Favorite Things

So I thought I would share a few of my favorite things about Christmas and a little of what we have been up to!  1. I love Christmas lights and incorporating them into my everyday  decor is just a bonus! DIY Pinterest headboard - 1 black and white framed photo, 1 strand of white lights, 4 clothes pins, and printed Pinterest pictures!

2. Sassy new hair cuts and time to go get them thanks to Christmas break from school!

3. Time to hang out with the coolest niece ever!  She loves to help you do anything - so we made Breakfast Casserole for Dinner!

4.  DIY projects for Christmas presents for Secret Santa at work!  Supplies needed - 1 cookie sheet, 2 halves of pretty file folders or any pretty paper, 2 clothes pins modge podged with leftover file folders, days of the week magnets, laminating or sheet protector to make file folders dry erase, and hot glue!

5. Favorite Christmas movie of all time - White Christmas!  My Mamaw used to watch it with me every Christmas, and now my Mama and sisters watch it with me!

6. My parents' Christmas tree - it's big, traditional, homey, and full of homemade ornaments from over the years!

7.  Making Christmas candy and cookies with my Mama on Christmas Eve!

8.  Cooking our Christmas dinner at Papaw's house, wearing my Mamaw's apron that still has spearmints still in the pocket!

9. Our very untraditional Mexican themed Christmas dinner with tacos, rice, beans, and mac and cheese for Madi cause she's a semi vegetarian! 

10.  Christmas presents - pair of bootie slippers and new skillet from Mom and Dad (what I asked for) and body spray and watch from Candace, and a Lane Bryant gift card from Brit and Jon! YAY!

 After all the festivities to come home to our cozy apartment with our Christmas tree and unwind!

So I know it's A LOT of pictures, but I just wanted to share with you our Christmas, and I hope you had a wonderful Christmas as well!


tis the season

So I just noticed that it has been A LONG TIME since I last posted - a fact for which I apologize; however, this time of the year gets so incredibly busy for us.  It seems that the two weeks we get off for Christmas (working for a school system has its perks!) is busier than the school year.  Perhaps that is because Candace and I put off things such as errands or lunch dates with friends until we are out of school and end up needing a vacation for the vacation!  Okay so off the soap box for now... sorry sometimes I get a little caught up.

I am particularly excited about my family receiving the gifts we bought for them this year - I love to give presents.  This year we tapped into our crafty kathy sides as well as our love for all things vintage for inspiration for our gifts.  I will post more after Christmas as some of my family might actually read this, but I want to tell you about the gift we got for Poppy(what Madi calls our Dad!) as he doesn't have facebook.  We found this piece that we bought just because it looked interesting, and after some research found out that it is a valet stand similar to the one below but with a lighter wood finish.

He has this love for all things vintage as well, and I think/hope he will love it.  Isn't it fabulous?  I adore it.  It wasn't terribly expensive, but its something he will appreciate and use.  We try to give really meaningful and thoughtful gifts - something that makes us think of the person who is to receive the gift.  

Speaking of giving, our church is doing a series now called "Radical Generosity," and it has seriously challenged me to be more giving.  I know my first instinct and yours as well is to think of money, but its also other things - time, love, yourself.  I have personally been challenged to my very core and have made a commitment to begin this journey towards being more giving in every aspect of my life.  Every journey begins with simple steps, and mine has begun like this -
1.  Money - to be faithful with my tithes and a better steward of the monetary gifts entrusted to me because sometimes money is a vessel of grace of God for people.  Hold on before you think I am crazy - money is grace when you are out of work and need diapers and groceries, money is grace when people are starving half a world a way, and money is grace when you have no electricity and no money to pay the light bill, and on and on.  The grace of God often has very practical hands and feet.
2.  Love - to be more loving in general but specifically with my children at work.  It breaks my heart to think that I may be the only one who shows them love during the day. 
3. My Story - you can read all about the struggles and successes of my story in this blog, but I want to use my story to show people Christ - I am not sure exactly what that looks like in the day to day, other than this blog.
4.  Life - This story I have been given is not over, and I really want it to be a great story so I want each day to be with purpose and meaningful.  I am a firm believer that everything that happens to you is a tool  that you can use in your personal ministry/story.  The struggles I have been through were not pleasant at the moment, but I have been so incredibly blessed to be able share the lessons I have learned through them.  I want my life to be a blessing to others.

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
(Genesis 12:1-2 ESV)



So this past week has been a painful time in the life of our church family - I say family because I have never felt so at home in a church until now.  And I have never really seen a group of people care about each other on this level ever - in my entire life.  I have already written a post dedicated to the family, so I will not go into it again.  I really want to share with you some of the things I have learned through this and over the past weeks.

1. Life is short.  The days are not promised, so live every one you are given intentionally, with purpose.  God created you for a purpose - to love Him and love people.  Find out how that looks in your/my (I am talking to myself also) life and go to it!
2. The experiences of your life serve a purpose.  Every experience you have is an opportunity for your life to bring glory to God and/or prepare you for a ministry moment.  June 2010 I lost my Mamaw - it was one of the most trying experiences of my life to say the very least.  However, I now live my life differently, I see things differently, I speak to people differently, and I relate to people differently.  To look at my neighbor and say I know where you are, I have been there is part of where I find some of my ministry/giving opportunities these days.  What you and I do and how we react to life can not only affect us but millions of people around us.
3. Love - it is the only thing that means anything.  The two greatest commandments are to LOVE God and to LOVE people.  Put aside the stupid stuff, the excuses, the arguments, and just love.
4. I used to think that I needed this list of "big things" in my life to happen for me to truly be happy and start living.  But I am the girl who had to figure out what you when the list is thrown out the window and the big things haven't happened yet.  My answer - to truly live and be happy in the little things because somehow the seemingly little things add up to some big things.  I find joy in little moments and little things God has given me.  Yes my life may look different than most girls my age, but I am okay with that.  I never really liked being like everyone else.
5. There is something incredibly beautiful in a life lived on purpose for a purpose greater than oneself.
6. Finally, be you.  The you that you were created to be - not the poor attempt at the person someone else was created to be.

I want to leave you with this song by Gungor.  It's an amazing song and it just gets better after the words stop.  It makes me feel like I am running towards God and after I get there I can accomplish anything!


something to help

My heart is broken tonight - the world and our personal church family has suffered a tragic loss today that has left me breathless.  I cannot pretend to know exactly what the family is going through right now, and I know that these words won't do much but alleviate this need to get some of these thoughts out of my head.  I have lost someone I love so on that end I can empathize to a point; however, to me, sudden, tragic circumstances seem to make the pain of losing someone so much more raw and excruciating.  The events of today are pretty much my own worst fear as I am sure they are for most people.

 To the family, I send my thoughts and prayers. I also wanted to share some of the things that I learned from experience, and I pray they are helpful.  I don't promise to have all the answers - just to share something that means a great deal to me and will perhaps mean something to you.

You must know that it is okay to be angry and to be upset and to take as much time as you need to mourn - allow yourself to do that.  Some people who are not perhaps as close to the situation will expect you to just bounce back (which is stupid) so surround yourself with people that are okay to cry with you and people who know when it is just best to be silent. Also know that the sadness and the pain is a darkness that you can and will wade into, but don't let it completely engulf you and don't go alone.  Allow someone to be there with you and for you.  Wade out into that darkness but remember you must fight to come back when it is time - something that is completely between you and God.  When it is time, take joy in the good moments and memories, shared passions, and common dreams because you know she would insist you keep moving.  There will most likely be moments when the pain comes so fast and hard that you might find it hard to breathe, and it is those moments that are the most difficult.  I am sure that there are many other aspects singular to your experience that no one besides your immediate family will understand.  It is only God who can heal wounds this deep, and He will be your comfort if you allow Him to be.  Run to Him - He understands and He loves you and He is good even when our circumstances aren't.

"The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, 
                                    My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; 
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."
Psalm 18:2

Finally, if there is anything I can do to help, please let me know, and once again, my prayers for comfort and strength are with all of the family!