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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Sad Goodbye

This summer I intended to start blogging regularly again.  This summer I intended to do many projects around my house and projects with my kids.  This summer I intended to have some super fun days with my kids doing summer activities and having a blast.  So far, my summer has not went as planned.  We finished our school year May 9 and then the next week I had a vendor event with my Paparazzi business.  The week after that was filled with appointments and camping.  Camping was a lot of fun this year.  Then we got home and I got the phone call from my Aunt that my Grandma was in the hospital.  Grandma was hospitalized for a severe infection from a different infection that the doctors were trying to treat.  After that her health started to deteriorate very quickly.  One infection led to another and then the infections caused strokes.  She had her days where it appeared that her health was improving, but ultimately my Mammaw was called home to be with her LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ.  She is gone from this earth, but I know I will see her again in Heaven where she is completely healed and whole again.  She is with my Pappaw and all her loved ones that have passed before her.  At my Pappaw's funeral I couldn't get up and say the things I wanted to say, but at my Mammaw's I knew I had to speak.  Not only did I feel like she would have wanted me to, but God kept laying it on my heart to speak.  I was able to share the things I love about my Mammaw, the funny memories from my childhood with her, but most importantly I shared the thing that she wanted would have wanted me to share the most.  You see, you didn't know my Mammaw without her telling you about Jesus.  It didn't matter if you met just once or you were lifelong friends, she always made sure that she told you about Jesus and how you could get to Heaven.  So at my Mammaw's funeral I shared about how she taught me to love sweet tea, how she taught me to strongly dislike black licorice (okay maybe that was because I got in trouble about it one time, but it was still because of her), playing turn or burn when we got in trouble, how she lead me to the Lord when I was just a little girl, and how others could accept Jesus too because I couldn't think of a more fitting thing to do in her honor.  While I miss my Mammaw something fierce, I rejoice because I know she is complete, whole, healed, and with Jesus and my Papaw.  I know she is watching over me and my family every day.  My heart hurts when my phone rings and it isn't my Mammaw on the other end, but I know one day I will see her again because she is in Heaven.  Do you know for sure you are going to Heaven?  Do you believe in Jesus Christ and that he died on the cross for our sin, was buried, and rose again 3 days later?  You can have your sins forgiven and have Jesus Christ as your personal Savior if you believe that you are a sinner, Christ died for you and rose again 3 days later, and He is the Son of God who will return to claim His people.  Jesus loves you and wants to make you part of His family today.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Leap

Last year we went to church camp for our family vacation.  We had an absolute blast and our kids have been asking to go back since before we even left the camp.  We are ready to go back too.  I can't even begin to tell you what a blessing the camp was for our family.   We went not knowing what to really expect or what we would get out of the week at camp, but I can tell you the things we learned that week have really stuck with us.  The things we learned that week just keep popping back into our lives almost daily.  The lesson that keeps popping into my mind lately is about a leap, a promise, and obedience.

Buddy Bear is not really our adventurous child.  He is the one we refer to as our "black and white" child because there is not a large (if any) grey area with him.  He is very practical, follows the rules, and really weighs all aspects of a situation before taking action.  Don't get me wrong I am not complaining because these qualities have saved him a lot of skinned knees, bumps, and bruises over the years, but these same qualities have stopped Buddy Bear in his tracks too.  The practical, non-risk taking side of him has stopped him from trying new things because he starts thinking too hard and worries about the "what-ifs" of a situation rather than just being open to trying new things.  A prime example of this is the time we went on a cruise.  There was a water slide aboard the ship that featured a see-through slide that went over the edge of the ship.  It took almost the entire cruise to convince him the water slide was safe, the cruise line wouldn't put it on the ship if it wasn't safe, and he had to try it once.  He finally tried it the day before we got off the ship and he loved it like we knew he would.  As we left the ship he was really upset that he had not spent more time on the water slide.

Anyway at camp there was a zip line.  Kids from our church have told him all about it and how much fun it was.  We started talking about going down the zip line long before we got to camp.  Buddy Bear had decided he wanted to try it.  As we were driving into the camp, we spotted the zip line and someone was going on it.  We watched and asked Buddy Bear if he wanted to go on it.  The response he gave was "NO WAY!"  We calmly talked to him about it and reminded him that we had discussed this before camp.  There were going to be lots of opportunities to try new things and he couldn't dismiss them before we even got unpacked.  We just couldn't let his fears and worries stop him in his tracks.  If we let him live this way, he would never try anything.  So we usually sit down and talk through a situation and encourage him to think about them and then try them just once.  If he really doesn't like the experience he doesn't have to do it again, but most times we find that he ends up truly enjoying the experience and wants to do it again (i.e. - dirt biking).  It took us almost all week to convince him to just try the zip line once.  His worries/fears were that it wouldn't hold him, he would fall, what if he didn't like it.  We discussed each and every one - if it wouldn't hold him they wouldn't let him go on it, if it wasn't safe they wouldn't have even been allowed to have one at the camp, and you can't know if you will like something until you try it.  This still left him unsure.  So I did something drastic.  I made a deal with him.  I told Buddy Bear if you try the zip line at least once, I will zip line at least once too.  Now I have to take a moment to explain that I am much like Buddy Bear.  I am very practical, weigh all the options before making a decision, don't take a lot of risks, and I think about the things like what if it won't hold me.  I blame this character trait on my upbringing where we had to learn to be responsible at an early age.  Anyway the deal was if Buddy Bear would try the zip line, I would too.  So all week long I encouraged him to try it.  I was excited to try something new and I knew deep down that Buddy Bear would really like the zip line.

Finally one of our last days of camp, Buddy Bear decided that he would try the zip line just once.  I am sure he was feeling a little nervous because I was feeling a lot nervous.  The only thing that kept running through my head was I had made a promise to our son.  So he got all the gear on and so did our friends.  There was not enough harnesses for me to get all geared up on the first go of the zip line.  I told him to go ahead and go with his friends.  I would wait for a harness and then go with him.  He got all geared up, made the zip line worker check the harness, made us check the harness and headed up the hill.  I sat at the bottom while J took Buddy Bear and Baby Bear up the hill to get to the top of the zip line (Baby Bear had been wanting to zip line too, but she is the super duper adventurous child and not a lot scares her).  I watched and waited as the kids all started zip lining one by one.  I saw our friends come zipping by, I watched Baby Bear laugh and cheer as she went zipping by, and then it was Buddy Bear's turn.  He got up there, took a deep breath, and jumped off the platform.  I was worried the whole time because the look on his face said he was not having fun.  He got down and ran up to me and said, "Mom, it's awesome!"  I was shocked, I honestly thought he just wouldn't like it but he did and I was so glad I had encouraged him to step out and try the zip line.  Soon enough a harness was available and I got all geared up and headed up the hill.  I got to the top and it was very quickly my turn, I looked off the platform and I had to let some kids go in front of me.  I was struggling.  I truly thought I could not jump off of that platform.  Buddy Bear was sitting there watching me.  I was lost in a battle with my head and my heart.  I knew I had promised my son that I would zip line if he did, but my fears were very quickly winning and stopping me in my tracks.  It got down to just Buddy Bear and me on the platform.   I had to send him first because I was still having an internal debate...just jump/I can't jump.  I fought with myself and I started to convince myself that Buddy Bear would be disappointed that I didn't keep my promise, but I could make it up somehow.  I stood at the top of that hill and inside yelled at myself for thinking this way.  I had just started to walk to the hill to walk back down when I heard God tell me, "You promised."  What a time to hear God!  I thought, "Really?  Now, God?  I can't do this.  I can't jump!"  God just quietly told me, "You promised.  You said you want to live what you say and you promised your son you would jump if he did.  You need to jump.  I promise it will be okay.  Trust ME!"  With that conviction, I walked up to the platform got connected to the line and jumped.  I can't say it was a good jump or a far jump, but it did take my body off the platform and the only way down was the zip line.  I can tell you I did NOT like the zip line.  It was truly a leap of faith for me to jump off that platform.  The ride on the zip line was okay but I don't like heights and it was way too hard to take that first leap.

So I have been thinking about that leap off the platform and how hard it was a lot lately.  God keeps reminding me that I was obedient by taking that leap even though I did not like the ride overall.  Then I keep getting the thought about what other areas of my life am I refusing to take the leap for.  What areas am I missing out on because I refuse to leap?  I am standing on the platform and having a battle instead of trusting God and leaping.  I need to be more willing to leap and trust that God will take care of it all because He will.  His word tells us that He watches over us, protects us, and provides for us.  I just need to rest in that and know that when I leap, God will catch me.  He will not let me fall and He will take care of me.  I am the only one holding me back on the platform and I know that wonderful things await me when I leap, it is truly just getting over the fear of leaping.  I guess that is why as a Christian, I always have more growing to do.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year, New Resolutions

I admit that at some point during 2013 our life just got beyond crazy busy with all the activities we were involved in and this blog got totally left behind.  I also admit that it has been on my mind nagging me that I have not been blogging.  I don't know if anyone reads this little ol' blog anymore, but I do know I like to put some thoughts, tips, ideas, and just plain goofiness out there just in case anyone is reading.  Seeing that the New Year is here I decided that now would be a great time to pick my blog back up, dust it off, and start blogging again.  Also because it is New Year I have been thinking about the things I want to change and with change comes resolutions.  I truly am resolved to make some changes this year and I am hoping that by blogging about it, I will be more accountable.  So here are my resolutions that I hope to stick to in no particular order (notice I said I hope to stick to because I am human and sometimes I fail)...

1.  Blog more often
2.  Lose weight
3.  Get organized
4.  Start using the ideas I pin on Pinterest (I might have a minor addiction to Pinterest and you can follow it by clicking the link in the side bar of my blog).
5.  Become a Director in my Paparazzi business (you can find out more by clicking the link or checking out my business Facebook fan page - Sparkle and Shine Boutique)
6.  Use the FlyLady system
7.  Study the Bible more
8.  Finish the projects I start
9.  Craft more
10.  Bake more

Did you make resolutions this year?  What are they?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cakes

One of the things I love to do in my spare time is bake.  I love to bake cookies, muffins, bread, cupcakes, and cakes.  If it is dessert, there is a good chance I like to make it or at least have a recipe for it to make at some point in the future.  Baking isn't my only talent, I also love to do cake decorating.  I haven't spent as much time on it as I have wanted to and I have never taken any classes.  Everything I have ever learned about decorating has come from someone teaching me or through the web and trial and error.  I am not a professional by any means, but I do love a decorated cake and if I get to be the one to decorate it, that makes it even better.  The funny thing about cake decorating is that I only usually do it for family members.  I have only made a few cakes that weren't for family members, but the people I made them for are like family so I still claim I only make cakes for family. Someday I will get the courage to start making cakes for others, but until then you can enjoy the pictures of some of the cakes I have made this year.

This was for a friend whose nickname is Ice. 


This one was for my nephew who is a Kentucky fan. 


This was for a friend who is a Lions fan. 

This was part of Baby Bear's Monkey Jungle cake.  The monkey's were banana-filled chocolates. 

This was Buddy Bear's Dirt Bike cake this year.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

My New Job and a Tool Chest Makeover

I love pretty things.  Things that sparkle and shine and are filled with bling.  I love jewelry!  Jewelry has always caught my eye, I mean really doesn't it catch every girl's eye?  I haven't always worn a lot of jewelry because it is not always practical when you have little ones unless you like having your earrings tugged on or being choked with a necklace (at least that is what always seemed to happen to me with my little ones).  While my kids were very young I wore stud earrings and my wedding band and the occasional necklace, but now that they are older I was ready to add a little "bling" to my wardrobe.  My hubby picked out some beautiful necklace sets for me for Christmas last year, but just two necklace sets quickly added up to a large part of the Christmas gift budget we set for each other (we don't spend a lot of money on each other for Christmas, but prefer to hit the after Christmas sales and treat each other in an effort to be able to get more for our money and have more money to spend for the kids' gifts).  So fast forward to a few months after Christmas when a friend invited me to an online jewelry party.  I decided I would take a look at what she had to offer and I ended up falling in love with a few pieces of jewelry.  So I asked her how much it was.  Imagine my intrigue and delight when she told me each piece was just $5.  I couldn't believe it!  I ordered a couple of pieces of jewelry from her and then waited patiently for the mail to arrive.  I got my jewelry from her and loved it.  Every where I wore it people wanted to know where I got it and how they could get it.  I started looking into what the company offered and it wasn't long before I signed up to become a Paparazzi Consultant.  I chose to become a Paparazzi Consultant because they believe that everyone should be able to afford to look fashionable and they keep their jewelry prices at just $5.  Also I make 45% commission on all my sales and Paparazzi provides you with a ton of training, support, and wants you to succeed and move up in the company.  I LOVE being a Paparazzi Consultant!!!  It is a lot of fun selling jewelry and helping others look beautiful too.  If you want to know more about starting a Paparazzi business take a look at my website and click on the tab that says "Business Opportunities".  If you want to take a look at the jewelry I have for sale, you can check out my Facebook Fan Page, Sparkle and Shine Boutique.

All that leads me to this tool chest:


Quite a few years ago my hubby was given this tool chest on wheels.  He didn't know what he was going to do with it because he already had a tool chest that was bigger and fits all his tools.  So he asked me if there was something I could use it for.  At the time it was perfect for my scrapbooking tools.  It has multiple drawers and I can take the top off and carry it around as just a tool box filled with whatever scrapping supplies I needed.  I have never been crazy about the bright yellow color of the tool box, but it was functional and that was way more important than the color.


So when I started my Paparazzi business, Sparkle and Shine Boutique, I knew I would need something to tote all of my jewelry and supplies around in, plus the items I would need for home parties.  Then it dawned on me, I have a craft room now so I could move around my scrapbook supplies and convert my tool chest to make it a rolling jewelry chest.  I knew that I didn't want to cart it around the way it was so it was time (a long time overdue) for a makeover for the tool chest.  I decided that I wanted to do something to the tool chest that was permanent, but could be changed in case I decided it didn't work as well for my business as I thought it would (for the record it works perfectly for my business).  I got out my handy chalkboard paint and painted the tool box part of my tool chest, and the top couple of drawers.


Next I picked out a cute, girly scrapbook paper and broke out the ModPodge.  I measured and cut my paper to fit the sides of the toolbox and the front bottom pull-out drawer.  I put a layer of ModPodge on the areas I wanted to attach the paper to and then added the paper and another layer of ModPodge. I let the tool chest dry, got it ready to write on with chalk, and then I wrote the name of my business on the front along with my contact number.  It works great and it is a great way to advertise my business.  I get comments on it all the time.  I loved my tool chest before, but now that it has been made over, I love it even more.


My finished tool chest.





Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Fun

Have you heard of House Party?  House Party is a company that lets you test products from other companies by having a party in your house with your friends and then every one gives their own opinion of the product through surveys.  It is super easy, they send you the products you are to try in a "Party Pack," then you host a party on a particular day, have fun with your friends, take pictures and/or video of your party, upload them to House Party, and then after the party send out the email of the survey.  Easy peasy and it is a great chance to try out products which most of the time you get to keep.  I've hosted House Parties for games, foods, and my very favorite one ever...a Keurig Vue Brewer House Party where they sent me the Keurig Vue Brewer for free and I got to keep it.  I highly recommend joining House Party because it is really a lot of fun.

Last week we hosted a Monopoly Unleashed House Party.  It was a lot of fun to invite all of our friends and their kids over and have a game night.  House Party sent an awesome Party Pack that included a Monopoly game with the new cat token, Monopoly Deal, Candyland, and Connect 4 along with some other party favors.  Everyone thought the new cat token was pretty cute and it really adds to the game because now you can play Cats vs. Dogs.  That makes for an interesting spin on the traditional Monopoly game.  We even had fun as a family a few days later playing Monopoly using the Cats vs. Dogs rules in which the cats rule the game.  The kids really enjoyed playing the updated version of Candyland.  The little girls decided that the updated Candyland board is cuter and the people are easier to hold on to for little hands.  We never got around to the Monopoly Deal card game or the Connect 4, but I am sure they are a blast too.


* I was in no way compensated for this post, all opinions are my own.  I am merely telling my experiences with House Party and our most recent party.  The Party Pack I was provided was a pack that was mailed to all Monopoly Unleashed Hostesses from House Party.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Better Than What We Deserve

This summer we went to Family Church Camp at Camp Cobeac in Prudenville, MI.  We had an absolutely amazing, I mean A-M-A-Z-I-N-G time.  It was a wonderful time of family bonding, preaching, meeting new friends, hanging out with friends from our church, and just re-centering our family.  It was an opportunity to get away from the world for a week and just really enjoy each other in a Christian setting, which is exactly what we were looking for this year for our vacation.  While you are at the camp, you choose which activities you participate in and how busy you want to be.  We had chapel every morning and every evening.  This year's speaker was Brother Hal Hightower and he challenged my husband and I with his preaching every day.  He made us stop and think, re-evaluate what we have been doing, and either make commitments with God to change or renew our commitments with God.  His preaching was excellent and it was exactly what we had been hoping for.  His messages have been running through my mind in the weeks since we have returned from camp and I will be sharing them with you as I feel led to. 

One of the lessons that Brother Hightower taught that just keeps running through my mind constantly is that everything we have is better than what we deserve.  Wow!  Let me repeat it - everything we have is better than we deserve.  We were all born sinners.  That fact alone condemns us to Hell which is exactly what we deserve for being a sinner.  In our lives we have a choice to make.  Are we going to continue to live a life filled with sin or will we choose to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and give up our life of sin?  Please know that I am not saying that once you choose Jesus as your Savior, you will live a perfect life and never sin again.  That is not even possible, but once you choose Jesus as your Savior you should do your best to make better decisions, trying not to sin, and if you happen to sin (which happens to us all) you should repent and ask for forgiveness.  If we choose to continue to live in sin, we choose Hell and that means unending torture, agony, and pain.  If we choose Jesus, we have a future and eternal life.  The Bible says it clearly in John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."  We have gained this everlasting life through Jesus' death on the cross.  He willingly died on the cross for us, for our sins so that we could live.  We deserve to die and burn in Hell for eternity because of our sins, but we have a God that loves us so much, He sent his one and only Son to die on the cross for us.  So everything that we have in life, whether it is good or bad, is still better than what we deserve.  Think about that, everything we have - EVERYTHING - is better than what we deserve.  The point that Brother Hightower really made about this was that it wasn't just the good things in our life that are better than what we deserve (a job, a family, a home, food, etc), it is the things that we perceive as bad things (illness, loss of a job, loss of a loved one, a bad day, etc.) that are better than what we deserve too.  That thought just blew me away because I already believe that everything that happens to us is part of God's plan for us (yes the good and the bad), but I never really thought about the fact that the "bad" things that happen to me are better than what I deserve, but when I thought about it, I knew he was right.  Every single little thing that happens to me, good, bad, indifferent are better than the eternity in Hell I deserve but don't have to suffer through.

Now when my day doesn't go exactly as I have planned, Brother Hightower's words run through my head and I know it is better than what I deserve.  When good things happen to me, Brother Hightower's words run through my head and I know the good thing is better than what I deserve.  The loop of "Everything I have is better than what I deserve" is almost constantly running through my head and I am happy about that because it helps me stay focused on God who loves me so much that He has saved me from an eternity in Hell.  Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior because you believe that He died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose again 3 days later?  Do you believe in Jesus Christ because it is only through your belief in Jesus as the Son of God that you can have a personal relationship with God, the Father?  If not, don't wait another day.  Today is the day you can change your eternity because we either spend an eternity in Hell or Heaven and that is your choice.  You can either be absolutely sure that everything you have is better than what you deserve or you can know that you will spend eternity in Hell for being a sinner who refuses to confess your sin and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.  I pray that you will choose (or you already know) Jesus Christ as your Savior.