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Of My Grandmother and Midnight Popcorn

Of My Grandmother and Midnight Popcorn

Wow.  Life has been pretty nuts the last few weeks, and I’ve not done a lot of writing/posting.  A big reason for that is because my heart has been weary.

My grandmother passed away unexpectedly the first week of January. As I rushed to the emergency room and then spent a day or two (it seemed like weeks) at the hospice center, I thought back on my memories of Grandma.

Grandma used to take me to town with her sometimes when I was little. We’d go to Pic N’ Save, and she’d always buy me a little something.  Usually it was a new nightgown, seems like.  I distinctly remember getting chicken boxes at Chic-King.  That’s where I learned to love fried chicken livers!

And then there’s midnight popcorn!  All the cousins gathered at Grandma’s house for a sleepover, and she made midnight popcorn for us.  The way I remember it, the first time really WAS at midnight, but at a later sleepover(s), I think the popcorn came before midnight!  I’m surprised my younger cousins remember midnight popcorn, but they do!

Happy memories!  And lots of them!

Here’s what I really want to say today:

  1.  Treasure your family.  Savor your time with them.
  2. When you feel prompted to do something, do it.

Here’s why I want to say that:

I was off work the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and I felt prompted by God to go see my grandmother on that Wednesday. I invited my daughter to go with me since she was off work that day too, and she decided to ride along.

We drove the hour or so to Grandma’s house and went to lunch with her and my mom.  Four generations sharing a meal at the Western Sizzlin’ was a beautiful thing!

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Eight days after we had this time together, Grandma passed away.  She’s with the Lord now, and we rejoice for that!  And we mourn. We miss her.

You can imagine how very, very thankful I am for that prompting from God. I’m thankful Cassandra and I decided to following that prompting. And I’m thankful we took a picture!  What blessed gifts!

During the death of Grandma and additional heartbreaking situations we faced last month, God encouraged us every step of the way.  He is faithful.

Happy memories. Laughs even while we grieve. Hugs from friends and family. Prayer cover from those who love us.  Phone calls and notes from our church family. Kitty snuggles. Campfires in the backyard. Blessings all.

To God alone be the glory.

Travel Tip – Love Notes

Travel Tip – Love Notes

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I’m in Denver for a training conference this week, and my sweet husband hid some notes for me in my suitcase! My mom always did that when I went to summer camp, and I ❤️ that Gene is continuing the tradition!

Whenever your spouse travels, try tucking some notes for them into their suitcase before they leave!  It’ll be meaningful for BOTH of you!

#lovenotes #ilovethismanofmine #tradition #travel #investinginourmarriage

Currently – January 2017

Currently – January 2017

Linking up with Anne at In Residence and Jessica from An Immeasurable Joy for this month’s Currently post!  I love these!  (My apologies for a lack of photos today!)

I am currently…

GATHERING: my thoughts and plans and getting them into my bullet journal.  December’s monster to-do lists got totally out of hand, and I ended up neglecting my poor bullet journal for a few weeks.  There were just SO many things to do I used my white board and notebook paper to try to keep everything on track.  I sat down yesterday and journaled a few special memories so I can savor them again later.  (Jordan Smith in concert?!?  YES!)  And then I got a handle on this week’s tasks and errands.  Whew!  This makes me happy!

MAKING:  healthy food.  Yep, like a lot of people I’m using the new year as a starting point to be more intentional about making wise food choices. Tonight’s dinner was Orange Chicken from the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook.  It was REALLY good!

SIPPING:  sweet tea, as always.  (I use stevia to sweeten it, so it’s all good!)  And more coffee since I just purchased a bigger Bialetti moka pot.

FOLLOWING:  Something Old Dayton, a fascinating small business in Dayton, Ohio.  I seriously want to move into their warehouse!

RESOLVING:  to be more intentional.  To be more intentional in what I eat, in how I use my time, in how I speak to people.  To be more intentional in a lot of ways.

What are YOU currently gathering, making, sipping, following, and resolving?!?  Do tell!

What I Read – December 2016

What I Read – December 2016

December is a perfect month for some fun, lighthearted reading, am I right?  Of course, right!  And what a bonus if the books are ALSO powerful, funny, well-written, and clean.  I recently discovered new-to-me author Chautona Havig, and I’m just loving her stuff.

She summarizes her writing as “Christian fiction without apology or pretense — lived, not preached.”  That PERFECTLY describes her books!  Check out her bio and blog here.

I’ve been binge reading her Christmas stories.  So far I’ve read Carol and the Belles, 31 Kisses, and Christmas Stalkings.  The first of her books that I read was Corner Booth.  That one’s not a Christmas story, but it’s a good one!  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of them!  I posted a review of Corner Booth here.

Christmas Stalkings is one of the four novellas in Christmas Lights: A Collection of Inspiring Christmas Novellas.  The other three stories in this collection are:

  • The Heart of Joy by Vikki Kestell.  This one reminded me of a Grace Livingston Hill book; a little old fashioned but nice.
  • Snow Angels by Cathe Swanson.  A great story that begins with a misunderstanding and good intentions.
  • Trip the Light Fantastic by April Hayman.  What’s not to love about a clumsy FBI agent with a big heart?!?

Chautona JUST released her new book, New Year’s Revolutions, and it’s a joy to read as well.  One thing I love about her books is that each book is unique.  No formulaic stories for her!

I did read some non-Chautona books too!  Here they are:

The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry.  Oh my goodness, this one is FUNNY!  I dare you to try to read it out loud to your family!  I read this one every December and chortle every time.

Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien.  My daughter and I listened to the audiobook, and we recommend it in print!  The letters are great, but the music on the audiobook bugged us.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  I read this years ago when I was growing up and didn’t like it at all.  I recently decided to give it another go, listened to the audiobook, and loved it. It’s painful in some spots, but boy is it good.  Sissy Spacek narrated this book and  gave a great performance.  Looking back,  I bet the book must have shocked me when I originally read it; I think I would have appreciated it more if I had discussed it with my parents.

Do you have any reading goals for 2017?  Have you ever revisited a book that just wasn’t right for you the first time you read it?  Do you like Christmas books?!?  Leave a comment and let me know!  I love talking about books!

 

 

 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

 

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“Do not be afraid. I am bringing you good news that will be a great joy to all the people. Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ, the Lord.  This is how you will know him: You will find a baby wrapped in pieces of cloth and lying in a feeding box.”  Luke 2:10-12 New Century Version

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.”     John 3:16-17 The Message

My Christmas prayer for you is that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God loves you more than you can comprehend!  He really does!

From our house to yours, have a very, very happy Christmas!

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READ::WATCH::LISTEN::FOLLOW – December 2016

READ::WATCH::LISTEN::FOLLOW – December 2016

With all the visual and written media flying around these days, it can be hard to decide what to choose, what might be worth a little of our precious time.  Behold!  The Read::Watch::Listen::Follow link up!  My friend Sheila hosts this every month, and the linked posts are chock full of great recommendations.  Here are mine for this month.

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READ:  I’ve read some GREAT books over the last few weeks!  I plan to post my “Books Read in November” list tomorrow, but today I want to give a shout out to Corner Booth by  Chautona Havig.  This is a fun story of a professor and the woman who invades his corner booth of a restaurant in order to skip the line at the door.  He’s recently been convicted that he talks way too much, so he determines to LISTEN to the woman; no talking (on his part), just listening.  And thus begins a sweet yet powerful story that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I finished it last night, and I was a little sad when I woke up this morning because I wasn’t going to get to hang out with all my new friends from this book today.  (Y’all know that feeling, right?!?)

WATCH:  My pastor shared this video with our church leadership team earlier this week, and I watched it this morning.  Wow.  Just WOW!  Francis Chan delivers a powerful challenge to all believers to  “climb the mountain” ourselves to spend time with God and not be satisfied with “hanging out with Moses” and hearing from God second hand.  Let’s just say I might have needed a tissue or two by the end of the message, and I’ve determined to lace up my spiritual hiking boots and start climbing.

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LISTEN:  Last week I listened to the audiobook Still Alice, written and narrated by Lisa Genova.  This book is inspiring, heart breaking, and very well written.  It’s a novel that reads like a memoir and tells the story of a 50-year-old, wife/mother, Harvard professor who is diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease.  I don’t want to say much more than that, but the construction of the book–how she tells the story–is amazing.  If someone close to you is dealing with this disease, this may not be the book for you right now.  And then again, maybe it is.  Note:  This isn’t the most dynamic audiobook I’ve ever listened to, but I don’t think it’s meant to be.  Since the author is also the narrator, she can read it just the way she wrote it.  It’s a straightforward book with a straightforward narration.  The genius is that a story written without excess, hyped-up drama is so very dramatic and powerful.

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FOLLOW:  I started following Kampgrounds of America (KOA) on Instagram, and now I want to go camping every single day!  I’m a KOA girl.  I grew up camping at KOAs, and Gene and I have been known to plan trips around KOA locations!  The photos are fun, and they definitely inspire me to plan another trip SOON!  (I’m on Instagram as outandback.live if you’d like to follow my adventures there as well as here.)

What are YOU reading, watching, listening to, and following?  Link up at Making the Most of Every Day and/or leave some comments for me!  This is always a fun discussion.  I enjoy your recommendations.

Cozy Fashion for the Holidays

Cozy Fashion for the Holidays

Y’all won’t be surprised if I tell you I bought another pair of LuLaRoe leggings.  Really though.  I own only a few pair, but I DO love them!  And when I saw these over at Brittney & Teresa’s LuLaRoe group, I just HAD to have them!  Here’s how I’m styling them.

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This is my favorite way to wear LuLaRoe leggings.  A little crazy can go a long way, so I like for just a bit of them to peek out between a long tunic/short dress and a pair of tall boots.  I’ve talked about this pintuck top before (here).  It’s from Old Navy.  The boots came from Payless last year.  All of my favorite colors pop up in this outfit!  Gold, olive, burgundy!

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On this day I worked up my brave and wore the same leggings with my blue suede booties.  I chose to wear a longer dress to, again, cover a little of the crazy so it wouldn’t be too overwhelming.  I feel more comfortable in the tall boots (I’m just not sure if short boots work well for me), but I wore this with confidence (like my mama taught me), and I received several compliments!  [The dress is from Old Navy, and the booties came from Off Broadway shoes.]

The ladies over at The Blended Blog are talking cozy fashion every Wednesday this month.  We are just beginning to get cozy-worthy weather here in Coastal Georgia.  We’re not doing a lot of sweaters yet, but I still consider these outfits to be cozy.  So I’m linking up with confidence–like my mama taught me!

Any other LuLaRoe lovers out there?  Is it cool enough to wear cozy fashion where YOU live?!?  Chime in below and let me know!

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Currently – December 2016

Currently – December 2016

Hooray for a new Currently link up!  Here’s what I’m currently up to!

Doing:  Visiting new friends in beautiful Thomasville, Georgia!  I met some ladies at the #READSavannah event back in September, and two of them live in Thomasville.  I had been here once before and discovered a delightful downtown area with loads of unique shops and some of the best food I’ve ever eaten.  (I’m looking at you, Jonah’s Fish and Grits!)  I’m here now to invest in these fledgling friendships and to eat more great food!  What a joy it’s been!  I’ve truly enjoyed getting to know Julie and Mary Jane better.

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BONUS:  I was also able to meet up with Susie, a “virtual” friend of mine I met on the GYPO Style Challenges.  It was our first time to meet in real life!  Talk about a blessing!  Oh my!  So this friendship, too, has taken great leaps forward this weekend.  I thank God for prompting me to come and spend time with these ladies!

Susie and me in The Book Shelf! I love this book store! It's owned and run by Susie's daughter, Annie.
Susie and me in The Book Shelf! I love this book store! It’s owned and run by Susie’s daughter, Annie.  (Yes, I’m wearing LuLaRoe leggings again!)

Enjoying:  Eating my way through Thomasville!  I had lunch yesterday at Savannah Moon Bakery & Cafe; monster grilled cheese and tomato bisque!  Dinner last night was at Jonah’s.  The hush puppies were JUST as amazing as I remembered!  I nearly wept over them the first time I had them.  For real.  Last night I chose (along with hush puppies) grilled mahi and grits with tasso gravy and a side of collard greens.  Y’all!  I was one happy Michael Ann!  This morning I’m blogging from Grassroots Coffee, and in a minute I’m meeting Mary Jane at the Q Cafe for breakfast.  Lunch plans are to be determined.  I’m not ruling out a return trip to Jonah’s!

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Cooking:  I tried a new pressure cooker recipe for Chicken Cacciatore last week, and it was a hit!  I used this recipe as a starting point and added a couple of cloves of garlic, a tablespoon or so of capers, and about 1/4 cup (maybe less) white wine.  I used chicken thighs and cooked the whole thing for 15 minutes as the recipe said, then served it over brown rice (cooked in my second pressure cooker).

Wrapping:  I’d love to say I’m wrapping up my Christmas shopping, but I’m just getting started!  Thomasville offers some amazing shopping!  Did I mention that already?

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Firefly is one of my favorite shops in Thomasville. ONE of them!

Playing:  Christmas music.  Lots of it!  Jordan Smith’s album is still a frequent flier, and I just located my Christmas in Velvet album.  That was my favorite album when I was growing up (back when it really was a physical LP album!), and I still love it.

Link-up:  Be sure to click over to Anne and Kellie to see what they (and a lot of other fun folks) are CURRENTLY up to!

 

So, what are YOU currently doing, enjoying, cooking, wrapping, and playing?!?  DO tell in the comment section below!

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