Friday, June 27, 2014

Faithful Friday: Dirty Dishes

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One of my greatest and most fervent prayers is that God would comfort and provide for those who don't have enough to eat or having nothing to eat at all.  I can only imagine the way those families feel, the way children who have to grow up without enough to eat must feel.  Being fed and having a full tummy before bed is part of what makes your childhood whole, part of what makes you feel comforted and gives you a sense of home.  Some people don't have that, though.

This may be on my heart and my mind often as I think of those struggling to find and buy enough food for their families, but seeing these words above recently awakened me to something that may appear to not have much meaning on the surface: I complain about doing dishes.  That may not seem monumental, but to me it is now that I really think about.  I've always been sensitive to trying to not be picky about what I eat, because I always grew up being told that a child somewhere who has nothing to eat would be so thankful for that food... but a less obvious thing is how complaining about dishes relates to this.  That just isn't something you think about as quickly.  This is specific, but it really hit home for me upon reading it.  I am so thankful for this reminder!   I needed to read this.  Even if it is just complaining in my mind or having a spirit of that in my heart, this is wrong.  When there is a pile of dishes and it is my turn to do them, I want this renewed spirit of thankfulness to be inside me instead- an attitude of thankfulness for all these dirty dishes!  Dirty dishes are something to rejoice over, for the fact that there was more than enough food to dirty them in the first place.  Because dirty dishes mean being fed and being full, a great blessing that should never, ever be taken for granted.

I pray that all those who are going to bed hungry at night and sweet children who's parents can't feed them like they should be able to, soon have dirty dishes, too.  

In the grand scheme of things, this is a lesson to me that I am grateful for, encouraging me to think of my attitude and have one that is slow to complain or be negative- especially about something God wants me to see for the blessing it actually is!



Happy weekend, friends :)

Blessings!


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Faithful Fridays are a linky party hosted by Joy on her lovely and encouraging blog, Doodlebug.  you can visit her here.



Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer by the Creek

Happy Summertime!

I hope your weekend, which brought with it a new season,
was a wonderful one.
It is so hard to believe Summer is already here, when it feels like we just said
Hello to Spring and now it's gone.

The very beginning of Summer seems like a time when the weather is
 nice no matter what state you are in- it isn't usually cold anywhere by this time,
and it also isn't yet too terribly sweltering anywhere either.
Here in the South, it is starting to get a lot warmer, but surprisingly
we haven't even had one three-digit degree day yet.  I love that!
I'm sure we will be getting more than our share very soon, though ;)
I'm just thankful for air-condition, lemonade, and swimming...
especially swimming holes.

I have an affinity for "swimmin' holes", Cypress hanging
overhead, blocking out a little bit of the sun's rays on a hot day. 
The trickles of sun that do make it through the branches dance on
the surface of the water sweetly.
They are part of my personal definition of Summer that I've
acquired growing up here, and I hold onto that as a part of me and what I
fall in love with about every Summer.

When we can't take a day-trip or go over to the next town (which has some of
the prettiest natural places to swim that I've ever seen) to swim, we quench our longing 
for the water by coming to sit down by the creek that is a few minutes walking
 distance  from our house.
We've been doing that a lot lately and sitting there below all the trees in a
 place that reminds me of a dream is as close to heaven as a short walk someplace
can get me.  I feel so blessed to get to come here on hot days and enjoy the rippling
waters of this creek and feel almost tucked away from the
world for a little while, soaking in the view and the memories that
will one day be what I will look back on when I think about how
I spent these long, dreamy summers as a girl.




















One day when we came back from the creek, 
I started reading Little House on Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder,
and I fell in love with the picture she painted with her words
of the creek she once lived by:

"The flat creek bank was warm,
soft mud.  Little pale-yellow and pale-blue
butterflies hovered there, and alighted and
sipped.
Bright dragonflies flew on blurry wings.
The mud squeezed up between Laura's toes...
there were tiny pools of water in their footprints.
Where they waded in the shallow water
a footprint would not stay.  First a swirl like
smoke came up from it
and wavered away in the clear water...
There were tiny fishes in the water.
They were so small that you could hardly see them.
Only when they went swiftly  sometimes
a silvery belly flashed...

Suddenly they came out of the high grass and
the creek was there.
It ran twinkling over white gravel
into a wide pool, curved against a low bank where
the grass was short.  Tall willows
stood up on the other side of
the pool.  Flat on the water lay a shimmery
picture of those willows, 
with every green leaf fluttering".
-Laura Ingalls Wilder
{On the Banks of Plum Creek}




Wishing you a wonderful Summer!


What are you most looking forward to this season? :)




Blessings! ♥


Friday, June 20, 2014

Faithful Friday: Friendship!

(source)
Honestly, the first thing that comes into my mind when I hear the word "friendship" is an image of Lucy and Ethel singing the song, "Friendship", as they stand side by side in their matching dresses, tearing flowers and sashes off of each other, haha!  That may be coming to your mind, too, now.

The second thing I think of is the importance to who we are.  Friendship is one of the most powerful and incredible blessings that ever graces our lives.  It is with us through every phase of life as we make new friends and cherish the ones from whom we never part.  Friendship makes the world more beautiful because through the eyes of our friends, we are given new eyes to see what our kindred spirit sees when we may not be able to.  

Because friends play such an important role in our lives, it is only natural that we would want to have friendships with the best people possible- not with the best clothes or looks or popularity, but the best inner selves.  Something I was reminded of recently when I reread this Proverb is that a good friendship only comes from finding someone who sharpens us, brings out the best in us, and ultimately encourages us... someone who is a positive influence on us, "sharpening" our character and our hearts and minds for the better.  My parents always reiterated to me just how important it was to find friends who had the same kinds of morals and mindset as I did...  a similar outlook on life when it comes to things like standards or faith.  They told me that this would shape who I became for better or worse and they were more than right.  

I love the saying, "Show me your friends and I'll show you your future".  This has come to mind for me a lot as I have made friends.  How true!  Who we associate ourselves with has such a great bearing on our actions, thoughts, and the way we are shaped.  I believe it it is so influential on our relationship with God.  When we surround ourselves with people who not only love God themselves, but who would never think of discouraging us from our faith and our relationship with Him, and who have good habits and life morals, how much more likely we ourselves will stay strong and be encouraged to keep our faith where it belongs... at the forefront of our lives.  Afterall, how can we be truly close to God if we are close to someone who doesn't want to be or doesn't want us to be?


.           .           .


I'm thankful to say that God has allowed the best friends I could ask for to be the ones who never trickled out of my life, seeing to it that I had encouraging, kind-hearted girls to be surrounded by... friends I can joke around with, up-build, be built up by, dream with, tell my dreams to and share my heart with, listen to, and learn from.  We never know when God will send a new friend our way to cross our path- as he has for me in just the past couple of years- so although I am so grateful for the friendships I have now, I so love this reminder of the importance in choosing friends wisely as I think of the years to come.  There is a reason the Lord tells us, "Bad association spoils useful habits" (1 Cor. 15: 33).   It's so easy to get wrapped up in wanting to be friends with someone because of their kindness or likable personality, but it's important to stop and think about the goals, life outlook, morals, language, countenance, and overall character of that person also.  Would they support and encourage you in your paths, and are they the type of person that you could encourage in theirs?

I never want to lose sight of what a truly blessed friendship is... one of sharpening each other and motivating each other to seek all things good and righteous.



Wishing you a beautiful weekend!


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Faithful Fridays are hosted by Joy on her wonderful, faith-inspiring blog, Doodlebug.  You can visit her, here!



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Maybe I've Been Wrong All Along?

I hope your week has been a blessed one!
I'm so thankful it's Friday!
 I hope you are looking forward to a joyful and relaxing weekend.
I know I am, and I am going to soak up much needed rest time for my brain :)
This feels like one of those weekends where you just feel like curling up with a book
and reading and then taking a nap.  If only it would rain.  That would be wonderful.

I wanted to share a little something with you that I think is funny and clever and
is actually something I saw in a movie we watched not too long ago.  
Have you ever watched the "Ma & Pa Kettle" movies?  I love them.  They are just
 good old movies with such laid back fun and humor.
And if you love the country like I do, then you'll feel especially at home
watching them.

Here is the clip from one of their films.  I found it a couple of days ago here and 
had forgotten about it since watching the movie...
so I just thought I would share it to put an extra laugh or smile into someone's day.



Just a little something that hopefully made you smile!

I know the first time I saw it, I was thinking, "Hmmm.  You know, maybe we've been 
doing math wrong all this time?"  Haha!



Have a wonderful weekend!



Sunday, June 15, 2014

First Hero, First Love.

(source)
You may have heard that sweet quote:  "A Daddy is his son's first hero and his daughter's
 first love".  How true that is for those fathers who are wonderful and such blessings
 to their families, the fathers who know that their absolute most important job is to raise
 and  love their children.  As I read through quotes about fathers before writing this today, 
I found  so many that made my  heart feel the squeeze of emotion that, especially as girls,
 only  thoughts of our relationship with our fathers can bring.
 There is something indescribably special and unique about fathers and their love for their
 children... it is like a different and special form of protectiveness there is, 
wrapped up in undying love.

I'm eternally thankful for my Daddy.  I've been blessed to have that kind of father that isn't afraid to let his emotions show every once in awhile.  The best fathers who do the simple things like play games with you, take you to play baseball on a summer day, take you shopping, go get sno cones, and have talks about life are nothing less than gifts.  I have cards from over the years as I've grown up that I pull out sometimes and read because they are priceless to me; the words in them mean more to me than anything because I will have them forever and they show the depth of love that my Daddy has for me, 
while reminding me of those simple joys we have had together and the memories that
 resulted from them.

(source)

I think there is so much emotion that comes from thinking about the relationship we have with our fathers, as daughters. It is beautiful in a way that is hard to put into words.  From being the first person to hold us, to being the protector and strength for us growing up, the teacher of unforgettable life lessons, to watching out for us and encouraging us to be pure, responsible, and smart about our decisions as we grow, and finally even walking us down the aisle and letting us go.  At weddings, who do you always see crying the most?  The father.  And all of the years leading up to that, as I see in my own life, are moments that seem to try to soak in every bit of us being little girls in case that day comes... 
but we will always be their little girls no matter what.

From the moment they hold us in their arms for the first time, they are never the same.  Their hearts grow so full.  As I grow up, I see that as you get older and watch your Daddy, admire him, and make memories with him, your heart grows fuller, too.  I thank the Lord for the one he gave me, and savor the moments we spend together... back when I was 15, I felt like he would be around for me forever, but as I get older I think I realize more that parents aren't invincible.  I realize that every moment is precious and should not be taken for granted.  I also think it is so important to not take our Dads for granted because there are so many people who never have a father in their life... but fortunately, most people
 I know that don't, have an amazing mother who takes up for that or 
another wonderful father figure.
May we savor every laugh, every hug that we all know makes everything right while we 
are in their arms, and every memory we are making now!

If there is one thing I thank my Daddy for most, it would be his investment
 in my life- not just  playing with me and taking me out to do things together all
 these years,  but investing in me as a person and as his only daughter.  
From the days of me sitting on his lap, us sharing cotton candy at baseball games,
 to my graduation day and now, he has never stopped that.  I am forever thankful for
the Daddy I was blessed with, the most important man in my life.
(...Who I'm excited to go frost a big cake for right now!)



Thank you, Lord, for Daddies & Daddy figures , the irreplaceable blessings in our lives♥


"A Dad is someone who holds you when you cry,
scolds you when you break the rules, shines with pride
when you succeed, and has faith in you
even when you fail".

"I have an angel watching over me.
I call him Daddy".

"A Daddy is someone who keeps pictures in his
wallet where his money used to be".

"There is no feeling like the sweetness of being the light
of your Daddy's world, the piece of his life that makes him complete... and I am convinced that no amount of years that
can ever change that".

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Faithful Friday: Protecting Me

(source)
God's guidance in our lives is something I think about all the time- I'm amazed by it, mystified in the most wonderful way of his omnipotent power over every aspect of our lives, and thankful.  It is such a comfort. However, a part of this that I've been thinking about is the way that He guides our lives in ways we may not be thankful for at the time.  This is something that is hard for me, but I pray that I can embrace it.  It is so easy to thank God when His will for our life is taking place in ways that please and delight us... but it is significantly harder when our lives take a different turn.  When we are in that moment and what we felt would happen didn't happen afterall or whatever we were counting on and hoping for didn't come, we feel off and like something isn't right, like things are not meant to be this way.

It is a whole different story just a little ways down the road, though.  This has been such a lesson to me.  I know that just a few years ago, there were definitely things I thought I needed in my life, people I thought I wanted to get to know better or be closer to, and plans I thought I wanted for my life.  Just a little farther down the line, I hit a place where I looked back and wondered WHY on earth I wanted those things.  They didn't appeal to me anymore.  I looked back only to think about how different- for worse- my life would be had those things happened or had certain people or things come into or stayed in my life.  It is after that realization that I got the much, much bigger realization that these things didn't not work out for just ANY reason... God was protecting me from them, from what I thought in my naive heart that I wanted.

And my heart is bursting with thankfulness and the greatest love and amazement!   To me, looking back and knowing this is the greatest testimony we can have to ourselves because it is the best possible reminder that we can trust God to lead us into His plans for us instead of ours; we saw it act out in our own lives.  It shows us with blaring proof that we don't always know what we want, but God always does.  We may have a desire for one thing that we feel we can't live without, but God may see that that one thing is what He needs to protect us from becoming wrapped up in.   I could never have enough gratefulness and appreciation to the Lord for this... but I live in awe of how God allows you to be distanced at just the right time from what you aren't meant to have in your life.  The most amazing thing is when you can make of sense of it... you may still long for it because you thought about if for so long, but then you see that it never fully made sense in the first place.  Before then, though, it is easy to get upset because something we want to happen won't happen... what a perfect opportunity to open our eyes to more than our heart's desires and think about what reason God may have for this not happening.  He may just be protecting us from something that could be the opposite of what we thought.

I know that these lessons are an incredible blessing and teacher.  Like everything else in having faith, it all leads back to trusting God with our lives and not ourselves.  I am amazed to think back and ponder over moments when my heart once pleaded for what I thought was meant for me and then wondering why that never came, and finally seeing how everything aligned for better.  Only a plan written by God himself could bring us away from what we thought we needed and toward much better blessings we never expected.




Blessings to you :)


Have a happy weekend!



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I'm linking to Faithful Fridays, hosted by Joy on her lovely blog, Doodlebug.  You can visit and read her wonderful posts, here.




Saturday, June 7, 2014

Faithful Friday: The Truth in Letting Go and Letting God

(source)
These are beautiful words with the most miraculous meaning behind them, a meaning that gives us true peace and serenity in our hearts despite even the toughest adversities.  You have likely heard this many times.  I'm sure I have probably written about this before also.  But yesterday I was inspired to write about this in a different way, because I finally realized the truth of what I believe it means to let go and let God take over...

Giving my problems and my entire life to God is something I have thought about thousands of times.  I pray about it often also, and have always thought of it as simply trusting God because I know that my life could be in no better hands.  Yesterday, though, I had a deeper realization of why giving ourselves and our problems to God is the best way.

I was listening to the radio and happened upon a station where I heard a man talking about a question he had received from a listener.  It was asking about this very thing... the girl had asked what she should do with her problems?  Should she sit back and not think at all and let God just have his will encompass her life?  I realized that I thought much like her, because when I consciously give things to God I often feel like I can just let them completely go.  And I can.  But what was talked about while I was listening yesterday was that while we should do that, we shouldn't just stop thinking.  In fact, we should think more- but not stressfully as we would if we tried to own all of our problems without giving them to the Lord; instead, we should think with peace in our hearts about why we can have faith that God will take care of the problem we have given him.  And then the thing that settled my heart most was said.... that the main thing we should ponder after we've given something to God is how we have experienced His grace and help and His faithfulness in the past.

This made me realize in a new way, and in a way of new appreciation and assuredness, that when I release a problem or part of my life to God, the thing I should do is not sit and stress more about my problem.  It is also not to wonder IF he can take care of it, or to think more about how I myself can handle it alone.  The thing that will help most is to relax and think, while God takes over, about how faithful He has been to me in the past when I have let go.  We can just keep reminding ourselves of this.  What better way is there to feel release and relax as we let the Lord work in our lives or on our problem!


This was such a blessing to me to re-think "Letting go and letting God"... to better understand what it means, to realize that you don't have to keep stressing.  You just have to keep focusing on God' faithfulness to you  and trusting He will take care of you because He always has.



Blessings!

Have a beautiful day!




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Faithful Fridays are hosted by Joy on her lovely blog, Doodlebug.  You can visit her, here.




Thursday, June 5, 2014

Around the Table















These beautiful images are the kind that come to mind when I think about the family table.  
Whether paintings and artworks or photographs of times past, pictures that show the life that a kitchen table brings to it- seemingly attracting everyone to it to sit around it together and doing much more than eating; getting away from the world and just being close and at home- and the smiles around it, hold a place in my heart.  They are the images that I may visually see or that just come to mind that fall into being one of those things that makes me appreciate the simple gift of what something as simple as a kitchen table, or even a picnic table, really means.

Recently, I came across a Southern cook and lovely lady who has just authored a cookbook with Southern Living magazine.  I first found her through finding out about her cookbook.  It was featured on QVC one day and she was there to talk about it and share about her love for Southern cooking and her roots.  Her name is Rebecca Lang.  For me, she just had this charm and electric joy within her that made me want to watch her and listen to her as she spoke about baked macaroni and cheese, grits, and how her cookbook was a product of her love for the food she grew up on and what it meant to her.  She had a sweet Southern twang and the kindest smile ever and talked all about her upbringing and her family with the most ladylike and delightful demeanor.  I decided to look her up, mostly because in only five minutes of watching her I got the feeling of inspiration from her of who I knew I wanted to be like when I am that age someday.  From there, I was delighted to find she had a blog and immediately followed.  I have so enjoyed her lovely posts ever since.  One in particular, though, recently caught my eye and got to the part of my heart that is held strong to my roots in family and the sentimentality of life.

I thought I would share it here because it is too beautifully written not to.  Have you ever read or seen something that made you stop and think, "This is what life is all about"?  Reading this was one of those rare and precious moments for me.  This is one of the most meaningful pieces of writing I have ever read... these words speak to me and bring me straight to the nostalgic moments of the past- like where I have been when I got good or bad news- and the moments that await me in the future. 


The essay written by Rebecca Lang:

My Southern Table

"Being welcomed at the table is nothing short of receiving a special gift. It’s a package filled with soothing assurance that you are not alone. It is not simply a piece of furniture made to support a plate and a glass; it is furniture that serves its owners in countless and amazing ways.
    Like so many others, my home is not determined by an address; my home is where those I love gather around the table. The location and the table aren’t always the same, but those that surround it are always family. In times of great celebration, quite reflection or deep loss, the table is forever in the center.
    Much of my life has been marked by unforgettable moments around the table. It was at the table where I tasted my very first tomato sandwich. I ate breakfast at the table while watching the Challenger liftoff and disintegrate into the sky. Years later I slipped my left hand across the shiny oak top to show my grandmother my engagement ring. In that exact same place at the table, my place, I was overcome by the sea of endless food delivered when she passed away. We gathered our parents around the table on a frigid January evening to share the news that their first grandbaby was on the way. 
    While sitting down to a bushel of roasted oysters, I was ecstatic to tell my family I was writing my long-awaited third book. I swaddled our brand new baby girl in a bright pink basket on our table the first day we came home from the hospital. We added leaves and pulled up chairs for the biggest brunch I could cook after each of our children was baptized.  Hours after the death of my father-in-law, I sat alone at our table in the middle of the night and cried until no more tears would come. While sitting on his tiny knees at the table, my son said the blessing all by himself for the first time.
    It is at the table where I have grown-up, loved, laughed, prayed, celebrated and experienced so many of the defining moments in my life. This long relationship does not make me unique. Most Southerners could tell a very similar story about the table where they sit to dine each day. The Southern table does not just fill a room or a corner; it fills our very lives and enriches our souls."



I love how she talked about how the table may not even be your own table, but someplace else, where memorable moments in your life have taken place.  But at your table, maybe that was where you remember learning to bake your very first batch of cookies, or where your baby sat for their first meal in a high chair, or where you had a cherished heart to heart talk with someone who has since passed away.

This makes me think about the preciousness of life, of each season of life, of every gift from above but also every sorrow, about how no matter what, we are all connected to those we love by those moments and by the places we have spent them and will spend them.  Such a deeper feel this gives for the way that each of us has and will always find ourselves best at the place that we belong.


What does the table (or any place that is your "table") mean to you?  :)



Wishing you blessings and beautiful day!



(source of all images: Pinterest)
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