stories 2017 | I see you being brave


Tybee Island, July 3, 2017  |  Because I knew he would need to acclimate himself to the sounds of the sea, to the shifting sand under his feet, and to the crashing waves, so I went out with Ian to the water's edge, and stayed close. All the while I talked gently with him, making everything happy and content. Pretty soon he found his brave.

I am beginning the long list of stories I want to tell about when all four of my kids were home and all my grandchildren were together with us. So many stories to share. So many pages to create. I am planning on doing a mix, I imagine, of both 6 x 8 and 12 x 12 sized pages all of which will go in our Stories 2017 album.


52 Weeks of Giving | 27


School supplies. Like office supplies, I love browsing the aisles of notebooks, highlighters, paper, pens, pencils, all things that say school. I don't have kids in school anymore so school shopping in July or August just isn't a priority. But, this is my year of giving - and giving well.

When Ashley hit Walmart for school supplies for Ian and Wyatt I loaded up the cart too. Our church, this month, is collecting school supplies for local schools. It's the least I can do. And, there are so many who cannot and would have to do without.

52 Weeks of Giving | 26


This is the second month in a row I have gifted The Sunshine Girls ministry through our church a part of a meal that TSG, in turn shares with the strippers in the bars of our city. They've spoken love without judgement into these ladies. I'm loving giving my small part. 

I think serving TSG will be a once a month gift - for now. 

i want to remember | hanging out with mom


I want to remember my mom is the best. She is fun-loving, easy-going, and quick-witted. While we don't see each other often I can always count on one thing when she visits: I will enjoy her company. Mom visited for 10 days the beginning of July, probably the longest she's ever visited at one time. But, it was a momentous occasion as I was going to have all my kids and all my grandkids under one roof for an entire week. This meant my Mom's grandkids and great grandkids would be under one roof, too. Not her entire crew of grand's or great's but a good portion, nonetheless.

I want to remember even in her mid-70's Mom is still game for just about anything (within reason, certainly). Although we didn't schedule any sky diving or zip-lining into our week we did enjoy an early morning at the beach. I love that Mom just wants to be with us. We set up a canvas open tent, not just for mom, but everyone who wanted or needed to stay out of the sun. She plowed through the sand like a real trouper. It was enough to watch her grand's and great's playing in the ocean and chatting with whomever stayed behind.

I want to remember playing Apples to Apples with Mom, Ash, Brooklyn, and the rest of the gang and laughing until your stomach hurts at Mom (and Ashley's) quick-wit and adult silliness. It is a scream playing this game. Actually, I love playing scrabble with Mom, too, but we didn't get to do that She's a smart lady about a lot of things so it makes conversation wealthy and intelligent - amidst the laughter and fun.

I want to remember binge-watching Downton Abbey. Ashley and I love the show and so does Mom. We were kindred spirits, chatting and talking about the period, the show, the clothes, the palace - the times. When I shared a blog post (one of my favorites) about the 'boyfriends of Downton Abbey' by The Lazy Genius Collective, Mom laughed along with my reading. She 'gets' what's funny. It's her quick-wit and humor.


I want to remember how Samuel, my youngest grandson and her youngest great grandson, went to her, let her hold him without pitching a fit, before me and we joked about it. And we laughed. She devoured her great grandson. It was a sight to behold.

I want to remember the rather long day when we willingly chose to go to the Tangier Outlet mall. We browsed, we tried on clothes, we shopped, we ate at Johnny Rockets, we battled the extreme heat, we bought pralines by the pounds, and we came home exhausted with quite less money in our pockets.

I want to remember how she loves being with her grandkids and great grandkids. She doesn't get tired of them. Sure, she gets tired, but not of them. She savors every. single. minute. with them. I asked Mom what was on her bucket list next because over the last few years she's been a traveling queen. But, besides another visit to Ireland (her second visit), she said visiting her grandkids and great grandkids are at the top of her traveling plans. 

Currently | July


reading slowed way down while family was in the house but I've picked books back up, mostly at work during free time, and I'll be adding new titles read to my goal 100 New Books in 2017.

binge-watching Madam Secretary Season 3 and Blue Bloods Season 7 as they have recently been added to Netflix. While Ash (and my mom) was here we did a bit of Downton Abbey binging, too. I read aloud a favorite post of The Lazy Genius Collective's to my mom because she has a really awesome sense of humor and we all had a good chuckle oohing over the best boyfriends of Downton Abbey. We agreed on the winner.

eating Whole 30 compliant food ONLY - since July 10th. The key is prep work and buy whole. Basically, Whole30 compliant means no sugar, I mean NO sugar. In anything. No grains, which, of course, means pasta, bread, rice, etc... No dairy. Which means no butter and no cheese. Did I mention no sugar? And, no cheese! I have been successfully, dutifully, uncomprisingly eating this way for 10 days. I wasn't supposed to but I did cheat and weighed myself after 5 days because I. Just. Had. To. Know...5 pounds lost.

needing to catch up on scrapbooking projects like Project Life, Stories 2017, 52 Gratitudes in 2017, and 52 Weeks of Giving. I'm behind. I haven't scrapbooked in weeks. I'm talking weeks, people. It's crazy and I miss it.

celebrating an early birthday for the guys (20 years old - crazy!) this coming weekend. Ash and crew will be back in town for the weekend. Some bowling, laser tag, dining out - and presents! Should be a fun time!

rejoicing in the news my job is secure for another year. I would prefer to do this for many more years but, I'm certain God's got this! One more year is a total blessing.

letting our small group know we won't be hosting for quite some time. With Jeff working out of town it is just not feasible in this season. We'll (or at least I will if Jeff isn't available) still attend small group we just won't be hosting. This is a big change for us as we have hosted a small group for SO many years. But, I think it will be a joyful rest. Without hosting maybe I'll enjoy making desserts to share again rather than feeling as it is a chore.

readying to begin and dig deep. I am going to dig in deep to the Word and begin at the beginning. In Genesis. One of the best ways I have found to dig deep is through a Precepts study. I've emailed a lady from church who intimated I could check out the DVDs that go with the actual study. The study is on it's way. I will be divin' in - to Genesis.

pre-planning our much anticipated trip to Niagara Falls - in November. Yep, pre - planning.

loving that Ash and crew will be able to 'come into town', regularly, now that they are only a couple hours away. Or, we can go there. 


52 Weeks of Giving | 25


I'm not behind in giving. I'm only behind in creating my 4 x 6 page for my giving album, a physical record documenting my year of giving. It is for the same reason I document my gratitudes (which I am also behind in creating) I can look back and see what God has done.

This week was a simple response. Join Ann Voskamp in being one of one million people who honor the Bible. Coming November 2017 the Museum of the Bible will open in Washington D.C. It is not a museum for the dead but the Bible, which is alive, and its sole purpose is to get people engaged in the Word of God.

I donated and added our four names to the nine hundred ninety nine thousand nine hundred and ninety six others who honor the Word of God.

52 Weeks of Giving | 24


We were discussing the impending visit of our daughter Ashley. She and her crew were coming to stay for two weeks (originally two weeks, but since has been extended to three weeks). I told him I'd decided to buy all of our food while we were here rather than split the check as we've done in the past when her crew came for extended visits. He thought that was a good idea. I said I'd let them take care of additional baby stuff/food.

He said since I was doing this year of giving that maybe I (we) could move that giving to those in our home.

A lightbulb went on.

I got flush with frustration  - at myself. Why didn't I think of that myself?

He is the servant-hearted one I reminded myself and I'm still growing into one; a servant, who gives abundantly, freely, whole-heartedly, joyfully.

Then, I also remembered that we're in this together. When I am weak he is strong. While this may be kinda, sorta, my GIVE project WE. ARE. IN. THIS. TOGETHER. When I give he is also giving.

So, when Ashley and I went to Walmart to get stuff, mostly for Samuel, I held on to our little secret.

She filled her cart with a month's worth of baby food, baby clothes, wipes, formula, etc...all the while believing she was buying it.

At the checkout I told her I was buying.

Here's the thing. I love giving to others. God has shown up big time. He opens my eyes to this place of giving, or this ministry's needs, or that ministry and I've responded, I hope, faithfully.

But, I realized this: Giving closer to home is just as fulfilling. It is just as much a God-sized gift as all the other gifts I (we) have given.



what I've been reading | july


Today, I am sharing all the glorious books I have been reading lately and I am linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy Quick Lit where you can find, even more, great reading possibilities. I adore this time of the month where I visually compile everything I've read here on the blog and permanently document what I've been reading with a scrapbooking page for my annual albums. I get to combine two great loves: scrapbooking and reading.

And, here it is the middle of July and I have already read over half of my goal and checking off more on my 2017 Reading Challenge. I am a bit slim on reading as I have had a house full of family for the past couple of weeks so reading has been low on the priority list.

41b4qt4fZgLLove Lives Here by Maria Goff. I have mixed feelings about Love Lives Here. Parts I adored and parts were just hoo hum, bland, and uninspiring. The first chapters were breathtaking and then many of the stories following fell flat, interspersed with a few bold, poignant statements or paragraphs. There was enough here and there to make me hold on but I'm not sure what my take away of this book, is. 48/100

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. After I moved past the unusual 51+mO5tlK6Lbeginning - the letter writing - or what I thought was just in the beginning - and realized the entire book was letters, I became engrossed in the conversation between so many different and delightful characters I couldn't put this book down. The idea is brilliant and I loved this story told through only letter writing. 49/100

41lREceTIXLStill Life by Louise Penny. The debut novel in the Inspector Armand Gamache series and, I hope, another beloved series. I wasn't even half way through the book and I was already thinking I would definitely be reading the next in the series. 50/100

Unshaken, a Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers. This beautiful novella is the story of 41h69jzmtdLRuth, the Moabitess, who by God's grace is in the lineage of Jesus, the Christ. Rivers, remaining true to scripture, yet with plausible liberties, offered a storied life of how Ruth became one of the most beloved women of the Bible and a great, great, great....grandmother of Jesus. 51/100



Naked In Death by J.D. Robb. While it's true I have already read Naked in Death, it is, however, a check in a box on my 2017 Reading Challenge list, read a book you have already read.

Hell's Corner by David Baldacci. A bit out of order, as I usually like to begin a series of books from - well - the 51yq3E1DZ1L beginning. But when I picked it up from the bookshelf they have at my work I didn't realize it was the fifth in a series. I enjoy well-written counterintelligence suspense novels and this one does not disappoint. While I certainly believe reading a series in order is best I haven't been concerned by anything I might have missed as Hell's Corner reads much like a stand-alone book. 52/100


All the other books I've read this year can be found here: January  |  February  |  March  |  April  |  May  |  June

Whole 30 | the beginning of the journey

I am unashamed to admit I need help. I love food. But, my body betrays me, almost daily, that food - or at the very least the food I eat - doesn't like me. I am at a weight I said, after having John and Jarrod 20 years ago, I would never get to again. Yet, here I am. It is a painful, heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching admission.

I like me. I buy new clothes and like buying new clothes. But, the mirror is evil-personified.

Then there is moving. Or, not being able to move. Sometimes, just walk let alone run. I set under-inspiring bucket list goals because I can't move or my size limits my choices.

I could say I'm not making changes, as of today, because I want to be beautiful in my husband's eyes. But that would be a lie. I am making changes because I want to be beautiful in my husband's eyes.

That is not the only reason.

That is not the most important reason.

Yesterday, I began Whole 30, a journey, I hope, to living free of pain. Of weight. Of an unhealthy relationship with food.

Maybe, I'll receive the added bonus of hearing my husband say, "You're beautiful!" But, for clarification, he already has my back and loves me deeply and generously.


So, why Whole 30?

For the next 30 days I am on a cleansing journey. Cleansing my body of the unhealthy that causes - well - inflammation. I have rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis, bursitis, my back aches, my hips scream, my knees don't work, and I need relief. After reading the book, It Starts with Food, I felt this was the best avenue I could take especially after reading the author of the book's very own sister had RA and because she changed the way she ate all her RA symptoms disappeared.

Don't get me wrong. This isn't a whim or skim the top of the water decision. Instead, I'm jumping in with both feet. I read the book. I weighed the consequences. I joined a local Whole 30 Facebook group. I have researched and planned and plotted my course. I can't spout all the science behind it but it made sense as I was reading and researching. Change the way you eat. Remove those foods that have been proven to cause inflammation.

So, yesterday, July 10, 2017, I began Whole 30.

Let's Do This!


What does this involve?

I'm eliminating certain foods from my diet. Simply put, I am removing all sugar. The only, and I mean ONLY sugar allowed is in fruit. Period. Therefore, I am reading labels, especially packaged meat such as bacon because most bacon HAS sugar. Can you believe it!

I am removing all grains, which of course means breads, pasta, rice, etc...and a host of other things because it is comprised of some form of grain.

Then, there is dairy. Yep! Gone.

No BUTTER allowed! Thankfully, clarified butter is Whole 30 approved (insert smiley face and a happy dance).

No CHEESE allowed! I know, right? It is enough to say, 'Nope, can't do it. Not gonna' happen!'

But, there is good news.

Meat and seafood and vegetables (except corn) and fruit are allowed.


How am I going to do 30 days of this kind of eating? Simple.






And, at the end of each day I didn't cheat I am checking off the day as a success. I'm not seeing the 30 days I'm seeing today. Tomorrow I will only worry about tomorrow's success.

Well, there is the planning I've been doing. And the meal planning. And the whole food buying. And the practicing. And the food prepping. And talking it up with my husband and my family who are in my corner and want me to succeed. And the Facebook group cheering me on with 'You've got this!'

And so, day one - SUCCESS!


52 Weeks of Giving | 23


For this weeks giving I prepared dinner for The Sunshine Girls. This is a ministry through my church whereby a group of ladies visit the strip clubs downtown, interact with the girls dancing in the bars, befriend them, love on them, and share Jesus with them over time. The ministry has volunteers prepare dinner and dessert once a week for them. I made dinner this week of quiche and salad. I was so excited to do this and be apart of this ministry. Until my health improves I will only volunteer once a month with food but, I love cooking, I'm loving giving this year so it fulfills huge need.