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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

{GRACE} Alone

I mentioned last week that I've been journeying through the Bible and I'm currently in Leviticus. Ya'll, do not ever tell a new believer to start off in Leviticus - it'll drive them mad. But just like every other part of the Bible, it does serve a purpose and can be applied to our every day lives. My application?
Thank God for Jesus. Seriously.
If you haven't taken a journey through Leviticus, I encourage you to do it. Just listen to how many types of burnt offerings there are for different things (guilt, sin, etc.). The entire time I'm listening to it I can't help but think of how dead I would be if I lived during those times. That's probably why God knew I would be better off in the A.D. era and preferably with running water.
My God knows me too well.
But in all seriousness, I'm so grateful that God sent the {PERFECT} sacrifice that would fulfill all sacrifices and would keep us from having to perform those Old Testament sacrifices to atone for our sins. The fact that Jesus, so perfect and without blemish, willfully chose to die for my blemishes and imperfections is truly mind boggling. The beauty in my faith versus other religions? My God came TO me to save me, rather than me trying to do as many works as I can to GET TO Him (news flash: You will never be able to do enough good works to pay for all your sins).
So on this lovely Monday.... er Tuesday, just sit and meditate on the fact that you have the opportunity to live a completely saved life through Jesus' death on the cross and His subsequent resurrection. There's nothing I can do to EARN that grace and forgiveness - not works, not money, nothing of my own doings will get me any closer to Him. Just by believing in Him, trusting who He was and is, and resting in His assurance of His promises, that's what will get me into the gates of heaven. Live out your life as Jesus would; don't abuse the grace He has freely given to you.
I cannot wait to see His face one day and give Him the biggest hug EVER.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

This {SEASON} of Life

As I'm getting older, I'm finding myself creating new habits and leaving old ones behind. Habits like learning to say "no" more and soaking in more time at home, lounging around in our hammock outside, or playing with the pups. Habits that include more me time when Hunter is having to work his crazy hours and thoroughly enjoying those little moments of just me, myself, and I. And habits that include starting at the very beginning of the Bible and reading/listening (Bible App anyone?) my whole way through it.
Let me just say, as I'm venturing through the Old Testament I keep thinking to myself, "Thank God for Jesus." They would've hung me high in the streets if I was alive B.C.
One habit that I've noticed I'm putting into place (rather unintentionally) is the habit of secluding myself and our lives from those around us. Don't get me wrong, we love sharing our lives with others - it's part of our testimonies - yet I can feel myself withdrawing from things like social media, this here blog, etc. Not that anything bad has happened to cause this; it's just something that I think God has been doing in our lives.
"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."
Proverbs 4:23

We've had close friends pass suddenly in these last couple of months and it's really forced us to realize the importance and value of time. Yesterday was yesterday and you'll never get that back. We're spending less time worrying, and more time enjoying; less time with toxic friends, and more time with those that seek love and kindness; less time fretting over bills, and more time dreaming and doing. So you see what I mean?
My sweet blog friend, Em, touched on it last week and when I read her piece I couldn't help but violently nod my head in agreement with all that she was saying. I think God calls each of us to different places and allows seasons to happen in our lives to mold us, shape us, and painfully grow us. Maybe God is taking Hunter and I through this season of life where we're closing inward and allowing ourselves to just be.

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Monday, January 9, 2017

New Year Vibes

2017 has already proven itself to be the year of interesting. You can stay 2017, I guess. Ha! But in all seriousness, 2017 has kicked off with a bang and, I believe, is only a sign for more things to come, both wonderful, heartbreaking, real, and true:
+ We started off celebrating 2017 with Hunter's birthday. My sweet country boy loves a good fish fry so a couple of friends and I planned the best fish fry the boy could ask for. We're talking about yummy fried fish; shrimp and sausage gumbo; and the party was complete with the best cake EVER. 
+ Another debt has been paid off and let me tell ya, it feels glorious. Knowing that God has given us opportunities to be able to provide and live comfortably, while paying off debts, is truly an understated blessing. He is faithful and good to us.
+ Seeing how God has brought us to this point is humbling and worth meditating on. Many folks say that 2016 flew by and it really did. This year, Hunter and I will be celebrating 6 years of life together, 3 years of marriage, a million memories made, too many laughs to count, and a whole heck of a lotta love for our friends and family.
+ 2016 brought growth in many ways, including relationships with people. God removed specific people out of our lives and brought in new folks to help us all sharpen each other in love. It's very difficult to find good friends that will lovingly challenge you, encourage you, pray for you, and we love that we are able to do the same for them. THANK YOU God for continuing to mold each of us.
Here's to 2017 - may the days be bright for each of you!

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

When {GRIEF} takes over

I'm not sure about everybody else, but I've been ready for 2016 to see its way out the door and for 2017 to make her grand debut. 2016 has been a year for the books and I'm ready to leave it in the past. Hunter and I were talking about it the other night and I commented that I've been to more funerals and experienced more deaths (not including the celebrity deaths) this year than I've ever experienced in my life.
Between family members passing away due to old age and sickness, to friends that were so suddenly and tragically taken from us, it's been quite a year. This was the year we watched my MIL go through chemo treatments and praise God she's in remission, but it still wasn't easy. 2016 brought miscarriages for friends, heartache for family, struggle in all the many ways.
And we grieved.
People grieve in all sorts of ways - I, for one, grieve in such a way that I have to stay busy. I may come off as cold or not caring, but that's my way of dealing with grief. But I feel like that no matter how we each grieve in our own ways, we should allow it to be just that - grieving. I once had a close friend who lost her son to cancer tell me, "You never GET OVER the death of your child, loved one, or whoever it may be. You just learn to cope with the new normal."
A new normal.
Friends, if you are grieving over losing a loved one please take heart in His love for you. Allow yourself to grieve and to feel all the emotions that God so divinely gave to you. And know that He grieves with you. Did you know that Jesus grieved and wept when John the Baptist was killed for his beliefs? Even Jesus grieved.
As we journey into this new year, I want us to take a moment and thank God for bringing us to this point. Even if you have been through hell and back, you're here now and God has you here for a purpose. His wisdom is so much more vast and infinite than ours will ever be thus we cannot fully comprehend why things happen. Why bad stuff happens to good people. My answer to that and the only way that I can rest my hope in that question is the fact that my GOD loves the hell out of me and He can and will use me and my life in whatever way to bring glory to Him.
2017, bring it on sister.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Expectations {EXCEEDED}

Happy "Monday" to you fine folks! Today is my Monday and this week will be a fairly short work week for me (hello 4-day weekend round 2) and I can't say that I hate it. Did everyone have a wonderful Christmas?? I've loved seeing all the pictures of family and friends coming together to celebrate life, love, and Christ's birth.
We enjoyed a beautiful Christmas eve service at our church with Hunter's family and then some yummy Carabba's afterwards. Hunter and I decided to revert back to our childhood ways and when we got home, we all hunkered down in the living room (2 adults + 2 large dogs) and watched movies.
Christmas morning came bright and early for us as we took a few moments to enjoy our Christmas together and opened gifts. We then headed over to Hunter's parents house to continue the Christmas fun and deliver all the yummy goodies that were packed up. It's always such a treat being able to bring a smile to someone else's face. Just about every place we delivered baked goodies to were totally caught off guard and pleasantly surprised.
Even Ezra had fun packing those baked goodies
After that we headed over to my parents' house to continue the Christmas fun there. It was the first time in awhile where all the siblings were together under one roof and it was glorious! Even though we're all adults now, your siblings will always be just that - your kid siblings.

Don't mind my "no makeup" look {Impromptu photo sesh)
I can honestly sum up this past weekend in one word - RESTORATIVE. It was exactly what our souls needed to start back fresh this week, ready to tackle all the tasks ahead of us, and to bring in 2017 with such flair. I hope each of you had a wonderful Christmas, however and wherever you may have celebrated it. Thank the good Lord He sent His son to live, breathe, teach, walk, and eventually die for us. Let's embrace this coming year with all the goodness it holds!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Day

I always love hearing about other folks' Christmas traditions, how their days go about, what they have planned to do with their families and friends. That's something that marriage really taught me - not everybody's Christmas looks the same but it's still so wonderful and beautiful. Hunter and I have started a couple of our own traditions but we also meld together each of our own individual traditions that we had when growing up.
Our Christmas day looks a little something like this...
... We start by waking up pretty early and opening gifts with each other. We might have Christmas music playing in the background (I get this from my dad, we ALWAYS had music playing in the background). Of course, coffee is consumed because #NotAMorningPerson.
... Next we head out to meet up with Hunter's family and friends to deliver Christmas cookies to folks who have to work on Christmas day. This is something we started about 3 years ago and it has stuck. We always get the best responses when we deliver the goodies - people are always so shocked and appreciative. Totally makes the entire day worth it. Be Jesus every day, all day.
This was from a couple of years ago (I think)

Last year's cookie packing party!
... From there, we head to my in-laws house to eat a yummy breakfast and do Christmas gift exchanges with them. My MIL can make some dadgum good food ya'll. I'm talking biscuits and gravy, sausage, casseroles. Lord help me, my mouth is already watering. Some people always seem irked to have to spend holidays with their in-laws but I'm quite the exception I guess. I love it!
... This year will include a new tradition that was inspired by a friend of mine (hi Denise!). She was telling me about how she and her late SIL's friends will all get together and make a beautiful cake from Southern Living's magazine to honor her and her life. I was so moved by the idea that I decided to snag a copy of the December magazine and I will attempt to make a pretty cake too. I'll keep ya'll posted on how that goes.
... For Christmas dinner, we all (my in-laws included) head over to my parents' house to chow down. Ya'll, we have folks tell us all the time how lucky we are that our parents get along and like to hang out with each other. AND WE KNOW. We seriously LOVE that our parents are friends, text each other, call each other, hang out with each other (sometimes without us ha!). It seriously is such a blessing for us because we're both so family oriented. I could not even imagine a marriage where our families didn't get along (I know this is sadly the reality for some people).
... And finally, one more tradition being added to the mix this year - GAMES. I'm talking the hilariously quirky Christmas-themed games. And yours truly will be leading the charge and planning that! I will gladly be sharing those pictures.
What are some of your family's traditions on Christmas day? I'm hoping I can add "wear footie pajamas on Christmas eve" to the list of traditions but let's be real:  I will never get my country boy in footie pajamas. It would be a sight to see and probably hilarious. HA!

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

When the {UNEXPECTED} comes knocking

Monday morning was just like any other typical Monday morning for me - running slightly late to make it into work on time, fumble around for my badge to enter into the gate, try to manage carrying multiple items in without dropping them. And then my phone went off with a text from my mom with news that truly rocked me to my very core.
A family friend of ours had been killed in a tragic, unexpected accident.
It's the kind of news that kicks you in your low gut, causing you to drop everything and gasp in shock. It's the kind of news that you mull over throughout the day and your inner mind wars with itself on the insane thought that he's actually still alive (this is all one bad joke, right?!). It's the kind of news that makes you desperate to hold your loved one as close to you as possible.
Brad was a father, husband, brother, friend, son, firefighter, and so much more. He was the neighbor to my parents; his son grew up with my sister; I babysat their boys in between the parents' shifts; they are real people. Real people who's lives were turned completely upside down and inside out Sunday evening. I've tried to wrap my head around it all and quite frankly, I'm too numb to process it.

Please take some time today to say the words I love you to your loved ones and hold them tight. Tell them how much they mean to you, how much you appreciate them. We're never guaranteed tomorrow and can only live for today. Embrace today as if it were your last to live and soak in each moment as it comes.

There is a Go Fund me page to help the family. If you are able to give financially or prayerfully, it would be much appreciated. Pray for God to surround this family right now with peace and love, as well as the community, as we are all reeling from this devastating loss.

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