Sunday, April 23, 2017

Talbots' Spring Trunk Show!

Last week I was honored to be a special guest at our local Talbots' trunk show.  It makes your day to arrive to a front row, reserved seat, complete with pink rose waiting on you for a fashion show!  I have to say the team at Talbots did a great job and presented a beautiful Spring Line!  I love all the pattern matching and the colors for Spring are lovely!  I found some great new pieces to add to my closet and since I haven't managed to shop at all this Spring it was nice to have some pretty pops of color hanging up and waiting to brighten the day!
 
The greatest thing about this spring collection is I found so many pieces that would work inside and outside of work!  For me, that is HUGE!  Traditionally, I have been a girl who loves Fall & Winter clothes but oddly enough...the last few years have found me loving my Spring and Summer wardrobe best.  I think I love color so much that I find it is more fun to shop for!  I also love dresses and skirts so they work for me inside and out for work and truly are the best in our deep South heat.  Hats off to a great job Talbots! 


Friday, April 21, 2017

It seems like more than just a year!

I can't believe it has only been a year since I was getting ready to see my baby girl get married!  This time, last year, was so busy and full of pre-wedding festivities that it almost seems like I can't remember them all!  One of my favorite memories, though, was the time I got to spend with her and her besties on Amelia Island last year. It was such a fun time. I would love to go back now!!!

My sweet daughter and Son-In-Love have shared so many wonderful firsts this past year and I think that is why it seems almost like they squeezed 5 years into 1!  There were lots of parties, a wedding, a honeymoon, a Pharmacy School Graduation, 2 new jobs, a move to a new town, new cars, a new house...just to name a few.  How can so much have changed in 1 quick year? 

The most important thing, though, is I gained a wonderful new son and my daughter is happy in her new life!  I am so glad I was able to share these memories with them and I am so proud of the life they are building.  In a little over a week they will celebrate that special 1st year Anniversary and I pray it is the first of 100 more. 



Sometimes the Songs say it all....Happy Friday!




Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday has arrived, The Tomb is Empty...but I call out for your prayers.

Luke: 24: 6-8
 
This morning didn't start the way I plannedMY plans failed.  My  plans included an early morning at our Church's Sunrise Service followed by what would have been a wonderful time of fellowship and breakfast.  My morning, though, was different.  I failed to set my alarm correctly (I changed the time but not the day!) and we overslept.  We overslept on Easter.  I have to admit I cried when I realized it, as I so wanted to be with our church family. I cried for myself...not because of any other reason. I need my church family, a church family, more than ever. It has been a long while since I have felt I had a church family and I am desperate for that fellowship that is more than just people you sit with on a Sunday Morning. I wanted to stand in unison with fellow believers and celebrate our Jesus.  But, I....overslept; something so simple
 
I can't remember missing an Easter Service in years.  I  can't remember not taking a beautiful family photo of us in our Easter finery and found myself mourning that silly small thing (which felt like a huge, jagged thing)...and then I heard...our Pastor, our faithful friend, who has been such an inspiration and support to my family for as long as we have known him is in surgery this morning. My tears became something different. In one moment God showed me that my plans where just that...mine.
 
Our dear friend has been battling Stage 4 Colon Cancer (and all that entails) for 4+ years.  Today is also his amazing wife's birthday.  They were not at church with their children as usual either....but it wasn't from something silly like oversleeping.  They were not there because they couldn't be there.  They won't have the family pictures in the same way that are typical of this holiday either.  I am not sure what the feelings I am feeling are. Today represents the greatest day in History and I want to celebrate...and my heart is breaking for my friends.  It breaks not just for what they are facing right now but all they have faced so bravely and the amazing family they have become even through the many years of adversity.  They have never given up on God or each other. I am honored to know them and have had their touch upon my life and the lives of my children.  They are an example of strength that surpasses human understanding.  Their family and their marriage is what we all hope for...though the journey they have had to travel is not what they envisioned and none of us would choose to walk. The path they have traveled has been so hard and they have held on....to God and each other.  So, on this  morning of celebration, I ask that you say a prayer for God's miraculous healing upon this man of God and that his beautiful wife will feel peace and have at least a little birthday joy today. The God I love, is great and He hears.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Living in a Season of Saturday, repost

NOTE: I wrote this on Saturday. April 19, 2014 during a very painful season of my life.  I have not included some of those details here but if you desire to read the post in it's entirety the link is here: Living in a Season of Saturday.

The reason I am reposting this is it was still so fitting for this day and the devotional that inspired it still is important. Today is important...it is important to what yesterday was and what tomorrow will be.

Saturday,  April 19, 2014:

..... So today, when I read the following devotional I knew.  I knew I was standing, smack in the Saturday of my life. "Saturday is the day your dream died. You wake up and you’re still alive. You have to go on, but you don’t know how. Worse, you don’t know why.*"


I am standing right in the middle of a third day story and the hardest part about  third day stories? "The problem with third-day stories is, you don’t know it’s a third-day story until the third day.*" And, somehow at this moment....on a rainy Saturday....the third day seems like it won't ever come. There is probably a big part of my heart that just doesn't even want it to come because it puts me that much further away from what I have lost.   Logic says it will come, good intentioned, wise friends and family assure you it will come but the heart can't hear those words.

I couldn't have written about this Saturday season on my own. so I am sharing the writing of someone else and  hope you will find meaning in this devotional by John Ortberg from his book
Who is This Man? (from which the above quotes came):
(link to the original devotional location on Faithgateway)
 So far as we know, there has only been one day in the last two thousand years when literally not one person in the world believed Jesus was alive. On Saturday morning after Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples wake after not having slept for two days. The city that was screaming for blood the day before is quiet. Crowds have disbanded. Jesus is dead.

What do they do on Saturday?

It’s strange that the two days on either side of Saturday are so heavily discussed. Some of the brightest minds in the world have devoted themselves primarily to those two days; they have been across the centuries maybe the two most studied days in history. The Bible is full of what happened the day before, the day Jesus was killed. And the next day, Sunday, is the day believers say gave birth to the most death-defying, grave-defeating, fear-destroying, hope-inspiring, transcendent joy in the history of the world. Pentecostals still shout about it. Charismatics still dance because of it. Baptists still say Amen! over it. Presbyterians still study it. Episcopalians still toast it with sherry. Some people think of Sunday in mellower terms, as a metaphor for hope. And others think of it as a dangerous enemy of logic, reason, and mortality.

Let’s just leave Sunday alone for now.

This isn’t Sunday. This isn’t Friday. This is Saturday. The day after this but the day before that. The day after a prayer gets prayed but there is no answer on the way. The day after a soul gets crushed way down but there’s no promise of ever getting up off the mat.

It’s a strange day, this in-between day. In between despair and joy. In between confusion and clarity. In between bad news and good news. In between darkness and light. Even in the Bible – outside of one detail about guards being posted to watch the tomb – we’re told nothing about Saturday. Saturday is the day with no name, the day when nothing happened.

Now only a handful of followers remain. Friday was a nightmare day; Friday was the kind of day that is pure terror, the kind when you run on adrenaline. On Saturday when Jesus’ followers wake up, the terror is past, at least for the moment; the adrenaline is gone.Those who believe in Jesus gather, quietly maybe. They remember. It’s what people do. Things He said. What He taught. Things He did. People He touched or healed. They remember what it felt like when this Jesus wanted them. They remember their hopes and dreams. They were going to change the world.

Now it’s Saturday.

Maybe they talk about what went wrong. What in God’s name happened? None of them wants to say this, but in their hearts, they’re trying to come to grips with this unfathomable thought: Jesus failed. Jesus ended up a failure. Noble attempt, but He couldn’t get enough followers. He couldn’t convince the chief priests. He couldn’t win over Rome to make peace. He couldn’t get enough ordinary people to understand His message. He couldn’t even train His disciples to be courageous at the moment of great crisis.

Everybody knows Saturday.
"Saturday is the day your dream died. You wake up and you’re still alive. You have to go on, but you don’t know how. Worse, you don’t know why."
 This odd day raises a question: Why is there a Saturday? It doesn’t seem to further the story line at all. We might expect that if Jesus was going to be crucified then resurrected, God would just get on with it. It seems strange for God to spread two events over three days.In its own way, perhaps Saturday should mark the world as much as Friday and Sunday.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday lie at the heart of the ancient calendar. They attributed great significance to the notion that this event was a three-day story. The apostle Paul wrote, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day [Paul adds again] according to the Scriptures.” The Old Testament Scriptures are filled with what might be called “third-day stories.” When Abraham is afraid he’s going to have to sacrifice Isaac, he sees the sacrifice that will save his son’s life on the third day. Joseph’s brothers get put in prison, and they’re released on the third day. Israelite spies are told by Rahab to hide from their enemies, and then they’ll be safe on the third day. When Esther hears that her people are going to be slaughtered, she goes away to fast and pray. On the third day, the king receives her favorably. It’s such a recurring pattern that the prophet Hosea says, “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces… After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will restore us, that we may live in His presence.” All three-day stories share a structure. On the first day there is trouble, and on the third day there is deliverance. On the second day, there is nothing – just the continuation of trouble.
"The problem with third-day stories is,
you don’t know it’s a third-day story until the third day."

When it’s Friday, when it’s Saturday, as far as you know, deliverance is never going to come. It may just be a one-day story, and that one day of trouble may last the rest of your life.* * *

I said before that Saturday is the day when nothing happens. That’s not quite right. Silence happens on Saturday. After trouble hits you, after the agony of Friday, you call out to God. “Hear me! Listen to me! Respond to me! Do something! Say something! Rescue!”
Nothing.
"On Saturday, in addition to the pain of Friday,
 there is the pain of silence and absence of God."

When C. S. Lewis wrote his memoirs about coming to faith in Jesus, he called it Surprised by Joy. The book is about how his love of joy led him to faith in Jesus, and he actually took as the title a phrase in a poem by William Wordsworth. When Lewis wrote the book, he was a fifty-seven-year-old bachelor. He had met a woman named Joy whom, after the book was published, he ended up marrying. His friends enjoyed teasing him that he really had been surprised by Joy. After a lifetime of waiting, Lewis knew love only briefly. Joy died soon after they were married of cancer, a lingering, very painful death. So Lewis wrote another book: A Grief Observed. A Saturday book.

When you are happy, so happy you have no sense of needing God, so happy you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be – or so it feels – welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become… What can this mean?
"Why is He so present a Commander in our time of prosperity and 
so very absent a help in time of trouble?" 

A husband, a father, wants more than anything in the world to save his marriage. His wife will not listen and will not help. He is not perfect (not by a long shot), but he wants to do a really good thing. He can’t find out why his wife won’t respond to him, and he can’t stand what it’s doing to his children. Heaven is silent.  A mom and a dad find out the child they love has a terminal illness. They pray like crazy but hear only silence. She’s getting worse. You lose a job. You lose a friend. You lose your health. You have a dream for your child. And on Friday, it dies. What do you do on Saturday?

You can choose despair. Paul writes about this: “How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” In other words, apparently some people said, “There is never going to be a Sunday. It’s Friday. Get used to it. Do disappointment management, because that’s as good as it’s going to get.” Some people – silently, secretly – live here. You can choose denial – simplistic explanations, impatience, easy answers, artificial pleasantness. Hydroplane over authentic humanity, forced optimism, clichéd formulas, false triumphalism.

Paul wrote to Timothy that some “say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.” In other words, apparently some said, “It’s already Sunday. The resurrection has already happened for all of us, so if you’re having any problems, if you’re still sick, if your prayers aren’t being answered, you just don’t have enough faith. Get with the program.” Or there is this third option:

"You can wait. Work with God even when He feels far away.
Rest. Ask. Whine. Complain. Trust."

Oddly, the most common psalm is the psalm of complaint. The Saturday psalm. God, why aren’t you listening?
• • •
An ancient homily spoke of this strange day: What happened today on earth? There is a great silence – a great silence and stillness. A great silence because the king sleeps. God has died in the flesh, and hell trembles with fear. He has gone to search for our first parent as for a lost sheep.
The Apostles’ Creed says Jesus descended into hell.
"Somehow no suffering you go through is suffering Jesus will not endure in order to save you."
From a human standpoint, we think of the miraculous day as Sunday, the day the man Jesus is risen from the dead. I wonder if, from Heaven’s standpoint, the great miracle isn’t on Saturday. When Jesus is born, the skies are filled with the heavenly hosts praising God because that baby is Emmanuel, God with us. Somehow God in a manger, somehow God in a stable, somehow God on earth. Now on Saturday the angels look down and see what? God in a tomb.
"The miracle of Sunday is that a dead man lives. 
The miracle of Saturday is that the eternal Son of God lies dead."
So Jesus Christ defeats our great enemy death not by proclaiming His invincibility over it but by submitting Himself to it. If you can find this Jesus in a grave, if you can find Him in death, if you can find Him in hell, where can you not find Him? Where will He not turn up?"

I guess the hard part for me is that I read the devotional and wrote these words years ago but I am human and I have grown weary of still living in a Season of Saturday.  I pray, I listen, I work...and I wait.



Friday, April 14, 2017

Maundy Thursday....Good Friday

 
Last night I attended our new Church's very first Maundy Thursday Service.  I don't think Service is quite the right word as it is truly more of an observance.  It is the time that no matter what your week/day/life holds, you gather your heart and focus...focus on the true meaning of Easter. 
 
The Easter story isn't an easy story to tell. Yes, it has a glorious ending...it even has a wonderful beginning but the dark last days before that glorious ending are hard.  They are full of pain.  I shudder to think what it had to be.  
 
Today is Good Friday....when I think of what happened to my Savior on this day it brings tears to my eyes, even though I know the ending.  But, He did that for me....He saw something worthy enough in me...He loved (loves) that much. I can not begin to address the thankfulness I have, that due to that one, selfless act of sacrifice, He made way for us all.  He loved (loves) you...that much. He saw your beautiful worthiness. In my human mind the whole concept can be hard to understand or make sense of...but, for me, that is where faith enters the picture.  Faith carries me through the fields of things beyond my understanding. 
 
Call to Hope
For His Anger lasts only a moment, but his favor last a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Psalm 30: 5 (NIV)


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Social Media Transparency

Social Media is something that gets a lot of debate but it comes with it's issues far beyond safety.   Do you create the appearance of a perfect life?  If not, are you putting too much realness out there and where is the balance?  I have been involved with Social Media since roughly 2005...the olden days.  I have seen it change and morph as new forms of Social Media have taken their place among what feels like an overwhelming number of outlets today.  I have taken criticism for my involvement with Social Media...both when I made it look "too perfect" and when I made it "too real."  With Social Media you have to use that TV Channel practice...if you don't like it just move along to the next thing.

One thing that has changed in the last few weeks is that I have made all my Social Media accounts fully public.  I have one public Facebook page for work (required!) and then I had my personal page and it was locked down completely so no one, other than friends could see anything.  I had my Instagram and Twitter private as well.  Why the change?  Well, I was listening a speaker that was discussing the multiple Social Media accounts we often have to juggle in the business world today plus any personal ones we may have.  This savvy lady hit me right in the eyes when she said you should be the same person EVERY WHERE so she saw no need for a Professional and a Private page.  Wow...I had to take some time to digest that one.  Ultimately, though, I saw that is what I wanted... transparency.  I am not perfect by any means, but now, anyone  can see if I am posting Bible quotes right below a dirty joke or inappropriate commentary. 

Anyone can pop over to my Twitter account and see if I am being as snarky as possible in 140 characters or less (which I did under the "safety" of anonymousness last year when I had an Anonymous Twitter account.)  After realizing what I was doing to my testimony, I left Social Media for a long while.  I pulled down all my accounts and took a much needed break to refocus.  I have worked hard to make myself a better person and I hope it shows through all my Social Media accounts.  I only want them to put positive (although sometimes painful shows up, or irritated, or silly and shallow) in this world.  So, I guess in a way Social Media is helping to keep me accountable and transparent because I do want to be 1 person...not 1 perfect person...but a person that is the same throughout my life.  I have changed a lot over the years and I continually strive for the better.  I no longer think it is ok to use an anonymous Twitter account to skewer others, regardless of what they may have done.  There is just too much negative in the world I don't' want to add to it!  I want to be real, which isn't always pretty or what you may want to read but I do want to be what real life is on my tiny spot on this planet.  So here's to less than perfect homes, DIY projects, marriages, children, meals, gardens, children, pets, wardrobes and even the ever important shoes!  Be real, honest and use the greatest integrity. It might not gain you followers as fast but I would must rather grow slowly and steadily than fast and furious because I decided to spew some hate out there....no, you can leave me out of that game.



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Who doesn't love a Tote Bag? Happy Birthday Give-a-way time!

Since April is my birthday month and I usually don't make a big deal about it...I thought I might start this year! It is never too late to celebrate all the celebrations that have been missed.  Don't they say a cupcake a day keeps the doctor away?

It is exactly 24 days until my big day....when I STILL don't turn the big 50!  It has also been a long, long, long time since I have done a give-a-way - actually not since Southern Somedays, so I think it is about time!  On April 30th (the day AFTER my birthday) I will draw one lucky winner of the very first "My Southern Sparkle" tote bag filled with all kind of goodies that will make YOU feel like you had a birthday.) The bag is made of cotton canvas material with a zippered main compartment and double 17" handles and was designed by yours truly!

Rules to be entered in my very first "My Southern Sparkle" Give-A-Way:
  1. you must follow My Southern Sparkle (just hit the button on the right!)
  2. you must leave a comment  BELOW - Facebook comments will not count
  3. you will receive 2 additional entries if you feature my Give-A-Way on your blog (and you must leave me a comment with a link to the post!)
So, who is going to win the first edition of www.MySouthernSparkle.com tote bag filled with goodies???? 



Saturday, April 1, 2017

Prom 2017

I can't believe it, but I find myself seeing another child (this time the baby boy) off to the prom.  This one was unexpected as he is only a Freshman...but that whole social structure of High School these days is different than "back in the day."  It does make me think of Proms when I was in High School and how much fun we had. It makes me miss friends that have passed and those I haven't see in years and the carefree (although when you are the teenager it doesn't feel like that) world we lived in.  Why, oh why, does growing up come so fast?  And mostly, why couldn't we just enjoy every special, simple moment rather than always trying to push harder and faster to being "older." 
 Adulting is a racket!  
He was heading out to get his pretty little date! 
 How can he be this old?
They went as a group with some life long friends. 
 I know it will be a fun night to remember!
 
I hope they have a blast. 
 The evening started with dinner and is supposed to end with
 bowling so I really hope this is just the first of many
great High School Memories for my sweet young man.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Digging Deeper....Internal Perspective - Psalm 139

As strange as it may seem, at my advanced stage on this ride called life, I still find myself, more than ever, learning about others and myself.  Sometimes the "myself stuff" takes me by surprise.  Something that has been eating at me for a while  finally came together and made sense to me this week. I am still having a hard time wrapping my mind around it and how to process it in relationship to moving forward in life. Isn't it interesting how God will show you His truth when you are willing to believe it and wrap yourself in it?  God wants us in the right perspective to see....
 
I learned  (well, something I have known but not acted on for sometime,) that I have always taken emotional ownership of everything, much to my detriment. By doing this I didn't allow myself to fully develop and shine.  As long as I can remember I am someone who internalizes life.  What that basically means is that I integrate the of attitudes, values, standards and the opinions of others of me into my own  identity or sense of self.
 
On the surface I am sure we all do that to a certain degree, but I let it become a defining factor of who I see myself as.  If someone else saw me as bad, I was bad.  If someone else saw me as beautiful or good, I was beautiful or good.  I was always looking for that validation and I internalized it to the degree that it limited me to  only being able to see myself through the lenses of other's jaded glasses.  This weakness allowed me to stay in a marriage for many years that subtly defined my less than worthiness.  I took the behaviors and choices of my husband and let them tell me who I was. No matter what I did, by that standard (which had nothing to do with me,) I was left defined as less than worthy of being loved honestly, purely and faithfully.  No matter how much I twisted, turned, and molded myself,  I would never be able to undo the internalization I had developed by the repeated reminders and reinforcements of not being enough....because I took it to the deepest part of my heart.  I continued to love and give more and more of me away trying to out run this horrible self pain.  
 
Although, I am no where near perfect (trust me on that!) I have always believed it was me that was the problem.  But as time has passed, through events unrelated to me, God has shown me that it didn't matter what kind of wife I was;  how talented, how smart, how pretty, how "Mini-Martha Stewart," how skinny, how sexy, how available.... it would never have mattered because my then husband had the inability or no desire to control his choices.  But, it wasn't me.  Yes, I have heard that a million-gazillion times but I had internalized that ugly, negative, shameful, stupid, useless mantra so deeply, human words couldn't undo the damage.  When my ex-husband, of 26 years of marriage, became engaged and remarried within weeks after the divorce, I internalized it. To me it was confirmation that I was deficient, not enough....but I now see that wasn't true.  He wasn't enough. Every time he turned to someone else, he proved that, but I was so short sighted, I could only see what was wrong with me.
 
I also internalize my role as Mother.  My greatest desire in life has always been to be a great wife and mother so when anything external signals otherwise, whether it be someone else making a comment on my parenting style, my house keeping, or my child saying the often pin point painful things that children say...I soak it right into my core.  It would/could/can devastate me.  Realistically I know I am not perfect, but in the face of these interactions I find myself walking around seeing myself through (insert comment/action/attitude) and it pushes me to twist, turn and often literally break my heart to be what others want to see.  If  one of my children takes my personal inventory (which generally is not during a  positive moment ) I immediately feel an overwhelming sense of failure. shame and guilt, whether their words are true or not. It feels like I can't be a good mother, I feel like I want to disappear because I am more bad than good.  I (no one else) makes me feel like I am more damage to my children than anything else.

I  have felt an abnormal need to make others happy, meet their needs, take care of everything and make it all look beautiful and dream-like for them.  Don't' misunderstand, I don't regret, for one moment, being a totally devoted wife and mother I loved those two jobs and know they will always be where my calling was....but I could have done better by expecting better.    I never could see the value in who and what I brought to the table...until this week.  I am working on the steps to relearn these ingrained behaviors that I have let myself develop and let the enemy run amok with in my heart.  I know it won't be an overnight change, but I am taking a step.
 
This week someone posed a  hard question to me....What is your worth...your inherent God defined worth?  I had expressed how I had been praying earnestly for many days to see myself through God's eyes and all I had heard was silence....days and days of total silence.  I was again internalizing and devastated....my heart was breaking because all I could come up with in my simple mind was God doesn't see me. My heart screamed "This explains the last 3 of your life."  It even explained why I am doing life alone. It explained why I can't seem to be Mother of the Year. Although seemingly unrelated, it explained why I haven't been able to get a handle on my finances and excel the way some in my life have spewed at me that I should have.  It explained everything....God doesn't see me.  He truly has abandoned me, He no longer looks upon me as His...I even questioned whether He ever did.
 
Then the loaded the cannon was exploded and blew my internal voice away when this person said, "God is silent because he doesn't need to reprove Himself to you.".....silence......from me.  What?
 
God's word has already defined who I am in clear, concise words....why was I making other people idols before Him? Why were those other words and deeds directing me more than God? I  was discounting God. 
 
No more, "Am I good?" No more, "What do other's think of me?" No more, "If I could just be good enough."  I am special because I was created by God.  I am truly special because Jesus saw something in me worth dying for.  My truth has already been defined....Here is how God sees me:
 
Psalm 139
1 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God! How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.
19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (NIV)



Sunday, March 5, 2017

Giving the past away.

This past weekend I gave a big chunk of my past away.  My daughter and son-in-love came and took all my dining room furniture and silver, some crystal and china.  They have just bought their first house and so I decided it was time to part with my dining room.  This has been planned for weeks but I was a little surprised at the emotions it stirred around.

I watched them load the trailer with pieces of furniture that I loved and cherished but really no longer fit in my life and it was just kind of strange.  It was cutting of ties to memories to the past, which is healthy, but I was taken aback by those emotions.  My daughter carefully packed the crystal and china that she wanted and I watched some of my memories and dreams go in the box with each piece.  It wasn't really sad, but I can't quite put my finger on what it was.  I do know, though that it was one more step in making my home mine and that feels good.

On the flip side, though, I now have a wonderful office space where all my work can be consolidated and organized!  No more work in the sunroom, no more boxes in my bedroom!  I am excited about that!  Tomorrow I will start moving things into the empty room and trying to find a place for all the crystal that was left!  I can't wait to show you some before and after pictures!


Sunday, February 19, 2017

To Church or not to Church?

 
My entire adult life, and most of my teens, church has been a very important part of my life.  I don't mean just the building or the people/social aspect of it, but the very essence of what the church is.  Church means so many different things to me... it is a place to worship and glorify Christ, a place to stop and say thank you to a God that loves us so very much, a place to bring your less than perfect self and know that God will and does perform miracles on your insides and out, a place to grow with the body of believers and be discipled and to disciple, and so much more. 
 
Recently, though, I have found myself in a very hard place concerning church.  I suppose it is what some would call Spiritual Warfare and sometimes it feels like I am losing.  The very act of going to church has become a challenge for me.  I know I need to be there, but I am pulling me away.  I have debated whether I need a new church or am I running away to something that feels softer, gentler?  There are a lot of memories in my church, some of them hard to face.  Ironically, the good memories are the hardest to face.  They point out all the changes, the differences and I am having a hard time trying to figure out how to fit it all together. 
 
So, yes...I am at a crossroads.  I don't know which way to turn.  Prayers appreciated.
 


Saturday, February 18, 2017

My Little Brick Cottage....

You may have noticed at the bottom of each of my posts I sign off with "Love from my Little Brick Cottage," and I have even created a tag for it on other forms of Social Media because it makes me happy. 

My little brick cottage is not really even my own.  I am just a renter.  Lately, though, I have thought a lot about this little house and wondered why I love it so much.  It isn't glamourous or fancy.  It needs some TLC and lots of paint.  But, I love it.  When I look at it, I see it through "what it could be" eyes.  Up until recent months, I was very close to being able to purchase this little cottage but there were some changes and money was needed for other things.  Yes, I have struggled with being sad about that and worried about the "what if" I have to move quite a lot. 

One of my greatest painful realizations when I was divorced is that I would probably never live in another house that I owned.  It was the realization that I would probably always be a renter.  Of course, there are perks to being a renter, but I love the feeling of "my home" and the freedom and security that provides.  "My Home" means I belong somewhere even if it is just me.  I guess, until my divorce, I had never realized how much that meant to me.  Maybe I am somewhat of a homebody?

I do love this little house, though.  I love all the great things and all the quirky "why was that done that way" things.  I see amazing potential that could be brought out with just a few little sweat equity projects.  I envision what a little yard work would do for it. I love walking the tree lined streets of the neighborhood.  But, I really think the reason I love it, is I feel safe here. 

My boys and I came here at a time when nothing in life felt Ok or safe or right. I was lost and very afraid.  This little brick cottage came to me out of a fluke, an unexpected turn and it provided a haven for my boys, my dog (now 2 dogs), and I to start our new life.  We worked through a lot of pain  and all of us have done a lot of growing up in this house (still are.) This is where we learned to do life, just us.  This is where that first Christmas tree went up after our family became fractured.  It was hard, but we did it.  So many firsts, some good and some bad, have happen here it feels like a lifetime has been lived here.  Yes, I know it is just a building but to me it is more....it is home.  I have been blessed to have had these walls wrapped around my family to keep us safe, and secure. It has covered us through storms both inside and out.    Here's to this amazing little brick cottage in the heart of Florence!


Happy Birthday, Ma Jones!

I have written about this plant before but it never ceases to delight me and leaves me wondering each year if it will produce it's magic at just the right moment.  You see, this is my Grandmother's Christmas Cactus, for her it bloomed at Christmas, because much like most growing things it dared not defy her tutelage. 
 
When she died almost a decade ago, I some how ended up with her prized Christmas Cactus.  To this day I do not know how it ended up coming home with me.  The first year I had it, I was quite abusive and left it in my garage for many months with no water and little light.  Of course, when I finally brought it inside it didn't even show the tiniest sign of a single bud at Christmas.  I didn't think much about it.
 
Then her birthday rolled around in mid February, (the 17th, to be exact), and that amazing plant threw a very unexpected party.  It burst into full bloom, making me realize there was more than one variety of cactus planted...there is a red with a beautiful fuchsia stamen and then there is a white with tinges of red. To say I was filled with joy and sadness was an understatement.  
 
This year it popped out a bloom or two in December for the first time since I have had it and I wondered if the birthday streak was gone and if the plant had adjusted back to it's normal schedule.  That was until this week, when it began to bud and bloom and produce the birthday party for my Ma Jones... right on time. I have said this many times but the older I get the more I miss her.  It would be so nice to be able to escape to the bubble of her little world, it was somewhere you didn't have to explain, you could just be.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Spring Fever?

This weekend finds me playing nurse again (the second time in a month that I have had 2 sickies in the house over a weekend!)  Both my young men are sick.  One tested positive for flu and the other is down with a really bad sinus infection and awful cough (but so far has shown no signs of flu!!!)  Ironically, the one who received the flu shot is the one with the flu...go figure!  I am just hoping I don't get it because, as I have told many people, our dogs are just not really helpful. 

Last night, since we were definitely not going anywhere, I started looking at seed catalogs and, of course, the rose catalog caught my eye.  Years ago, 17 if I calculate correctly, I had a rose garden in the house I lived in.  Some of the roses were left from previous owners but I had planted the large beds in front with a combination of roses and azaleas.  In houses after that, there was usually a rose bush or two but never a rose garden.  It has been a long time since I have had a rose "garden" and I think this year might be the year.  I love the work required to bring out the best in these beauties and I just think it would be such a stress reliever to be able to wander through the bushes and literally "smell the roses."  Of course, I am not talking anything elaborate or fancy but just a few bushes to bring blooms to brighten the day.  Gardening is something I haven't done in several years and after my "window shopping" last night I think this may be the year to start cultivating that skill again.  It is so nice to be able to walk out of your house and pick your own tomato or cucumber or have peppers to make fresh salsa with right at hand.  I am sure I will have a lot of catching up and relearning but I do think this is the year! 


Monday, January 30, 2017

Make-Up Monday!

Since everyone gives Monday a bad wrap I thought I would put a fun twist on it and talk about a couple of cosmetic products that I love.  When I say I love them, I mean they are the tried and true standard and always are in the "routine." Today's post isn't actually about make-up but rather the very beginning and the very end of your make-up routine.  These are two steps that if you are skipping you are losing valuable hours of great looking make-up.  I only added these into my routine in the last year and I can't believe how I made it without them!!!
Although, I have always loved make-up and work in the industry, somehow I managed to avoid using a primer before putting on my foundation!  I think I thought it was just one more product to buy that would not make a difference.  Rest assured this is a product you NEED, if you aren't using one.  After applying your moisturizer this is the first thing that should go on.  It smooths your pores and readies your skin for makeup.  I can tell a huge difference if I put on my make-up with or without primer! 
The next must have on my list is the very last thing you put on...a setting spray.  If I was wary of the primer you really should have seen how I felt about setting spray and all it's claims of glory...but, they are true.  With Setting Spray you lightly mist your face when your make-up is complete and it helps it stay on all day looking dewy fresh.  That is a huge plus when you live in a warm climate where the humidity loves to attack not just your hair but also loves to melt that make-up right off!  So, if you aren't using a setting spray get one right away. 

Adding these two elements into your beauty routine will be minimum effort for great results that will keep you looking fresh and glowing all day!  Happy Make-Up Monday!!!


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Grace...

I am reading this book right now...actually "working through it" as it has some interactive self-work to help you grow.  I really am enjoying it BUT I am stuck already...only 33 pages in!  In this section the author encourages you to determine what your passion is, what you truly love.

 "Life Inventory: What are you missing? What makes you feel deeply alive? And how can you fill your heart up with that even if just a tiny bit?"

 It seems like that should be a pretty easy fill in the blank, right?  Well...once I started really thinking about it I couldn't come up with a single thing.   It isn't that I am not missing something or that there aren't things to make me feel deeply alive and fill up my heart, I just don't know what they are anymore.  There was a time when I knew. There was a time when I knew what I loved, what my calling was, what brought me inner peace and joy.  Now, not so much.  So, tonight I am sitting here pondering what to write in that "I love...." area so that I can start adding more of that into the mix of my life and heart but am frustrated that it is so hard!  I think we all want to feel like we know ourselves, but in this season of life I am still floating and trying to figure out where I fit in.  It is like being homesick but not knowing where home is.  
 


Friday, January 13, 2017

Frugal Friday!!!


How was your frugal week?  Mine was pretty good.  We only ate out 1 time and that was actually delivery of pizza for the National Championship Game (CLEMSON WON, in case you had not heard...just saying!)
,
So my big savings was food this week.  I only picked up the basics that we needed as we needed them (last night on the way home from work I made a quick stop for fresh lettuce, tomato, dog food and milk.)  Otherwise, I shopped and planned through what was in my fridge, freezer and cupboard.  A couple of weeks ago, I went to the downtown farmer's market in my town and bought a meat pack from Orvis Hill Farms which guided me through my meal prep and gave the basis for a menu.  It was nice to have the freezer with meat in it but not so much that I felt no direction, so I think this "meat plan" may be a good way for me to plan and keep me from spending to much "on the way home from work."  A new meat traditional meat market just opened up in my town so I need to check it out because they often have "fill your freezer" deals that include a variety of meats and poultry. 

The downside of my budget was some unexpected medical expenses as both my sons had accidents (unrelated) that resulted in 3 sprained ankles between the 2 of them.  So, I had some drugstore expenses I didn't expect and angle braces are not cheap!  But, thankfully, no one was broken although they were in a lot of pain.  By the way, if you have  a Sonic close to you their ice makes the best ice packs and you can by it in 10 pound bags for under $2.00. 

Let me know your Frugal Tips!


Saturday, January 7, 2017

No snow day for us...

 

When I opened my Facebook page today I saw lots of lots of pretty, fluffy snow pictures from friends around the South ...here....eh.  It is just a cold, rainy day here. It also has a pretty big dose of dreary.  Sometimes I don't mind rainy days, especially when I can stay home and cuddle up with a book but today isn't one of those rainy days.  We have had a week of rainy days, and now this one is really cold.  I need some sunshine!
 
Maybe it is because I have 2 sickies (well, actually 3 sprained ankles and 1 virus between 2 boys) at home today that kind of puts a damper on things.  With both boys under the weather, it does make the day seem kind of blah.  I keep "thinking" of things I should be doing but obviously I am not doing them.  Although, I did get the self cleaning oven to clean!  I realized someone had spilled something that was causing massive amounts of smoke to billow from the oven when I was baking cinnamon rolls this morning for breakfast.  So maybe that started my day off on a dreary note as I was trying to deal with a house full of smoke and it too cold to open the doors and windows and air it out?  Mostly today, my house has been a place where lots of sleep has been found, which is good due to one boy who needs to stay off his foot and the other who is sick and needs to be off both feet.   
 
So, you may have just read the most boring blog post ever, but I am thankful that even though the days is damp and grey, I have a safe, warm place to spend it.  Oh...and tomorrow is supposed to be SUNNY & 35!  Whoohoo!
 
 
 



Wednesday, January 4, 2017

An Amazing thing happened 20 years ago today at approximately 4:25 PM...

This handsome man made his early and unexpected entrance into the world!  He has kept me on my toes since. He is talented, smart, funny and strong.  I am so glad to have been able to share in his life.  I love him more than he will ever know and ever let me I am sure!  I am so grateful to God for this young man and what he brought into my world.  I am blessed.
Happy 20th Birthday, sweet baby boy!


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Have I mentioned I am a Single Mom?


So, have I mentioned it a time or two...that I am a single Mom?  Maybe not, because I don't really like the label.  I never wanted the label but the court system and an ex-husband decided it should be my new label. I didn't get a say in it, just got it slapped on my forehead.  In all honesty, it has taken me about 3 years to adjust to the title.  Now, I just say it....

Anyway, the purpose of this post is not to lament being a Single Mom, though we can do that some other time if you like.  The purpose of this post is to ask other Single Moms, "What is your most challenging logistical part of single parenting?" 

For me it is dinner time! I seriously hate grocery shopping, not to mention finding time to do said errand and then the heart attack at the register.  See why I would just rather ignore it?  But, I can't...as hard as I have tried I can't.  First, I have finally realized how much my kids miss a Mom who cooks and that really hit me hard in the [Mom Fail] department. Secondly, I can't afford to eat out continually and I know it isn't the healthiest approach to life.  So, those two reasons  have given rise to find the motivation to try to bring my kids back to the table for meals, even if they are a bit on the late side if I come rolling in from work at 7:00 PM.  I think it is good for us to eat together and not scattered through the house or in front of the TV.  It is a nice time to at least make some connection in a non threatning environment.  I miss that family time and I am making a determined effort to bring it back for myself, but also for my boys...they need that Mom who cooks! 

So what is your Single Mom Challange???


Monday, January 2, 2017

Meet me on the Twitter and if you like join me on Instagram too!


If you haven't already, would you do me a huge favor and pop over and follow me on Twitter. Join in the conversation and lets share good in Social Media rather than all the ugly (I have been guilty of that, as well, but am trying to make sure that I only put good out there because in a blink of an eye I realized the world is just too full of ugly.) Southern Sparkle on Twitter!

Also, I guess I should admit...my favorite form of Social Media is Instagram!  I just love pictures.  I love taking them and looking at them.  Come join me in bringing more beauty in the world: Southern Sparkle on Instragram  I am also a Google+ user and would love to meet you there! Southern Sparkle on Google+.

I took a long break from Social Media and it was good for me.  It came at a time when I was at a loss as to who I was and who I wanted to be.  Now, I am using Social Media again but do have strong feelings that I want to use my little, tiny spot in this world as a place for transparency and positivity.  My life is NOT perfect and not pain free.  I have demons I battle within my heart just like everyone else and I do not want Southern Sparkle to ever portray a "magazine perfect" life.   I am blessed beyond what I deserve and I do want to share that and always know I have done nothing to earn those blessings...it is a God thing and to Him goes all the glory.  Join me in being a positive movement in Social Media to be real with our struggles and our victories in 2017! #bethechange



Before we totally move on, I thought I would do a quick recap in photos of our holidays!

We [I] started by changing up our tree décor this year.  I have to admit it was a pretty radical shake up in these parts and I got lots of strange looks from the natives when I announced such a rebellious streak in changing the tree!  I decided to use real cotton (still on the bush!), cardinals and burlap as garland.  It was a big departure for me and for the kid,s but I think once it was completed they really liked it!

We even had outside lights this year for the first time in a long time!
Also, I added a touch of Santa to my office space and my Dining Room
Side Board had just a touch of glamour to it! 
 
This is the first year I have been excited about Christmas in several, so it came out in a bit more decorating than I have been doing.  It was nice to feel like a child and get excited when I pulled up to my house at night as saw all the lights twinkling.
And what is Christmas with out some sweet Puppy dog kisses!
I got to visit with a friend's little lovers and they always make me smile!
 
Christmas Eve arrived and the party really started! There was food, crazy antics (that comes naturally when you get all my kiddos and all the dogs under one roof...I lovingly refer to it as the Bumpus Hound Reunion!)
 
For Christmas Eve we went with traditional Low Country Seafood (though those crab legs may have been bought in Georgetown, SC...I have a sneaking suspicion they aren't local....at least the shrimp was fresh off the boat!) My sweet girl made Shrimp and Grits because who doesn't love a little Shrimp and Grits?  I even caught a picture of the newlyweds sneaking a smooch! 



I got some really wonderful gifts from my parents and all my boys I do have to show off a favorite for this year (just overlook my first thing in the morning look....Santa still manages to wake my children up early on Christmas Morning!)  It is a portrait from my very special Daughter and Son-in-love's wedding. I will cherish it always because it has all my family included. I can't wait to get it framed and find just the right place to hang it so I can see all of my loves every day.
 
I was blessed to have vacation between Christmas until actually tomorrow (though work will sneak in today I am sure!) so there were some fun times just enjoying free time.  On New Year's Eve I got to walk the red carpet and felt quite like a movie star!  It was a major departure from last year when I think I slept through it!
Welcome 2017!
 
May your year be filled to the brim with abiding joy!