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Monday, November 30, 2009

My First Giveaway!

It's better to give than to receive and I'm in the giving mood. I just returned from the best Holiday in MI and a short stint in Chicago. It's so wonderful seeing family. Anytime of the year is great to get together, but it's always a little more sentimental around the Holidays. Anywhoo, I was able to go by one of my favorite bookstores (bakers book house)actually, I made several visits during the week, and picked up a little something for my readers. I found a copy of my devotional that I told you guys about in my entry about Emilie Barnes, so I decided that it would be a great idea for my first giveaway. I'm SO excited! This book really does rock. I thought it was so uplifting, and as you can see from my picture above, the cover is definitely worn around the edges from lots of love. The book has been revised and updated several times because of it's popularity, but I was able to find a brand new one with the same cover as my original. If you want to win, simply become a follower at the bottom of the page and leave me a comment telling me what you like about the blog,which story is your favorite and why, and what's your favorite book to read. The winner will be announced next Monday, December 7th. Right in time for the holidays! Since everyone is always so busy this time of year, it may be a good idea to wait until the New year to get started on it, since it is a daily devotional. What a Great way to start a New Year! Just a thought, but a lovely one....

*Great Idea
If you want a sneak peek of the book and to read some great reviews on it, just click on the link below

Monday, November 16, 2009

An Early Thanksgiving


It's that time again dear reader, time for the Holidays. Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and the shadow of Christmas is at our doorsteps. It's been recognized as the most wonderful time of year. My favorite Holiday is actually Easter, but Thanksgiving and Christmas is undeniably a magical time. Today I was thinking about the movie "It's a Wonderful life". When I was a child, you couldn't escape this movie. It was on almost every channel. This is the timeless story of George Bailey, who becomes depressed and discouraged while evalutating his life circumstances on Christmas Eve. An Angel helps him to realize that he has positively impacted the lives of many of those in his family and community in ways that he never imagined.  I love this story. It's as relevant today as it was in the 1940's. A good story is  a good story. This one had me thinking of all of the wonderful people in my life that I am truly thankful for. One of them is my great friend, my God sister Makda. We met in High school and have been friends ever since. She's two years older than me, and has always been a great big sister to me( I come from a  family of all brothers). Well, it was Makda that recommended the college that I  attended. I had never been out of Chicago in my life, and had never even heard of Big Rapids, Michigan. Thanks to Makda's referral to the school, I met my college sweetheart, who later  in life became my husband. In many ways, she gave the gift of love, sisterhood, and friendship. I think it's nice to ponder where our lives would be without certain meetings, friendships, and relationships. Of course the most important relationship I have is with God. I'm very thankful for the people who he choose to place in my life, and I have that relationship because of two loving, Christian parents. Who do you have in your life that you are thankful for? It's always good to be thankful........it's even better to let the person know it. Just a thought, but a lovely one.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

School's in



I just left Sunday service and I feel so WONDERFUL! I  made it to Sunday school, and stayed after service for an informational for a Women's group. I'm happy that Micah loves Sunday school as much as I do. I loved Sunday school as a kid. My mom was one of the Sunday school teachers for the Youth Department. I had three great teachers and when I got older, I  taught the younger kids a few times. It's good for your kids because it teaches them God's word in a way that's fun and on their level. There were really great discussions and debates that we had in Sunday school that we weren't able to talk about at  the regular service. We shared everything from what test we were stressed out about, to the kid we didn't like and why. These talks became great opportunities for the teachers to see what was on our minds and then to create lessons that could pinpoint how our faith works for us in those situations.What  kids need most is for someone to answer their questions and to make God relevant to the things that are important to them. I heard on one of my favorite radio stations (104.7 The Fish) this week, and they mentioned that children  are under an extraordinary amount of stress. They had an expert on that explained  that  today's average 8 year old is equivalent to a 13 year old! I don't know about you dear reader, but that's shocking and disturbing! For that reason alone I could wage a case on the importance of Sunday school, but I won't. Instead I'll tell you this from my son Micah: God will never leave us or forsake because his love endures forever. This partial scripture and inspirational thought was accompanied with a lovely picture of our family and a really good looking turkey that he drew in class today. For some kids, what they learn now can carry them a life time. It's true for me, I love Sunday school and learning more about the God who loves me and just how much he does. You're never too old to learn that, and guess what? You're never too young either........Just a thought, but a Lovely one.

Friday, November 13, 2009

New Pics!

I just added new pictures to go along with our Family day story from last Saturday. Yes Dear Reader, I have  developed my film! LOL! Well, You can check out those to see what a great day we really had. Meanwhile, I'll try to use the rest of the roll  so you can see more of our day(there's some great Train station shots that we took) I think I'll go back to the Monastery this weekend, since the weather is GORGEOUS. I really don't mean to brag, but coming from Chicago winds and Michigan's neverending parade of snow, to land in Georgia, where it's 70 degrees in (gasp) November!  Only Thanksgiving and already I'm tempted to breakout into Handles Messiah "Hallejuah" chorus!Maybe it's just me, but that miracle alone is enough to be thankful for. Anywhoo, The wonderful new pics are under the  title "Exploration Day" towards the bottom of the page. Enjoy, until the next lovely thought.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Little Angel



Today is a Very special day in the life of my little boy Zion. He turns three today! We have a full day of trains, Veggie tales, and cupcakes planned. Happy Birthday Zion the Lion!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

When Mommy needs a Mother

What does the word Mentor mean to you? Surely, it's a person whom you admire and respect. It has to be a person who has possesion of something that you want. Whether they are a Heavenly decorator or a divine cook, these are the women that inspire you. Mentors, by nature, are alot like mothers.  They are the people that's been placed in your life to help exemplify structure, nurture your dreams, encourage your goals, monitor your growth, and join in celebrating your sucess. Everything that we hope to be for our children. That's when I came to the conclusion that good Moms need good mentoring, or mothering. It's just like the role of Godmother for you children. They have you (of course), Grandmothers and aunts, but it's still nice to have some else there who is commited to loving and caring for your child, by choice.Of course you may have your Mama that's the best cheerleader in the world(I have) or a super supportive Husband(blessed there too) but sometimes you need more. That's when other women step in. The ones who already own their own business and are full of great advice, or who helped with the renovations of their last two homes and can pitch in with yours, who's blog sparks your creativity, who has raised respectable children without raising her voice, and who can help you make a cake that simply demands to be photographed and eaten. These women, our little angels in disguise, are all around us. The elderly woman in our bible study group, the owner of our favorite antiques store, the bubbly lady who works the night shift, maybe even one of our children's teachers. If we keep our minds, and hearts open, you never know where you may spot a pair of wings. I have a wonderful respect for the term Godmother. Women with nurturing spirits sent our way to help us achieve in life, and most importantly to give us what we sometimes need the most, a Mommy Mentor! Just a Thought....but a Lovely one.

*A great Scripture to remember:
Titus 2:3-5
Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live.....to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be Kind....

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The magic of a Tutu


There are some images in life that conjur up the nostalgia of childhood so powerful, that instantly we feel transported. Tutus are magic carpets for the minds of Mothers longing to remember days of innocence and daydreams. What little girl hasn't at one point in her life wanted to be a dancer? Not any dancer mind you, but preferably a Prima Ballerina. Whether it was a school field trip to see the Nutcracker for the first time, or the church play with homemade costumes, dancing is a childhood dream that almost every girl has had at some point. As I sat watching the 2006 Documentary: Ballerina, I was mesmerized. I couldn't help but feel like that third grade snowflake again from my school's production of the Nutcracker. I remembered the nervousness of peeking from behind the cafeteria doors to see my Mother and youngest brother waiting patiently for the show to begin. I remembered the relief that swept over me once I heard the applause of the audience, and saw my Mother smiling while clapping vigorously. To have the ability to take a restless, and perhaps tired crowd, and help tranform them into a joyous bunch of smiling, happy people. To touch hearts through something that I enjoyed doing: Dancing. I Felt SO Special. I even requested a "My first ballerina" Barbie, which I found waiting for me under the Christmas tree later that year. My dreams changed many times after that moment, but everytime I see a dancer or a tutu I think of that wonderful memory.Childhood is one of the most amazing gifts that life has to offer because there's nothing out of reach. Goals are pursued for the mere Joy and Pleasure of it all. I think about my sons, especially Micah, and his interest in transportation vehicles. I've asked him many times throughout the years what he would like to be when he grows up. I've heard everything from a Firefighter to an Ambulance driver, but the most touching response was the one he gave my husband, Aaron a week ago. When Aaron asked him what he wanted to be, he simply said "Dad, I want to rescue people, but I know I'll need my mommy, daddy, and Zion to help me. I'll need my whole family to help me rescue people when I grow up and my wife to help me". Unbelievable! The thing that we miss most sometimes from childhood is honesty.The ability to see the best in others and ourselves. That's why I Love the fact that God encourages us, through his word, to be like little children. I also feel that's why Motherhood is such a special gift from God, because we reap the benefit of our children's innocence and insight daily. I don't know what symbol of childhood will stick out in Micah's mind when he grows up. It may be the sound  and Flashing lights of an ambulance that makes him remember when he wanted to save the world. Perhaps he might even, with a little help from his family and alot of Prayer, become the Hero that he already is in his heart........Just a Thought, but a Lovely one.      

     
For Micah, we've invested alot of time researching different vehicles. We take him to the Library regularly to pick out books and movies that show different community helpers and their jobs. We've thrown all kinds of Birthday parties for him from Firefigher to Thomas the train. In the car, we pause to point out  different kinds of construction trucks and  briefly tell what they do. He has a wonderful memory and can identify almost anything on the road, air, and sea. I believe that just taking an interest in what he loves will pay off later. It doesn't really matter if he becomes something different in life. What matters is that he knows whatever he does, he'll do it with the help of God and his family.
*What dreams do your children have?
How do you show your support, and encourage their dreams?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Exploration day!



Today I decided it was time for another one of our adventure Saturdays. Family day is our special time of the week to try to do something fun together. It usually isn't anything expensive or spectacular, just as long as we enjoy ourselves. When we first moved to Atlanta three years ago, we went on sight-seeing excursions every weekend. We loved taking in the sites of the city. Whether it was pointing to the exciting view of the buildings downtown, or admiring the architecture of historical homes, we loved discovering new places. Although family day hasn't changed from Saturday, our agenda lately has. For the last month or so, we spent this day visiting the library or going to the park. So today I decided "This is the day that the Lord has made, and we will rejoice.......and EXPLORE!" We loaded the car with a few snacks and books to keep the boys entertained. Then we stopped by the store on the way to buy film(yes dear reader, FILM! I told you on the last blog, I'm completely fab...on a budget! and no, I don't have a camera phone either. Lord, please deliver me into the digital age soon, Amen!) Anywhoo, we were on our way. Almost forty minutes later, we arrived in.......Marietta! I picked this destination because we had only been there once, and I was anxious to peek into some of their  Beautiful antique stores. I figured we were bound to find something fun for the boys to do. Since Zion was feeling a little sleepy, he actually WANTED to sit in his stroller. This made it easier to navigate through stores and  do a little sight-seeing. It was Great! The part of town that we visited had picturesque churches, quaint, little diners, and the vintage stores were wonderful. We even found an adorable children's store that offered a wooden train set for the boys to play with. The sound of Army planes caused excitement for Micah since he loves ANYTHING with wings or wheels. He loved seeing the aircrafts flying so close by. After walking the paths, taking a few pictures, and stopping to play for awhile, it was time to go. We stopped to pick up a snack, and settled in for a comfy ride home. It wasn't a trip to the Museum, but I still feel like the boys learned something from being there. Just seeing the historical sights and observing the people. I just want our sons to value family time. They may forget some of the places that we visit, but as long as they remember that we were together, then that's what's important. I don't know where we'll be next Saturday, but I know we'll have fun doing it together. Why not plan your own exploration day? For the price of gas money, lunchables, and a juice box(or two) you could be on your way to a Great family day, and a simple, yet special memory of togetherness.....Just a thought, but a Lovely one.



*Great Quote
"Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience- Francis Bacon
So Here's a few pics


Friday, November 6, 2009

The Dream Collector

I have always loved reading, like most people, but when it comes to magazines, I'm passionate. I became interested in magazines in my teens. Of course then it was a way to know what my favorite stars were doing, and what fashion was in and out. As I matured, so did my reading tastes. The books became bigger, filled with words that I had to look up to pronounce, and the magazines became more sophisticated. Sometimes I subscribed, other times I just stopped into the grocery store for a frozen pizza and left with a glossy layout of beautiful clothes, fabulous shoes, and breath-taking homes. All of life's little luxuries. I don't know what it is about a magazine. Through the years I've donated some, and given many away, but even now my bookshelves are bursting with their colorful titles. We are all aware of the hard economic times that our country is in. Yet, even when times were good and plenty, most people wouldn't pay close to $10.00 dollars for a magazine. I would, I have! lol. Diamonds (only on my wedding ring), caviar (never), Flat screen(only on my computer), but for only $3.99, I'm invited to the most elegant homes, the best Parties, and absolutely amazing closets. I've come to recognize only recently after trying to cut back on my little indulgence, what magazines really mean to me. For some women it's make-up, for others it's bags, or shoes. When asked to part with these, women will defend them from the goodwill or garbage bin like they're protecting a good old friend. I give away these items easily. Whether it's a brand new dress (tags and all) or a beloved coat  filled with memories, I'm happy that someone else will enjoy it, but magazines..........MY magazines! Well, that's another thing. As I stared at the stacks of Fashion, Homes, Cooking, Parenting, Human Interest, a relaxed smile came across my face. While most people read and toss, I read, re-read, and make a special place for it. I asked myself while I was cleaning one day ( I had already gotten rid of at least 50...) and I thought "God, Why is it so hard for me to just throw these away? and then I understood. These magazines weren't only filled with things, they were filled with dreams, MY Dreams. For me, it really wasn't the materialistic value of the items. It was the life behind it. In my magazine, I can cook like Sandra Lee, entertain like a Southern Lady, Decorate like FiFi O'Neil, arrange a tablescape like Phyllis Hoffman, or throw a party like Instyle. These pages inspire me to live my life to the fullest, to make it as beautiful as possible. Beauty, to me, is truly inspirational. I'm fortunate enough to have great people in my life to love and encourage me. I have a wonderful relationship with God that keeps me going and growing. Yet every now and then, dinner is a hassle, the kids are a hand full, and my hair refuses to cooperate. Then it's time for reinforcements, and in those picture-perfect pages, I hear: You can do it  Regina! I can and I will! with God on my side, a hammer in my hand, and House Beautiful magazine on my countertop. I've learned that magazines only help you dream, but YOU have to do the work. What great Ideas do you have that you're waiting to turn into a reality?  Well, don't just collect your dreams, learn to LIVE them.....Just a Thought.

Quote of the Day: The Future belongs to those who believe in the Beauty of their Dreams-Eleanor Roosevelt

*Some of my Favorite Magazines are:
http://www.instyle.com/
http://www.lifebeautifulmagazine.com/

Life: Beautiful
Romantic Homes
Romantic Country
Southern Accents
Southern Lady
Sandra Lee
Tea Time
Veranda
Victoria

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Then and Now.......Happily Ever After


I never expected to find the Love of my life at College. As a matter of fact, I never planned on leaving Chicago at all. It's funny the way God works things out. Well, although Aaron and I made our marriage commitment early, it's been one of the best decisions of our life. So many people tell us that our marriage is inspirational. All I know is that Fairy tales are something that is created on a daily basis. What takes an author months or weeks to write, takes a lifetime to achieve. I remember once asking my Husband (then fiance') about his sunny disposition (Seriously, he's one of happiest people that I know) It seemed to me that he  just had to be born that way. His answer was simple, but I've never forgotten it :"Things happen to me like everyone else, but I choose to be happy. I refuse to let things get my day down". I can't tell you how many times that we've been thrown curveballs in life and the combination of our Faith in God, and Aaron's wonderful sense of humor, and laid-back disposition has helped us to get through it. I don't know what happened to Cinderella after she married Prince Charming, but I got one of the best friends of my Life. Now that our story has grown to include 2 Princes of our own, I guess we've started our Chapter two in life. I can't tell you how surprised I was the other day while waiting at the school bus stop with Micah and he said out of the blue " Mommy, when I grow up I'm going to be friends with Bria and then marry her because that's what you and Daddy did". A first grader already contemplating Matrimony? lol. The touching  part was seeing how a marriage functions through the eyes of a six year old. So simple, yet it makes perfect sense. Most people today are looking for a sure-fire remedy to a successful marriage. Anything that starts with a love of God has the makings of a good ending, for the Bible says in Roman 8:28 All things work together for the good to them that love God... I think Happily ever after starts in the day to day decisions that you make. Today's good thoughts and actions turn into Tomorrow's Great Memories....Just a Thought. I Love you Pooh

*Things we do for our Marriage
We try to never go to bed angry. Try as we may, we can't stay mad at each other! lol,
We always say "I Love You", even if we're just going to the store.
We always apologize quickly, We try not to carry today's mistakes and offenses into tomorrow's happiness.
We always end the day talking, and of course laughing.
Most Importantly, we put God first in everything we do. We may not know the answers, but he always does and it's comforting to know that the success of you marriage doesn't rest solely on your individual shoulders.  People always say that two join together, but I believe three works out alot better, with God right in the center.

Great Books:
Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian
A Wife after God's own heart: 12 Things that really matter in Your Marriage by Elizabeth George
Light for my path: Daily Devotions for Couples 365 Inspirational Readings by HumbleCreek

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Emilie Barnes



My absolute Favorite author of all time would have to be Emilie Barnes. It was  almost 6 1/2 years ago when we were living in MI and expecting our first son Micah. I was overjoyed and overwhelmed at the same time. The thought of  having a baby gave me all of these images of family life, and balancing marriage and motherhood. Everyone knows that new moms read more than Anyone! lol, so I decided that I wanted more structured quiet time with God. I went out to buy my first devotional. I walked into the fragrant store seeing all of it's knick knacks and candles, hearing soft, almost angelic music in the background. My eyes began to glance over the book shelves. The selection was wide and diverse. A year devotional for moms, for grandparents, for kids,for college students, for praying the names of God, and the list goes on. Suddenly I saw it "15 minutes Alone with God: Enjoying Quiet Moments in Busy times. I was hooked. From the pink and lavendar flowers on the cover ( I told you, I can't resist those colors) to the brief, but encouraging description on the back. Even her picture looked warm and friendly. I opened it, and after reading one page knew it was the right one. It was filled with funny, sometimes touching stories, scripture references, and key verses, like any standard devotional, but what got me was the writing. The way Emilie invited you in with prayers, and thoughts of action at the end of each lesson. The way she was able to pinpoint questions and fears, then gave practical, uplifting solutions. It was just what I needed as a young wife and soon to be mother. I cherished each lesson and then recommended the book to the world. Some of my friends not only read it, but bought copies for others. I read that devotional for almost 4 years straight. I still haven't found one that I like as much. Then I discovered her other writings. The famous 15 minute home organizer, If Teacups could talk, and Everything I know I learned in my Garden. A few personal favorites are :Homewarming: Secrets to Making your House a Welcoming place(formerly  called the Spirit of Loveliness),Simple Secrets to a Beautiful Home:Creating a Place you and Your Family Will Love, and of course Quiet Moments for a Busy Mom's Soul. Emilie has written over 60 books, some of them have been in print for more than 20 years! She was voted one of the 100 Christian women who changed the 20th century. All I know is every time  I've made a cup of Chammomile or spiced Chai tea, gathered a few cookies together, and got cozy with one of her books, it's been a lovely evening. Find one of her books and have a lovely moment of your own. Just a thought








*For more Info on Emilie Barnes or her books, visit these websites or click on the link below:
emiliebarnes.com
harvesthousepublishers.com
homemakingorganized.com
cbd.com


Monday, November 2, 2009

Peaceful Sunday

November 1st was one of those rare days that makes you appreciate life and all that comes with it. The day started a little unusual, since my husband had gone paintballing for the first time the day before. Of course he woke up sore and to top things off time had gone back and hour so we were completely thrown off. Each moment seemed to be a sign that we weren't going to make it to church that morning. After everyone had eaten and finally gotten settled, morning service was already well into effect. We looked at each other, sighed, and noticed how beautiful everything looked outside. We're fortunate enough to stay where there are lots of trees, and the leaves had all seemingly overnight changed to the most magnificent shades of red and gold. We watched the wind gently blowing through them and then heard the smashes and crashes of cars being thrown around in the next room. The boys we so loud and hyper in contrast to the outdoors that we immediately decided that an outing was needed. We packed a few snacks and drinks, our family devotional, a stroller and we were off to the park.It wasn't until we were almost halfway there that Aaron mentioned that it would be great to go to the Monastery that day.   We had heard that the Monastery was  open for any vistors. We thought it would be great to experience God's word by just walking through the grounds and admiring his creations. We went for it. As we drove through the magnolia tree-lined pathway, I already felt transported to a serene place. The combination of the gorgeous, muti-colored trees, the abundance of crisp leaves on the ground and the slight breeze mixed with sunshine were breath taking. There was a nearby pond full of families of ducks quacking, a herb and bonsai garden, and a quaint little gift shop that offered specialties handcrafted by the monks like homemade fudge and ceramic angels. The boys were eager to get out and I was eager for quiet. Other than nature carrying on, all we heard was the sound of our own voices and the ringing of the bells. I can't tell you how wonderful they sounded. I decided to post this story and to add pictures later since I definitely plan on going back. All I can say is that as loud as my life can seem sometimes, it was wonderful being out in the open. Just talking and walking with God and feeling his presence so strong with us. I decided to have an outdoor family day with God more often, and next time on purpose. Just a thought.

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