Reflections on 2020

2020… what a year. I know so many people who say it was a horrible year. I understand. It was definitely a trying year. However, for us it had an equal share of ups and downs. In January of this year I was applying for my return to college, getting my financial aid in order and gathering all my high school documentation so that I could go back. In February we ended our jewelry business in preparation for my going back to school because I was still homeschooling and working part time from my at home job and was very active in our church. So suffice it to say I was preparing ahead of time. Little did we realize that in March, lives would be turned upside down. What started off as a couple weeks of quarantine and everything closing down, to a degree, ended up being months of regulations and mandates due to covid.

My hubby’s pay was cut due to the shutdown but then reinstated in June. My hubby had a prostate biopsy on the recommendation of his doctor and we started searching for a house to buy. In July we found a house and started working on the closing for the end of that month and my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Talk about getting the wind knocked out of you. Yet during all of this I stayed strong. Kept the faith. Prayed, researched, prepped for moving, prepped for school, prepped for his upcoming procedures. All while working and taking care of everyone.

August hits. We have been in our house for a week or so, and adopted a furry baby, Ben Kenobi. By the end of the month my oldest two and I started college classes, virtually of course, and my youngest started her sophmore year of high school. I then find out that my work is not going to renew my contract and I no longer have a job. It had nothing to do with COVID and we think it may have everything to do with the fact that I have very strong conservative opinions and I am not afraid to share them.

In September my husband had his prostate removed along with some reconstructive surgery on his ureters that they wanted to do while they were in there. It would be a lot easier on him to do it all at once rather than at different times. The good news is my husband is now cancer free. It was all contained in the prostate and was caught at the perfect time. Losing my contract ended up being a good thing because it allowed me the time I needed to take care of him and keep up with the kids and school.

October was a good recovery period for him and a time for me to get in the groove of being in classes full time. November restrictions started going back up and we visited my mother-in-law and her hubby for the first time in almost a year. We also got to see my brother-in-law and his family but it was such a different time. COVID has made things so much more difficult mainly because of the fear that has surrrounded this disease. I started a new business as a Thirty-One consultant and am working on a portfolio for some design work I have done.

Now here we are in December. It’s been tough, yet its been good. It’s brought about change but also time of reflection. It’s taught us to rely on God more. Trust him for our health and our finances. Trust him with our daughters. Trust HIM comepletely and be open to new ideas and ways of doing things.

I know we all would like to rewind time and do this year over again without all the drama and covid. But we can’t. We must learn from what all has taken place, realize that nothing will be completely the same because of things we have had to deal with but not be fearful of it. Yes the disease is real. Yes there are those that are dying from the complications that the disease can cause. Do I think it is over exaggerated? Yes to a degree. Do I think the media is fear mongering? 100% yes. But I believe God is bigger than COVID, bigger than the media, bigger than the government. He can make what some believe to be impossible, happen if we will just trust him.

Let me give you a suggestion though. You want peace in your life? Do you want to live without fear? If so turn off the news, stop reading the social media posts about the news and get into the Word of God. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Fear is a spirit and the news and world will fill you with it if you allow it. Build your faith. STAY in the WORD!

I know I have been all over the place today but I hope you are encouraged to look back and find the good things that have happened even through the bad. We’ve all had a hard year, some worse than others. But try to find the good that has come as well.

I pray that your Christmas is a blessed one and that you will keep one another in your prayers.

What I Have Been Doing During Safer at Home…

I’ve been seeing all these posts about people getting their homes cleaned out during all this because of the extra time that they have. I do have an extra hour a day that I am not driving but I’m still working so I don’t have as much time as those who are stuck home not working. Just a side note. I am not complaining by any means. I am so thankful I still have work when so many people are being laid off and not working right now.

That said I have still found myself getting some side things done…

  1. I finished crocheting Angel’s blanket that I started before Christmas. I was making it for her birthday and was only behind by 1 week so I count that as a success.
  2. I’ve only put together one of my Thomas Kinkade Disney puzzles since the Safer at Home started. I did the Princess and the Frog. Keep in mind that since January 2020 and before the Safer-At-Home order went into effect I had already done 12 of those puzzles. Don’t ask me why I have only done the one. I really don’t know.
  3. I started a new workout routine with an accountability buddy. We are one full week into this routine and lets just say I am sore, I hurt, I want to say things I shouldn’t and yet I still get up and do it all again the next day. I really do have a love hate relationship with working out. I love the results but hate doing it. And seriously to the little miss skinny minnie that I, for some reason, have allowed to torture me and continue to go back to…. I’m not that flexible.
  4. I’m reading more for fun. I’m always reading. I love to read but I’ve put “for fun” reading on the back burner because I was so busy. I picked up my 1st generation iPad (yes its that old), which is basically an over priced Kindle at this point since so few apps will work with it. I mean they aren’t updating it anymore. lol (side note: It was my dads and I got it after he passed just so I could read my kindle books on a bigger screen.) I downloaded some fun Christian historical fiction that I had on my cloud and did this instead of watching t.v.
  5. We’ve been playing more games and watching more movies together as a family. Sierra downloaded a game on steam that we can use our phones/tablets to play on. It’s called Drawful 2. It’s kind of like pictionary. It’s a lot of fun and we laugh a lot while playing it.
  6. We’ve been homeschooling of course. This is our youngest daughters final year in home education. She will be going to a private school in the fall. So been working on the application process for that. Gathering all the information. Preparing her where she feels comfortable with going and getting all our ducks in a row.
  7. I’ve been doing a lot of re-evaluating and praying. Thinking about plans for the future and new things I would like to do. Including my own school journey this fall to go for something I have always wanted to do and that is Graphic and Web Design.
  8. We’ve walked a lot and enjoyed our patio a bunch more. Sitting out in the evenings and walking during the day.
  9. I’ve done some coloring and putting Lego’s together. I enjoy doing that cause its creative and they are like puzzles. Hubby bought me the Lego set cause he wanted to bring a smile to my face.
  10. Most importantly we celebrated a birthday. Angel turned 15 a few weeks ago. But because they were already advising no groups of more than 10 that eliminated our plans for her. But we still had cake and ice cream and gifts.

So what have you been doing during all of this?

Vacations & Winners

Well I took a week off for family vacation. As you all can probably tell since its been a bit quiet on the blog around here. Before I get into all the other blog business I just want to take a moment and wish you all a very Happy Memorial Day to all who have served past, present and future. Today is a day where you are honored and appreciated. My family and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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Now back to the blog post:

We spent the time visiting family and going on mini adventures and just relaxing. We saw baby bison and did a whole bunch of walking. Andy and I continued to keep up with our 5K training as well.

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We also spent tons of time just being present and getting in some down time. Which has been few and far between lately. Of course now we must get back into the routine of things with fall school planning, prepping for upcoming trips and adventures and just normal around the house routines.

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I also wanted to take a moment to say congrats to our Mandisa “Out of the Dark” Giveaway winner….. Rachel V. Thanks to all those who entered the giveaway. For those who didn’t win you should definitely go back and check out my review and head to your local Christian store and pick it up today.

 

Make sure to come back later this week and check out my review of the book “A Love So True” by Melissa Jagears. Also keep watching because the new issue of Aspiring to Be Magazine will be out in June.

So are you all ready for summer? I’m glad we started summer with a relaxing vacation. Where are you headed this summer? Post in the comments and let me know.

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We Celebrated

I hope you all had a very Happy Independence Day yesterday.  We had a really great day. We spent the day with family and friends at Norris Lake and then at the Smokies Ballpark watching our favorite local Minor League Baseball team win a good game. Which was followed by a really great fireworks show.

It was pretty awesome and I can’t believe our summer is half way over. Soon we will be thinking about school again but lets not get carried away we still have some summer fun to get to yet.

Here is a pic or two of our July 4th.

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Here is a video of the fireworks show after the game if you want to check it out:

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I hope your Fourth was full of fun, family and friends as well.

March re-Cap

I know I’ve not been around here much and I’m very sorry. I’ve gotten quite a few review posts done but otherwise I have been really busy this month working on a brand new project that my sister and I have been working on.

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On March 20th my sister and I launched Aspiring to Be Magazine. We launched it with 4 articles and 7 writers. We are so very excited for this project and hope you head over and check out the Spring Issue. Right now through the end of April for all those that sign up for our mailing list we are giving away an eBook copy of my book Simple Devotions for Women. 

On a personal journey I have started writing my next book which will be a study guide. I’m really excited about this project and will be putting a lot of time and effort into it. You will find that the things I write about are usually things that I am learning about in my personal life so many times I’m learning right along side of you.

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This week we are on our Spring Break so no homeschool for us. But we are extremely enjoying our Mystery of History lessons and looking forward to continuing on with this program in the coming years. I really think this is one of the best history curricula to date. You should definitely check it out.

Sierra, my oldest, has some new exciting ventures coming up as in May she is traveling with the youth group on a domestic mission trip. She is so excited about all of it. When she gets back she will have two more things added to her plate as she is 16 now and will be taking Drivers Ed classes as well as looking for a job.  It is so hard for me to watch my babies grow up and become more independent , but alas, it must happen.

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This past week we celebrated Boo’s birthday. She turned 11 believe it or not. Crazy isn’t it? They grow up so very fast. Then there is Princess who is anxiously awaiting for next year so she can travel on a missions trip with the youth. I’ve asked each of my kids to wait until they were 16 and since she turns 16 next year she must wait one more year.

Life just keeps on going around here and yet I am loving every minute of my crazy busy life and schedule. Hubby and I have started exercising at a gym and we are about to start a gluten-free diet as his allergy is biting back in a big way. But gluten free is a very healthy life style choice which we will gladly embrace.

Just a FYI check out my review blog for more product, books, movies, and other reviews.

*There are no affiliate links here. Just my own products or links to things I love and currently purchase myself.

10 Blogs You Should Follow for Women

10 blogs

Today I am concluding our Top 10 series with 10 blogs/sites that I believe all women should follow. Each are different in their own unique way, but they all offer some awesome resources, encouragement and more.

  1. Female Entrepreneur Association – This is a great resource if you work, whether it be outside the home or not. Especially if you are a business owner. There are so many good things about this site that I had to include it. Mostly before the tips and encouragement to help you be successful.
  2. iBloom – This is especially a great resource for Christian bloggers, business owners and work from home moms. They share a lot of ways to help you grow and increase traffic and sales to your sites.
  3. Money Saving Mom – This is one of my favorite mom sites. If you are learning how to be frugal then you definitely need to check this one out. She shares articles to help you save money as well as motivate and encourage you.
  4. Love God Greatly – This site is an awesome Bible study site. This one will help you to get into the word on a daily basis.
  5. Terri Savelle Foy – She will motivate and encourage you and she hosts a weekly podcast right on her site.  She is one of my favorites and I recommend you heading over and checking her out.
  6. Women Living Well – This is another great blog that will help motivate you to be what God has called you to be. She shares about homeschooling, Bible study and more. You will enjoy her.
  7. Christian Stay At Home Mom – Do you need encouragement just to get through the day to day? This is an awesome resource for you.  Designed especially for the Stay-At-Home mom.
  8. The Spiff – She is my favorite fashion blogger. Maybe its because we attend the same church and I get to goo goo over her adorably sweet baby boy. Anyway, she has awesome and encouraging fashion posts that will help you in the beauty department. But my favorite thing about this blog is that she doesn’t just post for the super model skinny girl. She shares about all body types as well as her opinions on products.  Make sure you add this blog to your reader.
  9. I am THAT Lady –  A frugal blog that talks about couponing, recipes and so much more.
  10. Living Well Spending Less– This is another awesome frugal blog that will help you to be frugal in all areas of life.

Now when you check out these sites make sure to let them know that I sent you.  I hope you enjoyed my Top 10 series.  Feel free to share some of your favorite sites/blogs, etc. in the comments.

The Birth of A Savior!

I wanted to take a moment and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and I pray it is full of wonderful blessings and awesome surprises from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

And now the Christmas message.

Luke 2 The Message (MSG)Merry Christmas The Birth of Jesus

2 1-5 About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

6-7 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

An Event for Everyone

8-12 There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

13-14 At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

15-18 As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

19-20 Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

My Favorite Time of the Year

I love the holiday season. Starting with Thanksgiving and all the way through Christmas.  It’s an awesome experience. I love the sights, smells and decorating. I know I have more decorations for Christmas than any other holiday. Since this past week was Thanksgiving we enjoyed some time with my mom, sister, brother-in-law and the nieces. It was nice to get together, eat and fellowship. It doesn’t get to happen too often so we enjoy it when we can.

Black Friday while everyone was out and about we stayed home and decorated the tree. Here it is Monday and the majority of our Christmas shopping is done. I mostly purchase online because of the chaos of the holidays.  But it is nice that most is done and wrapping can start.  IMG_20151127_225011

I did go out yesterday and get a few more decorations for the house. I wanted to put something on my chandelier so I ran by the Dollar Tree to get what I needed. I love that store. It’s inexpensive and you find unique things. 

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I was also excited about getting my snowmen out as well as the Christmas music playing.  Here are a few of my favorite wall decorations that one of my friends purchased for me and gave to me over different years.

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Can you tell I have a thing for snowmen? lol  I collect them. I love all things Christmas but these little guys are always so adorable. The friend who sent me these also collects snowmen and so we usually send some back and forth to each other through the mail. It’s so much fun.  Can’t wait to see what I get this year.

What is your favorite holiday? Do you go all out for Christmas?