Tuesday, December 29, 2015

This Year Has Been Brought To You By The Word; Grace

 My Word Of The Year, for 2015 has been the word Grace. After reading the Book last November, One Thousand Gifts by: Ann Voskamp, where she reminds us that no matter what's going on in your life, there is always things to be Thankful for! And that Grace comes in the form of Gifts. It got me started keeping a Gratitude Journal of my own, taking the time to notice the big & the small gifts I've been given.

And this year I've read a Book called What's So Amazing About Grace? By; Philip Yancey. Another great Book about the beauty & importance of receiving & giving Grace. I highly recommend both of these Books. We've been given so much. And to whom much is given, much is required.

We receive Grace, or unmerited favor, & we should in turn extend Grace to others. Choosing this as my Word of the year was just a way of reminding myself to notice, and be grateful for, what I've been given, and in turn to give back. Bestow Grace, just as I have received it. What a Beautiful word, Grace.

So ask yourself, What Grace has been given to you? Be grateful for all you've been given. And how can you extend Grace to others who are in need? 2015 has been a beautiful Grace filled year! I am more aware of the presence of Grace in my life & I look for opportunities to show and extend Grace to others I might meet. And you'll just have to stay tuned to see what my Word for 2016 will be! :)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Merry And Bright!

A Year of Grace 

And for us, a Year for Change. For starters, John has switched careers. Yes. Though he is still involved in Worship & playing music in Church, it is no longer his full time vocation. He is now a Chaplain with a Hospice company. Having gone through the end of life with family members, we know the importance of encouragement at that time. And Bonus, we are Blessed to once again have Health Insurance due to his job! He continues to love to cook and try new dishes. And I love to be wined & dined, so it's a Win Win situation! :) We took a trip this Summer to visit John's Sister & her Family in Lake Havasu City and had a Great time!

And since we are no longer employed by a Church, I began to look for Ministry opportunities in other ways & places, and I now volunteer at least once every month with Dress for Success. A great organization that helps underprivileged women get back on their feet. I really love that it is Women empowering Women! I am still working as an Area Merchandiser for Vanity Fair Brands. I also started a Book Club along with my Nieces, Daughters & Daughter in Law. We call it BookFinks BookClub! It has been fun to pass along my love of Reading to the next Generation! And anyone can join, you don't have to be a family member. So, join us anytime!

Kyle, our oldest, has been married for just over a year to Katie, who just fits right in with our Family! They are a hard working, fun loving couple. They live in Tempe, Arizona, so we get to see them on a regular basis. They love to travel and have two cute Dachshund Puppies (or Wiener Dogs) Kyle is a Barista and has recently picked up a second job as well, and Katie is a Nurse at Phoenix Children's Hospital. They are both involved with Leading Worship as well. In September they drove me to Las Vegas to reunite with some of my Cousins. It was great to see them. 

Zach has had an Epic Year! In May he Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Arizona State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences! He then moved up to Northern Arizona for an Internship with the Arizona Department of Game & Fish, they are working on making his Internship position permanent. He is also working at an exclusive Resort. And just last month he got Married!! Kendra & Zach had been dating for over three years, so she's been part of the Family for quite some time. She's a sweet girl, and teaches Preschool. They Lead Worship at their Church as well. It's about a 5 hour drive to where they live in Page, AZ so we don't get to see them now as much as we'd like. People are putting wagers on which of our sons will give us our first Grandchild. ;) So stay tuned! :) 

Believe it or not, our girls are High School Seniors this year. I can't believe it myself! Help! I am not ready for my nest to be empty! In October they turned 18! How did they get older and I didn't?! The three of us have been Vegetarians now, for over a year. So if you're wondering Where's The Beef? It ain't here! Erica is in the Top 3% of her Graduating Class! In January she started her first job at a Boutique called Apricot Lane. Within 4 months she was promoted to a Key Holder. She plans on becoming a Sign Language Interpreter. And believe me, what she decides, she makes happen! 
Lexi is in Cosmetology School, even while going to High School. She continues to play the Flute and was in Leadership in her schools Marching Band all 4 years of High School. She just got her first job at Bath & Body Works. And every time I go in there (which if you know me, you know that's a lot!) I've have one of the Managers tell me what a great job she's doing, or how they wish all their new employees were as good as she is. I said "Well, I can't raise everybody!" Haha!! 

We have truly been Blessed. And are so Proud of each of our Kids. And it's exciting to watch our Family grow with the addition of our two new Daughter in Laws and all they bring with them. Our Dog's Tinkerbell & Luna continue to add Joy to our Lives. We're Thankful for good Health & Jobs we enjoy. For Friends and Family to Celebrate the good times & help us through the tough times. God has truly shown His Grace towards us. And we Pray Health & Happiness throughout the New Year for you and yours. 
So, from Our Family to Yours . . . 




A Very Merry Christmas
A Happy New Year!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Santa Baby (Or The Ultimate Wish List!)

The song Santa Baby was released for the first time back in 1953 by Eartha Kitt. It is basically a letter written to Santa, asking for a lot of over the top items for Christmas. She wants a Fur & a Yacht, to name a few. And over the years it's been sung by numerous others, including Taylor Swift. So I thought it would be fun to kind or rewrite it for modern times. If this were my letter to Santa, what Items would I put on the Ultimate Wish List? What would be on your list? I mean if you're gonna dream, Dream Big, right?! So, here we go;

Santa Baby

Santa Baby, just slip a Coach Bag under the tree for me;
Been an awful good girl, Santa Baby, 
So hurry down the chimney tonight. 

Santa Baby, a new Volkswagen Beetle too,
Mint Green,
I'll wait up for you dear; Santa baby, 
So hurry down the chimney tonight. 

Think of all the fun I've missed;
Think of all the fellas that I haven't kissed:
Next year I could be just as good . . .
If you check off my Christmas list.

Santa Baby, A Vacation and really that's not a lot;
Been an angel all year; Santa Baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight. 

Santa Honey, one little thing I really do need . . .
The Deed . . . to a House On The Beach,
Santa Baby, So hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa Cutie, and fill my stocking with Jimmy Choo's and checks;
Sign your 'X' on the line, Santa Cutie,
And hurry down the chimney tonight. 

Come and trim my Christmas tree
with some decorations bought at Tiffany's;
I really do believe in you;
Let's see if you believe in me . . . 

Santa Baby, forgot to mention one little thing . . .
A Ring . . .
And I don't mean on the phone; Santa Baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What Would Jesus Do With Planned Parenthood?

 Remember back in the day, like in the 90's, when W.W.J.D. Bracelets were all the rage? Teenagers, Children & Adults alike donned these little rubber bracelets, the idea behind them was that they would remind the wearer to stop and think. To ask themselves "What Would Jesus Do?" in any situation they might find themselves in. They were literally everywhere! Well, they might not have been a lasting Fashion Statement, but the thought behind them was a good reminder. So, today I am asking the question once again . . . There is a Hot Button Issue dividing our country right now. People on both sides of the issue are extremely passionate! It is brought up in every Presidential Debate, for both Parties. Where they either Stand with Planned Parenthood or are crying to Defund the entire program. I've been thinking about writing this Blog Post for awhile now, then over Thanksgiving weekend there was a shooting & a hostage situation at a facility in Colorado. So, whether you consider yourself Pro-Life, or Pro-Choice, this question is for you; What Would Jesus Do With Planned Parenthood?

But first, my personal history with Planned Parenthood (and yes, I have a history with Planned Parenthood.) So let me start by telling you a little about myself before we answer the question at hand; Back when I was young, in the mid 80's, and was about to get Married, I knew I wanted to be a Wife for awhile, before becoming a Mom as well. Which meant I needed Birth Control. I did my research & went to Planned Parenthood. It was there that I had my very first Gynecological Exam. (And a girl never forgets her first time!) ;) I learned about women's health issues, they ran tests, and I was screened for cancer, etc. Which BTW is also part of what they do. They don't just preform abortions, they are advocates for Women's Health! So before they are Defunded & shut down, we need to answer the question of where those kinds of things will take place, free or inexpensively, for women who need them. They also provide Birth Control, which I received from them. That was a long time ago. I've now been married over 28 years and am a Mother of four. I am a Christian. And I'm Pro-Life, but I also support a Woman's right to choose what's right for her. As a Woman and a Mother of two Teenage Daughters, I am all about Girl Power! Even before I had come into my own & knew exactly what I believed in, I knew what's most important in any issue, and that's people! I had a friend when I was in High School who thought she might be pregnant. I remember her saying to me that it would be impossible to have & raise a child in her life at that time, and that she knew I would be upset if she were to have an abortion. I told her even then that though I didn't agree with her choice, I would always be her friend. And that I would even go with her when the time came. She said I was a good friend. Thankfully she was not pregnant and didn't have to face that tough decision.

But, enough about me, let's get back to the issue at hand. What Would Jesus Do With Planned Parenthood? I know some things He would Not do! He would not picket & shout horrendous things at the Women entering, or at the staff working there. Let's not forget Jesus gave His life for those people. He would certainly not bomb or shoot up the place to get his point across. (And I don't understand how someone who calls them self Pro Life would take someone else's life. Don't they see that negates what they stand for? You can't be Pro, or for Life & take a Life!) So, Let's look at how Jesus did handle things when he walked the earth. For one thing He was known as the Friend of sinners. He was put down & accused of wrong doing for associating with the unsavory. The tax collectors, prostitutes and the like. In fact His ONLY harsh words were saved for the overtly religious people, who looked down on those less so. Who talked down their noses at and about people. The only time Jesus ever showed any violence was at those trying to turn a house of Worship into a money maker, buy buying & selling & trying to make a profit off those who came there to Worship. So, no I don't think Jesus would take a violent approach.

What I do think Jesus would do is take the young girl by the hand who is faced with making the toughest decision of her life and walk with her through this terrible situation. He would hold those precious babies in His arms, Longing to give them a Future. Always Forgiving. Always Loving. Just like He is with each of us. Right after John 3:16, where the Bible teaches us that "God so Loved the World that He gave his only Son that Whoever believes in Him will not perish but have Everlasting Life."  Verse 17 goes on to tell us that  "God did not send His Son into the world to Condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be Saved."  So if Jesus won't Condemn, then neither should we. We were not put on this earth to protest what we don't agree with. Nor to make laws, or change policies. Jesus wasn't really political at all. In fact He submitted to the very Government that sentenced Him to death. Praying "Father, Forgive them, they don't know what they are doing!" And told us never to raise a hand against those in leadership. Romans 13 says "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil." Though I Love Politics and believe we should all research the issues that are important to us & Vote accordingly, that should not be our main focus.

No, what we were put on earth to do is be His hands extended to a lost & hurting world. To show the world God's Love! I just read a great Book called What's So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey (I Highly recommend it!) in which he says "I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least." And John 13:35 says "By this all will know that you are my disciples, If you have love for one another." Love should be the Christians calling card! Not Judgement, not Hate, not Prejudice, Love. If we were to walk up to a stranger on the street & ask them what do you think of when you hear the term Christian? Would the first thing that comes to their mind be Love? It should be. No matter the circumstance, Compassion should always trump our sense of right & wrong! I often remind myself, If I'm going to err, then err on the side of Grace! Yes, God is Pro-Life, so much so that He want's all people to have Eternal Life with Him. And yes, even those who have had abortions, or those who perform them. And yes, even You & Me! If He can Love us, then we can Love them. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful Thursday: Be Thankful

I hope you are spending today surrounded with people you love. 
Family & Friends and of course good Food!

And that you take some time to remember all that you have to be Thankful for.
Here's to Sweet People and Sweet Potatoes!! ;)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thankful Thursday: Family Traditions


I have a Tradition here on The Blog, where every Thursday during the month of November, I talk about something I'm Thankful for! There is so much to be Thankful for, when we take the time to stop and reflect. And It's got me thinking about other Traditions we do . . .


When you Marry someone & become a new Family, you have to take Traditions from both of your Families & combine them together. And then it's fun, as you become a Couple, and then Parents, to come up with some Traditions of your own!


Some of my Favorite Family Traditions happen around Holiday's; Since our Children were little, for Valentines Day, we would have a "Fancy" Family Dinner together, complete with Candle Light, & Give Sweet little gifts (John & I would save our Valentines Date Night for another day, to spend Valentines with our kids) and our kids always look forward to it! For Birthdays, we might not have always had a lot of money to spend on big gifts or party's, but we always made it special! I've always thought the biggest responsibility of Parenthood, was to create Great Memories for your Children! There are Fireworks on the 4th of July! And Carving Pumpkins in the Fall! And on Thanksgiving, we have certain foods we Have to have, or it's just not Thanksgiving! :) And I like to go around the table and tell what we're Thankful For! And then, getting up really early on Black Friday to go Shopping is so much fun, and the perfect way to start off the Christmas Season. 

We have a lot of Christmas Family Traditions: Decorating! Baking Cookies, using my Mom's Recipe! Watching Christmas Movies as a Family! Looking at Christmas Lights! Reading The Christmas Story out of The Bible on Christmas Morning! And my Favorite Christmas Family Tradition is that for every year, since my Children we're born, we have had our kids' picture taken with Santa Clause! I have 2 Photo Albums full of the Photo's. It's so much fun to look back through all the years of pictures! And the miraculous thing is my kids still do it! That's right, they are now 18 - 25 years old & every year we still go, to keep up the tradition, and get our picture taken with Santa! My Heart is as full as these Photo Albums! What are your Favorite Family Traditions?


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thankful Thursday: Weddings

 Today I am Thankful for Weddings! 

 As you may know we had a Wedding this past weekend;
Our Son, Zach got Married!

 It was a Beautiful day for Zach and Kendra! 
(There are more pictures to come at a latter date!)

 And as you'll remember, 
We had a Wedding last year as well. 

Last October Our oldest son, Kyle, 
Married the Beautiful Katie! 

And just over 28 Years Ago, 
We had a Wedding of our own!

 Wedding's are fun! 
They bring Families and Friends together! 

 This is my Sister and I Together through the years at our Brothers' Weddings,
My Wedding and our Parents 50th Wedding Vow Renewal!

 Long Before he was a Groom, 
Kyle was a Ring Bearer.

 And Once Upon a Time
My Girls were Beautiful Flower Girls! 

This time they were Bridesmaids! 
But they are not allowed to become Brides for a long, long time! :) 

This is the only photo John and I have seen of us at our sons wedding, 
until we get the official Photo's back of course.
(guess we were too busy to take pictures!)
And we wouldn't have this one if my girls' best Friend, who is a budding photographer,
 hadn't sent her mom up to the Dance Floor to tell us 
"The light is perfect for pictures right now, come out to the Orchard!"
So we did! And I'm so Thankful for it!  

So, let this Thankful Thursday post serve as a reminder to you
 as you attend Weddings;
Celebrate Love!
Enjoy & Have Fun!
Gather your Family and Friends!
(put aside any drama, cause every family has some)
Dance, Sing, Laugh! 
And Cherish the Memories!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Leaving Las Vegas!

Las Vegas, Nevada is only about a Five and a Half Hour Drive from Phoenix. I've been there once as a Teenager, then again about 10 years ago for a Friends Wedding! (Where Elvis Sang!) ;)

Recently my older Brother Danny, had an idea to have our Cousins meet us in Las Vegas for a Reunion. We are spread out around the U.S. Only a few of us were able to go; Danny & I from Arizona, Brother & Sister Robert and Cheryl from Michigan, and Kathy from Oklahoma! Throw in some Spouses, plus Kathy and I also brought our Sons and Daughter in Laws, to make it a reunion of two Generations!

 My Road Trip Partners, Kyle and Katie, in a photo I call "What Are You Looking At?"
(. . . "Nothing!") :)

And I have found when you travel with Hipsters like Kyle & Katie, you find yourself in Hip places, like this cool little Coffee Shop, that plays only Vinyls, they found in old Las Vegas!

Proof that my cousins Cheryl and Robert have gone over to the Dark Side! But, I think we all knew that! Haha!

This is how I woke my kids up in the morning, by playing Katy Perry's Waking Up In Vegas song! :)

Now there are some things I really like about Vegas, and there are some things I Really don't like about it, for instance I am a Big City Girl! I'm one of those strange folks that actually love crowds, traffic, buildings, etc. and there is tons of all those things to see and experience in Vegas! But seeing people in all manor of dress (or undress, more accurately) or publicly drinking with small children in tow, are just some of what I dislike about Vegas.

This is the first time I have experienced Fremont Street, which is in Old Las Vegas, it was "The Strip" before The Strip that we now know, back in the days of the Rat Pack! There is a cool light show above you, though I felt we needed to Bleach our eyes out after some of the things you'll see there! :0

I much preferred spending my time seeing the sights in "New York, New York!"

Or in "Paris!" Day or Night!! :)

We all had lunch at the Top Of The World in the Stratosphere & could see the whole City from there!

I couldn't sit too close to the windows though! :) Then we saw a show of a Magician who had been on America's Got Talent.

There is a lot to see and do in Las Vegas! But of course, some of What Happened in Vegas, Stay's in Vegas! ;)

And if you go you have to check out the Bellagio! It is just Lovely!

The Garden's inside are always Amazing! They change with the Seasons!

And of course the Fountains outside, as seen in the Movie Oceans 11, are Awe Inspiring!

My Cousin Kathy's son Larry & his wife Sabrina in front of the Welcome To Las Vegas sign! So cute!

The Fabulous whole group, wearing our Reunion shirts, in front of the Sign as well. It was great getting to see some cousins I haven't seen in way too long & catching up with them. We plan on having more of these Family Reunions. We're talking about Branson, Mo. next year! And hopefully more of us can be there!

Until next time Vegas, whenever that may be!