Thursday, December 3, 2015

Family Christmas Trees

Our family got our trees up and decorated over the Thanksgiving weekend, so let's take a virtual tour!

Busy elves!
I think it looks prettiest at night!
Cuter elves!

Another elf and her music-themed tree

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giving Thanks

This month, I've been doing things to help myself to be more mindful of things that I am thankful for. I think that I do this pretty consistently throughout the year, but being thankful can sometimes be hard to do in certain times, and it's always good have reminders!

1. I made a "Give Thanks" banner at the beginning of the month (actually I worked on making it on Halloween night while I watched the UT game and listened for trick-or-treaters at my door). I used a template for the letters that I found online and used a different template for the leaves that I used to write things that I am thankful for this month. This week, I added some pictures of my family to give some more "character" to the display, and for whom I am thankful 365 days a year!

2. Early in November, a friend posted a link to a blog that gives a list of verses to write each day during the month. I think the blogger does this for each month, but this was the first time I'd seen it and most of the verses had to do with giving thanks. Some were very familiar and obvious choices and others were verses that I hadn't spent time thinking about before, like Psalm 69:

"I will praise God’s name in song
    and glorify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the Lord more than an ox,
    more than a bull with its horns and hooves.
The poor will see and be glad—
    you who seek God, may your hearts live!
The Lord hears the needy
    and does not despise his captive people."

 I liked thinking about how God is more pleased with our songs of thanksgiving than any other sacrifices we could give (in those days, an ox or a bull with horns and hooves). And the comforting reminder that the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his captive people.

3. For my birthday, I was given a pretty journal and I decided to use it as a thankfulness journal. Starting in April (yes, my birthday is in February, but it takes me a while to use pretty things sometimes), I started writing down some things I am thankful for just before I turn out the light. Some nights I was so sleepy, I ended up just going over them in my head as I drifted off to sleep, but the journal is almost full now and I look forward to finding another one to continue this practice.

One of my favorite passages about thankfulness is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 

May we all live a life of rejoicing, praying and giving thanks in all circumstances!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 13, 2015

UT Big Band Concert

Earlier this week, Mom and I drove over to Knoxville to attend the UT Big Band Fall Concert, featuring our favorite drummer! This was our first college concert to attend and it was a lot of fun! Daniel has been in smaller jazz combo groups each semester that he's been in college, but this was the first year he was selected to be the drummer for the Big Band.

What also made the concert special was getting to see some of Daniel's friends in the band. Trumpeter John Dooley (pictured above) and Daniel have been in school and band together since the fifth grade at Meigs Magnet Middle! The pianist in the UT Big Band is Daniel's good friend and suitemate, Aaron Mastin. It was good to see Daniel in his element and hear this great performance by the Big Band!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday Favorites: Gatherings on my deck

Happy Belated October! It's FALL, ya'll! 

One of my favorite things to do in nice weather is to have friends or family over to my house to enjoy my deck with me.

The other night, I got to spend the evening with the women from my community group. It was so low-key and informal, everyone brought what they wanted to eat and we sat outside and enjoyed the evening talking about all manner of topics (what happens on my deck, stays on my deck--haha).

Once the sun went down, the lights of the deck made a nice, warm glow and it made the time so cozy around the table. I love having people around and am thankful to have a home to share with others. It just makes me so happy!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sister: "R" is for Real

Happy Birthday, Jeanette!

"R" is for Real

In my attempt to articulate what I mean by saying that Jeanette is "real", I looked up some definitions of that word. One that caught my attention and I think best explains what this characteristic looks like in her life is:

Real: free from any intent to deceive or impress others (real folk who don't put on airs). Some of the synonyms are: genuine, honest, true, unpretentious, natural. 

Another word that came to mind was "loyal," and while it doesn't start with "R" and is not listed as a synonym, I feel that Jeanette is one of the most loyal people I know. She is loyal and true to her husband and marriage. She is loyal to her daughters and other family members. In her friendships throughout life, I have observed her to be loyal and I know that she maintains long-standing friendships with people who she has known for almost her entire life.

Jeanette is a genuine person who is doesn't try to pretend she's something she's not and she honestly relates to people in her life in a way that sets people at ease and enjoy being around her. In her younger years, she might have been described as "naive" or "gullible," but I think that those are a necessary part of being "real" with people. 

So, Sister, it is my hope and prayer for you on your birthday that as you are meeting new people and relating to others who have known you for many years, all will be able to know you as a Sister, Interesting, Silly, Tender-hearted, Enthusiastic and Real. I hope that you have a day filled with love and friends and fun! (those are bonus letters, not included in the word, "Sister")

I love you!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Sister: "E" is for Enthusiastic

"E" is for Enthusiastic

Another fun trait about my sister is that she is very enthusiastic about life. She can bring others on board with ideas (even silly ones) with her contagious excitement.

One time when I was planning my wedding and needing to purchase the fabric for the dress, I heard about an upcoming sale at a local fabric store. The saleswoman had let me in on a "secret" that if I came on Saturday morning before 7:00, I could get 50% off the regular price per yard. The sale changed every hour until by the middle of the morning, everything stayed at 20% off for the rest of the day.

Jeanette was living with me that summer and I went home and told her about the sale, thinking that we'd just plan to get there for the 20% off part of the day. After hearing about the better deal that we could get early in the morning, Jeanette enthusiastically convinced me that we could get up, throw on our clothes and get to the store in time to get 50% off the fabric we needed. Thanks to her encouragement, we saved a lot of money and made a fun sister memory!

One of my favorite birthday pictures of Jeanette was when she was turning five. Our family had been to Disney World and came back to our grandparents' house in time to celebrate Labor Day and Jeanette's birthday. Granddaddy asked her what kind of cake she wanted and what she would like to receive as presents. I think she gave pretty detailed description of what she wanted on her store-bought cake and she specifically asked for some dollar bills. Jeanette was super excited about all the fun decorations on the cake and loved all the presents she received, but when she opened the card with the money, she was ecstatic and someone in the family captured the joy on her face with her arms lifted high, clutching the dollar bills in her little hands.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Sister: "T" is for Tenderhearted

As we get closer to my sister's birthday, here's another attribute that I love about Jeanette.

"T" is for Tenderhearted

My sister has a beautifully kind and tender heart toward people. As a little girl, she tenderly loved her baby dolls and as she got older, she finally convinced our parents to let her have a puppy. Watching Jeanette become a Mommy to her real-live babies, more of her tenderness shined through.

I also appreciate how Jeanette showed tenderness and kindness to our dad throughout the years that he dealt with Parkinson's Disease and as his health declined. She also showed the same tenderness to our grandmothers as they aged.

Another way Jeanette's tenderheartedness shows is through her genuine desire for people to come to know Jesus. She shows kindness and tenderness and patience with people she meets and earnestly prays for friends to have hearts open to knowing him. I admire this about my sister and am thankful for the example she is to me.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sister: "S" is for Silly

For the second "S" in Sister, I have to tell you about Jeanette's silly side!

"S" is for Silly

If you haven't seen any of my sister's silliness, I encourage you to get to know her better. Jeanette has always been funny, whether she was meaning to or not. She brought laughter to our family growing up and can act silly with her girls (even as a smart mommy distraction). I love that Jeanette can usually bring out the silly in most people, including me!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sister: "I" is for Interesting

Continuing my tribute to my dear sister this week leading up to her birthday,

"I" is for Interesting.

Jeanette is one of the most interesting people I know and I thought I'd share some of the interesting facts about her:

  • Jeanette has lived in three countries on three continents and has visited many more
  • She has lived in five states (MD, NJ, AL, TN, TX, NY)
  • Her left hand is dominant, but she is actually ambidextrous (or amphibian, as she thought the doctor said to my mom when he gave them that news)
  • Jeanette played percussion in the high school band and marched with a snare drum
  • She majored in Political Science in college because she "likes committee meetings"
  • Jeanette went sky-diving in her twenties and we have the video to prove it (too bad it's not digitized to share)
  • She can remember lyrics to songs and has been to numerous Billy Joel concerts
  • Jeanette can do a great rendition of Sally from The Peanuts comic strip
  • She likes "small" candies, like Nerds, Runts, Skittles
  • Jeanette is a great cook and loves to create and adapt recipes using creativity and ingredients she has on hand
  • She has a seminary degree in Preschool and Children's Ministry and has served as Preschool/Children's Minister and in other director roles in children's programs
  • Jeanette sang in chorus and had some solos in concerts and drama productions
I really could go on and on about how interesting my sister is. I love that she shares her interests with others and brings unique gifts to any relationship.

Jeanette marching with the GRHS band

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

"S" is for Sister

Happy September! I was happy to turn my calendar this morning and realize that we're in the fourth quarter of 2015. That makes me happy because lots of fun things happen in the last four months of the year: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fall, and my sweet sister's birthday (later this week).

In honor of her birthday, I am going to post every day this week and give some thoughts using the letters in the word, "Sister."

"S" is for Sister
I know that's an obvious choice, but the biggest blessings in my life have come from having Jeanette as my sister. From the day she was born or at least when we brought her home from the hospital (and yes, I do remember that day), I recognized my role as big sister and knew that this new person in my life would be significant.

I didn't always appreciate her like I should have, but as we have grown up and are once again living in separate cities, I don't take for granted how special our relationship is. I am thankful that she was born and that God gave us each a special friend to walk through life with!

Friday, August 21, 2015

She's Seven!

It seems like just yesterday I was anxiously awaiting the birth of my first niece, Erica Jean Massey! But it was, in fact, SEVEN years ago! And Erica has been bringing us joy for all of that time!

Happy Birthday, Erica!

Here are some pictures through the years (and believe me, I could have posted a LOT more!)

August 22, 2008, held in her Grandpa's arms







Surfer Girl!

She's got style!
You are our sunshine, sweet Erica!

Friday Favorite: Old and New

 I recently went back to a place that has been a favorite destination, even if it is a fictional town. I finally started reading the latest book in Jan Karon's Mitford series, which came out last year! I bought it in September, planning for it to be my beach book in October, but then I decided to start from the beginning of the series and make my way to the new one. I got distracted along the way and got stuck in the middle of the series with not much motivation to continue on that plan. So this week, I sat out on my deck and opened the "new" book of my "old" favorite series. And it has not disappointed me! Now I can't wait until the next one comes out in another month!

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled on some Sunset magazines at the thrift store. I think I was drawn in by the cover with the camper on the front, but I bought several copies. I was once again reading on my deck and realized how much I liked this magazine. It's actually not new, but has been around for over a century, I believe. I went back and bought the remaining back issues that were at the store, and decided to become a subscriber! I can't wait to dig into more issues and dream about traveling all around the western U.S.!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday Favorites: Needtobreathe

I can't remember when I first heard about the band, Needtobreathe, but I know that I liked their sound from the first time I heard their song, "Shine On" played on the radio (and looking at the copyright on that song, it was 2006, so that answers that question).

I didn't really follow them beyond liking that song, but that's how I roll with most music I hear and like on the radio. I liked a couple of songs I heard from their next album, "Signature of the Divine" and "Washed by the Water," but then I didn't hear much from them for a few years.

Fast-forward to 2014 and Needtobreathe released a new album called "Rivers in the Wasteland" and I started hearing the song, "Multiplied" on the radio. And I saw some videos, one of which had a friend of ours running through a field (random fact).

I heard that the band was coming in concert to a local venue, but I didn't get tickets and later was kicking myself for missing it, even though I ended up having a friend visit that same weekend and would have had a small dilemma if I had had concert tickets.

After missing that show, I decided I would follow Needtobreathe on Facebook so I could find out when and where they toured this year. They started announcing their Tour de Compadres, with Switchfoot, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors and Colony House, but the Nashville venue kept being listed as "TBA," so I waited some more. I told Daniel that I wanted us to go, since he's a big Switchfoot fan, and when they finally announced the venue and tickets went on sale, I bought two.

Tonight I am finally going to get to hear Needtobreathe perform live and in person! And I'm almost as excited about the venue as I am about the bands. We'll be sitting on the lawn at Nashville's newest outdoor venue, Ascend Amphitheater, downtown by the river. It's going to be a great show!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


I was feeling very discouraged this morning about some circumstances I'm dealing with in my life. I have to confess, as I sat down with my breakfast to pick up where my Bible reading plan left off, I didn't have much enthusiasm. I am so thankful that I decided to spend that time reading in my Bible because what I got was major encouragement and a gospel reminder from the Book of Habakkuk!

First of all, Habakkuk is one of those little books in the back of the Old Testament that most of us have to use the table of contents to find (or at least flip through those pages until we land on that tiny, three chapter book). Habakkuk was a prophet right before the people of Isreal were sent to exile in Babylon. He didn't live in a very encouraging time, to say the least.

When I read Habakkuk 2:4 and saw the notes leading to passages in the New Testament that quote that verse (Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38-39), I looked the verses up in my ESV Study Bible and read some notes that were given for those verses. That's how I "got" the gospel from the Old Testament today!
Habakkuk 2:2-4, ESV
And the Lord answered me:
“Write the vision;
    make it plain on tablets,
    so he may run who reads it.
For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
    it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
    it will surely come; it will not delay.
“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him,
    but the righteous shall live by his faith."

The ESV notes said:
"It will take faith to wait patiently for God's plan to unfold, but "the righteous shall live by faith." It is quoted in NT to emphasize that people are saved by grace through faith and that Christians should live by faith (Hebrews 10:38-39)."

Romans 1:16-17, ESV
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

For Romans 1:17, the ESV notes said:
"The life of faith is all-encompassing: it is by faith that one initially receives the gift of salvation (eternal life), but it is also by faith that one lives each day (Hab. 2:4, Gal. 3:11, Heb. 10:38)."

Hebrews 10:35-39, ESV
Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,
“Yet a little while,
    and the coming one will come and will not delay;
but my righteous one shall live by faith,
    and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

For Hebrews 10:37-38, the ESV notes said:
"The quote from Habakkuk 2:3-4 encourages perseverance; it announces that the wait for the end will be short, that faith is required from the righteous, and that "shrinking back" invites God's displeasure, and this displeasure, as the next verse clarifies, means final judgement."

Habakkuk 3:17-19, ESV
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the deer's;
    he makes me tread on my high places.

For Habakkuk 3:17-19, the ESV notes said:
"Anticipating great destruction at the hands of the Babylonians, Habakkuk has radically changed--he began by informing God how to run his world, and ended by trusting that God knows best and will bring about justice. Even amid suffering and loss, Habakkuk has learned that he can trust God, and with that trust comes great joy, not in circumstances, but in God himself. Yahweh has become Habakkuk's strength (Psalm 18:32, 39)."

"Habakkuk can have sure-footed confidence in God and can live on the heights even amid extreme circumstances. (see Malachi 4:2, "But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.")"

These verses helped me to remember my confidence in God's ability and faithfulness and it strengthened my faith this morning. I love how immediately after those verses in Hebrews 10, we get the "Hall of Fame of Faith" in Hebrews 11!

Like Habakkuk, by God's grace, I was able to get up from my table with my heart filled with praise and great joy in God, instead of feeling discouraged by my circumstances.

May God encourage your hearts and minds today.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Summer Bucket List: Update #3

We're ten days into August, so I guess it would be a good time for a Summer Bucket List update! I may have slowed down a bit on some things and have realized that other things on the list are probably not going to happen (namely, cooking). But I have been able to do some crossing off on my list!

  1. Go on a vacation with Daniel (this is a easy one, since our trip is planned)
  2. Create scrapbook layouts for the first six months of 2015 using the Project Life app
  3. Get together with some friends to get some other scrapbooking done
  4. Make cards (either alone or with a friend)
  5. Create monthly/seasonal "vingette" on top of my entertainment center
  6. Do a DIY project for my home
  7. Have a cook-out
  8. Try a new recipe
  9. Cook at home at least once a week
  10. Write a note to someone every week
  11. Read for at least an hour a day
  12. Watch the fireworks on 4th of July
  13. Go to the Farmer's Market
  14. Attend a local festival
  15. Go on a day-trip
5. Create monthly/seasonal "vingette" on top of my entertainment center.  
I don't think I took a picture of my "patriotic" display, but it hasn't changed all that much throughout the spring and summer. In fact, I still have (fake) forsythia twigs in the jars. I also like to decorate the blank wall in my dining room and throughout July, I had a fabric swag and wreath hanging there. When August rolled around, I changed out the swag and hung up some of my "vintage" beach postcards from my collection. Most of them are from the Jersey Shore, but there are a couple from Daytona and Ocean City, I think.

Postcard garland in the dining room
If you can look beyond the silliness, you'll see the vingette on top of the entertainment center!
4. Make cards (either alone or with a friend)
I had already crossed this off, but I thought I'd show some birthday cards I made for some August friends. I found some adhesive-backed paper at Michael's and am enjoying playing with it, as well as trying to use paper scraps a little more often.

10. Write a note to someone every week.
This isn't something I've logged or taken a photo of, but I have been trying to be more intentional about sending notes to people (or birthday cards can count, too). I personally enjoy getting notes in the mail, so I imagine that others do too. It doesn't have to be a long letter. Just a short note saying you're thinking of them can go a long way in making someone's day.

So, even though school has started back for kids in Middle Tennessee and my college guy will be going back to Knoxville this coming weekend, I don't consider the end of summer to be until Labor Day weekend . . . and that comes late this year (September 5-7). I've still got lots of time for summer fun!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Arizona Vacation: Baseball Game

On our final night in Phoenix, we took in a Diamondbacks-Dodgers game and enjoyed getting to add another Major League Baseball stadium to each of our lists.

For the record, I've been to six stadiums: Yankees, Mets, Braves, Brewers, Rangers, Diamondbacks and Daniel has been to seven: Braves, Mets, Rangers, Reds, Cardinals, Orioles, Diamondbacks

Getting to the Chase Field in downtown Phoenix was pretty easy. Our hotel shuttle dropped us off at the light rail station that was close to the hotel and we rode downtown with a throng of people. It was great to not have to find our way by car or have to find parking. After the game was over, the light rail stop was just outside the stadium gate and we only had to wait a little while for the train.

In thinking about what to wear to the game, knowing that the outside temperature was still going to be over 100 degrees for most of the evening (think: oven), I opted to leave my jacket in the hotel room. What we didn't think about was that the roof of the stadium might remain closed and a bunch of frigid air would be pumped in for nine innings! I was basically feeling like an ice cube for most of the game and was actually happy to get back outside after the game was over!

We had great seats, right over home plate. Even though we were three tiers up, we could see every play and hardly had to move our head very much! We were routing for the D-backs since one season in Daniel's baseball career his team had been the Diamondbacks. He even brought his hat to wear and we joked that it was now "vintage" since the D-backs' logo has changed. Unfortunately, the Dodgers won the game, but it was still fun to see them all play.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Arizona Vacation: Sedona

On our way back from the Grand Canyon, we took a side trip to see Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona. The views were gorgeous and we got to see a little bit more of the beautiful state of Arizona.

I don't know what I expected Sedona to be like, but when we got into the town limits, it reminded me of other mountain tourist towns, like Gatlinburg, with its shops and restaurants on a main strip. There is a lot of the area that we didn't get to explore this time, but maybe there will be an opportunity for a return trip someday (after I finish seeing all of the other places I want to see!).

Daniel had found a southwestern restaurant that had a good rating, but we weren't hungry for lunch yet, so we parked and walked up and down the main strip for a little while. It was very hot and many stores had mister fans blowing, which was nice. It still wasn't too pleasant to spend a lot of time outside. There were the typical souvenir/gift shops and Daniel found a t-shirt to take home.

There were also some interactive musical displays scattered along that area, so Daniel tried them out.

After walking around for a little while, we got back in the car and drove to find the restaurant, Javelinas, which boasted having scenic views from the dining room. That was a stretch, but the food was pretty good and we did get to see some of the red rocks from the parking lot.

On our way out of town, we stopped at a scenic area to snap a few more pictures of the beautiful red rock formations.