Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Spirit of Gratitude: Lake Murray Vacation Edition


Foggy lake mornings

Ducks swimming past
Morning talks with the female offspring

S'mores by the fire pit

A hawk in the front yard

Heron walking along the shore

Swimming in the lake

Evening thunderstorm
Trip to the zoo

Afternoon naps in the shade
Relaxing in the sun
Sunset over the lake

Male offspring in the kayak

A wonderful, relaxing, and memorable family vacation

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Getting Back

It's been over a week since we returned from vacation.  Nine days to be exact.

And in that 9 days I have managed to write exactly zero blog posts.

The week before vacation, I was a writing machine.  Completing some long neglected drafts.  Creating selections from all new ideas.  The words just seemed to flow from my fingertips.  I had enough posts written and scheduled that most days while I was away there was a fresh shiny new something for all of you to read.

However, now it seems as though all my creativity slipped away into the waters of Lake Murray.  Or perhaps baked away in the South Carolina sun. 

Since returning home, I haven't had the spark to sit down at the computer and put my thoughts into print.  Not a one.  I have picture, upon picture, upon picture from our week away which should be included in a write up or two about our get away. 

I'm starting to have a few tiny little fleeting moments of inspiration.  So, hopefully all of that will be changing soon. 

Vacation is over.  It's time to get back.  To everything.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Reality Rewind: Long Overdue

Revisiting a favorite post from the past... Enjoy!

I'm pretty sure the local library hates me.  They probably cringe when they see me heading toward the checkout desk, or see that a book I requested if available for me to take home. 

This is because it is a rare occurrence that I get books returned to them by the actual due date.  Usually I'm at least a few days late getting them back.  It's not even a rare occurrence for the items to be a week or two overdue before I get around to returning them. 

I'm not proud of this.  It's just a fact. 

If I could limit myself in the number of books I allow myself to check out at one time - that might help.  Or if I remembered to keep track of the little receipt they give letting you know when each book is due.  Or if I took advantage of the email or text alerts they provide to remind you that the due date is approaching.  Heck... there's no real good reason why I should be so late all the time.

On second thought - maybe they don't hate me.  It's entirely possible that all my overdue fines have helped keep the library up and running for all these years.  I've certainly paid plenty of them.  I think there was one time I may have been able to buy the paperback copy of the book for less than I paid in late fees.  Probably more than once.  Come to think of it, at this point there should maybe be a new wing named after me!  (Or at the very least, a shelf!)

Originally posted June 26, 2012:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Like A Tree By The Stream

The soul living without God won‘t know good and prosperity when it is staring him (or her) in the face.  They are always looking for something more.  Something better.  The next good thing.  Something to satisfy the hunger and the emptiness. 

The one who trusts in the Lord has a soul that is satisfied.  They have everything that is needed - even in times of difficulty. There is no fear.  No want.  No worries.  This soul is full. Complete.

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD.  He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes.  He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.  But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when the heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” ~ Jeremiah 17: 5-8

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Reality Rewind: Literary Love

Revisiting one of my favorite blog posts from the past.... Enjoy!

 The first book I ever loved...

When I saw this writing prompt, my first instinct was to break out into hives.  That's my usual response to questions which concern my favorite book or anything along those lines.  I love books.  I have many books I love.  And many authors I enjoy reading.  I don't think I could ever pick just one "favorite". 

As far back as I can remember I have loved books.

I learned to write my own name for the sole purpose of being able to get my very own library card.  The librarian told me I had to be able to write my name on the card before I could have my own.  So I went home and harassed my parents into teaching how to print those two words would would entitle me to the treasure I wanted so badly.

In the days when kindergarten was optional and learning didn't really start until first grade, I begged and pleaded with my kindergarten teacher to teach me to read.  Finally, she consented and sent home first readers for me to master.  I still remember feeling quite pleased with myself over learning to read the word "straw" in the Three Little Pigs.  Hey... it's a hard word when you are 5 and just learning!

My mind wandered back over my years of reading love.  The initial knee-jerk reaction to the prompt began to fade and I realized that it wasn't as bad as the ol' "what's your favorite" question.  This wasn't a matter of choosing one book over another.  I had only to wander down my memory lane of literary enjoyment and find the book that first captured my imagination.

I think of hours spent with Nancy Drew solving mysteries.

Days in covered wagons, settling the open prairies with Laura Ingalls Wilder

Escapades and antics lived vicariously through Ramona Quimby.

Tears shed over a little runt pig... "some pig"... and the loss of a loving barn spider who lived in the corner of his doorway.

Through all the stories and all the fictional friends - one keeps pushing to the front of the line.  The first book I remember completely enthralling me.  The first story that made me want to crawl into the pages and be with the character.  The first book to take me completely outside anything I knew and introduce me to a world very very different from my own.  The first book I read over and over and over again.

The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell. 

I must have been in about 4th grade when I first came across this book.  Even after all these years; just seeing the name written and thinking about the story, makes me want to pick the book up and read it again. 

Would I still feel the same about this story based on the real life "Lost Woman of San Nicolas" if I read the book today?  Would I still be amazed at her strength, courage, and self-sufficiency?  Would the love still be there?   I like to think so.  I may even put it to the test.

So tell me, what was the first book you ever loved?

Originally posted on September 8, 2012:

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Birthday Story

Once upon a time...

there was a beautiful little baby girl.  She had big blue eyes, blond hair with curls at the ends, and a laugh that could brighten up any day.  She was loved by her parents, grandparents, and various aunts and uncles.

The little girl grew, and grew, and grew. 

 She was funny.  

She was smart. 

She was creative.  

She was kind.

She had a bit of a smart-aleck attitude (which I'm sure she got from her father.)

One day her mother looked at her and realized that the beautiful little girl wasn't a little girl anymore.  She was all grown up.  

She became a mommy, with a beautiful baby boy of her own. 

She is still funny.  She is still smart.  She is still creative.  She is still kind. 

She was also still a bit of a smart-aleck.  (you can't fight genetics)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Learning To Walk

Being a Christian is a process.  It’s not a destination we suddenly come to.  It’s a journey.  Maybe that’s why it’s often referred to as a “walk with the Lord”.   We have to keep our eyes on  Jesus so he can guide us as we learn and grow.

Just like a child learning to walk - sometimes we stumble.  Sometimes we take our eyes off the path we have been set upon and try to go our own way; causing us to trip.  Sometimes we may even fall flat on our face. 

It hurts.  As we lie in the muck, feeling bruised and broken, wondering where we went wrong.

Fortunately, we are not alone.  God is there.  If we cry out to Him, He will gently pick us up, and set us back on the way He has set before us.  If we let Him, He can take the struggles, the scrapes, the bruises - and use them for something good.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Road Trip: Poinsett Bridge

One of our family plans for this summer is to drive (as closely as possible) the path of the Old Buncombe Turnpike.  The first part of this journey took us down Old US Hwy 25, through Hendersonville, Flat Rock, and down Saluda mountain to see the Poinsett Bridge in Saluda, South Carolina.

The Poinsett Bridge in upstate South Carolina marked the gateway to the mountains as the State Road of South Carolina began the climb up Saluda Mountain towards Asheville, North Carolina.  Built in 1820, it is the oldest existing bridge in the state of South Carolina and is believed to have been designed by Robert Mills, architect of the Washington Monument.

The drive down Saluda Mountain

A glimpse of the bridge through the trees

Poinsett Bridge's gothic arch

Under the bridge

Male off spring relaxes on the bridge

Looking down from the bridge

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Reality Rewind: I Could Be Happy If...

Revisiting a favorite post from my past... Enjoy!

We've all heard that old saying about how money can't buy happiness.  And we know that's not entirely true, is it?  After all, money may not buy happiness - but it buys stuff.  And stuff makes us happy, right?

On the surface there is nothing wrong with wanting things.  We've all been there.  I've been there.    I want things.  New things. Pretty things.  Shiny things.

Here's the problem:  Happiness from stuff is temporary. 

You're happy for a short time with your shiny new thing.  And then you start craving and aching for that next, newer, better thing. It's a never ending chase.  A constant cycle of ups and downs.  Always seeking what you believe will bring happiness, only to soon feel empty and need something else to fill the void.

For some people it's not only things.  It's a belief that if circumstances were different, they could finally be happy.  A better job.  Moving to a different home/city/state.  Having a boy/girlfriend, finding a spouse, or getting a divorce.  Having a child.  Losing weight. 

And what happens if we don't get that item or circumstances we believe will bring us joy? We find ourselves feeling angry, resentful, frustrated, and lost.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." ~ Philippians 4:11-12 (NIV)

Paul had  "learned the secret".  True happiness isn't found in stuff.  Or based on the circumstances we are in.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." ~ Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)

Real, lasting happiness comes in knowing the grace and glory of God and accepting all the treasures and gifts He has in store for those willing to accept it. 

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." ~ 2 Corinthians 4:18

Not to say that as Christ followers we don't know sadness, difficulties, or times of trouble.  But during those times there is a faithful, eternal, loving God watching over us, comforting us, and ready to bring us back to a place of joy and happiness.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." ~ Romans 8:28 (NIV)

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~ Jeremiah 29:11(NIV)

God wants good things for us.  He wants us to know joy.  He wants our happiness.  We just have to place our trust in him.  And look to Him for our joy.  Once we manage to start doing that, we will find an even deeper happiness in the things, people and circumstances in our life.

Originally posted on October 17, 2012:

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Pinterest Wannabe Fashionista: Week 6

I am completely infatuated with my new black maxi dress, so this week I am copying an outfit off my Pinterest boards with items from my own closet featuring this versatile piece!

The Inspiration:

Black maxi dress, cardigan, colorful belt, sunglasses

My Version:
Black maxi dress, cardigan, colorful belt, sunglasses

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Spirit of Gratitude: July 11


A break from the rain
Day trips with the family

A clean kitchen
 Marking books off the TBR list
Adding new books to the TBR list
Oreo Klondike bars
Reading old blog posts


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Even If It Looks Like a Mess

If you had come into my office back in the days when I was working with WIC, you would like have seen piles of papers , folders, binders and files all over my desk.  There might have been post it notes stuck on some of the piles, along with a few tacked to the front of my computer screen.  A book or binder may have been lying open on one corner of the desk.
To you it seemed random and unrelated.  It might even look like one big mess.

But to me it all made sense. 

I could see the bigger picture.  I knew my plan, and everything was there for a reason to help get a goal accomplished.

It’s like that with life also.

When we look at life, it may seem like a long string of random events.  Some may seem like they are related - one leading to the other.  But much of it just seems like those piles of papers on my desk - a scattering of stories, events,  and memories.   And some of it just seems like a total mess

To God, it all makes sense. 

He has a plan.  Like a puzzle.  Each piece fitting together to create the bigger picture.

All of the highs and lows.  The good times and not so good.  Yes, even the messes.  God takes all of them and fits them together to reach His eternal goal. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Road Trip: Asheville's Urban Trail (Part 3)

The family decided to play the role of "Hometown Tourists" and visit Asheville's Urban Trail - a walking tour of downtown Asheville, highlighting the unique architecture, people, and historic events of the city.


Asheville Community Theatre

Asheville in Motion

City-County Plaza

Veteran's Memorial

Monument Corner

Eagle Hotel


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