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Monday, March 30, 2015

Happy birthday dear old Dad!

Yesterday was my dad's birthday - can you believe that man is only 31 years young?! Just kidding, he's a bit older than 31 but we're not going to reveal that number here on the interwebs...
We celebrated all day Saturday by enjoying some pool time, grilling out, and making memories. I'm so grateful for my father and his love that he has shown me (and my siblings, even though he loves me more....). He has always reminded me that while he is my earthly father and loves me so much, I have a Heavenly Father that adores the you-know-what out of me.

Thank you for teaching me how to be independent in certain aspects, yet dependent in other ways that are vital to life.

Thank you for traveling to all of those horse shows with me and being my biggest cheerleader.

Thank you for showing me the importance of being a part of your kids' lives.

Love you dad!


Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey

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Friday, March 27, 2015

...To see the captive hearts released...

Happy last Friday of March! This weekend is my dad's birthday so I'm sure we'll be celebrating that but otherwise, we plan on relaxing and making the most of our time. I'll be working on putting together a DIY banner for a baby shower so I will absolutely share that with ya'll next week.
We're in the last home stretch for Sessions here in the Florida Legislature, and I'm holding on for a wild ride. It's so crazy that a month of fun has already passed and we're looking down the barrel to the end. Crazy stuff people. Please be keeping me and my peeps in your thoughts and prayers as we navigate through these last few weeks.
The spoiling for this kid has already begun... MUST BUY ALL THINGS BABY! Is this what being an aunt feels like? You can absolutely spoil the heck out of the kid and then give him/her back to the parents? #sorrynotsorry Mike and SB!
So this weekend is supposed to be a high of 60's.... Uhm. What? You can come back warmer weather. No need to play hide-and-seek...
I've been trying to grow my hair out to a pre-crazy- Miley Cyrus length (like in the movie The Last Song) and I'm even more excited to get it long because thanks to Caroline's inspiration, I'll be donating my hair once I can get enough to donate.
Have I lost ya'll yet with all my ping-ponging rambling mess? No? Good! I hope ya'll have an awesome weekend!

Linking up with All the Joys

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Randoms in life

// I'm sort of freaking out over the fact that March is over next week. Since when is it okay for time to fly by so dang fast??
// Spending time with our friends last night who just had their baby boy was just what I needed to slow down a bit. Even though it was short, it was oh so sweet.
// Easter is just around the corner. Did you know that?
// I'm pretty sure all the pollen is gone thanks to all the rain we've had over the last couple of days. But then again, this is Florida. Who am I kidding?
// I am pretty dang ready for the end of July/beginning of August... Moving time! I'm ready to decorate, design our backyard with our new fence that is being put in, change knobs on drawers, put up a backsplash in the kitchen... I've got plans.
// Songs that take me back to a fun, happy place in time are just my cup of tea. It's always so neat seeing how God works His mercies new every day.
// Life is good. Life is really really good. God has blessed me with an amazing husband and best friend, family and friends that love me, teenagers to do life with, a career that provides, and new life every day.
// Tell me some randoms in your life!

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Grateful Monday's

Guys, it was such a wonderful weekend! I have so much to be grateful for today (and every day)...
one// Date nights with this stud muffin. Before we headed out of town on Saturday, Hunter and I took some time together to just talk about life. It.Was.Glorious!
 two// Weddings, weddings, and more weddings! Especially for my cousin and her new husband. Their ceremony (and marriage) reflect everything wonderful and holy in God. For both of them, and my cousin's daughter, it's a second chance. And it was just awesome to witness it!

three// Friends, I would like ya'll to welcome the most handsome baby boy in the world! Abel was born slightly early but is as healthy as a horse. We're beyond excited for our friends, Mike and Sara Beth. God has truly blessed this family!
four// One of my brothers is home for the weekend! Even though he's going through a rough patch right now, I do think coming home to family and mom's home-cooking can help. Never underestimate the power of family (and that extends past blood).
Okay here's a challenge for ya'll: What are you grateful for?!
Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Let's call these "Highlights"

Happy end of the work week (for me at least)! This week was rather a busy week for me at work, and outside of work. Hey, I'm just glad I've got another day of living to do! I had lots of favorites from this past week....
one// My women's ministry group met up on Monday night and it was so nice to just sit out on the deck, talk about life, study Philippians 1, and enjoy each other's company.

two// Early morning sunrises on the way to work...

three// On Wednesday night we had game night with our youth. It was so fun and so hilarious! Have ya'll ever played Hungry Hungry Hippo human style?
four// Spontaneous lunch dates with my momma to Chick-Fil-A because she's on Spring Break this week. Oh the perks of working in the education system!
five// Changes that are coming that I cannot talk about yet, but I will soon. At this time I just ask for prayers. Pray that God will lead Hunter and I through these changes with the sole intentions of making His name known. Pray for our marriage because I'm sure it will be a test of our marriage, at times. And no, I'm not pregnant and we're not moving anywhere.
Happiest of Friday's to ya'll! Hunter and I will be going to my cousin's wedding this weekend and we're so so soooo excited for her and her daughter to be embarking on this new journey with a wonderful man.
The Grits Blog - Little Friday Linkup 

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

To be continued...

Until Friday. These last couple of days have been so busy between work, youth, life that I honestly haven't had the time or energy to publish something worth your time. I mean, the fact that I managed to remember to put underwear on today is a miracle in and of itself! Therefore, enjoy the picture of this pretty flower...

 I do genuinely hope that each of ya'll are having a beautiful week. Remember, that as hectic as life gets, smile. Always smile because you never know who you will impact with that smile.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Youth Lesson: Dealing with Difficult People

A couple weeks ago, I taught on a topic that is something I struggle with and I know that many others struggle with it as well. All of our youth students have faced, are facing, and/or will face difficult people in their lives whether it's somebody at home, peers at school, etc. We all face those difficult people. The key is, how do we handle those difficult people.
Dealing with teenagers, it is important to relate everything biblically because everything we do as Christians is bible-based. But it's also important to put those biblical rules into lament, teenager terms. If you just throw a bunch of bible verses at them but with no real life applications, then you've lost that battle.
As Hunter and I dived into this lesson and preparing for it, it really taught us a few things. I want to share with ya'll the steps that we formulated in handling difficult people:
(Note: "Difficult people" can consist of friends, family members, trolls, employer/employees, etc. It's anybody that brings conflict and strife into your life.)
one// Love the person and forgive them.
Our first command from God is to love Him; the second is to love others. When a difficult person has brought frustration into your life, it's really hard to love them fully and it's even harder to forgive them if this isn't your first rodeo with them. Trust me, I have had those people walk in and out of my life and bringing havoc along with them. I had a student read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and we focused on key words. I wanted them to really read and understand this verse; it's not just some cute bible verse to spout out when your boo thang has made you so happy. It's God's command that love endures all things much like Jesus endured all things to save us from ourselves.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
two// Confront the person. Don't retaliate.
I'm not sure how it is elsewhere, but it seems that the norm for down here in the south is to just ignore the problem, sweep it under the rug, and just "bless that person's heart." No, no, no. Deal with the problem head on using constructive words, not hurtful words. Always say how you felt rather than pointing fingers by using words like, "Well you did this and you did that and...." That just leads to defenses up instantly. And of course, use your words, not hands.
As far as the retaliation goes, that's just mean and juvenile. As I told my youth students, one of the best ways of "retaliation" to a person that has hurt you is to turn the other cheek. A person that thrives on drama and hurting others wants to know and see that they have hurt you; it's their drug of choice for lack of a better word. By turning the other cheek, forgiving that person, and continually loving them, you have become the bigger person and not stooped to that level. Trust me, I have witnessed this with my own personal life. It drives them mad!
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.
Romans 12:19
three// If it continues, discontinue that friendship/relationship.
This is what threw not only my students through a loop, but me as well. Yes, we are called to love people. We are in no way, shape, or form called to be friends with everybody. We are to love our enemies, but we are to not associate with them. By living your life in love and bearing good fruits, that will reflect to all those around you, including your enemies. It is not your job to fix them, that's the Holy Spirit's job. By being your loving self, you have allowed that seed to already be planted for them to {hopefully} one day be convicted for their wrong doings. It may sound harsh but we cannot, as Christians, lose our focus on the mission we have been placed here to do.
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
1 Corinthians 15:33
Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.
Proverbs 22:24-25
Today, I'm so grateful for the openness of our youth students. They are real with us, they are honest with us, and it's the most refreshing thing I've had in a long time. They are the reason Hunter and I make that long drive on Wednesday nights. They are the reason we love what we do. Friends, I leave you with this bible verse that I had my students dwell on:
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10

Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Spring has sprung... Err... Summer is here?

Guys, guys, guys... I am fairly certain the warm weather is here to stay in sunny Florida. Oh praise Jesus because my pasty white self has started to make me cringe a bit. I kid! Power to the pasty white people (insert prayer hand emoji)!
In our lovely world down here, it always seems like spring just gets completely bypassed and wham-a-bam, it's summer weather. Seriously, we went from high 50's during the day to mid 80's. My deodorant is in a state of shock with how quickly it's being kicked into work (read: sweat rings). Transparency is the name of the game people, transparency.
Anywho, it's Friday, it's going to be a warm summer spring day, and I'm feeling all kinds of feels for this warm weather. Just some reasons why I'm so happy it's here to stay:
one// Bikini season - yep, I'm pulling out those dusty bathing suits and putting them to good use.
two// Allergies - my allergies love the spring weather, said no allergies ever.
three// All the pretty flowers! I really do love seeing everything in bloom - it reminds us that each spring season brings new life.
four// Personal hygiene - I think my husband is more grateful for this than I am...
five// Going to the beach every other weekend because it's only a hop, skip, and a jump away.
Welcome spring/summer! Please make yourself at home for quite awhile because oh how I've missed you. Happy Friday, ya'll!

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

February Favorites.... Yes, I'm late to the party

So there's this thing called life. I tend to live mine quite busily and honestly, things slip my mind on the regular. Like this wonderful link-up that thankfully, goes all month long! Thank you, Kelli and Mia, for providing such a fun link-up!
As I said earlier, my mind tends to just forget things so I had to really think back and look through pictures of what all happened in February. Isn't that sad?! My friends... The favies:
one// These boys have my heart. Each morning, I get to wake up to these sweet faces.

two// This DIY wooden wall art that I did all by myself with the help of Hunter!
three// Hunter and I celebrated Valentine's Day in style at a gala for his alma mater.
four// I purchased this little beauty from Ulta last month and so far, I'm loving it! I'll have a review on it in the next few weeks. No, I was not paid to say that.
five// And finally, some great things have happened this month in terms of ministry. Hunter and I joined a small, country church in Wetumpka, FL (yes, that is a real place) and humbly accepted the offer to be youth leaders there. Also, I started up the women's ministry in February and it's been absolutely wonderful to spend time with some awesome women and planning ways to give back to our communities. God is always good!

Make Me Up Mia
Hump Day Happenings

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Monday, March 9, 2015

How we are becoming DEBT FREE

Well before Hunter and I were married, I had started the long, slow, dredging process of paying off my debts. I was bound and determined to be debt free before I turned 35 (of course, a mortgage payment isn't being factored in at this time). I had my checklist, projected balances, and due dates all laid out. I was ready to grab this beast by the horns.

Hunter jumped right on board with my be-free-from-debt plan, and away we went. Now let me preface this:

-Some things that work for us, might not work for others
-We are in no way, shape, or form are experts... We just have a lot of debt!
- These are merely tips.

To kind of give ya'll an idea of the debt we're looking at, here's what we were faced with once we became married:

-Ring payment of $40/month
-Hunter's credit card payment of $35/month
-My car payment of $282.56/month
-My smallest student loan payment at $128.20/month
-My credit card payment $165/month
-Hunter's truck payment at $452.87/month
-My largest student loan payment at $195/month 

If you noticed, I listed these out from least to greatest. The total monthly payments we were making with all of those bills:


Let's let that sink in for a bit. It is true that my student loan payments aren't as bad as other people's; our credit card payments aren't as bad as other people's; etc. Regardless, they are/were bad to us and we wanted to rectify that problem immediately. To start, these are some things we have done to help us control our spending's, while paying off debt:

one// Dave Ramsey's snowball effect
   This is a total mind game, but it really works wonders. As you are paying off small debts, you not only have that sense of accomplishment, but you are also paying off those "little nags" that are in the way of paying off bigger things. As we have paid off each debt, we take that money that was put towards that one debt, and apply it to the next one in addition to what we were already paying on it.
two// Don't pay for toys unless we have the cash
   This has been a huge adjustment for Hunter and I. With having a credit card at the ready, he would justify buying things to spruce his truck up. I would just justify buying clothes all.the.time.
   Just last month, we had enough cash on hand (plus plenty of extra in our emergency savings account that wouldn't be touched) and Hunter was able to purchase new tires for his truck, along with some other things. The key to this: remember to have fun sometimes!
three// create a minimum $1000 savings account and build on it each month
   I cannot stress this enough... Have cash on the ready. Seriously, you don't know when that air conditioner will quit working, or have a tire blow out. Rather than swiping that credit card, you can pull from your cash resources and work on building it back up later. Plus, Dave recommends it.
four// $20/person/week for lunches... Leftover cash is given as tithes on Sunday or saved for the next week + Pack lunches
   This was suuuperrrr hard for me to adjust to. I was always so used to just spending money here and there for coffees, Chick-fil-A lunches, etc. People, it adds up.
five// Set goals - short and long-term
   That was one of the first things I did... Set goals. I immediately hatched out a plan of when I wanted each item paid off, the monthly payment going to each item, etc. It just feels so good crossing those items off our list and seeing those debts being paid off sooner than we expected.
So those are just a few of our major things that we do to help lower our spending habits while paying off our debts. I am happy to report that as of this date, the following debts have been paid off:
-Hunter's credit card
-My car
I don't mean to brag, butttt..... In just 4 months of marriage, we have been able to pay those items off. Guys, that is HUGE for us! And on top of that, we have been growing our savings account steadily, we're closing in on the lowest student loan being paid off, and we can breathe a little bit easier each day. Our goal is to have all of our debts paid off completely (with the exception of the mortgage - that's our biggest bird to tackle) within our first 5 years of marriage. At this point, it's safe to say we're kickin' some major butt!!
Like I said, we're no experts on money management but we seemed to have figured out how to handle ours. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email; I would love to be one of your biggest cheerleaders! Today, I'm so so soooo grateful that the good Lord has provided means for us to accomplish our goals.
Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey

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Friday, March 6, 2015

You + Me -- We go together like peas and carrots

It's clearly no secret - I'm crazy for my husband. He is my best friend, my biggest supporter and cheerleader, and can brighten my day just with one look. Of course, we have our similarities in nature and personalities. But we also have differences about us that help make our relationship so unique for us.

When I saw this fun post on Amanda's blog a couple of weeks ago, I just had to copy her wonderful idea. Thanks Amanda for the inspiration! So friends, I give to you... The top 5 differences between Hunter and I -- and why I just absolutely love it!

 ONE// I am more Type A when it comes to plans and schedules, where Hunter is more Type B and can go with the flow. I want to know what is happening when, where, for how long, and with as much time in advance. I love that Hunter can just go with the flow - it constantly reminds me to slow down, enjoy each moment as they come, and to live a little on the Type B wild side.

TWO// I cannot look at odd-end objects and create something out of it off the top of my head. I need Pinterest, inspirations, visuals, something! Hunter can take weird pieces that you would never think about to make something useful with. For example, (all my hunters and hunters' widows will appreciate this) he made a deer feeder out of a piece of plywood, racket straps, and PVC piping. I mean... who does that?!

THREE// I am a very speak-my-mind kind of person. I'm notorious for word vomit and can unfortunately, lead to hurt feelings for some people. Hunter is much more reserved, can think things through, and is okay with not sharing all of the wonderful things on his mind (except with me of course). He has taught me so much in just our 4 years together, and I have learned a heck of a lot with how to say things, when to say things, and if to say things. I'm still a work in progress but I've become much more RESERVED in what I say to people.

FOUR// I'm an over-thinker. Sometimes I'll read wayyy too much into something when it's really nothing at all. Hunter just takes everything for face-value and moves on. Teach me your ways oh-wise-one!

FIVE// I will trust you from the get-go. No questions asked. So when a person breaks that trust, it's very, very hard for me to ever really be on the same level again with that person. Hunter learns to trust people over time. He waits to see how you will respond in certain situations. And, for the most part, he's pretty quick to forgive. This is a balance we are both working on together. I love that him and I have a trust bond that is so strong - we both feel entirely confident in our trust levels with each other. We're learning together how to trust people in due time, and how to learn to love those who have broken the trust either with us individually or as a couple.

So there ya have it, a few differences between him and I. Of course, we have so many more but these are the ones that really keep us on our toes and continuously teach us new things each day. I hope each of ya'll have a wonderful weekend!

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

How to Survive Vet Visits

I'm always trying to plan our boys' vet visits at the most opportune times... Earliest possible slot on a Saturday morning. So when I received the sweet little reminder post-card that our boys were due for their annual check-up, I immediately booked the earliest possible time slot this past Saturday. Going to the vet is always an adventure for us - from the getting up and getting loaded up, to the arrival, to the actual visit itself. Allow me to walk you through our typical appointment...

6:30AM -- Slap alarm off and continue to snooze {we need to leave by 7:00 to make our 8:00 appointment - yes, our vet is 45 minutes away; no, I don't want to find one closer because we love our vet}.

6:55AM -- Wake up with a jolt, panic, freak poor husband out, and run out the door with dogs in tow. Make-up and brushed hair are moot points at this time - settle for a ball cap and some coffee to liven up and/or hide that hot mess.

7:15AM -- Finally get on the road because Jep refused to load up in the dog box.

8:10AM -- Arrive to said favorite vet; give the dogs an opportunity to sniff out the bushes and mark their territories. Go inside to check them in.

8:15AM -- The assistant comes out and needs your dogs weighed. I wrestle with my 75+ pound pit bull and finally get him onto the scale (he's shaking like a leaf at this point). While this is happening, Hunter is wrangling Jep towards the scale as he tries to es-cop-pey (escape, in Dory language).

8:20AM -- Dogs have been weighed and we are all in the room now, waiting for the vet. Vet comes in {she really is a sweetheart!} and our dogs begin to cry uncontrollably + attempt to tear down doors. It has dawned on them at this point that all that high-pitched we're-going-for-a-ride excited voices that mommy and daddy did earlier was all a ploy. I'm currently getting the evil eye from one dog and the how-dare-you look from another.

8:22AM -- Jep realizes the doors are not coming down so he promptly decides to relieve himself, just missing Hunter's boot. The smell is wretched but he's a lucky guy because that means no stool sample wand shoved up his hiney. Manny isn't as fortunate... {I told you you should've gone outside}.

8:30AM -- All shots are administered to both dogs, blood has been drawn from both dogs (along with Manny's unfortunate stool sampling), and our vet has only had to yank her hand back once quickly to avoid a minor nibble. And all checks out perfect!

8:35AM -- As we are exiting the room, Manny and Jep are high-tailing it to the nearest door. In Manny's attempts to flee, he breaks free from his collar, runs right to another dog awaiting his turn while the wide-eyed parents watch in alarm because, my gosh he's this vicious pit bull that is licking your dog's face off. Oh the horror!! {Please take note in my sarcasm}

8:36AM -- Manny is captured, taken outside with daddy and Jep, while I pay our wonderful hit-em-where-it-hurts vet bill.

9:25AM -- Arrive back home. Promptly take dogs inside, fix a large breakfast, and call it a day.

That, my friends, is how you survive a vet visit. With lots of laughter, drool covered jeans, and bacon.
Hump Day Happenings

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Monday, March 2, 2015

You had me at "Hello"

This week, life starts. This week, Sessions starts in the Florida Legislature. This week, I immerse my life into work... And I like it! I'm keeping it simple today with all my gratefulness...
  • Coffee, and iced coffee at that. I really don't know if I could function without it.
  • Training methods being used on Jep and it works! Hunter and I dropped quite a bit of money on this training device and the dog is like night and day. Seriously, the best money we have ever spent on that dog!
  • Daraja children's choir and all the feel goods in my heart that I felt last night.
  • Lazy Saturday's where Hunter and I do absolutely nothing except be couch potatoes.
  • Seeing my husband's heart soften towards those he was once so angry towards. Everybody has their demons, and he wrestled with his and won. Love answered prayers!

Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey

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