Friday Friends #29

Today is Friday, and I love Fridays, because I get to share with you a new “friend” here in this blogging community.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Bel. She travels all over and shares the beautiful scenery, hiking tips and traveling wisdoms with her readers. She will also give you her opinion on a few different hiking apparel and other items that might help you in your travels. She does get paid commission for these, and she tells you that up front, but she’s not pushy or trying to market something. It’s just a simply linked post within the blog.

I’ve really enjoyed reading her posts, and she makes me want drop everything, hop on a plane and go exploring! I hope you will stop by and do some exploring yourself! ūüėä< img src=””&gt;

Friday’s Friends #9



It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for another New Friends post! These are so fun to share with you!

Today, I’d like to share with you someone who has a common love of mine for Gatlinburg, Tn. Cjwagner24 has dedicated his whole blog to all things G’burg. He will tell you about local happenings, opinions about the area, beautiful sceneries you need to see and wonderful places you need to eat. I have really enjoyed discovering his blog, and I believe you will, too.



Love Me Challenge #26

I have a bottle of J’Adore, given to me by my sweet love, and because it is costly, I don’t wear it very often. Yet, every time I do, I feel beautiful. 

I have to say, it makes me feel beautiful not because of the particular smell and not because it costs so much. It makes me feel beautiful, because my husband and I had previously had a conversation about fragrances and how I’d like to know the kind he liked on me. So, that holiday season, he went off to the mall (keep in mind, he does not like to shop!!), wandered around the fragrance counters of a particular store, smelling all the different colognes and perfumes, and he finally came across this one. 

He said it made him think of me. He had it wrapped and gave it to me at Christmas. Call me a sap, but it made me cry.‚̧ This is one of the many reasons I love him…he makes me feel beautiful every day!

Love Me Challenge #9


To share something beautiful, I hesitate to pick just one. There are so many from which to choose…people, places, things, animals, sceneries, and so much more. Yet, as the days grow older within my own heart and mind, I find the most beautiful things in this life are, often, hard to capture in a photograph or write down in letters and words. The most beautiful things I have found to be true are


Words and actions that can’t quite be grasped in a frame or held in a hand but can always be seen by the heart and heard by the soul…



A letter to My Pregnant Self…

If I could go back to when I was pregnant with JGrizz, I would tell myself a few things to be remembered…

Decide, now, you will not sleep for the first three months, and then, when you get that first 30 minute nap, it will be absolutely glorious!

Everything you need to know won’t always be found in a book, given by your doctor, or even spoken by your mother. Sometimes, you’ll just have to follow your instincts.

There will be a time, your instincts will be proven wrong. This doesn’t mean you’re a failure, and this doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. It means you’re human. It means you’re normal.

The house can’t always be kept clean. Toys seem to come alive in the night and find their way back to the living room before you awake. Learn to organize on a very small scale…very small…like one toy in one basket…at any given time.

One boy can have the volume of a surround sound system on level 55. Two boys can create a front row rock concert experience at 7:00 am. and, again, at 11:30pm.

When your three year old little boy refuses to come down from the Chic-Fil-A slide, it really does not mean you’re a terrible mom…Really.

That day when you have to literally step over your two and a half year old who is pitching a fit on sidewalk, in the front of the church, it does not mean you have failed at parenting. It means you are being brave and strong.

Enjoy those little scribbles and backward letters and upside down numbers … even when you find them on the bedroom wall. For one day, your child will be getting ready to apply for colleges far away from home.

Cherish those moments your two year old rides his Little Tykes motorized Harley in the backyard, for one day, way too soon, he will be talking about his soon coming birthday when he can get his license or driver’s permit.

There will be days when you just drink that cup of coffee and simply survive…and have one more cup of coffee to just make it till your early bedtime.

Find an outlet for your stress. Make time for you…even if¬†it takes scheduling¬†that night out on the calendar, and daddy has to keep the baby. He can do it. He loves that baby, too.

Make time for you and daddy, too. Dating your man IS important. If you and he don’t love each other, your child may not get to see what a great marriage is all about.

Most of all, make time for God, and this doesn’t have to be hours on end spent in the Upper Room. There will be seasons, especially when those¬†babies are little, when devotions will come in snatches of time…it might be a Scripture today that brings peace to your weary mind, a Bible story tomorrow read from a children’s book that brings strength to your heart, and your favorite pastor’s sermon on Sunday morning which brings conviction and healing to your wounded soul.

God’s not about the rules, regulations and perfection. He wants a relationship. He wants to hear your thoughts. He wants to consume your heart. He loves you, and He wants to help you be the best mom you can be. He wants you to know He loves you and that YOU ARE ENOUGH!

Let me say it again, YOU ARE ENOUGH. This being a mom bit is CRAZY hard, but it is so very worth it!! … Be real. Be you. Find God in the chaos and hang on…Hang onto Him with all you’ve got, and you’ll make it.

“You just be you, and God will take care of the rest.” – Bones, Moms’ Night Out

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” ¬†Psalm 139:14

Made For A Purpose

A repost from August 17, 2014…

Seashells are quite sought after in towns along the coast. People come from all over the world, and so many of them must make a stop by a little tiki hut or surf shop to pick up a bag full of shells before heading home. Some will even scour the seashore for hours to find the perfect white sand dollar or one of those beautiful, large, spiral conch shells.
We were recently in a little beach town, and it was not much different from the beach town I grew up near as a kid. You could find a beach store on almost every corner, and inevitably, someone was there looking for shells. So many love seashells, and they just long to take at least one or two back home.

I think this is because seashells are both beautiful and useful. Some are the most beautiful in color or shape, while others are almost perfect, or partially broken, or all together crushed and, for all in tense and purposes, these are in what appears to be a completely¬†ruined state. However, every seashell was made for a purpose, and each can continue to be useful¬†even after it is removed from the shoreline. Those gorgeous, colorful and perfect seashells are,¬†often, used for decorating a new beach condo or taken home as a treasured memory and souvenir¬†of days gone by. Those partially broken ones, many times, are picked up by a¬†small child who cherishes it as a precious gift for their “sand collection.” Yet, those crushed up and “ruined” ones…what about those? What purpose could those actually have for someone¬†in this life? Have you ever walked into a dockside restaurant, or even¬†into an inland restaurant, claiming to have the “best coastal menu around,” and glanced at the floor? Often, you will see a beautiful mixture of crushed shells and cement. Designers will choose this type flooring to bring “just the right touch” to the business’ appeal. Even though, many would have just discarded these broken pieces as trash,¬†they¬†have been taken and made into a very functional, and rather beautiful, asset by a¬†master designer.

While in that little coastal town the other day, we walked into a restaurant, and I looked down at the floor and noticed the broken shells mixed in the concrete. At just¬†that same time, my 8 year old said, “Look! That’s seashells, isn’t it, Mom? Now, that’s cool!” Even he noticed the beauty in the practical. This made me think about our Heavenly Father and how He creates¬†each of us in different ways and¬†uses us¬†for different purposes. He constructs some¬†to be very loud and outspoken, while others of us, He designs to be of a more quiet and calm nature. He develops some to feel very comfortable in more solitude type settings, while others, He forms within them¬†a more social, crowd-friendly appetite. He molds some to strive and achieve those “high and, seemingly, lofty positions,” and then others, He intricately shapes to be at peace in the “seemingly more simple and humble” places of life.¬†We are all¬†made differently; yet,¬†we are all created for a purpose…His purpose. Just as the tiny creature living within the conch shell cannot determine for what goal¬†that shell will be used after it is removed from the ocean, we cannot predetermine our destiny nor our purpose. We cannot predict, nor can we limit, the future. We just simply cannot know. However, we can definitely make decisions which will propel us to, or¬†hinder us from,¬†such goals,¬†dreams, and even destinies.¬†If we will but submit to His ways and surrender to His will, He will take care of the “big stuff.” If we can ever let loose of the stranglehold we often¬†have on the thoughts and plans we make for this¬†life, and if we can just get to the place of “freely letting go,” we will be astonished at what He can accomplish through us!

You see, if that conch shell “creature” saw only the cracked and broken shell¬†from which it had just crawled, and it believed¬†THAT was it’s destiny, it would surely become desperate, hopeless and in despair!¬†That tiny, “almost perfect” clam shell might grow despondent if it believed it’s imperfections were the end of the road. What these creatures would have failed to observe is the precious little feet walking that way and the tiny little hands that planned to delicately hold that¬†miniscule shell all the way back home in order¬†to¬†just nestle it in their perfect little collection spot.¬†When you’re only¬†at the level of the shoreline, and all you can see is the wave rolling over your head, it’s impossible to see the great big ocean beyond or the miles of beautiful seashore a mere¬†two feet away.

Just remember,¬†where you are right now is¬†only PART of the process! LIFE is a process, and¬†every “shell” is¬†different! So, find your¬†purpose for being here in this “ocean” called earth, and then, relish in every single moment you have before you! Enjoy the seashells in ALL different shapes, colors and sizes;¬†find the one that is perfect for you¬†right here, right now, and remember, most of all, even the most busted up and broken shell can become a beautiful masterpiece in the hands of the Master of¬†creative design.


Wednesday’s Ode #17

I absolutely love Highlands, NC! At over 4,000 feet in elevation, it is the second highest town on the East Coast, and it is simply a wonderful little town. If you’ve ever visited Gatlinburg, Tn, we always say Highlands is everything Gatlinburg should be…without all the Tshirt shops and commercializations. It is simply beautiful, and if you’ve never been, I encourage you to make a trip! It is a definite favorite for me and my husband, as we spent our first and second honeymoons here, and due to the cooler temperature year-round, we come here at least 4-6 times a year, if not a good many more. 

It’s not a big city. It’s a quaint little mountain town with a little bit of “high society” living. They’ve got wonderful accommodations, restaurants and shops. One of my favorites is The Old Edwards Inn; the character of this place is incredible. They have a library, in which, you can actually find a book to sit and enjoy, high vaulted ceilings and even a hidden butler pantry where the staff may come to serve the guests. Their restaurant, Madison’s, has some of the best shrimp and grits I’ve ever put in my mouth…and being a Southern girl, that’s quite a bit! They have inside seating, a wine garden with outside seating, and even a rooftop terrace where you can choose to have your meal.   Now just imagine: a lovely rooftop terrace, with beautiful shutters, table settings and cushioned seating, overlooking the little town, and a gentle summer breeze blowing in the “heat” of summer with ceiling fans gently rolling. The temperature gauge rising no more than about 70-72 degrees, because you’re at such a high elevation! The waiter brings you a pleasant cheese and cracker tray for an appetizer, “just right” sweet Southern tea, mini biscuits and cornbread made fresh daily, and your meal consists of fish and chips and the best shrimp and grits you’ve ever tasted. They even serve the shrimp and grits in a mini iron crock; so, they stay warm throughout the duration of the meal. It is a fine Southern meal to remember! ūüėČ

   Doesn’t that look just awesome?! …It tastes even better!!

For dessert, you’ll want to walk down the street to Kilwin’s, where you can choose homemade fudge and chocolates, or you can choose from a mass variety of Mayfield ice cream. The pralines and chocolate dipped Nutter Butters, PB cups and Oreos are some of my family’s faves; however, my personal favorite is the turtle caramel apple! They take a Granny Smith Apple, dip it in caramel, roll it in pecans and, then, drizzle it with chocolate, and they will slice it right there for you; so, you don’t have to try to bite into that monstrosity! It is divine!!  If you’d like a wonderful cup of coffee with your dessert, you can also find it there; however, I prefer a cup of Buck’s Coffee, preferably a cup of white chocolate mocha, just across the street. Outside Kilwin’s is a brick patio with lots of umbrella tables and chairs where you can enjoy your coffee and yummy desserts, and on Friday and Saturday evenings, often times, they will have a live bluegrass, country (or other Southern genre) band playing. It’s simply a delightful ending for a great day. 

These things have just got to be in heaven! 

Now, if you’d like to work off some of those delicious calories you’ve added to your waistline during your stay, they have a ton of shops for you to find any number of items, and they have a numerous amount of hikes for you to explore. You can stop by the Highland Hiker and pick up a local booklet of all the Day Hikes Of Highlands, and explore till your heart is content. You can check the local weather and head out for a delightful, cool climat-ed, adventure. 

We, personally, love Dry Falls, Glenn Falls, Sunset Rock and Whiteside Mountain. Dry Falls had recently had a remodeling of the parking lot and walkway, and it’s an incredibly easy walk to a beautiful waterfall which you can walk behind. When it has had a lot of recent waterfall, the roar can be so loud that you can barely hear each other talk while standing behind it. Glenn Falls is a little bit longer of a hiker but definitely an easy one. Many people who go to this one say they’ve always ended up at the bottom of the falls, but haven’t ever been to the top. Upon starting out, there is a sign to the falls on the left, and to another location on the right. Choose the left; then, a little bit further down the trail, there is a fork in the road where you must choose the right side path in order to get to the top of the falls. The left path takes you to the bottom. We always choose the top of the falls, because we like to put out feet in the water, but please, please be careful here! There are no boundaries once you cross over the overlook area. You can get as close to the edge as you’d like, and if you have adventurous boys like mine, your mother’s heart can very easily suffer about three heart attacks during your enjoyment of the view and the cool waters!! 

 …WAY too close, JGrizz!!

If you are visiting the area with your significant other, Sunset Rock is a must! You drive to it, and walk just a tiny path that opens up to an incredible sheer-faced rock that overlooks the town of Highlands. The view from here at sunset definitely earns its name! If you’d prefer to just drive to the many water falls, you can pick up a map, head out and literally drive under Bridal Falls and drive around to see many others. Just beware of the very curvy, and often, very narrow highway you must travel to see these. You might want to have a designated driver who doesn’t want to sightsee and drive! Haha. 

If you’d prefer a bit longer hike, Whiteside  Mountain is a great choice. We hiked here during our honeymoon week and saw our first Peregrine Falcon face to face. The little snapshot camera I had (these were the days before iPhones and digitals!) didn’t really do it justice, but he was about 3-4 feet from us and just seemed to sit there and simile for the camera. The hike is pleasant, and the views are simply breathtaking! 

If you are on the East Coast and have never been to Highlands, it is well worth the trip!! It is a beautiful town that is surrounded with breathtaking sights, and the weather, especially in the summertime, is a very welcome delight! If shopping, hiking and sightseeing is your kind of thing, this is definitely a must-see!

Wednesday’s Ode #6

Today, I would like to give my tribute to America. Yes, the land of the free and the home of the brave. I love my home, America.

There are many in this world who would scoff at those words, many who would sneer at my homeland, believing they would be better off without it. Yet, for those who long for freedom, those held under tight regimental control, where do their hearts long to go? Where do their dreams take them when they think of freedom? Yes, it is AMERICA! This land was chosen to be a place where “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”* This is the land of the free and the brave. This country was founded on freedom, on liberty and on the pursuit of happiness. For those who live in this land and¬†get angry at these words, I truly wonder why they still live here! Why stay in a country that you so clearly hate? However, I digress. This post today is not meant to be a rant. It is meant to be a tribute; so, let me pay honor where honor is due! ūüėČ

I LOVE this land of freedom! I can worship freely. I can go where I please. I can do as I please (within the laws of reason). I can choose to pursue whatever course in life I’d like. I can be whomever I choose to be. If I want to be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a construction worker, a CEO, a fireman, a retail salesperson, or even a fast food worker, I can be any of these. If¬†I want to pursue a life long dream of singing or a momentary whim of sailing across the ocean, I can do it. The only things that will stop me is my own limitations of dreaming and my own will power to pursue those dreams.¬†This is the beauty of freedom.

Yes, I know we’ve got our problems. I’m not blind. I know there’s people who don’t appreciate this land nor the people who work hard to make it what it is, but that’s not my point today. Sometimes, you’ve got to step out of the darkness to truly see the light again.¬†Often, we must re-shift our focus when there’s so much turmoil and remember the reason we got in this to begin with. This country was founded for freedom. This country was founded on hard work and pride in a nation of diversity and respect for the pursuit of a dream. These are the things upon which this country was built. Let’s get back to the main thing! Sometimes, I wonder if we’ve forgotten the goodness and wonder in the dream of a better future, because we’ve gotten so entangled in the futuristic dream someone else said we should have… (another thought for another day!)

I LOVE this land of beauty! There is an “old” song, sung by Lee Greenwood, that perfectly sums up my love for the beautiful land called America. He says, “From the lakes of Minnesota,¬†To the hills of Tennessee,¬†Across the plains of Texas,¬†From sea to shining¬† sea, From Detroit down to Houston,¬†And New York to L.A.,¬†Where’s pride in every American heart,¬†And it’s time we stand and say, God Bless the USA!” The beauty of this land is as diverse as the people who live here. If you long for snow, just travel north long enough, and you’ll find it. If the beach is more your style, just travel South, you’ll find it. Maybe green rolling “hills” (this term is relative to what you call a hill or a mountain) and Shenandoah Valleys are more your speed, or maybe you prefer peaks as high as the clouds, and tree as big as a house or maybe it’s beautiful plains that stretch for as far as the eye can see. Well, we’ve got it all, just find a map and start your travels! America is where it’s at! No matter, if you’re looking for the city and the night life or the ranch and the country life. It’s all here in this great big land of opportunity!

So, today, I call myself BLESSED to be an American, and I consider myself blessed to be living here in this wonderful land of the free! These are just a few reasons I love this wonderful place! There’s¬†nowhere else¬†I’d rather be. Who’s with me?? ūüôā

*Declaration of Independence (found here)



Beautiful Praise


There is a young lady who attends every choir practice we have. She doesn’t sing in the choir, and she doesn’t play an instrument. She just sits on the pew throughout the entire rehearsal; yet, she gives beautiful praise.¬†Rebecca is always smiling, or if she’s not smiling, her countenance is always pleasant, and when the worship music begins, you can¬†glance her way and know that her face will be turned heavenward, and her hands will be reaching to the sky. She may not be focused on the particular¬†notes of the song; she may not be able to perform with the singers on stage, and she may not even mouth the words which are projected on the screen. However,¬†by the look on her face, you can rest assured¬†she is offering praise to her King. You see,¬†Rebecca is a 28 year old who¬†has special needs. She serves as a greeter,¬†and she has the most beautiful countenance of just about anyone I know!

She is very dedicated to her responsibilities, even to the point of asking her mom first thing on Monday morning, “Mom, where is my name tag for church? I have to have it for Sunday.” She anxiously awaits Sunday service¬†all throughout the week and just cannot wait to arrive to worship her God. To me, that is beautiful praise! Often,¬†as I stand in the choir loft gazing over the pews, and I see her lifting her offering of adoration, it simply takes my breath away. She challenges my thoughts. She confronts my apathy. She provokes my faith.

Could you imagine if we, those of us who call ourselves¬†Christians, were so anxious to get to church that we starting thinking about and planning it out on Monday morning? Could you imagine if we waited, with bated breath, to return to the House of God in order to lift our hands and sing adoration to our Lord? Could you imagine if all we wanted to do in the week¬†was give a beautiful offering of praise to Him? Could you just imagine?? I mean, what if our churches were¬†consumed with more praise and less passivity? What if our pews were filled with more upraised hands and less downturned mouths? What if?? …It might just cause a revolution!

Forgive me, please, if I sound a little confrontational. She has simply sparked a flame within my soul, a desire to be more than who I am today. She has invoked inside of me a longing to be unchained, uninhibited, maybe even a little undignified. In this modern age, when the culture screams at Christians to keep quiet, to back away, to remove themselves from any type of position of boldness on the subject, she has dared my faith to stand a little taller. She has inspired my heart to shout much louder than it ever has before.

Rebecca¬†may not have all the capabilities¬†which some in this world¬†declare¬†you must¬†have in order to survive among the “culturally elite.” She may not be able to do everything that even she would like to do during her lifetime. She may not appear to be the person you assume she should be; however,¬†I think she is absolutely beautiful, and her praise is simply¬†breathtaking! She challenges me to¬†worship more, to¬†reach more, to¬†be more. I hope and pray that I might be more like her with each new day, and¬†one day soon, when I see Jesus face to face, I can hear Him say what I believe He would say to her: “You¬†gave such¬†beautiful praise. It was simply breathtaking. Well done, and thank you.”