Sunday, February 19, 2017

To Church or not to Church?

 
My entire adult life, and most of my teens, church has been a very important part of my life.  I don't mean just the building or the people/social aspect of it, but the very essence of what the church is.  Church means so many different things to me... it is a place to worship and glorify Christ, a place to stop and say thank you to a God that loves us so very much, a place to bring your less than perfect self and know that God will and does perform miracles on your insides and out, a place to grow with the body of believers and be discipled and to disciple, and so much more. 
 
Recently, though, I have found myself in a very hard place concerning church.  I suppose it is what some would call Spiritual Warfare and sometimes it feels like I am losing.  The very act of going to church has become a challenge for me.  I know I need to be there, but I am pulling me away.  I have debated whether I need a new church or am I running away to something that feels softer, gentler?  There are a lot of memories in my church, some of them hard to face.  Ironically, the good memories are the hardest to face.  They point out all the changes, the differences and I am having a hard time trying to figure out how to fit it all together. 
 
So, yes...I am at a crossroads.  I don't know which way to turn.  Prayers appreciated.
 


Saturday, February 18, 2017

My Little Brick Cottage....

You may have noticed at the bottom of each of my posts I sign off with "Love from my Little Brick Cottage," and I have even created a tag for it on other forms of Social Media because it makes me happy. 

My little brick cottage is not really even my own.  I am just a renter.  Lately, though, I have thought a lot about this little house and wondered why I love it so much.  It isn't glamourous or fancy.  It needs some TLC and lots of paint.  But, I love it.  When I look at it, I see it through "what it could be" eyes.  Up until recent months, I was very close to being able to purchase this little cottage but there were some changes and money was needed for other things.  Yes, I have struggled with being sad about that and worried about the "what if" I have to move quite a lot. 

One of my greatest painful realizations when I was divorced is that I would probably never live in another house that I owned.  It was the realization that I would probably always be a renter.  Of course, there are perks to being a renter, but I love the feeling of "my home" and the freedom and security that provides.  "My Home" means I belong somewhere even if it is just me.  I guess, until my divorce, I had never realized how much that meant to me.  Maybe I am somewhat of a homebody?

I do love this little house, though.  I love all the great things and all the quirky "why was that done that way" things.  I see amazing potential that could be brought out with just a few little sweat equity projects.  I envision what a little yard work would do for it. I love walking the tree lined streets of the neighborhood.  But, I really think the reason I love it, is I feel safe here. 

My boys and I came here at a time when nothing in life felt Ok or safe or right. I was lost and very afraid.  This little brick cottage came to me out of a fluke, an unexpected turn and it provided a haven for my boys, my dog (now 2 dogs), and I to start our new life.  We worked through a lot of pain  and all of us have done a lot of growing up in this house (still are.) This is where we learned to do life, just us.  This is where that first Christmas tree went up after our family became fractured.  It was hard, but we did it.  So many firsts, some good and some bad, have happen here it feels like a lifetime has been lived here.  Yes, I know it is just a building but to me it is more....it is home.  I have been blessed to have had these walls wrapped around my family to keep us safe, and secure. It has covered us through storms both inside and out.    Here's to this amazing little brick cottage in the heart of Florence!


Happy Birthday, Ma Jones!

I have written about this plant before but it never ceases to delight me and leaves me wondering each year if it will produce it's magic at just the right moment.  You see, this is my Grandmother's Christmas Cactus, for her it bloomed at Christmas, because much like most growing things it dared not defy her tutelage. 
 
When she died almost a decade ago, I some how ended up with her prized Christmas Cactus.  To this day I do not know how it ended up coming home with me.  The first year I had it, I was quite abusive and left it in my garage for many months with no water and little light.  Of course, when I finally brought it inside it didn't even show the tiniest sign of a single bud at Christmas.  I didn't think much about it.
 
Then her birthday rolled around in mid February, (the 17th, to be exact), and that amazing plant threw a very unexpected party.  It burst into full bloom, making me realize there was more than one variety of cactus planted...there is a red with a beautiful fuchsia stamen and then there is a white with tinges of red. To say I was filled with joy and sadness was an understatement.  
 
This year it popped out a bloom or two in December for the first time since I have had it and I wondered if the birthday streak was gone and if the plant had adjusted back to it's normal schedule.  That was until this week, when it began to bud and bloom and produce the birthday party for my Ma Jones... right on time. I have said this many times but the older I get the more I miss her.  It would be so nice to be able to escape to the bubble of her little world, it was somewhere you didn't have to explain, you could just be.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Spring Fever?

This weekend finds me playing nurse again (the second time in a month that I have had 2 sickies in the house over a weekend!)  Both my young men are sick.  One tested positive for flu and the other is down with a really bad sinus infection and awful cough (but so far has shown no signs of flu!!!)  Ironically, the one who received the flu shot is the one with the flu...go figure!  I am just hoping I don't get it because, as I have told many people, our dogs are just not really helpful. 

Last night, since we were definitely not going anywhere, I started looking at seed catalogs and, of course, the rose catalog caught my eye.  Years ago, 17 if I calculate correctly, I had a rose garden in the house I lived in.  Some of the roses were left from previous owners but I had planted the large beds in front with a combination of roses and azaleas.  In houses after that, there was usually a rose bush or two but never a rose garden.  It has been a long time since I have had a rose "garden" and I think this year might be the year.  I love the work required to bring out the best in these beauties and I just think it would be such a stress reliever to be able to wander through the bushes and literally "smell the roses."  Of course, I am not talking anything elaborate or fancy but just a few bushes to bring blooms to brighten the day.  Gardening is something I haven't done in several years and after my "window shopping" last night I think this may be the year to start cultivating that skill again.  It is so nice to be able to walk out of your house and pick your own tomato or cucumber or have peppers to make fresh salsa with right at hand.  I am sure I will have a lot of catching up and relearning but I do think this is the year! 


Monday, January 30, 2017

Make-Up Monday!

Since everyone gives Monday a bad wrap I thought I would put a fun twist on it and talk about a couple of cosmetic products that I love.  When I say I love them, I mean they are the tried and true standard and always are in the "routine." Today's post isn't actually about make-up but rather the very beginning and the very end of your make-up routine.  These are two steps that if you are skipping you are losing valuable hours of great looking make-up.  I only added these into my routine in the last year and I can't believe how I made it without them!!!
Although, I have always loved make-up and work in the industry, somehow I managed to avoid using a primer before putting on my foundation!  I think I thought it was just one more product to buy that would not make a difference.  Rest assured this is a product you NEED, if you aren't using one.  After applying your moisturizer this is the first thing that should go on.  It smooths your pores and readies your skin for makeup.  I can tell a huge difference if I put on my make-up with or without primer! 
The next must have on my list is the very last thing you put on...a setting spray.  If I was wary of the primer you really should have seen how I felt about setting spray and all it's claims of glory...but, they are true.  With Setting Spray you lightly mist your face when your make-up is complete and it helps it stay on all day looking dewy fresh.  That is a huge plus when you live in a warm climate where the humidity loves to attack not just your hair but also loves to melt that make-up right off!  So, if you aren't using a setting spray get one right away. 

Adding these two elements into your beauty routine will be minimum effort for great results that will keep you looking fresh and glowing all day!  Happy Make-Up Monday!!!


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Grace...

I am reading this book right now...actually "working through it" as it has some interactive self-work to help you grow.  I really am enjoying it BUT I am stuck already...only 33 pages in!  In this section the author encourages you to determine what your passion is, what you truly love.

 "Life Inventory: What are you missing? What makes you feel deeply alive? And how can you fill your heart up with that even if just a tiny bit?"

 It seems like that should be a pretty easy fill in the blank, right?  Well...once I started really thinking about it I couldn't come up with a single thing.   It isn't that I am not missing something or that there aren't things to make me feel deeply alive and fill up my heart, I just don't know what they are anymore.  There was a time when I knew. There was a time when I knew what I loved, what my calling was, what brought me inner peace and joy.  Now, not so much.  So, tonight I am sitting here pondering what to write in that "I love...." area so that I can start adding more of that into the mix of my life and heart but am frustrated that it is so hard!  I think we all want to feel like we know ourselves, but in this season of life I am still floating and trying to figure out where I fit in.  It is like being homesick but not knowing where home is.  
 


Friday, January 13, 2017

Frugal Friday!!!


How was your frugal week?  Mine was pretty good.  We only ate out 1 time and that was actually delivery of pizza for the National Championship Game (CLEMSON WON, in case you had not heard...just saying!)
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So my big savings was food this week.  I only picked up the basics that we needed as we needed them (last night on the way home from work I made a quick stop for fresh lettuce, tomato, dog food and milk.)  Otherwise, I shopped and planned through what was in my fridge, freezer and cupboard.  A couple of weeks ago, I went to the downtown farmer's market in my town and bought a meat pack from Orvis Hill Farms which guided me through my meal prep and gave the basis for a menu.  It was nice to have the freezer with meat in it but not so much that I felt no direction, so I think this "meat plan" may be a good way for me to plan and keep me from spending to much "on the way home from work."  A new meat traditional meat market just opened up in my town so I need to check it out because they often have "fill your freezer" deals that include a variety of meats and poultry. 

The downside of my budget was some unexpected medical expenses as both my sons had accidents (unrelated) that resulted in 3 sprained ankles between the 2 of them.  So, I had some drugstore expenses I didn't expect and angle braces are not cheap!  But, thankfully, no one was broken although they were in a lot of pain.  By the way, if you have  a Sonic close to you their ice makes the best ice packs and you can by it in 10 pound bags for under $2.00. 

Let me know your Frugal Tips!