Friday, October 24, 2014

Faithful Friday: In ALL Your Ways

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Happy Friday!
I began writing a post recently that I am very passionate about and am enjoying writing, but with these busy days of working on school and everything that has come with it lately, I have not had a chance to finish it. Hopefully I will get to soon!  This is also the reason that I did not get around to sharing anything last Friday.
For today, I am sharing something that has been processing in my mind this week as I've pondered it. I feel like I am forgetting about exactly what verses or thoughts I've written about before, and I'm not sure that I haven't written about this Proverb before.  I thought I may have because of how amazing this verse is and how much it has influenced me, but if so, I hope I am sharing in a somewhat new way than I did before- if I did before. That applies to all Faithful Fridays I write in the future, because I'm sure there may be some repeats of things God has been working in me about again :)

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Something I think about more as I get older is how important it is to see verses like this not just as "things to do" or "ways we can live", but instead as vital commandments.  The words in this Proverb encourage me to think of God always being the center of my "ways", to think of Him and what He would think of me for doing any given thing or even thinking a certain way.  

Most importantly, the key word ALL is what I am focusing on.  It is easy to think that we are pleasing God if we are acknowledging His laws and doing what is right in most areas, but if we know that we are not in other areas- even small ones- we cannot rely on Him to direct our paths.  It is misguided thinking if we feel that God will bless our lives fully and direct us if we are not giving our all to obey Him.  We are not perfect, though, and God sees our efforts!  I am not perfect in this, but seeking God and trying whole-heartedly to keep His commandments in not just some, but ALL, parts of my life is something I know that He sees.  

Doing what we know is not right in any area of our lives is an easy thing to overcome and change when we think of how little pleasure or satisfaction that tendency brings in comparison to being admired by, and in accordance with, God.  It can be something even as simple as dressing immodestly, for example.  If this is something you struggle with, is it really worth it to keep wearing those tight or revealing clothes because you like them when you know God is telling you that you are worth so much more than that?  By giving up those clothes, you would be acknowledging His ways.

This motivates my heart toward God and Jesus, to acknowledge the Lord in all ways, not just skipping around to what I feel like honoring Him with and doing whatever I want in other areas. 
I want to acknowledge God not only because I pray He will direct my paths, but because I seek to please Him.... in my words and speech, my actions, my attitude in life, priority of my faith, having a servant's heart toward my family and others, and in my way of dress, and everything else.


Let us think of this stirring verse and consider... in what parts of our lives are we not "acknowledging His ways" that we can change right now?




Blessings, and I hope y'all have a wonderful weekend!


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

National Southern Belle Day!

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Happy National Southern Belle Day!
I think it's so fun that there is even a day dedicated to this.
Happy NSB Day to all of you Southern belles, whether you were born
and raised here, you moved here, or you have never been and you are a 
Southern Belle at heart.

It is so neat to get to celebrate and recognize
 the things that make up the lives of girls and ladies in the South
and the traditions that have lasted generations and are a part of our lives
and our heritage in present day, but I think the most wonderful part is that this
 is a way to think back on and recognize the Southern Belles before us...
 the ladies who stared out at this same beautiful land centuries ago, 
 the ladies who cooked up grits and biscuits for their families- as daughters
 and mothers-  long before we were born or even our parents were born,
 who valued tradition and morals, values, and femininity, and even
 the ladies who were the pillars of the South during 
the Civil War.

I love to imagine those women, even my own ancestors, and what they
must have sounded like as they spoke, what they looked like as they floated
by while going for a stroll in their antebellum style dresses, their hair done up,
 their parasols in hand, gazing out at the Oaks and Spanish Moss.

To me, National Southern Belle Day is more about them
and their legacy than anything.

Southern Belles like this...


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As I travel to see new parts of the South, even to new places closer to home, 
I fall more and more in love with the glorious Southern land, the look of
an alley of oaks and magnolias lining or hanging over a road.
Similarly, I am enamored with the beauty of the classic charm
of Southern architecture, the giant signature white columns on the front
 of old antebellum homes, the graceful scrolls above a door, and the
woodwork of the rails on a plantation porch.

These words below about the greatest Southern film of all time 
could not be more true.  
My love of the South is most deeply rooted in my
heart's adoration for it as my home.
I think that is characteristic of Southern Belles today just as
much as it was two hundred years ago; it is about
having a soulful connection with this place we came from.

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In honor of National Southern Belle Day being today, here's to some of the things I can think of that are reminiscent of being one...

~Being passionate about your roots
~Sweet tea
~Knowing that the sound of cicadas is the soundtrack to your summers
~Visiting places around you and soaking in their Southern history (like visiting your parents' home town and seeing the old hanging tree)
~Having a place you never stop going back to, like the house generations of your family have lived in
~Tasting a recipe passed down for generations
~Sippin' a coca-cola in a glass bottle on the front porch
~Sitting in a porch swing, watching the world go by
~Pearls
~Mason jars
~"Bless your heart"
~Getting "gussied up", especially on Sundays
~Being daddy's girls
~Growing up being taught class, charm, and most importantly: manners
~Mamas and their wisdom: "If you're gonna be anything, be gracious."
~Endin' your words in "in'", not "ing"... see what I did there? ;)
~The joy of cooking for your family
~Valuing faith and family above all else



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Many Southern women feel unequivocally defined in some part by the Magnolia.  Whether you reference this to the movie, "Steel Magnolias", or the hardiness and resilience of the Magnolia itself, there is a certain strength you feel when you think of yourself as a Steel Magnolia.  As with the women in the film, a Steel Magnolia is a woman who shows grace under pressure and stress and may go through the hardest of times, yet comes out stronger than ever and makes it her ultimate goal to be a stronghold for those around her at the same time.  My heart is tied to this definition through how I have seen it in real life through the grandmothers and aunts and other women who I have been blessed to be around growing up, especially through their inspiring faith and strength despite losing children and loved ones, just like in the film.

If you have seen the film, maybe you have been inspired to be that type of woman, as I was when I first watched it.  November of this year will mark the 25th anniversary of "Steel Magnolias", 25 years since the film came out, based off of the play Robert Harling wrote as a result of the true story of his sister.  No matter where you're from, that film may hold part of your image of the South or you may relate to it.  It is to me a representation of many things that ring true about growing up here and that is why I connect to it, because it is nostalgic to me as mirroring so many of the women I have grown up having in my life, but most of all I get lost in the emotion of it.  I think it also just has some wonderful quotes, both meaningful and comical. These are some of my favorites...

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and of course...
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And how true this is...


...When I went to Arkansas last Summer and stood next to the largest Magnolia in Arkansas, I couldn't help but think as I stared up at it's magnificent beauty just how true that term "Steel Magnolia" must be, for that tree to have survived so much, for so long... the Civil War and who knows what else.  It was amazing to stand there and be thinking that.  How lovely to be surrounded by beautiful Magnolia blossoms that are models of the resilient strength and endurance we hope to embody.



Happy National Southern Belle day.

I hope your day was blessed!



Monday, October 13, 2014

Homemade Tortillas


I have fond memories of going to my Daddy's hometown to
visit family through my entire childhood, as I still do, and getting to
watch my Great Aunt make homemade tortillas.
They are real, authentic tortillas, the kind that will make you never
want to buy store-bought tortillas again.  As I got older, I started
to appreciate how special this must be to her to make
tortillas by hand, as well as to our family as she carries 
on the Mexican tradition of the women before her.

She learned by watching her Mama do this for their family
and carries on that tradition to this day.
I am thankful to have this culture be a part of me and to have
gotten to watch it in action in her 1940's kitchen when when we have 
visited her all these years and when she used to babysit me.

With that appreciation for the art that it is,
I am happy to have started making homemade tortillas regularly
myself.  I love doing it for many reasons, but mostly
because I get to be a part of keeping that part of the culture of
that side of my family in tact and because it is so great to experience
the taste of a real, homemade, hot off the comal tortilla.
Another thing that is wonderful is that you know exactly what you
are eating and what you put into them and they don't have
preservatives and other additives they often do when made
for purchase at the grocery store.


If you've never made homemade tortillas before,
this is a wonderful recipe to start with.
You can try making different kinds of tortillas with different
flours and masa you can buy, but regular flour tortillas
like these are my favorite and are a great place to start.
These are SO simple :)


RECIPE

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup warm water

Directions:
Mix all ingredients until dough is formed.
Knead by hand into a large ball.  Pinch one section off
at a time, enough to make one tortilla, or divide into same sized
balls to make each tortilla.
Using a floured surface or wax paper, roll out or hand press
tortilla to desired size.  Make sure your tortilla has a dusting of flour
on it before cooking it.  Heat comal/griddle on med-high and
wait a minute or two for it to heat up.  Lay tortilla on comal/griddle
and let it cook- like a pancake- until it starts to bubble up on the side
facing up.  Flip and cook on the other side.
Enjoy your homemade tortillas :)


Have you ever made homemade tortillas?


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I am happy to get to join today in linking with
The Art of Homemaking Mondays at a blog I have been enjoying
very much since I began following relatively recently,



Have a blessed day!!


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Faithful Friday: You ALWAYS Have Purpose

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I so love to read something that anchors my heart refreshingly to a thought that makes me joyful to be alive, to have been made and have the chance to live...
This verse made me feel that way when I came across it recently.  I thought it was so amazing to think of life and God's purpose for us in this way.  Everything God has done, does, and ever will do is always done with purpose because He is a God of purpose, and allowing you and I to be born and to live is no exception.

How amazing it is to think about this... that our lives have so much purpose to them that there are very specific moments, perhaps even one distinct moment out of our entire life, that are what we have been created for!  God may place us in a certain place at a certain time in order to carry out a part of His plan for our life or for someone else's or he may use us to encourage someone as a part of His plan.
I can't help but smile inside and out to think of the wonder in this thought, that there a moment has or will come while we are alive that we were made for.  Our entire life calling could even encompass that "moment".

I was listening to the radio last week and heard this: "Put your hand to your heart.  If you feel something beating, God isn't done with you yet."

Never, ever let yourself believe for a moment that your life lacks purpose, because if you are alive right now, you don't just have purpose, you ARE the purpose God created you to be.



Blessings to you.
Have a great weekend!


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Faithful Friday: Paid in Full


I have been meditating on these words, inspired by the verses at both
Philippians 4:18 and John 19:30, the beautiful gift... Paid in full!

As I have been blessed to have happen so often lately in my thoughts,
I pondered these words and their meaning- THE greatest meaning of any
three words ever.
I LOVE the reminder in them...
They push me toward God and trusting in His forgiveness
more and more instead of, as it is easy for us to do, trusting in our
own thinking and feeling that our sins make us not good enough.
But focusing on this here should bring so much joy,
because these words are ones that we should take for
exactly what they say!

Our Savior did not die for us to just cover some sins...
Our "debts", our transgressions, are not paid in full only
 if we live  perfect lives.
They are not paid only half way or partly.
They are not paid for only if they are minor.

Paid in full means paid in full.
Paid for completely and eternally through the 
blessed combination of our repentance and, most of all,
God's merciful love!



How thankful our hearts should be!
It is a fact of our faith that can never be mentioned or 
thought of enough- that this is THE reason that we have
cause to rejoice, the reason for our amazing hope. 



Have a lovely weekend 
:)



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Summer 2014 Road Trip: Views From the Road

It has been about a month and a half since
we got back from our family vacation.  We drove all the way
to Colorado for the first time for our Summer trip this year!
I am forever captivated by the nostalgic coziness and joy of roadtrips...
 the fun and laughter along the way, the memories made over all those
 hours spent in the car, and the gorgeous scenery and new
 sights to take in. 

If I had to pick my favorite part of this road trip, I think it
would be that... taking in all of the new scenery and the land around us.
Flying in a plane is a neat view from above,
but after taking this trip, I realized all of the miraculous views that you
 miss when you're above that you don't get to truly see and appreciate
on a flight.  It was amazing getting to drive through places we had
 never set foot (or car) on before. 

I am so thankful to have gotten to take this trip, especially to
have gotten to drive together.  Anything that makes me feel like I have
gone back to the "American Dream" era is a joy, and loading up
your car, traveling as a family through different states, stopping to eat,
 admiring the views along the way made me feel just that.
I feel blessed to have had the chance to do that this Summer,
to be on top of the world with excitement.

 .          .          .


I am glad to get to begin sharing some of the photos
I took on our trip.  Taking a road trip and seeing the incredible views
on the journey to your destination will make you a believer in the saying that
half the fun- or more- is in getting there.  I love the joy of looking out
the window at lands you have not yet discovered and mentally
capturing them, scenes you will only see that exact way once.
That is so special.

Because that is such a cherished part of traveling to me,
I decided to start out with sharing my views from the road to
our destination.
I look forward to sharing the parts of our time there and the mountain views
and picturesque scenes I was blessed to be nestled in the middle of while
there, but because I took so many photos, I will be sharing them
in parts... starting with these :)

You can see the difference, as we got closer to Colorado and then entered Colorado,
in the geography, which was truly amazing to see.


If you ever cross the panhandle of Texas, be prepared for the flattest flatness that you 
have ever imagined  This photo is hilly compared to most of what
we saw, haha.  I find beauty in those flat
lands, though, because they are uniquely made to where you can stare
 out around you for miles, see farther before you than you can imagine,
 and admire the sea of prairie grasses waving under an open sky. 
And rising out of the plains and prairies for miles and miles in the
panhandle are these wind energy turbines.
We had never seen these in person before and it was like driving through
a futuristic world with these towering above us, thousands of them surrounding
us.  We could not even see to the end of them as they disappeared into
the horizon line.






Entering New Mexico!
I always love taking photographs of signs when we travel to capture the
exact moment that we enter a new state or a state or national park.
I held tight to my camera strap and opened the window and
took a photo (which became my go-to way to take photos from the 
backseat) of the "Welcome to New Mexico" sign as we drove into a
new state, and soon after, a new time zone.
It may seem strange, but it felt to me that once we entered New Mexico the
skies became clearer and bluer than before, stunningly beautiful overhead,
the start of the stereotypically gorgeous Western skies.

A beautiful mural we passed going through a small desert town.
I loved the pioneer mixed with western life feel that it had.

The views became gradually closer to what you might imagine the "West" looking
like, with beautiful flattened hills and mesas everywhere.

To see a picture like this in front of us felt like the epitome of what a western road 
trip view should be on the road.  I loved looking forward at the mesas in the
distance under such incredible skies.  I imagined the pioneers
and the freedom they must have felt to have crossed open land like this, 
thinking of what that scenery far in front of them might bring,
nothing around them but sky, sky, and more sky.







The misty mountain view in the distance at the entrance to Colorado.
I think the clouds got even more glorious here.

Of course, we had to get out and stand by the huge sign there.  We took some
photos as a family and I took some of the sign.


The miraculous sights we would drive through in Colorado
 made the mesas and hills of New Mexico seem so miniscule.
I can't describe the fairytale-like, small feeling of driving on a road straight into
the distance where a mountain or an entire range lies in front of you.
This was a feeling we would experience over and over again as we went on.





Oh, that cornflower blue color of the mountains with the sun on them.
So beautiful.


One of my most favorite views.
It was interesting to watch the mountains seem to get rockier
and taller as we drove.  Any view of the Rockies is amazing
and it was so humbling to look around and everywhere you turned
they were surrounding you, skying above everything else.




On a country road at the very end of our trip, before we arrived 
at our destination, we were going up a hill and I saw this and asked
 my Dad to stop.  I was so excited by the view of
 what looked to me like a white wave coming over the hill.
I opened the sunroof and we sat there for about a minute, taking photographs
as I just soaked in the glorious colors and the soft dimensions of these clouds.
  I've never seen a cloud scene quite like this that I remember
and I loved having the chance to capture it.
I thought this was a rare display of such beauty and was thankful to have
come upon it right at this moment when the clouds were at just the right place in 
the sky.  I contributed it to the fact that the high elevation makes for low clouds,
 the recipe for some of the most wonderful cloud views.
I don't see anything like this in the South.



Cascading hills in front of the Sangre De Cristos.

Road to the mountains.
On our first day in Colorado when we had reached our
destination, I felt so much joy and felt so refreshed and ecstatic to be
near the mountains again after two years.
I could not wait to get up closer and into the Sangre De Cristos, some of which
are Fourteeners, and smell the aroma of the pine needles and the
Ponderosas.

This is the last "view from the road" that was taken as we drove by a
farm nestled at the base of some mountains.  It came out so blurry, but
I wanted to include it anyway because there was something so very
picturesque and calming about the view of the cows, the pond, and the 
mountains in the background.

A few of the photographs in this first set I am sharing are a little bit
blurred as well, but I decided to put them in for the same reason, because I hope
they can convey at least a little of what they were like in person.


.          .           .


I hope you enjoyed my views from the road on the way to and in
Colorado!  I look forward to writing a post with the next part soon.
I don't think I realized how much time it takes to sort through somewhere 
between five and six hundred pictures, but I'm making some headway :)
...and enjoying revisiting the memories as I do.
I am also imagining how lovely it would be to be back in Colorado
right now as I look at them, as I know how glorious
the Autumn colors of the Aspens must be right now!




Have a blessed day!




Saturday, September 27, 2014

Faithful Friday: He Has Been Good!

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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!


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