The day after Thanksgiving.

Oh, sweet Thanksgiving. I mean, really. There isn’t much better than a day or three spent with family RIGHT before the busiest time of the year. The classics like creamy mashed potatoes, pecan pie, sweet potato casserole, and a yummy ham — all help make the holiday that much more amazing. Throw in a couple competitive family games and lots of laughs and storytelling — and you have a pretty good picture of what my day looked like.

I’m abundantly blessed. And so are you.

I find myself, though, every single Thanksgiving a little bit stressed. These are the thoughts running through my brain. “Am I being thankful enough today?” “Have I sent all my friends a text saying that I appreciate them?” “Am I feeling as happy as I should be today?” “Should I post something on social media to make sure people know I’m thankful for all my blessings?”

Pressure. Pressure to ensure that I’m living up to the spirit of Thanksgiving. The spirit of gratitude and appreciation.

Whenever I’m feeling frustrated or frazzled, I turn to my best friend. . .  who also happens to be my husband (AKA – 💙Hub💙). Hub is super patient and such a good listener. Turns out that I am a little more emotional of a human being than he is. 😂😉 Normally, I can’t see past the next five minutes when I am feeling overwhelmed about something. I also tend to bring stress upon myself and blow things (at least a little) out of proportion. 😬

As I was unloading all this to hub yesterday – and finally “got it all out.” He just stopped me and said something like this. “Babe, Thanksgiving is not just a one-day thing. It’s more about being thankful always, not feeling pressured to get it all in today. You are thankful; don’t make yourself feel that you’re not.”

Well, duh. . . I knew that. Sometimes, though, it takes hearing it at just the right moment in order for it to truly sink in.

So, this is the truth.

Nothing really changes the Day after Thanksgiving.

When I woke up today, I have. . .

  • The same blessings.
  • The same God on my side.
  • The same loving hub.
  • The same amazing family.
  • The same faithful friends.
  • The same church in which to worship.
  • The same country, full of freedom and opportunity.
  • The same job, where I can learn and grow and become a better teacher.
  • The same cute, little house.
  • The same necessities. (i.e. Furniture, Clothes, Shoes, Glasses, Towels)
  • The same extras. (i.e. Wifi, Phone, Computer, Camera, Cute Home Decor)
  • The same personality, with all its uniqueness.
  • The same life, with all its areas for growth.

And, if you think about it, friend. . . You have a list that looks pretty similar to this, too!

T H A N K S G I V I N G  is not just a day. It’s a lifestyle.

Join me in celebrating gratitude on the Day after Thanksgiving.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

He rejoices over you.

Perhaps it is because I am a “performance-based” individual. I thrive on accomplishing my goals, doing my best, receiving compliments, excelling in presentation, and so on.

I care. I care about what I do, how I present myself, what to say, how to live. That’s not all bad, if I keep it in check and maintain a healthy balance.

But, you know just as well as I do that success isn’t continual. I don’t always succeed. I don’t always say the right thing. I don’t always receive compliments for the good and helpful things I do. I sometimes fall short of doing my best. And, furthermore, some of my dreams and goals still seem so far off.

Why can’t I get there? Why can’t I just live in a state of success?

I know, I know. Life doesn’t work that way.

Life instead looks like this: Trying, living, failing, questioning, and getting back up.

Oftentimes, we get discouraged. We get weary. We get frustrated. When we don’t measure up to our own requirements, we somehow love ourselves a little less. That’s not right, nor is it OK.

My Daddy, my hero, has always said this: “It’s not about where you are — it’s about where you are going.”

Right now might not look exactly like you want. Your job might not be perfect. Your family might be falling apart. Your laundry might need folded. Your heart might be broken.

Life, though, is SO MUCH more than just RIGHT NOW.

Don’t make the “snapshot” of what is today the cover for the “album” of what your life has been, is, and is going to become.

Don’t lose heart. Don’t quit trying. Don’t love yourself less. 

In these moments – the less than perfect ones – hold on tightly to the only thing that ALWAYS succeeds and NEVER fails – God.

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

~ Zephaniah 3:17 ESV

When you can’t stand where you are in life, when you can’t handle failing again, when you can’t imagine another hurt coming your way. . . Think on this.

Our crazy, awesome Heavenly Father is sitting up in His Heaven. He is delighting over you. He is celebrating you. He is right beside you. He won’t let you go. He never loves you less. He longs to quiet your spirit. He desires to calm your anxious spirit. He is singing about you. You’re his favorite.

You might not be happy with yourself. You might not have much to rejoice about right now.

No worries. . .

God is rejoicing just because you are, and He made you that way.

 

Photo by Leon Biss on Unsplash

Prone to wander.

To the wanderer. To the one who is low in spirit. To the one who is confused. To the one who is weary.

To you. To me.

It’s so easy to lose our way. It’s so easy to get lost. It’s so easy to just give up. Or, at least, want to stop trying.

Life is too much, too heavy some days. We get caught up in our work, our busy schedules, our “to-do” lists, our frustrations, our disappoints, and our pain.

We start questioning God. We start forgetting the progress we have made. We start floundering. We start questioning. We start dwelling in the past.

We wander from our Heavenly Father. We wander from spending time in His Word. We wander from our core beliefs. We wander from our family and their love for us. We wander from our friends who want the best for us. We wander from our dreams and plans.

Before long, we find ourselves far from where we used to be, far from where we want to be, and far from where we meant to be.

We don’t normally mean to wander. We don’t purposely set out to do the wrong thing. We don’t mean to settle for good instead of best.

Stop. Take a deep breath.

It’s not too late, my friend.

God doesn’t give up on you. On me. Our God is a God of Reckless Love.

The LORD’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The LORD is all I have, and so I put my hope in him.

~Lamentations 3:22-24 GNB

God’s desire is to hold you close, to bring you home. To show you NEW mercies, NEW truths. He sent His Son, Jesus. . . because He wants you to live the life you were meant to live. An abundant, overflowing life. Here’s the words that Jesus, himself, said.

The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life — life in all it’s fullness.

~John 10:10 GNS

If you are wandering today. If you are lost. If you are trapped. Trapped in sin, trapped in bitterness, trapped in disbelief, trapped in busyness, trapped in hurt, trapped in fear, trapped in confusion.

Don’t stay there.

Don’t let the devil control you or convince you. The devil doesn’t have your best interest in mind. He wants you to wander; he doesn’t want you to be settled. Wandering leads nowhere good. The devil, in all actuality, wants you to spend an eternity away from God and His magnificent heaven. It’s not worth it. You don’t have to stay lost.

God’s plan for you is perfect. God’s plan for you does NOT entail wandering away from Him.

All of us need to wake up to the reality that if we are lost, if we are wandering, we are NOT in harmony with our Savior. Heaven is for the found, not the lost.

Do you need finding today? Do you need to come back home?

It’s never too late.

God is waiting for you with His open arms. He is faithful, even when we are not.

Come back home to stay.

 

 

Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

~Robert Robinson

 

Photo by Markus Gempeler on Unsplash

A meal to take the chill off.

Fall is officially here to stay, and winter is well on its way. We ladies need easy meals to fix that are warm & filling, am I right? Check out this main course & dessert. . . Currently my favorites!

Hash-brown & Ham Happiness

(Main Course)

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag – hash-brown potatoes (30 oz.)
  • 2 cans – Cream of Chicken soup (10.5 oz.) Use 3 cans if you like things creamy!
  • 8 oz. – Sour Cream
  • 3 cups – Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • (Approximately) 1 lb. – ham (cubed pieces) You can cut up your own cooked ham or buy a package of pre-cubed ham.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray 9 x 13″ pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Combine all ingredients (except 1 cup of cheese) in a separate bowl & stir well.
  4. Dump all ingredients into the pan.
  5. Sprinkle the extra cup of cheese on top.
  6. Place in oven for 1 hour, give or take. Make sure it’s all bubbly.
  7. ENJOY!

(Ideas for side dishes)

  • Cooked carrots topped with brown sugar and butter.
  • Tossed salad with poppyseed dressing.
  • Dinner rolls covered in butter, honey, or strawberry preserves.

Apple Dump Cake

(Dessert)

Ingredients:

  • 1 – Yellow Cake Mix
  • 2 cans – Apple Pie Filling
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) – Butter
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar
  • Optional: Vanilla Ice Cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray 9 x 13″ pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Dump the 2 cans of Apple Pie Filling into the pan.
  4. Sprinkle the cake mix on top of the filling.
  5. Melt butter & pour evenly on top of cake mix/filling.
  6. Sprinkle a good bit of cinnamon & a little bit sugar on top. As much as desired.
  7. Cook for 45 minutes – 1 hour, until brown on top & bubbly.
  8. Optional: Top with vanilla ice cream.
  9. ENJOY!

Here’s a picture of my dinner table today. My husband loves this cheesy dish just as much as I do! Oh, please ignore the stack of papers on the other side of my table. I live in the real world. 😉

IMG_9078

Comment to let me know if you try these recipes & how much you end up loving them!

Featured Image Credits: Photo by Ramiro Mendes on Unsplash

Chocolate Speaks.

As I devoured a couple pieces of Dove chocolate last night (Confession: Before Dinner), I took a second to read the famous sayings on the inside of the wrappers. One, in particular, hit me in the face.

Don’t talk about it,

just be about it.

Does this not describe our generation?

We love to talk about problems. Our problems, your problems, our friend’s problems, our family’s problems, our boss’ problems, and so on.

We love to give our opinion. However harsh, rude, or unwelcome it may be sometimes.

We love to talk about getting together with our friends and acquaintances. We like to make it seem as if we have made an effort not to be anti-social, at least.

We love to talk about starting that new hobby. Playing a new instrument, developing our hidden skill of knitting, redecorating the guest bedroom,  or cleaning out the junk in the closet.

We love to say we are going to change. We are going to eat healthier or be happier. We are going to be there for our friends. We are going to work on not reacting so quickly.

We say we are going to call our Grandparents more. . . or take that vacation.

We say a LOT of things, people. Do we ever really accomplish anything before it’s too late, though?

Quite frankly, it’s hard to hear over all the babbling.

Instead of talking — debating ideas, complaining about our problems, chattering about a new thing to try, gossiping about everybody’s business, and posting every detail of your life on social media — Let’s start doing.

Live. Your. Life. Don’t just talk about it.

Set goals. Meet goals. Analyze. Change. Forget. Focus. End things. Begin others. Stop wallowing. Start working.

P.S. You don’t have to tell everyone all about it, either.

P.P.S. Eat that Dove chocolate; it might have something to say to you.

Photo creds: Yours truly.

Chrestotes.

I am a Follower of Jesus.

Jesus calls me to live in Him and His truth. Jesus calls me to show the world that He is the message of Hope. Jesus calls me to a life of fruitfulness. As a Follower of my Jesus, my life should showcase the Fruits of the Spirit to those around me.

Here are a couple scriptures to think about. . .

John 13:34-35

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 15:5b

Without me ye can do nothing.

John 15:8

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

What are the fruits that I should be bearing/showing if I want to be a Follower of Jesus?

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness (Integrity), Faithfulness, Meekness (Humility), and Self-Control.

I live in the real world. So do you. When I think about this Checklist titled “Fruits of the Spirit,” I cringe just a little bit. That’s a lot. Some days, especially, it feels overwhelming. I get so busy, so frustrated, so impatient, so snippy, so tired.

As Followers of Jesus we WANT to follow His Word, so – you might be thinking  – “How can I make this Fruit-Bearing seem more manageable?”      I am so glad you asked! 😉

Let’s take them one at a time, shall we?

Chrestotes

Chrestotes is the Greek word for kindness.

So, what exactly is kindness?

If you check any dictionary, it will state something like this for kindness: “The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.”

I found a great definition for kindness from Tim Keller @ J.D. Greer Ministries (https://jdgreear.com/blog/kellers-definitions-of-the-fruit-in-galatians-5/).

(Warning: It’s pretty radical, but it got me to thinking. . .)

What Kindness Is

Practical kindness with vulnerability out of deep inner security

What Kindness Isn’t

Envy. Unable to rejoice in other’s joy.

What Kindness Morphs Into

Manipulative good deeds. Self-congratulation and self-righteousness.

If our world needs anything these days, it would be kindness.

I must admit for myself that I get so wrapped up in my own world & schedule that I forget to be kind. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t go around being “mean” or “rude.” I definitely don’t put much effort into being “kind,” however.

I don’t for a moment think that mediocre kindness is what Christ has called us – His Followers – to.

It’s time I start being more aware of the world around me. It’s time I start realizing that I might be the only picture of Jesus some people see. It’s time I start owning up to being a Follower of Jesus.

I should be bearing the Fruit of Kindness at a much quicker rate than I am currently.

I must not mask kindness by doing things just for praise. That’s not true kindness.

I must not be kind just to make myself feel better. That is selfish.

Instead . . .

I must be secure in who I am & what I have in order to treat others with genuine kindness in my thoughts, attitudes, and actions.

I must guard my heart from selfishness and discontentment. Instead of envying others, I should work to rejoice in their blessings and triumphs!

I must look for ways to practice kindness. Every day.

Now, listen — In part of my desire to blog about authentic living, I promise that I practice what I write about. The past two weeks my Bible Study ladies & I practiced thankfulness, this week we are practicing kindness. Each day we are endeavoring to go out of our way – and purposefully look for – an opportunity to bless someone with an act of kindness. We then keep each other accountable by sharing in our group chat!

Most of my acts of kindness this week have been small. Doesn’t matter. Purposefully looking for a way to be kind to others has helped me be more aware of the needs around me and the opportunities I usually pass up.

People sometimes need a smile, a note, a hug, a helping hand, a visit, a gift. . . a friend!

Sometimes this looks like putting my husband’s laundry away. Sometimes this looks like helping a coworker out with a task that needs accomplished. Sometimes this looks like gathering all the carts in the parking lot for the cashier at the Dollar Tree who looks incredibly busy and flustered.

Find a way to be kind. Get out of your comfort zone.

I challenge you to join me in this endeavor! One purposeful act of kindness a day – for at least a week.

I truly think that working on showing kindness each day will help us toward the end goal.

What is that end goal, again?

Following Jesus and His teachings. Living a Spirit-filled life. Bearing fruit.

Kindness is a lifestyle, friends.

May we work on kindness, practice kindness, and become kindness.

Photo by Sandrachile . on Unsplash

“I’m just joking…”

Are you really, though?

Five Things to Remember When You’re Joking

  1. Jokes aren’t always funny. Others get hurt from careless jokes and thoughtless teases more than you know. In the past, I would easily laugh off jokes from my peers so they did not think I was offended. I’m over that. Check your jokes. Do they build up or tear down? It might be funny, but if it’s hurtful — It should NOT be said. Period.
  2. Jokes have a thread of truth. Always. Normally, jokes are founded in reality. You can’t just make some of this stuff up. Jokes are normally centered around rumors, areas of insecurities, or faults about someone’s physical appearance, work ethic, social graces, etc. Don’t prey off people. Don’t say things to get others to laugh if it means demeaning someone else. This includes Snapchat. Admission of guilt: I got rid of Snapchat a couple years ago. This was one of the reasons. I was a great snapper back in my day. However, 90% of the time, the snaps I sent were not edifying or kind to others. I would send snaps of people I thought were “less” than me – behind their backs – to my “groupies.” God let me know this wasn’t ok.
  3. Don’t joke to make a point. If you need to confront someone, just do it. Don’t make comments and jokes in front of that person and everyone else. Stop being passive aggressive. Grow up. Deal with the issue. Give someone the decency to talk with them and figure out the problem.
  4. If they don’t think it’s funny, it’s probably not. Seems like common sense, I know. Be aware, friends. If you say something, even if you didn’t mean harm, and it doesn’t go over well — Do not do it again. Apologize if needed. Understand the people you joke with have feelings, too.
  5. Some people can’t take jokes. I know. I can’t really fathom this, either. I love joking and teasing. My family thrives on it. My husband and I love to joke with each other — we pretty much do constantly. However, some people have a different background, a different emotional make-up, a different outlook on life. Jokes are not their “thing.” That’s ok. They aren’t weird; they are just a human being. Respect them enough to know the boundaries, alright?

I posted this because this has been an area in my life that I have had to grow and improve. I am working on being aware of others and their feelings. I love to joke, but it’s not worth the cost of losing friends or my reputation. Have fun – be funny… but don’t let the goal of being funny make you forget social cues and emotional boundaries.

Check your jokes. Think before you tease.

{Excuse the llama, but it looks like he has just cracked a good joke. 😉 }

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash