Thursday, March 31, 2022

thankful Thursday


Happy Thursday, my friends. I'm joining in with Rebecca Jo and Leslie our weekly thankful Thursday post. We'd love for you to join us! Add your blog to the link-up and link back to us. 

I thought I'd share a little differently today than in the other weeks and just concentrate on one thing. Out of all the things I have to be grateful for, and there are far too many to even count, the thing I'm most grateful to God for is that He saved me and gave me new life in Him. I was saved at a young age, but I spent several years living life on my own, with little to no regard for Him. I lived so differently back then and I marvel at all He has done in me in the years that He drew me back to Him. Ever since then, He took away the desire for certain habits I had, He changed my countenance, He changed my perspective on life. 

So many people believe they're not good enough to be saved by an Almighty and holy God, but that couldn't be further from the truth. He wants us like we are and then He changes us from the inside out. It's often a visible change, or at least it should be, so that He will get the glory for what He's done in our lives. None of this means that I have it all together or that life isn't sometimes hard. It is. But knowing that God is with me, I can face anything. I was talking to someone recently about this, about our perception of what life for a Christian looks like, versus what it actually is. I thought I'd expound on that a little.

First, it does not mean that I don't have any struggles in life. That isn't true at all. I have been known to struggle with debilitating anxiety, to the point of having to take something to help me before a major surgery. I know plenty of friends who take something for depression and/or anxiety and there is no shame in that whatsoever! Sometimes God truly heals someone from something like that, other times He heals through doctors and medication. I absolutely hate the stigma that needing this type of medicine has and how we've turned it into something shameful. So many people want to keep it secret for whatever reason, but what if we actually shared our journeys in this area from time to time? How many people would we find that knew what it was like, from their own personal experiences? I think the numbers would be shocking, as in far more people take something for things like this, than people who do not.

This doesn't mean that I am the best wife and mom. Someone younger than me recently said that, about how they thought I was the best mom when my boys were little. I assure you, I was not, and they'll tell you that as well, if you were to ask them. I did the very best I was able to do and I relied on God for everything. I yelled too much, I didn't pay enough attention at all times, sometimes I paid too much attention to them and not enough to my husband. Life was hard back then! I just muddled through as best I could, like I said, and God did the rest. 

This doesn't mean that I'm in the best of moods one hundred percent of the time. It doesn't mean that I don't struggle with not being motivated or feeling burned out. It doesn't mean that I get worked up over trivial and meaningless things, like just now when one of my sons had too much stuff on the counter in the kitchen for me to start cooking. It doesn't mean that I am always in the mood to find something good in the middle of a field of things that aren't. All of those are conscience choices that I have to make everyday of my life.

That's a great segue into what life for a Christian does look like. It looks like someone who is imperfect and messes up very frequently, who then is convicted when that happens and goes back to make the necessary apologies. I can't tell you how many times I've had to say I'm sorry. I had to do that just the other day when I snapped at one of my sons, as a retaliation of someone who had snapped at me. We all sin every day in some kind of a way, but thankfully His grace covers our sin. 

It means that even though life is hard and ugly and mean, I make the choice not to dwell in that. Part of that is just my personality as an eternal optimist, but it's also a choice. If I have a headache when I wake up and am not feeling particularly cheerful, I don't take it out anyone. It's not their fault when I don't feel good and lashing out at someone never helped any situation. It means that especially when I'm the driver of the struggle bus, I pour it out to the Lord.

I have a general rule of thumb that I exercise often about this and that is before I complain to someone, I take it to God. I pour out my heart to Him because He loves me as my Father and because He wants us to have that kind of relationship with Him. There are books you can read on prayer and all sorts of articles and blog posts about how to go about this gift of prayer that we have, but honestly, the best thing is to just start. Imagine He is sitting right beside you and start talking. There's not a right or wrong way to pray and He isn't legalistic about it, we are the ones who are that way and make it into too much of an ordeal. 

One last thing I like to do has a great impact and is the reason why I'm writing this today. I like to practice the art of gratitude. Way before I started writing these weekly posts, I've practiced doing this. One way that I can tell that I've not been doing this is when I hear myself complaining a lot, or worrying about something. When I catch myself being that way, I try to go and start writing a list of things to be thankful for, or I start praying wherever I am. This means that I've sat in my car for extended lengths of time and it means that I've been known to carry around a journal. These days I keep a note on my phone to quickly jot down something as it comes to mind, but there are a million ways you can go about that. I tried to teach our sons this and often had them do that on their own as a part of every school day. I love what Paul says in Colossians 2:6-7.

So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude. 

(If I've never told you, that's where the name of my blog came from. Years ago I memorized those verses in the NLT translation, which say "overflow with thankfulness".) 

I'll wrap this up with one last passage, one I heard read yesterday at Bible study, It's Psalm 92:12-15.

The righteous thrive like a palm tree and grow like a cedar tree in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the LORD, they thrive in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, healthy and green, to declare, "The LORD is just; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him."

I hope this encourages you. I hope it gives you a tiny glimpse into the life I lead and why I so often ask whether or not you know Jesus. It's my desire (and His!) that everyone would know Him as their Lord and Savior. As always, if you'd like to chat more about this, don't hesitate to reach out. My email address is allboys@gmail.com. I'm grateful for you who read this and who so often encourage me. Thanks for reading my blog, friends. Love to all. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

What's Up Wednesday

 

Happy Wednesday, friends! I'm linking up with Sheaffer and Shay for this monthly blog post. I'll jump right in!

What we're eating this week:

We had cod fillets with veggies on Monday, ham with sides at my dad's last night, spaghetti tonight, and chicken tacos Thursday night. I have no idea, beyond that. 

What I'm reminiscing about:

The fun time away we had this weekend at our women's retreat! Seriously, we had the best time and so many new relationships and friendships are forming!

What I'm loving:

The weather we've had! I sat outside for over an hour Monday night and read while the dogs played in the backyard. 

What we've been up to:

Work, play, birthday celebrating, all the things. Here was what we did last night! We celebrated my dad turning 91.

I always love getting a picture with them and Dad. 

What I'm dreading:

This minute, the bad weather they're predicting here later today. I always get a little freaked out by spring storms and how quickly they can turn. 

What I'm working on:

Getting motivated to declutter. I have some books that I need to donate and the shelves are starting to make me crazy. 

What I'm excited about:

Fun things coming up! Next week I'm going to the beach with my writing team friends and I can't wait. I'm also looking forward to a couple of events I have planned with Todd, both with the sheriff's department. One of them involves us going to Nashville for the night. He's receiving a very high honor for helping save a life! I'm so proud of him.

What I'm watching/reading:

I'm still watching Downton Abbey. I'm so mad because one of my favorite characters just died. As for reading, did you happen to see the additional post I made yesterday? If so, you can click here to see which books I read in March.

What I'm wearing:

Jeans/black pants/ponchos/sandals. These are my new favorite shoes and the brand is one that's new to me—Remonte. 

What I'm doing this weekend:

I hope to do something with my mom and sister Trish! I haven't been with them in AGES. 

What I'm looking forward to next month:

Celebrating my Drew turning 22, the beach trip, those are all taking place in the first two weeks. 

What else is new:

I can't think of anything else! 

Thanks for reading my blog, friends. Love to all! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

the books I read in March

 

Happy Wednesday, friends! Today I am sharing about the books I read this month. I read seven books this month and finished the Bible study I was doing, so you'd better believe I'm counting that one in this month! I'm going to jump right in. Click on each title to be directed to Amazon! Some of these are very inexpensive or FREE with Kindle Unlimited. 

First up is Hostage by Clare Macintosh.


(It took me three tries to get this picture right.) You can save hundreds of lives. Or the one that matters most. A claustrophobic thriller set over twenty hours on one airplane flight. Mina is trying to focus on her job as a flight attendant, not the problems of her five year old daughter back home, or the problems in her marriage. But the plane has barely taken off when Mina receives a chilling note from an anonymous passenger, someone intent on ensuring the plane never reaches its destination. Someone who needs Mina's assistance knows exactly how to make her comply. It's twenty hours to landing. A lot can happen in twenty hours.

(I lost sleep over this book, it was that good. This author never disappoints and always surprises at the end.)

Next up was Trust by Pamela M. Kelley.


How well do you know your significant other? If they were accused of a crime, even murder, would you trust in their innocence unconditionally? In Trust, 36 year old high school teacher Lauren, is about to get married when one of her students goes missing and she becomes a person of interest. Her fiancé David is surprised to discover there are things he didn't know about Lauren. With the help of his 91 year old grandfather and his friend Jack, the assistant sheriff, he searches for the truth.

I loved this! 

Next up was the next book in the series, Motive.


Jane Cho is a former legal investigator who was really good at her job, but quit when someone she was investigating tried to have her killed. She returned to the seaside town of Waverly, Ma to run a takeout food shop, Comfort & Joy, and to live a quiet, safer life. But one peaceful morning, Jane stumbles over a dead body while taking out the trash. The dead woman ran a nearby bed and breakfast and had been threatened by Jane's thriving new business and had even filed suit the previous week to try and have her shut down. The body includes a cryptic, unsigned note. Is someone trying to help make Jane's problems disappear? Or is she the target?

Next up was Nashville Dreams by Pamela Kelley.


Laura and Cole live in Charleston, South Carolina when their story begins. Dalton's dad does not approve of Laura, nor of their plans to marry as soon as they finish high school. A fatal car accident changes everything when Cole's father takes an action that he thinks will be best for everyone. But actions have consequences and fate takes Laura and Cole in different directions with new people and talents. Can true soul mates be kept apart?

This wasn't my favorite by this author.

My fifth book was The Meeting Point by Olivia Lara. 


What if the Lift driver who finds your cheating boyfriend's phone holds the directions to true love? Maya's life is turned upside down when the Lift driver answers her text to her boyfriend's phone...after he was with another girl in his car. Having planned to surprise him, she finds herself single and stranded in an unknown city on her birthday. When the mystery driver rescues Maya with the suggestion that she cheer herself up at a nearby beach town, she jumps at the chance to get things back on track. She wasn't expecting a personalized itinerary or the easy companionship that comes from opening up to a stranger via text, let alone the possibility it might grow into something more...

I'm putting it out here that so far of the 25 books I've read this year, this has been my favorite to date. What makes it even better is that it's a PG book!

Next up was The Wedding Photo by Pamela Kelley.


Wedding photographer Jenna Eldridge has a gift, along with her eye for a good photo, she can also "see" if a couple's love will last. But when she sees a picture she took of her best friend Charlie, she's confused and unsure of what she is seeing. Charlie is a cop, like her father was, and when he died on the job, she promised she'd never date a cop. And, she and Charlie are such good friends, that she would hate to ruin what they had. When they agree to a pretend relationship to discourage a girl from his office, it starts to feel real. But what is it that she wants?

I was let down with this one as well, but I'll still keep reading her, because I love most of her books.

Next on my list was A Girl's Guide to Moving On by Debbie Macomber.


When Nichole discovers her husband Jake has been unfaithful, the illusion of her perfect life is shattered. While juggling their young son, a new job and volunteer work, Nichole meets Rocco, who is the opposite of Jake in nearly every way. Though blunt spoken and rough around the edges, Rocco proves to be a dedicated father and thoughtful friend. But when their relationship grows, Jake wagers everything on winning Nichole back. Nichole's mother in law Leanne has quietly ignored her husband's infidelity for years, but decides to take action at the same time her daughter in law does. While volunteering as a teacher, she meets Nikolai, a charming man from Ukraine. She finds it difficult to resist him, until an unexpected tragedy tests the very fabric of her commitments. 

This book was also disappointing...or maybe I've read it before? I don't know. It was interesting enough to keep my attention, but I was ready to move on.

The last book is the Bible study I mentioned, True Woman 101: Divine Design: An 8 week study on biblical womanhood.


What  does it mean to be a woman? The current cultural idea for womanhood encourages women to be strident, sexual, self-centered, independent and above all, powerful and in control. But sadly, this model of womanhood hasn't delivered the happiness and fulfillment it promised. The Bible teaches that it's not up to us to decide what womanhood is about. God created male and female for a very specific purpose. His design isn't arbitrary or unimportant. It is intentional and He wants women to discover, embrace and delight in the beauty of His design.

This was a phenomenal Bible study and I'm taking the second part of it now. It's even better than the first one! 

I hope you're inspired in your reading! It's your turn to tell me what you've read and loved lately. I'd love to hear from you! Thanks for reading my blog, friends. Love to all! Happy Reading!

Share Four Somethings, March edition

 


Happy Tuesday, friends! I'm linking up with Heather G for this month's edition of Share Four Somethings. The topics are something loved, gleaned, braved and achieved. I hope you join in the fun!

Something Loved

I've loved so many things this month. Great books are one such thing, along with time spent reading in the early morning hours. 


I loved having some appointments to take care of things for myself, like a hair appointment, a nail appointment and a pedicure with my mom. (This picture below is of me after getting fresh highlights.)


I've loved all the reminiscing and looking through old pictures for birthday posts, like this one just hours after I'd had Jonah and Noah. I was a baby! 


I've also loved the excuse to make them take pictures with me, like when I made Graham take this with me the night before he turned 23 and also the night we went out for dinner, just the six of us.



In general, I've loved all of the birthday celebrating. It's a busy month for us! 

Something Gleaned

I gleaned so much from my quiet time reading in March. I finished the Exodus era and crossed over in the Conquest era. 



I am gleaning so much from Bible study! This is a picture of the book we're doing below and it is so, so good. I feel like I underline the entire page on some days and we have the best discussion in small group each week. 


Something Braved

(This topic always throws me!) I was forced to learn something new over the weekend. While away at a women's retreat with the ladies from church, I ran the screens for worship and the teaching AND the sound. That may not sound like a huge deal, but it was quite intimidating.




This included having music playing on Spotify anytime someone wasn't using a microphone for something, muting and unmuting mics, adjusting the sound as needed, turning the projector off and on and managing slides for the worship songs and for one session of the teaching portion. I also had to make an "order of service" for myself so I could keep up and know what was coming at all times. (I had lots of things to write on, pens, hand sanitizer, mints and water on hand at all times.)

Something Achieved

I achieved some major progress on the writing project I've been procrastinating on! We had a week off from Bible study this month because of spring break for the schools in our area, so I used that week to get the writing done. I finished with my first chapter and am well into my second. (The writing team I'm on at church is writing another Bible study, this time on the books 1,2,3 John and Jude. My portion is 1 John 5 and 2 John. 


I never thought I'd describe myself as a procrastinator, but I am the queen of them. I don't do well with long and drawn out deadlines. I do better with knowing I have to get something done quickly, because that lights a fire in me and I get it done in a few days. I plan on spending all day this Thursday getting some more writing finished. I'm going out of town in a little over a week from now, and I'd love to be finished or nearly finished. When I say "finished", I mean with the first draft. I go back and make edits as needed and tweak things here and there.

I always love writing these posts! I hope you enjoyed reading something a little different. It's hard to believe we're already at the end of another month, but here we are. Time flies! Thanks for reading my blog, friends. Love to all. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

Hello Monday!




 Happy Monday, friends! I'm linking up with Holly and Sarah for this blog post.

Most of my weekend was spent at a women's retreat with the ladies in my church, so that's what I'm sharing today. On Thursday, I met two of my friends at our church and we drove out to a nearby town's beautiful retreat center. 

We unloaded our stuff, then we got busy with setting up some things for our friend and women's leader Amy. We stuffed gift bags and got them placed and shortly after that, people started arriving. 








Isn't it beautiful? The huge great room of the Hospitality Inn was where everyone hung out. There was water, coffee and a soft drink machine that was free and endless for us while we were there, and they sold snacks for $1 at the snack bar. The beds were amazingly comfy with the softest, most buttery sheets I have ever slept on. 

As people arrived, I was in the chapel figuring out how to run the sound for us all weekend. That was my job and it kept me busy most of the time, but it went well and was even kind of fun. We had all or our meals here in The Barn. After dinner, we had our first session, which was basically a welcome and a short talk about what Amy hoped to accomplish through our time together all weekend. Our goal and aim in women's ministry at our church is the example of Titus 2—the older women discipling the younger women. After that first session, we had fun talking while some of the ladies played a giant game of Jenga.



The food was delicious and the staff was so nice. This is much improved since the time I was here years ago as a camp counselor. There are cabins still that are around a lake, but even though this barn was there then, they've redecorated it and it's beautiful. On Saturday, we had three sessions in all, with two guest speakers at the ones during the day time. I loved both of the ladies who spoke and what they had to say. Our first speaker was Ellen from a church near us in Collierville. She encouraged us in our relationships with one another and ended with a song that encouraged us to tell people what they meant to us. This was such a beautiful time together! I don't know that there was a dry eye in the room and this was one of my favorite parts of our time together.


My friend Allison snapped this picture of our pastor's wife Darlene hugging her mom-in-love, Pam. Many of you remember praying for Darlene in the fall of last year. She almost died from covid/pneumonia, so to see her there that day and this picture was a powerful testament to God's sovereignty. Our second speaker was a lady named Crickett, another women's leader from a church in Memphis, who spoke on living our lives with purpose. She encouraged us to write out a mission statement for our lives, which I am really interested in learning more about and then doing. 

We played games again that night, but some of us opted out of that so that we could talk to and get to know new people.






This was the sound panel and computer that I was in charge of all weekend! Not intimidating in the least. ;)





This gal above is Hannah, who led us in worship all weekend. She has a beautiful voice! 


I took this picture above to send to my niece Erika. This is my younger friend Eden, who went to high school with my nephews and niece Erika! There was also another younger lady there who knew them and we talked for a while about that and how everyone is doing now.


This is my friend Laurie (above), who has been a friend for over ten years. Our kids have grown up together, and we've been camp counselors at this same retreat center together. We go way back together and I was so glad she came this weekend.


My friend Dedee celebrated her birthday on Saturday with us. The writing team surprised her with gifts and by barging into her room to sing happy birthday. 

The worship was incredible, the teaching was wonderful and the fellowship was what everyone seemed to need. One thing I've heard that's a common thread from the weekend is that it was good to get to know people we normally wouldn't get the chance. There were sixty four of us there! I am so grateful to my friends Amy and Barbee for putting all of this together. A lot of work went into it for both of them, but I know it was worth it all. 


We're already looking forward to next year! Thanks for reading, friends! Love to all.

Friday Favorites, 7.12.2024.

  Hi, friends! As you can tell, I'm forcing myself to be here often, because my life needs to resume some sort of normalcy right now; th...