Sunday, December 26, 2010

Our Big One-Year-Old

A first birthday already?  Yes, already.

We celebrated Brig's first birthday with a little cowboy-themed get-together in our backyard on the most beautiful fall morning.  It was simple and filled with laughter and memories and good food.  I devoted a few days to Brig's birth and the events of his first year during "Bountiful Blessings" over the month of November, here and here.

I think watching both my boys grow and change from month to month can be easily summed up as bittersweet.  I cherish their "baby days," but look forward to what God holds next for them.  I've had a lot of people ask if I was sad about Brig turning 1 and I honestly wasn't sad at all.  I had enjoyed the prior 12 months so very much, but he's a kid and if there's one thing a kid does best, it's grow up f.a.s.t.  You just have to enjoy each stage as it comes and as it goes.  He's a full-fledged toddler now...busy and curious and such fun!

A "mini gallery" with memories of Brig's first year

Table decor


More presents!


Thank you everyone who celebrated Brig's special day with us!

"We want S'Mores!!"

I can hardly think of a better way to spend a chilly evening than snuggled outside by a fire. 
AND s'mores...well, that's just icing on the cake!

To break in Justin's parent's new fire pit, we did just that. 

As I gazed up into the millions of stars that filled that night sky, I couldn't help but remember this...  "Who with the breadth of His hand marked off the heavens"  (Isaiah 40:12)  You mean those millions of stars in that huge expanse of sky?  God holds them in the span of his hand.  That's a b.i.g. God.

Cousin Kalea = Happy.
Harrison = Really Happy.
Cousin Tyler = Not Happy.

Mmmm...Gooey goodness.

Snuggled and Warm with Mama

Turkey Rod Run

We had the opportunity the Saturday after Thanksgiving to take Harrison to the Turkey Rod Run at the Speedway in Daytona.  Turkey Rod Run is a huge car show featuring any and every kind of vehicle imaginable...old and new.  The last time Justin and I had been was before we were married.  I probably shoudl add that though hot rods aren't really my thing, seeing that many gleaming cars and proud owners is pretty neat. 

Harrison is totally and completely a lover of trucks with all his being, and Justin had the smart idea that we should make he would enjoy it this year and we should take him.  The best part was that it was just the three of us and a special treat for him to spend quality time with his Mama and Daddy (sans little brother). 

We saw lots of big trucks (Daddy's favorite)...

Quite a few Mustangs (Uncle Bubby's favorite)...

Old tractors...

And even this (whatever this is)...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thursday Thought

Not real sure where to start today.  A lof of things on my mind lately.  Things that I truly have no business worrying over. 

Jesus said, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  (Matthew 11:28).  Clinging to this verse today -- as well as a few others -- and the days ahead. 

Life is not perfect, I am not perfect, BUT my God is so very perfect. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Flashback Friday

Yes, it's been a while since a "Flashback Friday" post and they are a favorite.  Guess it's obvious our Friday's have been hectic lately.  But's back!

So I thought my little family was prepared for Christmas (which is in ONE week), but I was w.r.o.n.g.  Woah, was I wrong.  Though I strive every year to not be that wait-til-the-last-possible-minute gal, here it is another year and I'm doing it again.  Such is life.

For today's Flashback Friday, I decided to dig out some old Christmas pictures as a kid.  I have always loved Christmas -- actually I love all holidays -- but the Christmas season is so profound in meaning and rich with history.  The nostalgia gets me every time. 

I guess the picture below is probably from my first Christmas.  I'm a November baby (just like my Brig), so that first Christmas was kind of just "pretend."  Brig's first Christmas last year, we just kind of skipped over him.  Sounds sad, but we just took at as one more year to save a little money.  BUT, we're making up for it this year. 

What sticks out to me most about this picture is not the tree or the awful outfit Baby Sue is dressed in, it's the tacky velour sofa and red-brown shag carpet.  Wow.  Thank goodness interior design has come a long way.  Can't help but wonder if my boys will look back on their childhood photos and wonder the same thing about our home?  Undoubtedly so. 

But wait, it gets even better...

This picture I would guess is from my second Christmas; the "real" one.  These creepy Santas crack me up!  What child wouldn't be scared to sit in this guy's lap?

And last by not least, I would assume this picture is my third year.  And, yes, another creepy Santa.  Surely this guy could've opted for contact lens that day and left his "Clark Griswold" glasses home?  But best of all, I love those little stick-out-ish ears...the same ears my little Briggy has.  One of the (few) traits he carries of me.  Sorry Brig, but wear em proudly.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday Truth

As we're well into the Christmas season, naturally I studied a bit in Luke chapter 2 today and so it's on my mind and quite fitting for the "Tuesday Truth." 

Luke is my favorite of the 4 gospels.  History tells us that Luke was a doctor and he was the only one to write a gospel of Jesus who wasn't one of the 12 disciples.  Being a doctor, his writing is very detail-oriented; and being outside of the 12 disciples, his observations on Jesus' life -- and even His death -- are real-life and matter-of-fact. 

I've read this passage many times, but there were a few verses that moved me today.  Just one more way that God works on me through experiences in Mommy-hood.

Luke 2:7 - "She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger..." 

So this is where my Mama-ness comes out.  I can totally identify with Mary.  I can picture her swaddling that sweet-smelling, soft-skinned baby boy just like I've swaddled my own babies countless times, and then placing a soft kiss on the perfect tiny forehead.  And I just can't help but wonder what could've been going through her mind at the time.  After all, she knew what had been prophesied about Jesus. 

Could she imagine that her innocent baby boy was the Messiah -- prophesied for years and years before?  Did it even cross her mind that she would watch him be falsely crucified as ransom for the sins of the world?  I don't know.  But, I would think above all, she simply marveled at the miracle a new baby is and the favor God that had found in her. 

Later on in the chapter, Luke says (in verse 19), "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." 

I can quickly think back to that day 4 years ago in June; my first-born Harrison's "birth day" -- The day I became a Mama.  The details and the moments of that day are vividly burned in my mind as if they happened yesterday.  Just like I treasure those memories, no doubt those same moments are the things Mary treasured in her heart.  Above all, she was still a Mama.

Sadly, in the hustle and bustle of trying me to create the perfect Christmas, I so quickly forget to "unwrap" the most important gift of all -- the gift of Jesus. 
And as emblazoned on my memory are the details of my children's births,
so should God's gift of Jesus be emblazoned on my heart. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Giving Thanks

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."

Oh, how I love this holiday!  And after a month of "Bountiful Blessings," I am reminded of just how much I have to give thanks for.  So much more than I ever deserve. 

That being said, Justin and I had made a deal starting this year to do the least amount of traveling as possible over the holidays.  We have our own little family now and by spending the majority of the day in the car, we couldn't help but feel like our boys -- Harrison especially -- were missing out on what holidays are really about.

That being said, we only spent 5 minutes of Thanksgiving Day in the car driving to our brother- and sister-in-law's house.  (The following day, we spent another hour plus in the car going to my mom's, but at least it wasn't all in one day, which has been the norm for years past.)

And, in true Turkey Day style, you gotta have coordinating outfits complete with

...and Brig's first taste of sweet potato pie...

We enjoyed a fun day with pretty weather, good food, family and lots of laughter. 


Family Portraits 2010

Yet again, my dear friend and talented photographer Jennifer never ceases to amaze me!  We had a little mini-session a few weeks back and she did her thing and we ended up with portraits that we love, love, LOVE.  Pretty awesome isn't she??

With this being a mini-session, I had expected to get maybe 10 or 15 good shots and really that was all I needed...something for cute Christmas cards and maybe a few to frame for gifts, etc.  I had no idea I'd end up with 43!  43!!! 

And they are ALL fabulous...though, I'm a tad partial.  So I'll hush up and post some pics, since that's all anyone wants to see anyway!

First United Methodist Preschool Thanksgiving "Feast"

I'm understanding already just how much more fun the holidays are with a kid in school.  It's like the excitement is x10 when they get the chance to celebrate the holidays nearly every day at school! 

First up...the "Thanksgiving Feast." 

Harrison's school had been practicing for a special Thanksgiving program -- complete with pilgrim and indian costumes -- in anticipation for their Thanksgiving Feast.  This was a special program because not just anyone could attend...Harrison had to invite just one special person to join him for the program and a special lunch the children had put together.  I knew immediately that I was out of the running to be the special guest and assumed it would either be Daddy or Meme (Justin's mom).  But I didn't force the issue and let Harrison decide.  The winner was....Meme!  I sent her with my camera that day so she could at least snap a few shots of my little Thanksgiving Indian.

The menu for the day was turkey sandwiches, chips, fruit salad, cookies and a very special pumpkin pie that the kids made themselves.  I had volunteered to help with pumpkin pie day, so the day before the feast, I got to help the students actually make the pies and they did a fabulous job.  Meme said they were quite proud that they had made the pumpkin pie!

Harrison's class is always in the back row -- What's up with that??

Wow - What a feast!

My Little Indian

Though I didn't celebrate this day with him, I'm happy Meme had the opportunity to attend and see all the kids' efforts had payed off!

Halloween 2010

***  This is way behind...The month of November was devoted to "Bountiful Blessings" which in itself was a blessing.  Sadly, I have to remind myself to be thankful.  BUT, we are now back on track.  Be prepared for lots of "Month of November Fun" posts coming your way! 

Our little people had the most fun this Halloween -- AND Brig's first Halloween!  Harrison had decided months back that he wanted to be a cowboy (again - same as last year) and I didn't object since we already had all the goods for another cowboy costume.  I did take a hour or so and stitch him up a jazzy new vest and chaps for this year.  In keeping with tradition, Brig was a pumpkin.  He actually wore a pumpkin costume that I made for Harrison's for Halloween and held onto it in hopes that all my babies would wear it for their first Halloween.  A few friends have borrowed it over years past, and it always makes me smile to see those little chub-a-lubs in that cute costume!

Logan and Harrison - Cowboys at heart

Mama's sweet Punkin-Head

The whole gang - Macie, Meghan, Logan, Harrison

These fellas are ready to roll!

"Howdy Partner!"

Special thanks to the Thomas family for letting us tag along trick-or-treating in their neighborhood.  (There is no trick-or-treating in the woods where we live!)  And another special thanks to the Wilson family for hauling the whole bunch around in their UTV!

Memory Monday

Glad to be back on regular routine.  The holidays are fast-approaching and my bunch is crazy-busy once again!

One year ago, we were adjusting to life with a 1-week-old baby.  On this same day a year ago, my very dear friend and most talented photographer Jennifer spent a few hours of her morning photographing my new bundle of sweetness.  He was a bit of a pickle at times, but Jennifer did what she does best and got the most beautiful simple portraits of little (and he was little) Brigdon David.

Though it seems this year has sped past with rapid speed, I can clearly remember this day a year ago.  I was smack dab in the middle of new-baby exhaustion mode.  And if you have had a new-baby, you know exactly what I mean.  Yikes. 

What'd they say, "This too shall pass..."??  And it did.  Eventually.  And through my exhaustion, I managed to get my little family to Jennifer that day and am so grateful I took the opportunity to have Brig photographed while he was still wrinkly and fresh.  To remember his eyes (when they would open) that deep, deep blue...the color of new.

I have quite a few of these photos framed throughout my house and they never cease to stop me in my tracks and make me thank Jesus for my sweet baby and the joy and laughter he brings to our home. 

We have never been the same.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bountiful Blessings - Day 30

Well, here it is, the end of November. 

Today, I'm grateful for memories.

"Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. 
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.  
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." 

As I think back to exactly a year ago this day, I am overwhelmed with a flood of emotions.  We started the day anxious and eager - Would we meet our baby boy today?  We finished the 11:45 ease and blessed - We did meet our baby boy. 

After a weekend full of turkey and family, we welcomed our own little "turkey" Brigdon David to our family on November 30, 2009.  His first year has absolutely flown by and I wouldn't take back a second of it.  That boy brings so much joy and laughter and love to our home. 
We have never been the same. 

I can remember during my pregnancy, elated that God was blessing us with another boy, as I am partial.  :)  But in the back of my mind, I just wondered how I could love another child as much as I already loved Harrison, my first-born. 
I just couldn't wrap my mind around the thought of it. 

Little did I know, that the second I saw my baby's first breath, my heart would double in size.  I would hesitate to say that Brig makes our family complete because I don't know that God's finished with us yet -- and that's quite alright by me.  But without a doubt, we are unbelievably grateful for this sweet-spirited, happy baby boy and for God entrusting him in our care.  He's got big plans for him (Jeremiah 29:11). 

I look forward to day after day after year after year of making more memories with my precious family and beyond blessed to be a Mama.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bountiful Blessings - Day 29

Today, I'm grateful for the pitter-patter of little feet.

I gripe a lot (and I mean a lot) about cleaning up mess after mess, the racket of children running and yelling in the house, having to discipline day after day over the same instances, and even the seemingly endless mountains of laundry that greet me every Monday morning. 
But, at my core, I am grateful.

I'm grateful for happy healthy babies who can run and laugh and ask questions (and questions and questions) and push trucks and roll in the dirt and crash toy cars and tear my flowers up.  I'm grateful for the sound of little feet on the floor that greet me with big hugs first thing in the morning and randomly throughout the day.  I'm grateful for kids (and a husband) who can play outside and work and dirty up clothes that I can later wash.  And for those same fellas who can scarf down a pot of chicken & dumplins and praise me for a good meal...and also the dishes that I will then clean.

Life is short and stressing about the little things will shorten it further. 
Some things will never change, but we can change our outlook. 

Bountiful Blessings Day 28

Today, I'm grateful for Christmas trees.  Love the holiday altogether, but I'm pretty fond of just the tree.  It's the little things right? 

It seems that nearly every year when Christmas season rolls around, I whine and complain about taking care of a live tree; the sap, the needles, the re-watering every day.  But, my darling husband refuses to invest in a fake tree despite my pleading.  So yesterday we spent the afternoon putting up our (live) tree and after scraping the sap off my hands and arms and vacumming needles off the floor and dealing with the fact that it's a bit lop-sided, I silently regretting that I wished for a fake tree.  That pine-y woods-y scent of a live tree screams "Christmas" every time.  I don't care who ya are, that's something you just can't get from a candle!

Bountiful Blessings - Day 27

Today, I'm grateful for modern medicine.

Though it seems small in comparison to health struggles other Mama's face, our little Brig has put us through the ringer this year with his ears.  Just a few weeks ago, he peaked at ear infection number 8 -- most of them bilateral -- in his 11 months of life.  Months went by where it seemed like he'd get an infection, complete a round of antibiotics, followup in 2 weeks for a recheck and be clear, and then in another 3 or 4 weeks, he'd get another. 

Just beyond aggravating. 

Finally, when number 8 struck a few weeks ago, we were referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist.  We got in to see him quickly and after just one look in Brig's ears, he recommended we proceed with surgery to have ET tubes placed.  I had talked with other Mama's who had gone through similar struggles and they only gave praise for tubes. 

Justin and I had prayed about this situation and though surgery wasn't our first option, we had decided to proceed with whatever the doctor thought best.  That day at the specialist, I asked Dr. Loper if he thought the tubes would help and he told me honestly, "At this point, I don't really think you have a choice."  Ouch. 
We could go on with surgery or keep doing what we were doing -- infections every 4 or 5 weeks.  Surgery it is. 

The procedure was nothing and Brig was a champ.  Craziest of all, is that within a day or two, we could tell a difference.  He was babbling more and getting around faster and his overall demeaner was much different. 

His first birthday is tomorrow and I can't think of a better birthday present for my sweet baby than the ability to hear. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bountiful Blessings - Day 26

Today, I'm grateful for traditions; both old and new.

For my family, Black Friday doesn't mean shopping all hours of the night, though I have respect for those crazies who do! Black Friday for us for a tree -and quite possibly my favorite part of the season.

Other traditions like the annual pre-Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas pie bake-a-thon with my ma & sis-in-law. (My crust will never top hers...*sigh*)

Yet another - Christmas morning French toast soufflé.

And new traditions...

Like the advent calendar, finally. I've been wanting to put together an advent calendar for the last few years, and every time December 1 rolls around I think, "well, maybe next year." This is the year!

Another new tradition is our "Four Gift Rule" for our children. Even at their young age, they get bombarded by SO many gifts and easily see through the true meaning of the season. So, starting this year, they will get:

1). Something you want.
2). Something you need.
3). Something you wear.
4). Something you read.

There's something sacred about old traditions that in our busied lives are difficult to keep alive. So, I'm trying my best to keep those traditions going in my little family as best I can.

Happy Holidays!

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bountiful Blessings Day 25

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Today, I'm grateful for Thanksgiving; the holiday itself and the exact meaning of the word.

Merriam-Webster defines "thanksgiving" as this: 
"A public acknowledgement or celebration of divine goodness." 
Love that!

Though today is Thanksgiving Day -- a day set aside specifically to reflect on our blessings -- as Christians we're called to give thanks for God's goodness every day

I can't help but think back to Thanksgiving 2009 and how different my little family was.  We were anxiously preparing the arrival of our sweet Brigdon.  I was 38 weeks pregnant and had a little turkey of my very own getting ready to greet the world.  I can remember spending that Thanksgiving weekend putting up Christmas decorations -- just my family of 3 -- and cleaning house like a mad-woman. 

And in perfect timing, our bundle of sweetness made his entrance into the world the following Monday at 11:45 p.m.  We'll be celebrating his first birthday next week and I am shocked at the pace this year has flown by!

Life is short - Take a few minutes today and tell God how grateful you are for His goodness.  Having a hard time finding an "attitude of gratitude"?  How bout the breaths you take?  Or the sun that greeted the day to warm the earth?  Or the clothes on your back? 

Take a moment to absorb the great gift that the forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ is. 
AND the fact that a day is coming when there will be no more sickness and no more tears.  That's cause for deep gratitude.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bountiful Blessings Day 24

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! 
In our neck of the woods, Thanksgiving Eve generally involves grocery shopping (on the worst possible day of the year, I know!) and prepping food. 
Though I love all holidays, Thanksgiving definitely ranks in the top. 

And speaking of grocery shopping...

Today, I'm grateful for the grocery baggers at Publix.  I've never met one that didn't have a smile on their face and attempt to make my kids smile too. 

Besides the fact that they're most knowledgable about bagging techniques (squaring off boxes, not too many canned goods in one bag, "crushables" seperate, etc.), they take the time to seperate my cold stuff from non-cold stuff and THEN bag that cold stuff in paper bags versus plastic.  And just when I'm about to wrangle up my wild banchees and heave that buggy to my truck, they ask, "Would you like some help out with that?" 
Oh.  Absolutely.  Yes. 

So here's to making what could be a hair-pulling, Mama-yelling-at-the-kids complete and totally embarrassing experience into a rather peaceful experience. 

I'm thankful for you Mr. (or Ms.) Grocery Bagger - You totally make my day!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bountiful Blessings Day 23

Today, I'm grateful for this little blog.

Does anyone really care about the sillyness that goes on in my family?  Quite frankly, no. 

My good friend (and amazingly talented photographer) Jennifer, inspired me about a year ago to start a blog.  She is "Blog Queen" and I love reading about The Days I'll Remember
**Hop over there a check her out!**

So, after going back and forth for some time, I decided to just go with it.  Not for anyone else, but for me.

I struggle a lot with living and enjoying the here and now and if there's anything that forces me to stop and catch my breath, it's this blog.  And for that, I am unbelievably grateful. 

I look just over the past 10 months or so and the memories captured and things Harrison has said and it blesses me that I took a few minutes to write that into memory.  There is no way my little pea-brain would have been able to retain those moments otherwise. 

My hope is that when my boys are grown and have this little blog in print, they will see the story of their lives.  And more importantly, they will see that God is woven into every moment of every day.  HE is the one writing their story and childhood is but one chapter in that book.

Bountiful Blessings Day 22

Today, I'm grateful for a clean house. 
Probably sounds petty to other folks, but how wonderful a feeling to:

a.)  Wake up to a sparkling clean house.  Or,
b.)  Come home to a sparkling clean house.

With little rugrats and their seemingly constant messes, that "sparkling clean house" doesn't stay "sparkling and clean" for very long...unfortunately.  Over my years as keeper of my house, I've learned to let the little stuff go.  Way back before children, I used to make myself silly keeping up house.  (No doubt I probably also made my husband silly in the meantime.)  I can remember something as little as a pair of boots by the door (and not in the closet where they belonged) or dirty socks on the bathroom floor (and not in the hamper where they belonged) would set me off.  I would feel like all my hard work was useless because no one ( better half) would keep it clean.

For goodness sake, I've learned to let go of a lot of that.  Not to say that I never clean anymore.  Part of my evening routine is to do a quick sweep of the house and put away toys, dirty clothes, etc.  Harrison has his own "chores," including picking up his room at the end of the day and making his bed in the morning.  On average, I probably squeeze in a good deep clean every 10 days or so....and, oh how I wish it was more often than that.  I've got better things to do -- being a Mama as number 1 -- than make myself crazy keeping a perfect house. 

I have often warned friends and family that if they ever drop by unannounced (don't get me wrong -- I love unannounced company!), don't expect a perfect house.  Expect a lived-in house, because that's what goes on here!

Bountiful Blessings - Day 21

(Super duper busy these past few I'll be catching up Days 21 through 23 this morning!)

On this day, I'm grateful for my little sewing machine.  And I guess not so much just for the machine itself, but for the ability to use it.  Though not a pro by any means, I find that the more projects I complete, the more confidence I gain in my abilities.  Plus, it's my "release."  Generally when I find time to sew, it's when my kids are asleep or I have a few hours to myself and can crank something out.  That quiet time is precious and much-needed.

It is amazing to me how plain ole fabric right off the bolt can be transformed into something practical and useful...and sometimes even cute!  No matter how much stitching I do, this plain and simple fact gets me every time.

Can't help but think how God works the same way.  He takes plain old me -- right off the bolt -- and cuts and trims and stitches to refine me into something practical and useful for His kingdom.  Except that the process takes a bit longer with me as compared to a few hours with a bit of fabric and a sewing machine.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bountiful Blessings - Day 20

Day 20 already??  So it is.

Today, I'm grateful for night shift.  And please know, it has taken me a long while to come to terms with night shift and -- therefore -- be grateful for it.

As many of you know, my husband works a night shift and has been doing so for nearly 2 years.  This was something he (or should I say, "we") wanted to do.  He knew in order to be promoted out of his prior position, it would require him putting in some time on the night shift.  The first 4 months or so weren't bad.  Brig wasn't born yet, so it was just me and Harrison and we quickly got into our own little groove during the week.  Then more months came and Brig was born and I was slammed with the sheer exhaustion that is taking care of two kids (one of which was only days old) by myself.  Justin would come home in the morning and go right to bed.  It seemed like he'd wake up in enough time to eat supper and then be gone again.  Never have I felt so alone and in desperate need of a break than during those early months.  But eventually, the three of us got into a new groove and each day was easier.  Now, we're to the point that it's nothing.  Though, I will say that by the time Friday rolls around, I am SO happy to greet it because it means the end of Justin's work week and three precious days that he's all ours. 

Fast-forward to today... 

It's obvious to see that my love/hate attitude towards this night shift thing has come a long way.  I can see through the "what were we thinking?" part and realize we did what was right for our family (and it won't be forever...hopefully).  In comparison to the majority of fathers who work standard 9-to-5 hours, Justin's night shift enables him to spend more quality time during the day with our boys than those with "banker's hours."  No, he's not there for hectic cranky bath/bedtime routine, but he spends hours with them in the afternoon that's true quality time...whether it be playing outside, walking in the woods, or messing around in the garage.  AND the best part is that he has 3 whole days off every weekend. 

In the beginning, I dealt with night shift by tellling myself it was better than him having no shift, but now I'm actually to the point where I'm grateful for it.  It may sound odd to others, but it works for us.  Not to say, I won't be grateful with night shift isn't a part of our lives any longer...

In due time.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bountiful Blessings - Day 19

Today, I'm grateful for thrift stores.  Yes, I said thrift stores. 

Blame it on the cheap-o that I truly am at my core...blame it on my love for all things old...blame it on the sheer joy of finding something perfect with tiny little price tag...blame it on whatever -- they make me happy. 

I must say that strange looks come my way when people find out how much I love to thrift shop.  I can read them like a book. 
They're thinking, "Really?  Do people even go to thrift stores any more??" 
Oh, yes.  This girl does.

BUT, let me say that I'm a bit of a thrift store/yard sale/estate sale snob.  I will not buy a ratty old T-shirt just for the plain and simple fact that it's $0.50.  That's not savvy shopping...that's stupid.  AND, I have to be in the "thrifting mood."  If there's one huge downfall to thrifting, it's that it's totally hit or miss.  One really great trip makes up for 2 or 3 not-so-great trips. 

I would say my love (and hence, my gratitude) for thrift stores stems from a love to shop in general.  I even love to grocery shop.  Seriously.  Justin swears I just get this high from handing people money.  (For the record, he's completely exaggerating.)

Over the years -- lots and lots of years -- I've come across some really great deals.  The best part is that 99% of folks would have never guessed it was something snagged from a thrift store.  I would encourage you if you have a few hours to spare (really, nearly no one has a "spare" few hours), venture into a thrift store and dig around.  
I can bet you'll be pleasantly surprised.   

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bountiful Blessing - Day 18

Today, I'm grateful for blogs.  Not just my blog (though I am grateful for it), but I'm grateful for the host of blogs that I follow.  Some are crafting and sewing, some are fashion, some are spiritual, and some are about just about life.  They inspire me and encourage me every day when I log on for some reading.

I would encourage you to search out a blog or two and follow them.  It's so easy through Google/Blogger.  Just sign up with a Google account (or create one) and you can add blogs to follow simply by clicking the "Add" button and copying the URL.  Super duper easy. 

Below is a short list of a few of the blogs that I follow regularly, a list that I literally add to each day.  They are in no particular order but alphabetical, thanks to my OCD tendencies.  Enjoy!

A Sacred Journey - A reflective blog; one that I would categorize as spiritual.  Features reminders that life is short and to live, laugh and love every day.

Deb's Everyday - A mix of sorts; one that I would categorize just about life.  Deb is hilarious and some posts are reflective and spiritual and other posts are just for fun. 

Fab Finds Under $50 - This blog is about fashion - Hence the name.  Being the thrifty gal I am, this is one of my favorites.

Make It and Love It - By far another favorite blog!  Mostly crafty/sewing things, but she also features recipes, tips on home decor, and such.

Pioneer Woman - Holy smokes, this gal is Super-Woman!  She's a fabulous writer, cook, photographer, homeschool mom, homemaker, gardener, and woman of God.  She's my idol!

Presser Foot - Yet another sewing/crafting blog.  Great ideas on high-fashion looks and sewing resources for apparel.

Slippery Tiger Tales - A blog about life with twin preschoolers.  Enough said.  :)

The Days I'll Remember - I have a special place in my heart for this little (well, not little anymore) blog.  Jennifer of TDIL actually inspired me to start blogging.  She's the Mama of two boys (much like myself), lives in the middle of cows (much like myself) with her country-fried husband (much like myself), and loves the Lord (much like myself). 

Bountiful Blessings Day 17

(I know, I know...a day behind.  Yesterday was exhausting, so I'm catching up yet again.)

Two days ago, I wrote that I am grateful for answered prayer.  Today, I'm grateful for unanswered prayer. 

It comes as no surprise to many that my Type A, OCD-ish personality likes to be in control.  Well, truthfully, loves to be in control.  And when I'm not in control, it's not pretty.  So, in my futile attempts to control everything -- my job, husband, children, family members, friends, and sadly even my God -- I've prayed over it all.  BUT, not in the humble and reverent spirit God calls me to have, but more of that ugly "do it my way God" spirit.  I'll say it again - It's not pretty. 

Looking back at particular situations, it makes me laugh that at the time I actually thought I was doing God a favor.  Like just maybe He didn't see all aspects of the situation like I did.  Seriously?  We're talking the same God who "has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand...and with the breadth of His hand marked off the heavens...who has held the dust of the earth in a basket...and weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance."  (Isaiah 40:12)

Though those situations cause me to spontaneously chuckle as I look back, it's also another lesson in humbless.  The plain and simple fact that as best as I try...
I.  Am.  Not.  In.  Control.  Period. 

That being said, I am grateful for those unanswered prayer.  Times when God saw through my foolishness (yet again) and took the higher road...literally. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bountiful Blessings - Day 16

"Hear my prayer, LORD; listen to my cry for mercy.  
When I am in distress, I call to you because you answer me." 

Today, I'm grateful for answered prayer. 
(And unanswered ones too, but that's for another day...) 

Just within the last two months or so, before I sit down with my Bible in the mornings, I started to take a minute and write down 3 or 4 praises to God.  Either ways He had sorted out a particular situation or grace He had granted in dealing with a difficult person or just simply answered prayer...on the large scale and the small scale.  After writing down a few praises, I began taking another minute or so and writing down a few prayer requests...needs that I had, worries about my children, lifting friends and family members up. 

Why I hadn't thought to do this until recently I don't know??

But, most amazing through something so simple as taking a note, is that after the first week of doing this, I could go back in my notebook (kudos to all you fancy schmancy journal keepers.  Mine's just a plain-Jane spiral notebook) and see rock-hard evidence of answered prayer - Every.  Single.  Day. 

It seems for me that it only takes one little thing in my life to go awry and not according to my plan, and everything else quickly gets off-kilter.  Just by glancing back a few pages in my notebook, I can see God's hand working in my life and my faith is quickly restored. 

The Bible says, "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1).  Just a quick reminder of answered prayer gets my faith (confidence) back in check. 

I would encourage you that if you're feeling like God's forgotten you to take a minute and write down a few things you're grateful for and then write down a few needs.  Deliver these in prayer to the Lord and in no time at all, you're faith will be restored. 

"...a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bountiful Blessings - Day 15

Today, I'm grateful for technology.  I know, I know, it sounds silly.  But I'm happy that technology makes my life easier. 

The ease of internet (especially wireless internet) and a portable laptop gives me the ability not only to work from home, but to work on my back porch on a sunny afternoon or to work in my big warm bed on cold nights. 

That same internet and laptop enable me to keep us this little blog, which is something I love to do and something my children will be grateful I took the time to do.

Email and Facebook (yes, even Facebook) gives me the ability reconnect and stay in touch with friends from childhood and from high school that I've lost contact with.  It also helps me stay connected with family who don't live close by. 

Not to say that all technology is helpful, but you have to take the bad with the good.  Knowing the bad and keeping yourself in check is what's important -- it's too easy to fall into a pit where our "computer time" becomes an idol.  An idol?  Anything that comes before the Lord is an idol.  So, yes, an idol.

I have struggled with this just from something simple as my cell phone.  Not to say I'm not grateful for my little iPhone and all the ways it makes my life easier, but there was a point where I was finding myself constantly checking my phone.  I had to make it a point to either turn my phone off or just put it in my bag and leave it there.  After a few days of that, I didn't struggle so much. 

So, put down your phone, close up your computer and go love on your babies!

Bountiful Blessings - Days 14

**Yet again, Day 14 was Sunday and didn't catch the Bountiful Blessings, so it's combined with today.

Bountiful Blessings - Day 14

"And God spoke all these words:...Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy."

I'm grateful for Sunday.  That single day of the week especially made for rest, refreshment and reflection.  God's Word specifically says to set aside this day for worship and for rest.  Even God rested on the seventh day after six days of creation. 

The excerpt above is taken from the Ten Commandments, commandment number 4 actually.  I cannot say that I've always remembered the Sabbath day and kept it holy.  Too often in my hurried life, I find myself spending my Sunday "catching up" rather than devoting it to the Lord.  If it's not real work, it's a long list of housework, outside chores, and projects needing to be finished that take over my precious time. 

I really struggle with laying those things aside - Sadly, I have to force myself to rest. 

What have we become when our very Creator commands us to do something seemingly so easy, but we bluntly do the opposite? 

That being said, every Sunday is a fresh start to make it right.  I know from experience that my week goes so much smoother when I truly take a day and devote it to worship and rest.  It makes my heart happy to roll out of bed and start my day at church.  It makes me feel even better to end my day at church.  A long nap in between is just icing on the cake! 

So, take a minute today and thank God for giving us Sunday.  Then make it a point to give yourself a "time out" next Sunday and devote it to rest. 

I sure am.