improving! I have already been taking classes in personal finance and budgeting.  In 2017 I want to continue that trend and pay down debt and increase savings in any way possible.  Some of those steps are baby steps which may seem silly, but every step helps. 
 
Any one else planning a Frugalista Lifestyle for the New Year
and what is the 1st thing you are going to tackle?
 



I am going to the Chapel and I am going to....

Explore!
Did you think I meant something else?😏
 
If you know me well, you know I  like to find out-of-the-way spots to explore.  I was taking a walk in Williamson Park this week and stumbled upon just one of those gems.  Williamson Park is a gem in itself that not many locals seem to realize is just around the corner, but I love to walk there.  On this particular walk though, I noticed something across the road from the park that I had somehow always missed. I am not really sure how I missed it, but right there, across the street was the above sign...covered in vines with a broken entry way that just called my name.
 
Who could resist???
 Although, sadly the Little Chapel is not structurally sound, I still got a peek inside and could see the indentions left from praying knees on the kneeling bench and the tiny pulpit.  Although, in sad condition, it was still had a little magic and was like being dropped into fairy land. 
 This little place is surrounded by Cypress Knees that I am sure are inhabited by the gnomes and fairies that make sparkle and day dreams!
 


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

How 5 years can change the world...

Today is a day when I need to write, need to spill words out somewhere. Emotions are thick and my mind swirls with thoughts, memories, dreams and questions.  Today is a day that brings me haunting memories and also great blessings. 

5 years ago, I almost lost one of my children.  I don't mean there was a close call, I mean I saw the life leaving his body as he lay on the ground among wet, cold, muddy leaves.  I still can remember what his blue face looked like and  the awful gurgling that came from his lungs as his life slipped away.  They say time heals all things...no, it doesn't. These are the haunting memories.

I know that God reached down and breathed life into my dying child that cold, rainy day.  There is no other explanation. Today, that same child, went alone for hours exploring with our dog.  Tonight he went to the movies with his big brother.  Just a moment ago he towered almost 9 full inches over me as he reach down to hug me and tell me he loved me and good night. He is now upstairs reading something way over my head.  Those are the great blessings. 

I stood at the sea shore today, something I promise myself I will do more of each year and I don't. I needed to go today to seek the magical healing of the waves and the salt air.  I am not sure if I found that healing but I did find my heart feeling more than I would have liked and my reserves pushed. I was looking for something...it wasn't there.  I wanted to cry, but I didn't. I head into 2017 in many ways the same as last year, though my thoughts and feelings are clearer.  The last few days of 2016 will be spent recalibrating myself and my heart and fortifying my foundation.

Today reminded me to hold onto what is true and solid, focusing on God's great gifts. I have learned that life is not kind but still there is so much to be thankful for and I am living thankfully...in all circumstances. If you find yourself walking the seashore you may very well find me there again staring out and seeking before the year truly ends. Hold on....

Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Psalm 25:5 (NIV)


Friday, December 16, 2016

Our Staff Meeting was a bit Unconventional...

Last weekend was our Division Staff Meeting and in an effort to get in the spirit, our Division Manager decided to host it in Williamsburg, Virginia...at Christmas Town in Busch Gardens!  The weather was cooperative as it felt like snow, even if we didn't get any, but it made the hot cocoa taste sweeter I am sure!
I didn't know this before I went, but Christmas Town in Busch Gardens is the largest light display in North American.  It was really gorgeous and you couldn't help but feel a little bit like a kid with all the lights, music and Christmas spirit swirling around!
 
 
It was cold and I was bundled up!!!
 
I want them to come do the lights in my trees!!!
 
Any one who knows me knows, I am sucker for Christmas music, Christmas movies, Christmas TV shows, Christmas shows in general, so it was so exciting to see a version of White Christmas done on stage since it is one of my FAVORITES!  I even have the soundtrack in the cd player in my car now!  I was really awe struck at how much there was to do and how little time we had to squeeze in all the sights and sounds and RIDES....yes, RIDES....and ones not for the faint of heart....yes, I did ride!:-)
 
So, in wrap up, we did have our Staff Meeting with lots of work and planning to hit 2017 out of the park but it was fun to start out being kids again! #worklife


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I am determined to Praise You In This Storm




To Kill a Mockingbird comes to life close to home...

I love the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, so much so I haven't yet gotten the courage to read the sequel as I don't want it to hurt the illusions I have of the noble characters I found in the original.  Maybe it sounds silly but I get attached to the characters and the escape they provide.  So, you can imagine my excitement when my youngest son landed the part of Jem in "To Kill a Mockingbird" in the Florence Little Theater's recent production.  The show ran for over a week and was sold out each night which I think was telling to what a GREAT production it was.  The entire cast brought Harper Lee's Characters to life in great detail, making you love some and hate others.  The issues of race and injustice were handled in a no nonsense matter and I hope everyone who saw it came out changed just a little as I did when I first read the book.

The entire cast was just fantastic and it was a joy to see them bring this
 important piece of Southern Fiction to life!



 It took many months of preparation and countless hours to bring this play to the stage but I was really proud of how my son kept up with school, debate, tried out and made the basketball team all the while spending late nights rehearsing almost daily at the theater.  Yes...I am biased, but he did GREAT!

 My handsome "Jem" spending time after the play every night sharing and talking the with audience.



Monday, December 5, 2016

A Little Christmas Spirit in the Mountains!


I just returned from a really wonderful weekend getaway.  Yes, it was in a “tourist” destination, which I generally avoid, but a dear friend and I planned this trip last summer for a nice time to steal away with our boys (our youngest are close in age and have a great time together.)  For the first time in my life – though I grew up not too far away – I visited Pigeon Forge, TN!  Indeed, it is filled with lots of touristy things and at night looks more like Myrtle Beach than a mountain town, but the cabin we rented was on top of a secluded mountain top and it was wonderful.  The cabin came complete with pool table (which the boys loved!) and a hot tub on the back deck overlooking the miles of undeveloped forest.  I highly recommend the rental agency if you want to plan a trip.  They were kind and accommodating and the cabin was clean as a whistle!  We used Heartland Cabin Rentals. This a picture of my oh, so cute bedroom, which looked over the tree tops and across the mountains:
The boys spent hours, and countless miles hiking the hills and mountains.  It was nice to see them being boys and thriving in the freedom of nature like I did as a child.  They spent time in the crisp, cool mountain air without Wi-Fi or cords attached and that makes my heart sing.  I got to catch up on some reading and just general down time without the pressure to do anything!
Sadly, this area was impacted earlier in the week by the raging forest fires and many, many families lost their homes, their businesses and their jobs; even more devastating was the loss of lives this community has endured.  The adjacent town of Gatlinburg really took a hit and at an especially busy tourist season. If you feel compelled to help out please do as the community can use all the help possible. You can donate to help the cause here: https://dollywoodfoundation.org/
On Saturday night we took in a Dinner Show at the Dixie Stampede, which turned out to be really cool because it was their Christmas show but if I ever do one of those type of Dinner Theater experiences again...I will bring my own silverware!  The food was good and the show fun and helped out in getting us in the Christmas spirit!

Although, I never thought I would say this…I will be coming back one day to spend more time in a cabin on a mountain top in Tennessee and a roller coaster coming off a mountain and Dollywood are at the top of my To Do lists!



Friday, November 25, 2016

Christmas is coming...

You should be impressed that I haven't posted about Christmas before now!  Yes, I have often been one of those who start prepping for Christmas in advance...including more Christmas music than my children could stand.  The last couple of years. though, have not brought me that enthusiasm or energy to get in the spirit.  Last year, in particular, I really wanted to skip it all the way around.  The holidays aren't the same anymore and some have been easier than others to adjust to.  If it hadn't been for my boys I am sure we would not even have had a Christmas tree last year. 

But this year...I feel some of that childhood excitement creeping back. I am tentative about it all in some ways, not wanting to feel disappointed or disappoint my children; but some of the magic has touched me.  I have even already been listening to White Christmas in the car!

This is the first year in several that I have looked forward to putting up a Christmas tree.  I even have a theme that has caught my fancy and I can't wait to see it come together. Items have been being gathered for this tree for several weeks now.  I know financially our Christmas will be scaled back but I am already excited to know all my children will be here along with my parents (if their health allows.)  When the kids are here and all the dogs are here it can be quite a raucous crowd but nothing is better than the sound of a house full of joy and love. 

No, I didn't do any Black Friday shopping as I am afraid that might have put out the small little spark of Christmas Spirit I have!  I a protecting this spark and hoping it grows into a flame and fills my heart with the true spirit of Christmas and gives me the energy to celebrate fully and make memories that will last for a lifetime.  Lets get this party started!


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving 2016

I hope this finds you having celebrated a day full of family, friends and food.  Mostly, though, I hope you have had time to feel thankful for all the good in your life and our world.  This is my final Thanksgiving Thankfulness recap but I am committed to Living Thankfully past today.  It is so easy to forget all the little blessings when the world seem to throw big problems and roadblocks in our way every day. 

Thankfulness Recap:

Thankfulness, Day 16: I am thankful for God's unfailing protection, mercy and grace.
Thankfulness, Day 17: thankful for this...

Thankfulness, Day 18: I am so thankful it is Friday!!!!
Thankfulness, Day 19: I am thankful for the great people Florence Little Theatre and what a great job they did on To Kill a Mockingbird!
Thankfulness, Day 20: I am thankful when something comes along to remind me of how important it is to discern what is important in life and to grab hold of Faith in all things.
Thankfulness, Day 21: I am thankful for forgiveness and from it, the freedom God has given, and the healing He provides.
Thankfulness, Day 22: today I am really thankful for talented writers and speakers who help me grow. This book in particular is amazing: Fervent by Priscilla Shirer.
Thankfulness, Day 23: Being #thankful for the challenges and striving to continue #LivingThankful long after #thanksgiving has passed. #GodisGood
Thankfulness, Day 24: This morning my house is quiet except for the clicking of claws as the fur babies move about and I can't help but be thankful for the small blessings in my life. I pray for all of us a spirit of peace, contentment in all things...the big and small, the happy and the painful, the mountain tops and the valleys.

Live ThankfullyπŸ‚πŸ


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Thankfulness Recap!

I am proud of myself as I have kept up my daily thankfulness shares on Facebook so here is my recap for you:
  • Thankfulness, Day 7: I am thankful for the 2 fur babies I get to share life with! They complete our family...not to mention are a continual source of loose fur.
  • Thankfulness, Day 8: Today I am incredibly thankful that I live in a nation kept safe by heroes of many kinds that wear many uniforms and I have the freedom to be involved in choosing my next President! What a HUGE blessing!!!
  • Thankfulness, Day 9: I am thankful for friends. What is life without those special people?
  • Thankfulness, Day 10: Thankful for my job. At times it feels overwhelming but I do see God's hand in my work path. I am especially thankful for my sister Managers and all their support, encouragement and the things they continue to share and teach me. 
  • Thankfulness, Day 11: I am so very thankful for all the men & women who have served to protect our great nation. If it were not for our Veterans we would not have the privileges, opportunities and freedoms we take for granted.
  • Thankfulness, Day 12: I am thankful for a trip to the Southern Christmas Show today. It is a tradition I love and always puts me in the spirit of the holidays. 
  • Thankfulness, Day 13: I am thankful that my children have had the opportunity to attend great Christian schools. They have been blessed with a Biblical World view and amazing teachers!
Worth repeating....as my Thankfulness, Day 14 (5 years later!)November 14, 2011Florence
30 Days of Thankfulness, Day 14: I am so very thankful for the policemen & firemen (and women) that risk their lives daily to keep us safe.
 
  • Thankfulness, Day 15: I am thankful for the access to medical care. We have the best, most caring professionals around!
Live Thankfully!



Sunday, November 6, 2016

Thankfulness Recap for this week:

I did well on sharing my daily thoughts of thanksgiving each day on Facebook but did not do as well transferring them here, to the blog!  Here is a recap of my days for this week and please don't think these are the only things I am thankful for because I could list so many more.  I am blessed and I know that!

  • Thankfulness, Day 2: I am overwhelmed by the blessings that are my children. I am so grateful that I get to be their Mom.
  • Thankfulness, Day 3: I am very thankful my parents are still with me and are there for me through thick & thin.
  • Thankfulness, Day 4: I am thankful that today I have a warm, safe home and more provisions than many people can imagine.
  • Thankfulness, Day 5: I am thankful for crisp, beautiful Fall days and long walks in my neighborhood at the end of a busy week.
  • Thankfulness, Day 6: I am so very thankful for my Church Family. Life would have a huge hole in it without them.
     
I hope that you have taken time to find something each day to be thankful for.  Even when life hits us with curve balls, there is always something worthy in your life.  I can attest to that as I am dodging and maneuvering through an unexpected maze of stress but still seeking the good in today.  Lets cultivate our lives in a way that makes thankfulness on the forefront of each morning, noon and night.  Live thankful.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Month of Thanks has arrived!

Photo property of: https://www.theodysseyonline.com
Yes, it has been over a month since I have blogged.  Generally, that means that I have either been so busy I haven't thought about the blog or that something kind of hard is going on in my life.  This time it has been a big dose of both.  Between work, Hurricane Matthew which threw us quite a curve ball (no power, water, and many washed out and blocked roads for weeks,) and a new struggle legally stemming from my divorce it has been a bit overwhelming to think about writing. 

But Fall has arrived and so has November!  I love Fall.  It truly is my favorite season and I am sad that I haven't had more time to enjoy it this year.  Thanksgiving is just around the corner and if you didn't know, it is my very favorite holiday.  I don't know why, and most people look at me a bit odd when I say that, but it always has been. 

As has been my tradition in blogging (sans the last couple of hard years) I have tried to share on the blog the things I am thankful for.  This grew out of  my very first "thankful post" from 2006: In all things give thanks.  It is a good exercise to help me remember what is important and throw off the stress of the mundane. 

Day 1:
 
I am thankful for a God that sees me through the challenges.  He is seeing me through one right now and I find myself in a position of thanking Him for the challenges as well.  I want His will for my life and want to walk in faith and not be caught in fear (as fear is not from the Lord!)  I am thankful for God the Father and how He cares for His children. 
 
What are you thankful for?  Please share in the comments and if you are a blogger, I challenge you to share what your thankful for this season as there are always more blessings than we count!


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Believe...

Why?  Because there is.  Sometimes I have a hard time believing it because for what ever reason the spot I am standing in keeps me from seeing the Good but it is still there.  Sometimes I am blocking it and sometimes I am blind to it. 

The last couple of weeks have been a real test for me.  I have fought fear and had to choose faith in an upcoming situation that could greatly impact my future.  But, by choosing faith, I am still able to see the Good.  If I  let fear take over, I will only see negative and ugliness.  So not only do I Believe There is Good in the World I want to BE THE GOOD in the world.  That is why I love this meme so much. 

No matter what the future brings I am blessed.  I will continue to look to God and know that He is guiding my life.  There is  wonderful comfort in that that; a sense of calm.  I suppose that is the "peace that surpasses all understanding." I hope you are finding Good in your day today.  This afternoon I  attended a funeral and still I sat there and could see all around me the Good.  This special person brought good to all who came into contact with them...and it was never more evident than today sitting in that Chapel.  People like that inspire me to want to be a better version of me.  I want to invest in my good parts and work out my bad parts.  I want to BE THE GOOD!  Won't you join me?


Monday, September 19, 2016

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Miracle at the End...

The last couple of weeks have been really good weeks.  Work has been busy (but that good busy.) Last weekend was a fun time spent with my sons in Charleston.  This week I was fortunate to start in a new Women's Bible Study in my church and be asked to serve on a committee, which made me feel good because I have been struggling to figure out where I fit. 

On Tuesday Night I went to the movies to see an encore showing of the docu-drama The Insanity of God. It was amazing.  It was intense. It was deep.  I came away just reveling at just how little we sacrifice for Christ.  It is mind boggling.  I am compelled to seek how He wants to me to serve and try not to be frightened of what He directs! If you get a chance go see it...you will be changed.

Today started on a good note as well and I was looking forward to a great weekend with my youngest son, my daughter and son-in-law and then, well....life crashed the party.  I got news that rocked my world and made me fearful in a way I haven't been in a long time (no worries, we are all fine.)  I have spent the better part of the afternoon trying to digest it and make it fit into my life in a way that will work.  Right now, I am just not finding the key.  Finally, though, I am feeling God's peace and that it will work out.  He is there and no matter what that is most important.  So, tomorrow I will still start a wonderful weekend with my kiddos and make memories that are worth more than anything.  God will guide me.  He will be there.  I know because I have faith and I will praise Him in this storm.


Monday, September 5, 2016

15....

Today is a special day, not just because of Labor Day, but because it is my DS2's 15th birthday!  I should probably say Birthday Weekend, because we have been celebrating all weekend long!  Even the birthday boy was a little worn out today....so much so he hasn't wanted to cut into his Birthday "Pie" (yes, he wanted pie rather than cake!)
 
 
Most of the time I look at this young man and I am amazed at his maturity and his heart.  Just today, when we were in a store, he approached a World War II Veteran (all on his own,) and shook his hand and thanked him for his service.  DS2 then stood there and gave just a small gift of his time and listened to how that honorable man was only 1 of 2 from his unit to return.  For that small gift of his time, my son came away with something so very valuable... and he recognized it for the jewel it was...which is why I feel so proud of him in so many ways.
DS2 is a very funny kid as well and loves life and people more than I fully understand.  He has a soft heart and strong sense of right and wrong.  He loves politics and all kinds of things most kids his age don't even bat an eye at.  I think he is most at home in our church and I hope that God continues to lead him and watch over him.
The hardest part about these kinds of birthdays is they mark milestones and he plans to get his driving permit (learners) this week.  Where, oh where, has the time gone? Although I have had the honor of teaching him to drive and we are still working on it, I can't believe the time is here. 
My baby boy...he is the last in the nest and I am so blessed by him.  Thank you, God.
 
1 Samuel 1:27-28 ESV    
For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.


Friday, September 2, 2016

My Jesus.

My walk with my faith has not been a smooth one (are they ever?) but I don't have a deep story to tell you of how He saved me from drug or alcohol addiction.  I don't even have an deep and moving tale of how I was reared in an abusive home and was rescued by His grace.  I just have a plain story.  But, I have come to realize that although my story isn't filled with bells, whistles and colorful lights it is important...at least to me.  I believe it is important to Him as well. 

Growing up I  had  a wonderful Aunt & Uncle who would often take me to church.  I do credit them with leading me to the cross.  I don't think, without their allowing me to tag along, I would have ever come to know a personal relationship with Christ.  Then when I was 16, I met a boy who went to church without his parents and that was truly the beginning of my walk.  As we dated through the years. church was always a part and even when I wasn't walking the walk...I still had that sweet voice in the back of my mind reminding me of what was right and wrong.  Albeit I made many wrong choices...He was always there to remind me and try to keep me on the right path.  I say try because I often wandered.  I wanted my way, my timing, my fun. 

I have failed many times through the years, and continue to fail...but He continues to be there...pulling me up and not letting me go. The past few years have been the hardest and I feel the world telling me it would be easier just to play there.  I have tried to run, to stop this insanity called Christianity, to live in this world, be of this world. I have even turned away and said I don't want to play on this team anymore.  It seems to work for a little while and then I look around and go, "what am I doing this for?" I am afraid a lot.  It makes me question every moment, every decision. It leads me to being paralyzed sometimes and then I have no choice but to say there has to be something more....it is my Jesus. 

So, here I am...again...trying to get it right; continually filled with the gratefulness that He is forgiving and I am trying to hear the voice I have tried so desperately to forget.  Prayers don't come as easy as they once did, but I am re-learning much like a toddler learning to walk. I am once again a baby Christian.  My Jesus, please don't give up on me now.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Down Time in the Country...

I have had a crazy busy few weeks,  professionally but personally as well, and I was blessed recently with some down time in what can only be called a true down South Fish Camp.  This building was originally an old Tobacco barn that was moved next to a perfect little pond.  It was one of the best times I have had in a very long time. I am grateful to friends who share their special places with me.
Deep south...Deer heads and fish on the wall!
Couldn't you curl up with a pillow and a good book in this gorgeous porch swing on the screened porch?  I know I would love to spend an whole day just soaking in the moments.
The upstairs of the Fish Camp is a little apartment that has this gorgeous handmade bed.  A man that works on the farm where this is located made the bed and much of the furniture, including the porch swing!  I love it.
video
I even got to do a little target practice! Oh, and yes...my gun is pink and my heels are high!


These photos are probably what make this magical little place as amazing as it is. 
You literally feel like the world is a gazillion miles away. 
 
And then....the sunset came.