Friday, January 30, 2015

Faithful Friday: Tozer

These five lines are the key
to true happiness.

I was thankful to come across this quote, which so
simply puts into words what I realize more
and more each and every day... that when we make God our
first priority and consciously seek to do so, our problems
seem smaller, our hearts are more quickly healed, our
worries are less.

That doesn't mean all our problems magically
disappear, but when our focus is on God we focus less on the
menial issues that trouble us in this life...If only in the fact that God's
 love overcomes us as we put Him higher and higher in the list of things
 that make up our desires and focus so much so that new-found joy 
makes our problems seem smaller.

Having the Lord at the center of
everything is the most powerful and meaningful thing we
could ever hope for.
How amazing it is when we realize that
on deeper and deeper levels as we grow in Him.

.     .     .

Y'all have a blessed weekend!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Faithful Friday: Taste & See

This is one of my favorite verses.
I think I have about a thousand "one of my favorite verses", but this one
is near the top if I had to choose.  I love these words, the glory they bring to God as
we think on them and taste the words themselves in our hearts.... pondering
the Lord's goodness...
realizing the extremely amazing gift of living according to God's

What a verse this is to speak to our hearts the meaning of
taking shelter and refuge in Him.
My favorite part of this scripture is the first because I love that
it tells us to "taste and see that the Lord is GOOD."
It doesn't say that if we taste life in Him, we will find that He
is sometimes good, or sometimes faithful, or good most of the time.
It says that He is good, plain in simple.
This photo was beautiful to me when combined with this
psalm because when we think of taste, the first thing that 
comes to mind is likely tasting a decadent food we enjoy,
like this lovely pie.  When you taste a spoonful of your favorite
pie or dessert, you know it is good.  The Lord is just the same.

To taste and see the Lord and living a life according to His
ways and for His glory is to see that He is always good.
We will find nothing but good when we do.

That is truly something to rejoice over!

.          .          .

I hope you have had a lovely weekend so far :)

Hugs & blessings!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

All Creatures, Great & Small

The faces of God's sweet creatures can always
bring a smile to my face and bring me so much joy.
I saw this sweet, little smiling face recently and it gave me that feeling,
a warmth inside.

I couldn't help but share him as a little bit of mid-week

.         .          .

I love animals... being around them, studying them, learning
 about them and their characteristics in how they were created, 
and watching them in nature.
Most of all, I am grateful that we have the joy of being around 
such majestic, beautiful, and sweet creatures.  
I always think about how much we would be missing if humans
 were the only beings on the earth.  What would life be if we didn't
 get to hear the birds sing, see a deer and her fawn in a meadow, be welcomed 
by our pets at home, or get to admire the resplendence of the marine 
life in the oceans?
Looking at all of God's captivating creation in animals is
also so inspiring to me because of what I remember my mama
always telling me since I can remember- that God's handiwork
in each of the animals is one of the most amazing views you can get
of His personality... the humor, grace, or beauty of particular
features of different animals.

How blessed we are to have animals around us.
When I am stressed, the most comforting thing I can think of
is petting my dog and walking in the door to her wagging tail and 
uncontrollable excitement to see me, then getting to
snuggle with her on the couch while I read or watch a movie...
or back when new litters of kittens were just outside, to be able
to walk out on the back porch and pick up a kitten who would nuzzle me
 and sweetly mew as I stroked her fur.
Animals can make us feel at ease like not much else can.
What wonderful friends and companions they are as pets- always 
unconditionally loving and loyal and bringing laughter, joy, and
humor into our lives with their funny quirks- and what
 an amazing gift it is to admire the beauty of wildlife.

I believe I could never grow tired of being around animals...
I dream of someday having a ranch where I will spend hours
loving every moment of walking... just walking the land and looking
 to catch glimpses of the creatures all around.
Of all the things that take up space in this world,
animate and inanimate, nothing can bring cheer into my
heart quite like seeing the face of a sweet animal.

I'm so thankful for the fact that we are surrounded with that
cheer in life ♥

"If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than
 a lot of humans."
-James Herriot

"I heard someone define heaven once... as a place where, when you
get there, all the dogs you ever loved run to greet you."
-Robert Parker

"When I look into the eyes of an animal I do not see an animal.
I see a living being. I see a friend. I see a soul."
-A.D. Williams

Monday, January 19, 2015

Faith & A Dream

I still remember the chills that I got
sitting in class in elementary school when I heard the resonant voice
of Martin Luther King Jr. for the very first time as I listened to his
famous speech.

I had never felt that way at hearing someone speak before.
The most prominent reason that I believe I had that sensation, as
I so clearly remember it, is because I had learned so much about him
and read about what a great man he was- and to think of him having
been killed not long after that speech made hearing his voice
more startling in some way.

That voice brings back a similar feeling, even now.
When I was in junior high, and then again in high school,
 I got the chance to read his April 1963 "Letter from Birmingham
Jail" and studied it, as well as Dr. King.  I loved learning more about
him through the poignant words he had penned, and words so
 powerfully written in spite of the pressure he must have been 
  I was amazed by his character, strength, resolve, and passion.
Studying him made me thankful for the selflessness he showed
and what he was able to accomplish on behalf of those who were not
treated equally and with respect at the time... especially because,
although I love the South, I don't want to think about this place
with so much beauty being today what it was when Civil Rights
were still having to be fought for.
The South was Dr. King's home and it makes me sad to think
about the fact that he didn't get to enjoy his life here, then,
the way he could have now- but on the other hand, there is 
reason to be happy for those who do, largely because of him.

Martin Luther King Jr. will always have this beautiful enigmatic
quality to me in how I think of him; I have great admiration for the
man he was, a husband, father, preacher, man of great
intelligence, a kind of sharpness of mind you could see in his eyes,
 and most of all, a man of incomparable faith.

His belief in God was a powerful driving force in his life and in
the work he did, both as someone who preached about the God he loved
and who tried to get people to understand his cause for peace when
they blinded themselves.
His quotes about faith and what he believed, the principles
that his life centered around, are not seen as much as others, but how
amazing they are to read.  You can find several here, but this is one
 of my favorite:

"Like the early Christians, we must move into a sometime
 hostile world armed with the revolutionary gospel of
 Jesus Christ.  With this powerful gospel we shall 
boldly challenge the status quo."

And that is exactly what he did.
What an amazing testimony to the values he possessed were the qualities
he showed, morality, the strength of character to be passive when he was
the target of violence, and the utmost belief in God to see him through
each day as he challenged what was wrong with what he knew 
was right... and what he was called to do to aim to make it right.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Faithful Friday: A Contented Heart

Happy Friday!
I hope your week was great and that your weekend gets off to a 
wonderful start :)

A quote that recently struck me when I read it said:
"The sweetest lesson I have learned in God's school is to let the Lord
choose for me."
-D.L. Moody

This reminded me of something that is not always easy, but is so important,
Philippians 4:11 is a reminder of words that I want to have the 
strength and faith and character to say wholeheartedly...
"I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith
to be content."

This example set for us in contentedness by Paul in the bible
is inspiring, to say the least.  To think of all that he had to go through
and he was content with whatever he faced because he
trusted God so fully.

Being content is a state of mind in our faith, only possible
by leaning on the Lord through our trials.
Sometimes, though, we may not be content as a result of things that
we feel are missing from our life in some way- not necessarily "trials."
Isn't God merciful and loving to care about these things, too?

He cares about the aspects of your life that
may not necessarily be a struggle, but that cause you to yearn for 
something more.
He cares about your hopes and your goals and your desires and
if you are yearning to be at a different place in life.
Trust that He will get you to that place in His timing.
A lot of girls have marriage on their minds and
 are trusting God with His timing to bring them the right person.
Many people are just so tired from working, living
 paycheck-to-paycheck, or needing a break from the pace of life. 
No matter what we hope will change or happen in our life,
 how beautiful a testimony to God being our stronghold
it is to be positive and make the effort to be truly content!

In the midst of the struggles, trials, or wants and needs we have,
what character we show the Lord (and as a witness to others) when
we are content... when our attitude towards our trial is that it could
be much worse and we are simply thankful for God's blessings and will
trust Him to get us through what we are dealing with.
And when our attitude toward a need or hope is that we are content
with what we have now and trust God to bring what we hope for into
our lives when He sees that it is the right time.

.           .           .

One way that I have been inspired to be content is to
thank God so often for what he has already given me in my prayers
so that there is little room to complain.
Another is doing something that effects my heart more than anything,
and that is to- as simple as it seems- think of others and what
they are going through.  Each day as I go through my day, it often comes
to mind what someone I know is, or people I don't even know 
are, dealing with... and I am never more humbled by doing so.
This is something that makes me want to take up 
all the more time in my prayers with asking God to please help
and comfort them.
What an exponentially better way to use our time in prayer.

How amazing it is to be content where we are now...
to have faith so strong that we have no doubts that God will take
care of us- is taking care of us.
What beauty there is in a contented heart, the surest way
to calm the seas in the midst of our storms.

Happy Friday!
...Did I say that already?
Well, Friday is just such a good day, we needed it twice. ;)

I hope y'all have a blessed weekend!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Essentials For Productivity

Something that is on my mind most of the time, but that my thoughts go to even more so when a year is freshly beginning, is how I will make the most of time... in investing my time in things that truly matter to me, getting to the things I hope to do, and in overall productivity.

Being productive is something that seems to require more focus when the pace of life picks up. As things are about to get busier very soon, I find myself giving more thought again to what will help me to be productive this year while I am balancing wonderful life and all that is a part of it.  I believe there is great importance in being balanced in what productivity means to you, but I also think that it is equally important to be driven.  

Here are five essentials I can think of that are, and will be, helpful to me in being productive
 with my time.

When each day is full of meaning, it is easier to remain productive in working on everything from what you love to do to what you need to do.  A great deal of meaning is found in my days through being inspired.  When I am inspired, it not only gives me drive and motivation in endeavors in which I am passionate about, but it gives me a sense of excitement about getting through what I have to do that may not be as enjoyable in order to get to what I love, the point where I am able to reach my goals.  Inspiration- in new knowledge, a book, a photo, in words, or in something someone says to you- is so necessary for productivity in my experience being it is like fuel, giving me the extra push to accomplish because of what lies ahead look forward to.  Additionally, inspiration guides me in making better use of my time and having purpose to start new projects and venture into new places of learning and goal-making.

Staying focused is perhaps the most important element of being productive for the reason that you can have good intentions of getting so much done and you can plan to get a lot accomplished, but if you lose focus, you lose sight of what is involved in accomplishing it.  Whether writing a research paper or rearranging and organizing, focusing and, as funny as it may sound,  focusing on focusing has helped me so much to stay on track to getting things done.  Ways I stay focused are planning to accomplish goals in increments by doing bigger things in smaller chunks and looking at my progress often.   This has helped me to keep focused on what I wanted to do and get in finished within the time I wanted to do it in things like sewing a dress and reading books in a short amount of time for assignments over the years.

Making lists is a substantial part of being productive because it is directly linked to goals, both making them and keeping them.  I love keeping lists and categorizing them into different areas is helpful to me.  One of the most frequently added to lists of mine is my "to look up" list of words, books, terms, people, etc. that I want to look up to find out about.  I am constantly hearing words that I want to be refreshed on, hearing of historic figures who I am curious about, or things I think of randomly that I want to know.  This is important to me in productivity because it means constantly learning, realizing, and pondering new things.  Lists are extremely helpful because I can refer back to them at the end of the day and throughout the day to see if I have done what I sought to.  They also inspire me because making lists, from lists of books to read to things to get done in a day, give me heightened determination to cross things off as they are finished.  And how wonderfully accomplished it feels to see a crossed-off list in front of me :)

Stay With What Works
It has always been interesting to me how everyone is unique in that we all have different ways of working toward accomplishments, solving problems, and focusing.  I think that an important essential for being productive is to stick to what that unique method is for you, what works best for you.  This can be the little things, like having a snack while you work on something, to bigger things like a specific way of organizing your day or yourself.  Some people work better in silence so they can focus, but most of the time I prefer to work with some sort of low noise on in the background or even just out where my family is talking and supper is cooking- still being a part of what's going on in a less involved way- while I write or do schoolwork.  Somehow that helps along my "grey cells", as they say, better than silence does :)

Learn & Expand Your Mind
I believe this is extremely essential to productivity- constantly learning means that your brain itself is being productive, which leads to being able to greater cognition and knowledge of several subjects. The more you know, the more you are able to get done with it... from having a better understanding of something you seek to do (as many people enhance their learning by researching things that will get them closer to their goals) to being a more well-rounded person with knowledge of the world around you, enabling you to better do what you aim to accomplish.  There are many ways that I enjoy learning and soaking in new things... being observant, reading about topics I may not normally choose to, studying what I love and learning even more about it, looking up and learning new words, feeding curiosity, and (one of my favorite pastimes) doing crossword puzzles to keep increasing vocabulary.  This is perhaps my favorite element of productivity because I most love the ways I find to gain new and knowledge, expand my mind on things I am curious about, or even on what I already know about but want to know more.


I love the essence of what it means to me to be productive, and even more so I think it is such an amazing and wonderful thing that productivity is purpose in everyone's lives in different ways...
finishing reading a book, writing a book, decorating and organizing your home, harvesting your crops, making a habit of walking and being active, finishing a craft project, planting a garden, cooking a meal, anything that is meaningful to you and makes you feel accomplished.

These are five essentials that help me to be productive.  When I think of what gives drive to get something done, I think that a combination of all these "essentials" are to me only possible if you have one thing that encompasses them all: determination.
I have always been inspired by the willing, determined spirit of Caroline Ingalls, both on "Little House on the Prairie" and in Laura Ingalls Wilder's books in the way she described her mother.
She took charge of what needed to be done and would do anything to help her family and others, driven by her faith and her will.  That is the kind of young woman I pray I will be.  I remember a scene from "Little House" where she spoke a few simple, meaningful words that added up to
 the true resolve she possessed.  She said, "We can- if we want to badly enough." 
 That is illustrative of what it is to be determined.  You can get things done you never
 thought possible if only you want to bad enough.

You can find more inspiration with these four ways to maximize your productivity
 shared by Kabbage, a provider of small business loans for entrepreneurs.


What helps you to be productive? :)

May you have a wonderful day!!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Faithful Friday: Listen for God's Voice

I believe that as you grow older and wiser, both physically and in your faith,
one of the most important things you can come to realize is how especially
beautiful every aspect of your walk with God is when you listen...
listen carefully for His voice in all you do.

As this year begins fresh, 
a prayer in my heart is that I would have the focus and reminders
around me to do just that and to get better and better at listening.

Our humans inclination is to listen to ourselves, our own hearts and minds
alone, but how profoundly more wise is God's voice than ours!

This is something on my mind that I never want to forget...
not only to listen to God's voice when I easily hear it, but perhaps
even more importantly to listen closely to search for his voice when it
is hardest to find.


It is such a special blessing to live with the mindset that
we should keep our ear inclined toward God and what He is
telling us and where He is directing us.

Whether in a journey, a word, through a friend, in
nature, or wherever we may be,
in all we do and everywhere we go
may we look and listen for God's voice
directing our path keeping our "train" on its track.

Blessings to you!

Wishing you a lovely weekend!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy 2015! ...A Word and My Year's End

Happy New Year to you!!!

I hope your end of the year was wonderful, 
spent with family and loved ones cherishing these joyful
days of Winter... full of warm, sweet memories being made,
good home-cooked food, and blessings to be thankful for.

Isn't a new year so exciting?!
I hope your 2015 is off to a great start! :)
  I love the feeling of new adventures and new beginnings,
as well as anticipating what is to come.  I get most excited I
think at the wonderment of what God has planned this new year.
May I also say it is lovely to be back on my blog.

.           .           .

I think rather than "resolutions", this year I have hopes in
mind for 2015 to make this gift of life each day this year
 better than the year before :)
These are: to pray more incessantly, focus on growing in my relationship
with the Lord & glorifying Him in what I do and in what I'm called to,
to make more time for something I love so much but don't always
feel like I have time for... reading, and getting beautifully
lost in the books waiting for me on my shelves.

As the new year begins, it is also exciting to choose a new word
for 2015.
But my word for this wonderful new year is actually six words.
I decided that this year I would live by the message that has become
closer to my heart than ever in these past few months, John 3:30.
I commit myself to living by this verse, which tells us that
we should "become less" and "He must become greater",
because of how passionately thankful I am for the Savior and for
God's presence in my life and in my heart...
I am so in love with this verse because I see that there is
no way to live that comes close to living with God at the forefront
of everything.  Living this verse is the greatest way I see to reach
my goal of falling even more deeply into God, to please Him, to think
of what He thinks of me above what others think, and to
put full trust in HIS plan and HIS will for my dreams and future.


As much joyful anticipation there is in welcoming
a new year, it also makes me so full of warm happiness
to be able to look back on the year behind me.  Part of that,
ever since I've been choosing a word to live by, has included
thinking of how trying to live by that word in all areas of my
 life has effected the year.

My word for 2014 was...
It is amazing to look back on the year that has gone
and see how I focused on and lived by that word.
Overall, I believe that each lovely moment spent in blissful simplicity
 admiring the sweetness in each day, nature, and everything beautiful
reminded me to truly savor all that was around me and all I had
 (and HAVE) to be thankful for.
However, two things that are extremely different from my
year were the greatest lessons in savoring of all...

The first calls to memory the most glorious views I saw all year,
the time I spent on the prairies and in the mountains of Colorado
(where I took the photo above) among the tall Pines Aspen, hearing
 the trickling and rushing of cold mountain streams.  On that trip,
 I gazed at the incredible beauty around us
and being up there I had the greatest opportunity I could imagine
 to savor each element of the nature, the creation, around me.
It reminded me of the importance of savoring the "sights" of life...
whether they are a Rocky Mountain
view or the smiles of your loved ones around the table during a
Sunday supper.
The second was losing my Aunt Betty.  That entire hot August
week of going to see her, then going back after she passed away
was the saddest and most difficult week of the year.
But with our whole family together, missing her together and
comforting one another, along with feeling the great loss and the
absence of such a strong, beautiful person that she was,
I spent the week constantly thinking about how little time
we have in this life and what a treasure each moment we spend
in a hug or in conversation with our loved ones, each precious
little thing that we may otherwise take for-granted.
It seems like it takes something like that to happen in order to be so
stirringly reminded of the important things.
I think that on the other side of the deep pain of loss and the
 feelings of denial and disbelief we felt standing in that church
and during the memorial service, the
positive that God gives us is awakening us to those things.  And they,
in turn, seem to give us a greater drive for life, to live it in such a way
that would make those we have lost proud, teaching us to savor.

Both of these short, but so meaningful, parts out of the long year fueled
realization for me of the preciousness of each moment.


The last of 2014 was such a wonderful last week of the year,
 simply cozy and full of things I loved.

Going to look at lights together as we have since I can remember.
It is special to me.  These were a few of my favorites that we
passed on that cheery night as we drove around with hot-chocolate,
our windows open.

I also took a short video of a couple of light "shows" I thought
were especially neat :)

It has been so fun to enjoy everything from baking and crafting, to 
watching classic movies, to going out to the theater, out to eat
together, and spending lovely days inside (especially rainy, chilly

days made of pure coziness).
Going to lunch as a family at my favorite restaurant.
We had the best seat in the house, by the nice, crackling fire.  

Adding some last minute decorations and enjoying their cheery colors with
snowmen and...

...vintage tins...

And best of all, the homey, dreamlike lights on above
the mantle.  My favorite time to enjoy them was with all the lights
off except for those, nothing visible but their mesmerizing glimmer.

The start of year brought with it more cheer
with fireworks, cold, drizzly weather, and a cozy night in.

Wishing you a wonderful 2015!

I am so blessed to have had you read my humble
blog in 2014 and am excited to have each of you as sweet blog
 friends this new year as I read your always kind comments
and your lovely blogs :)

May 2015 be your most blessed year yet!

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