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Amazon $100 Gift Card Giveaway!

Friends, I’ve been so busy lately that I just haven’t had the time to write a proper blog post. But I’m working on one this week, I promise. In the meantime, I’m making it up to you by sharing these fabulous giveaway opportunities!

Last week, it was the giveaway of an Instant Pot!

Today, it’s the opportunity to win a $100 Amazon gift card! Imagine all the goodies you could treat yourself with, or even start your Christmas shopping early!

Let’s make it simple. Go enter! The giveaway is live NOW and will run until 11:59 on June 13th. Tell your friends. Good luck!

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Kindness, Strangers, and What’s Good About Both

This happened outside my home today.  I saw him back into what he thought was our driveway.  Only it wasn’t. It was a ditch. With all the white out there it was hard to determine which was which. As he gave his truck the gas, I felt his pain and watched him slide deeper into the ditch, solidifying his position. I have been in similar situations many times before…too many, if you ask my husband, so I could relate this man’s plight.  I wanted to be able to help him but I couldn’t. I was home alone and had no ability to pull him out of the ditch. Simply put, I felt really bad for him.  When he got out of his truck, I could see he was wearing what I liken to a mechanics uniform with his name on the front. I imagined he was a hard worker, maybe of slim means and that the deer in the back of his truck might be what would feed his family this winter.

He's really wedged in there.

It reminded me of the many times I’d gotten stuck in the snow, but of a particularly scary time. My son was about three or four years old and we were on the way to pick up my daughter at school. We took the usual route which included a usually well-traveled back road. It was winter and I was careful, but we hit a patch of invisible ice and the next thing I knew, my Jeep was spinning in circles in the road.  I remember feeling terror and that same feeling of helplessness and I still swear to this day that I heard glass shatter as we slammed into the ditch, HARD.  I immediately looked at my son, snug and secure in his car seat. It had done its job and protected him. He had a bit of a stunned look on his face but he was perfectly fine. Thank you, Lord. I checked for cuts, certain the broken glass had hit him somewhere. Immediately scanning the damage, I could see there was none. I had clearly heard glass breaking in the back end of the vehicle when we hit the solid, frozen, deep ditch and now, upon further inspection, the entire vehicle and more importantly, my son and I, were intact.

I breathed a thankful prayer before realizing the road was not well-traveled at all that day. No one was around. It was freezing. My cell phone had spotty service out on this country road and my daughter who was about eight at the time was waiting for us at school, likely wondering where we were right about then. I tried driving out of the ditch but it was literally a no go. We were stuck and we weren’t going anywhere without some help. Once again, I felt helpless. There was nothing I could do but pray and wait. No one was coming for us.

We didn’t wait long until a guardian angel-a kind stranger-came upon us. He had a big pickup truck no less. With his swift help, we were out of the ditch and on the way to get my girl in no time. The only payment he would accept was my gratitude, which I gushed. He was on his way quickly like this was something he did every day on his way by. Though we lived in a very small town at the time, I’d never seen him before or since that day. But I’m still ever thankful for his kindness. He could have driven past us and gone about his day. Surely he had somewhere to be and things to accomplish. He was busy like the rest of us. But he wasn’t too busy to help a mom and her baby out of a ditch. This was over seven years ago and my son and I still recall the kindness of this stranger.

Free at last...because a kind stranger bothered to help.

Free at last…because a kind stranger bothered to help.

So when I saw this (above) happen about fifteen minutes after this gentleman slid into the ditch, I was thankful on his behalf. The man hooked up the trucks, pulled out the stuck truck, and was on his way with a wave. And that was that. But for this man who was previously wedged in the ditch, his whole day was changed, I’m quite sure. He didn’t have to wait in the frigid air for a tow truck and he didn’t have to suffer the expense of one either.  For him and for me me in my situation, the kindness of strangers made all the difference.

What can you do to take mere moments from your day that might make a monumental difference in someone else’s life?

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Truth in Darkness

Winter…judging by the scene outside my windows, it’s arrived in grand style. Overnight, a white blanket has been pulled up and tucked under the chin of what just days ago was lush, green grass. The fire-colored leaves fell all too quickly and are gone, leaving behind naked, gray branches. The world outside is nearly void of color save for the white and hints of slate.

It’s no secret that I don’t enjoy winter weather. I’m not a fan of the cold or having to travel on slick roads. Enduring what look like long, gloomy sunless months isn’t appealing either, especially when the lovely warm sun is a fond and close memory. 

Every year I dread winter but this year, instead of biding my time until the early signs of spring unfold, I have decided to dwell in the season…see what I can learn here and I strive to find joy here, for this season of weather. 

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 Every season has purpose whether it’s a literal season of the year or a season of life. A few years ago, right after I was newly widowed, I fell into a dark grief abyss. It hit me like a wall when denial no longer served a purpose. It was a dim, lonely, and exhausting place, one I had to walk alone with God. I spent my days with only enough energy to “get by” doing the necessities, taking care of my children, barely working, performing household chores, doing my best to do the most important…being available and supportive for my children. I’m sure even there, I fell short. 

This season was the most painful and I pray I never endure such pain again. But it was also necessary. It was in the brokenness that God was able to rebuild me, stronger, healthier. Maybe that was the way He intended me to be all along and I’d gone off-plan somewhere along the line. I shed daily tears during what I call my period of “coming out of the dark.” I knew at some point the pain would subside, the lessons would be learned, I would be shiny and new again. But the pain was suffocating and fatiguing and although I had some pretty great people I leaned on during that time, there was really no help that could come except from Above. I truly had to walk that journey side-by-side with God and avail myself to what He wanted me to learn there. 

It was very real and very raw. Usually we’re all fairly crafty at hiding our emotions, especially when we’re hurting. But during this phase, I couldn’t hide. It was as if my pain lived right on the surface of my very skin. It was apparent to everyone and couldn’t be masked. It was red and raw and burning and so present that sometimes I cried my way through church or through the grocery store. All the hurt of what felt like a thousand gaping wounds, erupted and poured out with unstoppable force.  I devoured books during this time. Any Christian book about anyone who’d suffered and survived appealed to me and I read it. And I wrote. I wrote night and day and regurgitated my soul onto pages and pages of journaling.  I talked to people who’d suffered and come out the other side, I sang hopeful songs and pictured sunshine on my face again, and I heaped loving onto my children. And I prayed and I waited. And eventually, it was good. 

I emerged with a plan and a purpose and peace.  

And finally, it is light again.

And finally, it is light again.

For the first time ever I felt comfortable in my skin and in my place in life. Being a mom was always my best and most-preferred role. I wanted to be a good mom and spend every ounce of time I could with my children. Of all things in the world, that was my favorite. I felt no need to run after dating and neither did I feel lonely. I was good with who I was and I didn’t plan to mess that up by making any compromises. I made certain in my head and on paper what my goals were for my life and what I would and would not accept in it. 

The winter has value. The cold and darkness has a lot of teach us and joy and light truly do come. God carried me through that journey. He led me to what I needed to do and learn to come out of it remade, healed, patched up nicely. And for that, I am grateful. 

 

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Gracie, the Graceless Pug

When my husband and I got married nearly two years ago, we felt it was the natural next step to bring a baby into our family too. So when we discovered a litter of pugs was on their collective way, we put dibs on one of the pups. And life hasn’t been the same since. When she was born, we went to visit Gracie who still needed to be with her mama. We were all instantly smitten and there was no turning back. 

This is when we fell in love with her.

This is when we fell in love with her.

She was quirky from the start, a bit of a literal underdog once we brought her home. She had trouble eating on her own and needed to be spoon fed so she could thrive. She gave us a little scare for a few days not being able to keep food down. I was determined. Blessed to be home working, I was able to snuggle this little sweet pea all day and keep her warm and feeling secure.

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Such working conditions!

I had to endure such intense cuteness as pictured above. Having to look at that little face all day while I transcribed, I’m telling you…the struggle is real. No one tells you how (not) hard it is to have a tiny, warm, snuggly puppy cuddled up on you all day. 

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Gracie and her friend Pookie.

As Gracie grew in size and independence, she gained a stuffed animal friend (above). Pookie became a sometimes snuggle buddy.  No one told Gracie that friends don’t chew off other friends’ eyes.  She’s a bit of a canine klutz complete with irrational fears. Just the sight of a silent acoustic guitar literally makes her tail hang between her legs, ears pinned back, and she trembles.  If she even gets mildly in the vicinity of the washing machine or the wood stove, she goes into rigors, legs outstretched and toes spread apart and her little front legs wrap tightly around your arm or leg or whatever body part she can reach and she is frozen in terror. Weird pug anyhow. 

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Reluctant forever friends.

Lillie, our beloved beabrador had seniority by far. She was four years old when Gracie came onto the scene, forever changing the dynamic.  Lillie didn’t quite know what to think of Gracie or what to do with her. It seemed that Lillie was not amused that we had shaken up the dog balance in the house. Here was this bouncing, squeaking, high-pitched black thing pouncing on her periodically throughout the day (usually when Lillie was sleeping), as if to beg Lillie to spring to action and be her best playmate. If I didn’t know better, I’d say I often saw Lillie roll her eyes at Gracie and sigh, wishing she’d just leave her alone.  But then I’d catch rare moments like this (above) and think maybe, just maybe, Lillie liked (tolerated) Gracie after all. 

Gracie, lately.

Gracie, lately.

Gracie is almost two now. She looks different with a mysterious fierce underbite. She has not lost her feistiness. Lillie has resigned herself to the fact that Gracie is a fixture in our family now. They fight and chase each other around the yard, but when one of them is wincing in her sleep or doing one of those body-wrenching heaves that you’re certain is going to produce some sort of dog alien, the other is the first to run to her canine pal’s side making sure there’s a full recovery. And that’s what I call puppy love.