Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dawgy Dash

She loves dogs, I love to walk, so with weekend plans for a visit coming up, my sweet daughter in law asked if I wanted to sign up for the "Dawgy Dash" 5K.  It sounded like fun. Turns out, the whole weekend was fun! Mother's Day weekend with all my children together...doesn't get much better than that!

When the morning of the walk arrived, rain was close by, but we decided to try it anyway! Around 50 dogs and their owners walked through the quaint neighborhoods in a small north Georgia town. 

The town went all out for this walk.  These sweet direction markers in the shape of a doggy bone lined the streets. 

The walk wound through neighborhoods and along the main street of town. Flowers, stone sidewalks, tree lined streets made this a beautiful walk!

We finished!  Our sweet Fargo was a champ!  

Although she's not big on pictures or much attention, my sweet mother in law came along on the trip as well.  She handled the 5K like a pro.  She added an extra special touch to a wonderful Mother's Day weekend! 

Family, such a blessing to be able to take our different styles, likes, desires and throw them all together to find something beautiful!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother of the Year

There is just something about a Mother's Day hangover.  Hearts are happy and full from the love and appreciation shown, Monday morning may find us basking in that glow of love, re-reading cards, eyes lingering over gifts displayed and minds remembering special times shared with family.  No matter what what level of celebration went on in the home, there is something so special about being appreciated. 

The day after Mother's Day can also bring some renewed resolve for the upcoming year. Surely we want to live up to all that acclamation right??!!  That inspiration may be high for us to be the best mother yet for the coming year.  But every driving force needs a motive to keep it alive. And, no matter how we feel today, there will be challenges ahead this year, times to love through trials, inconveniences, ways to put others first and develop selflessness.  That is going to take some grit, determination and motivation. 

What are some qualities you would like to develop over the next year?  Something that when next Mother's Day rolls around, you will have grown in and naturally bring this beautiful trait out.  

Some ideas may be Genuineness, Kindness, Integrity, Patience, Service, Selflessness.  My choice is Graciousness.  I love the quality of being gracious - which looks like this:  "Gracious: kind, courteous, pleasant, polite, civil, well-mannered,  tactful, benevolent, diplomatic, considerate, thoughtful,  and friendly." 
Kind of covers a multitude of wonderful qualities and I want them all!  To enable qualities like this in our hearts which is where they must first begin, it takes lots of practice.  Practicing something over and over makes it a habit, which eventually brings it out as actions.  Here are some habits I've found to help establish the qualities of graciousness: 

Habits of Gracious Ladies — 10 Remarkable Traits to Make Your Own

1.)   A gracious lady is not in the habit of cussing or yelling. She knows that she expresses herself best — and sets the standard for those closest to her — when she uses a tone of voice and words that communicate to others rather than degrade them.

2.)   A gracious lady doesn’t keep social score. She’ll ask a friend to join her even if the friend hasn’t invited her anywhere in a long time. She’ll call to say hello even though she’s been the one to call the last four times. She understands that some people are more attuned to keeping friendships flourishing. She’s glad she has a talent that fosters the continuance and growth of relationships.

3.)   A gracious lady sends handwritten thank you notes. Not only does she write them, she knows the formula for writing cards in a way that fully expresses her appreciation and leaves the recipient feeling acknowledged and loved.

4.)   A gracious lady doesn’t laugh at the expense of others. Even if those being laughed at are laughing along with everyone else, a gracious lady understands that being the brunt of a joke bruises their ego and heart and later whispers into their ear that they truly are what the others were joking about.

5.)   A gracious lady rises to the occasion of greeting others — literally. She knows the modern manners for when to stand and that by the simple act of standing, she’s showing respect and special kindness for the other person.

6.)   A gracious lady welcomes newcomers and sets them up for success. She knows what it feels like to be new to a group or alone at a party, and she’s quick and happy to introduce herself and others to the person and start a great conversation.

7.)   A gracious lady is a respecter of time — yours and hers. She knows that arriving early is often inconvenient for the person she’s visiting, whether it’s for a business meeting or social event. She’s also aware that running late is a form of disrespect. When it does happen, she knows how to handle herself with grace. 

8.)   A lady dresses appropriately for the occasion because she knows that her clothing speaks for her from across the room before she has the chance to say her first hello. She knows that it doesn’t matter whether her budget allows her to buy clothes from Saks or WalMart. It’s possible to look good or bad wearing clothing from either store.  She understands that while she needs to be comfortable, without even a trace of pain, in order to enjoy an event or pay full attention to her work, clothing speaks volumes about her. She is well-versed in what to wear where!

9.)   A gracious lady knows that her most beautiful physical attribute is her sincere smile. She understands the important role it plays in making a good first and lasting impression. Not only does she radiate a warmth that attracts others when she smiles, but she knows each smile is a gift she gives to encourage, brighten the day of, and show kindness to others.

 10.)   A gracious lady is slow to take offense. She knows her worth and her strengths (and weaknesses), and she’s at peace with herself. Because of this, a lady is able to assume the best in others. If something negative is said that seems to be directed at her, she asks for clarification. “Did you mean that as a criticism? I don’t want to assume that you did.” Usually, she’s offered an apology because many criticisms are simply poorly worded sentences that the other person said without any negative intent. If the person did mean to criticize, the gracious lady says, “I’ll respond after I’ve thought about it.” This stops the discussion, puts her in control of it, and gives her time to give thought to what was said. If there’s any merit to the words, she’s glad for the chance to improve herself. If there’s no merit to the words, she tells the person so and moves on. A gracious lady knows, as the saying goes, “You can’t please all the people all the time.” She knows better than to let other people’s opinions negatively impact her by taking them to heart or letting them anger her.

Yes, this seems like a long list and one that the Lord will surely have to help plant in my heart!  But, come next Mother's Day, gracious seeds will have been planted, watered and growing into a beautiful harvest. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Race of Motherhood

May is here with all it's beauty and blessing. Beautiful weather, spring holidays, anticipating summer, May is just a fabulous month! 

 It is also the month we celebrate Mother's Day. For many women, Mother's Day is a doubly blessed day. We express thankfulness for our mothers and receive recognition for being a mother. It's a day to spend with family usually complete with food, flowers, cards and gift. 

Digging a little deeper, we may pause and think of our own mothers. If she is still here, it is a time to be thankful, to let her know how much she is loved and appreciated. If she is passed on, it may be a time of sadness and feeling of the missed opportunity to express our love to her. In either situation, we reflect on our moms, remember her love and security. Remembering the comfort that just being in her presence brought, the memories of special places, activities and things shared.

 If you are a mother, probably some of her traits are carried on through you. As we mature in age and our own mothering experience there are things we are determined not to do, not to say and not to pass on to our own children. But every now and again, those things just slip out! But as we ponder to the attitudes we do want to cultivate, motherhood is an opportunity to pass on a legacy of goodness and grace. Mother's Day reminds us of the power of motherhood and turns our focus to what we want our children to keep alive in their hearts. It's not about perfection, it's about a love passed on like none other that will outlast us and carry on for generations. 

My mother has passed on and recently a 5K race was going on the same day as the anniversary of her death. This is usually a very sad day, as times shared together are remembered as well as how much life has passed by that she was not a part of. Determined to participate in the race, I set aside the sadness of the day with a purpose to run in her honor.  She filled my mind as I ran the course. There is a long straight stretch where the finish line is visible. During that stretch, I whispered aloud and expressed what was in my heart of the many emotions flooding there. I spoke words of thankfulness to God, that He chose my mother for me, that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I was loved, nurtured and always encouraged. Mom was my greatest fan and if she were alive to see me run, she would be the greatest cheerleader. Thankfulness flowed as memories of the characteristics she possessed came to mind - humbleness, hardworking, serving others, caring, loving, welcoming, selfless, always open and ready to offer whatever was needed.  She was the perfect example of setting her own needs aside and putting others first. 

As the finish line drew closer, a purpose was formed in my own heart to carry on and finish the race of motherhood strong. Thanking God for the gift of my three children, for the power of influence and the gift of love I can give daily. Physically, my body was getting weary, my breathing hard, but on I pushed one step after another. Motherhood can be draining, we may get tired, but must continue on sometimes step by step.  Our children will never get to the point where we are not an influence in their lives. 

After a 5K race, this is a popular photo prop, under the finish line.  It captures the victory of completing the race. You don't stand here until you are done running and victorious by finishing the race.  

When our motherhood finish line comes, may we be found to have given our all. Our victory will be the legacy we leave to and in our children.  The characteristics we possessed and passed on will live on through generations.  May we purpose to make them things of beauty that will bloom throughout generations. 

These are my mothers azaleas.  Many years ago we went together and purchased them from a nursery. She diligently planted them and cared for them.  Although she has not been there to tend to them, the care she gave them when young continues on.  They are over 15 years old and continue to bloom every year. They lay dormant much of the year and come to life each spring with blazing beauty and never fail to ignite a beautiful picture of motherhood in my heart of the power of planing, nurturing and legacy. 

Happy Mother's Day!  May we as mothers finish our race strong. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Secret to a Great Morning

For several days now, I've felt unusually tired. This has been noticed more in the mornings because that is usually a high energy time and the most productive time of the day.

 Here is how my mornings start:

A cup of coffee is grabbed on the way to my favorite chair as I snuggle under the blanket and take in a daily devotion from God's Word. The taste of the coffee wakes me up, the inspiration found through the devotion encourages and inspires my soul and within a few minutes, I'm up to tackle a quick workout, breakfast, pack  a lunch and get a head start on dinner.  Usually a load of laundry is started and other household chores done before we walk out the door for the day.

Back to my fatigue was unusual that halfway through my reading I could barely keep my eyes open.  The morning routine is broken into time segments and when reading time was done, all I wanted to do was stay curled up in the blanket. 

 I couldn't figure out what was going on until one afternoon sweet hubby told me he tried some of my coffee.  See, we have 'his' and 'her' coffee.  He likes dark roast, I like light roasts.  Being a savvy shopper, I find the coffee that is on sale and pick out each of our blends.  Apparently as I was seeking my light roast, I missed a very important detail...I picked up a box of DECAF!  For a week and a half, my morning cup was fatigue problem was solved!

So this morning, decaf was set aside and a lovely light roast caffeinated cup filled my morning time.  All is now well with the world!  

Just like that little punch caffeine adds, God's Word brings that to our hearts.  A verse in the devotion which is one of my favorite verses reminds me of how great God is, the power of Who He is and the blessings He fills my heart with. He is the God of Hope, it is more than what He gives, it is Who He is. That joy and peace we daily crave in our lives, He is able to fill us with as we trust in Him. And hope, that beautiful and needful quality to keep us going...He can cause it to overflow.  

So, the secret to a great morning, a real cup of coffee and the genuine power of God's Word in your heart.  That's how to have a great day!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Pancakes with a Punch

When choosing breakfast for a busy morning, it must be something that will last for a few hours. A key component that will keep you fueled longer is protein.  Eggs, breakfast meats, yogurt, nuts, cottage cheese are all good sources of protein, but every now and then, I long for some of that breakfast comfort food- french toast, waffles and pancakes. 

Here is a recipe for those carb craving mornings that also include the protein needed to keep me going!
Protein-Packed Pancakes
1/2 cup (63 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs (50 grams per egg)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (245 grams) 2% fat Greek yogurt
1/3 cup (50 grams) fresh blueberries (for garnish)

Add dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) to a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients (eggs, vanilla extract and Greek yogurt) until well mixed.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir together until well combined.

Spray your pan or griddle with cooking spray and place onto stove on medium-low heat. Use a 1/4 cup to portion out pancakes that are about 4 inches in diameter.

Cook pancakes until the bottom side is brown (about 3-4 minutes), then flip the pancakes. You’ll notice that these pancakes won’t bubble up like traditional pancakes. Leave extra room in the pan because the pancakes may splatter when you flip them.

After flipping the pancake, cook until the other side is brown (about 2-3 minutes). Repeat with remaining batter.

Top pancakes with blueberries, and enjoy.