Saturday, September 27, 2014

Faithful Friday: He Has Been Good!

I love this... a simple reminder on my mind.  I hope this is always on my mind and in my thoughts and heart... because it is so true.  Even when I think of the loss or trials I have experienced, as we all have, I can put my faith in the fact that through each of those things God has been by my side!  He has been good.

And through every waking (and sleeping) moment of your life and mine, He is good because He is there.  Always there... to comfort and bless us!

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Blessings to you!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"Now For October Eves!"

Today was the first full day of 
the Fall season!  Happy Fall!

Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a dream, like it isn't quite
reality, because of how quickly the seasons come and go.
It is hard to imagine the Autumn leaves will be falling again soon,
if they haven't already started to in some places, and that cool days are
soon to be here in another Fall.  It feels like we were just pulling
out all of the beautiful reds and oranges and decorations to make
 our fireplace mantel and home look festive for Fall, 
and it has just arrived all over again.

To begin Fall, I take delight in perusing quotes that exude Fall
wonder and the feeling of this glorious season.  Reading them and 
looking through breathtaking Fall scenery photos
is so relaxing, to stare at God's works of art in the leaves
 and imagine I am standing in the middle of all of it.
Here are some of my favorite...


Ah, Fall.  Such a miraculous season full of such
incredible beauty.  The world feels so alive to me, much the way
it does come Spring, but just in a different shade, a shade of fiery oranges
and reds instead of pastels.

Thomas Kinkade is a painter I admire so very much.
This painting takes me to the feeling of what beauty is found in
a rainy, Autumn day in a quaint, cozy town of warmth and happiness. 
I hope that someday I am able to travel to the Northeast
to experience the grandeur of the Fall season there with the resplendent
colors that seem brighter and more vivid than anywhere, perhaps,
like a fairy tale scene.

I just saw this this week and had to laugh at this because it
could not be more true.
I am SO thankful Fall is here!  In the South, the humidity of Summer
 becomes heavier and hotter than ever toward the end of the season and the 
lovely Fall weather that starts to show itself is so welcome!
Surviving triple-digit day after triple-digit day plus humidity
causes a craving for cool, breezy, overcast Fall days.

I am thrilled just thinking of it, along with the coziness
I fall in love with every Autumn, the coziness I think about all year
long, of the joyful days spent inside relaxing with a cup of
hot chocolate, staring out at the leaves falling,
watching a foggy window pane as raindrops slide down
while a pumpkin candle nearby fills your home.with its scent. 

I think that is what I am looking forward to most of
all this season... the rainy days as the air becomes crisper and
the feeling of everything is refreshingly wet and chilly... and relating to 
that, I think a close second is getting to wear cozy, soft sweaters because
of the changes in the weather.  I am ready for that!
And baking warm, delicious desserts.  
How did I almost forget that!? ;)

 .           .           .

If you've read my blog for awhile, you know I can't get through a
season without mentioning or dreaming about front porches and
adding beautiful decorations to them for that season,
whether it is a wreath or flowers by the door.
These are some Fall front porches that I found that I admired
for their beauty and the warm, inviting appeal.
How special it is to celebrate the seasons God gave us with 
decoration and making our homes cheerier with their color.

Happy Fall y'all!!

I hope you have a most wonderful and blessed season!

What do you most love about this amazing season?
Are you planning to decorate your home?


(All photos and images from: source)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Faithful Friday: More of You, Less of Me

Happy Friday!

This week has gone by in a flash and it was a wonderful one, but I am thankful to have another weekend be here so soon.  I hope your week was blessed!

Lately, I have really- perhaps more than ever in my life- been focused on music and lyrics and their beauty, just appreciating them and the way they inspire my heart to grow toward God.  I have been listening to about four different songs over and over.  When I am inspired by and falling in love with music, I usually listen to it over and over and over again because I cannot get enough.  What a realized while I have been enjoying listening to the songs I have recently is that with music that is faith driven, it is the amazing lyrics that make me truly love listening to the songs.  I don't think that can be said for a lot of music because for me, usually a beat will stay with me and make me like a song... but these songs about God and making Him your life would be beautiful to me even if it were not for their melodies, because they simply make me passionate about God and awed by His love for me.

So, this week, what I have to share is not a picture or one quote that is working in my heart, but a whole song...

I heard this song first on the radio and ever since, it has blessed me SO much... my soul, my thoughts, my days as I think about it.  I feel even more incessantly thankful to the Lord for his blessings in my life.  This song gives me emotions that are hard to explain, because as I listen to the words I feel the most immense joy that surpasses normal joy.  I feel a spirit of praise and gratefulness and just wanting nothing more in the world than to give my ALL to God.

This song reminds me of what truly matters.  Having had a death in my family recently,  I think those priorities have been at the forefront of my mind more than ever and listening to the sweet and powerful, amazing lyrics sung in this song brings that even closer to me... these words are my greatest prayer, to give God my everything, to surrender all to Him.

These words especially are my greatest desire, my prayer...

"Empty me of myself until the only thing that's left is: more of You."

"Make me who I'm meant to be." It is so important to me that God makes me who I'm meant to be; that He shapes me, not me.

"I refuse to gain the world and lose my soul."  These ten words.  These are one of my most fervent prayers, that God would take over my heart and soul, that the world may never appeal to me.  My emotions in my deep love for God revolve so much around this, to never want the approval of the world or to be of the world, but to leave it behind and be of Him, to stay away from what others may think is acceptable but what I know is not, to hold myself to a standard of God's approval and not give in and follow the pattern of what everyone else may be doing.

"So take it all. I abandon.  Everything I am you can have it." Oh, how I love this.  It reminds me of how nothing I have and no habits that I have are even minutely close to being worth keeping just because they are my weaknesses.  In no way possible could anything compare with God.  I pray that I will always abandon everything that doesn't please God in my life, that I will leave it behind!  I give it to the Lord.

And most of all...

"God, I choose more of you and less of me."  I love this, because it emphasizes to me what I have been taught growing up, that loving God with your whole soul is a choice.  And to show my choice to do that, I need to follow His word, choosing to give up ways or a heart condition that isn't pleasing to Him.  To choose God is willful, to empty you of you and fill yourself with God to create a new you, the best version of you ever possible.

"You're all I want.  All I need."  God fulfills us completely.  To give up anything and everything that we identify with or believe we need, but which is actually harming our relationship with God and is nothing we need.  God completely satisfies and quenches our souls.

"Take it all. I surrender."

And of course, the title of this song says it all: I want "More of You, Less of Me."

Another thing that I found deeply beautiful in the words the first time I heard this song is the very first verse...
"I made my castle tall.  I built up every wall.
This is my kingdom and it needs to fall."

I heard that for the first time and thought of the truth in it, the level on which that rings in so many of us. We may love God and aim to give our lives to Him, but many of us spend so much time distracted, either building up walls and putting distance between ourselves and God because of hurting, or building those castles tall out of the things we put before God in our lives.  Those things becomes our kingdom, a kingdom that revolves around the selfish desires of our lives.  It needs to fall in order for us to wholly surrender everything to He who IS Everything.  Growing up, it has taken me time to do this at times.  Being young seems to present many things that you know maybe are a distraction and that take up your thoughts and your time and that come to define your world in ways you know are not the best.  I was raised with faith being a great part of my life and have always had God in my heart, but as I got a little older I realized that the things I built up- the things I thought I needed in my life that did not lead me towards God or even had the potential to lead me away from Him- needed to go in order for Him to not just be in my heart, but to fully possess it.  In no way could they ever compare to the greater experience of God's grace and incredible love I felt.  My kingdom needed to fall.  Every once in awhile, I think about what my loves in life are and what takes up my time and I think about whether or not it is a road that leads me to the Lord or not.  If it doesn't, it's just a brick of a castle that does not need to be built.   I pray that I never have enough bricks to come close to building a castle, and especially not a kingdom.

I thank God for the relationship I have always had with Him from the very beginning of my life, but I thank Him even more for the relationship I have with Him that has grown so vastly since He cultivated in my heart that I need more of Him and less of me.

This is what has been placed upon me to think of and now to share for this week.  I'm thankful for this song and for the deep and beautiful spirit that it envokes in those who listen, like me... a reminder of the truest sense of surrender.  Listening to it, I am grateful beyond words that I belong to God.
What a sweet message this song can be to all who listen... that no matter what your life is like, no matter how lost you may feel, how discouraged or hurt, no matter what sin or weaknesses you have or had, your answer is one of simple beauty- to leave it all behind and seek God, to fill yourself with Him until there is no room left at all for those other things.

Blessings to you!

Wishing y'all a happy, lovely weekend!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Faithful Friday: Drawing Near

Oh, the sweetness of this verse.
It is impossible for me not to fall in love with the words of the
Lord and this verse is no exception.

This is a thought that I think is so important to keep in mind.
So many feel that God has left them or forgotten them, which is never,
ever the case... some who feel that way have often drawn away from God
for some reason.  Or with some of us, with the busyness of life and the
distractions of each day, we may find we are growing very, very slowly
distant from God.  

He never leaves us and is never far from us because of his immense
love for each of us, but these words are a valuable reminder
that although this is true no matter how much of a priority God is 
in a person's life or even if you are pushing God away,
 the closest relationship possible that we can have
with Him is one where we draw close to HIM, too!
When God sees our hearts and sees that in them we truly desire
Him and are drawing nearer to Him, He will bless our walk
not only with Him but toward Him.

When I read this verse, I imagine two people standing a long distance
apart from each other.  They get closer to each other much faster
if both of them move and walk toward each other than if
only one of them were to walk forward.
It is the same with our relationship with God.

Blessings to you.

Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Loving Fresh, Summer Fruits

Happy Friday!
As always, time is amazing me by flying and I am having a hard 
time believing that Summer will be over this month!
Yay for Autumn weather on it's way!

Although I am looking forward so to cooler temperatures and crisp,
cool days ahead, one of the things I will miss about Summer that I have been
thinking about is the abundance of fresh fruit.  And fresh, juicy fruit at that.
Being in the South, because the weather is so mild, a variety of 
fresh fruits are almost perennial here, but they do taste sweeter and more
 flavorful in the season when they are "in" and are especially
delicious in Summer.
Don't they just leave the sweetest taste in your mouth and make you feel
refreshed after one bite!

I have enjoyed being refreshed by fruits during this Summer and have also loved
 eating them as a part of being healthy that I look forward to.
Eating raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, apples, pineapple, blackberries,
and blueberries at their tastiest has been a treat.  The only thing
that could make them better is to have the country Summer experience of
going to pick them myself :)
Here are some of the ways I have been eating my favorite fruits this

I know you're supposed to save best things for last, but I this is my favorite new
discovery and I had to put it first.  At the start of Summer, we found popsicle trays
and decided to start making our own fruit popsicles.  These are EASY as pie
to put together and such a fun way to get to eat the fruits you love in a new way.
I think it's so neat, too, to know exactly what is in it since you're making it
and the options are endless.
I just pop a couple of cups of whatever fruits I choose into the 
blender- usually I mix sliced pinapple and strawberries- and pour in a little
water, a little juice, and blend, then pour that into the popsicle trays and wait for 
them to freeze.  That is a fun word to say, hehe... popsicle. 
 I realize that as I read this in my head as I write.
I think one great thing about trying these was realizing just how
much flavor is in the fruits alone, without any sweeteners.  
These turn out so sweet and have the best natural, real taste in a way
that you don't get as much if you buy store-bought "fruit pops".  

Usual fruit popsicle ingredients.  I try to use low sugar or sugar free juices
and switch up flavors, from cranberry-grape to apple, depending on what fruit
is going in.

Another way we have really started enjoying fruit in the past year or so
is by making smoothies.
Sometimes I like to look for smoothie recipes to try and sometimes
I just like to mix up different things- all kinds of fruits, juices, yogurt flavors, milk- and
mix them up and see what happens.  That is easiest and always seems to produce
something pretty wonderful.

...And it just seems a little more Summery to drink smoothies from a
Mason Jar.
And don't forget a heaping tablespoon of whipped cream on top!

On the earlier days of Summer when the heat was more survivable,
 one of my favorite ways to spend some time in the
 mornings was to go out on the back porch and sit there, drinking
my smoothie and feeling those early Summer breezes, watching the birds,
admiring the flowers.  I loved eating my popsicles out there, too.

Recently, I have had a thing for berries most of all... blueberries and raspberries.
I have been loving eating a cup full of them at once for a snack.
It has been nice to crave these and have them to eat instead of chips or
something unhealthy.  I have been eating cups of them for snacks instead
and every week I am excited to go grocery shopping again to buy

I'm so thankful for fruits!  I don't know what Summer would be like
without them.  I can't imagine it without berries and pineapples and
the refreshment of biting into a juicy, ripe strawberry or even just seeing a 
watermelon or peach truck on the side of the road on a hot day.

What is your favorite Summer fruit?
Have you ever made fruit popsicles?

Have a beautiful weekend!!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Faithful Friday: Pleasing the Lord

What infinite wisdom is found in this quote!  I read this recently and it made me so thankful that God has developed in my heart over the course of my life so far just just how vital to my walk with Him it is that I work to please Him before anyone, to do what is right.  That last sentence, "We live to please the Lord and not people", hit me as something I have come to realize it is so easy to struggle with.  It is not that I don't want to please God, because that is always my prayer that I would live to do that.
But my stumbling block is that sometimes I find it hard to let others down, even when I know that what that involves is not the best decision I could make.  As a young person in school and around peers, I feel like it can be especially challenging to disagree with others around you or have to let them down or not do something that everyone else is doing- even something very seemingly innocent- because you want to be included and you want to be kind and peaceable.  I went through those moments and still do.
Even in a conversation, sometimes I will come away from speaking with someone and then ponder over what was said later in the day, when I find myself thinking that something I agreed with them on or something I did or expressed to make them feel comfortable very well did not align with what God has placed on my heart.

It can have more impact on your faith than you may think to give into letting go of your convictions and your resolve to please God first, even if only for a second or in one sentence you speak.  It is not a good feeling to think about something I said that could have gone differently had I put my desire to please God first instead of impressing someone, but on the other hand it is a warm and joyful feeling to look back on my day and know that I pleased God with what I said and did.

It has blessed my life and my heart for the Lord to ask myself in all things if my actions in them or my plans will please God first and foremost.
This is what my thoughts have been pondering recently and I am thankful for the reminder.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Labor Day Weekend: Kittens, Crafts, and BBQ

Is it just me or is it hard to believe it is almost Friday, again!?
I sat down to write a little about my weekend, only to realize that for some
reason I have been thinking that it is still early in the week and that it
is almost the weekend all over again.
This shorter week after Labor Day has me confused, but in the best way,
because I'm so thankful for the holiday weekend we just had
and the length of it.  I hope y'all had a blessed and enjoyable
Labor Day weekend!

Our weekend was so wonderful- pure fun and relaxation and
filled with the blessing of family time.
One of my favorite things was getting to share great food as a family
as we celebrated the long holiday weekend with BBQ one of the days
and cheeseburgers the next.  I love having a Daddy who loves
 to barbeque.  I can't complain ;)

Aside from that, I loved spending my time... with my Mama.  I will forever remember sitting at the
table with her, beading and crafting.  It is one of my favorite
places to be... sitting together, talking, stringing beads, getting excited
about our creations, sippin' on coke or lemonade or hot-chocolate
(depending on what season we're in) and just relaxing.
Those moments are my happy place and a blessing.
It has been so much fun collecting new beads and adding them into
our containers.  We are running out of room, though, (there are just too many
gorgeous beads at Hobby Lobby!) so egg carton storage has come in handy.

I love working with new charms and faceted dividers and beads we
come across...

...and getting creative, adding things like these beautiful brooch like

...Also doing some painting and illustrating practice.  There is nothing
so satisfying and lovely to me- when jewelry-making, painting, or whatever
it might be- as laying out everything in front of you, in this case paints, squirting
them out to be ready to be used, and starting to create.
Right now, though, looking at this photo brings my taste buds back
to exactly how that delicious blueberry soda tasted.  So good.

...Playing with and watching the precious kittens outside.
Their Mama had her kittens, I believe it was, around the time we left for our
vacation.  A few weeks ago, she started bringing them to our back porch and it has
been so sweet to get to look out our back door to see them playing, wrestling
with each other, being given a "bath" by their mama, and sleeping.
They are too cute for words.

...Another wonderful part of the "food" aspect of our weekend as a family was starting
it off Friday night with delicious Bacon Mac n' Cheese, which we made on the stove
and then took some of it and baked it with cheese and breadcrumbs on top.  Oh my gracious.
We also whipped up a chocolate cake that night.  It was definitely a bright
start to the weekend. 

What a nice, long Labor Day weekend it was.
I am thankful that another weekend is now just around the corner.

How was your holiday weekend??

Wishing y'all a blessed day!

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