Tuesday, December 12, 2017

What a Weekend!

December is usually a busy month as we attempt to squeeze an extra dose of Christmas fellowship in our schedules. This weekend found our family enjoying a weekend slap full of blessings. Family, Ministry and Work gatherings came back to back and filled our hearts and lives with so much joy! 

 A ministry dear to our hearts is our Pregnancy Care Center. A beautiful banquet was held for the clients to spread some Christmas cheer. It was a sit down dinner complete with beautiful decorations, a photo background, fellowship and of course Santa and his gifts for the children. Severl sweet babies will celebrate their first Christmas this year. What a blessing to be a part of such a wonderful evening.   

Following the banquet, it was home to celebrate with the family and friends:
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My children with their aunt:

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Our boys with their traditional pose:

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Lots of laughter and food!

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A very precious time together.

The last event was a work brunch hosted at our home.  I am so blessed to work with wonderful, caring and godly women. We spent a morning together sharing special Christmas memories, traditions and values.  Of course we added lots of food and fun! 

It was a whirlwind weekend, but left my heart full of love and cherished memories. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Don't Leave Your Manners At Home

Several years ago when my children were younger, a few days before Christmas I was shopping for items for Christmas dinner. The store was packed, my toddler in the cart was fussy, I forgot the Christmas ribbon which was clear across the store and I was a frantic wreck.  Later a friend told one of my family members they had seen me at the store, but didn't speak because I looked frazzled.  Have you ever been there?  Unfortunately, that was probably not the only time that happened, but I'm not going to look back too hard!  But, that statement, that feeling, those words and attitudes bothered me. Especially at Christmas!  A frazzled mom is not the image I want to project!

Since that day and especially since the children are older, I shop a little wiser. On frantic shopping days, I refuse to be in a rush. I anticipate the crowds and work hard to put on a patient and cheerful face. Try this....in the packed store, give another frazzled shopper a smile.  Wait for someone to pass or politely give them time to get their item.  It is amazing the difference little things like this make!

Maralee McKee is a manners expert and shares a few tips especially for the holidays.   Manners are, simply put, the best practices for handling any interaction — even Christmas shopping. There are Christmas shopping manners. And if everyone used them, it would make shopping more enjoyable and less stressful for everyone.  Be the one who does their part!!

Shopping for gifts is part of the celebration of Christmas. Whether you’re at the big-box store, the mall, or a neighborhood boutique, the way we interact with our fellow shoppers and the store associates is no less a part of the celebrating than going to a Christmas party at your neighbor’s house, decorating your tree, visiting friends and family, or attending special church plays and services.

Think on this statement before entering Wal Mart..."Joy, cheer, fun, and reverence should fill our hearts and minds while we shop for gifts we’ll give others in remembrance of the birth of Jesus. The way we interact with strangers while shopping should be no less gracious than how we interact with them at a church service or a friend’s party."

Here are 5 Tips to be a gracious Christmas shopper:
1. It starts at the door! Whether you’re a lady or gentleman, hold the door open for the person(s) behind you, and stand behind it to allow them plenty of room to enter. As they walk through the door: smile, make eye contact, and say “Merry Christmas”.

If people hold the door for you, say, “You’re so kind! Thank you!” Saying “You’re so kind!” as well as “Thank you!” is adding a compliment. And every compliment is a gift. 

2. To the right please! With all the extra people in the aisles and walkways of the store or mall, make sure to walk to your right, just like the rules of the road. We walk on the same side that we drive on. If there are more than two in your group, try to walk behind one another. When three or more people walk side-by-side, they block the walkway so that people can’t easily pass on their left. 

3. Oops, I’m sorry! If you accidentally bump into someone, say something that clarifies that you had no intention of doing so. “Oh no! Please excuse me. I’m sorry I bumped into you.” PS: For bonus points, say this even if they bumped into YOU and didn’t apologize. It shows them how to be gracious — a lesson I hope they will take to heart.

4. A Large Part of The Etiquette of Christmas Shopping is To Extend the Gift of Grace! Be patient with store associates. The number of sales associates in a store increases by up to 35 percent from November 15 to January 10.
New workers have to do their job daily in front of hundreds of people. They don’t have time to learn all the details of the merchandise in the store or the how-tos of ringing the register before the rush of holiday shopping starts, so be patient. They really do want to help you and to ring your order up correctly and quickly. Sometimes, the newness of it all makes it difficult.

5. Wonder Words help spread the wonder of Christmas!  The appreciation shown to the cashier sets the next customer up as eager to experience a positive interaction. Attitudes, moods, and expectations are contagious, and if we speak kindness, we generate kindness. It’s one of the best gifts we can give at Christmas or any time.

Be encouraged to bring your manners with you as you shop this Christmas season. Spread joy wherever you go and be the type of shopper you would like to shop with!!

Monday, November 27, 2017

My Heart Is In Georgia

If you are a mother, you will understand that your heart will travel to wherever your children are. Our oldest son and daughter in law moved early this year to North Georgia. He has always loved the scenery in the area and felt a draw to there for many years. We rejoiced when he found a job and then a house in the area he longed to be in.

This is our first child to move away so of course we take to road north to visit often!  Our hearts are so in love with this area. The visits in fall simply reinforced that feeling! Trees that change colors, brisk cool walks outdoors, riding down red clay dirt roads and family all together were some of the things that made our Thanksgiving extra special this year. 

Here are a few reasons that Georgia is on our minds and in our hearts!

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Are You Spiritually Cozy

The first cool snap of the year recently hit the deep south.  It was a day I had been waiting for!  My favorite time to walk is early morning and as I stuck my head out to feel the cool air, excitement filled my heart.  For the past several months, the focus for walking clothes was comfortable and cool. This day, I chose a beautiful jacket which was warm and cozy and began my walk.

Walking down the driveway, watching the rising sun and feeling the cool air on my face was fabulous. My warm jacket felt great as I began the walk. It didn't take very long for that cozy jacket to get a little warm. With a long way to go, I unzipped it to get a little cooler. Well then, at the bottom, it began to swing and the zipper pieces flew into my hands with every stride. Finally after getting too hot with it on, it came off.  Then it was where do I keep it? Before long, I was cold again!  Returning home from an almost miserable walk, I determined that 'warm and cozy' jacket wasn't one made to go for walks in.  Although it felt wonderful at first, it was too heavy and restricted movements needed for the walk. 

Pondering what went wrong on the walk, the thought came, 'Are we spiritually cozy?' As Christians, we bask in the fact that God loves us, He has great plans for us and He is so wonderful. Those are truths to wrap around us. They comfort us in trying times, they are truths to fall back on when life gets hard. Like a warm jacket we put around us, we are safe, secure, warm and cozy.

Warm and cozy is wonderful and surely has it's place in our life. Rest, comfort, stillness are vital to our well being. But like on the recent walk, I needed something different. Warm and cozy hindered my moving, make me hot, uncomfortable and took the enjoyment out of the walk because I was focused on how uncomfortable I was. There is another jacket in my closet, an athletic jacket. It is lightweight, thin and flowing. I provides warmth, but also allows free movement.

Sometimes, spiritually we 'go for a walk'. There are times we find some action to do, in service, volunteering, or meeting a need for others.  We need those times of spiritual activity. In the Bible we read about times to move:  'faith without works is dead', 'we are created for good works', 'do everything as unto the Lord' projecting a spirit of excellence. We are called to be a blessing, to minister to others, to share the good news of the Gospel.  It should never be confused that we 'work' our way to God, but that God works in us, His love so that we reach out to share that love with others. 

After a time of sitting and being wrapped up God's love which is warm and cozy, may we be ready to put our work clothes on and be energized to go about doing good. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Some Friends You Need

If you ever want to know how others see you, ask your children.  They can be brutally honest! My teenage son likes to play a game of guessing who is on the other end of the phone. By the tone of my voice he can narrow it down to three friends who may be on the other end of the call. It's a combination of being known so well he can decipher my voice modes and picking up that voice tone that is used with familiarity. 
Those 3 friends are ones I can be totally myself with. They understand me completely and we can share openly together. 

Those close friendships are wonderful and a vital part of a woman's life. We need friends who understand us, who we are comfortable with and can share most anything with. Friendships are important, but also require time and effort to cultivate. It takes being intentional and purposeful to keep a friendship alive. Therefore, we should choose our friends very wisely. Who we surround ourselves with makes a big difference in who we will become

There are the four kinds of people we all need in our lives.That said, here are some tips to find these kind of people:  

1 – Be with those who help you be you.
You are wired the way you are for a reason — to make this world a better place, and bring God glory, with your unique set of gifts. Surround yourself with people who want to nurture that person.

2 – Be with those who believe in your dreams.
We need cheerleaders on our journey. We need people who will see the best in us. We need friends who will help us stand up when we fall — because they believe in our dreams as much as we do.

3 – Be with those who make you better, not bitter.
There’s enough negativity in the world; try not to insulate yourself with people who see the worst in everything. Negativity is contagious, but so is positivity. Find the positive people, and be one of those people

4 – Be with those who aren’t afraid to hold you accountable.
Often, the people who believe in you the most — the ones “who help you be you” — are the same people who aren’t afraid to speak truth when it needs to be spoken. Keep those friends especially close.

 “The journey of life isn’t about how far we go — it’s about who’s with us.”

A final note: It’s not enough to surround yourself with these people. BE one of those friends to the people in your life.