Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sweet Relief- God is ALWAYS There

Have you ever had something on your mind that worried you sick and wouldn't go away?  You hoped it would ease, but never really did... you prayed about it day in and day out, morning and night, and maybe that comforted you, but your heart was still heavy.

I have been going through that for a couple of months now.  I have been scared, worried, and all of the above about something, and was worried that something was really wrong with me... I am one of those people that will let something bother me and sit at home and just keep living life and listen to a lot of songs about faith and life and not go to the doctor until the worry is killing me... because who likes to go to the doctor?
But a couple of weeks ago, I finally did go... and they referred me to get my worry checked out, and I couldn't make an appointment until this week.... which I just got home from.  And things look fine.  And I feel SO RELIEVED!!  I can't even express the amount of relief and joy I feel right now!

But I didn't sit down to write about my worries or even my relief... I wanted to share how THANKFUL I am to God for getting me through this, and the ways that I have gotten through, and the comfort I have that has helped me so much- and that helps me to know I can make it through other struggles.
One thing and one thing only has made up the majority of the source of my comfort through it all...

My Faith.
Knowing I could throw my heart and my burdens on the Lord saved me from more heartache than I already had.  My worries did not go away, they were still in the back of my mind... but feeling the presence of Him in my life made it a little easier.  I asked God to help me to trust Him fully with my life... and sometimes, my heart was so desperate and hurting that I basically prayed and asked that I please be allowed to live a long life and be well if it was His will!

In some ways, I think it is easy to feel selfish when you are praying and asking God for help for a situation... I started to, as I kept thinking that I am probably just worrying myself for nothing (which it seems I was) and that other people need God way more than I do right now.  People who are actually ill and dealing with something much worse.  But it's important to remember that anything that makes us sad or hurt or scared is worth praying about, and that it is welcomed.

A test of faith surely makes us stronger... and although worrying was hard, and being afraid was harder, there was always the belief in my heart that never left me, that said Leave it all up to God, and He will take care of it.
And he did. And I am so thankful.

It has been a true test of my faith to stay positive and trust.  And maybe it's just me, or just human nature, but I find it hard to not think negatively sometimes... mostly in big things.
Before I knew it, I was sure that I was going to die young from whatever I might have... and I got in a rut.  I started thinking of places I wanted to go, things I wanted to do, the life and love I have yet to feel, the photographs I wanted to take, the dresses I still had to sew.  Sure that is probably dramatic, but when you are worried your mind can get away from you.
And that rut lasted a few days, and then I thought about how my word for this year to live by was Positivity... and I was starting to live the opposite.  These tests of faith seem to sometimes come when your faith needs strengthening, and this one has done that for me as well.  In a way, it also made me see everything more beautifully, with more appreciation.

I looked for signs in my life, in objects, in every day that comforted me, and found many.  But believing God would help me through helped more than anything! 

One of my favorite verses is at Matthew 7:7, "Ask, and it will be given to you.  Seek and you will find.  Knock, and it will be opened to you.", and the relief I feel right now is a result of this.  Praying incessantly about it got me through.

And now I feel free... free, like a bluebird just set free.  Like that bluebird you see from afar, that represents faith, that I wrote about the other day... and I mentioned signs.  I don't look for meaning in everything, but I believe comfort can be found in seeing meaning in things when meaning is meant to be seen in them.  The day after I wrote about "faith is a bluebird", I woke up and looked for a necklace to wear that day with a white blouse. I looked in my jewelry box and picked up a locket.  I hadn't worn it in quite a while and had forgotten about it... I fastened it around my neck and went on my way.  And during the day when I was in the car, I looked down at my locket.  And what did it have on it? Not exactly a bluebird, but still, a bird that was blue... the prettiest dark blue.  And that was good enough for me, and made me smile.

God is amazing and faith is a gift too incredible and precious for words.  That, and relief, like the relief like I felt today... especially sweet after waiting for my prayers to be answered.
My heart is full...  of thankfulness, happiness, joy, and a million other beautiful feelings!  And hope!... hope for the now and my life ahead that has returned!

.           .           .

This is something that I wanted to share and have for awhile concerning faith... but today I am so relieved and joyful, and in a way I wanted to wait until I could write it with a more complete, joyful heart....  Just know that, as Cinderella once sung, "No matter how you're heart is grieving (or what you are going through), if you keep on believing", everything will turn out alright.
Have faith.  Believe, and never be afraid to surrender your worry to the person who has your future in His hands... your Heavenly Father.

Blessings to you!!
Have an amazing day :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

6 Words & "Faith is a Bluebird"

In my Art class this week, we were asked to do a simple, but fun activity to get to share a bit about ourselves...
The assignment was to describe yourself, your life, where you come from, and/or who you are.
In only 6 words.

Here was mine.
At first, this didn't seem like it would be too hard... but as I sat there for a few minutes trying to think about what my six words would be, I realized how difficult it is to sum up who you are meaningfully using so few words.  Several words came to mind, but I found it hard to come up with words that got across who I am that weren't just a list of hobbies or things I "like".
I thought of "enjoys baking, sewing, writing, drawing" and "family"... but it seemed like I was just throwing that together instead of having words that truly described me, my values, my heart, the things in the forefront of my life.
Sitting there, the thought also crossed my mind that when I presented my words to everyone in the room I really wanted them to illustrate meaning.  I wanted the key parts of my heart to show, what my priorities are, what I'm passionate about, my love for the Lord.
And that was when I wrote a few words down that I felt captured that:
Family, Faith, Roots.
Then I filled in the blanks and changed "roots" to "Southern" because the two are one in the same for me, and because of my love for where I am from.  Everyone else may not have thought about it, but putting that word seemed to evoke my love for magnolias trees and the feeling of sitting under a big Oak tree on a summer's day and having cookouts and all of that.
When I got up and wrote out my words and read them aloud, I felt good about it.
Before I sat back down, the teacher asked me if I have a "drawl" because I wrote Southern., which I thought was funny.  I don't know if I do, but I say things like puh-tay-tuhs and fixin' to, haha.
I thought it was a really interesting- seemingly simple, but difficult- thing to do, and if you have never tried to write out your life and who you are in so few words, you should try it.  It's neat to see what comes and what words you choose to get to the heart of who you are.
As one of the words I chose, Faith does play such an important part in my life, really THE most important part of my life that everything else falls back onto... and I was reminded of a little poem about faith that I heard in an old Disney film called "The Rescuers" that I have loved since I was a little girl.  It's sweet and simple, but has lovely meaning and is a good reminder through life, to keep close to your heart.
 Faith is a bluebird
You see from afar
It's for real and as sure
As the first evening star
You can't  touch it
Or buy it or wrap it up tight
But it's there just the same
Making things turn out right
Does faith play an important part in your life?
What would your six words be?
Have a blessed weekend!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Inspirations: Faith & Creativity

Happy Saturday!!

If you are reading this, I hope you are having a wonderful start to the weekend.  Yay for a long weekend in honor of Mr. Martin Luther King!

With the weekend just beginning, I thought I would share a few parts of the past week and some things that have been on my mind... various inspirations.

I started an art class that I signed up for... it isn't the kind of art class where they kill your imagination by forcing you to do a rigid assignment.  I have taken a number of art classes in my life and enjoyed them all, but I think this will be especially enjoyable as it is a class simply meant to encourage creativity and fun through art!  I picked up a new sketchbook a couple of days ago and am feeling inspired and excited to begin assignments :)

Earlier in the week, we had company- my Grandma made a trip to see us for a couple of days.  She is into crafting as well, so we stopped by Hobby Lobby and picked up some beads and then came home and opened our bead container (a.k.a. a huge egg carton) and had some fun.

While there, I was inspired by this notebook.  I have been trying to remember to be positive, remembering that is my goal for this year, but when the pressures of life get to crowd me a little too much, this simple yet meaningful reminder laying on a shelf was a comfort- and in some ways an inspiration- to me.

I enjoy crossword puzzles very much!  I think they are an amazing way to learn and love to do them because you can learn so many wonderful facts and vocabulary, and some culture, through each clue.  Yet, it doesn't feel like forced learning at all.  Sometimes I go awhile without doing a crossword and I miss them- one of my closest girl-friends and I used to bring one and work on it during our lunches in school, which was always enjoyable.  Yesterday I picked up a large crossword and enjoyed some quiet time, just me, my snack, and a blank crossword.  60 down was my favorite clue :)

I am always thankful for anything inspiring or encouraging, and late last night I came across a blog that was both.  And I felt this in just the twenty or so minutes I was able to browse through it.  I have written about modesty before and am passionate about dressing modestly and honorably in a pretty way, so I was so happy to find this blog of someone who seems even more passionate about it!  She is also a Southern girl in beautiful TN,  and provides ideas of ways to dress up modest clothing and outfits, takes her photos in scenic places, and also has a sewing blog where she makes and shows many of the pieces she wears.  Upon finding her blog, entitled "Fresh Modesty", I am not only inspired in my dress but in my goals of sewing more and getting better!  The subtitle to Fresh Modesty is inspiring alone: Dress outside your box, but inside His book!

Those are the sources of a few of my inspirations for this past week!

What is inspiring you right now??

.          .          .

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Quiet Times

Quiet time amongst all the 'hustle and bustle' of life is so lovely and peaceful and enjoyable.
This morning, I am thinking a little more than usual about how much I love it.  How thankful I am for those moments in the week when you get the chores done and other projects and things that need to be done... and finally there is a moment where you stop and think, "now I have some free time to just sit and relax"...

This morning I have been busy since I woke up, helping to get the house cleaned and ready for company later this afternoon... rushing back and forth, dusting, organizing things to make every aspect of our home as welcoming as possible.  And while I enjoy doing that, when I finished about an hour ago and realized that I had a few moments to have some free, quiet time, I cherished it...

Got a cozy fleece blanket and pulled it around me, sat in our front room with Lucie (my little dog) sleeping softly beside me, and drew the curtains to let the loveliest, soft, winter morning light in... and I just sat there and looked out.
Nothing to think about... or focus on.... or clean... or wash.... or write... or figure out...
Just pure, quiet time with no noise but the light wind outside and the hum of the heater.

I am so grateful for that time, whether it happens many times or just once during a week or a day... the less often it comes, the more precious it is.

Although I love to just sit cozily and let my mind rest, sometimes, I also enjoy quiet time where I do focus on something- but it is something that is not stressful at all, something lovely that brings me joy...
praying, reading, or sketching while drinking a cup of hot chocolate!

.           .          .

What is your favorite way to spend free, quiet time to yourself?

.           .          .

Wishing you a relaxed, wonderful day on this Tuesday!!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dinner on the River

This week, our family had the privilege of having dinner in one of our favorite towns.
The town in itself is beautiful and charming.  It's the kind of place where you can escape to simpler things.  Also, a little country, where you feel like you can wear cowboy boots... and I did!

But the restaurant we go to when we go there is wonderful.  It is on an extremely steep hill, really a cliff, and overlooks the river.  I have written about this restaurant at least once before that I remember, but going this time was different... we went at night!
I hadn't been there at night in so long, so it was extra magical and lovely to go when the town was lit up... everything from the eaves on all the little shops, to the windows in the old General store, to the water tower and the restaurant were lit up!  It was a neat feeling walking through the heart of the little town lit just enough to see where you're going, then walking down the path to the restaurant under trees wrapped in lights, like a winter wonderland with lights strung all around...

I just felt like sharing a little bit of a night in a place that was so peaceful and lovely, and made me feel like a kid again, on a lovely night out to eat with my family.

On this night, a cold front is blowing in as I write and I hear the sounds of the trees blowing in the wind, and I am off to ice a yellow cake!

Have a blessed Winter's night!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

______ is the Word...

If you're like me, you probably sub-consciously wanted to fill in that blank with "Grease"!...
but that isn't it! haha. I would actually like to write about the word I have chosen to be my 'Word of the Year' for 2013!
I recently read a post by Jerralea at Jerralea's Journey, a blog I greatly enjoy reading, where she talked about the word she had chosen to live by this year.  Shortly after, I went to another blog I love, Sugar Pie Farmhouse (who I credit the pretty, retro image below to), and read about her word for the year as well... together, these lovely ladies and their posts inspired me to think about what my own word to apply in my life should be for the year!
After much thought, I decided that my word will be... 

The reason I am choosing Positivity for my word for the year is because I feel that staying positive throughout life is something I struggle with sometimes... and I think God sees that, and has placed it upon my heart to try to be a more positive person.

I have a positive attitude about many aspects of life and find joy in so much, but in some areas I find myself thinking the worst and looking at the glass half empty, sometimes worrying myself to death and thinking that I won't make it through a certain situation.

I want Positivity to play a more active role in my life... and in turn, I believe focusing on having that improved attitude will make for goodness and change in all parts of my life... my faith, family, health and well-being, and help me to trust Him more instead of worrying or being down about a certain thing I am trying to handle on my own.  This is constantly a learning experience for me.
It is also my hope to live a life filled with more Positivity so that I may be of more encouragement to others by letting that shine through, to be more of a blessing to all whom I meet.

So... Positivity is the word!  At least my word for the year!

.          .          .

What word would YOU like to live by this year??

.          .          .

A link up is being held at The Lettered Cottage, where I am excited to share my word.... if you would like to read other Words of the Year or share your own, click the link :)

Be blessed!!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

He Is Exalted!

Of my daily devotions thus far this week, I thought I would share one today that I found especially of encouragement and joy. . .

These moving words remind us that God rules.
He is exalted on high; forever His truth shall reign.
Even as we rejoice, so heaven and earth rejoice with us in our King's holy name.
When life hands us situations we don't understand, we can remember
that our King reigns.  He is the Lord.
When we sorrow over the shortness of life, we can remember
that our King is forever.  When we worry that lies surround
us, we can remember that our King's truth shall reign.
When we tremble at the evil in the world,
we can remember that our King's name is holy.
Nothing that happens is beyond our King's control.
Nothing surprises Him.  Unlike any human king or leader, God is
incorruptible, unchangeable, and eternal.
He is worthy of our exaltation.  He deserves our highest praise.
Heaven and earth are rejoicing in His holy name.
As Jesus said, even "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out"
(Luke 19:40).
There's a chorus being sung in all of creation.
We can sing along, exalting our King!
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the
majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Your, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.
-My Heart for His Glory
Blessings to you!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hats & the Southern Girl

I've been inspired to write this post by two things...

1. The desperate need to focus on something else for a little while in the attempt of getting a theme song out of my head ('Happy Days' is pretty catchy), haha!

2. This photo of that hat that I took on a whim the other day while hitting a few shops.

I found this hat, along with many others, on a rack in the very back of the shop.  I thought it was so beautiful.  I still do. 
Seeing myself in it as I tried it on and later looking back at this photo made me wish so badly that wearing lovely hats like this one was still as popular among ladies and girls as it used to be... or maybe just that I had lived when they were worn all the time instead of just for an occasion.
It also made me think of how much hats have made up culture of the South, especially the Old South.

When you think of classy hats, one thought probably comes to mind.  Britain.
But the South is known for ladylike, lovely hats also...  mostly in earlier days, but there are definitely places where you still see them worn.
The number one place is on Sundays at church.  And the Kentucky Derby.  Then there are summer weddings.
Although less dressy, a gardening or sun hat is the kind of hat that is probably still worn most today.  Southerners are used to wearing these hats to keep the sun and heat off, which seems to be present 13 out of the 12 months ;)

Hats can still hold the value of representing lady-likeness, femininity, and beauty.  In fact Hat Socials are a held in some parts of the South, just for the purpose and fun of sharing your favorite hat with other ladies who will appreciate them.
I have been to something of a hat social when I was younger, sort of a tea party held by one of my dearest friend's mom's.  Every lady invited was supposed to wear their best hat.  I remember going and looking up at all the lovely ladies and their hats and thinking how beautiful they all were.
Vintage hats, floral, velvet, pillbox.

Growing up here and seeing those ladies, and then others at church and at weddings and funerals and other places over the years led me to be a little fascinated by hats. 
Seeing Lucy Ricardo's excitement every time she bought a new hat did the same, even if Ricky did make her take them back most of the time.

Really though, I love to look back on the fashion of the Old South more than anything and how hats have been a part of the lives of ladies throughout the generations.

From the hats we see in film, to those worn beautifully in real antique photos of the women before us...

Do you like old fashioned hats??

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Thankyou for reading.

Have a blessed day!

{last 10 images from Google Images}

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year Daybook!

I genuinely hope your new year is off to an AMAZING start!!
Mine has been so blessed... I have been excited about so much lately, and am also looooving getting to relax and read and the like.  However, the one thing I have not done yet in 2013 is write anything!  I have been wanting to, but nothing has come to me over the past few days.
So today I think I will start off a new year of posts with a Daybook, to share some of my recent thoughts in a way that will make sense.
For Today:

Outside my window...
it is rainy and freezing and I am loving it- since I'm inside and warm.  From where I sit, I can see the glow of the lights right outside my window and a dark night sky.

I am thinking...
about the plot of a new book I picked up last night.

I am thankful...
for having the shelter from the cold that I do, that I know some do not have.

In the kitchen...
we are about to make a homemade pizza!

I am wearing...
cozy, soft jeans and a black long-sleeve shirt with snowflakes on it.

I am wondering...
which was the last time I did a puzzle?  I think I will do one soon!

I am reading...
Genesis.  I am currently in chapter 15.

I am hoping...
for maybe some snow soon.  Probably not.  But there's always the hope.

I am looking forward to...
the next time our family is home and off together.

I am learning...
that sometimes an answer to a problem or struggle is right in front of you, in the form of a sign or something close to you.

Around the house...
the carpets (which Lucie is walking around sniffing) are looking fresher after a vacuum.  Yes, I am one of those people that finds satisfaction in the lines left in the carpet afterward... it really does make things feel cleaner ;)

I am pondering...
having "the eyes of my heart" open, and personal convictions.

A favorite quote for today...
"A room without books is like a body without a soul" -Cicero

One of my favorite things...
looking at photos of places I hope to travel to someday, places where I can see so much of the earth's beauty.

A peek into my day...
The cake I made for my family a couple of days ago... red velvet!  Here is the recipe...
1/2 cup shortening, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 (2 oz) bottle red food coloring
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vinegar
Cream shortening and sugar together.  Add eggs.  In small separate bowl, mix together red food coloring and cocoa to form a paste.  Add to batter, then add vanilla.  Sift flour and salt together; add to batter alternately with buttermilk.  Beat well, then fold in baking soda, then vinegar.  Pour into round pans, approximately 10 inches, to make a 2 or 3 layer cake. Grease, flour, or butter pans beforehand.
Bake at 300 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

If you'd like to make homemade frosting:
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cook cornstarch and water on low heat; set aside to cool completely.  Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until thick.  Add cornstarch mixture.  Beat until it forms a whipped-like topping.  Spread between and on top of cooled layers.

Thankyou for reading.

Wishing you a wonderful evening!!

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