I love homeschooling! I also love reading and listening to other homeschoolers stories, struggles and victories. I hope you will enjoy the homeschool stories I will be sharing from Guest Readers, as much as I do! Savor The Season Homeschooling … Continue reading
First of all, it feels good to be back even if its just half way. There is something about feeling lost inside your own body that really stops you dead in your tracks. If you missed my last post of … Continue reading
First I want to apologize for being so MIA for the past 8 or so weeks. I would love to say that I have been so busy ending world hunger, rescuing every abandoned animal, and finding a cure for childhood … Continue reading
It has taken me a while to write this post, and as I sit here and type my fingers feel so heavy.
Most bloggers, social media junkies or movie lovers were posting, tweeting and commenting minutes if not moments after hearing the news of the suicude of Robin Williams.
But I couldn’t.
I remember standing in my bathroom that afternoon as my husband walks up and tells me what had happened. For most of our society, they automatically wanted to share their favorite movie or how Robin made them laugh through the years. But for me, my mind went in a different direction. My thoughts were, “What battles was he fighting inside?”, “How much pain was he feeling but not sharing with the ones he loved?”, “Did he reach out or try to keep up the facade of everything is okay?”.
Robin Williams was a man who made others smile, while he was dying inside. When did his laughter turn to tears for him? Was making others laugh and smile a coping mechanism for his own survival?” These questions will probably never be answered because for the hurting people its not easy to share or explain.
You might wander why my thoughts went to his pain that day?
See, I also struggle with mental illness. I am diagnosed with Bi-Polar (aka manic depression), Anxiety and Panic Disorders, OCD and even though I haven’t officially been diagnosed yet, we are leaning toward Highly Sensitive Disorder (HSD). I knew even as a young child I was different. I was creative, and enjoyed being by myself. I would sit in my room all weekend and read or make up stories. As a teenager, relationships became difficult. I would get upset over the slightest thing and withdraw from friends.
After I was married and had children my symptoms were severe. I would sit in my closet and rock back and forth. When the world said something was okay, I had a meltdown. See in my world little things become big things and they are not okay. Finally after the death of my momma, I had the trigger that would define me for the rest of my life. I was under so much stress and grief, that was all it took to flip my switch inside my head.
Mental Illness is cruel. It is exhausting. The world does not understand and even though we live in a day of modern medicine where so many illnesses are normal, mental illness is still judged and you can never be normal. It’s hard to know that no matter how much treatment you have, and meds you take the illness is never going away.
I’m not sure why we all experience struggles and hardships. I’m not sure why when we try our hardest to be a light in the world of darkness, to serve God’s people, to show love when no one else is, why we still become broken.
In the past month I had made a decision for myself and my health to take a step back from so many obligations. To start saying “No” for a change and focus on me, something that I’m not very good at.
See, I’ve never focused on me. It’s always been about everybody else. Isn’t that what we are taught? To not be selfish, that our life is not our own? But what I realized in the midst of giving my whole self away to everyone and everything that needed me, I lost me.
I lost the person I was, the person who had dreams and visions for who I wanted to be, the person who stood out in the crowds for not being scared to take a risk. But everytime I gave a little more of me away, I became someone I didn’t recognize. I started realizing that people are cruel, heartless and so judgemental. People are selfish. It’s all about how much more can they get.
And how we live in a society of laziness. Forget doing anything for yourself. Just have someone else do it for you.
I was raised in a older generation family. A family where hard work was not an option. Where you took care of your family and you didn’t play a victim so you could get help without doing any work for it. You kept your problems quiet. You worked them out within the walls of your own home. You didn’t need to shout it from the rooftops or on Social Media. A time of slower pace and so much more simplicity. I realized, that is still who I am. I am still that person who was raised in simplicity. Who made sure her family was taken care of and who wasn’t in a constant rat race.
I started enjoying being alone, being at home. In the quietness of my own walls I found peace and solace. I started finding interests I enjoyed. Ways to share my creativity without being overwhelmed and overran. I started realizing I enjoyed the companionship of my fur-babies. I loved the joy they experienced when I was around. The unconditional love I experienced from them. I started finding myself living for them. For a living soul who was genuinely happy I was alive. Who, no matter what mood I was experiencing, knew no judgements against me.
So I had made the decision to put focus back on me a month ago. To start worrying about my dreams, and my visions again. To slow down, stop back and get healthy.
Since that time two of my fur-babies have died.
Am I being punished for loving them?
Am I being punished for being selfish for the first time in my life?
I’m not really sure.
All I know is I am broken. I am hurting, I’m mad, and I’m angry. But most of all I have so much guilt that I’m hating myself.
I’m I being taught a lesson or is it just life I’m experiencing?
I don’t know the answer. All I know is that the more pain and hurt I experience the more I want to surround myself within the walls on my own home and try to protect the ones who matter most in my heart.
See I’m human.
And I’m grieving.
Maybe it’s not over a human life but it’s over a life that showed me more love than most would dare to do.
When you have the illness I have, and it already takes an army to fight each day, any loss becomes too much to bear. The world becomes a dark, ugly place that I no longer want to be involved in.
I hate the battles that are inside me. I’m not sure why I’m being tormented.
Why did God decide I needed to have this illness.
I can’t seem to find peace anymore. I keep praying for God to shed some light on the situation but I can’t find the answers. I feel I’m losing myself.
I’m in an emotional war. A war I pray that others never have to experience.
So today, I am doing something for myself. I am taking a huge step to get emotional healthy. It will not be easy, it will not be quick. But it will be worth it in the end. I am tired of saying I’m Okay, when I’m not. I’m tired of putting on a smile when I’m dying inside.
Today is the day I find peace. I will be on a health, healing and prayer sabbatical for the next few weeks. Until I return I ask you to pray for my health and my healing. I ask you to pray for the others who are hurt and broken but hasn’t found the courage to step forward. I pray you take care of yourself.
I know that we all need a little relaxation from time to time, and what better way than with a DIY Scrub? Not only is this perfect for relaxing at home, it also makes a wonderful frugal gift idea! Take an afternoon and create this easy DIY Cucumber Mint Body Scrub
I have been obsessed with Homemade Body Scrub recipes lately. I decided to whip up a Coffee Sugar scrub recipe of my own this morning. It is so easy and very inexpensive.
Another baby boy was born on the very day I posted a picture of a home made soft ball I had sewn for my nephew. A perfect opportunity to sew another one, don’t you think? This time, I added several loops.
Have you every heard of yellow squash in a quick bread recipe? I was first introduced to it last summer by my daughter. I love to bake with zucchini in bread, but never had made any with summer yellow squash.
Finally, I would like to share with you the last wall in my Kitchen……
And wrap up my Series on my Kitchen where I shared One Wall at a Time……
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A couple months ago, I wrote a short story titled “The Life of Lola”. It was about my fur-baby who has been my companion for eight years. It was a story of love, hope, and healing. As I finished up the story, I decided I wanted to write about each of my babies. I wanted to write them all the story of their life and then find the perfect time to publish them as a way for me to hold on to each of them forever.
Little did I know life had other plans.
Let me back up five years.
February 15, 2009, my sister asked if me and husby would take her to look at a litter of Shorky’s (shih tzu/yorkie). See her fur-baby had just passed away and my brother in law worked out of state, and she was lonely. She was looking for a new companion.
At that time, we had Lola. She was my dog, my protector. We really wasn’t looking for another fur-baby. Our life was busy, we were constantly on the go with kid activities.
Once we were there, this cute little ball of fur kept climbing in my lap. He was absolutely adorable. And he had eyes that would make you melt. I looked at my husby and he knew. That ball of fur was coming home.
Home is where he came. Where he slept in a basket in my room, where Lola treated him like her long lost son, where he soon stole the hearts of each one of us. And his name became Cowboy Hank JR.
I’m not sure why dogs hold such a special place in my heart. Often times I feel they understand the over- emotional person that I am better than a human. They sense a deep connection I feel for them and they feel for me. I look into their eyes and I see their soul, their heart, their purpose.
Yes, I do believe each dog has a purpose. They are each here for a companion. They are meant to help a lost soul find their way, whatever that may be.
Cowboy arrived into my life right as a storm was headed my way. My family was getting ready to experience rough waters that we had never experienced before. Cowboy, you could say, was my lifeline.
See, when we are experiencing tough times, it is human nature to let it consume us. But if we have something or someone to focus on, it takes some of the struggle of our life away. We look away from the negativity on our own life to find positive purpose in something else. Cowboy was my purpose. A way to redirect my pain away from me and turn it into a positive experience.
Just like Lola, Cowboy became my protector. He loved me in a way that he loved no one else. I guess he knew I would always take care of him, just the same as he took care of me.
Cowboy loved Lola with a passion. As he got a little bigger he would not leave her side. He followed her around, he had to sleep in the same kennel with her at night, and no way was he letting her leave anywhere without him. They were best friends til the end.
Cowboy loved to come to my room with me and lay beside me on the bed, or crawl under the bed and sleep. He had such a sweet heart, but he also had such an ornery side. He hated cats, and it was his life goal to chase everyone of them away. He also made sure everyone knew he controlled the food bowl. (: No one ate until Cowboy approved it!
And oh how he loved to snuggle. And his sweet, sweet kisses.
My love for Cowboy ran deep. Maybe it was because he was only five weeks old when we brought him home, or maybe it was because he picked me to be his companion, I’m not really sure. Maybe it’s because his love help pull me out of dark depression on days when No one else could reach me. All I know is he held a special place in my heart that will last a lifetime.
Earlier this year, Cowboy got sick. I took him to the vet and was told he had bronchitis. After a round of treatment, he seemed to be better. But a month later and he was sick again. Back to Dr Shane we went. This time we tried a new treatment but they didn’t seem to work much. A few weeks later, we were back in the office, but this time the medications didn’t affect Cowboy at all.
I knew that morning, last Wednesday, when I got up that his time was ending soon.
I called the vet one more time and they told me to bring him right in. I told my kiddos to tell him bye, that at his was probably not going to end the way we wanted. I made sure Cowboy told Lola bye, little did Lola know she would never see him again.
Dr Shane wanted to run tests. He called me later to explain that Cowboy’s heart was enlarged and he prayed he would respond to the medication. He wanted to keep him over night, I think more for my benefit so Cowboy wouldn’t die at home. The next morning I got the call I most dreaded. He didn’t make it.
I had awoke in the night and knew right away he was gone. So I sat in the dark and prayed. Prayed for peace. Prayed for understanding. Prayed for reassurance that Cowboy was in no more pain.
I made the decision to have him cremated. I needed my baby to be home. I couldn’t bear the thought of never having him close to me again. He was always with me through every laugh and every tear and I needed him to remain beside me. I owed Cowboy that much.
Arrangements were made, and then it was time to tell the kids. They took it better than I expected. Maybe because I had prepared them, but mainly I think they knew they had to be strong for me. They knew I would take it extremely hard, which I did.
I sat alone in my room for several hours, as tears streamed down my face. There was nothing left for me to do. And even though I knew I needed to hug my other fur-babies a little tighter that day, I couldn’t seem to pull myself out of my pain, out of the darkness.
My husby called me from work to see how I was doing. He told me to take the kids to the water park, to relax, to let the sun shine on my face, to not think for a few hours.
I sat at the waterpark that afternoon and cried. I cried for me, I cried for Cowboy, I cried for Lola. As I looked up I saw a cloud that was shaped as a fluffy dog with a curly tail and I cried even harder knowing he was telling me he was okay.
Later that day, as I cried some more, a little butterfly decided to land on my hand and sit there. It didn’t move, it just watched me. Again I know that was Cowboy’s way of letting me know it was okay to let go.
I watched as the little butterfly flew off my hand, only to come back once more, as to say, “Are you sure you will be okay?”, then it was gone again.
This past week has been so hard. I have experienced so many emotions. Sadness that I would not see him again in this life, grateful for being his human, angry for him leaving me, guilt for not doing more to help him and happiness knowing he is running free at the a Rainbow Bridge waiting for me. Many tears have been shed, many prayers have been prayed, many memories have replayed in my mind.
Some might say, he was just a dog. I would say no, he was family. He knew me and my moods better than my closet family or friends. He knew when I needed a kiss, or a snuggle or just company as I lay in my room.
See, when you have the love of a dog like I do, you experience a pure and innocent love. There is no judgment, no grudges just plain love and adoration. And that is exactly what I received with Cowboy, and for that I will forever be grateful he chose me.
I told Dr Shane, the day Cowboy left me, all I wanted was to bring my Cowboy home. When my love was not enough to keep him with me here on this Earth,I just needed to bring him home with me forever.
And today he came home to stay.
I stood by your bed last night, I came to have a peep.
I could see that you were crying, You found it hard to sleep.
I whined to you softly as you brushed away a tear,
“It’s me, I haven’t left you, I’m well, I’m fine, I’m here.”
I was close to you at breakfast, I watched you pour the tea,
You were thinking of the many times, your hands reached down to me.
I was with you at the shops today, Your arms were getting sore.
I longed to take your parcels, I wish I could do more.
I was with you at my grave today, You tend it with such care.
I want to re-assure you, that I’m not lying there.
I walked with you towards the house, as you fumbled for your key.
I gently put my paw on you, I smiled and said ” it’s me.”
You looked so very tired, and sank into a chair.
I tried so hard to let you know, that I was standing there.
It’s possible for me, to be so near you everyday.
To say to you with certainty, “I never went away.”
You sat there very quietly, then smiled, I think you knew…
In the stillness of that evening, I was very close to you.
The day is over… I smile and watch you yawning
and say “good-night, God bless, I’ll see you in the morning.”
And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide,
I’ll rush across to greet you and we’ll stand, side by side.
I have so many things to show you, there is so much for you to see.
Be patient, live your journey out…then come home to be with me.
*Please Adopt, Don’t Shop and donate to your local rescues and shelters
Here in the South, summertime is in full-swing. Hot humid days, cool and relaxing evenings. I so love sitting on the front porch swing sippin Lemonade, or my all-time favorite, Sweet Tea. There are some things I just wouldn’t trade for the world, and one of those is fireflies for city lights, old farmhouses for condos and country barns for skyscrapers.
Of course, I completely understand if you were raised in the city how this would be reversed. And believe me I love to visit cities with bright lights, fancy stores and amazing restaurants, but after a visit I’m ready to come back home to the dirt roads, hay fields and stars in the sky. And it wouldn’t be the South in Arkansas that I love so deeply without good southern comfort food.
Here is Rural Arkansas we have a few staple foods. There isn’t any summertime meal complete with a side of coleslaw or baked beans. Whether its a weekend BBQ friends, a church potluck on Sunday afternoon or supper during the week, these two sides are always among the favorites.
I guess you can say along with our slower pace and a more laid back simple style of life, we still enjoy a little gourmet now and then. A couple weeks ago I was trying to think of an easy and fast mid-week meal but also something filling for my family. I had buns and hot dogs, and well really you can’t get any easier than that. Not only are hot dogs super fast but they are also super cheap. But in order to make it a complete meal I needed sides. Well of course I came back to cole slaw and baked beans.
As I was preparing the sides, I started thinking, why can’t I make a more elaborate meal out of what I have. If Chicago can have their own Chicago-Style Dog and San Francisco can have their own BLT Dog then shouldn’t Arkansas have their own dog? So I got to work.
First I made my cole slaw.
Grace and Gravy’s Southern Slaw
1 Package of Pre-Shredded Cabbage Mix or a Head of Cabbage (to save time)
3/4 cup of Mayo
1/4 cup of Sugar
2 tsp of Lemon Juice
2 tbsp of Vinegar
1 tsp of Salt
1 tsp of Black Pepper
1 tsp of Paprika
How to Make:
1) Rinse your cabbage mix (remember this was supposed to be a fast and easy meal) and place in large serving bowl
2) In a separate bowl add your mayo, sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper and mix well
3) Add your wet ingredients to your cabbage mix
4) Mix together well
5) sprinkle your paprika on top of slaw
6) Serve right away or place in fridge til serving time
Just enough sweetness and just enough tart!
Now it was time for my Baked Beans.
Grace and Gravy’s Southern Baked Beans
6 Slices of Bacon
2 cans of Pinto Beans or 1/2 pd of dried Pinto Beans (Remember this was a fast, easy meal so I used cans)
1 can tomato paste
2 Tbsp Honey
1/4 cup of Brown Sugar
1/2 Diced Onion (I prefer white)
1/2 Bell Pepper Diced
3 Medium sized fresh Jalapeno Peppers
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Ground Mustard
1/2 tsp Cummin (optional)
What to Do:
1) Fry your bacon in a skillet (I prefer to use cast iron for this recipe)
2) Remove bacon but leave the bacon grease
3) Add your onion, jalapeno and bell pepper to grease and cook til soft
4) Dice your bacon up and add to pan
5) Drain your beans and add
6) Now add your brown sugar and honey and mix well
7) In a small bowl add your dry seasonings and mix lightly
8) Add your seasonings to pan and stir
9) Simmer on low to medium heat for appx 15 minutes
I really love the sweetness of the brown sugar and honey with the spicy of the peppers!
Okay! Now that I had my sides done, I was ready for my dogs.
How I make my Dogs:
I really like to have deli style hot dog buns. I really like the flavor to them better than the packaged kind. Sometimes your choice of bread will make all the difference to your dog, hamburger or sub.
Here is the thing about being Southern, we think everything should be fried! Oh yes! The greasier the better. So fry up your dogs on a griddle or a skillet.
Oh Boy, its gettin good now!
When grilled you now have two choices! I suggest trying them both to see which is your style.
You can leave your dog whole and place in bun, or you can spilt in half so that your toppings fit better! Thats my choice!
Now your ready for toppings! My husby enjoys mustard, so its whatever you enjoy, then I add a big ole scoop full of baked beans, and a big ole scoop full of slaw! What could be better than this for a Good Ole Southern Meal!
So Easy, So fillings and will serve eight! Or four if you have big ole boys!
I really hope you enjoy my Arkansas Po-Boy Dog! Would love to hear your thoughts!
English muffins are one of the very first types of bread that I ever attempted, which is why I always have a soft spot for them. For years I adored English muffins – whether they came from the supermarket out of a packet or in the form of a McMuffin from McDonalds, but it wasn’t until I made my own that I fell completely head over heels in love with them.
This cold weather is causing me to seek some solice in a warm, cozy cup of coffee. Well, more accurately, a creamy foamy latte (hazelnut is my flavor of choice this morning). I worked my way through college as a Barista, and have not stopped whipping up espresso drinks since. Now my family and neighbors are the ones drinking my lattes.
In this world of go, go, go and do, do, do, it’s easy to drift far from the One who holds us secure. The One who goes before us, stands at our right hand and has the ability to keep us from being shaken.
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A few months ago I had a day that I would like to have started over at least ten times.
Do you ever have those days?
I sat down at least 3 different times to blog but no words came to mind, no fingers begin to type, no creativity flowed at all.
Of course that was only the start.
That was a day to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and forget it ever existed.
I would have to say after the dog escaping from the house, running up and down the neighborhood, pleasantly enjoying me yelling as loud as I could, all while running faster away from me, I was done completely done with the day.
So as I stood outside in my housecoat, tears streaming down my face from frustration, I had to get my thoughts right before I had a complete meltdown.
As I went back inside, with no dog, deciding to take a nice long hot shower, a song came to me, “Beautiful Jesus”.
“Your love o God, displayed for us
As crimson covered over sinless hands
Your majesty for all to see
In raging storms and quiet cloudless days”
“Beautiful Jesus, beautiful Savior
Nothing is greater, brilliant creator
Friend of mine”
No matter if my days are chaos and hectic or quiet and calm, he is still my Beautiful Jesus, Perfect in Power. He is still the one I go to, to calm my mind, to fill me with peace and comfort.
What else was there to do then to go to him in the WORD. So for the reminder of the afternoon it was just me, my coffee and my Beautiful Jesus talking it out and being reminded that he is still God. He is the only one who can take away the overwhelming feelings that this world fills me with.
Just as Isaiah 41:10 reads,
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
I hadn’t thought much of that day until this past week. My husby and I had decided to take a huge step into risky waters, to go into a ministry that we felt God was leading our family to. Everything was stacking up just perfect. We felt God’s hand every step of the way, until last week.
I received a disturbing phone call from the organization we were planning to work with. Several years ago we had worked with the organization and during this time my family was wronged. Even though I cannot express details, all I can say is that my family was victimized. It has taken a lot of prayer and faith to let go with the feelings and emotions involved with that situation.
You might be saying, well why would you want to go back into that organization again? Well, I guess because God did not put any restrictions on our freedom or his love for us, and it is our responsible to do everything we can to reach every lost soul.
Back to the phone call, we know the devil can wiggle his way into every situation. And we know he uses normal people to do his dirty work. Even though my family was wronged, the person who wrote the report has tried to turn it around so my family looks like the bad guy, not the organization.
How wrong is that? Why have we had to relive painful memories when we were trying to do God’s work?
I believe there is a couple answers to that. First, the devil plays every game possible to try to detour God’s plan in your life. And the other is that God already has our life planned and maybe God is trying to prevent us from bring hurt worse in the future.
I also had another thought. What if God needed my family to relive the memories that was brought up to help us heal and move forward. Is he trying to see if we are strong enough to deal with situations that are to come.
As I sat and pondered this week, I came back to the memory of a few months ago. I had to chose not to let my emotions overwhelm me or I would be lost in the chaos of the dying world, and my light would turn dark. I cannot let the black hole of hurt affect what God has in front of me. I had to go back to the same scripture I read that day.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
God will work it together for his good. He us still my God. He plan is greater than my plan. He can turn the negative into a positive.
So as I sit and type these words, I am renewed, refreshed and loved by my creator. I may not understand the path right now, I just have to trust and have faith and know his ways are always better than mine. That he is my protector, my provider, my Jesus!