Thursday, December 18, 2014

When Plans Come Together

So, it began last weekend. The desire to return to writing. This week God led me to a blog post that helped me see that I was feeling defeated, like a failure and hurt because my expectations were not what indeed occurred when I released my first book. And now, the end of the week... and I am feeling like a new person again, encouraged, and ready to continue on not becoming a writer (because I already am) but to continue learning the industry in which I desire to be a part of. With that, will come some new additions to this blog and how I share what I love most! What does that mean?

For you, it means more content (blogs and other resources). For me, it means consistency, commitment, and dedication to you ~ the ones who love to be a part of my life through this place I call my home online!

Now... do I share the details right now!? Of course not! We have bigger things to get ready for! We have Christmas coming up! The sweet news? As much as I love my classroom and teaching, I am looking forward to 17 straight days at home with my family! In that time I will be preparing for the changes to One Pretty Little Box, celebrating Christmas, working on book #2 in the "Ladies of Cotton Lake" series, and truly LOVING on my husband and kids as much as I can!

If you have ever been discouraged by the lack of consistent posting on this blog, please know that I have felt it, I have heard you and it is being addressed this year! I am listening, and seeking wisdom on the changes that will take place, but the ones I already know about .... are so exciting!

If you come here for the recipes.... boy do I have so  me doozies for you this year! If you come here for a quick pick me up, trust me ... those will continue. If you come here to keep up with my writing adventures, then stick around there is sure to be lots more of those! If you like the book reviews, product reviews, and such ... oh boy have I got some fun stuff coming!

I just love when plans come together!

The whole reason I am making this effort is indeed because I want to be a better person. I have always considered myself a hard worker ~ yet I find that I can always work just a bit harder. Blogging for me, is a form of therapy as well as a creative outlet. Through blogging I have met some amazing people, and have been able to allow my gift of word sharing, encouragement, and inspiration really come forth. I thank you if you have been on this journey with me for the long haul. If your new, I welcome you with a grateful heart, and ask that you stick around to check out what's new for 2015! The BEST is yet to come!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

An Early Christmas Gift!

Do you like receiving gifts?! I do. I don't always like opening gifts in front of people which is silly I know and kind of robs those who give the gift ~ but I do like to receive them. Yesterday I received a gift, and once again I was so glad that I was able to open it alone. Yes my family was around me ~ the hubster was in his chair, the kids were eating dinner, and here I was opening a gift and it went unnoticed. The tears of revelation went unnoticed, yet I wasn't alone. That I am thankful for because this particular gift ~ left me speechless, yet inside I was shouting!

As many of you know I wrote a book this summer. It was a dream of mine from when I was in Junior High School. In fact I had said over the years of our marriage to my husband how much I wanted to write a book. He often reminded me ... and yet it took this long to get going. We will celebrate our 20th Year Anniversary in May... so that dream has been "out there" for a long time.

Sadly, I felt like a failure. Not immediately after, but in the response. When you write, and self publish you must also self promote. I have no idea how to do that.... so I simply have used social media and my blog to share the news. I don't know why I expected a better turn out but my expectations way outweighed the result. Needless to say, I felt like a failure. It is so hard for me to admit that and to be this vulnerable with you about this part of my life, but I have to be real about this area of my life just like I am anything else.

I put my writing stuff away and decided now must not be the time. In other words, I gave up. I decided what I dreamed I wanted to do wasn't what I must not have been created to do ~ and as heartbroken as I was, I let that dream fizzle down a bit.

UNTIL this past weekend. Now, I didn't start writing yet, but a flame was reignited. Then I was searching something, and I ran across a post that gave me hope again ~ because it said EVERYTHING that I was feeling... yet couldn't understand or even realized until I read the exact words that had been in my heart and head. I truly believe God gives us JUST what we need... when we need it. This today was just what I needed and I am ever thankful! If you ever felt like you have failed at something, please take the time to read this. If you have never failed at at anything, take the time to read it so that you too may can encourage someone else.

If you have ever felt like you failed at something, and need a bit of hope to continue..... READ THIS!

It was definitely a gift that after I opened it, was so thankful I could experience it alone in my thoughts, and emotions. No questions, no expectations. Just enjoyment of realizing that I am not a failure because my first book was not a best seller! I am not a failure because someone doesn't see eye to eye with me. I am not a failure and I have no right to feel that way.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Motivation for your Monday: It's beginning to look a lot like ....

Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. Always has been and each year it gets more and more special to me. As a child and a teen it was the one time of year where I felt all was well with the world. My parents were happy, I was excited, school was fun, and who didn't love Christmas break?!

As an adult on the flip side, there hare been times where I felt the pressure of the word in regards to Christmas and the things I should do as a parent but each year I become more and more in tune with what the Christmas Spirit really is about.

I LOVE movies that are based on the Charles Dickens classic "Scrooge". I just love "transformations" in general, and Ebeneezer Scrooge goes through the biggest transformation that one can visibly see in what to others look like it has been an overnight miracle ~ but in reality it took years to produce.

People like to say that their past doesn't matter anymore, and people shouldn't judge you by that. But in reality your past is what has helped mold you into being who and what you are this very minute. Past experiences, relationships, and circumstances and the way in which we have handled them indeed is the result of who we are right this minute. Every single choice, decision, action, and thought. Stop telling people (and yourself) that your past shouldn't matter because in reality it is important. For some you can now look back and see what you have overcome. For others you can see what once was, and if you desire it enough know what you want your reality to become.

I hear often "why did I have to go through that"? Well guess what?! There was a reason. Sometimes it is a consequence of our own choices, other times it is just predestined to be. Either way ~ don't focus so much energy on what was, but instead look at what is now. What is happening now? Are you happy with that? Can you make a difference choice? Is God leading you to make other choices yet you feel trapped by tradition, or stuck in the muck of what is.

Ebeneezer was given a second chance and I am thankful he took it! He went to bed on Christmas Eve lonely, angry, sad, hurt, bitter and in a cold shell. He woke up redeemed, refreshed, energized, with a giving heart ready to give and embrace the day for what it is worth.

I pray that each of us have an "Ebeneezer Scrooge" moment these two weeks leading up to Christmas so t hat we too can experience the GIFT of the season. As Christians we celebrate Christmas as Jesus's Birthday even though we really don't know when his true birthday was. BUT.... we as people of this world today, also celebrate Christmas as a time of giving, sharing, and experiencing true JOY.

If you don't get a chance to stop in until after Christmas, let me say I am praying this is the most amazing life changing Christmas for you! This week I hope to share a few Christmas related posts, memories, pictures, and recipes! h

There is a WHOLE new One Pretty Little Box coming! Lots of new resources, memberships etc heading your way! The week between Christmas and New Years I will be sharing the vision for One Pretty Little Box, as well as a few "top posts of 2014"! Until next time, have a blessed day! Get out there and embrace today for the gift it is!


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Touch My Heart Tuesday: A Rudolf Tale

Last Thursday at preschool, during chapel time we sang a few songs with the music minister of the church in which I work at. He was singing child friendly Christmas songs that the kids would know, and Rudolf The Red Nose Reindeer was one of them.

We all know the song but let me lay down the lyrics for you:

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,
you know Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen,
But do you recall?
The most famous reindeer of all?

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Has a very shiny nose
And if you ever saw it
You would even say it glows.
All of the other reindeer's
Used to laugh and call him names
They never let poor Rudolph
Join in any reindeer games

Then one foggy Christmas Eve,
Santa came to say,
Rudolph with your nose so bright,
Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?

Then all the reindeer's loved him,
As they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the red-nose Reindeer
You'll go down in history!

Now, let me tell you..God began to work in my Spirit and used this song to teach me something about His love, favor, and blessings. He also used it to teach me about pushing through testing, trials and persecution.

Yep. See, Rudolf faced a lot of persecution for his "gift" that God created in him. That "shiny red nose that glows" wasn't a mistake, a fluke, or an error. God doesn't make mistakes! Rudolf LOOKED different for a purpose. Even if it was just recognized in a time of desperation. Before it was recognized though he faced lots of name calling, rumors, false testimony. He was made to feel like an outcast. BUT...... when "Santa" needed him and praised him, all of a sudden he became not only accepted, but liked and wanted by the others. 

How many times are those with a gift from God, are persecuted for being "different" or having "different" ideas/agendas/thoughts/ways of living that were obviously lined up by God Almighty himself yet wasn't accepted by peers or even family? UNTIL.... they are used by God in a time of desperation (for whatever/however that may be).... then they are accepted and wanted. 

Perhaps the gift is a kind word of encouragement. 
Perhaps the gift is the way they handle a crisis. 
Perhaps the gift is the simple way of just trusting that God will make it all work out. 
Perhaps the gift is just what YOU need, but before you realized it you would have thrown that person to the wolves. 


Yet when God's favor is on them, it becomes something that is not ONLY accepted but desired. 

That Rudolf! He was used by God to help Santa and to teach about God's favor on those who push through and not give in to peer pressure but instead face persecution with grace, peace and kindness. AMAZING!


Monday, December 8, 2014

Motivation for your Monday: Before it's too late....

I know this is a busy time of year for many between keeping your regular schedule all the while attending Christmas parties/dinners/functions, gift buying and wrapping, baking, and preparing for that special day ahead. But let me encourage you of something before it's too late. Slow down!

I almost feel like a hypocrite for even saying those words, but hear me out! God Almighty through my husband, convicted me of this much. We are too busy. I am too busy. And do you know what. I choose to be too busy, and that's not good! Busy doesn't = productive. Busy doesn't = holiness. Busy doesn't = successful. Busy just means busy.

Busy can be defined as sustaining much work. Duh!

But let me tell you what is wrong with being busy.. in the wrong sense of the word. Remember that post I did about being even keeled, and not living in extremes of all or nothing? Well most of us by the time we admit we are busy..... we really are in such a frantic state of being that busy doesn't touch it. Instead of just sustaining much work , we often are already at a place of burning ourselves out.

Before it's too late may I suggest you slow down?! As I said, through my husband God really convicted AND corrected me of being "busy". Spinning in circles around anyone sitting making sure the house is cleaned, everyone is where they need to be, finding things to do to occupy the time. Why? I don't know. Wait. Yes I do. I really don't want to admit it but I was in the frame of mind that I *needed* to be busy so that one day I could maybe be praised for all I do. I thought "if I don't do it, it won't get done" yet that was pride talking ~ pride is not good. In fact, pride is sinful.

Yes, having a clean and organized home is nice. But not at the expense of my relationship with my husband or children.

Yes, blogging is great but not at the expense of just posting words without meaning behind them.

Yes, I still long to write ~ in fact I don't want to be a writer, I am one. I am just very selective right now at the time and energy I put into that craft.

This past weekend I escaped with the husband as he went on a hunting trip. I went last year, and was going to forgo this year because of the kids activities. Yet... in the midst of our fall semester crazyness, God again pierced my heart. Time with my husband was being lost ~ because of this wild schedule for football season for the kids. I was being pulled and tugged at from all directions for a good two and a half months. I sadly barely squeezed in a few intimate moments with him before I would pass out from exhaustion. That is not having a solid marriage people.

It was nice to get away. For the husband I am sure getting a buck was high on his list, but spending quiet time with him was mine. Giggling, sharing glances, and just being in one another's presence was the best gift our marriage could have received.

Don't get me wrong, we have those moments at home too, but I often am so high strung trying to "get it all done" that I often overlook those opportunities. Before it's too late, we must spend time with one another in this way. I truly believe that most marriages fail because it is not nurtured and taken care of on a regular basis and instead of catching it before it's too late, the couples have to go on defense mode and have a choice. Fight for it, or give up.

Before it's too late I want my husband to know I love him with all that I possibly can on this earth. I want him to know he is my best friend on this earth, and there is no one I would rather spend time with. I want him to know this family we grew together is best thing that has ever happened to me, and being his wife is beyond my dreams. Before it's too late I want my husband to know that I am honored to be his chosen mate from God Almighty! I want my husband to know that I know he works very hard for our family and he is so very wise in how he takes care of us. Before it's too late, I want my husband to know that I know how much he loves me.

Ladies, don't wait! Stop making the unimportant things so much more important than what they should be. As we are in the time of year that is hectic, ask yourself this question "What should I do before it's too late?". I can almost guarantee you that vacuuming or laundry will not be on that list.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Jazzy Green Bean Casserole

Let me tell you a little story about a man named Joel, who loved his traditional green bean casserole. But being his wife, who didn't' like living in strife ~ figured out how to make it that much more!!

Okay... for real though. My husband does like green bean casserole but for me it was always so bland, so boring that it wasn't worth the calories. I would skip over it time and time again. Now those crispy onions on top ~ heck yeah I would eat those.. but geesh. So ... this year I wanted to try something new with the traditional and I have to say it was a HIT and even made me a fan!! I am sure I will be making that again soon ~ no need to wait for a holiday or special occasion when God makes everyday a special occasion.

Here is what you need:

2 cans of kitchen cut green beans (Green Giant)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup (Campbells)
1/2 cup of milk
1 envelope of Lipton's Onion Soup
Dash or three of Worcestershire sauce
1 large jar of pimientos
2 fresh jalapeno's seeded and diced
4 slices of cooked and crumbled bacon
1 6oz container of French Fried Onions

Here is what you do:

In a large bowl, mix together everything except for the French Fried onions. Pour into a casserole dish and bake at 350* for thirty minutes. Top (spread over the entire top) with the container of french fried onions and place back in oven for five to seven minutes or until onions are crispy on top.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Motivation for your Monday: Even Keeled

There has been LOTS that God Almighty is working on in me lately. I mean like TONS. And while it is so hard, I can tell you this... it is way better than just floating around in this thing called life.

Are you an "all or nothing' kind of person? Either your house is a disaster or it's spotless? Either your cooking all your meals for weeks or your buying take out instead? You either clip coupons or are buying the most expensive items? This is one time of year that we see extremes all around us. Take this past Friday.

In the United States, we have what is called "black friday" where retailers swoon customers with great "you can't miss" deals. Without extra costs, it comes with frenzy, anxiety, depression, greed ~ even though at times very subtle, with a whole plethora of debt, forgotten bills, and fear. I know this from experience you see, because this is only the second year I chose not to participate. And no, it wasn't for a political ~ or consumer stance. See for me it was a spiritual matter.

No where in your traditional "Black Friday" events can you see the actions of an even keeled person.

Time + Christ = even keeled personality (Gwen Shamblin)

The man who fears God will avoid ALL extremes. Ecclesiastes 7:18

This is an area that God is really digging deep within me. I have gone through many extremes in various areas of my life and willing have done so. The problem is I am now reaping those consequences and helping to undo those consequences in regards to our children as well. See, what a man reaps not only does he sow but so the children for generations to come. When we see our children effected by our actions it is heartbreaking.

See I helped our children become greedy when it comes to Christmas because I thought the more under the tree was better. For growing up there was always a ton under the tree ~ even on the "light" years. That is what Christmas was to me and I began that same tradition with our children. Now.. I regret every second of that and while they are still home I must undo some damage. For years they went to their grandparents because ... that was the weekend this mom did the bulk of her Christmas shopping filling the back and even center of my Explorer (or minivan).

I was a better parent because I made sure (with the help of my husband) that our kids had a big Christmas every year. I might have had to pay a few bills late but by golly they had a good Christmas. I really wasn't a better parent ~ for I was greedy, prideful, wanted selfish gain (attention and to be recognized for doing so much), in fact it was downright sick! Right now I am completely disgusted.

Does that mean I won't go buy Christmas gifts for our children? No. I love being able to give to them. But it does mean we won't have a ton under the tree ~ simply because we can. The last few years with the adults I really put a lot of time and thought into each gift purchase I make. I don't pick up something because it is cheap. I don't pick up something because what I already have gotten them wasn't enough. Even though I do put a lot of time and thought into some of the kids gifts, I was in the habit of providing a TON under the tree so I would fill in with things I got really cheap. Gift giving was indeed ALL of the all or nothing mentality. Then I couldn't afford to get much for them for months afterward.

Black Friday often had me grabbing things just because it was a good deal. I love this verse: "Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. Ecclesiastes 7:9" I was indeed quickly provoked by those sales, and often did get angry afterward when I realized how much I spent.

I love these notes from Gwen Shamblin:
*Pray for a great even-keeled day in our Great Lord!
*Be happy in your work that He has given you to do. (This hits hard because there are too many of us preschool teachers not so happy because we think we are 'worth' more. God has provided our income and hours. It should be enough.)
*Take all your troubles to him.
*Your job is stay pure.

9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him. Ecclesiastes 3:9-14

So I challenge you this Monday to start striving to live more even keeled than ever before! I know even though some of these notes were jotted down weeks ago... they ring so true for me today. 

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